Ethical Socialism

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Ethical Socialism

Post by TheocWulf on Mon Jan 14, 2013 6:49 pm

Alongside Owenism and Chartism Ethical Socialism is a historic movement mainly based in the North of England and espoused by the Independent Labour Party by the likes of Robert Blatchford land Hannah Mitchell that viewed cooperation,friendship,labourism,radical thinking,democracy,nature and community as essential to any English/British but especially Northern English Socialism.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethical_socialism

Hannah Mitchell in her autobiograph talks of what it is about. Her socialism was community and folk based.

This kind of Radical Northen Socialism "attracted a type of socialist who was not satisfied with the stark materialism of the Marxist school, desiring warmth and colour in human lives: not just bread, but bread and roses, too. Perhaps we were not quite sound on economics as our Marxian friends took care to remind us, but we realised the injustice and ugliness of the present system. We had enough imagination to visualise the greater possibility for beauty and culture in a more justly ordered state. If our conception of Socialism owed more to Morris than to Marx, we were none the less sincere, and many found their belief strengthened by the help and inspiration of the weekly meetings held in these Northern towns".(The Hard Way Up, p 116).

I think in parts of England especially outside of the major cities this type of socialism could well take off again.
Discuss

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Re: Ethical Socialism

Post by DSN on Mon Jan 14, 2013 7:29 pm

"Ethical socialism has been publicly supported by British Prime Ministers Ramsay MacDonald, Clement Attlee, and Tony Blair."

I just lulz when 'socialism' and 'Tony Blair' are put in the same sentence.

Anyway, this sounds interesting, but I'm a bit unclear about this:

"Though Tawney supported a substantial role for public enterprise in the economy, he stated that where private enterprise provided a service that was commensurate with its rewards that was functioning private property, then a business could be usefully and legitimately be left in private hands. Ethical socialist Thomas Hill Green the right of equal opportunity for all individuals to be able freely appropriate property, but claimed that acquisition of wealth did not imply that an individual could do whatever they wanted to once that wealth was in their possession. Green opposed "property rights of the few" that were preventing the ownership of property by the many."

So to what extent should a person be allowed to extract surplus value from someone else's labour? What happens to the surplus value? Also, if ethical socialism is based on co-operation and is against individualism, what role does private property play in such a society? I'm actually interested to know what definition of socialism these people go by.

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Re: Ethical Socialism

Post by TheocWulf on Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:52 am

I agree with you on tony and his blairite chums,a gang of champaign socialist

In response to your first point I'd think it probably depended on whom you asked,in my own opinion none,you can have different wages depending on position but the surplus must either be shared between the cooperative members or used for the benefit of the wider community.As to your second point again it probably changed over time and individual but in a cooperative farm for example I'd expect said farm to the private/personal property of the members of that cooperative or in the case of something like a corner shop that would be that self employed individuals personal property.

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Cosmopolitan liberalism is a new ideological smoke screen for class oppression.-Kai Murros
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Re: Ethical Socialism

Post by DSN on Tue Jan 15, 2013 10:51 am

Isn't it a bit pointless extracting surplus value from people's labour just to give it back to them afterwards?

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Re: Ethical Socialism

Post by TheocWulf on Tue Jan 15, 2013 2:21 pm

DSN wrote:Isn't it a bit pointless extracting surplus value from people's labour just to give it back to them afterwards?

It depends on the people involved with whatever style project they are embarking on,certainly in a system where ones amount of labour corresponds to the amount of surplus given directly to them in a factory or something like that yes,however on a more community building style project (say a communal farm) where everybody from mothers,gardeners,vets,bakers ect ect is equally needed to pioneer such a community then no it would be more better to dish the surplus out equally to the whole community,thus makeing it a "Common treasury" for everybody involved.

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Re: Ethical Socialism

Post by DSN on Tue Jan 15, 2013 6:45 pm

It seems as though we're using the same term but not referring to the same thing. What do you mean by "surplus"?

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Re: Ethical Socialism

Post by Celtiberian on Wed Jan 16, 2013 3:18 am

TheocWulf wrote:Alongside Owenism and Chartism Ethical Socialism is a historic movement mainly based in the North of England and espoused by the Independent Labour Party by the likes of Robert Blatchford land Hannah Mitchell that viewed cooperation,friendship,labourism,radical thinking,democracy,nature and community as essential to any English/British but especially Northern English Socialism.

At the risk of sounding pedantic, technically speaking, every form of pre-Marxian socialism can be considered a variant of "ethical socialism." Marxism, while containing an ethical component, was distinct in the history of socialist thought due to the fact it stressed the role of class antagonisms and advances in the productive forces of society in creating the prospects for a revolutionary transformation of the mode of production.

The trouble with ethical socialism, as Marx correctly identified, is that moral persuasion alone cannot succeed in the battle of ideas since "The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e., the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force" [Karl Marx, The German Ideology (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 2004), p. 64]. Radicals are at a disadvantage when attempting to illustrate the reasons why socialism is ethically preferable to capitalism because the bourgeoisie control the media and our educational institutions. Moreover, when conditions are relatively stable, the incentive for ordinary people to listen to such discussions is lacking. Ethics only become truly relevant when the internal contradictions of capitalism immiserate the working class, thereby generating a legitimation crisis—for it's only then that bourgeois ideology no longer possesses much currency among the masses.

in my own opinion none,you can have different wages depending on position but the surplus must either be shared between the cooperative members or used for the benefit of the wider community.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but this statement seems to imply that you find the notion of individuals being remunerated for reasons which go beyond effort and sacrifice unobjectionable. That violates many of the core tenets of ethical socialists like Robert Owen, who believed that a system of labor vouchers should replace money since the latter permits unfair inequalities between workers to accrue over time. (Karl Marx and Mikhail Bakunin favored labor vouchers for the same reason.)


(a forty hour labor note, printed in 1833 by Robert Owen's National Equitable Labour Exchange)

As to your second point again it probably changed over time and individual but in a cooperative farm for example I'd expect said farm to the private/personal property of the members of that cooperative or in the case of something like a corner shop that would be that self employed individuals personal property.

Albeit non-exploitative in the capitalist sense, private property in land and personal ownership in means of production remains indefensible for reasons I expound upon here.

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Re: Ethical Socialism

Post by TheocWulf on Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:02 am

Celtiberian wrote:Correct me if I'm wrong, but this statement seems to imply that you find the notion of individuals being remunerated for reasons which go beyond effort and sacrifice unobjectionable. That violates many of the core tenets of ethical socialists like Robert Owen, who believed that a system of labor vouchers should replace money since the latter permits unfair inequalities between workers to accrue over time. (Karl Marx and Mikhail Bakunin favored labor vouchers for the same reason.)

Well spotted,yes wages was a poor example I probably should have put vouchers or goods/ services or something similar.

As for everything else,I'm not trying to point out the qualities of one system over another's and many ethical socialists were the first to admit that in the field of economics they approached it eclectically to say the least.

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Re: Ethical Socialism

Post by TheocWulf on Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:05 am

DSN wrote:It seems as though we're using the same term but not referring to the same thing. What do you mean by "surplus"?

The surplus value of whatever the workers labour personally or collectively produce be that goods,services,intilectually ect or the monetary or physical value of that that surplus that has been distributed if they so choose either personally or collectively to sell,exchange or barter said things.

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Re: Ethical Socialism

Post by Isakenaz on Thu Jan 17, 2013 6:29 am

Just to butt in on this debate;
How would a system of labour values be better than money? In the end all that it would do is simply alter the word Pounds, or Dollars, to 'Hours'. A surplus of labour value would still arise and would be taken advantage of by certain individuals. Surely you would still get 'capitalists' but instead of a capital of money, you would have a capital of labour hours.
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Re: Ethical Socialism

Post by Celtiberian on Thu Jan 17, 2013 8:45 am

Isakenaz wrote:Just to butt in on this debate;
How would a system of labour values be better than money? In the end all that it would do is simply alter the word Pounds, or Dollars, to 'Hours'. A surplus of labour value would still arise and would be taken advantage of by certain individuals. Surely you would still get 'capitalists' but instead of a capital of money, you would have a capital of labour hours.

First of all, labor vouchers are nontransferable and oxidizable, meaning they can only be used by the specific individual they're issued to and have to be spent within a certain time span (thereby ensuring that they cannot be accumulated as money is). Secondly, they were always intended to supplement a labor-managed, planned economy—not as a mere currency reform within capitalism.

Advocates of labor vouchers claim that they're the most effective method to eliminate capitalist exploitation. As W. Paul Cockshott and Allin Cottrell explain:

"Suppose a worker is employed for 40 hours a week. If he is not to be exploited, then the wages he gets for that work should allow him to buy goods and services that took 40 hours of work to produce. Although goods do not come with their labour content stamped on them, like the caloric content on cereal packets, it is in principle possible to calculate labour content. It is clear that in this case there would be no exploitation. A week's work as a cook or a bus driver would just be exchanged for the same amount of work by those who supply the employee with her wants and necessities: farmers, cloth-workers, bakers, actors, etc."
W. Paul Cockshott and Allin Cottrell, Towards a New Socialism (Philadelphia: Coronet Books Inc., 1993), p. 12.

The reason Robert Owen's labor voucher scheme failed was because disputes eventually arose between workers regarding the value of the products stored at the National Equitable Labour Exchange depots and the time it took to produce them. This problem is solved in Cockshott and Cottrell's model through an intricate cybernetic planning system and effort ratings.

As a proponent of participatory planning, I consider labor vouchers unnecessary for both abolishing capitalist exploitation and arriving at reasonable prices for products. I only brought them up because TheocWulf wrote that he was unopposed to "different wages" being paid to workers depending on their position within the division of labor, which I claimed violates the standard of justice the ethical socialists he cited espoused.

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"Nationality. . . is a historic, local fact which, like all real and harmless facts, has the right to claim general acceptance. . . Every people, like every person, is involuntarily that which it is and therefore has a right to be itself. . . Nationality is not a principle; it is a legitimate fact, just as individuality is. Every nationality, great or small, has the incontestable right to be itself, to live according to its own nature. This right is simply the corollary of the general principle of freedom."
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Re: Ethical Socialism

Post by Isakenaz on Thu Jan 17, 2013 10:08 am

Thanks for the explanation Celtiberian. Very Happy
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Re: Ethical Socialism

Post by Leveller on Mon Apr 15, 2013 1:20 pm

Internationaler Sozialistischer Kampfbund, International Socialist Militant League.

Quote from Wikipedia:

The ISK never set out to amass a large membership, but rather to be come an active and hard-hitting organization. Membership requirements for prospective candidates included adherence to a certain ethical socialism that were more stringent than for the major parties.

- Members were to abstain from nicotine, alcohol and meat, were to be absolutely punctual and orderly, and because of the anti-clerical position of the organization, withdrawal from church affiliation was mandatory
- Participation in a trade union, the ISK and the labor movement was general requirement for members (eliminating passive membership)
- Instead of a membership fee, there was a "Party tax," which all members with an income over 150 Reichsmarks had to pay

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Re: Ethical Socialism

Post by TheocWulf on Mon Apr 15, 2013 3:26 pm

Any particular reason for the above Leveller?

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Re: Ethical Socialism

Post by Leveller on Tue Apr 16, 2013 5:48 am

The topic is ethical socialism. Leonard Nelson, the founder of the ISK was a Kantian ethicist, and he advocated socialism, human and animal rights from that framework.

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Re: Ethical Socialism

Post by elysium on Tue May 21, 2013 11:51 pm

From what I've read, Ethical Socialism is idealism-based (love for fellow man, fellowship), rather than materialist-based (growth through struggle), with a doctrine premised on a set of moral principles one is expected to defer to, in avoiding greed and selfishness, as a matter of duty-or the "categorical imperative" as put forth by Immanuel Kant. This is in contrast to the Marxian view,that all social, cultural, and political development is determined by economic conditions "the materialist conception of history," and the struggle thereof. Whereas the ethical socialists tend to be dismissive of capitalism, or outright shun it, and denounce its ills, they take a pacifist approach, in that they largely ignore it. Materialists, by and large, advocate a doctrine of determinism, with primary emphasis on economic production and distribution (i.e., wresting control of the "means of production").

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