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    (Original post by Oswy)
    Ok, but simply saying agency 'clearly *does* exist to some extent' is not actually an argument as to how it exists, especially given the contexts I've highlighted, such as cause and effect brain processes, socialisation and so on. You're making a statement about what you believe, not an argument about why you believe it. Let me put it another way, what specifically about human thought and action can't be most obviously, and scientifically, explained in a structuralist way? Once you start believing in 'free floating' agency you're heading for a free-will argument, imv, and that's a difficult one to defend.
    Things that can't be explained satisfactorily by a purely structuralist approach (IMO):

    1. Deviance - why do people deviate from or reject structures?
    2. Change - why do structures change if not because agents no longer find them suitable?


    Humans are a 'natural' phenomenon like anything else that exists, so I don't see why 'naturalistic' scientific approaches are inherently impossible, or undesirable. Yes, we're complicated, so taking such a scientific approach is difficult, but that's not a reason to reject the idea.
    Yes people are a 'natural' phenomenon but the difference between studying people as opposed to (say) plants is that it's not possible to take a detached, objective view because the researcher is not an observer but also a reflexive participant in the social world. Furthermore human beigns have varied so greatly over time and space that formulating scientific laws about human behaviour is pretty much impossible; a good example is Duverger's Law which turned out to be pretty much untrue and has had to have numerous 'revisions' to the point where it's basically meaningless, or Marx's 'scientific socialism' which groups outside of Europe have had a hard time applying to their own societies because these societies have developed in different ways.

    I'd also question the idea that Marxism is unfalsifiable. Indeed I'd question the assumption that scientific theories always, or even often, are. In many instances scientific theories are put before no more than a test of 'verifiability' as it happens. Who knows, one day an apply might just fall up into the sky I suppose it's possible that we can't falsify Marx's predictions right now in that we can't necessarily falisfy the theory that protons decay right now, if the prediction requires a set of events to have taken place which is still in our future.
    Yeah and this is the common reply Marxists give (i.e. Critical Realism - bits of positivism that prove my point are right and bits that don't aren't). I just don't find it particularly satisfactory.
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    One of the major reasons is because rich people control the media. They, of course, favour capitalism. If you control the media, you control people's minds.
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    (Original post by baffled_mathman)
    One of the major reasons is because rich people control the media. They, of course, favour capitalism. If you control the media, you control people's minds.
    Oh yes of course, evil people implanting ideas in your brains all inception style.

    :facepalm: Don't be an idiot, people are not forced to read the media nor are the medias' opinions forced on them, it is them who CHOOSE to listen to it.
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    (Original post by Ocassus)
    Oh yes of course, evil people implanting ideas in your brains all inception style.

    :facepalm: Don't be an idiot, people are not forced to read the media nor are the medias' opinions forced on them, it is them who CHOOSE to listen to it.
    I get his point. All the big newspapers out there try to feed you absolute crap (mainly tabloids). Im more talking in the sense of 'dumbing down' for instance when you read the sun to find out a story about a man who sued Lynx because he used their products for 12 years but hasn't met one girl yet.... (unlike what the adverts portray)

    But yeah if you get my point, there are only a few decent media sources out there.
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    (Original post by arabcnesbit)
    It required land when land meant wealth, then after the industrial revolution wealth was made through factories and capital, then came the information age where a kid can make a billion from his bedroom armed only with an idea.

    Also what would happen to these people being exploited if the evil capitalists didn't pay them for their labour? It's similar to the argument against child labour in victorian times in our country. If the kids didn't work, they starved. Capitalism provided them with the opportunity of life. There can be no greater gift than that.
    Shouldn't they have a right to life? Capitalism has made them earn than right. In other systems they would be born with it.
    Every 'ism' is as bad as the other. That's why i like Marx so much. Marxism was 'transition period' not an economic system.
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    Well the last global recession wiped out millions of people across the world in terms of employment, housing and living standards.

    We are yet to feel the full force of the cuts in the UK - Each recession is getting bigger and more devastating with each cycle, the amount of debt is getting larger and larger.

    Would it be too farfetched to predict that within the next three cycles, if things continue along the same path, that the normal people who directly suffer from these recessions, whilst the few elite benefit in ridiculous proportions dont - There will be uprising?

    Look at Greece though... Uprising achieved nothing.
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    (Original post by Jampolo)
    I get his point. All the big newspapers out there try to feed you absolute crap (mainly tabloids). Im more talking in the sense of 'dumbing down' for instance when you read the sun to find out a story about a man who sued Lynx because he used their products for 12 years but hasn't met one girl yet.... (unlike what the adverts portray)

    But yeah if you get my point, there are only a few decent media sources out there.
    :dontknow: They choose to buy it?

    I would only agree with him in the sense that the BBC, the free, state news outlet, inherently swings about like a rocket powered pendulum, and that shouldn't be the case.
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    (Original post by arabcnesbit)
    Or that Marx was wrong. Capitalism doesn't exploit, it enables. People get more out of capitalism than what they put in. If you have more skills, you get paid more. If you work longer, you get paid more. If you save money, then you can invest it and capitalism will work very well for you.

    In order for capitalism to survive, people have to save and invest. No matter how highly paid your job is if you spend all your money, you are no more than a slave. Capitalism rewards those who learn to play the game.

    So learn to play the game.

    I think you should probably read capital (or at least read it more thoroughly), because capitalism is clearly exploitative...

    If you work longer, then you get paid more. However, you do not earn the whole value of the work you complete, surplus value is gained by the employer; otherwise, how would they ever profit from you selling your labour?

    Furthermore, third world countries are blatantly exploited, so i'm afraid your argument doesn't really stand up....
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    (Original post by AidyD)
    Well the last global recession wiped out millions of people across the world in terms of employment, housing and living standards.

    We are yet to feel the full force of the cuts in the UK - Each recession is getting bigger and more devastating with each cycle, the amount of debt is getting larger and larger.

    Would it be too farfetched to predict that within the next three cycles, if things continue along the same path, that the normal people who directly suffer from these recessions, whilst the few elite benefit in ridiculous proportions dont - There will be uprising?

    Look at Greece though... Uprising achieved nothing.
    Funnily enough, I am writing an essay on just that. 'Why don't the poor rebel more often'. :p:
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    (Original post by Relaxicat)
    I think you should probably read capital (or at least read it more thoroughly), because capitalism is clearly exploitative...

    If you work longer, then you get paid more. However, you do not earn the whole value of the work you complete, surplus value is gained by the employer; otherwise, how would they ever profit from you selling your labour?

    Furthermore, third world countries are blatantly exploited, so i'm afraid your argument doesn't really stand up....
    And the employer deserves that surplus work?

    Socialists seem to forget that whatever the workers are producing, the employer has intellectual claim to it because he designed it or facilitated its production.
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    (Original post by arabcnesbit)
    Your missing the point though, anyone can join the few. No one said it is easy, but nothing in life worth having is easy. It takes discipline and hard work. Very few people make it due to luck compared to those that worked hard and took advantage of the opportunities presented to them.

    I think we've discussed your technology point before and also how to solve structural unemployment. If people refuse to move or retrain, you can't really help them can you?
    A further point about Capitalism is that the means of production become owned by a small group of bourgeois capitalists, so really there isn't much freedom, nor much chance for the individual to progress, no matter how hard he works.
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    (Original post by Jampolo)
    Shouldn't they have a right to life? Capitalism has made them earn than right. In other systems they would be born with it.
    Every 'ism' is as bad as the other. That's why i like Marx so much. Marxism was 'transition period' not an economic system.
    In truth, nobody has a right to anything. I could stick a gun up to your head and shoot you right now, and take away your right to life. I would just forfeit my own rights in the process.

    You don't inherently gain it and never get it taken away. It just becomes less likely, because people have to suffer the repercussions of their actions.
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    (Original post by Relaxicat)
    A further point about Capitalism is that the means of production become owned by a small group of bourgeois capitalists, so really there isn't much freedom, nor much chance for the individual to progress, no matter how hard he works.
    Except that in the western world that is untrue. As generally the richest individuals do not 'produce' anything, but provide tertiary services.

    Doctors, Lawyers, Bankers, Pilots, ISPs, etc.
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    (Original post by Ocassus)
    And the employer deserves that surplus work?

    Socialists seem to forget that whatever the workers are producing, the employer has intellectual claim to it because he designed it or facilitated its production.

    The individual employer is entitled to the surplus value because the means of production are owned by him, yes. However, he is free to exploit the labour of, say, factory workers because of the overarching system of capitalism, and due to this system the aforementioned workers have no choice but to work for him because they have no means of production themselves.

    So the problem is not just to do with the employer.
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    (Original post by Ocassus)
    Except that in the western world that is untrue. As generally the richest individuals do not 'produce' anything, but provide tertiary services.

    Doctors, Lawyers, Bankers, Pilots, ISPs, etc.
    Doctors, Lawyers, Bankers etc do not belong to the capitalist, upper class. They are more petit-bourgeois
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    (Original post by Ocassus)
    Except that in the western world that is untrue. As generally the richest individuals do not 'produce' anything, but provide tertiary services.

    Doctors, Lawyers, Bankers, Pilots, ISPs, etc.
    By virtue of the fact that they don't, and can't, produce anything.
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    (Original post by Relaxicat)
    The individual employer is entitled to the surplus value because the means of production are owned by him, yes. However, he is free to exploit the labour of, say, factory workers because of the overarching system of capitalism, and due to this system the aforementioned workers have no choice but to work for him because they have no means of production themselves.

    So the problem is not just to do with the employer.
    But you are still ignoring the intellectual part of the argument....
    He has achieved the means of production probably through investment in him and his ideas, which he has gained through work which most workers haven't been able to produce themselves.
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    (Original post by Relaxicat)
    Doctors, Lawyers, Bankers etc do not belong to the capitalist, upper class. They are more petit-bourgeois
    The 'Capitalist, upper-class' of which you speak is pretty much gone from the western world. There are massive companies such as foxconn etc, but they are pretty much all nestled in places where cheap labour can be found. This argument can only be applied on a globalized scale, but not in western societies such as the UK or US.

    The richest in society, as I have said before, tend to be providers or intellectual services or products. Not of workers and cheap labour.
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    (Original post by Gremlins)
    Things that can't be explained satisfactorily by a purely structuralist approach (IMO):

    1. Deviance - why do people deviate from or reject structures?
    2. Change - why do structures change if not because agents no longer find them suitable?

    Yes people are a 'natural' phenomenon but the difference between studying people as opposed to (say) plants is that it's not possible to take a detached, objective view because the researcher is not an observer but also a reflexive participant in the social world. Furthermore human beigns have varied so greatly over time and space that formulating scientific laws about human behaviour is pretty much impossible; a good example is Duverger's Law which turned out to be pretty much untrue and has had to have numerous 'revisions' to the point where it's basically meaningless, or Marx's 'scientific socialism' which groups outside of Europe have had a hard time applying to their own societies because these societies have developed in different ways.

    Yeah and this is the common reply Marxists give (i.e. Critical Realism - bits of positivism that prove my point are right and bits that don't aren't). I just don't find it particularly satisfactory.
    We might be talking at cross-purposes here as my references to structure are not intended as references to 'structuralism' as it is associated with the likes of Saussure, Levi-Strauss, Foucault etc. I'm supporting the idea of human thoughts and action as structured in more general terms, i.e. in the sense that they don't occur unless as a product of deterministic cause and effect processes in the brain. Likewise with my references to the power of socialisation and the wider 'situatedness' of each individual which can't help but shape and direct what we otherwise consider as their 'agency'. But besides that, deviance is part of structured behaviour as I mean the term more generally. A whole matrix of intersecting past and present forces direct some to deviate in response to specific stimuli or circumstances just as they direct others to conform in response, because we never all experience, nor are thus formed by, the exact same 'decision generating' forces in exactly the same way. Just as most people like chocolate icecream some loath it - travelling backwards in time we should expect there to be a matrix of forces, from our genetics to our pre-school experiences to everything else which forms our response patterns and which would, ultimately, explain our icecream preferences. The same goes for the issue of change. Plants go through change as they respond to their environmental experiences and in accordance with their physiological constitutions, but we don't have to regard a plant's change as evidence of its 'agency' as it is ordinarily understood.

    Yes, the fact that the study of humans is undertaken by humans themselves does suggest likely methodological and interpretive problems, but I don't know that they are insurmountable. After all, by scientific taxonomic standards humans are mammals and yet we don't struggle to study other, non-human, mammals, do we? So where do we draw the line? We're a carbon-based life form too, does that make our study of carbon-based life forms problematic? In the other direction your line of resoning might lead us to state that women are poor candidates for the study of women or black people poor candidates for the study of black people. I think that line of reasoning goes bad quickly. I appreciate your references to flawed approaches, Eurocentrism and so on, but the existence of bad science in some fields doesn't make science necessarily bad in those fields.
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    (Original post by Ocassus)
    But you are still ignoring the intellectual part of the argument....
    He has achieved the means of production probably through investment in him and his ideas, which he has gained through work which most workers haven't been able to produce themselves.
    What exactly is the intellectual part of the argument?

    The capitalist factory owner has not got there through hard work, and this is rather the point, as Marx says (capital 473):

    "Since the production and the circulation of commodities are the general prerequisites of the capitalist mode of production, division of labour in manufacture requires that a division of labour within society should have already attained a certain degree of development. Inversely, the division of labour in manufacture reacts back upon that society, developing and multiplying it further. "

    So it's a class issue. The lumpenproletariat can't 'gain through work which most workers haven't been able to produce themselves'.
 
 
 
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