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Explotation under Capitalism

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Eurynomus
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I would love to be able to answer this question myself, but alas, I am still young, and do not have a full grasp on what capitalism truly means.

The common argument --at least that I have encountered-- against capitalism being put up by Marxists is the one of exploitation. Every Marxist I have talked to has asked the same question: How can you ethically justify capitalism when there are scenarios where businesses use and exploit children or other people in general in some third world nation [by under-paying them, I assume is what they are referencing] to produce their product?

Thoughts on this?

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Every Marxist I have talked to has asked the same question: How can you ethically justify capitalism when there are scenarios where businesses use and exploit children or other people in general in some third world nation [by under-paying them, I assume is what they are referencing] to produce their product?

Before answering, you must first know what the questioner means by "exploit." My dictionary provides three definitions:

1. To employ to the greatest possible advantage: exploit one's talents.

2. To make use of selfishly or unethically: a country that exploited peasant labor. See synonyms at MANIPULATE.

3. To advertise; promote.

(
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
, Third Edition)

So, in what way is it (1) wrong to employ children to the greatest possible advantage? And while it is possible that the employer of children may be acting (2) selfishly, in what way is he being unethical? Is it really better to let a child go without food and clothing than to give him a job?

As for "underpaying," is there an objective criterion for that? If a laborer chooses to work for $1.00 an hour, in what sense is he underpaid? The very fact that he accepted employment at that rate establishes that $1.00 is sufficient for him.

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Here's a link to an article on the subject.

First...

Indian authorities rescued nearly 500 children, aged between five and 14 years, in one of their biggest raids across the Delhi on Monday.
But, reading on...
Most children in this room appear unhappy and confused, even though they had been rescued from their employers.

At least a dozen hands go up when Pratham volunteers ask them who wants to go back to work.

There is much that is wrong with these types of establishments; but, it is not simply the fact that the kids are under 14 and work willingly in conditions that are no different from their homes.
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The key to true capitalism is that all interaction is voluntary. Nobody is forcing anybody to do anything. They are simply interacting and trading based on mutually agreeable conditions. Any other system is dependent on people interacting with force and coercion. One cannot stress this enough.

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The key to true capitalism is that all interaction is voluntary. Nobody is forcing anybody to do anything. They are simply interacting and trading based on mutually agreeable conditions. Any other system is dependent on people interacting with force and coercion. One cannot stress this enough.

Ahhh, very good call. You're right, once cannot stress that enough, and I have seen that very thing said hundreds of times. Yet, for some stupid reason, I just always forget it is as simple as that.

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also note that these third world countries are hardly in a free market situation. It is in fact the governments (the third world and first world ones) that are causing the problems. Although, I do think you can agree with the Marxists in that the situation is not ideal.

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  • 1 month later...

This might help you aswell when you are arguing with a Marxist or anyone else. Know if the person is sincere and actually cares about the poor, if they actually are of that Utilitarian breed, (if a Marxist they probably are not) then use practical and moral arguments to justify Capitalism. For example, the poor in more Capitalist countries are far better off then in other countries. Or Economic Freedom breeds economic growth and wages usually go up. Then use a moral argument such as "non-initiation of force". Those arguments should help them change their mind and become more like us Objectivists. This only works though if they do not know much, and are actually on the inside good sincere people. But if you come across an evil nihilistic type of person, whom hates the good for being good, then they most likely won't change their opinion. Just use moral arguments like "non-initation of force" to show they are morally wrong. You can throw in a practical argument but that will probably not be as succesful because they are so anti-reason.

Good people are easilly convinced. Evil people, well there is no point trying to convince, just prove them wrong in front of good people.

I don't know if that will help you any, but I just thought I would throw it out there.

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Every Marxist I have talked to has asked the same question: How can you ethically justify capitalism when there are scenarios where businesses use and exploit children or other people in general in some third world nation [by under-paying them, I assume is what they are referencing] to produce their product?

To emphasize the point made by RI1138, think of it this way.. Why don't they ask you, "How can you ethically justify capitalism when there are scenarios where businesses use and exploit children or other people in general in a capitalist nation [by under-paying them...]"?

The reason is-- because that doesn't happen in capitalist countries. Capitalist countries are always the wealthiest, safest, most stable countries. It is only the countries operating with Marxist or otherwise anti-capitalist principles that are third world. And one reason you can justify capitalist "exploitation" in these countries is that it is actually improving the lives of the people there. But you don't really need to justify it, because there's nothing inherently immoral about it anyway. Nobody's forcing those people to work (besides maybe the children's parents, which might be immoral in some cases but it's not the businesses' fault), and people should be free to choose whether they work or starve, if those are their options (they shouldn't be forced to choose starvation).

Edited by Bold Standard
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