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Response to @R850Mango

by Darkademic in Responses   0 comments

This is my response to a Twitter thread posted by @R850Mango in response to my recent blog post "The Absurd Claim that Capitalism Kills". Twitter is terrible for drawn out debates so I'm posting my side of it here.


The very first thing we see is that the article includes an appeal to emotion, calling the claim that capitalism kills "absurd".

Next, Darkademic calls it a "fact" that communism and/or socialism killed "in excess of 100 million"

No source is given to corroborate this "fact".

Next Darkademic conflates communism and socialism, ignoring the distinction between the two. Words have meanings, but this is apparently the "no true Scotsman" fallacy when we point it out.

Calling something "absurd" is not an "appeal" to anything, it is a description of the thesis of the blog post.

No source is given to demonstrate that socialism killed in excess of 100 million people because it is outside the scope of the blog post. It is merely there to give context. I have changed "fact" to "declaration", as the former does make it sound like something that needs to be proven.

Similarly, the distinction between socialism and communism is irrelevant, I didn't even provide my definition of them.


Next they strawman our argument. We are not "blaming all of humanity's problems" on capitalism, we are merely applying the black book of communism's own standards to capitalism.

Darkademic then cherry picks two examples which are, indeed, misleading.

36 million do not die of starvation every year, the best source for that figure i could find is that 36 million died *last* year. This isn't indicitave of trends. Similar situation with the second picture.

But Darkademic doesn't feel the need to disprove these specific claims.

Why is that? Perhaps he could find no sources on how many people are starving, i couldn't really tell you.

I'm rejecting outright the claim that capitalism—as I define it—kills anyone. The specific numbers being thrown around are of no concern to me.

The tweets I pictured were merely examples of people expressing the idea "capitalism kills". There's nothing misleading or cherry-picked about them, because they demonstrate exactly the kinds of claims I am talking about.

When I said "all of humanity's problems" I meant it informally, not literally. I have re-worded it.

I don't care what standards you claim to be applying; if you're not blaming capitalism for a significant portion of humanity's problems then you're not the subject of my post.


In the next section, Darkademic references @OwenJones84's article in the guardian, but fails to link it. Tut tut, you reference sources later in your article, why not this one?

Seriously? I don't post links in the body of any of my blog posts or essays; it's called a referencing style.


Anyway, Darkwing Duck claims that no causal relationship has been established between capitalism and these problems, but this is false!

If you read Mr. Jones' article, it is, in fact, well sourced and proves a causal relationship. If i were disingenuous, I'd suggest that Darkademic did not want their readers to see this, but I'm charitable, and I'll chalk it up to a mistake in the editing process.

This is nonsense. I'm not sure you even understand what I meant by "causal relationship". I am asking for a explanation of how the ownership of private property—in and of itself—necessarily leads to large numbers preventable deaths. I am not asking for Owen Jones prattling on about how colonialism and the Nazis were bad.

Darkwing Duck ftw though.


Next we have the good old fallacy fallacy, accusing socialists of all stripes of the "no true Scotsman" fallacy. Being the pedant i am, i do like it when people use words correctly, and so i correct people when they incorrectly conflate socialism and communism.
For those interested, i invite you all to read some communist literature, so that you are able to accurately argue with us, it just improves the discourse in general.

The distinction between socialism and communism is irrelevant. I did not provide full definitions for them, and I did not make any arguments that would depend on such definitions.

How about explaining how I've conflated them instead of just asserting it and referring to "the literature"?


Darkseid then claims "criticisms of capitalism[...] need not modify the definition provided by socialists"

jumping ahead a bit here, but later they define socialism as "systems which -at minimum - the [...] means of production are publicly owned via the state, or collectively"

This struck me as odd, as this *is* a modification of the definition of socialism, as it is defined as worker control of the means of production. This falls into "otherwise collectively owned" but they still see fit to put state ownership front and centre.

There are multiple theories and types of socialism, some of which involve state ownership. Even if you disagree, so what? The important point is that if I were critiquing whatever you support, I would critique it based on how you define it.


Next Darkademic claims that we are modifying the definition of capitalism, something he does later in the piece.

We'll come back to this point in a bit.

Darkademic then includes an unfounded claim and appeal to emotion in the last paragraph of that section.

Weak. I don't even know what you're referring to. You are critiquing a contrivance that nobody is defending.


Darkademic then goes on to beg the question by using a dictionary definition as a premise in their argument. There is also an appeal to false authority here, I'll let my savvy readers guess which one.

And as we all know, dictionaries are tools of oppression. I'm not sure what your point is here, that your not allowed to use definitions that are widely accepted and understood? That you're not allowed to define the political system you support?


And here is Darkhorse's definition of capitalism: private property and protection of individual rights. This is fascinating, because it would mean that anarcho primitivists are in fact capitalists! Incredible.



In the second paragraph, Darkademic makes reference to corporations not being "necessary elements" of capitalism, and sure, by their definition they are not.

Funnily enough by including corporations as unnecessary they are preempting a counter argument, but are doing so...

Using the no true Scotsman fallacy!

By saying "corporations are not capitalism" The Dark Tower is preempting the crimes of the east India companies and today's TNCs from being used against his special snowflake version of capitalism

Hypocrite. You are suggesting that the straightforward and widely understood definition of capitalism I referenced is invalid after multiple instances of whinging about communism and socialism being used incorrectly. If I don't get to define your terms, you don't get to define mine.

Also, it would only be an example of the no true Scotsman fallacy if we agreed on a definition, then you provided counter-examples for a claim I made, and then I changed the definition to exclude those counter-examples.


They then go on to say that co ops and communes are compatible with capitalism and, for once, they are correct.

However, if all the means of production were owned by co ops, would that not fit their modified definition of socialism?

If everyone voluntarily chose to organise themselves into co-ops and communes, that would be consistent with capitalism. Unless there's a form of socialism that permits private ownership of the means of production, no, it wouldn't fit the definition of socialism.


They then contrast their definition of capitalism (private property and protection of individual rights) with their definition of socialism (state ownership, and a nebulous "collective ownership" concept that they fail to expand on"

I repeat, the blog post is not intended to be a critique of socialism; exploring what socialism means is unnecessary.


Now we go on to their "analysis"

Firstly, a causal relationship HAS been established, right st the beginning in @OwenJones84's article.

To the second point, no one disagrees that capitalism varies by drgrees, but we merely apply the black book of communism's standards here.

Using the black book of communism's standards on capitalism is not a double standard, it is, in fact literally the opposite.

Repeating yourself re: Jones' article. Dealt with above.

The difference is that you are adding all manner of superfluous and/or contradictory characteristics to the definition of capitalism. Valid criticisms of socialism do no such thing; if anything they strip away the non-essentials. Critics of capitalism inflate its definition, critics of socialism strip its definition down its fundamentals.


To their third point, this would take far more than a mere twitter thread to debunk. However, the failures of the Chicago School of economics in Chile should be a good starting point for the curious.

This adds nothing, and completely side-steps one of the three main points I made.


Darkademic then goes on to commit their own double standard. By attributing the deaths of 100 million to socialist states, but not allowing the deaths caused by colonialism to apply to capitalism, as they were "state sanctioned" and "incorporated" (no true Scotsman as well).

The source they provide is outdated and at odds with present understandings of colonialism. Cherry picking sources is bad academic practice, tut tut.

Yet again you are attempting to impose your own definition.

Also, when I reference multiple sources you call it "padding", when I reference a single source you call it "cherry-picking". Neither are meaningful criticisms; the sources either stand on their own merit or they don't.


Next we go onto their definition of fascism. Along with a nod to horseshoe theory, this too is flawed. No source is included for this definition, and no justification for why the transfer of ownership along national lines is anti-capitalist.

I didn't define fascism, I described something that happens within it that fundamentally conflicts with capitalism. I have no idea what you're talking about re: transfer of ownership along national lines.


It has long been a tradition of capitalist countries to respect the individual rights of some groups more than others. This can be seen in the USA, which was explicitly capitalist from its foundation, and permitted slavery.

"Explicitly capitalist"? Source?

You are contradicting yourself. Earlier you claimed that "no one disagrees that capitalism varies by degrees", whereas here you are treating everything that is found within a partially capitalist system as being capitalist. Slavery is anti-capitalist. Moreover, this is just another example of "critiquing a contrivance that nobody is defending."

Make up your mind. Do we get to define our own terms or not?


This one is disingenuous. Starvation under capitalism is caused by poor food security, not whether someone has money. You cannot buy what is not there, and most countries which have poor food security are net exporters of food.

More than that, the World bank had revised their definition of extreme poverty in that time, which "raised" millions out of poverty, something I'm sure they were incredibly grateful for.

So are you going to provide any evidence that people are getting poorer? You appear to hold yourself to a much lower standard than you hold others to. I wasn't highlighting poverty levels as being more significant than any other measures.


Right away in this section we see a double standard. "No country has ever been fully capitalist" but it isn't ok to say that full communism has never been achieved.

Moreover, by their own definition of capitalism, it HAS been achieved. Multiple times.

There are very few countries today which do not have private property and protection of individual rights. Their definition makes no reference to degree of private ownership, only that it need exist.

Where did I say "it isn't ok to say that full communism has never been achieved"?

It seems you're failing to understand the definition. Capitalism has been partly achieved, to varying degrees. It's not like that was the second of my three main points or anything...


They clumsily head this criticism off, but fail to explain why, thus it is valid to expose their double standard.



I think this is actually the fourth or fifth point, but ok, ons gaan maar aan

They once again make the claim that increasing economic freedom correlates with increased prosperity. However, they've forgotten a minor fact: the inherent contradiction of capital

There are three main points that are quite clearly outlined.


Wages are suppressed for profit. In order to maintain profits, production increases, increasing supply. Demand drops as wages are insufficient to buy goods. Rate of profit increase drops. Consumers go into debt to purchase goods. Consumers default on debt. Crisis.

By increasing economic freedom by relaxing regulations, capitalists will chase profits, which will lead to economic crises. This has happened every time the free market was uncollared. The roaring 20s led to the great depression. The early aughts led to the great recession.
For the purposes of transparency i include their graphs, however i really don't feel like combing through 12 sources to debunk them. As i said earlier, debunking that claim requires more than a tweet thread.

However, i am feeling up to the task of criticising their *use*.

They are posted without context, as meaningless data points showing a correlation between an undefined "prosperity" and a nebulously defined "economic freedom"

Conjecture, but a wonderful—albeit brief—recital of bog-standard socialist critique of capitalism. You sound like me ~20 years ago (I am a former socialist). You have avoided providing anything of substance here. Posted without context? Is that a joke? I was demonstrating the correlation between economic freedom and prosperity, and those graphs show exactly that. Prosperity is defined as the metrics that are both described and used in the sources, and the definition of economic freedom is found within the sources also. Evidently, you just can't be bothered to look.


As we have previously seen, maximal economic freedom would not result in maximal prosperity, by the inherent contradiction of capital.

Furthermore, this assumes that competition would be a constant, when this is simply not the case. Capitalism tends towards monopoly, as due to economies of scale, larger companies outcompete smaller ones reducing economic freedom!

Bare assertion.


This section is some quotes without arguments to pad out the reference list and make the article seem authoritative. I have the privilege of having attended first year academic literacy, so i know this is bad academic practice.

Spare me your "expert university student" pretentiousness. The quotes either make valid points of they don't.


And now, the closing thoughts. Going through the list: unfounded, unfounded, appeal to emotion, unfounded, misleading analogy.

I disagree?


The most interesting statement in this article, however, is the statement in the final paragraph. If criticisms of capitalism do not apply because ultimately they are choices of people, why can this not also apply to...communism?

It's so interesting that you don't attempt to rebut it, but rather simply try to switch the focus to communism. Whether the same defense could be used for communism would be worth discussing in a separate critique of said system, which I may yet write.


And perhaps, if humans are so uncharitable, centralising our food supply under a small group of uncharitable individuals would be a bad idea

Centralising our food supply in the hands of any group of people would be a bad idea.


perhaps a better system would be to have a network of worker co ops, without a state, allowing maximal freedom for the individual, who then hold all the resources in common, allowing all to prosper without barriers

How do you propose to transfer all resources into common hands (esp. if some refuse to fall in line)? Under your proposed system, would I be free to be self-employed? Would I be free to trade with others without interference? Would I be free to accumulate the fruits of my labour? Do I have a right to exist for my own sake?

Your response revolves around rejecting my definition of capitalism while simultaneously complaining about my improper use of the terms socialism and communism (despite me not basing any arguments on my definitions of those terms). You have not demonstrated a causal link between what I call capitalism and large numbers of preventable deaths, you claimed that "no one disagrees that capitalism varies by degrees" yet still blame all of its problems on "capitalism" without nuance, and you barely address the correlation between economic freedom and prosperity.

So much for "systematically proving me wrong".

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