Tuesday, 14 February 2012

History Repeating As Farce - Part 5

It would be wrong to describe Cameron's coming to power as the same as the coup of Louis Bonaparte. But, Cameron does not have a democratic mandate. No one voted for a Coalition Government. In fact, many of those who voted for the Liberals probably would not have done so had they known what the consequence would be, and that is shown in the, almost total, collapse of Liberal support, and the number of Liberal members who have defected to Labour. In the same way that Marx describes the continual giving ground of parties to their Right, in the Eighteenth Brumaire, so the Liberals have done precisely that in their coalition with the Tories. They have reneged on all their election pledges of note; on liberty, on sleaze, on corruption, on recall of MP's, on Europe, on War etc.

“The bourgeois monarchy of Louis Philippe can be followed only by a bourgeois republic; that is to say, whereas a limited section of the bourgeoisie ruled in the name of the king, the whole of the bourgeoisie will now rule in the name of the people.”

Under Thatcher and her heirs a tiny section of the bourgeoisie, the Money Capitalists ruled. Now its rule is being challenged by the rest of the bourgeoisie, and it is being challenged on the basis of populism. The organised Labour Movement having been driven back essentially into those workers employed by the Capitalist State, made a stand. Their demands were labelled as utopian nonsense, in rejecting the idea that they should pay for the crisis caused by the Bankers. But, of course, from the perspective of the Big Industrial capitalists, this is not such utopian nonsense. These workers are not only the consumers of their products, but the more these workers are asked to bail-out the bankers, the more they are likely to demand higher wages, to cover the costs of the additional taxes they have to pay, to cover the cost of the previously “free” services they enjoyed, which they now have to buy and so on. As Marx, put it in the Grundrisse,

“It is clear, first of all, that the wage paid by the spinner to his workmen must be high enough to buy the necessary bushel of wheat, regardless of what profit for the farmer may be included in the price of the bushel of wheat; but that, likewise, on the other side, the wage which the farmer pays his workers must be high enough to procure for them the necessary quantity of clothing, regardless of what profit for the weaver and the spinner may be included in the price of these articles of clothing."

In the short term, however, Capital will follow the course of least resistance. The Big Capitalists may not like the solutions being pursued by the Tories, which favour the Money Capitalists on the one hand, and the Small Capitalists on the other, but, they have no intention of breaking ranks and allowing the workers to advance their own solutions.

“The demands of the Paris proletariat are utopian nonsense, to which an end must be put. To this declaration of the Constituent National Assembly the Paris proletariat replied with the June insurrection, the most colossal event in the history of European civil wars. The bourgeois republic triumphed. On its side stood the aristocracy of finance, the industrial bourgeoisie, the middle class, the petty bourgeois, the army, the lumpen proletariat organized as the Mobile Guard, the intellectual lights, the clergy, and the rural population. On the side of the Paris proletariat stood none but itself.” (Eighteenth Brumaire, Chapter 1)

The consequence is that a steady rightward march is set in motion.

“During the June days all classes and parties had united in the party of Order against the proletarian class as the party of anarchy, of socialism, of communism. They had “saved” society from “the enemies of society.” They had given out the watchwords of the old society, “property, family, religion, order,” to their army as passwords and had proclaimed to the counterrevolutionary crusaders: “In this sign thou shalt conquer!” From that moment, as soon as one of the numerous parties which gathered under this sign against the June insurgents seeks to hold the revolutionary battlefield in its own class interest, it goes down before the cry: “property, family, religion, order.” Society is saved just as often as the circle of its rulers contracts, as a more exclusive interest is maintained against a wider one. Every demand of the simplest bourgeois financial reform, of the most ordinary liberalism, of the most formal republicanism, of the most shallow democracy, is simultaneously castigated as an “attempt on society” and stigmatized as “socialism.” And finally the high priests of “religion and order” themselves are driven with kicks from their Pythian tripods, hauled out of their beds in the darkness of night, put in prison vans, thrown into dungeons or sent into exile; their temple is razed to the ground, their mouths are sealed, their pens broken, their law torn to pieces in the name of religion, of property, of the family, of order. Bourgeois fanatics for order are shot down on their balconies by mobs of drunken soldiers, their domestic sanctuaries profaned, their houses bombarded for amusement – in the name of property, of the family, of religion, and of order. Finally, the scum of bourgeois society forms the holy phalanx of order and the hero Crapulinski [a character from Heine’s poem “The Two Knights,” a dissolute aristocrat.] installs himself in the Tuileries as the “savior of society.””

That march is seen in the gradual rise of the Tory Right, the support for the narrow interests of the City, the EU walkout, Cameron's use of the Church and Christianity – even the Catholic Blair did not do that saying “We do not do God”. Most recently it is seen in the Tories rapid announcement that they would legislate to allow the continuation of the medieval practice of beginning Council meetings with Christian Prayers, after the Secular Society succeeded in getting the Courts to rule the practice as discriminatory. In an unprecedented move, the Tory Government has sent seven M.P.'s to Rome for consultations with the Pope, and Baroness Warsi has come out with the most hilarious comment that Britain is under threat from a “militant secularism”. That ties in with the attempts of Christian groups to ridiculously claim that they are being persecuted. It is seen in the move from “hug a hoody” to gaol a rioter, in the proposals to restrict even further the right to strike and so on. It is seen in the attempts to free the State from even the most basic requirements of the Rule of Law in relation to the right of trial by Jury, and attempt to free it from the requirements of meeting basic Human Rights as determined by the European Convention and Court. And all the time Cameron looks over his shoulder to the blond haired, dishevelled Crapulinsky in his London fortress.

As I said in my post High Pay, Capital And The Tories, they are several parties merged into one. The historic Tories are the Party of the Aristocracy, and the Aristocracy of Finance. But, as the Aristocracy became Capitalist itself, and as the Liberals attempt to ride both horses – representing the interests of Capital and Labour at the same time – could only be sustained so long as both classes had a common enemy, in the old ruling class, and was destroyed when workers created the Labour Party, to push their independent interests, the Tories became the natural party of the bourgeoisie, particularly the nationally based bourgeoisie. This is played out in the right-wing populism of the Tories.

“The history of the Constituent National Assembly since the June days is the history of the domination and the disintegration of the republican faction of the bourgeoisie, of the faction known by the names of tricolor republicans, pure republicans, political republicans, formalist republicans, etc.

Under the bourgeois monarchy of Louis Philippe it had formed the official republican opposition and consequently a recognized component part of the political world of the day. It had its representatives in the Chambers and a considerable sphere of influence in the press. Its Paris organ, the National, was considered just as respectable in its way as the Journal des Débats. Its character corresponded to this position under the constitutional monarchy. It was not a faction of the bourgeoisie held together by great common interests and marked off by specific conditions of production. It was a clique of republican-minded bourgeois, writers, lawyers, officers, and officials that owed its influence to the personal antipathies of the country to Louis Philippe, to memories of the old republic, to the republican faith of a number of enthusiasts, above all, however, to French nationalism, whose hatred of the Vienna treaties and of the alliance with England it stirred up perpetually. A large part of the following the National had under Louis Philippe was due to this concealed imperialism, which could consequently confront it later, under the republic, as a deadly rival in the person of Louis Bonaparte. It fought the aristocracy of finance, as did all the rest of the bourgeois opposition. Polemics against the budget, which in France were closely connected with fighting the aristocracy of finance, procured popularity too cheaply and material for puritanical leading articles too plentifully not to be exploited. The industrial bourgeoisie was grateful to it for its slavish defense of the French protectionist system, which it accepted, however, more on national grounds than on grounds of national economy; the bourgeoisie as a whole, for its vicious denunciation of communism and socialism.” (ibid Chapter 2)

We can see, within the sections of the Liberals, and within those sections of the Tories, more aligned with Industrial Capital than Money Capital, elements of the same traits described here by Marx. The main difference here would be that, today, these elements are more likely to be advocates of Free Trade than Protectionism, and more inclined to be Europhiles than Little Englander nationalists. But, that is because today the interests of Industrial Capital are served by such policies. It was to protect Money Capital in the City that Cameron flounced out of the EU Summit, as well as to placate the right-wing, Eurosceptic wing of his Party. It is perhaps, an indication of the way the Civil War between the Money Capitalists and Industrial Capitalists is ebbing and flowing that he has now retreated significantly from his earlier position.

“They did not succumb; they passed out of existence. Their history has come to an end forever, and, both inside and outside the Assembly, they figure in the following period only as memories, memories that seem to regain life whenever the mere name republic is once more the issue and as often as the revolutionary conflict threatens to sink down to the lowest level. I may remark in passing that the journal which gave its name to this party, the National, was converted to socialism in the following period.”

We have yet to see the conclusion of this process. Will Industrial Capital defeat Money Capital in the battle for dominance? Will that be achieved within the political confines of the Coalition? Will it require some kind of political realignment, in the same way that the onset of the Long Wave downturn, and the class struggles around it, led to the creation of the SDP? We have already seen the effective destruction of the Liberals as a political force. That in itself makes them hostage to the Tories, because if they bring down the Government, and cause an election, then their annihilation in that election is guaranteed. But, they may be annihilated on a piecemeal basis, as they lose their base at succeeding local government elections, and as the Left of their membership continues to drift into the LP. Speaking of the election of December 10th, Marx wrote,

“ It is sufficient to remark here that it was a reaction of the peasants, who had had to pay the costs of the February Revolution, against the remaining classes of the nation...”

And, of course, that is precisely what the election of 2010 was, except for peasants read, the small capitalists, the petit-bourgeois, the middle classes. They saw in the saving of the Banks, a great burden of taxation heading their way. Of course, they would vote for a Party that talked in populist terms about reducing the size of the State, balancing the Budget and other such nonsense, even if that Party had been advocating at least as much spending as had been its opponents up until just months before the election!

Back To Part 4

Forward To Part 6

1 comment:

Simon said...

It's a minor point but although the suit was brought against the council on the basis that the practice was discriminatory, the court actually ruled not that they were discriminatory but that the power to summon councillors to prayers held in a session of council was not one of their statutory powers and hence unlawful.

That's why it's so easy for the Tories to undue, as they just need to ammend the relevant act slightly (it might even be possible for the Secretary of State to do so via statutory instrument without it even seeing the Commons). If it were ruled discriminatory (which it still could be) it would be much harder for them to get around as it would run up against the ECHR.