Thursday, 31 December 2020

The Economic Content of Narodism, Chapter 1 - Part 31

The sentiments of the Narodniks are the same as those heard to day from the same petty-bourgeois, moral trends, when they attack "monopoly capitalism" or multinational capital. They are the sentiments of the small capitalist that sees their impending descent into the ranks of the proletariat, because of their inability to compete with this large-scale capital. So, the Narodnik declares that the capitalist development – by which they mean large-scale capitalist development – is harmful to the people. 

"He declares the bourgeois trend to be “harmful and dangerous” to the morals and well-being of the people! Which “people,” respected Mr. Moralist? Those who worked for the landlords under the serfdom that fostered the “family hearth,” “settled living” and the “sacred duty of labour,” or those who subsequently went away to earn money to pay off land redemption fees? You are well aware that the payment of this money was the main and chief condition of the “emancipation,” and that the peasant could only get this money from Mr. Coupon. You yourself have described how this gentleman carried on his business, how “the middle class have introduced their own science, their own moral code and their own sophisms into life,” how a literature has already been formed praising the “cleverness, enterprise and energy” of the bourgeoisie. Clearly, it all boils down to one form of social organisation being succeeded by another: the system of appropriating the surplus labour of tied-to-the-land serf peasants created feudal morality; the system of “free labour for others,” for the owners of money, created bourgeois morality to replace it." (p 383-4) 

And, of course, as Marx sets out, in the Communist Manifesto, this process meant that millions were rescued from the "idiocy of rural life", a fact that was far from harmful to those millions. For the Narodnik, and the same for all such petty-bourgeois trends, they see only the small scale production and producer as moral, and see wage labour as immoral. Today's moral socialists may also not see small-scale production as moral either – though many of those that have tied themselves to the environmentalists often purvey the sentiment of "small is beautiful" – and superficially align themselves with the concept of large-scale collective ownership, but the trouble is that not only do they have no idea of how to achieve it, but their practical politics leads in the opposite direction, seeking not to push forward through the progressive developments that large-scale capital has brought, but instead to hold it back, or as with Lexit, to turn it back. 

"He does not compare the modern form of exploitation with the previous one, that of serfdom; he does not look at the changes that it has introduced into the relations between the producer and the owner of the means of production—he compares it with a senseless, philistine utopia, with the sort of “small independent undertakings” that, while being commodity economy, should not lead to what it actually does lead to (see above: “kulakdom is in full bloom, is striving to enslave the weakest, and turn them into farm labourers,” etc.). That is why his protest against capitalism (as such, as a protest, it is quite legitimate and fair) becomes a reactionary lamentation." (p 384) 

And, the same applies today to the "anti-capitalists" and "anti-imperialists" who claim that capitalism and imperialism are no longer progressive. But, progressive compared to what? Progressive compared to what went before, or progressive only compared to a fantasy that does not exist? In other words, is it progressive compared to feudalism, to the small capitalist production that developed out of feudalism, and developed into modern capitalism and imperialism? Yes it is. Is it progressive compared to the landlordism and clericalism of many of the reactionary nationalist regimes and movements the petty-bourgeois moralists associate themselves with? Yes, it is. Of course capitalism and imperialism is progressive compared to all of these alternatives that belong in the past. Of course, as Marx says, in relation to Sismondi, he is only correct in pointing out all of the harmful effects of capitalism as against those that deny the existence of those effects that arise from the contradictions within the system. But, for Marx, as, here, for Lenin, those "harmful effects" do not change the fundamentally progressive nature of capitalism, or of its more mature form, as a global system – imperialism.

Brexit Disaster and Labour's Day of Eternal Shame

So, barring it being blocked by the European Parliament, the disaster of Brexit is to be imposed on the British working-class. It is another black day in the history of defeats for the British working-class, alongside those of the 1926 and 1984-5 Miners Strikes. This defeat has the potential to be graver and more long-lasting. It is not just a defeat for the working-class, and its middle-class allies, but also for the dominant progressive section of capital, on which the future of the state itself depends. This is more like the victories of feudal reaction, in the long march of the advance of the bourgeoisie. It represents a further advance of the forces of reaction itself, which seeks to turn the clock backwards more than a century. 

But, this is not a political counter-revolution. It is merely a battle within such a war. The reality is that the forces of reaction could never actually turn back the clock, in the way they seek, without completely destroying Britain, in the same way that Pol Pot destroyed Cambodia in carrying through his counter-revolution. The arrow of history, as much as the arrow of time, points in one direction, even if it does so via a series of eddies. The growth and dominance of large-scale capital did not arise by accident, or as a result of some external intervention, but as a consequence of the very processes of capitalism itself, whereby the smaller, less efficient producers go bust, and the larger, more efficient producers get bigger. Trying to reverse that process is what is artificial, and reactionary. It is also doomed to failure, as the underlying process will continue to operate. If a country insisted on continually breaking up its larger companies, to comply with this ideology, it would simply find itself uncompetitive with other countries that did not impose such harm upon themselves. The first country would go into steady decline, whilst the countries around it would prosper. And, the history of the world also shows what then happens. Those countries that prosper increasingly dominate and subordinate the weaker countries. That is the condition that Britain has put itself in as a result of the Brexit vote. 

Capital was able to develop, because a series of historical developments, themselves resulting from the growth of commodity production by small, independent, artisan producers in the towns, led to a growth of those towns, and of markets within them. When markets reach a critical minimum size, it means that producers are able themselves to produce on a larger scale. It becomes possible for some producers, then to employ wage labourers, to take advantage of division of labour, and economies of scale, and to introduce machinery, which would not be viable unless production on a larger scale is undertaken. These capitalist producers then undercut the remaining independent artisan producers, who are thrown out of business. The capitalist producers, buy up their means of production, and employ the former independent producers as wage labourers. The former independent producers now form a growing urban proletariat. They must, now, themselves rely on the market to supply their consumption needs, which causes the market itself to expand, creating a virtuous circle. 

This growth of capital in the towns begins in the 15th century. Over time, the spread of this capitalist production over a range of commodities, also undercuts the domestic industrial production of the peasants, who rely on it to provide them with money incomes to supplement their direct production of agricultural products. The peasants themselves, therefore, start to have to sell their labour-power to industrial capitalists, and their own agricultural production gradually ceases, their farms being taken over by richer peasants and landlords. By this process, capitalism, which originates in the towns, eventually spreads to the countryside. I've set this out in my blog posts How Capital produces Capitalists, Capitalism and Then Socialism. It is also described by Lenin, as set out in the posts on Lenin on Economic Romanticism

In the same way that it is larger markets that make capital possible, once capital exists, it creates larger markets itself, and competition results in production taking place on an ever larger scale, which itself requires ever larger markets. It is this process that leads to the development of the nation state, in the 19th century, as the minimum size of economic unit required by capital. Those nations that are able to establish such a minimum size, are able to forge themselves into these nation states, whilst those that are not, pass out of history. The latter become what Engels describes as the Non-Historic Peoples, of which there are have been thousands. Britain, for example, was originally divided into numerous tribes, and then into several kingdoms, such as under the heptarchy. A long process of consolidation takes place, before the nation state of Britain, we know today, comes into existence.  Even after the Norman Conquest, large parts of Britain spoke different languages - Anglo-Saxon, Gaelic, Norman French, for example. In France, there were 300 different nationalities, before the current French nation state came into existence. Germany had to be consolidated into a single German nation state by Prussia, and similar developments occurred in Italy, under Garibaldi, to forge a single nation state. 

But, capitalist production, in the 19th century, advanced at such a pace that almost no sooner had the nation state been created than it was itself out of date. The same process that led to the creation of nation states, on the bones of hundreds of smaller nationalities and nations that were unable to make the cut, in terms of required size for survival, saw even some of the smaller nation states disadvantaged as against the larger ones. So, these smaller states must begin to form alliances, or seek the protection of some larger state. As the economies of Europe attempt to grow in the face of the competition of an already established UK economic superpower, so the larger economies in Europe – France and Germany – seek to expand their production, into a large European market, leading them, in turn, to try to forge these separate European national economies into a single European economy. It is first attempted by France, in the Napoleonic Wars, and then by Germany, in World War I and II. On each occasion, Britain attempted to protect its dominance against the creation of such a European superpower, by its own military intervention. 

The underlying, economic reality, and so dynamic driving towards the creation of ever larger single markets, and economies, however, remained. What was not achieved by war, was achieved by peaceful cooperation and negotiation, as the economies of Europe formed the EEC, and, out of it, the EU. The reality, also was that British capital, or at least its dominant, large scale capital could not stand aside from such a development, and so Britain too had to become a part of this evolving European super state. Separate from it, the relatively small British economy cannot compete against an EU state that is six times bigger, or against a US economy, and Chinese economy that are similar in size to the EU. It is why, across the globe, smaller economies have followed the example of the EU, in forming together in large economic blocs, creating single markets that are inevitably driven towards the creation of single currency areas, and political unions. The latest example is the African Continental Free Trade Area. 

So, when Marxists look at these developments, and at Brexit within it, they do so in the same way that an evolutionary biologist looks at the evolution and development of species. Sometimes that process goes down a dead-end, for some particular and unusual set of reasons, and the species that arises dies out. Such is the nature of Brexit. 

And, the fact is that those that proposed Brexit, and who are now loudly proclaiming that they “Got It Done”, have had to realise that what they promised was not possible. The loud proclamations from Boris Johnson that he has, indeed, proved the possibility of “having cake and eating it”, are simply bluster to cover the fact that, a large part of the cake Britain had, has been thrown away, leaving a much smaller part of it to eat. Johnson has not “Got Brexit Done” in the way he promised, and the deal he has been forced to agree to amounts only to Brexit In Name Only (BRINO). The truth is always concrete, and the truth of this deal is that: 

1) NI is in the EU indefinitely, with a border down the Irish Sea. Not what Brexiters wanted or promised. 

2) Britain, as a whole, is tied to the Single Market and its regulations indefinitely. Not what the Brexiters wanted or promised. And, 

a) Britain has to abide by those rules, but, now, with no say in determining them, 
b) Britain has had to stay in some regulatory bodies, for which it will pay more than it did as a member, whilst for those its not in, it does not get equivalence, and now has to bear the cost of running those bodies on its own, 
c) That only gets tariff free trade on the less than 20% of its economy involved in material production, but 
i) still means trade frictions in regulatory border checks etc., and 
ii) no provisions for the 80% of the economy involved in service industry. 
d) Britons lose all the benefits of free movement etc. 

3) Britain gets to do its own trade deals, but the ones it has done only replicate those it already had with the same countries as an EU member. Already, the EU has just negotiated a large trade deal with China that Britain, now does not benefit from. As a small economy, the UK cannot negotiate from the same position of strength that the EU does with those other countries, which is why Britain will get worse terms in any of these future trade deals. 

4) Because of the UK's signing up to Single Market regulations, any trade deals will be highly constrained to comply with the Single Market rules on country of origin. 

5) Britain collapsed even on fishing. 

Johnson had to capitulate into this BRINO, because he understands the reality that Britain could never have actually undertaken a No Deal Brexit, and cut itself adrift from the EU. But, even so, this BRINO is a disaster, because it imposes unnecessary costs on UK production. Marxists are not concerned for the plight of UK capitalists, resulting from that, in the way that, for example, Labour MP, Peter Kyle, bemoaned the effect on British bankers. We are, however, obliged, by our scientific method, to point out the reactionary consequences of such developments in turning back the processes of capitalist development, processes that we also see as vital to the development of the productive forces which, in turn, lead to the development of Socialism. We are not nationalists, concerned for the negative effects of Brexit on Britain, but scientific socialists concerned about the negative effects it has on the development of productive forces, of the unity of workers across borders, and so of the potential for the more rapid development of socialism. 

That is why socialists had to oppose Brexit, and why they must now seek to continue to forge the closest possible links between UK workers and workers in the EU, around a common programme. It is why it is necessary to minimise the consequences of Brexit in relation to the development of the productive forces, and unity of the European working-class. It is why we must continue to argue for a reversal of Brexit, at the earliest opportunity. 

But, for all these reasons the actions of Keir Starmer and the large majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party, in voting for this disastrous and reactionary Brexit must go down as a day of eternal shame. The so called socialists and social democrats of the PLP were put to shame by the nationalists of the SNP and Plaid, as well as by the petty-bourgeois liberals of the Liberal Democrats and Greens. It was an act of historic betrayal by Starmer and the PLP, for which they should be branded with infamy, as with the mark of Cain.

Wednesday, 30 December 2020

Review of Predictions For 2020 (5) - Democrats Gain Control of Presidency and Congress

At the time of writing this prediction, it was not clear who the Democrat Presidential candidate was going to be. Joe Biden was actually lagging behind Sanders in the race. But, the Left suffered from its own division between the candidacies of Sanders and Warren. Had they fought on a single ticket, its likely they could, in the early stages, have built up such a lead that it would not have been possible for Biden to come back. But, he did, assisted by the fact that the other right-wing candidates dropped out, and threw their support behind him, and, as with Hillary Clinton, Biden had the support of the party machine. It will be a mistake, as I have written during the last year. However, Biden beat Trump, and although Trump went some of the way to meeting the predictions about trying to hold on to office, the scale of Biden's win was enough to prevent him doing that. 

The problem with Biden's conservative social-democratic politics, as with that of Hillary Clinton, is a) it is based upon a set of material conditions that existed from the 1990 through to 2008, but which have now gone, b) it offers no sustainable solutions to the conditions now existing, which require, as a minimum, progressive social-democratic solutions, c) it, therefore, comes into continual contradiction with reality, making it lack credibility in the eyes of voters, d) it fails to motivate all of those radical new Democrats required to do the groundwork for political advance, and electoral victories, e) as with Macron in France, because it is doomed to fail in office, it simply creates the conditions for a renewed onslaught from the Right, the path that Trump is currently preparing for himself in 2024. 

The conditions in the US, which have led to the sharp division between the Republicans and Democrats, are essentially the same as those in Britain that led to Brexit, and that exist in Europe and elsewhere, leading to a similar division between the forces of reaction, and those of progress. The material basis of the division is that there has been a continued survival of a plethora of small capitalists, and, in the period from the 1980's onwards, these small capitalists were able to capture conservative parties across the globe. Until that time, these conservative parties had recognised the fact that economies depend upon large-scale capital, and on the social-democratic state created to further the interests of that large-scale capital. From the 1980's, these conservative parties began to further the interests of this plethora of small capital, whose owners now comprised the core of the membership and voter base of these parties. In turn, these policies further enhanced the growth of small capital relative to big capital, especially where policies of de-industrialisation occurred. 

The process of de-industrialisation was partly disguised, because, during this period, first falling interest rates, and then money printing by central banks, diverted into the purchase of financial assets, created asset price hyper-inflation, with the resultant capital gains being liquidated, and thereby converted into revenues. The same process saw a return of what Marx calls the antediluvian forms of capital, of merchant capital, and usury, whose dominance Marx says is inimical to capitalism itself. Revenues that would otherwise have been accumulated as industrial capital, instead was consumed unproductively, in what amounts to simply gambling. It went to buy existing shares, rather than to finance new share issues. The result was ever rising share prices. Indeed, rather than issuing new shares to finance capital accumulation, companies themselves used profits or even issued bonds to raise cash to buy back shares, and thereby inflate share prices. In the same way, money was gambled in bond markets, pushing up bond prices to ludicrous levels, which eventually led to negative yields, underwritten by central banks who stepped in to print money tokens and buy bonds whenever their prices fell. Similarly, money went into the purchase of land and property purely in search of capital gains from perennial rises in property prices. 

But, this is no longer sustainable. The underlying contradiction was exposed in repeated financial and property crashes from the late 1980's on, and with the most obvious manifestation being the crash of 2008. Interest, rents, commercial profits and taxes, depend upon the production of profits by industrial capital, and an expansion of those profits depends upon an expansion of industrial capital itself. If industrial capital dos not accumulate fast enough, then industrial profits will not expand fast enough either, to meet the expectations of owners of fictitious capital, and landed property. When as a result, the proportion of profits going to dividends then steadily rises, this further reduces the amount of profit available for accumulation, and the same is true of rising rents and taxes. This is the fundamental basis for continued falling yields, and the ultimate absurdity, negative yields, whereby lenders pay people to borrow money from them. 

Reality and appearance will ultimately be brought into alignment, and the way this happens is via a crisis, as happened in 2008. What has happened since 2008 is simply surreal, an attempt to defy reality, which can only result in an even bigger financial crash than 2008, as I set out in my book – Marx and Engels' Theories of Crisis: Understanding The Coming Storm. There is only one solution and that is that the hyper-inflation of asset prices has to be reversed by a crash that will dwarf 2008. But, it will, in turn, be caused by, and then promote, a much more rapid accumulation of industrial capital. That is the basis upon which progressive social-democracy rests. Rather than retrenching the social-democratic state, it will require its further advance, and enlargement both in depth and in breadth. In other words, that state will have to extend its role in terms of planning and regulation of the economy, and will have to do so, on an increasing geographical scale. The development of large single markets, customs unions, and so on, across the globe, is merely the reflection of this underlying material reality. 

But, such a development is anathema to that plethora of small capital. It has railed against it, and has mobilised in those conservative parties against it, putting forward instead the reactionary vision of a return not only to the nation state – Brexit, America First etc. - but also of the break up of the national social-democratic state, and of the large capitalist monopolies on which it rests, in favour of a return to early 19th or even 18th century visions of free market competition, undertaken by a plethora of small capitals, and independent producers. It is farcical and unachievable, but that does not prevent those reactionary forces from advocating it, or others being taken in by it. 

In Britain, there are 5 million of these small capitals, ranging from the self-employed window cleaner, up to the small engineering works employing a couple of dozen people. There are also some family owned businesses that began as smaller companies, but have grown, in which these ideas are still ingrained. Taking the families of those that own these 5 million small capitals, and their periphery, and around 12-15 million people comprise this petty-bourgeois class, making them the second largest class behind the working-class. 

The US is the classic example of this petty-bourgeois class. It was built on the capital of the peasant farmer, and the independent petty-producer. Large parts of middle America remain based upon this kind of production, in stark contrast to the giant US corporations. This division is the material basis of the political divisions. The reactionaries can offer no way forward, but their easy solutions, based on blaming others – particularly foreigners – appeal readily to this large petty-bourgeois mass, whilst the solutions of conservative social-democrats, like Macron, Biden or Starmer appear hollow and insincere, also offering no credible way forward. 

So, although Biden beat Trump, Trump also secured a large vote, significantly increasing his vote as against 2016. That is similar to what happened with the Brexit vote, mobilising large number for both Remain and Leave.  This large vote on either side, simply exposes the degree to which this division represents a battle between two great class camps - a reactionary, heterogeneous petty-bourgeois mass on the one hand, and the progressive working-class and professional middle class on the other. Trump lost, because opposition to him, for a large number of voters, outweighed apathy towards Biden. So, in many of the other contests, where it was simply a question of supporting a Biden clone, as against a Republican, votes were less enthusiastic. There are nuances in each race, but, in general, it appears to be the case that where the local candidate was a progressive Democrat, and was backed by a large local activist base, going out and arguing consistently, they won. This is important, because it begins to create the groundwork and infrastructure for an advance of the Left in the period ahead. 

As things currently stand, the Republicans retain control of the Senate, but another Senate election is due in Georgia next month. With Democrats having won Georgia in the Presidential contest, the chances should now be for them to win the Senate elections, other than for the fact that in the Presidential Election, they were able to mobilise anti-Trump sentiment. They will, however, now be able to throw all their resources into winning the two seats. Trump's behaviour is also likely to lose Republicans votes. If Democrats win these two seats, then the casting vote of Vice President Harris, gives the Democrats a majority, which means they will, as predicted, have a majority in both houses of Congress, as well as control of the Presidency, meaning they should be able to pursue their agenda. 

The question then will be the extent to which the rank and file of the Democrats can forge a movement with US trades unions and oppressed groups to be able to push the Democrats into the adoption of more progressive positions.

Socialists Should Vote Against This Reactionary Brexit

Socialists, and progressive social-democrats should vote against Johnson's reactionary Brexit, today in parliament. The argument put by Starmer that to vote against this deal, now, is to vote for No Deal, is a fraud. In his speech, he claimed that those voting “No”, really wanted “Yes”, but wanted others to take the responsibility for that “Yes” vote. That is a blatant lie. Those that vote “No”, mean “No”, and have really meant “No” for the last 4 years. It appears that Starmer is admitting that his “No” for the last 4 years was really a “Yes”, or at least a maybe, but as with the use of “Anti-Semitism” as a weapon with which to beat the Left in the LP, was also just a means of Starmer and the Right, attempting, during all that time, to undermine Corbyn, by playing parliamentary games. It exposes Starmer and the other Liberals around him in the PLP for the charlatans they really are. 

These Lib-Labs are the people who shouted from the roof tops, over the last four years, their opposition to Corbyn, for his failure to militantly oppose Brexit, and to argue for their wishy-washy compromise position of a second referendum. They were, of course, right to oppose Corbyn's lack of a militant opposition to Brexit, just as they were right to oppose anti-Semitism, and the failure to deal with it. But, what is now clear, is that, for them, both their opposition to anti-Semitism, and their anti-Brexitism, were more to do with finding tools with which to attack Corbyn, rather than any principled politics on their behalf. Corbyn, of course, played into their hands, on both issues, because his own petty-bourgeois nationalism led him into alliances with reactionary nationalists that left him wide open to charges of “anti-Semitism”, as well as leading him into his own support for the petty-bourgeois nationalist ideology that lies behind Brexit. 

But, the fact that Corbyn, as well as the Right, has abysmal politics is no reason why principled socialists should make common cause with the Lib-Labs, who attacked him for those politics, only out of their own narrow self-interest. There is no reason why we should be simply useful idiots in the cause of the Right, in their campaign to turn the Labour Party back to the safe vehicle of the bourgeoisie. For that Right, Starmer's capitulation into Brexitism, and other jingoism is simply another indication, if any were needed, that for these cretinous, career politicians, there is no principle they will not abandon in order to try to save their careers. The only Marx they resemble is Groucho, and his comment “These are my principles, and if you don't like them, I have plenty more that you might prefer.” 

Its notable, that, in parliament, Starmer's collapse into support for this reactionary Brexit was supported by nearly all those other Lib-Labs, for whom opposition to Brexit was the touchstone for the last four years. The only Lib-Labs not following Starmer into that reactionary nationalist sewer, were the ones who find their careers in jeopardy from open Liberal candidates in their parliamentary seats, who stand to benefit from Labour's populist capitulation to nationalist reaction. 

And, that capitulation has also exposed the nature of those petty-bourgeois, moral socialists that did back Starmer. For example, in this post, Tendance Coatesy has done all he could to square his backing for Starmer, and opposition to Left Populism, with the fact that, now, it is Starmer himself that is in the camp of the Left Populists, of the Morning Star, in openly promoting Brexit! Rather than answering my question as to whether this caused him any embarrassment, he replied with a convoluted response that leaves the reader unclear as to where he might stand, whilst trying to distance Starmer's position from that of the CP/MS, with whom he now finds himself in bed. 

I have responded twice to this answer, but both times, the reply has failed to materialise, so, let me present it, here. 

“What does any of this “response” mean? I have no idea from the rambling, inconclusive first paragraph whether you agree that opposition to “monopoly capitalism” is reactionary or not, and if not, why you think its not. The only thing that is clear from your reply is that you think that the national economic stance of Corbyn, the CP/MS is no solution, with which I heartily agree, but the implication of what you say is that you think that opposition to the current manifestation of “monopoly capitalism”, being somehow different from its 1960’s/70’s manifestation, in your opinion, is somehow progressive, despite the fact that on the basis of any objective materialist analysis, the current manifestation of monopoly capitalism is simply the natural development of capitalism, i.e. the one that has arisen, the really existing monopoly capitalism, driven by the same historical materialist laws that led to the development of capitalism itself. 

Opposition to the actually existing monopoly capitalism, as the more mature form of it, is just as reactionary as the opposition to monopoly capitalism by the CP in the 1960’s and 70’s, for the same reason. It proposes some non-existent alternative as simply a schema plucked out of thin air in the same way that the Sismondists and Narodniks did, rather than seeking to be partisan fighters for the revolutionary component of that forward movement, as advocated by Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky. Because it is a subjectivist and idealist basis for proposing opposition to what actually exists, it is equally utopian and reactionary as was the method of Sismondi, Proudhon, Duhring or the Narodniks. 

And, of course, Popular Frontism does come into it directly, because the “anti-monopoly alliance”, just as with the “anti-imperialist alliance” is a direct development of the concept of the Popular Front as against the United Front of the workers parties. The fact that your blog has opposed Left Populism and its manifestation from the CP/MS does not change the fact that you have also supported that very Stalinist strategy of the Popular Front, as you have said in relation to France in the 1930’s. As Lenin describes in his writings on petty-bourgeois Socialism in Russia, the Narodniks began in the 1970’s (sic) with a position of opposing Russian Liberalism, but the very nature of their own petty-bourgeois politics that began as Peasant Socialism and then developed into Petty-Bourgeois Socialism, inevitably led them under pressure of the changes in material conditions to become themselves Liberals by the 1890’s. 

The fact is that your political positions have led you despite your many writings against Left Populism and the CP, to collapse into that same camp, as a result of your attempts to defend Starmer, and his promotion of those very same politics of economic nationalism and jingoism. I note that in all your convoluted, and ambiguous response, you still did not answer the basic question asked, which is do you not feel somewhat embarrassed by the fact that Starmer is now arguing the same economic nationalist, and jingoistic crap as the CP? Even John McDonnell, and Ben Bradshaw have been able to unite in agreement on that point for goodness sake!”” 

Paul Mason, of course, argued, some months ago, that Labour should simply accept that Brexit was now a done deal, and move on (See: here). But, I'm glad to say that Paul not only came out quickly to say that Corbyn should have not been suspended, and should have had the whip restored to him, but has also changed his previous position in regard to Brexit, now clearly stating in his tweets that Labour should vote against Johnson's deal, that not to vote against it is insupportable, and that one reason for that is that “Labour is an anti-Brexit party.” 

Paul sets out in his tweets, some of the points also made by Labour's former leader in the European Parliament, Richard Corbett. Both point out that for Labour to support this reactionary deal is to invite the Tories, later, to share blame for its effects, by simply saying, “You voted for it.” Starmer has repeated the lie that to vote against this deal in parliament, today, is to vote for No Deal. Nonsense. No one seriously believes that, if parliament votes this down, the result will be No Deal. Johnson does not want to be held responsible for that catastrophe, and nor would the EU. Voting down this deal, would simply result in hurried discussions between the UK and EU, the EU stopping the clock, and Britain passing legislation to extend the Transition Period, so that negotiations could continue. 

As Corbett notes, 

“Most importantly, in the longer run, it would mean that we also “own” the deal and its numerous consequences, making it more difficult to criticise the government for its shortcomings. The next months and years are likely to see many negative consequences of the deal beginning to hit the public. We don’t want the words “you voted for it” being thrown back at us.” 


“It would put us on the wrong side of public opinion. Recent polls have shown a record majority saying Brexit itself was a mistake. Even more will be critical of Johnson’s incompetent deal. Those criticisms are likely to grow as the consequences bite. This is true across the country, even in the ‘Red Wall’, but perhaps especially so in Scotland where Labour risks being outflanked by the SNP.”  

But, if Johnson were stupid enough to push through No Deal, if his reactionary deal were voted down, then it is he, and the Tories, not Labour who would have to bear responsibility for the catastrophe that ensued. It is they, who, once again, as they have done repeatedly, over the last four years, took the country to the edge of the abyss, in order to try to force through a vote based on such a non-existent dichotomy. And, in many ways, under those conditions, a No Deal would be better than this reactionary deal. It would lance the boil, rather than allowing it to fester, become infected and turn into something much worse. For one thing, the Tories would bear immediate responsibility for the disaster, destroying their government, and their chances of governing for a generation to come. The disaster would lead to Britain having to seek salvation from the EU, which would almost certainly have to come in the form of being readmitted to the EU, meaning that the issue of Brexit would be laid to rest forever. 

As Corbett says, this reactionary Brexit is pushed through by Johnson with Starmer's support, at the very moment when opposition to Brexit is at its highest level, and a No Deal catastrophe would see that opposition grow massively. The truth is that the Brexiters know that this is their last chance to push through such a reactionary Brexit, because, as the elderly Tories that backed it die off, and as new progressive, younger voters enter the electorate, the mandate for Brexit has already disappeared. Starmer's, opportunism and populism has led him to propose this course, because he thinks that the issue will die away, and in search of protecting the careers of right-wing Labour MP's, he thinks that a collapse into nationalism and jingoism will help them collect the votes of reactionaries. It won't. 

The reactionaries deserted Labour long ago, if they ever supported them, in anything other than the delusions of some Labour politicians, and the equation in the mind of middle-class observers that poverty and deprivation equals support for Labour, an equation that has never existed, in reality. The truth is that Brexit is a more divisive issue today than it was at the time of the election or of the referendum, and it is not going away, as the effects begin to materialise. And, even if this deal goes through it will not be the end of even negotiations. Not only will Britain try to renege on its commitments at the earliest opportunity, but the deal fails to cover the vast majority of Britain's dealings with the EU, in relation to services and so on. 

It was notable that Johnson, responding to an intervention by arch Lib-Lab, Peter Kyle, highlighted the fact that in his concerns, Kyle had not only stated his intention to back Brexit, but had also set out his concerns and support for British bankers. Johnson, of course, was taking advantage of Kyle's slimy opportunism to score political points, but the thrust of Johnson's comments was absolutely correct in identifying the nature of the politics of these Lib-Labs that is a million miles away even from progressive social-democracy, let alone Socialism. 

Progressive social-democrats and socialists should vote against this reactionary Brexit deal. They should do so, not as Starmer claims, because we really want “yes”, but want the Tories to take responsibility for it. We should oppose it because we mean "No", and because whatever Starmer thinks, the issue of Brexit is not going away. The issue of Brexit is merely the manifestation of a division in society, and a struggle between two great class camps that will go on whether Brexit happens or not. That struggle is between a reactionary petty-bourgeois class that seeks to turn society back more than a century, on the one side, and the progressive working-class and middle class on the other that seeks not only to defend the advances made over that century, but to move forward, a forward movement that is only possible on the basis of the EU, and a united struggle by the working-class of Europe. 

Petty-bourgeois moralists like Coatesy want to present Starmer's position as somehow different to the sovereigntist, economic nationalist positions of the CP and Morning Star, but, of course, they it's not. Starmer's Six Tests were themselves a fantasy based on the idea that it was somehow possible to negotiate a “have cake and eat it Brexit”, a Jobs First or Labour Brexit, that was never possible. In parliament, today, Starmer even said that he would have negotiated a “better deal” than this one, thereby, confirming this delusional belief. It implies the same delusion as the Lexiters that such a better deal was, or is, possible, that it is somehow possible to successfully build social-democracy in one country, which is really what the Stalinists mean when they talk about building Socialism In One Country. Starmer's Six Tests, as one SNP MP, made clear in parliament, of course, have become nothing more than toilet paper in his hands, as he collapses into the sewer of nationalism. 

The division in society between, on the one hand, that reactionary petty-bourgeois mass, and the working-class and middle class on the other, means that, if this Brexit deal goes through, the former will simply seek to press their advantage further. They will press for that bonfire of regulations that their representatives already promised. And, that will not be simply a question of a distributional struggle. In order to undermine the ability of workers to defend themselves in that distributional struggle, the reactionaries will begin an immediate attack on political rights and freedoms too. Indeed, Johnson has already done so under cover of the lock downs, again with support from Starmer. 

As a result of Starmer's betrayal of the working-class, and his treachery in relation to the position of the Labour Party, and the vast majority of its members and voters, for whom Brexit is an abomination, Johnson will undoubtedly get this reactionary Brexit through parliament, and begin this further attack on the working-class. Like Oswald Mosely, or Mussolini or Hitler, he will do so under cover of presenting the Tories as the real friends of the working-class. But, Johnson himself may find that the dynamic now put in place, will lead to his own removal. Starmer's slogan for his new, New Labour party, is “A New Leadership”, but it is neither new nor leadership. The lack of any real opposition means that the Right are free to continue to press forward, and in that movement, even Johnson may be an obstacle. Farage is already mobilising forces for a further shift to the Right, this time focussing on constitutional changes. 

It is clear that the working-class needs real new leadership, and it cannot come from Starmer. The large mass of new members that were attracted to Labour by Corbynism, must now step up to the plate. Its time for them to organise and take back control of the party. That would, of course, be helped if the various Left sects could for once put their inveterate sectarianism to one side, and form a united front to help such a development, but I am not hopeful that such a development will ever be possible, as those sects are ossified, with leaderships that treat them as their own fiefdoms. It is necessary for Labour's rank and file to build its own networks, to begin the job of removing right-wing councillors and party apparatchiks. Its necessary, to turn branches and CLPs outwards to the community, bringing in new blood, and building party membership and its implantation into the life of the working-class. Its necessary to begin democratising the party, and the trades unions and cooperative movement, and to start deselecting right-wing MP's, union bureaucrats and so on. 

But, joining this to even a progressive social-democratic programme is not possible without connecting it to the need to build a Workers Europe. As a minimum, its necessary for socialists to argue for the maintenance of free movement for workers. Even outside the EU, its necessary to maintain the European TUC, and connections between British and European trades unions. The same is true of the cooperative movement, which has no limits on building worker owned cooperatives across any national borders. As part of building towards a struggle for a United States of Europe, as a starting point for a Workers Europe, European labour movements will need to rebuild the Socialist International, and to present themselves as a single European Socialist Party. The Labour Party should be a section of such a European Workers' party, whether Britain itself is in or out of the EU. Workers across Europe should be campaigning for a levelling up of trades union rates of pay, working conditions, pensions benefits and so on, and Labour and the TUC should insist that Britain matches those improved conditions won by workers across Europe. 

Such levelling up of conditions has nothing in common with Johnson's claims about levelling up in Britain, which will actually mean levelling down, and a race to the bottom, as his government seeks to introduce Free Ports, Enterprise Zones and so on, where shady businesses will be free to operate with a lack of regulations and supervision. Johnson makes such claims whilst continuing to spread the lies about immigration and so on, for example. Tories and reactionaries continue to purvey the lie that open borders means that millions would flock into Britain. But, if that were true, why is it that millions of people in poorer parts of the US do not flock to the affluent economy of California? Indeed, why is it that even in the stagnation of the 1930's, when unemployment on Tyneside was around 25%, the workers of Tyneside did not move wholesale to the booming economy of the Midlands and South-East, where the new industries of car production, of petrochemicals, and domestic appliances were thriving and paying high wages? Some of course, did “get on their bikes” and go in search of such work, as Norman Tebbit told us, when his Tory government created mass unemployment in the 1980's, but they are always only a small minority, because the constraints on moving even just a few hundred miles, even within a national economy, with no issues of language and so on, are still considerable. 

Yet, the reactionaries continue to promote this garbage, and the Lib-Labs facilitate it, in their collapse into jingoism. The best response is the kind of Europe wide struggle for a real levelling up described above. That should be the focus of the Left in the period ahead. 

  • In or Out of Europe, for a United Struggle of European Workers 
  • Rebuild the Socialist International, and for Labour to be a member of its European Section 
  • Defend The Right To Free Movement, No To Immigration Controls 
  • Level Up Workers Pay and Conditions Across Europe, including in Britain, to the highest standards 
  • There Can be No Progressive Solution For Workers Outside The EU. Begin the struggle now for workers to rejoin their European brothers and sisters in the EU. 
  • For a United States of Europe, as the minimum basis for the struggle for a Workers Europe, as a transitional stage to a United Socialist States of Europe, as part of a world Socialist federation. 
Our guiding principles must be, class, solidarity, internationalism.

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

The Economic Content of Narodism, Chapter 1 - Part 30

The Narodniks also criticised the Marxists for considering large-scale Russian capital as progressive. As a direct rebuke to today's equivalents of the Narodniks, the "anti-capitalists" and "anti-imperialists", Lenin says, 

"Yes, the Marxists do consider large-scale capitalism progressive—not, of course, because it replaces “independence” by dependence, but because it creates conditions for abolishing dependence." (p 380) 

The independence of the peasantry was itself a fantasy, which the old Narodniks accepted but did not understand. 

"... it is also capitalist lack of independence, differing from that of the towns in being less developed, and containing greater relics of medieval, semi-feudal forms of capital, and nothing more." (p 380) 

And, again, it is in this respect, also, that the more developed, larger-scale capital is more progressive. Lenin compares the capitalist production in the village with that in the large factory. In the former, the capitalists are small fry, conducting exploitation by semi-feudal methods, whereas in the large factory, the capitalists undertake exploitation on a mass scale, using the most modern methods. 

"Of course, the latter is progressive: the very capitalism that is undeveloped in the village and, therefore, abounds in usury, etc., is developed in the factory; the very antagonism existing in the countryside is fully expressed in the factory". (p 380) 

Note that Lenin's concept of progressive, here, has nothing to do with moral concepts of good or bad effects, but is taken in its purely Marxist, materialist conception of the most mature form of the development of the antagonistic relation. And Lenin spells that out. 

"The Marxist turns to the most developed form of this relation, to the form that is the quintessence of all the other forms, and shows the producer that the aim and object to follow is the abolition of this relation and its replacement by another." (Note *, p 380/1) 

The Narodniks had to accept the reality of capitalism in the towns, but even there, they tried to present it as something artificial. It is as though the bourgeoisie appeared from nowhere rather than developing out of the same differentiation of the peasantry. 

"This superficiality in understanding things, incapable of seeing the roots of the phenomenon in the very economic structure of society, capable of giving a most detailed enumeration of the different representatives of the petty bourgeoisie, but incapable of understanding that the peasant’s and the handicraftsman’s small independent undertaking itself is not, under the present economic order, a “people’s” undertaking at all, but a petty-bourgeois one—is highly typical of the Narodnik." (p 382) 

The Narodniks, on the one hand, in their description of reality, have to accept the existence of the bourgeoisie, but in their prescriptions pretend that it does not exist, is weak, artificial, and so on, so as to propose that "alternative paths" of development are open if capitalist development is "held back" or "turned back". But, they fail to understand that capitalist development comes from the very same petty commodity production they seek to promote, and the bourgeoisie comes out of the same petty commodity producers they represent. The measures they propose, on behalf of these petty commodity producers, do not hold back or turn back the development of capital, they simply are irrelevant, because they are halfhearted proposals that the bourgeoisie simply ignore in favour of full blooded bourgeois measures, or else they themselves are measures that simply assist in the differentiation of the rich peasants into capitalists and poor peasants into wage labourers.

Monday, 28 December 2020

Review of prediction For 2020 (4) - The Pound Slowly Sinks and UK Interest Rates Rise

In this prediction,  I noted, 

“The Pound has moved in line with statements by the government over Brexit. Whenever the potential for a No Deal Brexit seems to have been reduced, or removed, the Pound rises, and vice versa. When Johnson reinforced his commitment to not extending the Transition Period, the Pound fell hard. For now, Johnson needs to try to hold his potentially fractious coalition together, and to sustain his honeymoon period with Brexit voters, by continuing to push this hard line. Whether he really believes that, by doing so, it will have any real impact on his EU interlocutors, in persuading them to give him a good deal – it won't – isn't clear. I'm sure neither he nor Cummings are that naïve. The Trumpian line that its necessary to threaten No Deal to get a good deal is fine red meat to throw out to the rubes, but no serious negotiator believes its a credible tactic, when its your opponent that holds all the cards, as is the case with the UK and the EU.” 

So, it turned out to be, as markets themselves realised that there was no way that Johnson was going to agree to anything that amounted to more than Brexit In Name Only. That put a floor under the falls in the Pound, which continued to move in these relatively limited bands, moving down whenever Johnson was forced to ramp up the No Deal rhetoric, and back up, when he was forced to accept reality, and capitulate once more on his red lines. 

The other element of the prediction was that, as Johnson prepared this capitulation to the EU on Brexit, he would continue to isolate the Miseans/Libertarians of the ERG. He has done that effectively, with them also being forced to go along with all of his authoritarian/statist policies in relation to lock downs, and on massive state spending in response to the economic crisis caused by those lock downs. I noted that many of the older Tory members in the local associations were dying off, and some of those that had joined only in respect of Brexit, some being only UKIP/BP entryists, would fall away, on the basis that Johnson had “Got Brexit Done”, even if, in reality, he had capitulated to BRINO. 

The further element in that regard was what happens to the Liberals. The Liberals again destroyed themselves at the end of 2019. They showed their true affinity of being closer to the Tories than to any kind of progressive social-democracy, as they made their central focus attacking Corbyn, and their insistence that they would not support even a transitional government headed by Corbyn, to prevent Brexit, and enable a second referendum. Their leader was a sectarian fantasist, who believed that Labour was going to collapse, and its right-wing MP's align with them, and that, on this basis, they could win a parliamentary majority. 

Instead, it simply created conditions in which the forces backing Remain were totally fragmented, whilst Johnson could unite the forces of Leave behind him. Labour was shattered because the vast majority of its members and voters were militant Remainers, whilst its Leader was a long-time Brexiter whose conversion to Remain was unconvincing, and his rapid reversion to a policy based on respecting the referendum simply confirmed that belief. Liberals had the clearest policy of saying they would scrap Brexit if they won a parliamentary majority – a position that the majority of Labour voters also backed – but the Liberals had no chance of ever securing any such majority. 

As predicted, the Liberals have superficially accepted the reality of Brexit. Liberals are likely to shift their activity to inside local Conservative Associations, where they will increasingly replace the old dying Tories, shifting the balance of forces within them towards positions that seek to minimise the effects of Brexit, and ensure the potential for Britain to re-join the EU, at an early opportunity. The Liberals are likely to oppose Johnson's deal, but wait until elections before returning to a more overt pro-EU position. That will allow them to demarcate themselves from Starmer's Labour Party, which looks likely to have demeaned and destroyed itself with its own promotion of Brexit, and willing support for Johnson. 

Former Labour leader in the European Parliament, Richard Corbett, has written, correctly, in Labour List that it would be a huge mistake for Labour to back Johnson's deal. 

He says, 

“Most importantly, in the longer run, it would mean that we also “own” the deal and its numerous consequences, making it more difficult to criticise the government for its shortcomings. The next months and years are likely to see many negative consequences of the deal beginning to hit the public. We don’t want the words “you voted for it” being thrown back at us.” 


“It would put us on the wrong side of public opinion. Recent polls have shown a record majority saying Brexit itself was a mistake. Even more will be critical of Johnson’s incompetent deal. Those criticisms are likely to grow as the consequences bite. This is true across the country, even in the ‘Red Wall’, but perhaps especially so in Scotland where Labour risks being outflanked by the SNP.” 

As well as pointing out a number of other important reasons for not supporting Johnson's Brexit deal, including its demoralising effect on Labour activists. Starmer is unlikely to be swayed by concerns about demoralising Labour activists, as he seeks to achieve that anyway, by his attacks on them, and his leadership's commitment in the words of Angela Rayner to “expel thousands and thousands” of those members, in order to consolidate its hold on the party.  But, Starmer faces opposition to his support for Johnson, from even his front bench, including apparently from Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds.  This shows the basis for a progressive alternative to be built to Starmer's collapse into jingoism and populism, that must start from the assertion of internationalism, free movement, and a commitment to reconnect UK workers with EU workers in the struggle for a Workers' Europe.

With the Labour Party having disgraced itself in this headlong populist scramble into jingoism, the stage would be set for the Liberals to play their normal role as scavengers feeding off the carrion left on the road. In their normal manner, they would adjust the balance of their message in each area depending on whether they were looking for disgruntled Tory or Labour voters, but with an overall message that highlighted the disaster that would by then be apparent as resulting from Brexit, and blaming, correctly, both Labour and the Tories for having inflicted it upon the population. 

The general principle outlined in the prediction that every time the Tories emphasised No Deal the Pound would fall, and every time they had to row back form it, it would rise, was borne out. The clearest example of it has been the rise in the Pound following Johnson's final capitulation to the EU, and his agreement to the BRINO deal. But, the prediction was necessarily affected by the other large issue that played out during the year, which was the economic effects of government imposed lock downs in large parts of the world.  

In the Spring that led to huge falls in financial markets, which began to drop by 5-7% per day. The Pound, suffering a combination of those effects, and the more pronounced impact on its economy from being an island dependent on trade, and now also imposing the damage of Brexit upon it, saw a savage drop. But, as markets saw that, in reality, lock downs were only a lock down of social activity, not of most production, and as central banks again resorted to seeing every problem as a nail so as to use their only tool, the hammer of money printing, financial markets not only recovered, but soared to even higher levels. One reason for that was that the reduction in economic activity again reduced the demand for capital, whilst money printed and paid out in furlough payments meant that for many consumers their disposable income rose, leaving them to pay down some household debts. That caused interest rates to fall, and asset prices to rise. Already, that condition is reversing, in the US, as furlough payments cease, and consumers find their incomes falling – particularly those that have lost jobs – whilst the opening up of economies leads to bouts of “revenge spending”, with COVID adjusted inflation rising rapidly. 

As financial markets recovered, in the Summer, the Pound also recovered, as the likelihood of a No Deal declined. It continued to go through the same ups and downs on that basis, falling hard when Johnson announced his plans to renege on the Withdrawal Agreement's Northern Ireland Protocol, and so on. But, the effects of government imposed lock downs affected the movement of the Pound too. The US Central Bank was led to resume money printing, and purchase of financial assets on a large scale again, which led to a fall in the Dollar's trade weighted Index against all other currencies. It fell against the Pound and the Euro. The ECB was also led to engage in further money printing in response to the need of EU governments to spend money for relief from the effects of lock downs. But, the Euro continued to rise against the Dollar and the Pound. 

The Euro started the year at $1.11, and ended it at $1.22, a rise of 10%. It started the year at £0.86, and ended it at £0.904, a rise of around 5%. The Pound's trade weighted Index against all other currencies did not move, reflecting its significant rise against a weak Dollar, and fall against a steadily strengthening Euro. 

The BRINO deal means that the UK will face steadily rising costs relative to the EU, and other economies. In other words, its productivity will be relatively falling. The relative valuation of currencies is ultimately a measure of such variations in productivity between economies. So, the Pound is set to fall against these other currencies, as a result of Brexit imposed falling productivity and rising costs. That means that UK inflation rises relatively faster, and UK profits fall relatively faster. The latter means that capital will accumulate relatively more slowly in the UK, which itself results in lower levels of productivity.

Sunday, 27 December 2020

The Economic Content of Narodism, Chapter 1 - Part 29

Lenin provides further quotes from the Narodnik writer, which describe the extent of land purchases, as well as the growth of usury, in different guises, but the Narodnik fails to realise that all of this is simply an expression of the extent to which capitalism had become entrenched in Russian agriculture. 

"... capital which, on the one hand, engenders the urban, banking, and in general European, capitalism that the Narodniks consider to be something adventitious, and, on the other hand, is supported and fed by this capitalism —in a word that it is one of the aspects of the capitalist organisation of the Russian national economy." (p 375) 

The 1861 Reform, the Narodniks argued, sanctioned the development of "people's production", and alongside it, as the Narodnik describes, the usurer of old, the patriarchal idler, turned into the more Westernised, energetic, "civilisation adorned vulture". So, why then would not the next stage of such sanctioning, as set out in the Narodnik proposals for an extension of peasant land tenure, migration, regulation of renting, and other progressive bourgeois proposals not similarly lead only to a change in form, "a further Europeanisation of capital, its transformation from merchant’s into productive, from medieval into modern?" (p 375) 

And, that must be the consequence, because the Narodnik proposals were bourgeois proposals that could not affect capital a a social relation, "that relation between people under which money, the product of social labour organised by commodity economy, is accumulated in the hands of some, while others have nothing but free “hands,” free precisely of the product that is concentrated in the possession of the previous category." (p 375) 

Lenin gives a very extensive quote from the Narodnik, which describes the nature of the Russian bourgeoisie. It is a similar picture to that provided by Engels in The Condition of the Working Class. On the one hand, it describes the coarse, boorish bourgeoisie that acts by every bit of sharp practice to squeeze out additional profit. On the other, it describes a more astute civilised bourgeois who eschews these old crude methods, but which, in doing so, appropriates to themselves much larger profits, while gaining for themselves the admiration of others, as some kind of benefactor or philanthropist. In reality, what the Narodnik describes is different degrees and forms of stealing and immorality. But, they are unable to see that this behaviour and its form is itself conditioned by capitalism. 

"The examples he gives deal with crime, swindling, arson, etc. One gets the impression that the “fleecing and enslaving” of the peasantry is a matter of accident, the result (as the author expressed himself above) of severe conditions of living, of the “grossness of moral ideas,” of obstacles to “making literature accessible to the people” (p. 152), etc.— in a word, that all this does not inevitably result from the present-day organisation of our social economy." (p 377) 

But, it is that which is the starting point for the Marxist analysis. 

"Once the peasant becomes a commodity producer (and all peasants have already become such), his “morality” will inevitably be “based on the rouble,” and we have no grounds for blaming him for this, as the very conditions of life compel him to catch this rouble by all sorts of trading devices." (p 377-8) 

But, these same material conditions, with or without the immorality and criminality, also leads to the differentiation of the peasantry, whereby a minority acquires capital, and the majority are dispossessed, and become wage labourers. 

"Thus, from the Marxist’s viewpoint capitalism has already taken firm root, taken definite shape not only in factory industry but also in the countryside and all over Russia in general." (p 378) 

So, despite the Narodniks' claim that the Marxists were simply imposing a schema, developed in relation to Western countries, on to Russia, where only 1.4 million of the population were factory workers, they could not, even in their own descriptions, avoid the reality of the pervasiveness of capital, and of bourgeois relations. 

"We see, consequently, that the young bourgeoisie grow within our “community,” and not outside of it, that they are brought into existence by the very social relations that exist among the now commodity-producing peasantry; we see that not only “1,400,000 people,” but the entire mass of Russian village folk work for capital, are “superintended” by it." (p 379) 

That was the reality as even described by the Narodniks, and so their talk about choosing different paths was simply romanticism, and, because it was Utopian, was also, thereby, reactionary.

Labour Should Vote Against This Brexit Deal

Labour should vote against Johnson's bad Brexit deal. It fails all of Starmer's Six Tests. If Starmer supports it now, that can only confirm the view that he previously opposed Brexit as a means of undermining Corbyn. After all, Labour could have voted for a better deal than this, when it was put to parliament by Theresa May, two years ago. But Starmer, will back Boris Johnson, because he has acted as Johnson's wing man over the last 18 months, be it in relation to Brexit, or in relation to lock downs, or in relation to the move to an ever more authoritarian, nationalistic regime, as with the new laws on immigration, and on protecting British war criminals. 

The basic truth about the Brexit deal is this. 

1) NI in the EU indefinitely, with a border down the Irish Sea. Not what Brexiters wanted or promised. 

2) Britain as a whole tied to the Single Market and its regulations indefinitely. Not what the Brexiters wanted or promised. And, 

    a) Britain has to abide by those rules, but, now, with no say in determining them,

    b) Britain has had to stay in some regulatory bodies, for which it will pay more than it did as a member, whilst for those its not in, it does not get equivalence, and now has to bear the cost of running those bodies on its own, 

    c) That only gets tariff free trade on the less than 20% of its economy involved in material production, but 

        i) still means trade frictions in regulatory border checks etc., and 

        ii) no provisions for the 80% of the economy involved in service industry. 

    d) Britons lose all the benefits of free movement etc. 

3) Britain gets to do its own trade deals, but the ones it has done only replicate those it already had with the same countries as an EU member. As a small economy, the UK cannot negotiate from the same position of strength that the EU did with those other countries, which is why Britain will get worse terms in any of these future trade deals. 

4) Because of the UK's signing up to Single Market regulations, any trade deals will be highly constrained to comply with the Single Market rules on country of origin. 

5) Britain collapsed even on fishing. 

In other words, this is Brexit In Name Only (BRINO). It means Britain continues to have all the obligations of being inside the Single Market, apart from free movement, but has virtually none of the benefits, including having no say over the formulation of the rules it will now have to abide by indefinitely. The savings on Britain's budget contributions are already exceeded by the additional costs of having to set up separate regulatory bodies, the costs of additional border staff, the cost of additional paperwork, the costs of non-tariff frictions on the movement of goods and services, and so on, not to mention the 4% hit to the economy caused by Brexit. Why would anyone in their right mind think this was a good deal, or a step forward? Why on Earth would Labour want to associate itself with such a disaster? 

Starmer's argument will be that, if Labour votes down this deal, then the alternative is No Deal. That is nonsense. Labour can vote down this bad deal, and demand the right to also vote against No Deal, as they have done repeatedly over the last two years. They can put down amendments and so on, to prevent it being a binary choice between this bad deal and No Deal. But, in the end, that comes down to the government, and its majority. If the government cannot get the backing of enough of its own MP's to push through this bad deal, without the backing of Labour, that is their problem. If the bad deal is voted down, and the government then chooses to interpret that as voting through a No Deal, then the government alone will have to bear the responsibility for that disaster. Of course, Boris Johnson would not push through a No Deal if this bad deal is voted down, for the same reason he was led into again capitulating on all of his red lines, in order to secure even this bad deal. That is that he knows that a No Deal Brexit would be a disaster that would bring down his government and consign the Tories to the wilderness for a generation. If Labour is asked if a No Deal is better than this bad deal in those conditions, they should answer “No, but that choice is in the government's hands, not ours.” 

Already, we see Boris Johnson, setting out in the Telegraph his plans for reneging on the deal he has just signed with the EU, and which he almost certainly has not read or understood, given his record of failing to read details. He has set out his plans for divergence, and for scrapping regulations, for example. That is an even more rapid declaration of intent to renege on an international treaty than was the case with his UK Internal Markets Bill provisions that were openly declared to break international law, by reneging on the recently signed Withdrawal Agreement. Johnson is setting out his intention to break the agreement he has just signed that requires Britain to abide by EU regulations and standards. 

Johnson has talked about this in conjunction with “levelling-up” inside Britain. We know what this scrapping of regulations in order to level up means. It is the proposals for scrapping minimum labour standards and protections for workers, by the creation of enterprise zones and free ports. It means trying to redress the lack of competitiveness that Brexit entails, by screwing workers even harder. But, that will mean breaching the agreement on those terms that Britain has just signed up to. It may yet be that, MEP's will do what Labour should do, and vote down this agreement. 

The agreement does not deal with services, which account for 80% of the UK economy. The EU is not giving UK service industry equivalence, which means that UK service industry will either have to find some way of being able to be covered by EU regulatory bodies, or else will find it cannot operate in Europe. Already a large number of UK service industry companies have relocated to the EU, in order to avoid these problems. Ireland is benefiting, because of the language advantage it has, but it now seems likely that Scotland will become independent in a few years time, and become an independent EU state, and it already is home to a large part of the UK finance industry. It will become a natural magnet for all UK service industry. 

For Labour to be tying itself to this reactionary Brexit is not just rampant, but misguided opportunism, flavoured by the natural chauvinistic tendencies of Labourism, but it is also electorally insane. Starmer calculates that progressive Labour voters will have nowhere to go, but 2019, shows that is wrong. Labour voters can simply sit on their hands, or they can vote for other Remainer parties such as the Liberals, Greens, Plaid or the SNP. Recent polls shows that the strength of feeling over Brexit is hardening not disappearing. Two-thirds of voters now identify as either militant Remainers, or militant Leavers, whilst the majority, now, clearly oppose Brexit. The idea that militant Remainers are going to vote for a wishy-washy, conservative Labour Party, rushing headlong away from the social-democratic agenda of Corbyn, and, at the same time, embracing Brexit and reactionary nationalism, and the worst forms of jingoism, is deluded. A look at the fate of Scottish Labour gives a glimpse of what is in store for Welsh Labour, and Labour in large parts of England, if that is what Starmer plans. 

The stance that Starmer is adopting appears suicidal in relation to Scotland, where Brexit, and Labour's support for it, is driving voters into the hands of the Scottish nationalists, and making Scottish independence an almost inevitability. Without Scotland, its hard to see how Labour could ever win another election. Without Wales that becomes even more problematic. But, in large parts of England too, progressive voters will feel betrayed by Starmer, and drift away to the Greens, Liberals, or may even vote for some new alternative party. After all, this is not the 1980's or 90's, when the idea of some alternative party to Labour was doomed to failure, as the working-class was subdued by conditions of economic stagnation, and years of defeat. 

The underlying reality that we are still in a period of long wave upswing remains, even if that reality is hard to see given the consequences of the response to the 2008 financial crisis, and more recently of lock downs. 

In fact, the lock downs have created the conditions in which the response to the 2008 crash is now unsustainable. That response involved suppressing economic activity, via austerity, at the same time as printing money tokens to be used to hyper-inflate asset prices, dragging further liquidity from the real economy into speculation. Lock downs have caused borrowing to rise to astronomical levels, and that level of borrowing must cause interest rates to rise. Rising interest rates cause asset prices to crash. The basis of speculation is undermined, and along with it, the idea that revenue can be created by realising capital gains. To obtain revenues, capital must, then engage in actual investment, i.e. the accumulation of real capital. This brings with it the employment of additional labour, and the conditions last seen in the 1960's, when labour can stride forward confidently, and rebuild its basic organisations. 

Even with the depressing effects of Brexit, this underlying dynamic will force its way through. In fact, Brexit, because it is a movement of the reactionary small capitalists, may even enhance this process. The small capitalists pushing forward Brexit are inevitably businesses that are labour intensive – they have lower levels of fixed capital, and lower productivity – as against the highly productive, capital intensive large-scale businesses that support the EU. By favouring small capital over big capital, it means that this less productive small capital needs to hire proportionally more labour. An increased demand for labour, means a strengthening of the position of workers, if only because of increased competition between firms to hire labour. The process is contradictory. The strengthening of the position of workers, pushes wages up, and so profits down, but the much lower levels of productivity of this small capital means that even as wages rise, living standards fall, because with lower productivity, the unit value/price of the wage goods that workers buy, increases. They have higher money wages, but these money wages buy proportionally less. 

This means that the conditions for heightened distributional struggles are put in place, and with the vast oceans of liquidity that the Bank of England has put into circulation, the conditions are set for a sharp rise in inflation, which means that these struggles become even more intensified. These are the conditions that existed in the 1960's, and which inevitably found their political expression in the growth of more left-wing political organisations such as the International Socialists, the International Marxist Group, Workers Revolutionary Party, and Militant, as well as in a growth of left-wing activists in the Labour Party itself. That is the opposite of the conditions of the 1990's, when Kinnock was able to expel activists in their thousands, and when thousands more left the party voluntarily in a vain hope of creating alternative parties, or simply to descend into apathy. 

As I wrote at the start of the year, and reviewed a couple of days ago, in these conditions, a split in Labour looks inevitable. Either, the rank and file reclaim the party from Starmer and the Right, by pushing through democratic reforms, and beginning to deselect right-wing councillors and MP's, or else a large mass of those members will create the basis of a new party, in much the same way that the Labour Party itself was created as an alternative to the Liberals. If the first happens, then the Right will split, taking the name and machinery with them, and will base themselves on their parliamentary representation. That would be short-lived for them. If the second happens, it will be a slower process to form and establish such a new party. The best option remains for members to stay inside Labour and fight. 

A central plank of the programme of the Left in organising that fight inside Labour remains opposition to Brexit, and support for free movement. Its on that basis that we can mobilise the 90% of party members, and large majority of Labour voters, who militantly oppose Brexit, and who will be mortified at the jingoistic trajectory of Starmer, and the Right. It has the advantage that it is the only principled position on which to stand, because there can be no sustainable progressive future for the British working-class separate from that of the working-class across the EU.