The Exploitation Debate: Ben Burgis VS. Antony Sammeroff
An interesting libertarian/ancap vs Marxist debate. I tend to lend more toward the idea that concentrated economic power is the primary problem rather than wage labor per se and that the relationship between the state and economic elites (the “power elite”) is what makes massive concentrations of economic power possible.
Intro notes by Martin of Barrow
Ben Burgis of Zero Books and Antony Sammeroff of the Scottish Liberty Podcast debate the Marxist theory of the exploitation of wage laborers by capitalists.
I hoped this debate would begin with a precise definition of “capitalism” rather than a vague definition of “exploitation”. Marx associates the capitalist mode of production with states granting privileges far beyond simple ownership of a productive means by a producer, with the Bank of England and the East India Company for example. When Antony discusses a state licensing businesses to limit competition for labor, he is discussing capitalism in Marxist terms, not a deviation from capitalism.
Burgis correctly describes capitalists as rent-seekers, but he conflates entrepreneurial profit with monopoly rent. I’d like more discussion
of this distinction.
Does Burgis associate capitalism with any monopolization of any resource by any individual whatsoever? May I exclusively possess a lawnmower to mow my lawn? If so, may I ask a neighbor to mow the lawn using my lawnmower, offering the neighbor something in return?
Burgis talks a lot about voting. Voting for what? If I pay a neighbor to mow my lawn with my mower, must I offer him a vote on where I buy the gas for the mower and how much I pay for it?
If I pay the neighbor less to mow my lawn than I earn selling books during the same time (if I profit from the exchange through comparative advantage), must I offer the neighbor a vote on how I spend the difference between his lawn mowing earnings and my bookselling earnings? Must the neighbor vote on the subject of my books? If I earn less selling books on a given day, does the neighbor owe me a vote?
Does a wage laborer not vote for an employer when he accepts the employment?