Re: [ox-en] Robinsonades (was: Re: Role of markets)
- From: "Patrick Anderson" <agnucius gmail.com>
- Date: Tue, 12 Aug 2008 17:32:52 -0600
What if there were two people stranded on an island? Must they stay
isolated in order to preserve the biosphere, or can they get together
and trade labor and products so they can specialize without
increasing harm to the island?
Why should they trade in order to specialize? Especially in a Robinson
situation it would be crazy to implement such dump overhead.
I do not understand what you mean by 'overhead'.
By 'Trade' I mean the exchange labor or products, even when that
exchange appears to be a gift.
But even if we assume the two islanders are friends, why would one
give or do something for the other?
People may give gifts, but if they never receive anything in return
(even affection could be enough), then they will eventually stop.
Once they stop giving, specialization is also gone.
My definition of 'Trade' includes gifts, even if they appear to be
non-reciprocal. The reason this is important to me is that I am quite
sure trading itself is not the actual problem, and that the problem
has much more to do with how prices are kept above costs, and who
should optimally own the Means of Production to solve this issue.
What you present here is the typical view of a human society: Humans are
naturally isolated atoms and they only become social by exchange.
It is true that I look at almost all human interaction as exchange,
but I don't see anything wrong with that. It is just a more
broad/inclusive definiiton. If I spend time and money to court a mate
and she gives me a kiss, then we have made an exchange. We have
traded. And other potential mates are the 'market' for that trading.
is simply wrong. However, capitalism delivers such images: Isolated
people ("monades") produce, and they must come to a market, in order to
become real human beings: I exchange, therefore I am. Do you see the
intrinsic inhumanity of capitalism? Should we really reproduce this
again and again by using market approaches for our "alternative"
I'm just saying I want to be able to hire a dentist in the GNU society
instead of doing that work myself, so I need specialization. And when
someone does work for me, shouldn't I compensate him? If not, then
why in the universe would he work on my rotting teeth?
I do not agree with the assertion that every player (every human on
earth?) must follow the destructive goal of "making more money from
You are right, humans they can decide against the law. But then they are
no longer players. Seriously, there are some big players who did this.
It is a practical alternative.
By 'law' are you talking about doing something illegal?
Sorry, but I'm not catching your drift here.
There are many micro-economies (such as in families or maybe in some
small communes) where action is taken (work) for the sole purpose of
PRODUCT, not for PROFIT.
They are NOT economies exactly for the reason you describe.
I'm only claiming that Trade (according to my definition) takes place
in families too.
Why does Sally let her brother Jim borrow her bike? She may do it to
keep the relationship 'solid', and maybe even to 'payoff' a favor he
did for her earlier.
Husbands and wives do enormous amounts of trading because the physical
differences in their strengths and abilities means male husbands
generally do more of the heavy lifting while female wives often do
more of the 'fine' work.
standpoint of an enterprise economy, every child is a miss-investment
and humankind then would die. Capitalism can only survive, because
there are yet enough spaces in life which are _not_ occupied by its
logic. And those space are mostly carried by women.
I understand you are angry about Capitalism. I am too.
But I'm not trying to sell Capitalism; I'm selling the notion that
Trade is required for specialization, even if that trade looks like
I think we really have a chance to pinpoint the problem if we take
such an approach to keep us from getting otherwise lost in the
Sorry, this won't work, because the basic assumptions of isolated human
beings are a wrong starting point. There is no start below the level of
a self-reproducing society. All other approaches are under-complex.
You may have a good point about self-reproducing, but that can be
solved by assuming one of the islanders is male, and the other is
female. We could call them Adam and Eve.
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