Capitalism Kritik

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Karl Marx - The German Ideology

Karl Marx - Value, Price and Profit

Karl Marx - Wage Labour and Capital

Friedrich Engels - Socialism: Utopian and Scientific

After a intermediate understanding of those, you get a clearer understanding to the link of the Cap K.

Extra Recommendations:

Mark Fisher - Capitalist Realism

Srnicek & Williams - Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work

Hardt & Negri - Empire

Karl Marx - Das Kapital

Thomas Piketty - Capital in The 21st Century

Douzinas and Zizek - The Idea of Communism

General Thesis

Capitalism is the economic system based on:

a) Free-market ideology, when private sectors controlled the market not the state.

b) Exploitation of labor, it requires a massive amount of laborers to be exploitated for their labor. A perfect capitalist world is a "take not give" world i.e. slavery.

c) Constant circulation of commodities, when items of utility can be exchanged which strengthens the system.

A commodity is any item that can be of utility to humans.

Exploitation of People (Marx’s Theory of Alienation)

The problem with capitalism is that a small group of people own a large portion of the means of production(material used for production like minerals, labor), allowing them to monopolize earnings and subject the majority to unfair conditions. This small group is known as the bourgeoisie while the other group is known as the proletariats.

The bourgeoisie and proletariats have an oppressive relationship: proletariats are exploited by the bourgeoisie and alienated from themselves and their labor.

Take Bob, your average proletariat. Bob produces a hammer out of raw materials that cost $5. The hammer is then sold for $10. However, Bob doesn’t receive $5 – it’s the bourgeoisie (presumably Bob’s higher-up managers of the hammer factory) that receive most of the money. This is problematic because the bourgeoisie continue to give the proletariats (like Bob) less and less.

This is the idea of Surplus Value: which states that a laborer's might equal to x, but the capitalist, with the mindset of profit maximization, will pay to the work 1/2 x.

This is what is known as Marx’s theory of alienation: proletariats are alienated from their product, the act of production, their essence, and their fellow workers.

Product Alienation – workers aren’t allowed to control what they make.

Production Alienation – workers only labor so they can survive; the production of commodities doesn’t provide any satisfaction to the worker.

Essence Alienation – workers lose their sense of self and ability to flourish because they reduce themselves to their ability to work.

Group Alienation – since workers are incentivized to compete against each other in a model that tries to maximize profit, people alienate each other instead of working together to produce things.  

Generally, this alienation is when a human becomes separated from themselves: they give up their passions, desires, identity, labor, and will to live to work harder.

Exploitation of Resources

While profit and money increases, all this money comes from the human labor of the proletariats. Capitalism requires growth to sustain the market, but this growth comes from individuals and causes a resource scarcity problem. While society constantly expands under capitalism, there are not enough resources to fuel itself. This is when capitalism becomes exploitation: once we use up our resources irresponsibly, we’re totally screwed. This is a concept called the metabolic rift. Marx suggests that our massive use of natural resources would accumulate immense pressure on the environment. Overtime, it would lead to the end.

This is usually what justifies the debate-typical extinction scenarios: capitalism requires too many resources and is unsustainable, causing global warming as people search for more resources, which ends the planet and kills everyone. Other justifications for extinction include disease proliferation and war. When people run out of resources, they push into natural habitats and expose themselves to new diseases that they don’t have immunity to, causing everyone to die. Similarly, the lack of resources can cause resource wars that go nuclear.

An example is peak oil – we’ll eventually reach a point where our extraction of oil will “peak” and then permanently decrease because oil fracking will become unsustainable.

Alternative Economic Systems

There are many alternatives to capitalism – most solutions will focus on giving back control to the proletariats to make a stateless, classless, moneyless society. To transition to these systems, there needs to be a revolution to overthrow the state. Some forms of revolution and their alternatives include dual power, Marxism/Leninism, Trotskyism, counsel communism, and anarchism.

Dual power is a method to transition from capitalism to socialism/communism. It is a state-oriented approach to move towards communism by introducing socialism as a system alongside (but outside) the state. It involves community building (like free breakfast, free childcare, etc.) created by the party that demonstrates to the public that socialism works. This works by convincing people that socialism and communism are viable alternatives so that they abandon the state.

Marxism/Leninism (democratic centralism) involves a vanguard party causing a revolution and establishing a one-party state where policies are decided based on democratic decisions. The vanguard party is a political party, composed of the working class, that organizes and carries out the revolution against the state.

Trotskyism focuses on the worldwide spread of communism. It shares similar ideas to Marxism and Leninism but instead of just one state becoming communist, it focuses on the world transitioning to communism.

Counsel communism agrees that communism is good but doesn’t use the vanguard party. Instead, local collections of workers become local governments.

Anarchism is when there is no state, no capitalism, and nothing at all. People live in small communities that are off-the-grid.

Socialism is when the means of production, distribution, and exchange would all be regulated by the country as whole.

Half-Earth Socialism is when a planning body "Gosplant" determines the socio-economic and environmental direction.

Uses in Debate

The capitalism kritik (usually shortened to the “Cap K”) is a criticism of how a policy or structure increases the prevalence of capitalism.

Capitalism vs Policy Affs

A Cap K on the neg will consist of three to four parts – a link, explaining why the aff’s policy or practices causes an increase in capitalism; an impact, explaining why capitalism is bad (an extinction impact, dehumanization, etc.); an alt, explaining the alternative to the aff and what should be done to combat capitalism; and sometimes a role of the ballot (ROB), which tells the judge what kind of arguments they should prioritize in the round.

When going against a utilitarian framed policy aff, it is not necessary to run the Cap K as a ROB because both frameworks would say that extinction is bad. However, it can be strategic to add a ROB card if you have the time since it acts as a filter for what type of arguments the judge should evaluate – if you win that people should focus on capitalist discourse then the judge will evaluate the capitalism debate on a higher layer regardless of whether your opponent wins that doing the aff will cause extinction.

[Add more stuff on alienation (the stuff below)]

Other Cap Ks can focus on less of an extinction rhetoric and more on a thesis of alienation and dehumanization. Cap Ks that focused on alienation would have to focus more on the framework layer to justify why capitalism would enable alienation, and why alienation meant that life is devalued. These can also be strategic against policy affs because it proves maximizing wellbeing is impossible until you address capitalism and acts as a preclusive layer.

The most strategic Cap Ks usually involve a mix of both these arguments to uplayer as much as possible.

Capitalism vs Non-Topical Affs

A Cap K against non-topical affs works differently from a Cap K against topical affs – instead of critiquing the resolution, a Cap K will critique the method of the aff and/or parts of their theory.  

Thesis vs Non-Topical Affs

Most alternatives to capitalism require something called “party politics.” Party politics is a form of resistance strategy whereby people group together and collectively overthrow the state. However, to do this, the people must be able to unite. Individuality is damaging to the movement – it breeds competition between the proletariats which makes them less likely to work with each other. Business owners, for example, try to pit their employees against each other, forcing them to compete by offering monetary incentives like raises or promotions. Instead of working together, the working class is encouraged to fight among themselves, making it impossible to overthrow the bourgeoisie.

By being non-topical and refusing to defend the resolution, the aff is endorsing a form of individuality where they declare that they are separate from other people and resist the state by themselves. The link to the aff is that these methods fail and fracture potential movements, making resistance less effective which in turn causes capitalism to strengthen. Even if the aff claims that their specific resistance strategy can solve capitalism, compromising is bad: focusing resources on one person isn’t enough to overthrow the state.

Other Links

Although highly dependent on the type of aff read in round, there is always the possibility for other links to the critique. Often, there is a link to the method that is presented – this is usually separate from the one provided above. For example, there can be link arguments that argue the aff's methodology reifies and further's capitalism's alienation, but just provides liberal "feel-good" politics that makes it seem as if there is change being done. This is essentially a "masking argument" where the critique says the aff just masks inequality to package it nicer, which a) does not address the root of the issue (capitalism), but b) makes capitalism's influence & oppression net worse.

Capitalism Affs

There are two types of capitalism affs. The first is a non-topical affirmative that justifies a methodology to end capitalism. Although arguably non-topical, they usually have some type of correlation to the topic. These affirmatives generally follow this trend: thesis, link(s), impact, methodology/advocacy, ROB/framing. The thesis is necessary to explain what capitalism is and why it is necessarily bad (sometimes affirmatives will combine this with the impact card to make one card that explains a critique of capitalism, as well as the impacts associated with it). The link(s) is/are the reason how the status quo creates capitalism in some way/shape/form and a reason for why the situation can only be remedied through the advocacy. The advocacy then explains how solvency can occur for the capitalism K – this is generally the most important part of the aff (if the affirmative can't solve its case, there's a ballot for the negative solely on presumption). The ROB or role of the ballot is a framing mechanism that is used to explain how the round should be adjudicated and what the judge ought prefer in their decision calculus. Often this can be different from utilitarianism, but is quite specific to the impact/thesis presented in the aff – for example, if the aff goes for structural violence impacts, reading a utilitarian framing would not be strategic.

The second is a topical capitalism aff. Typically, this Cap aff will have a link to why the status quo causes capitalism and why passing the aff is key to reformist movements that help transition to other alternatives (communism, socialism, etc.). Like a Cap K on the neg, Cap affs have an impact detailing why capitalism is harmful.

For example, take the 2021 NovDec LD topic “Resolved: A just government ought to recognize the unconditional right of workers to strike.” A Cap aff could say that if workers don’t have the right to strike, their employers can oppress them and force them to work for inhumane pay, causing capitalism by strengthening private owners.

Responding to Capitalism

Acronym: FPOSTAL

1. Framework-A common answer is: We get to weigh the consequences of the Aff vs a competitive policy proposal or the status quo----Then standards.

2: Perms:

Common CP perms like Perm do both and Perm do the CP applies. A special one can be perm double bind, which is either the alt is strong and it can include the aff, or the alt is weak and it needs the aff. i.e. You can say that socialism is weak and need capitalist development to fuel the its economy.

3: Offense:

Good impact turns like Cap Good would be the most effective.

4: Theory:

Vague alts bad, Utopian alts bad, Condo, Floating PIKs(Plan inclusive Kritiks) bad are great.

5: Solvency:

Alt doesn't solve, i.e. a communist society can't solve for emissions required for industrial civilization. Alt fails cards are key.

6: Alt bad:

Talk about how the alt creates problems, i.e. communism transforms into police states easily, causes more conflict. Empirics of USSR.

7: Link:

No link args.