Relations of Production

Recent events with occupy wall street has left people all over the country spinning their wheels attempting to speculate a more impartial relationship between individuals in society, large corporations and banks, and the United States government.

I find this very applicable to what we are discussing in my Karl Marx class.  Although I am by no means in favor of Communism,  Marx raises some interesting points worth noting.  Marx describes the most basic fundamental nature of man is to work over the world to meet our needs: food, clothes, shelter, etc.  More so, we seem to exceed our needs, as seen evident in various forms of aesthetics (art, music, etc.).  In obtaining these needs, different relations of productions are enacted amongst the global world, dividing man into different social classes.

We seemingly have embedding in our biological composition the desire to do things more efficiently (evolve from spear hunting to nets) in obtaining production.  Always wanting more, striving through more accomplished means.  But is this a happy way of living?  I would argue no.  Instead of wanting more, we should find contentment in our current ways of doing things, living in the moment rather than for how to get more.  It is a zen Buddhist approach to the question of finding resolute with the current framework of reality.  It beseeches the question of what you should be our first and foremost priority in life.  I couldn’t help but be reminded of a Hobbesian mentality for the nature of mankind.

Marx’s ambition is to construct a level playing field, and disperse the different layers of society, which ultimately leads to one class exploiting another.  It sounds good in theory, but Communism obviously failed as evident by history.  This is because although Marx is tempted for equality amongst all persons, enacting an appointed leader/governing body to control the allocation of resources (food, health care) as well as public necessities (schools, roads, police) is a daunting task.

Are we as human beings capable of appointing such a person/organization capable of governing fairly?  I believe a lot of this stems from our capitalist system.  Capitalism is a product of human creation, and like all man-made productions, will fall in time to a more efficient and effective means (see evolution from family, to tribe, to slavery, to feudalism, and to now capitalism).  Saying ‘we should all just be friends’ is a very wishful way of constructing a Utopian society.

From an anthropological perspective, we are continual encompassing more and more in our social circles (again, see evolution from tribe to capitalism).  Capitalism is effective because it is based off of consumer demand.  There is no official delegator of what resources go to, but rather supply and demand dictate the market.  This is beneficial because it allows the people to choose.  Where this goes wrong, in my opinion, is that it drives us in competition trying to one up the next guy to get the most for your buck.

It reminded me of Robert Axelrod and his Theory of Cooperation.  In his competition to determine trading and the most logical process for trade behave in social situations, the tit-for-tat strategy rang clearly as the leader.  Read about the prisoners dilemma if you want to read what the tournament was about.  Essentially it was a program which strategy was that it always cooperated, but once it was defected (betrayed) against, it instantly struck back, but then went immediately back to cooperation if the other party was willing to do so.  The most interesting thing about the tit-for-tat method is that in a one-on-one match up, it never won; in fact, it’s impossible.  The tit-for-tat method always lets the opposition to defect first.  However, in the long it had the highest score.  Cooperation pays out after all.

Bringing this back to the issues with capitalism, I believe a model that is focused less on competition and more on cooperation.  Marx has good insight, but the practicality is not there.  A more effective means for distrubtion and public commodities in a equal manner needs to be instilled first.  Don’t hold your breath, could take a while.

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