Monday, 9 January 2012

High Pay, Capital And The Tories

Reality is complex, or as Lenin put it, “The truth is always concrete”, which is the basic principle of the dialectic. For many things in normal life, its possible to get by with superficialities and generalisations. This is the stuff of formal logic, where the world is black and white, rather than a spectrum, whose colours blur into each other. So, Marxists who operate with the view of class sketched out by Marx and Engels in “The Communist Manifesto”, for propagandistic purposes, in which society increasingly divides into two hostile camps, Bourgeois and Proletarians, are no Marxists at all, because as Engels makes clear in his letter to Bloch, their view of class is far more complex, far more nuanced than that. Similarly, it is an easy piece of shorthand to say something like, “The Tories are the Party of the Bourgeoisie; Labour is the Party created by the proletarians, but whose ideas were always based on the needs of Capital, and whose leaders long ago sold out to the Capitalists, whereas the Liberals can't even make their own minds up about themselves.” All of these general ideas have some validity, but they can hardly tell us anything really useful about any of these parties in general, let alone about their particular actions. Using this schematic, it would be almost impossible, for example, to understand why the Tories should now be proposing what appears to be an attack on their class interests, by proposing limitations on the high pay of Executives. In fact, a Marxist analysis has no difficulty in explaining it.

Just as classes are not monolithic, homogeneous blocs, so too with mass political parties. It has been said, for example, of the US Republican Party, that its current round of Primaries has shown that it is basically made up of three major constituencies. Firstly, there is the Libertarian wing, which favours small government, balanced budgets and so on, and whose figurehead is Ron Paul. Secondly, there is the Republican Establishment, whose main concern is not any particular point of political principle other than to win elections. They are, therefore, prepared to bend with the wind in order to pick up sufficient middle ground voters to go with their core support to ensure victory. They are represented by Mitt Romney. Finally, there is the Religious Right, which is concerned with banning abortion, and even contraception and so on. It frequently supports the small government agenda of the Libertarians, but unlike the Libertarians, it wants the State to intervene in people's lives to tell them what their morals should be. The Tea Partiers tend to be divided between the Religious Right, and the Libertarians. The Religious Right have attempted to put forward several candidates to act as their figurehead, in order to oppose Romney, but all have crashed and burned. But, the Republicans are not unique, these and other kinds of divisions are a feature of all mass political parties, including the Tories.

The Tories, as Marx describes, began as the Party not of the bourgeoisie, but of their enemies, the old ruling Feudal Aristocracy. In fact, during the 19th century, when that class saw itself being usurped by the Bourgeoisie, a section of it, and of its Party, attempted to win over the workers to its cause. Marx describes it as Reactionary Socialism. Some of them, like the Countess of warwick, even found their way into Hyndman's Social Democratic Federation. The Tories also, as Engels describes, even financed Keir Hardie's election campaign. It was frequently, the Tory representatives who were the ones advocating various forms of social reform, who put forward the legislation on working-time etc. It was Manchester Liberalism, which was the red in tooth and claw representative of the industrial bourgeoisie. But, rather like the workers in the Middle East today have allied with their new enemies in the bourgeoisie, against their old enemies, in the Bonapartist State, so in the 19th Century, the British workers lined up with their new enemies in the industrial bourgeoisie against their old enemies within the Feudal Aristocracy. After all, at the beginning of that century, Peasant life, and the oppression of that old ruling class was within living memory of many workers, or for their parents or grandparents, who had been forced off the land by the Enclosure Acts, and more open robbery by that Aristocracy.

As Marx, sets out, it was not that the Tories changed their class affiliation, it was that the class they represented itself became bourgeois!!! That meant that all of the contradictions which go along with that became entrenched within the Tory Party. Those contradictions continue until today. They were shown vividly at the beginning of the 1960's in the division between the old Patrician Wing of the Party, and that wing represented by people like Heath and Thatcher, the embodiment of the Grammar School educated, offspring of the up and coming middle classes. It persisted when Thatcher was Prime Minister, many of her opponents coming from within the Patrician wing of the Party. Eton educated Cameron, and his cohort are part of that wing of the Party.

In the 19th century, many of the old Aristocracy, where they did not extend their family business of land-owning, into Capitalist farming or mineral extraction, or into vast Colonial estates, used their accumulated Capital to move into Banking and Finance. They saw engagement in industrial or other commercial activity as beneath them, and the function of the nouveau riche bourgeois. Not for nothing are they referred to as the Financial Aristocracy. Most of the British Banks obtained their initial Capital from the activities of the Aristocracy in the Triangle Trade, whereby they brought slaves from Africa to their plantations in the Caribbean, bringing the products of those plantations back to Britain. It is not surprising then that a section of the Tory Party have always had a close connection with this Aristocracy of Finance, as well as their continued links with the large landed estates. The Tories links with the bourgeoisie proper, the industrial bourgeoisie, developed out of the failure of the Liberals.

The Liberals sought to reconcile the contradictory interests of the workers and the industrial bourgeoisie. The idea, borne out of the notion, put forward by Adam Smith, Ricardo and others, of both being part of the producing class, as against the non-productive landlords, and founded in practice in their joint struggle against Landlordism, was bound to founder, because of the inherent contradiction of interests between these two classes. The Liberals in Britain, filled the same function essentially as the Bourgeois Republicans in France, who aligned with the workers in the Montagne. But, as I set out in my post At Last The Liberals Commit Hari Kiri, this basic contradiction within the Liberals was bound to blow them apart, once the workers themselves began to organise a Party of their own. Once that happened, the Tories became the natural Party for the bourgeoisie as a whole, with all of the contradictions, which that itself entailed.

Whenever the actions of the Tories are analysed, it is important to remember that, even aside from the minor limitations, placed upon them by their Coalition with the Liberals, these contradictory influences are continually at play. But, more than that. Just as with the Establishment Wing of the US Republicans, any mass, bourgeois-democratic Party has one main concern, and that is to be elected. There tends to be an attitude amongst some on the Left, which virtually sees bourgeois democracy in conspiratorial terms. In part, that comes from Lenin, who on occasion seems to see the election of Governments as being controlled by the ruling class. Trotsky also talks, for example, about Social Democracy, even left Social Democracy being a final choice for the ruling class to pacify the working-class, before it is forced to resort to Fascism. This assumes that the bourgeoisie are themselves able to determine that choice of Government. Undoubtedly, they can, via their control of the media etc., influence the outcomes of elections, but it is almost certainly marginal. The Sun might have proclaimed “It was the Sun What Won It”, when Neil Kinnock lost the election, but Labour Party internal polling and research showed that it was Kinnock, and the Labour Leadership that had lost the election, not the Sun that won it for the Tories. Nor, in fact, could all of the media support, for the Tories, in the last election, win a majority for Cameron, despite the unpopularity of Gordon Brown, and Labour.

It is the need to be elected and maintain electoral support that is the main dynamic for bourgeois-democratic political parties. That means that Right of Centre Parties have to address the concerns of their core supporters, and tack sufficiently to the Centre to pick up the additional votes needed to be elected, whilst Left of Centre parties have to do the same thing from the other direction. How successfully they can do that depends upon where exactly the Centre is at any one time, and how polarised the support of each Party is. That is part of what is causing the Republicans such problems in the US at the present time, with much of its base looking to choose a candidate that would be so far to the Right as to be unelectable, but with much of that base potentially deserting if the Establishment is successful in getting Romney selected, who is seen by many of the Republican Right as a socialist no different to Obama!!!

It is also what explains the attitude of the Right of Centre parties in the US, in Britain and in Europe in relation to the debt crisis and austerity. For, 30 years the dominant approach has been that of Monetarism, and of control of deficits – even if it was practised more in the exception than the rule. But, when it reaches a situation where it is seen as a crisis, Right of Centre parties are led to reach for orthodoxy straight away, in order to distinguish themselves from their opponents. That is why the Tories, went from saying they would match or exceed Labour's spending plans until just months before the Election, and then switched to claim that Britain was a basket case like Greece that could only be saved by drastic austerity! But, it is also why in the US, the Democrats, who occupy a position similar to that, which the Liberal Party held prior to the establishment of the Labour Party, has instead ignored the massive debt and deficit, and has engaged in large scale fiscal stimulus, to haul the economy away from the danger of recession, which would both damage the interests of Big Capital in the US, and damage the Democrats chances of ensuring that US Workers come out to vote for them.

The same factors can be seen lying behind Cameron's recent actions. The Tories are thoroughly divided over Europe. Part of the Party, which represents the interests of Big Capital is pro-Europe. Another part, which instead represents all of those small minded, reactionary ideas of the small capitalist, the frightened middle classes, and backward workers is anti-Europe. Big Capital sees its main profits coming from a large powerful Europe, a Europe that is modern and forward looking, that operates like a fully fledged state, and is able to counter the US State, the Japanese State, Chinese State etc. within the global economy, within the international quasi state bodies established by Capital to regulate its activities on a global basis. For Big Capital, the excesses of Eurocrats, the costs of improving workers conditions via the Working-Time Directive, Health & Safety regulations and so on, are minor issues, part of the faux frais of production as Marx describes them. But, for the frightened Middle Class, that sees a danger, a threat to its way of life around every corner, and for the Small Capitalists for whom these concessions to civilisation are seen only as an intolerable burden, there is every reason to object, to insist on control being kept at a national level and so on.

So, it is no wonder that Cameron, besides seeking to look after that bastion of the Patricians, the City of London, also sought to accommodate the views of the Tory base, in his EU walk-out, despite the threat it placed upon UK industrial Capital, and its relations with its European partners. Ironically, even the UK Financial Capitalists spoke out about the threats that Cameron's actions had posed for their own activities.

Similar factors can be seen in relation to Cameron's populist campaign in relation to the High Pay of Executives. Who exactly is threatened by Cameron's proposals? Certainly Big Capital is not threatened by these proposals. On the contrary, to the extent that they reduce the salaries of Executives, employed by Big Capital, it will increase Profits! Big Capitalists do not accrue their wealth by the payment of income, but via the increase in value of their assets, shares, Bonds, and other investments. As I pointed out in my post Who Are The Middle Classes?, someone like Lakshmi Mittal, who owns Mittal Steel, is worth £20 billion. Simply putting that in the bank at 2% interest would bring in £400 million a year. But, in fact, with average dividends of around 5%, the actual figure would be more like £1 billion a year, even without any Capital Gain on the share holdings. But, Cameron's proposals say nothing about limiting this unearned income. Similarly, there is no restrictions to limit the earnings of footballers, pop stars, writers, actors and so on, which can frequently exceed those of Executives.

The proposals will not affect many of the Tories core supporters and members either. The frightened Middle Classes, with their incomes of £100,000 and above no doubt look on as much in askance as ordinary workers at the salaries of £1 million and above that some of these Executives take away. Many of the small Capitalists too, probably look on with some envy at Executives taking home such payments without risking their own Capital, in the way the small Capitalist has to do. Its to these voters, and to any workers they can pick up, that Cameron's latest piece of populism is addressed.

Yet, in reality, most of these Executives themselves are closer to the small capitalists than they are to Big Capital. Indeed, many of the Executives have either been, or go on to become, small Capitalists themselves. In reality, they form a part of the bureaucracy of Big Capital, in the same way that the Labour and Trade Union Leaders form a bureaucracy of the Labour Movement. Their position is likewise contradictory. It is also why, the representatives of this strata, people such as John Cridland, of the CBI, frequently represent the interests not of Big Capital, but of the Small Capitalists and Middle Classes upon whom the Tories are based. As Marx says in “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte”,

“Only one must not get the narrow-minded notion that the petty bourgeoisie, on principle, wishes to enforce an egoistic class interest. Rather, it believes that the special conditions of its emancipation are the general conditions within whose frame alone modern society can be saved and the class struggle avoided. Just as little must one imagine that the democratic representatives are indeed all shopkeepers or enthusiastic champions of shopkeepers. According to their education and their individual position they may be as far apart as heaven and earth. What makes them representatives of the petty bourgeoisie is the fact that in their minds they do not get beyond the limits which the latter do not get beyond in life, that they are consequently driven, theoretically, to the same problems and solutions to which material interest and social position drive the latter practically. This is, in general, the relationship between the political and literary representatives of a class and the class they represent.”

If we assume that the average Executive achieves their top pay of say £5 million, for around 20 years, then, even were they to accumulate all of it, they would have only a tenth of the increase in wealth of Lakshmi Mittal in just one year!!! In fact, as actual UK earnings, they would be more likely to pay half of it to the taxman, whereas Big Capital can largely avoid paying Tax at all. But, Cameron knows that he is safe in making such proposals. He will not lose the votes of these Executives, and if he did, it would be more than compensated in additional votes from elsewhere. But, he knows he is safe, because he realises that these Executives know why he he has proposed it, and also know that in practice no such proposals will be capable of effective implementation. The only way to control the pay of executives is if it is set by the workers in the Company, and the only way that will happen is if workers themselves own the Company, as happens in the many worker owned enterprises, that currently outperform the FTSE 100 by around 10% a year.

But, with increasing fears about rising wage claims as inflation continues to climb, there is another reason for Cameron's proposals. It is that, which I set out in my post, Beware Of Greeks Bearing Gifts. That is it can act as a trojan horse to implement more general pay controls, extending those already applied in the State Capitalist sector. With the workers at Unilever, showing the way, and standing up to strike against cuts in their pensions, the Tories must be worried that it could presage more wider worker resistance in the coming year.


davidjc said...

Broadly, what you say must be right, but I wonder what you think about the way plenty of centre-left parties have swallowed the austerity medicine?

In Greece, Spain and Ireland they've been in governments putting through the spending cuts. In Italy, they cheered when the bankers hit town and in the US, allowing for what you say about the federal stimulus packages, cuts at the state level, often with Democrats in charge, have been more severe than in the UK, France or Germany.

Granted, the US appears more willing to improvise, but from a starting position of spending clawback, from what I can gather. Also, in your piece on Keynes etc. the other day, you mentioned that the new jobs created in the US were of a high-skill nature, but elsewhere I've read that most were in low-end McJob type roles. Not saying you're wrong, just wondered!

It might be that the US only looks 'Kenynesian' when compared to the goings on in the EU asylum. It's not like they're out of the woods yet and if there's another shock - Greece, Iran, Egypt? - it's hard to see how they'll be able to come up with a stimulus package even as puny as the last effort.

Boffy said...


I think that the answer as far as left of centre parties is concerned is answered in two ways (at least). Firstly, by the point I made about, exactly where the Centre lies. The reality is that the "austerity orthodoxy" has traction not just with the core support of right-wing populist parties like the Tories. It has been the ideology that all mainstream parties have adopted for the last 40 years - and in the conditions of the 1970's/80's/early 90's, there were good reasons from a Capitalist perspective why that was the case. As I said Keynesian fiscal stimulus had failed during that period. At the same time, the Left beyond the reformist parties had no credible alternative either. It came down to calls for more militant industriala ction at a time when workers were in general to engage in such action, and the economc conditions were not conducive for it anyway, or else ridiculous calls for the Capitalist State - even with Tory Governments - to ride to the rescue of workers via, nationalisation, stae aid of one sort or another and so on. What marx calls in the Critique of the Gotha Programme - a belief in democratic miracles.

So it is no wonder that even the working-class has imbibed the bourgeois orthodoxy, which points to the need to balanc ethe "household budget", even when they have been advised to do the exact opposite on a personal level by those bourgeois parties for the last 30 years!

So, those Left of centre parties find themselves trapped. In the hope of staying in power or gaining power, they have to bend to that Public Opinion. Miliband is doing that this very day! I think that explains the difference in the US between the Federal level and the State level, as a result of different election schedules etc. Moreover, it was easier for Obama, and the democrats in Congress to continue with fiscal expansion, precisely because the biggest fiscal boost had already been introduced by Bush and the Republicans! So its certainly not true that they are starting from a position of clawback, Bush expanding spending hugely during his term. I don't agree that the fiscal stimulus introduced by Obama has been puny, by any standard. Obama introduced a $2 Trillion stimulus for last year alone!

I've also written in the past that I think that had Brown won the last election, things would have been different. Darling's plan would have probably have been scrapped, and he would have lined up with Obama arguing for fiscal stimulus, probably on a co-ordinated international level as happened in 2008. But, in fact, what was needed in 2010, in the UK, US, in particular was not so much stimulus - there economies were in fact recovering in a traditional V shape - but was an absence of large austerity measures, and the talking down of those economies, particularly the ridiculous comparisons of the UK with Greece! It was that, which cratered the UK economy in the second half of 2010, rather than Cuts themselves. And, to be clear the deficit and the debt does have to be reduced, but the question is when and how.

On US Jobs, my information comes from the ADP Household Jobs report, which is a questionaire of households to discover who is working, found work, and what jobs they are doing etc. Its also backed up by the income data, which shows rising incomes for skilled workers where demand is rising, and falling or stagnant incomes for the unskilled where it is not.

Whether the US is out of the woods or not, does not change the fact that they have been engaged in a significant Keynesian stimulus. Whether it could be still bigger, as some such as Krugman,Stiglietz, and some Democrat politicians suggest is moot in that regard. For that reason, I don't see any reason why they will not be able to come up with a bigger stimulus were there to be some exogenous shock. Most economists beleive the US only has a long term, not a short term debt problem. In fact, an exogenous shock might force European politicians to join them in fiscal stimulus.

Jacob Richter said...

I support pay controls to the extent that they're reduced to the median levels of professional workers and other skilled workers. The populist stuff against executive pay should be welcomed.

Anonymous said...

I think that explains the difference in the US between the Federal level and the State level, as a result of different election schedules etc.

I believe the difference is due to the fact that the federal government can print or otherwise create money out of thin air, while the state governments cannot.

I also believe the difference between the fates of the US and European economies at this juncture has more to do with the dollar being the world's reserve currency than with the US stimulus program, which is deeply flawed in structure.

davidjc said...

Thanks for the reply.

In case you missed it, Radio 4's In Business programme tonight was about co-ops - Mondragon featured. They'll put it on i-player soon.

Boffy said...


Thanks for the tip. I'll check it out on iplayer.

Boffy said...


I agree with you about the federal Government being able to print money, as against the States. I thought about that myself later to have added in. The other thing I thought about was the fact that many States have Balanced Budget Amendments in their Constitutions.

There are also many layers of Government at a local level, and different tiers can be controlled by different parties, which means that the kinds of stand-off seen at Federal level over the Debt Ceiling can be played out even more.

A while ago, Paul Mason did a good report from the US on that. he showed how one area that as depressed with a large black population, Democrat administration, had Federal Funds to spend, but could not use them because the Republican Governor insisted that they had to Balance their Budget. Obama seemed to realise the problem with this, and in his latest Jobs Programme he made much of the spending udner direct Federal Government control. Of course, the Republicans opposed that.

The fact that the dollar is the reserve currency is important, but it cannot be the cause of the US growth and job creation. It facilitates the US being able to print money, and use it to finance its fiscal expansion, but it is the fiscal expansion that has laid the basis for the recovery. And, after all the UK has also printed money, which has similarly been used to buy Government debt, which is why UK Gilts are at such low levels. the difference is that the UK Government is using that money to keep interest rates low to help recapitalise the Banks, and keep the property and stock maket bubbles inflated, and to finance the growing level of unemployment. It is a repetition of the way in which during the 1980's Norway used its Oil and gas revenues to finance a restructuring of its economy, to build up resources to cover its welfare spending for decades to come etc., whereas Thatcher used Britain's revenues to finance mass unemployment in order to smash the unions, whilst the country's industry was destroyed alongside much of its social fabric.

The fact is that the Eurozone could, indeed has print money in the same way in order to monetise existing peripheral debt, and bring about a restructuring of European Capital. For now it is choosing not to do so, becaus in establishing a fiscal and political union, Germany wants to stamp its authority on the new State, and ensure it has control over how resources will be used. That is to ensure it goes to investment spending, rather than simply financing continued consumption.

Boffy said...

Just as another addendum of something I forgot to put in the original reply to David. There is also a difference between the position that left of centre parties are in in countries like Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece. As Youssef says, these countries like the States in the US cannot print their own money. If the other eurozone countries dominated by right of centre parties do not agree to provide them with the money, they have no real alternative but to implement the austerity measures being demanded of them.

Its rather like Labour Councils in Britain. Of course, they could stand on the barricades and proclaim the revolution, but anyone with eyes can see that both in Britain, and in these European countries such a stand would be mere tokenism, a silly adventure, because there simply is not the level of support within the working-class - apart from possibly Greece - for such an approach. That doesn't change the fact that most of these politicians are thoroughly craven in refusing to even wage any kind of meaningful struggle to build such a movement.

But, the reality is that outside an actual revolutionary struggle for power, there is little hope that even such a strategy could work. In the end in Europe Germany et al could simply say go your own way then, and the fact is that these countries would then find that the actual economic problems they face had not gone away, but had if anything become magnified.

The interesting thing is that in Germany, the SPD and Greens, who look likely to win the next elections both favour the creation of EU Bonds, and for the ECB to become lender of last resort. The logical conclusion from such a strategy would then have to be that you use that to borrow the money needed to stimulate the economies of Europe, and do that by investment.

davidjc said...

There's also Hollande in France who says he would rip up the recent agreement, the one Cameron flounced out of.

So let's say there's the SPD and the PS in charge and they manage to change the EU rules and print money and start the kind of re-structuring you mention. Wouldn't the markets exact a price for that in terms of still greater social spending cuts, especially as this would be a new policy for a new country = more risk?

Not necessarily a problem for them, but might be a tricky sell for centre-left parties. To follow your 80s analogy, it would put them in the spot Callaghan and Healey found themselves in with the old "I have to tell you, those days are over" schtick.

Boffy said...


The answer is no. Individual EU countries at the moment get punished precisely because they cannot print money to buy their own debt. There are only three ways their debt can then be covered. 1) They slash spending 2) they raise taxes 3) Germany picks up the tab.

1 & 2 lead to economic contraction, which means they are even less able to repay their debt. The only exception to this is possibly Ireland, which has a significant modernised sector of the economy, capable of pulling its GDP up, but it too suffered in the first year of austerity. That leaves 3, and Germany is extracting a price for doing that. At the moment it is only prepared to make loans, until it gets everything it wants as part of creating a fiscal and political union i.e. a new Euro State.

But, a new Euro State issuing its own Bonds, and with an ECB standing behind them like the Fed and bank of England stand behind their countries Bonds would be different. The coutnry with the biggest debt and deficit by far is Japan. It has been that way for 20 years. Yet, the country with the lowest interest rates, the lowest Yields on its Bonds, by far is Japan! They stand at less that 1% on its 10 Year, half that in Germany, UK and US. Why, because Japan still has very efficient manufacturing that produces a trade surplus, and because Japan's Bonds are mostly held by Japanese people, and because the Bank of Japan prints vast amounts of Yen to also buy those Bonds, and to keep the Yen low.

The country with the second biggest debt and deficit is the US. But it has the second lowest Yields on its Bonds. That is partly as Youssef says because of the role of the dollar, but it is also because the fed, has engaged in trillions of dollars worth of QE, which went to buy those Bonds. The same is true with UK Gilts. The Tories claim that Gilts have low Yields because of their austerity programme is bunk. They are low because the BOE has also printed hundreds of pounds worth of new money, which has been used to buy those Gilts.

In current conditions, what Bond investors are concnered about is return of Capital not return on Capital. So, any country that can gurantee, even by using its printing press to print enough money to pay its debts, is a safe haven. That is why some investors have been even prepared to pay to put their money in places where they think they will at least get it back, rather than the ledner going bust, and defaulting on paying back the loan.

An EU State, that sold EU Bonds, and had the ECB standing behind them would, in fact, be a good bet, because the Eurozone economy is heavily dominated by Germany, and otehr Northern European economies that are robust. Greece is a sideshow. China's growth alone creates the equivalent of an entire new Greece every three months!!!

The Eurozone as a whole has a lower debt to GDP ration than the US, UK, Japan etc. It is the largest single market in the world outside China (and largest in terms of value). Elsewhere, I've estimated that it would require €15 Trillion Euros over ten years to cover all the outstanding debt, and forthcoming deficits over that period, and create the resources to restructure EU economies to make them globally competitive. An EU State would have no problem whatsoever borrowing that level of funds over that time period.

davidjc said...

Thanks, all that makes sense.

How does it play for left tactics, do you think? Merkel's game of chicken might last some while yet and the effects of any change in policy would be time-lagged.

You'd think trying to convince people, especially in the non-core countries, that what you need is more EU at a time when the EU is seen as the Austerity Club would be a thankless task, even if it is correct.

Playing the left-nationalist card is also out and calls for an immediate united socialist states of europe sound daft.

I'm interested to know what immediate demands your analysis asks for.

Boffy said...


For a Marxist, what the rational solution for Capital is, should play no part in what our tactics and strategy should be. What I have set out is what I beleive a rational solution for Capital is, and, therefore, what the dynamic is in terms of the forces that play upon the "literary and ideological representatives", as Marx puts in the 18th Brumaire, of Capital are likely to be. The whole point of my piece here, and one to come looking at Cameron is that the political dynamic is more complex than just a playing out of some mechanically determined "Capital Logic". That is precisely what Marx demonstrates in the 18th B.

If the rational solution for Capital was one that demanded austerity throughout Europe, it would not change my view of what Marxists should be arguing in terms of a working-class solution. The only difference is that under current conditions, it is possible for us to argue that the tories are not even adopting a rational Capitalist solution, that another solution - which would objectively be in the interests of both workers and Capital - is possible. That does not in any way commit us to arguing for that solution either, and I don't. But, it makes no sense for workers to actually oppose capitalist solutions, which in the short term also benefit workers. For example, Marxists do not oppose attempts by the bourgeoisie to establish bourgeois democracy, even though we are opponents of bourgeois democracy. We are only opponents of bourgeois democracy as against workers democracy, we are not opposed to it as regards feudalism, or fascism, or Bonapartism. We do not oppose the establishment of Monopolies and Trusts, we do oppose them being broken up. But, we do not advocate the establishment of Capitalist Monopolies and Trusts, or State capitalism either, because our goal is rather worker owned means of production.

Boffy said...

So, to answer your question, our demands have to be based upon building working-class unity across Europe. We need to press for EU wide TU's and Workers parties, standing candidates in elections on that basis. We should seek to unite all workers parties across Europe on that basis, bringing in the sects too where possible. We should have something like the Minimum Programme that marx developed for the First International that was taken up by the French Socialists, and use it in the way Marx proposed.

That should have a number of components. A set of Economic demands such as the establishment of common TU rates of pay across the EU; common Benefits (as we have State run Insurance we should start from that basis, but my preference is for workers to reclaim that from the State, and operate their own Insurance funds); we should have common pensions and retirement ages, and working conditions with no opt outs.

It requires a set of Political demands. That should be based on the idea of completing the Bourgeois democratic revolution. For the establishment of democratic Republics, sweeping away remaining Monarchies, and other forms of inherited privilege. For the convening of Constitutional Conventions across Europe, for all sections of Civic Society to develop and propose a new EU Constitution. For the EU parliament to be made into a sovereign assembly, from which is elected an EU government, sweeping away the existing bureaucratic institutions of the Commission, Council of Ministers etc. For an elected President, and as in the US, the election of the top levels of the State - judges etc.

As Trotsky proposed, this could be put forward in the package of The United States of Europe, as a Transitional Demand, recognising that for now we have to work within existing bourgeois limits, but that in struggling for these demands the potential is opened up to go beyond those bourgeois limitations.

And, of course, I would link that with workers fighting Cuts, closures etc by occupations, the setting up of Co-ops, the creation of a European Co-op Federation under which umbrella all existing and future Co-ops should be brought closely linked to the EU TU's and Workers Parties.