Sunday, 23 April 2017

Social-Democracy, Bonapartism and Permanent Revolution, Chapter 10 – Bonapartism (2)

Chapter 10 – Bonapartism

Part 2

Even where systems of co-determination are established, such as in Germany, the owners of fictitious capital retain a majority position on the supervising boards. But, a similar situation exists as with that described by Marx in relation to Absolute Rent, and the reason the revolutionary bourgeoisie recognised the logic of land nationalisation.

So long as the owners of fictitious capital, i.e. shareholders, have a majority vote on company boards, they can determine what happens with company profits. They can determine how much is allocated to capital accumulation, to being thrown into money markets, or alternatively used to pay dividends, return capital to shareholders or buy back stock. No wonder then that, as global dividend yields fell, the proportion of profits going to dividends went from 10%, in the 1970's, to 70% today.

But, even without this control, the owners of fictitious capital, and of vast amounts of loanable money-capital, would exert considerable power. The state obtains revenue from taxes, but to finance its longer-term expenditure it uses bonds, and thereby borrows in the capital markets. In the same way that landlords can withhold land unless they are paid a rent on it, so too the owners of money-capital can withhold it unless they are paid interest on it.

In this way, the capitalist state is not even in the position of a large socialised capital, which can use its own profits for capital accumulation. Even large socialised capitals, however, will not find it efficient to store up vast amounts of money-capital in reserves, waiting to be invested. In the same way that landlords can withhold land unless a sufficient absolute rent is paid, so the owners of loanable money-capital may withhold it from buying shares or bonds, unless a sufficient level of interest is paid on them.

Marx refers, in Capital III, to the fact that the worker owned co-operatives in Lancashire had to pay higher rates of interest on their loans than privately owned enterprises. Connolly makes the same point about the agricultural co-operative at Ralahine. It was only the superior efficiency of worker-owned enterprises that enabled these co-operatives to be more profitable, despite these higher interest rates levied on them.

It can be seen then why a radical social-democratic programme would call for not only the nationalisation of land, to prevent surplus value being drained in rent, but also the nationalisation of credit, to prevent surplus value being drained in interest. There is a direct comparison here between the position of the financial oligarchy – the owners of fictitious capital – and the old landed oligarchy. Once capital becomes established in agriculture, the social function of the landlord disappeared. It was taken over by the capitalist farmer. Yet the landed aristocracy continued to hold political power in parliament, not only long after its social function had been replaced, but after industrial capitalism itself had become dominant. Even at the time of Marx's Inaugural Address to the First International, in 1865, Marx refers to this continued dominant role of that landed aristocracy in parliament.

Today, long after the social function of the private capitalist has disappeared, and has been replaced by the functioning capitalists, the old private capitalists, whose wealth now resides in fictitious capital, rather than industrial capital, continue to hold political power in parliament. But, like the political power of the landlords, in the 19th century, was constrained by the objective fact of an economy that was dominated by capitalist production, so the power of the money-lending capitalists is constrained by the fact that the economy is dominated by socialised capital.

“The corporation renders the person of the capitalist wholly superfluous for the conduct of capitalist undertakings. The exclusion of his personality from industrial life ceases to be a question of possibility or of intention. It is purely a question of POWER.”

Kautsky – The Road To Power

The old ruling class comprises the private owners of capital, but they are not homogeneous. The dominant section of that class are the owners of vast quantities of fictitious capital, and they are now a truly international and global class, reflecting the fact that capital itself created a global economy, and that, as part of it, firms became multinational and transnational corporations. But, in terms of numbers, it is the millions of small business owners that comprise the bulk of the owners of private capital, and their capital takes the form not of fictitious capital, but of real industrial capital, of capital involved in production or as merchant capital, including money-dealing capital. These sections of the class, particularly the smallest representatives, tend to view the world from a national rather than international perspective. They are more likely to seek protective measures from the state, than an opening up to global competition.

Yet, the dominant section of capital itself is not privately owned capital, but socialised capital. It is on its fortunes that the fate of the state, of the economy, and, therefore, of all those classes and class fractions within the society depends. It is the middle-class personification of that socialised capital, whose ideas form the ruling ideas of society and the state. Those ideas are technocratic and meritocratic, seeing the state and society as a sort of machine, and their function, as in production, being to ensure that the machine runs as efficiently and harmoniously as possible.

“The peculiar character of social-democracy is epitomized in the fact that democratic-republican institutions are demanded as a means, not of doing away with two extremes, capital and wage labour, but of weakening their antagonism and transforming it into harmony. However different the means proposed for the attainment of this end may be, however much it may be trimmed with more or less revolutionary notions, the content remains the same. This content is the transformation of society in a democratic way, but a transformation within the bounds of the petty bourgeoisie. 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.”

Marx – The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte
But, as Engels recognised,

“... the middle class can never obtain full social and political power over the nation except by the help of the working class.”

Theories of Surplus Value, Part I, Chapter 4 - Part 48

Marx is right, here, in his comment,

“ What the labourer has to pay from these wages to State and Church is a deduction for services which are forced upon him...”, in relation to the welfare state. The welfare state forcibly extracts payments from workers, in the form of taxes and national insurance, and forces workers, thereby, to consume the minimum of these commodities capital deems necessary for the optimum reproduction of labour-power. In this context, it does not matter that the teachers are employed by the capitalist state, rather than by individual capitalist schools. The teachers simply exchange their labour-power with state capital, rather than private capital. But, it is this exchange with capital that defines it as productive, not whether education itself is productive or not, when bought by workers.

The distinction between education as productive of labour-power, and the services of physicians as not, itself seems odd, because besides the role of physicians in bringing new workers into the world, they facilitate the duration of that labour-power.

At the time he was writing, and well into the 20th century, his comments about workers providing other services for themselves is correct. But, after WWII, the Co-op Laundry took on some of the functions of domestic labour, the welfare state took on other functions, in relation to care of the young and the elderly that previously had been the function of domestic labour, via extended families. In the 1960's and 70's, launderettes emerged, prior to the introduction of cheap, automatic, domestic washing machines, and so on.

This in itself is an indication of the point made earlier about value existing as a consequence of the expenditure of labour, whether or not the product of that labour takes the form of a commodity that is exchanged. Not only did workers recognise that their expenditure of labour on these domestic tasks represented value, and so were prepared to expend value, as money, to buy these appliances, so as to reduce that expenditure of their labour-time, but capital itself recognised it.

By reducing the amount of time spent unproductively on domestic labour – unproductive, because it produced no surplus value – it increased the potential supply of labour-power that could be employed productively. In the process, it was also able to realise some of the additionally produced surplus value, by selling a wide range of domestic appliances. (See also: Value Theory, The Transformation Problem And Domestic Labour - Part 4)

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Theories of Surplus Value, Part I, Chapter 4 - Part 47

All labour that either has an exchange value itself, or else creates a product that has exchange value, is productive according to Ganilh. They are productive in the sense that they have produced something equal in value to what has been paid for it, whether that is a material or immaterial commodity.

But, Ganilh goes further than this, by suggesting that all material products are only produced, because those who produce them are led to do so, in order to exchange them for other commodities, including those that are immaterial. On this basis, all labour is productive, because if we take the labour say of a prostitute, who sells their labour directly, as a service to a client, it is to be able to buy this service that say a farmer engages in production.

“So according to this the “unproductive labours” are productive neither because of their cost, that is, their exchange-value, nor because of the special enjoyment that they produce, that is, their use-value, but because they produce productive labour.” (p 210)

Marx then adds in further comments which seem somewhat odd. He says,

“If, according to Adam Smith, that labour is productive which is directly exchanged for capital, then we have to consider, apart from the form, also the material components of the capital which is exchanged for labour.” (p 210)

But, rather than examining the exchange of capital with wage labour, he rather examines the exchange of wages with the commodities that comprise the commodity-capital. This is at odds with his analysis in Capital II, and III, where he demonstrates the following.

  1. Labour-power is a commodity owned by workers, but is not capital.
  2. Variable capital exists as a fixed sum of value (which may be directly in the form of commodities, or the money equivalent) in the hands of capital, equal to the value of labour-power. In the exchange, capital acquires the commodity labour-power, in exchange not for capital, but for an equal amount of value, either in the form of commodities (wage goods) or their money equivalent. The capital value remains in the hands of the capitalist. It is not capital that is passed to the worker. The capital is simply metamorphosed for the capitalist from its money, or commodity form to that of productive-capital.
  3. Where workers obtain their wages in money form, rather than directly as commodities, they use these money wages to buy commodities, not capital. The commodities they buy form a part of the commodity-capital of society, but these commodities are sold only as commodities, not as capital.
  4. As a consequence of these exchanges, capital is never sold, as capital, but simply metamorphoses into different forms. Variable capital metamorphoses into productive-capital (labour-power), productive-capital metamorphoses into commodity-capital, commodity-capital metamorphoses into money-capital. 
The exchange of wage labour with capital can never then be, as Marx goes on to imply here, about what workers spend their wages on, because that exchange is merely an exchange of commodities. No expenditure of wages can be considered productive or unproductive, in the sense that Marx has set out, i.e. productive of surplus value, in line with Smith's first definition. If I spend part of my wages on the services of a prostitute, it is not the nature of the service that determines whether this is productive or unproductive, but whether the prostitute is selling their labour to me directly as a labour service, i.e. an exchange of revenue with revenue, or else has sold their labour-power as a commodity to a capitalist brothel keeper, who extracts surplus labour and surplus value in the process. When Marx says,

“It resolves itself into the necessary means of subsistence; that is for the most part into commodities, material things. What the labourer has to pay from these wages to State and Church is a deduction for services which are forced upon him; what he pays out for education is devilishly little, but when he does, his payments are productive, for education produces labour-power; what he pays out for the services of physicians, lawyers, priests, is his misfortune; there are very few unproductive labours or services left on which the labourer’s wages are spent, especially as he himself provides his costs of consumption (cooking, keeping his house clean, generally even repairs).” (p 210),

this seems then very confused.  What Marx seems to be getting at, is what he previously discussed in the Grundrisse, that consumption is simultaneously production and production is simultaneously consumption.  That is, in so far as the labourer consumes, they thereby reproduce their labour-power, and in so far as the labourer produces, they consume their labour-power, and consequently the commodities consumed in its reproduction.

It was undoubtedly true, in Marx's time, that the majority of workers' expenditure was on commodities that took the shape of material things. Today, in developed economies that is not true. In the UK, 20% of household expenditure goes on entertainment alone. But, a greater proportion of expenditure goes on services and other commodities that are not “material”. The cost of satellite TV rental, or broadband rental, for example, is for the service provided, not for the actual cable or satellite TV. The same is true with the payment for mobile phone use, and so on.

The comment, “... what he pays out for education is devilishly little, but when he does, his payments are productive, for education produces labour-power...” is simply wrong, on the basis he has outlined. If I buy the labour of a private tutor, to provide education, that is an exchange of revenue with revenue, and no matter how effective the tutor in producing my labour-power, as a result, it cannot make that labour-power productive. By contrast, even a poor teacher employed by capital, is productive, if they produce surplus value.

Back To Part 46

Forward To Part 48

Northern Soul Classics - Save The Last Dance For Me - Henry Shed

Henry Shed version of the Drifters hit, a classic from the Wheel.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Friday Night Disco - Walk Away Renee - The Four Tops

General Election -Who Are The Wealth Extractors?

On yesterday's “Daily Politics”, Andrew Neill pressed Jack Dromey to define who were the “wealth extractors”. The question arises, because Labour has talked about the need to tax more heavily the wealth extractors as opposed to the wealth creators, and the issue has become clouded, because there is a general confusion, particularly when it come to the question of tax, between the two completely different categories of wealth and affluence. Economists like Neill, should know the difference between wealth, which refers to a stock of value, and affluence, which refers to a flow value. Someone is rich, because they have a large stock of value (wealth), whereas someone is affluent because they receive a large flow of value (revenue). The two things are completely different, and yet people like Neill continually conflate the two.

The question of who constitute the wealth extractors then becomes clear. It is all those who extract, a stream of revenue (value) out of the economy, greater than the value they contribute to the economy, and thereby diminish the economy's potential to accumulate capital so as to create additional wealth and revenues. We might want to accommodate some of those, in that they perform necessary functions, because they are children, aged or infirm, and so unable to contribute, but the wealth extractors that social democrats are concerned with are those who extract such wealth on a grand scale, way beyond the needs of an average citizen.  Adam Smith, in The Wealth of Nations, had no problem whatsoever, in making that distinction, which is why, in the book he rails against all those hangers on, such as the landlords, the clergy, the attenders at the Royal Court, the money lenders, and so on, who contribute no value to the economy, but who draw large revenues from it.

Adam Smith's successor, the bourgeois economist David Ricardo, also had no problem in making that distinction, and in his theory of rent, he showed the way private landed property drained value that could have been used for capital accumulation, simply to keep the old landed aristocracy living in the comfort they had come to expect, whilst contributing nothing productive whatsoever to the economy. Its what led some of Ricardo's followers to demand the nationalisation of the land, so that all those rents could be used instead to cover the expenses of the state, thereby reducing taxes on profits, so as to facilitate greater capital accumulation and wealth creation.

So, who then are the wealth creators? If we turn to Adam Smith again, he describes in The Wealth of Nations, that value is labour, and so the creators of value are those who perform labour. He describes the way that once private landed property, and privately owned capital come into existence, a portion of the value, created by the labourers, a surplus value that previously the labourers would have appropriated themselves, as a surplus product, is appropriated by the owners of landed property, and the owners of capital.

As Marx puts it,
“In the same Chapter XIII “Taxes on Gold”, Ricardo speaks of

“rent being not a creation, but merely a transfer of wealth” (l.c., p. 221).

Is profit a creation of wealth, or is it not rather a transfer of the surplus-labour, from the workman to the capitalist? In fact wages too, are not a creation of wealth. But they are not a transfer. They are the appropriation of part of the produce of labour by those who produced it.”

So, when Neill asked Dromey, “Is Google, a wealth extractor?” This is rather a meaningless question, again indicating a lack of understanding of basic economic categories. Google is a corporation. That is it is a legal entity in its own right. It is what Marx describes as socialised capital, as opposed to privately owned capital.  As with any company, it comprises means of production and labour, as parts of its productive-capital. The means of production have value, which has been previously produced by labour, and this value of the means of production is merely passed on to, and thereby reproduced in, the value of the output of the company - it is why Marx refers to it as constant capital. It is only the labour that creates new value, and from this new value, is thereby not only reproduced the value of the labour-power employed, but is also created a surplus value, which is why Marx calls this part of the productive-capital, variable capital.

If we ask the question, if Google a wealth creator, the answer is that the workers, including the managers, and all others who undertake productive labour within the company, are most definitely wealth creators, and only a portion of the wealth they create, is returned to them in the form of wages and salaries. If we ask, who are the wealth extractors, in relation to Google, it is all those share and bondholders, who derive value out of the wealth created by the workers and managers that comprise Google the legal corporate entity, in the form of interest and dividends, whilst taking no part in creating any additional value. It would also be any landlords, who extract rent from Google, that otherwise would have been available for investment in additional capital, so as to create additional wealth. Finally it would be the capitalist state, that extracts taxes from the company to finance its own activities, whether that be the central state, or the local state in the form of Business Rates, etc.

That is why, in the same way that Smith attacked all of the unproductive leeches that drained surplus value, and thereby restricted capital accumulation, a modern social-democratic programme, should attack the modern day leeches who in addition to the landlords, and the bloated state bureaucracy, also includes all of the share and bondholders, whose extravagant lifestyle is perpetuated without them needing to lift a single finger to contribute anything productive to society, but who simply extract massive amounts of potential wealth, by sitting back and simply “clipping-coupons”. In other words, it includes all of the rentiers, and their representatives who sit on company boards, and are paid huge stipends, way out of proportion to any actual labour they might perform.

If we want to deal with issues of inequality in society, it is not affluence, or high levels of income that needs to be addressed – certainly not levels of income as low as £70,000 p.a., as John McDonnell had suggested – but the question of wealth. As Marx put it, in the Critique of the Gotha Programme,

“Any distribution whatever of the means of consumption is only a consequence of the distribution of the conditions of production themselves. The latter distribution, however, is a feature of the mode of production itself. The capitalist mode of production, for example, rests on the fact that the material conditions of production are in the hands of nonworkers in the form of property in capital and land, while the masses are only owners of the personal condition of production, of labor power. If the elements of production are so distributed, then the present-day distribution of the means of consumption results automatically. If the material conditions of production are the co-operative property of the workers themselves, then there likewise results a distribution of the means of consumption different from the present one. Vulgar socialism (and from it in turn a section of the democrats) has taken over from the bourgeois economists the consideration and treatment of distribution as independent of the mode of production and hence the presentation of socialism as turning principally on distribution. After the real relation has long been made clear, why retrogress again?” 

In fact, today, we would say, that although the material conditions of production, in their vast majority are no longer in the hands of “nonworkers”, because they have become socialised capital, the control over those material conditions of production, is exercised by “nonworkers”, in particular, it is exercised by Boards of Directors, who act as the representatives of those “nonworkers”, and against the interests of the company itself. It is that, which allows those “nonworkers” to extract vast amounts of wealth in the form of interest and dividends, and capital gains, without contributing any additional value to society.

If we want to address the question of inequality in society, it is not taxes on incomes that should be the focus, but first of all the removal of the control of socialised capital, by those who do not own it, i.e. the rentiers. In Germany, the co-determination laws enable workers to elect 50% of the members of the supervising boards of company's. The 1975, Bullock Report, in Britain proposed something similar, and so did the EU's Draft Fifth Directive on Company Law. But, there is no reason that shareholders should have any right to elect or appoint Boards of Directors, any more than do bondholders, or a bank that makes a loan to the company, or a car leasing company that leases cars to the company!  Shareholders simply lend money to the company, as do all these other categories.

This point was made in an article by John Kay and Aubrey Silbertson, for example,

“But none of this means that the owners of BT shares own BT – after all, investors own BT bonds, landlords own BT premises, and lessors own BT equipment, but no-one would suggest that BT itself is owned by these investors, landlords or lessors. The claim that BT is owned by its shareholders implies that there is something special about their contract with the company which means that they are owners, not just of that contract, but of the company itself.”

A radical social-democratic government, following in the logical footsteps of Adam Smith and David Ricardo would nationalise land, so that rents were used by the state to defray its costs of operation, and thereby reduce taxes on capital; it would nationalise credit, so that interest payments were also used by the state to defray its costs, and thereby reduce taxes on capital; and would then utilise these revenues to facilitate faster capital accumulation and wealth creation. But, it would also remove the current unwarranted privileges that a miniscule percentage of shareholders have in exercising control over companies that, as Kay and Silberstson show, they do not own. A radical social-democratic government, would change company law so that shareholders had no right to elect company boards, and instead to ensure that company boards are democratically elected by the workers and managers – the “associated producers”, as Marx calls them – who actually comprise the company.

That would end any question of wealth extraction and the need to tax it, and by putting ownership and control of the means of production into the hands of the vast majority, in the hands of the creators of that wealth, it would rapidly deal with the question of the inequality of income. It would, in the process, be the biggest possible contribution, to real capital accumulation, and wealth generation that any government could undertake.

Theories of Surplus Value, Part I, Chapter 4 - Part 46

This difference between value and exchange value, as Ganilh presents it, as only the actual relation in which commodities exchange, produces strange results, as Marx set out. As he pointed out earlier, if all commodities have been exchanged, they no longer represent exchange value, though they clearly still have value. If all commodities are considered as a whole, they have no exchange value, but similarly exchange value declines the more different commodities are combined, because this reduces the range of commodities that can participate in exchange.

“A+B has less exchange-value, because its exchange-value now exists only in relation to C, D, E, F. But the total of A, B, C, D, E, F has no exchange-value at all, because it expresses no relation.” (p 208)

The conclusion Ganilh draws from this is entirely Mercantilist. He says,

““Hence it is that it is difficult, and perhaps impossible, for a country to enrich itself by internal commerce. It is not at all the same for peoples who engage in foreign trade” (l.c., p. 109).” (p 209)

Wealth here is associated with the accumulation of money, and value is not labour. Value, in essence, becomes surplus value. A society becomes wealthy because it produces more value, but this value results not from labour, but from an unequal exchange.  Its this Mercantilist view that some Third Worldist and "Marxist" economists have presented to explain the accumulation of wealth in developed, "imperialist" economies.  They explain this accumulation of wealth as resulting from relations of "unequal exchange" between these "imperialist" economies, and the less developed, or worse "under-developed" economies that results in a so called "super-exploitation" of the latter. These Mercantilist explanations of the success and wealth of the developed economies are framed in a variety of theories concerning colonialism and neocolonialism, and so called "centre-periphery" relations.

“Value consists in my getting not an equivalent, but more than the equivalent. At the same time, however, for Ganilh there is no equivalent, for this would imply that the value of A and the value of B are determined not by the proportion of A in B or of B in A, but by a third thing in which A and B are identical. But if there is no equivalent, there can also be no excess over the equivalent.” (p 209)

But, Ganilh faces a contradiction here, because for him, there is no equivalent. The actual basis for the exchange relation of A to B is that both are the equivalent of some third thing, which is their value, i.e. the labour-time required for their production. However, for Ganilh, the exchange value is nothing more than the actual proportion in which they do exchange. But, then on this basis, there can never be any excess over the equivalent.

Suppose 10 tons of iron exchanges for 1 kg. of gold. By the same token,, after the exchange, I have 1 kg of gold rather than 10 tons of iron. If I exchange the gold, I can similarly only obtain 10 tons of iron. There is no basis for any excess to exist here. Whatever the exchange relation in one direction, it applies equally in reverse, in the opposite direction.

“If therefore I gain on the original transaction because less gold is equal to more iron, I now lose just as much because more iron is equal to less gold.” (p 209)

There are only three ways that an excess can exist. Firstly, if 10 tons of iron is equal to 100 hours of labour, and 1000 metres of linen is equal to 100 hours of labour, then if I sell 10 tons of iron to B, but only buy 500 metres of linen from B, then B will have to make up the difference in money, equal to a value of 50 hours of labour.

Secondly, if 10 tons of iron required 100 hours of labour for country A to produce, but 200 hours for country B to produce, whilst both produce 1,000 metres of linen in 100 hours, then B will have a reason to buy iron from A, at a price higher than 100 hours, but less than 200 hours of labour. In that case, A would expend 100 hours of labour, and obtain a greater quantity of labour in return.

Thirdly, there could be simple cheating. A may exchange 10 tons of iron for 1 kg of gold in Market X, and exchanges 1 kg of gold for 12 tons of iron in market Y.

In the first case, this is not really a surplus either. If the gold or silver paid as money to make up the balance is used to buy other commodities, then the same exchange relation exists. It was considered a surplus by the Mercantilists, because this money resulting from a trade surplus was seen as the basis of expanding domestic production, and thereby exporting even more.

The second case also does not produce a surplus of value in reality. Both A and B may enjoy an absolute or relative comparative advantage, as Ricardo demonstrates, as a consequence of specialisation, but for the reason Marx sets out above, the purpose of the exchange is for one side to obtain use value, and the other exchange value. Both sides obtain a greater quantity of use value for a given expenditure of labour-time. They experience an increase in what orthodox economics calls welfare.

But, if A then comes to sell the commodities, they obtained via the exchange, they can only sell them at the market rate, not at the cost of production for A. What A gained in buying at a lower cost of production, they would equally lose if they came to sell.

A surplus could arise from cheating, as described in the third case, i.e. from unequal exchange. That is the situation Marx described earlier in relation to James Steuart, and the concept of profit on alienation. Taken as a whole, what is a gain for one is a loss for another. However, its obvious why for the Mercantilists, operating in a time of colonialism, this idea had obvious attractions, because it appeared that a process whereby maritime powers such as Britain and Holland, could simply continue to amass wealth on the basis of such continued expansion of trade on this unequal basis.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Social-Democracy, Bonapartism and Permanent Revolution - Chapter 10 – Bonapartism (1)

Chapter 10 – Bonapartism

Part 1

Trotsky talks about two types of Bonapartism. Bonapartism arises in conditions where the old ruling class can no longer control the state, via the political regime, but where the new ruling class is too weak to control the political regime. Bonapartism can then reflect a situation where it acts to develop the productive forces required by the new mode of production, and thereby objectively strengthens the position of the revolutionary class, or conversely where it acts to bolster the economic and social relations of the old regime, and to hold back the advance of the revolutionary class, and thereby undermines the productive forces and relations of the new society.

The first form reflects a mode of production in advance, the second in decline. In both cases, Bonapartism is a state phenomenon. It is the state itself rising up above society, and taking hold itself of the political regime. But, as Marx says, in the Critique of the Gotha Programme, it is “existing society” that is “the basis of the existing state (or of the future state in the case of future society),”and the state is not “an independent entity that possesses its own intellectual, ethical, and libertarian bases.”

The state, as a state, is forced to base itself on some set of economic and social relations, and objectively, it is forced thereby to protect and advance those relations, in order for the economy of the society to develop, and in order to ensure its own existence, and survival. It does not choose which set of economic and social relations to defend and promote arbitrarily, but is forced to do so, on the basis of which are dominant, which provide the basis for its own survival, and growth.

On this basis, the regimes of Cromwell, Napoleon, Louis Bonaparte, Bismark, Bolivar along with the regimes of Nasser, Assad etc. are of the first form. In the same vein, would come the regimes of Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, etc. except that these regimes were attempting not only to complete the bourgeois revolution, but to base themselves on the productive relations of the future society. By, contrast the regimes of Mussolini, Hitler, Franco were of the second type, attempting to hold back the advance of the revolutionary class, in order to protect the old bourgeois ruling class. However, its interesting to note here that the means by which these regimes attempt to protect the old ruling class, is not by a return to the ideas of liberal bourgeois democracy, of the early 19th century, but by basing themselves upon socialised capital, by high levels of planning and regulation, and corporatist structures. In other words, they are forced to recognise the dominance of socialised capital, and the social-democratic economic and social relations that go with it. It is a social-democratic state, without the democracy!

As Marx sets out, in Capital I, human beings are merely the representatives of economic forces. The class struggle is a struggle between different forms of property, that simply appears as a struggle between the owners of those different forms of property, and most of the time takes merely the appearance of a distributional struggle over revenues, whilst being confined within the existing system. Reformists and syndicalists confuse the distributional struggle, for example, over higher wages at the expense of profits, and vice versa for the class struggle. But, as Lenin notes, these kinds of distributional struggle, haggling over wages are not class struggles, but usually only sectional struggles that can as easily pit workers in one factory against those in another, one type of worker against another, one country against another. A class struggle only arises when workers as a whole act in concert to assert their class interest, and to defend and promote their form of property as against capital.

As Marx put it in “Value, Price and Profit”

“At the same time, and quite apart from the general servitude involved in the wages system, the working class ought not to exaggerate to themselves the ultimate working of these everyday struggles. They ought not to forget that they are fighting with effects, but not with the causes of those effects; that they are retarding the downward movement, but not changing its direction; that they are applying palliatives, not curing the malady. They ought, therefore, not to be exclusively absorbed in these unavoidable guerilla fights incessantly springing up from the never ceasing encroachments of capital or changes of the market. They ought to understand that, with all the miseries it imposes upon them, the present system simultaneously engenders the material conditions and the social forms necessary for an economical reconstruction of society. Instead of the conservative motto: “A fair day's wage for a fair day's work!” they ought to inscribe on their banner the revolutionary watchword: “Abolition of the wages system!" 

To view it in another way, some time ago, I wrote that human beings are merely the end result – at least for now – of matter going from a disorganised state to an organised state, of the universe itself thereby becoming conscious. It is a formulation that Professor Brian Cox has used in some of his recent TV programmes. In Marx's phrase, from The Poverty of Philosophy, “Time is everything, Man is nothing, he is at the most time's carcase.”

In an era where the dominant form of capital is socialised capital, which has increasingly replaced and pushed out privately owned capital, the personification of this socialised capital – the functioning capitalist – or professional manager, represents the revolutionary class. But, this revolutionary class represents only a transitional form of property between capitalist property and the co-operative commonwealth.

“The co-operative factories of the labourers themselves represent within the old form the first sprouts of the new, although they naturally reproduce, and must reproduce, everywhere in their actual organisation all the shortcomings of the prevailing system. But the antithesis between capital and labour is overcome within them, if at first only by way of making the associated labourers into their own capitalist, i.e., by enabling them to use the means of production for the employment of their own labour. They show how a new mode of production naturally grows out of an old one, when the development of the material forces of production and of the corresponding forms of social production have reached a particular stage. Without the factory system arising out of the capitalist mode of production there could have been no co-operative factories. Nor could these have developed without the credit system arising out of the same mode of production. The credit system is not only the principal basis for the gradual transformation of capitalist private enterprises into capitalist stock companies, but equally offers the means for the gradual extension of co-operative enterprises on a more or less national scale. The capitalist stock companies, as much as the co-operative factories, should be considered as transitional forms from the capitalist mode of production to the associated one, with the only distinction that the antagonism is resolved negatively in the one and positively in the other.”

Capital III, Chapter 27

It is a middle class, rather like the merchant class under Mercantilism, which represents a similar transitional form of society between feudalism and capitalism. In both cases, the middle class has a foot in both class camps. The old merchant class, under Mercantilism, had a symbiotic relation with the old feudal class. It worked with it to establish colonial empires, for example. But, as a bourgeois class, it also developed bourgeois concepts of liberty, particularly of free trade, and free movement, which eventually became the dominant ideas ruling society, which undermined all of those old feudal restrictions on the free movement of goods, services, capital and labour. It undermined all of those old feudal monopolies that also underpinned commercial monopolies and colonialism, and thereby opened the door for capitalism proper, in the form of the industrial capitalist, and capitalist production. As Marx puts it in 

The Poverty of Philosophy,

“In practical life we find not only competition, monopoly and the antagonism between them, but also the synthesis of the two, which is not a formula, but a movement. Monopoly produces competition, competition produces monopoly. Monopolists are made from competition; competitors become monopolists. If the monopolists restrict their mutual competition by means of partial associations, competition increases among the workers; and the more the mass of the proletarians grows as against the monopolists of one nation, the more desperate competition becomes between the monopolists of different nations. The synthesis is of such a character that monopoly can only maintain itself by continually entering into the struggle of competition.”

In the case of the modern middle class, it is largely drawn from the ranks of the working-class itself. It consists of huge armies of managers, technicians, and administrators. But, as a middle class its position is contradictory, like the transitional form of property it represents. As Marx points out, even in a worker-owned co-operative, the function of these personnel is to make the capitalist machine work as effectively as possible, so as to maximise the production of surplus value, so that capital can be accumulated, at a faster pace. The same is true of the first stage of communism, prior to the creation of relative abundance.

“...after the abolition of the capitalist mode of production, but still retaining social production, the determination of value continues to prevail in the sense that the regulation of labour-time and the distribution of social labour among the various production groups, ultimately the book-keeping encompassing all this, become more essential than ever.”

Capital III, Chapter 49

It is why Lenin, Gramsci and others saw the importance of Taylorism, as a means of developing the forces of production, as quickly as possible, by maximising the production of surplus value by driving forward productive efficiency.

And, in those forms of socialised capital, where Boards of Directors acting on behalf of shareholders, i.e. the representatives of fictitious capital, of the old ruling class, in turn appoint the actual functioning capitalists, and stand guard over them, rather than the workers in a co-operative, that middle-class is also under pressure to meet the requirements of its overlords, even where it contradicts the needs of the socialised capital they represent.

“On the basis of capitalist production a new swindle develops in stock enterprises with respect to wages of management, in that boards of numerous managers or directors are placed above the actual director, for whom supervision and management serve only as a pretext to plunder the stockholders and amass wealth.”

Capital III, Chapter 23

General Election - A Tory Win Means A Hard Brexit and Harder Austerity

Assorted pundits have been mulling over Theresa May's decision to call a snap election, and the consequences of her gaining a larger majority.  One theory is that she called the election so as to get a bigger majority, in order to put down her own hard Brexit backbenchers, who currently have leverage given the slim majority.  Others point out that, any increased majority is likely to strengthen the hard right on her backbenches, because local Tory associations are likely to select hard right candidates. Yet another theory is that, she wants a larger majority so as to be able to present a stronger hand in negotiations with the EU, and thereby be able to negotiate a softer Brexit.  All these theories are wrong.  Any Tory win, whether it represents a big or small majority, whether it brings in more hard Brexiters or less, will mean a hard Brexit, because the terms of Brexit will be determined by the EU, not by Britain, and as they have said, the choice is a hard Brexit or no Brexit.

The pundits have accepted the Tory line, and adopted the same delusion as the Tories that what will happen is some kind of negotiation between the EU and Britain, in which Britain tried to get the best deal it can.  That perspective is totally wrong.  Britain has no cards in its hand to negotiate with, and the EU know that.  It will not be a negotiation, but simply the EU telling Britain how things will be, in future, and Britain trying to dress it up, whilst trying to minimise the damage.  The end result will be that Britain is out on its ear, and reliant on other global forces for its future, in the same way that small states in the past have always had to become clients of larger more powerful players for their protection, and thereby become vassal states.  Expecting the EU to treat the UK as some kind of equal, and to negotiate with it on the basis, is like expecting that the US would treat Cuba as an equal, and negotiate with it on that basis.  It won't happen.

What would a soft Brexit look like?  It would involved Britain remaining in the Customs Union and common market (a thing incidentally that even UKIP, in the past said they wanted, and lyingly claimed the 1975 Referendum had been about), but May has already said that she does not want to be in either!  Even if that is just to satisfy her backbenchers, and she intends to give it up in negotiations, why would the EU agree to that without Britain having to pay for that privilege, and also having to accept free movement of labour, rejection of which May has made the centrepiece of her programme?  But, even if that were on the cards, what possible reason would there be to go for such an option - essentially the Norway option - if you have all the obligations and costs of EU membership, but with no seat at the table, no right to have a say in policy formation?

I once thought that May was pushing forward a hard Brexit, and promoting incompetents like Bojo, Davies, and Fox, who squabble like rats in a sack, so as to ensure that Brexit failed.  However, it now looks like May is the hardest Brexiter of all, and that she put forward the three amigos, in good faith of their Brexit credentials.  A reason for calling the election now could well be that, knowing that the negotiations a re a sham, and Britain's impotence will be more and more exposed in the coming weeks, and its economic performance seen also to have been a sham built on a bubble, is that the three stooges will cause the negotiations to collapse, soon after the election, and May will then just decide to pull Britain out of the EU, as some of the hard Brexiters have been already demanding, so as to avoid demonstrating their impotence, and before they are presented with a huge bill for their share of the costs of leaving.

May wants to support her position for the same reason that Erdogan does in Turkey, its why she talks in the same terms as Erdogan and other dictators about crushing the opposition, i.e. crushing any dissent from her disastrous agenda, and its consequences.  By pulling out of the EU, immediately after the election, May will argue that the economic chaos that follows is just temporary pain until Britain resumes its former colonial glory with a reimposition of the commonwealth as its own protected market place.  It would then give them five years, in which they would stick their finger in the air,a nd hope for the best before having to face the electorate again, unless, of course, by that time, they follow Erdogan even further, and legislate to lengthen the life of the government, and further strengthen its prerogative powers, as May has done with the Brexit Bill, and is proposing with the Henry VIII clauses in the so called Great Repeal Bill.

Any Tory win, will mean a hard Brexit, and if they get a large majority, probably an immediate Brexit, simply repealing the 1972 European Communities Act, and walking away as Farage and right-wing Tories have already proposed, and as is favoured by the gutter press such as the Daily Mail.  And, the further immediate consequence will then be that an already flaky British economy that is heading in any case for stagflation, will be hit hard.  It will be the signal for the Tories to double down on austerity, imposing further harsh cuts in the welfare state.  They have already indicated that the pensioners triple lock is to go; the current cuts in school, health and social care will be mild compared to what they impose following Brexit.  With Britain becoming a vassal state, dependent on May's ties to Trump, we could expect the NHS to be sold off to big US corporations, and its operation geared to making money by providing healthcare to the global super rich, from the US, Russia, China, and of course, May's friends in the Saudi Royal Family and other Gulf monarchies.

The Economists for Brexit like Patrick Minford have at least been honest and admitted that Brexit and a policy of free trade would mean that the rst of Britain's manufacturing industry would disappear, unable to compete in such an environment.  There would be a period, before that happens when the government would support manufacturers taking on their workers to push down wages, abolish existing pension arrangements,a nd worsen conditions.  Minford talks about consumers being better off, by being able to buy cheaper imported goods, but he doesn't explain how those consumers will buy those cheaper imported goods, when, as workers they have no job to provide an income to spend.  He does not explain how Britain would pay for even cheaper imports, unless it had something to export.  The only answer is that which Thatcher and her heirs adopted from the 1980's, to pay for it by debt, by another massive expansion of credit, which could only be financed by selling off the country's capital and assets, like the NHS.

Of course, people like Minford are not concerned, because the only consumers he, and the Tories are actually concerned about are rich consumers, not workers.  Workers in Britain would be reduced to being unproductive servants, paid for out of the revenue of the rich, much as like happened in the 19th century.  The Tory's vision of "an alternative economic model", is an economy like Batista;s Cuba, with low taxes attracting all sorts of dubious characters form overseas looking for a place to stash their ill gotten gains, and where they can speculate to make further ill-gotten gains.  For workers it would be a return to the Tory golden age, depicted by Tory Lord Julian Fellows, in his "Downton Abbey".  And when the result of that is a destruction of Britain's wealth creating capacity, they will simply take all of their movable wealth, all of their fictitious capital, and simply move to somewhere else, like former Tory Chancellor Nigel Lawson, who sits in the House of Lords, pontificating over the future of British people, demanding Brexit, but who himself lives in France!

That is also why it is naive to think, as the media do, that this election can separate out Brexit from the issues that Jeremy Corbyn and Labour are stressing, the question of the economy, of jobs, of wages, of the state of the welfare state and NHS, of taxes, and the imposition of austerity and its dire failure over the last seven years.  Already, now the election has been called, the polls show that it is these issues that are at the top of people's concerns rather than Brexit and immigration.  But, the fact is that it will be impossible to deal with all of these other issues satisfactorily if Brexit goes ahead.  Stopping Brexit has to be a central part of any programme.

Anyone who wants to prevent the dire consequences of a deteriorating economy, has to oppose Brexit, because a soft Brexit is not possible, it is hard Brexit or no Brexit, and we know that under the Tories it will be a very hard, and probably very immediate Brexit.  Anyone who wants to prevent the dire consequences of Brexit, and therefore stop Brexit, has to vote Labour, because no other force is capable of defeating the Tories, and forming a government.  True, Labour have said that they will respect the referendum result, and that is unfortunate, but Labour has said that they would try to negotiate a soft Brexit that would keep Britain in the Common Market, and the Customs Union.  In practice the only way that will be possible will effectively be to remain in the EU, and as negotiations between a Labour government and the EU proceeded, that would become obvious, and the government would be led to get backing from the people for overturning the Brexit vote.  By that time, in any case, and if a Labour government gave 16 and 17 year olds a vote, there would be a clear majority to stay in the in the EU.

Anyone who want to oppose Brexit should, therefore, vote Labour.  A vote for the Liberals or Greens or Plaid more than at any other time will be a wasted vote.  None of those parties can win a majority or form a government.  A vote for any of them, anywhere is essentially a vote for the Tories, or at least a vote that Labour could have used to defeat the Tories, and elect a Labour government, as the only possible alternative government to the Tories, and their hard Brexit, hard austerity plans.  In fact, if the Greens, Plaid and the Liberals are serious about wanting to defeat Brexit and defeat the Tories, they should stand their candidates down now, and throw all their weight behind Labour.  That is the only kind of "Progressive Alliance" that make any kind of sense.  But, in reality, Farron and the Liberals have attacked Labour more than the Tories, and they have said that they would go into another coalition with the Tories, like the one that created this mess in the first place,a nd from which they only got kicked out of two years ago!

The only exception to that is the SNP in Scotland, where its obvious that the Tartan Tories of Sturgeon are entrenched for the foreseeable future.  But, it gives a clue to Labour to focus all of its resources on fighting the battle against the Tories South of the border.  And South of the border, Labour needs to learn the lessons of Scotland.  A Corbyn Labour Party should have all the potential to appeal to the old urban working-class that the Blair/Brown Labour Party deliberately took for granted.  The focus now should be the other way around.  We need a Labour programme that is bold, radical and that recognises that the interests of workers and the middle class are identical as against the interests of the rich money lenders, who are fleecing the country blind.

We need bold policies to increase the minimum wage substantially, not just as an hourly minimum, but as at least a weekly minimum, so as to overcome the problem of zero hours contracts and casual employment.  We need to protect the triple lock for pensions.  We should demand that companies protect final salary scheme pensions for their employers, by law.  We should give workers a right to buy the companies they work for, at a large discount, in the same way Thatcher gave Council House tenants a right to buy their council house.  We should announce a massive programme of council house building, to put workers back to work, and provide workers with affordable housing, whilst also thereby bursting the current astronomical property bubble that only benefits the speculators.  We should take ownership by compulsory purchase at agricultural prices all the land needed to undertake that building, and announce plans for a nationalisation of land, as was first proposed back in the 19th century, to stop the rich landlords, holding back economic growth.

W should also give local communities, and workers in public services greater democratic control over the provision of health and social care and so on.  Where possible we should set up worker owned co-operatives to provide integrated health and social care, as well as pharmacies and associated services.  We should set up user co-operatives as commissioners of health and social care, so as to give local communities control over the services they get, and oversight over its costs, whilst linking up directly with the workers who provide those services.

These are all things that affect workers and the middle class, who in reality are workers themselves.  The aspiration we should engender is a collective aspiration to make things better for us all, not an individualistic aspiration to simply see the paper price of your house rise, which actually makes you no better off, and impoverishes your children, when they come to buy one.  The aspiration we should engender is a collective aspiration to own and control the place where you work, and where you live, and thereby to ensure that its development is a development in the interests of all, and not just in the interests of a small group of speculators and money lenders.

We should use all of our half million members to take this on to the street, no more phone canvassing and remote access.  We need to take the message into every workplace, every pub and club.  And as the supporters of Bernie Sanders have been doing in the US, we should give the Tories nowhere to hide.  At every meeting, every event, we should be there to announce loudly "Shame On You".

Theories of Surplus Value, Part I, Chapter 4 - Part 45

Marx quotes Ganilh to show his confusion over exchange-value, which also reflects his acceptance of Mercantilist ideas.

““If the abundance of wheat makes its value fall, the farmers will be less rich, because they have less exchange-values to obtain for themselves things that are necessary, useful or pleasant for life; but the consumers of wheat will profit from all that the farmers have lost: the loss of some will be compensated by the gain of others, and the general wealth will undergo no change” (pp. 108-09).” (p 208)

Marx's response is itself not as clear as it might be. He replies,

“Excuse me. The consumers of wheat eat the wheat and not the exchangeable value of the wheat. They are richer in means of subsistence, but not in exchangeable value. They have exchanged a small amount of their products—which have a high exchange-value because of their relative paucity as compared with the quantity of wheat for which they are exchanged—for the wheat. The farmers have now received the high exchange-value and the consumers a good deal of wheat of small exchange-value, so that now the latter are the poor ones and the farmers the rich.” (p 208)

What Marx means here is that increased supply of wheat does not change its total value. It simply reflects the fact that the same value is now contained in a much larger quantity of wheat. Each quarter now has less value, but the farmer has a correspondingly greater number of quarters to sell. The process of exchange does not involve the exchange of exchange value in respect of the final consumer.

The buyer of wheat does not buy it for its exchange-value, but for its use value. Similarly, the seller of wheat sells it because, for them, it has no use value. The buyer gives up exchange value, and obtains use value, whereas the seller gives up a use value, and obtains exchange value.

When the exchange value of wheat falls, the buyers of wheat can obtain more of it, for the same amount of exchange value. They do not, therefore, obtain more exchange value, but only more use value. But, having given up these use values, the farmers obtain exchange value, and this exchange value – money – would buy more wheat than it did previously, before the value of wheat fell.

It is not the case, as Ganilh suggests here, that there has been a transfer of wealth from farmers to buyers of wheat. If previously 1,000 tons of wheat exchanged for 100 metres of linen, because both represented 100 hours of general labour, then if 100 hours of labour produce 1500 tons of wheat, these will exchange for the 100 metres of linen. The exchange value of the former will have fallen and the latter risen, but, at the end of the exchange, both will be in possession of the same 100 hours of value. The only difference will be that the buyers of wheat will have this 100 hours of value in the form of 1500 rather than 1000 tons of wheat.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

General Election - Win or Lose, Corbyn Must Stay

One reason for May calling the General Election now, is that she knows that in the next few years, Jeremy Corbyn's position as leader of the Labour Party will get stronger.  That is all the more the case, as the party is reformed, and the current machinery that prevents the rank and file being properly represented, and allows the small group of right-wing Labour MP's and MEP's undue influence is changed.  May wants to call an election now before Corbyn's position gets stronger, as she says other right-wing populists like herself losing ground across Europe, and the left growing in support.  She wants to give the Labour right an opportunity to ditch Corbyn, and thereby stop the party from exerting its influence.  Labour activists, whatever the result of the General Election, should not allow May and the right-wing Tories to achieve that aim.  Whatever the result of the election. activists must ensure that Corbyn stays.

After all, if Labour were to lose, we know who to blame.  Labour's standing in the polls is a result of the continual sniping against Corbyn by the old Blair-rights and soft lefts.  Every day they have put into practice the words of Lord Mandelson to do everything they could to work for the removal of Corbyn.  Every day they have continued to blur the electorates view of where Labour stands, now, by continuing to blather on with the same old failed Bliar-right policies of the past, rather than stand four-square behind the party leadership.  Every day, the Tory press, and the Tory mass media has been full of unelected Blair-right, spin doctors, doing everything they could to undermine Corbyn. And, of course, they are aided and abetted by old SDP'ers like Polly Toynbee, and her scribblings in the Guardian, along with dozens more of that ilk who dominate the pages of those liberal papers, and magazines like the New Statesmen, whilst pretending to be supporters of Labour.

Even on the very day that May announced she was going to call the election, one of these same Blair-right MP's, John Woodcock came out to attack Corbyn gratuitously, saying that he could not and would not support Corbyn for Prime Minister.  Had that been a left wing MP, who had said that in respect of Blair, the NEC would have jumped on them straight away, bringing disciplinary action to have them removed.  Instead, today, we have a still right-wing dominated NEC, voting to prevent local parties from being able to deselect mavericks like Woodcock, and instead giving all of these right-wingers a free pass.

Labour should have put an amendment to the Tory motion to call the election, saying that it should be held in August, so as to give every party an equal opportunity to undertake their own internal democratic procedures to select candidates, to prepare manifestoes etc.  That would have ensured that, at least we went into this election with candidates that more reflected the actual party of today, rather than the party of several years ago, prior to the Corbyn revolution.

The failure of Corbyn and the party leadership to do that, could turn out to be a serious mistake.  The right will move, if Labour lose the election to remove Corbyn, and without the McDonnell amendment being passed, they would make it impossible for a new left-winger candidate to be even on the ballot for Leader.  And once they have achieved that, as has always happened in the past, the right will not make the same mistake of conciliating their opponents that Corbyn and Momentum have made.

With an existing right-wing majority on the NEC, they will move quickly to suspend and close down, branches and CLP's, and to expel anyone they see as an opponent.  They will stop the McDonnell amendment even being put forward let alone passed,  They will act to carry out the coup they attempted last year, but now from a position of power.

The first step in preventing that is for Labour activists now to organise to win the election, and as Paul Mason said yesterday on Newsnight, Labour can win this election.  We have half a million activists, Corbyn has always had more support than the polls suggest, which is one reason that May is refusing to debate him in a TV debate.  But, that organisation to win the election - and remember the reason the Tories are in a mess over election expenses in respect of the last election, is that they are moribund at grass roots level, they effectively have no activists in much of the country - must also go hand in hand with organisation to build the activist base within the party, in preparation for whatever comes after the election.

If Labour loses, it will be the fault of the right, and activists must then be ready to take the action needed to deal with that cause of the defeat.  It will mean rebuilding the party root and branch from the ground up.  It will require all the old right wing functionaries at branch, CLP and higher levels of the party being cleared out, along with right-wing councillors.  We need people in these positions who will fight clearly on principle against the attacks that the Tories will launch, not people who only want to occupy a position as a career, and offer only Tory-lite policies as an alternative.

We need to pass further democratic reforms at party conference to reinstate mandatory reselection of MP's, and we need to ensure that we then move quickly to deselect the right-wing MP's that will have brought such a defeat about, not just over the last two years of their carping, but as a result of the previous 18 years when they advocated and in government implemented Tory-lite policies that led to workers losing faith in Labour as any kind of real alternative to the Tories.

When Kinnock lost the election in 1987, he did not resign, but stayed on as Leader to fight the 1992 election, which he also lost.  When Harold Wilson lost in 1970, he did not stand down as leader, and went on to win the two elections in 1974.  If Labour loses there is no reason why Corbyn should stand down, when that loss will not have been his fault, but will be wholly down to the actions of the right-wing within the party.  Activists must make it clear, here and now, that whatever happens, Corbyn stays, so that the changes started in the party can be completed, not rolled back.  That is the basis for Labour moving forward to win in 2020, or 2022, whenever the next election follows.

There is however, every reason why Labour can win this election.  The Liberals were already mostly destroyed at the last election.  Everyone knows that they are no different to the Tories.  Farron has spent more time already attacking Labour rather than the Tories, and has said he is open yet again to going into coalition with the Tories.  Even those who want to oppose Brexit, should vote Labour rather than Liberal, because the Liberals have no chance of making any difference.  Even if they trebled their number of seats, they would have only 27 seats.  A vote for the Liberals is not only a vote for the Tories because every Liberal MP will simply bolster the Tories as they did between 2010-2015, but because nearly everywhere, a vote for the Liberals simply detracts from a potential Labour win.  Anyone who wants to oppose Tory Brexit, must favour a Labour Government over a Tory Government, whereas the Liberals have no chance of making any impact.

Moreover, another reason for May calling the election now is that the reality of Brexit and the Brexit negotiations is beginning to bite.  The Pound has made a short term rally, but it is headed steadily downwards, sending inflation steadily upwards, as Britain heads for stagflation.  Real wages are already falling, and the UK economy has been sustained only on the basis of levels of private household debt, now back to the levels seen just ahead of the 2008, financial meltdown.  The next few weeks will see Britain's impotence in the Brexit negotiations highlighted, whilst its economy begins to tank.  May hopes to preempt that, but its possible that voters will already see that the economy is heading into crisis, before the election takes place.

I do not favour Leaders debates, which merely lead in the direction of personalising politics, and turning it into a cult of celebrity, but May's refusal to debate with Corbyn also shows her weakness, and Corbyn's strength.  In the Labour leadership debates, no one had heard of Corbyn until the campaign began.  It was the campaign, and hundreds of meetings and debates around the country that led to the Corbyn surge.  May will be aware of the same thing happening with Bernie Sanders in the US, and with Melenchon in France in recent weeks.

Moreover, May, like cameron before her, never answers Corbyn's questions in Parliament.  She relies on pre-scripted responses, whatever the question, and a series of jokes and insults.  Whenever she has to make a response on something that has not been prescripted, she stumbles and fumbles.  That is why she doesn't want to take part in a live debate, where she would have an hour of such stumbling and fumbling exposing her as a weak leader, unable to think for herself on her feet.  Labour should take every opportunity to expose that weakness, during the campaign.

As Dennis Skinner said, in 1974, Ted Heath called a General Election in similar conditions, thinking that he would win, in the middle of a Miners Strike, on the basis of the question who rules.  At the start of the campaign he too had a clear lead according to the polls, and of course, the traditional Tory arrogance meant that they believed that voters would support him rather than a Labour party supporting the miners.  He was wrong.  Labour won.  We can do the same again.

Labour Should Put An Amendment To Today's Government Motion

Labour has said it will back Theresa May's motion today to call an election on June 8th.  By setting that date, May is giving the minimum amount of time prior to the election.  As I suggested yesterday, one reason she is doing so, is to prevent Labour activists from undertaking deselections of sitting MP's, so as to nominate Corbynite candidates in their place.

Yesterday, Labour's NEC blocked proposals for selection meetings, giving sitting, right-wing MP's, therefore, a free-pass, on precisely that basis of insufficient time to undertake short listing and selection meetings.  That is a flagrant abuse of democratic principles.  It is no better than what happened under Blair and Brown.

Labour should continue to say that it supports the idea of an election, because we want to get rid of this Tory government, and its proposals for Brexit, but we also believe in democracy not just by the letter, but also in spirit.  Nothing will be lost by delaying the date of the election by a few weeks so that all parties can undertake a thorough and democratic set of procedures to select their candidates. That indeed was one of the arguments for having fixed term parliaments so that the governing party had no advantage over other parties in calling the date of the election.

Labour should put an amendment to the Tory motion, so that the date of the election is pushed by two months to 10th August, so that every party has adequate time, to undertake the necessary democratic procedures to shortlist and select the candidates of their choice, to prepare election materials etc.  If the Labour leadership doesn't do that, then Labour Mp's should present such an amendment.  After all, the government requires a two-thirds majority before the motion can be passed.

Theories of Surplus Value, Part I, Chapter 4 - Part 44

Ganilh recognises that the basis of capitalist wealth is commodity production, but he expresses this in a confused manner. He writes,

““There is in truth no wealth for individuals and for peoples, except when each labours for all” (that is to say, when his labour takes the form of general social labour, for in any other meaning this would be nonsense; since, except in the form of general social labour, an iron manufacturer does not work for all, but only for consumers of iron); “and all for each” (p 207), but Marx points out that what this means is that the concrete labour of each individual must be reduced to abstract labour. The producer of iron does not labour for all, but only for the buyers of iron, and its clear that all do not work for each because total production is divided into a range of individual products, and each individual person does not buy all products, but only specific products. 

All work for each only on the basis that all production becomes co-operative, and on the basis that the abstract labour contained in any product is comparable to that in every other product.

“... what this means is therefore only that each special product takes on a form in which it exists for everyone; and it only exists in this form, not because as a special product it is distinct from the product of each other person, but because it is identical with it; that is, once more the form of social labour as it exists on the basis of commodity production.” (p 207)

Ganilh has a purely subjective view of exchange value – much like that of neoclassical economics, which equates exchange value with market price, as being whatever commodities exchange for. If A exchanges for a lot of B,C,D then it has a high exchange value. Moreover, for Ganhilh, wealth and exchange value are identical. But, as Marx continues to explain, if value only exists because of exchange, then if we take the totality of commodities, they have no exchange value!

“Exchange-value consists of the relative proportion in which products exchange for each other. The total quantity of products has therefore no exchange-value, since it is not exchanged for anything. Hence, society, whose wealth consists of exchange-values, has no wealth. Consequently it follows not only, as Ganilh himself concludes, that the “national wealth, which is composed of the exchange-values of labour” (p.108), can never rise and can never fall in exchange-value ( therefore there is no surplus-value), but that it has no exchange-value whatever, and so is not wealth, since wealth consists only of exchangeable values.” (p 208)

If, on the other hand, we take the total of those products and consider them as values outside of exchange, it is quite clear that this value continues to exist, whether or not they are exchanged or simply consumed. The coal producer, who uses a portion of their output to fuel their steam engines, does not exchange the coal as a commodity, but uses it for their own productive-consumption, in just the same way that a peasant farmer uses a part of their output of wheat as seed, to replace that used in growing the wheat. Yet, in both cases, its clear that both the coal and the wheat have value, despite taking no part in commodity exchange.

The totality of production, whether exchanged or not has value, determined by the labour-time required for its production. That value can be expressed as an amount of exchange value, again whether it is exchanged or not, simply by equating it with money. The commodities have exchange value, not because they are exchanged, but because irrespective of whether they are exchanged, they have value as a product of labour, and the relation of these values determines that exchange value.