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Re: Communism, self-employment, and capitalism

Posted by Satya J. Gabriel on October 22, 2001 at 00:13:48:

In Reply to: Communism, self-employment, and capitalism posted by Julie B on October 21, 2001 at 23:26:20:

: Is it possible to have a combination of two or three economic systems in a business?

Yes. This is, in fact, common.

For example if I own a small little...bakery where I did the baking and the selling myself, benefitting from my own labor and getting the profits, that would be self -employment right?

Yes, it would be self-employment.

but what if my little bakery got well known and there was a high demand for the bake goods, but i couldn't keep up

If the society had laws against wage labor and slavery and serfdom, then you might have to take on partners. You could work together to meet the demand, pooling your resources to lower individual costs, but only taking the profits generated from your individual labors. In this case, you would have a partnership of self-employed producers (in my doctoral disseration I called this an ancient partnership, for reasons I'd be happy to share if you ask).

so i decide to hire someone to help me...

You could only do this if it was not only legal but considered appropriate (moral) to do so, which is most likely to be the case in a society where there is a fair amount of capitalist employment already. In which case, you might become both self-employed and capitalist.

now i would have a waged employee and that would be capitalism?

Yes.

Although what if i had a partner or a few who worked with me and got equal amounts of the work and profit...would that be communism?

Does not have to be equal. All you need for the partnership to be communism is to work together and collectively own the output and collectively decide how to distribute any surplus/profits generated from that output. (As indicated above, it could also be organized as a partnership of self-employed producers, such that the output of each baker is owned by that baker.)

I'm having a little bit of trouble having a clear understanding of these systems and how they function. Is self employment simply owning a bussiness and doing the work?

You do not have to own the business, only the output from your own work. The baker doesn't need to own the bakery. She could lease it, for example. But if she bakes the cake and owns the profits/surplus generated by selling the cake, then she is self-employed.

Is having a partner (or a few) in a bussiness considered communism?

Depends on how the surplus/profits are owned and distributed.

I hope this helps and that you were not too intimidated by my earlier posting (where I wanted to make clear the risks of going to these sources of polemical definitions, rather than doing the harder work of reading social scientific texts).

GOOD QUESTIONS, Julie.


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