Thursday, 4 June 2020

White Cops Out of Black Communities, Trump Out of The White House

Once again it is necessary to mourn the death of a black US citizen, murdered by racist white cops. For as long as I have been writing this blog, it has been necessary, every so often, to write such a post, and, of course, for a very long time before that the same kinds of racist murder have been taking place by a thoroughly racist US police and criminal justice system. It hasn't mattered whether it has been Republicans or Democrats in the White House, in control of Congress, or of local state legislatures, the reality has been the same for the black populations of the US, and primarily for black workers. On this occasion, we all mourn the death of George Floyd. 

I have nothing to add to what is already generally known about the murder of George Floyd, and what can clearly be witnessed on the video, or to what I have said on every previous occasions of the murder of black citizens, by racist white cops, because the reality remains the same. Not only did it not matter whether it is Democrats or Republicans in office, but nothing changed when Obama was President either, and nor could it. Institutional racism can't be changed simply by a change of personnel at the top, and nor even from a wholesale change of institutional and organisation reforms, which is what often comes out of inquiries into such incidents. The truth is that these incidents will only end when we get white cops out of black communities, and that applies not just in the US, but also in Britain, in France, the Netherlands, Germany and elsewhere. 

Its not that we should blame white cops per se for the racism, though, particularly in the US, many of them are individually racist, but that the police force itself is necessarily racist, just as it is also necessarily anti-working-class. The latter is a consequence of a bourgeois society, and the domination of bourgeois ideas that means that whenever the working-class challenges those ideas in a strike, a big mobilisation and so on, the police as the instrument of the state must automatically come into confrontation with it. The former is a consequence that society itself continues to be dominated by a series of reactionary ideas inherited from the past, which are carried over into the present, and mix with the present reality in a way that makes it appear that society's victims are its villains. 

A police force that is imbued with the idea that black people are all criminals of one sort or another reinforces that meme when the members of that force are disproportionately sent to deal with incidents in black or working class districts. As I have written in the past, black workers in the US, and their communities cannot rely on bourgeois politicians black or white, Democrat or Republican to resolve their problems. They can only resolve those problems themselves, through their own collective self organisation, self activity and self government. They can't rely on benevolent politicians or the state to bail them out, other than to keep them in a state of deprivation and dependency via welfare. Nor can they rely on benevolent black businessmen coming to their rescue, however philanthropic some of them may be. Indeed, the black workers have more in common with their white, Hispanic, and Asian brothers and sisters than they do with black capitalists. 

As all these workers come to face the devastation that the lock down of social activity has imposed upon the economy, with 40 million US workers thrown into the dole queues, they need to look to their own organisation and self-government. They need to establish their own worker owned cooperatives to rebuild shattered communities, they need to occupy and take over closed businesses, demanding that the state bails them out in converting them into cooperatives on the same generous basis that it bails out other capitalist businesses and the banks. US workers, indeed workers across the globe, should rise as one to demand that all of the socialised capital, the collective property of the associated producers, be put under their control, and taken out of he hands of the shareholders that have no right to exercise such control. 

But, the corollary of that is also that the workers take control of all other aspects of their lives too, and here and now, that means that, in black communities, their overwhelmingly working-class citizens should take over the policing of that community. The policing of working-class communities should be the civic duty of the workers that live in those communities, organised in the same way that jury duty is organised, on a rota basis, and under strict democratic control. Indeed, in line with the US Constitution's Second Amendment, it should be the only way that guns should be owned and utilised, i.e. as part of a well regulated militia. 

In fact, the events surrounding the murder of George Floyd also demonstrate the reactionary nature of the demands of liberals and opportunists for the lock down of social activity in response to COVID19. Had those demands been adhered to the kinds of spontaneous protests that have erupted, across the globe, would have been impossible, though the liberals would no doubt have been content to limit their protests to bleating on Twitter about injustice. In fact as populist and Bonapartist regimes across the globe try to use COVID19 to suppress social activity and opposition to them, along with further restrictions on free movement, and individual and collective rights, it is even more reason why socialists and consistent democrats should have opposed them, instead of acting as cheerleaders for their illiberal and authoritarian manoeuvres. Once again, we see, across the globe, that is black people that have been disproportionately targeted by police for having broken the draconian rules imposed over COVID19. 

And, with several months to go before the US elections, do not be surprised if Trump attempts to use all of those draconian measures and moral panic whipped up over COVID19 to cancel the elections if he thinks he will lose. But also do not assume that he will lose those elections. The rise in US unemployment as a result of the lock down in response to COVID has hit Trump's popularity, but in coming months, Trump could easily place the blame for that mass unemployment on the Democrats that were the ones calling for such a lock down and the economic disaster that accompanies it. Trump's existing supporters will require no convincing of that, but nor too will many more workers, as it becomes increasingly apparent that the lock down was based on a falsehood and was neither necessary nor effective. And, all this time, Biden has been sitting in his bunker essentially having gone AWOL from any political fight. Moreover, whilst large numbers of US citizens have been afflicted by the virus, Biden cannot even put forward a proposal for a socialised healthcare system for all in the US, as an alternative to Trump, as they would have been able to do had they chosen Bernie Sanders with his policy of Medicare For All. In choosing Biden, and all of his conservative policies, the Democrats, as they did when they chose Clinton, have given Trump every chance of returning to the White House. 

And Trump knows such losers when he sees them, even though he is a moron. He knows where his base lies, and knows that if he can mobilise it together with a bit more he has every chance of winning, when Biden gives workers in the US little incentive to turn out to vote. Biden and the Democrats can only rely on an anti-Trump vote rather than any kind of enthusiastic support for the conservative politics they also offer up. Only at a local level, where some of the progressive social democrats, and supporters of the DSA are organising is there any chance of working-class voters having anything positive to vote for, and again in many places that will be best advanced by focusing on local self-organisation, self-activity and self-government. The highest reaches of the Democrat Party are out of reach, for now, but its possible to broaden and deepen progressive organisation and influence at the grass roots, and that will be done alongside militant struggles for black, civil and workers rights in those communities. 

Trump is using the current events to whip up his base on a thoroughly reactionary and racist basis. But he knows that he can mobilise a large constituency on that basis, just as the reactionaries whipped up the same elements behind Brexit in Britain, and are doing the same across Europe, and in India, across other parts of Asia and so on. Trump's support for people owning guns is not an accident, and the vast number of guns owned by individuals in the US is actually concentrated into relatively few hands, the hands of the reactionary elements that stand behind Trump, and who will no doubt be utilised by him if he thinks he can get away with it, which the lacklustre, weak-kneed response of the Democrats suggests to him he might. 

The fight to get Trump out of the Whitehouse, and to prevent him using the current response to the death of George Floyd starts now, and is one that is fought in the communities, in the workplace and on the streets, not in the polling booth. It requires progressive workers and black, Hispanic and other ethnic communities coming together to organise for their own collective self-defence. The armed threat of Trump's police goons, and paramilitaries can only be met by a mass organised, and armed response from working class communities of all colours and creeds. It requires large scale physical mobilisation and organisation, which again shows why the arguments for implementing a lock down of social activity, a lock down that was pointless given that millions of workers were required to continue to go to work, and to thereby come in contact with each other, and was pointless given that 80% of the population is at no risk from COVID19, were reactionary. 

The threat to the majority of workers from the forces of reaction, be they in the US, in Britain, in Europe, in India or elsewhere, and from the economic and social consequences of the lockdown are far more devastating and long lasting than COVID19 was ever going to be. Its time for the Left to wake up, and learn to think. 

What The Friends of the People Are, Part I - Part 24 of 31

Lenin sets out the basic outline of what the authentic Marxist position was, as it appeared on the scene in the last two decades of the 19th century. 

“What they began with was a criticism of the subjective methods of the earlier socialists. Not satisfied with merely stating the fact of exploitation and condemning it, they desired to explain it. Seeing that the whole post-Reform history of Russia consisted in the ruin of the masses and the enrichment of a minority, observing the colossal expropriation of the small producers side by side with universal technical progress, noting that these polarising tendencies arose and increased wherever, and to the extent that, commodity economy developed and became consolidated, they could not but conclude that they were confronted with a bourgeois (capitalist) organisation of social economy, necessarily giving rise to the expropriation and oppression of the masses. Their practical programme was directly determined by this conviction; this programme was to join in the struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie, the struggle of the propertyless classes against the propertied, which constitutes the principal content of economic reality in Russia, from the most out-of-the-way village to the most up-to date and perfected factory.” (p 190-1) 

Lenin then goes on to explain how the Marxists would join in the political struggle. And that too flows, not from some set of ideas plucked from the air, but from the material reality that presented itself. 

“Capitalism had brought the principal branches of industry to the stage of large-scale machine industry; by thus socialising production, it had created the material conditions for a new system and had at the same time created a new social force—the class of factory workers, the urban proletariat.” (p 191) 

As Engels had set out, in his Letter to Danielson, therefore, this development of capitalism in Russia had brought it “new hope”. That was not just new hope in the tremendous revolutionising of the productive forces, and transformation of society it brought about, in the same way it had done in the West, the creation of a proletariat, whose living standards rise, and whose level of education and culture is raised by this same capitalist development, but whose existence itself placed in the same relation to the means of production, enables it to act as the agent of historical change. 

“Being subjected to the same bourgeois exploitation—for such, in its economic essence, i.e., the exploitation to which the whole working population of Russia is subjected—this class, however, has been placed in a special, favourable position as far as its emancipation is concerned: it no longer has any ties with the old society based entirely on exploitation; the very conditions of its labour and the circumstances of life organise it, compel it to think and enable it to step into the arena of political struggle. It was only natural that the Social-Democrats should direct all their attention to, and base all their hopes on, this class, that they should reduce their programme to the development of its class consciousness, and direct all their activities towards helping it rise to wage a direct political struggle against the present regime, and towards drawing the whole Russian proletariat into this struggle.” (p 191) 

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

How Capital Produces Capitalists and Capitalism, and Then Socialism - Part 11 of 13

Lenin said if you take the economic content provided by monopoly capitalism and “a Soviet state, that is, a proletarian state, (and) you will have the sum total of the conditions necessary for socialism” However, this is not quite true, as the experience in Russia itself demonstrated. The state is an executive body, it acts as the executive committee of the ruling-class, but the class itself can never act as the state, nor can it act to directly supervise and control its actions. That is clear under conditions of Bonapartism. The bourgeoisie did not resort to fascism out of choice, but necessity, and the cost of doing so was that it lost its means of direct control over the state, which is usually exerted via the regime of bourgeois democracy. Bourgeois democracy is the favoured regime of the bourgeoisie, and keeps it firmly in control, precisely because it reflects the hegemony of bourgeois ideas in society as a whole. It is a reflection of the hegemony of the bourgeoisie in society, manifest in its day to day control over all aspects of that society. 

Similarly, for the working-class to exert such hegemony, and thereby to be able to operate via a system of workers democracy to control and supervise the actions of a workers state, it too must exercise day to day control over all aspects of life. As a minimum, it must exert democratic control over all of the socialised capital, in the same way it does over the worker owned cooperatives. This self-government, and self-activity by workers is the basic element of exerting this social hegemony. 

The idea that socialism could be constructed simply on the basis of these huge monopolies, but simply under the aegis of a Workers' State, was rejected by Marx, in the Critique of the Gotha Programme. 

“Instead of arising from the revolutionary process of transformation of society, the "socialist organisation of the total labour" "arises" from the "state aid" that the state gives to the producers' co-operative societies and which the state, not the workers, "calls into being". It is worthy of Lassalle's imagination that with state loans one can build a new society just as well as a new railway!.. 

That the workers desire to establish the conditions for co-operative production on a social scale, and first of all on a national scale, in their own country, only means that they are working to revolutionise the present conditions of production, and it has nothing in common with the foundation of co-operative societies with state aid. But as far as the present co-operative societies are concerned, they are of value only insofar as they are the independent creations of the workers and not protégés either of the governments or of the bourgeois.” 

Given everything that Lenin has said previously, about this same need to first transform society, to transform the social relations, it is surprising that in 1917/18, he adopts this Lassallean stance that all that is required is to seize control of the state apparatus, and then use it to turn the wheel of state in a different direction, and thereby to turn the wheel of society also in a different direction. That seems to be a capitulation to the ideas that the Narodniks were proposing in the 1890's. What is more, as he predicted, when he was arguing against those ideas, in the 1890's, it led to inevitable failure and disaster. 

Control and supervision over the state apparatus could never be exercised by the working-class itself. The bourgeoisie, as a much smaller, more compact, and developed class cannot achieve that, let alone the working-class. It is only ever the vanguard of such a class that can act in such a manner, but if this vanguard itself becomes too detached from the class, then it ceases acting as a vanguard of the class, and instead acts as a privileged social layer, pursuing its own interests. 

Simon Clarke wrote some time ago, 

“The social base of state socialism lies in the stratum of intellectual workers, including such groups as managers, administrators, scientists, technicians, engineers, social workers and teachers as well as the intelligentsia more narrowly defined.” These groups believe that the key to a more just society lies “in their mobilisation of their technical, administrative and intellectual expertise... The ability of this stratum to achieve its rationalist ambitions depends on its having access to positions of social and political power.” 

“For the working-class the Party is a means of mobilising and generalising its opposition to Capital and its State, and of building autonomous forms of collective organisation, while for the intellectual stratum it is a means of achieving power over capital and the state... As soon as the party has secured state power, by whatever means, it has fulfilled its positive role as far as the intellectual stratum is concerned. The latter's task is now to consolidate and exploit its position of power to secure the implementation of the Party's programme in the interests of the 'working class'. Once the Party has seized power, any opposition it encounters from the working class is immediately identified as sectional or factional opposition to the interests of the working class as a whole, the latter being identified with the Party as its self-conscious representative.” 

(“Crisis of Socialism Or Crisis Of the State?”, in Capital & Class 42, Winter 1990)

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

What The Friends of the People Are, part I - Part 23 of 31

Having failed to analyse the reality of economic and social relations, Mikhailovsky declares that they are not conforming to the ideal, an ideal he simply plucks from the air, based on the combining together of what he sees as “good” from across a range of sources. He simply sets up, in opposition to the reality he has run from, another Utopia. 

“It is obvious that a theory based on this was bound to stand aloof from actual social evolution, for the simple reason that our utopians had to live and act not under social relations formed from elements taken from here and from there, but under those which determine the relation of the peasant to the kulak (the enterprising muzhik), of the handicraftsman to the buyer-up, of the worker to the factory owner, and which they completely failed to understand. Their attempts and efforts to remould these un-understood relations in accordance with their ideal were bound to end in failure.” (p 190) 

This was the basic position adopted by the Russian socialists prior to the appearance of the Russian Marxists, such as Plekhanov, Lenin and others, who formed scattered groups across the country, coming together in reading circles. Given the nature of the police state that existed in Russia, that in itself dictated the way that the Marxists were able to present their ideas, and to confront the ideas of the previous socialist movement. On the one hand, the Marxists could only present their real positions in codified terms, in their open propaganda, or else, not only would that material be seized and censored, but those responsible for it would be arrested, gaoled or sent into exile. So, such material could only be produced covertly, and circulated via hectographed copies, which were discussed in the reading circles, as was the case with this work by Lenin. When the Marxists grew in size, and needed to move beyond these small discussion circles, this posed a problem for them. 

An effective party, which is what Lenin wanted the RSDLP to become, could not function by operating in the shadows. It had to be able to present its spokespeople out in the open, and have them be able to intervene in all areas of public life, like any other party. Lenin attempted to reconcile these problems in his pamphlet “What Is To Be Done?”. In it, he bases his model for this political party on the German SPD. It should, he argues, like the SPD, be a professional party, whose representatives are full-time politicians. They must, he says, be able to talk on the same level as the politicians of the bourgeois parties, on any topic. 

But, such a party could never say openly what needed to be said, given the particular conditions in Russia. It would, therefore, have to be organised on two levels, with a much smaller core of revolutionary activists who would operate covertly. This core group should be made up of people who could specialise in such covert activity, who could organise in such a way that they could minimise the risk of being infiltrated by the Tsarist secret police, who could move around their equipment and operations to prevent detection and so on. Lenin makes clear that this form of organisation, of this core group, is only necessary, because of the conditions existing in Russia, and that it is not appropriate for a mass revolutionary party. However, it is this organisation that later “Leninists” have depicted as being the essence of the Leninist Party. It is, of course, convenient for sects that never grow from one year to another to depict the reality of their existence as conforming to these principles of Leninism. 

But, the difficulty of the Marxists in presenting their arguments also facilitated the existing groups of socialists and populists, because they could present the open writings of all sorts of individuals who labelled themselves “Marxists” as being the position of authentic Marxism. At the same time, they could duplicitously claim not to have seen, or be aware of, the position of authentic Marxism, because those ideas were only circulated covertly. 

Monday, 1 June 2020

How Capital Produces Capitalists and Capitalism, and Then Socialism - Part 10 of 13

The democratic control of the productive forces is not some secondary concern, but is fundamental, because without it, what exists is not Socialism, but merely some form of social-democracy in which the interests of capital continues to exert itself, albeit mediated by the interests of a layer of petty-bourgeois, bureaucrats, who become the best adapted individuals for such a set of material conditions, whether those conditions manifest themselves benignly as bourgeois social-democracy, or malignantly as Stalinism or Nazism, or some such variant. 

In a bourgeois social-democracy, the bourgeoisie remains the ruling-class, but the dominant form of property is socialised capital, which represents a heightened level of contradiction. The state immediately defends the interests of the ruling class, as owners of fictitious capital, but the interests of this fictitious capital is itself immediately contradictory to the interests of the socialised capital, which is the basis of the state and its continued existence. Hence, we have seen such states engage in QE to boost the prices of the fictitious capital owned by the ruling class, whilst implementing austerity that restricts the accumulation of real capital, again so as to hold down interest rates and boost asset prices. But, such policies are ultimately unsustainable, because eventually, the needs of the real capital will win out. It will break through, and asset prices will crash, and, then, as the ruling class turns its attention back to the search for revenues, i.e. interest/dividends, rather than capital gain, the state will again have to focus on measures that facilitate more rapid capital accumulation, and growth of profits, so that these additional revenues can be paid. This is a consequence of the fact that the dominant form of property is socialised capital, but the personification of that property, the “associated producers”, have not asserted their position as ruling class

Under fascism, again the ruling class remains the bourgeoisie, but the interests of the socialised capital are more violently enforced by the state, which takes into its hands the direction of the economy. The regime under fascism and under Stalinism may appear superficially the same, but under Stalinism, the working-class is the ruling class, as a consequence of the fact that the other ruling-classes have been physically liquidated, and their social roots ripped up. Under all these regimes, a huge petty-bourgeois, bureaucratic apparatus appropriates to itself a large portion of social production. Under bourgeois social-democracy, it is the price that the bourgeoisie pays for itself being removed from its social function in production; under fascism it is also the price that the bourgeoisie pays for the state suppressing a revolutionary proletariat; under Stalinism, it is the price that the working-class pays for having carried through a revolution before being ready to exercise political power directly itself in its own name. 

The socialised capital that is the material basis of all these regimes reflects the kind of regime that ensues. In the joint stock company, the bourgeoisie continues to exercise control, via its own bureaucracy, in the worker owned cooperative, it is the workers that exercise control, and yet they too employ professional managers to undertake this function on their behalf, and these managers may appropriate more or less power to themselves dependent upon the degree of control exercised over them. As Enron and Tyco demonstrated, the bourgeoisie itself faces this problem with the bureaucrats it appoints to act on its behalf, and must act every so often to call them into line. The capital of a worker-owned cooperative, as a transitional form of property, acts more or less as capital, as opposed to means of production, dependent upon its degree of development, and consequent freedom of movement, as well as upon the overall environment in which it operates. The more the company must compete with other capitalist firms, the more it must operate as capital rather than means of production. And, the role of the Stalinist bureaucracy, is like the managers in a worker-owned cooperative that continually dip their fingers into the till to feather their own nest. 

In a workers' state, even a deformed workers' state, such as that which was created in Russia, the state itself can create the conditions in which this socialised capital, in whatever form, acts increasingly as means of production, rather than as capital. But, Russia and the USSR did not exist in a vacuum, and had to buy and sell in the global market. They had to compete with huge economies like the US, where capital continued to dominate, and this meant that the means of production in the USSR, also could not operate entirely as just means of production. Once again, this demonstrates why Socialism cannot be created in one country, even a huge country like the USSR, but requires a combined effort by workers in a sizeable number of advanced economies. In the same way that commodity production, and competition leads initially to the creation of capital, and its development into capitalism, so continued competition by a workers' state with capitalist states, leads inevitably back towards the domination of commodity production, and dominance of capital over labour.

Sunday, 31 May 2020

What The Friends of the People Are, Part I - Part 22 of 31

Mikhailovsky applies the same kind of “dialectic” as that used by Proudhon, and criticised by Marx in The Poverty of Philosophy. That is he proposes to form a synthesis by taking what is good, and disposing of what is bad. Mikhailovsky admits that, 

““The medieval forms of labour still existing in our country had been seriously shaken, but we saw no reason to put a complete end to them for the sake of any doctrine whatever, liberal or non-liberal.” (p 188) 

But, as Lenin says, 

“Obviously, “forms of labour” of any kind can be shaken only if they are superseded by some other forms; yet we do not find our author (nor would we find any of his like-minded friends, for that matter) even attempting to analyse and to explain these new forms, or to ascertain why they supplant the old.” (p 188) 

In other words, Mikhailovsky is forced to admit that capitalism had already established itself in Russia. Feudalism, in Russia, as everywhere else, does not collapse as the precondition for the rise of capitalism, but quite the opposite; it is the rise of capitalism, as a superior mode of production, that undermines, and brings about the demise of, feudalism. Moreover, as Lenin points out, Mikhailovsky's statement about putting an end to the previous mode of production is absurd. 

“What means do “we” (i.e., the socialists—see the above reservation) possess to “put an end” to forms of labour, that is, to reconstruct the existing production relations between the members of society? Is not the idea of remaking these relations in accordance with a doctrine absurd?” (p 188) 

The above reservation Lenin refers to is that Mikhailovsky's definition of what and who the socialists are did not at all reflect the reality or the views of the Marxists, in Russia, or elsewhere. What Mikhailovsky proposed was to keep the medieval forms of labour, based upon the village and individual ownership of the means of production, and to graft on to it all of those “good” things that flow from the capitalist mode of production in the West, in place of the existing Tsarist social relations, and the political regime sitting above it. 

“Here the whole subjective method in sociology is as clear as daylight: sociology starts with a utopia—the labourers ownership of the land—and indicates the conditions for realising the desirable, namely, “take” what is good from here and from there. This philosopher takes a purely metaphysical view of social relations as of a simple mechanical aggregation of various institutions, a simple mechanical concatenation of various phenomena.” (p 188-9) 

But, the cultivator's ownership of the land could not be separated from all of the other productive and social relations that go with it. Those links involved the land being divided up by the landlords. Each peasant obtained an area of land sufficient to provide for their own requirements (equivalent of wages), as well as a surplus product (equivalent of rent or profit). In other words, this arrangement was precisely the means by which the landlord pumped surplus labour/value out of the labourer. And, why does Mikhailovsky not pursue these social relations? 

“Because the author does not know how to handle social problems: he (I repeat, I am using Mr. Mikhailovsky’s arguments only as an example for criticising Russian socialism as a whole) does not set out at all to explain the then existing “forms of labour” and to present them as a definite system of production relations, as a definite social formation. To use Marx’s expression, the dialectical method, which requires us to regard society as a living organism in its functioning and development, is alien to him.” (p 189) 

And, when Mikhailovsky comes to examine the new economic and social relations, he makes the same mistake. He sees the individual cultivator being dispossessed of their land, but does not connect this to being in consequence of a new set of economic and social relations. In other words, as soon as commodity production becomes generalised, and the market increases in size, competition between commodity producers necessarily increases. Some win out, and some lose, in that competitive struggle. The winners take over the means of production of the latter. The latter become wage workers. 

“And here again his argument is utterly absurd: he plucks out one phenomenon (land dispossession), without even attempting to present it as an element of a now different system of production relations based on commodity economy, which necessarily begets competition among the commodity producers, inequality, the ruin of some and the enrichment of others. He noted one thing, the ruin of the masses, and put aside the other, the enrichment of the minority, and this made it impossible for him to understand either.” (p 189-90) 

Saturday, 30 May 2020

How Capital Produces Capitalists and Capitalism, and Then Socialism - Part 9 of 13

Capital creates capitalists, who collectively form a capitalist class, and the ideas that the operation of capital engenders become the dominant ideas that infuse the state, creating a capitalist state, which defends the interests of capital. Capital then destroys the role of the capitalists in production, forcing them into the role of money-lending capitalists, owners of fictitious capital. The social function of the capitalist is taken on by a specific type of worker, the day to day manager, as the capital itself is collectivised, and becomes socialised capital. This socialised capital, is a transitional form of property between capitalism and socialism. But, the capitalists, now, as owners of fictitious capital continue to exert control over this capital they no longer own, because their continued political power enables them to establish company law to that effect and to appoint executives to act on their behalf. But, no matter what the judicial reality, the economic reality is that the interests of fictitious capital (interest-bearing capital) are antagonistic to the interests of real productive-capital, and because the latter is dominant (it is only productive-capital that produces surplus value/profit without which payments of interest are impossible) it is the interests of the real capital that must always win out over the interests of fictitious capital. 

The class struggle is a struggle between different types of property that assumes the phenomenal form of a struggle between different social classes, only because these social classes are comprised of the individuals that are the personification of these contending forms of property. The progressive form of property is now the socialised capital, as a transitional form. It is the collective property of the working-class, including that portion of the working-class that now comprises the professional managers, or “functioning capitalists”. This is most clear in the case of the worker owned cooperatives. Taken as a whole, this large-scale, socialised capital, together with all of the planning and regulation that goes with a modern capitalist economy, provides everything that is materially required for the construction of Socialism. What is missing is the direct, democratic control over this capital, and over the state by the working-class. 

The workers could not establish such control until such time that capitalism had created the material conditions for such large-scale, socialised capital to begin with. That was, as Marx describes it, the “historic mission of capital”, to accumulate, concentrate and centralise the previously scattered means of production. Moreover, capitalism needed to develop to a certain level, before the workers could undertake this function, because capitalism must first forge a unified working-class on a large scale, and must develop the productive forces to such a degree that this working-class itself is educated and cultured so as to be able to take on all of these functions of a ruling-class, including immediately, being able to exercise such a role in the democratic control over production. Capitalism must develop to a stage, whereby, the working-day can be shortened, allowing the workers to educate themselves, and to have the time to devote to involvement in this day to day democracy. This is part of what Marx calls The Civilising Mission of Capital. 

Indeed, because Socialism is only conceivable at an international level, capitalism had to develop to a stage whereby it had created a global economy and global market, where capital itself becomes multinational, and a system of global rules for the operation and accumulation of capital are established (imperialism) founded upon the dominance of industrial capital. It means that an international working-class is created, able, then, to construct Socialism as an international system. 

For Socialism, democratic control of the means of production is required, but such democratic control is itself only feasible on the basis of a high degree of development of the productive forces and of the working-class, by capital.

Northern Soul Classics - I Refuse To Give Up - Clarence Reid

Friday, 29 May 2020

Friday Night Disco - Movin' - Brass Construction

What The Friends of the People Are, Part I - Part 21 of 31

Lenin summarises Mikhailovsky's argument so far, and sets out some of the conclusions Mikhailovsky draws from it. Mikhailovsky argues that materialism has not proved itself scientifically, and yet was spreading quickly amongst the German workers. Why? Because, he argues, instead of dealing with reality, it offers the workers the prospect of a better future under Socialism. Now, of course, there are some socialists who present the requirements for Socialism in this way. They present the argument for Socialism in these Idealist and Moralistic terms, and draw up schemes for such a socialist future. But, the characteristic feature of Marxism, of historical materialism, is that it does not do that. It utterly rejects such a basis for Socialism! As Lenin says, 

“Everybody knows that scientific socialism never painted any prospects for the future as such: it confined itself to analysing the present bourgeois regime, to studying the trends of development of the capitalist social organisation, and that is all... Everybody knows that Capital, for instance—the chief and basic work in which scientific socialism is expounded—restricts itself to the most general allusions to the future and merely traces those already existing elements from which the future system grows.” (p 184-5) 

It is not Marxism that argues for Socialism on that kind of Utopian, Idealistic and Moral basis, but the earlier socialist and communist movement of the type of Owen, Fourier and St. Simon. It was they who drew up their visions of a world of peace and harmony, of Little Icara, and so on. Marx and Engels rejected that view, instead basing themselves on a materialist analysis of reality, and how that reality was driving towards socialism, having already established socialised capital as a transitional form of property. What Marx and Engels realised was that social development does not flow from the ideas in the heads of people, no matter what geniuses they may be, but flows from material processes unfolding in society itself, of which the ideas are merely a mental reflection. It was these processes which created the working-class, and the actions of the working-class, in forming itself into a class for itself that is the material basis for the creation of Socialism. 

“Nevertheless, despite the whole phalanx of very talented people who expounded these ideas, and despite the most firmly convinced socialists, their theories stood aloof from life and their programmes were not connected with the political movements of the people until large-scale machine industry drew the mass of proletarian workers into the vortex of political life, and until the true slogan of their struggle was found.” (p 185) 

As Lenin says, it is no coincidence that the working-class movement spreads wherever large-scale machine industry spreads. 

“... the socialist doctrine is successful precisely when it stops arguing about social conditions that conform to human nature and sets about making a materialist analysis of contemporary social relations and explaining the necessity for the present regime of exploitation.” (p 186) 

Mikhailovsky scoffed at the idea that Socialism would flow from the continued effect of the concentration and centralisation of capital, which transforms it into socialised capital, alongside the mobilisation of millions of workers who take control of this socialised capital. Instead, Mikhailovsky proposed the idea that Socialism would arise from the fact that The Friends of the People would set out the “clear and unalterable” paths of the “desired economic evolution”, “and then these friends of the people will most likely “be called in” to solve “practical economic problems” (see the article “Problems of Russia’s Economic Development” by Mr. Yuzhakov in Russkoye Bogatstvo, No. 11) and meanwhile—meanwhile the workers must wait, must rely on the friends of the people and not begin, with “unjustified self-assurance,” an independent struggle against the exploiters.” (p 186) 

The “anti-capitalists” and “anti-imperialists” of today adopt a similar approach, as though capitalism and socialism are not only two distinct modes of production, but that they flow down two entirely separate historical channels. Yet, what Marx's analysis shows is that Socialism and Capitalism, where the latter was established, flow down the same historical channel; the latter being the precursor of, and and necessary condition for the former. Does that mean that Socialism could not emerge somewhere in conditions in which capitalism has not previously existed? No. That was the point Marx made in his letter to Zasulich. But, then, the requirement for that is that Socialism has been created elsewhere, providing a model and the resources for others to follow its lead. 

That is also the point that Marx made in his letter to Zasulich, but also that Engels made in his letter to Danielson. There Engels makes the point that, in the actual existing conditions, the best hope for Russia did indeed reside in its own rapid capitalist development. Engels makes a similar point in a letter to Kautsky in relation to Colonialism, saying that, after a socialist revolution, in the West, any national revolution in the colonies, such as India, would have to be allowed to run its course, because the workers in the West would have their own hands full reorganising their own societies. 

In the period after 1917, it was, of course, right that the Comintern could orientate towards the Colonial Revolution, and attempt to build real communist movements in those countries, so that the national revolution and proletarian revolution could be combined in a process of permanent revolution. The USSR could act as both a model, and an umbrella under which such revolutions could shelter, thereby stepping over the capitalist stage of development. The Third World Movement was a typically bureaucratised and bastardised form of that model. It meant that bourgeois-nationalist movements, often resting on a state capitalist economy, with a Bonapartist regime, could model itself on the Bonapartist regime in Moscow. At the same time, their “non-aligned” status enabled them to simultaneously play off the imperialist states, in the search for favours, in a way that is parodied in “The Mouse that Roared”

But, in the same way that the deformed workers states could offer no way forward, without a political revolution to overthrow the ruling bureaucratic caste, nor could the bastardised replica of those regimes offer any way forward in developing economies either. When, eventually, this reality manifested itself, with the collapse of the USSR and its satellites, in 1990, so too this alternative route for the industrialising economies was closed down with it. Today, with no socialist bulwark to provide a model, or the resources required, industrialising economies are placed in the same position as Russia towards the end of the 19th century. Their best hope is a rapid development of capitalism, both to raise them up from their current low levels, but also to more rapidly create the conditions for the transition to Socialism. Yet, like Mikhailovsky, the “anti-imperialists”, in particular, want to deny the industrialising economies that potential. As subjectivists, they want them to somehow travel down some separate, unknown route to Socialism, avoiding the horrors of capitalism, not only conjuring up all of the resources and means of production for such a transition out of thin air, but also arriving at a fully formed class consciousness as a pure act of will, a mental leap, ungrounded by any objective material basis. And, we are assured that this represents Marxism! 

Thursday, 28 May 2020

How Capital Produces Capitalists and Capitalism, and Then Socialism - Part 8 of 13

Capital itself, thereby brings about the social revolution that creates the productive relations, and social relations of socialism, but this is only one aspect of socialism. In order for it to be Socialism, as opposed to being simply social-democracy based upon large-scale, planned and regulated monopoly capitalism/imperialism, it requires that all of this capital be under the direct democratic control of the workers themselves, and that, in addition, the workers, on the basis of this, create their own semi-state, which reflects the now dominant socialist ideas that are engendered by these new productive and social relations. Without that, at best, we have the sham of bourgeois social-democracy, or at worst the regimes of Stalinism or Nazism. As Lenin put it in 1918, in his essay on Left-Wing Childishness

“To make things even clearer, let us first of all take the most concrete example of state capitalism. Everybody knows what this example is. It is Germany. Here we have “the last word” in modern large-scale capitalist engineering and planned organisation, subordinated to Junker-bourgeois imperialism. Cross out the words in italics, and in place of the militarist, Junker, bourgeois, imperialist state put also a state, but of a different social type, of a different class content—a Soviet state, that is, a proletarian state, and you will have the sum total of the conditions necessary for socialism... 

At the same time socialism is inconceivable unless the proletariat is the ruler of the state. This also is ABC. And history (which nobody, except Menshevik blockheads of the first order, ever expected to bring about “complete” socialism smoothly, gently, easily and simply) has taken such a peculiar course that it has given birth in 1918 to two unconnected halves of socialism existing side by side like two future chickens in the single shell of international imperialism. In 1918 Germany and Russia have become the most striking embodiment of the material realisation of the economic, the productive and the socio-economic conditions for socialism, on the one hand, and the political conditions, on the other.” 

And Lenin, quotes his own previous comments, written in September 1917, prior to them taking power, in The Impending Catastrophe and How to Combat It 

““. . . Try to substitute for the Junker-capitalist state, for the landowner-capitalist state, a revolutionary-democratic state, i.e., a state which in a revolutionary way abolishes all privileges and does not fear to introduce the fullest democracy in a revolutionary way. You will find that, given a really revolutionary-democratic state, state-monopoly capitalism inevitably and unavoidably implies a step, and more than one step, towards socialism! 

“. . . For socialism is merely the next step forward from state-capitalist monopoly. 

“. . . State-monopoly capitalism is a complete material preparation for socialism, the threshold of socialism, a rung on the ladder of history between which and the rung called socialism there are no intermediate rungs” (pages 27 and 28)

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

What The Friends of the People Are, Part I - Part 20 of 31

This is the process of primary capital accumulation, which, in turn, leads to the concentration and centralisation of capital, the expropriation of the expropriators, via the creation of socialised capital, which establishes the transitional form of property, prior to Socialism. Lenin later quotes Engels from Anti-Duhring

““Thus, by characterising the process as the negation of the negation, Marx does not intend to prove that the process was historically necessary. On the contrary: only after he has proved from history that in fact the process has partially already occurred, and partially must occur in the future, he in addition characterises it as a process which develops in accordance with a definite dialectical law. That is all. It is therefore once again a pure distortion of the facts by Herr Dühring when he declares that the negation of the negation has to serve here as the midwife to deliver the future from the womb of the past, or that Marx wants anyone to be convinced of the necessity of the common ownership of land and capital . . . on the basis of credence in the negation of the negation” (p. 125).” (p 173) 

And, returning to the description above, what this process also reveals is that the number of branches of industry increases. This is simultaneously a manifestation of the social division of labour, and of the broadening of the market. The peasant producer who previously produced most of their own food, and who also produced their own clothes, now must buy their clothes in the market, because they do not have the time to produce them, whilst they sell their labour-power, for the time they would previously have been engaged in that activity. The market is already expanded in consequence. But, the task of spinning and weaving that formed one industry, for the peasant producer, now becomes separated into two for the capitalist producer, with the spinning industry finding a market for its commodities in the weaving industry. The market is expanded again. 

“... this very division and the concentration of production give rise to new branches—machine building, coal mining, and so forth.” (p 176) 

Lenin describes the change in the social relations this brings about. The individual producers all produced simultaneously, but separately. They are all atomised, and in competition with each other. It is the condition that Marx describes in The Poverty of Philosophy of explaining why the peasantry, with its heterogeneous conditions, and ideas, could never form into a class for itself. The same applies today to the plethora of small private capitalists, and is why such social layers can only hold political power indirectly via some form of Bonapartist regime. By contrast, this process of concentration and centralisation, combined with a socialisation of production, creates a much smaller, tighter-knit class of larger capitalist producers, with a community of ideas, and common conditions, as well as each depending on the other. 

“The case is entirely different under the socialisation of labour that has been achieved due to capitalism. The manufacturer who produces fabrics depends on the cotton-yarn manufacturer; the latter depends on the capitalist planter who grows the cotton, on the owner of the engineering works, the coal mine, and so on and so forth. The result is that no capitalist can get along without others. It is clear that the saying “every man for himself” is quite inapplicable to such a regime: here each works for all and all for each (and no room is left for God—either as a super-mundane fantasy or as a mundane “golden calf”). The character of the regime changes completely.” (p 176) 

And, as I have pointed out previously, in discussing crises of overproduction, under pre-capitalist production, if any individual producer faced a crisis, or their production came to a standstill, this had no impact on all the others. Under capitalism, if production comes to a standstill for any large producer, or for several smaller producers, this has immediate consequences for all other producers. And, that applies inside the factory too. A lack of any component, the breakdown of an assembly line, stops the production throughout the factory, affecting all its workers. 

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

How Capital Produces Capitalists and Capitalism, and Then Socialism - Part 7 of 13

Commodity production then leads to competition, which means that certain individuals are privileged in this competition, and prosper, whilst others are ruined. Those that prosper accumulate money, those that are ruined are reduced to having to sell their labour-power (initially their labour-service) to those that have accumulated money, and in the process the latter thereby appropriate surplus value (even when they provide labour-service, the buyer appropriates surplus value, because the individual value of the output is lower than its market value), which is converted into capital. Commodity production and competition creates capital, and capital thereby creates capitalists, who collectively form a capitalist class. This capitalist class develops bourgeois ideas and culture, and as the bourgeoisie itself becomes dominant, so its ideas become dominant, and the state itself becomes a capitalist state defending and promoting capitalism as the mode of production. This is a process of social evolution according to the unfolding of natural laws

But, these same natural laws lead to capital destroying itself as private property, and becoming socialised capital. That is a consequence of the continued process of capital accumulation, concentration and centralisation. But, similarly, this also has social consequences. The private capitalist now disappears from the scene, their social function in production disappears, just as, previously, the social function of the landlord, in production, disappeared, when the capitalist farmer undertook that role. The social function of the private capitalist is now fulfilled by the “functioning capitalist”, a professional manager, technician or administrator, now drawn from the ranks of the working-class itself. This means that social development brings forth a new type of privileged individual whose characteristics are best adapted to the new productive and social relations. 

Social-democracy is a transitional form of society resting upon this socialised capital, as a transitional form of property between capitalism and socialism. For so long as the working-class itself does not rise to the level of consciousness that it recognises that it is the collective owner of this socialised capital, a condition that only exists where the workers have created worker owned cooperatives, it is subject to its control over that capital being exercised by other forces. At an immediate level that control is exercised by these “functioning capitalists”, who, separated from any control over them, by the working-class itself, forms a petty-bourgeois, bureaucratic layer, whose behaviour is itself determined by its relation to the means of production. Its social function is to organise production efficiently so as to maximise profits, and it acts in accord with that goal. But, as an intermediate social grouping, coming itself from the working-class, it also views society from its own perspective, its role being to arbitrate and conciliate antagonisms between capital and labour, rather than to assert the dominance of labour over capital. And, because it cannot get beyond this mindset, which is itself limited within the bounds of bourgeois production, it always, therefore, must ultimately end up subordinating labour to capital, because it cannot see any means of furthering the interests of labour without first furthering the interests of capital accumulation. 

As the productive forces continue to develop on an ever larger scale, so this socialised capital is forced to borrow more and more the techniques of the encroaching Socialist society. Not only does each enterprise engage in increased planning of production, as opposed to the unplanned chaotic speculative production of capitalism in its early stages, but businesses themselves come together in cartels to share research and development costs, and plan production, the capitalist state itself intervenes in the economy to plan and regulate production. As Engels puts it, 

“In the trusts, free competition changes into monopoly and the planless production of capitalist society capitulates before the planned production of the invading socialist society. Of course, this is initially still to the benefit of the Capitalists. 

But, the exploitation becomes so palpable here that it must break down. No nation would put up with production directed by trusts, with such a barefaced exploitation of the community by a small band of coupon-clippers.” 

(Anti-Duhring p 358) 

At the same time, in these giant socialised capitals, apart from the worker-owned cooperatives, it is not just the functioning-capitalists that exercise control. The money-lending capitalists, the shareholders, having removed themselves from an active role, ensure, instead, that they exercise control via the appointment of executives to protect their interests as against the interests of the company. The functioning capitalists occupy an intermediate position between the interests of the producers (workers and managers) and the productive-capital on the one side, and the owners of fictitious capital (shareholders), and their representatives amongst the executives on the other. On the one hand, juridically, because company law has been framed to give control to shareholders, the latter have ultimate control, but that does not change the laws of capital, and, ultimately, unless real capital accumulates, profits fall, and so the ability to pay dividends/interest to shareholders is undermined, and consequently, ultimately, the value of their shares is undermined. QE by central banks to inflate asset prices can only hide that truth for so long.

Monday, 25 May 2020

What The Friends of the People Are, Part I - Part 19 of 31

Lenin examines the process of primary capital accumulation and subsequent concentration and centralisation of capital that leads up to this expropriation of the expropriators, and creation of socialised capital. Its perhaps also worth describing, here, why this process proceeds first with the development of capitalist production in industry, in the towns, and only moves subsequently into agriculture. Considering Marx's Law of the Tendency for the Rate of Profit to Fall, as the organic composition of capital rises, the opposite might be thought to be true, but further consideration shows why that cannot be, and was also demonstrated in Lenin's earlier table. Firstly, of course, as Marx shows, the law does not operate in agriculture/primary production, because of the existence of landed property, and the fact that surplus profits simply are appropriated as rent

There are three basic requirements for capitalist production. Firstly, there must be an accessible market into which commodities are sold. Second, that market must be of a sufficient size to justify production on a large-scale that justifies an extended division of labour, and use of machines. Thirdly, there must be sufficient available wage labour to be employed by capital. Markets exist prior to capitalist production. As Marx and Engels describe, commodity production and exchange goes back 10,000 years, and markets arise as the places where these exchanges occur. Peasant producers may produce the bulk of their own food requirements, initially selling only the part of their surplus product required to pay rents and taxes plus the small number of other commodities they do not provide themselves, for example, to pay a blacksmith, to buy wine or beer, and so on. 

Under these conditions, no peasant producer can become a capitalist. Some may be able to produce more efficiently than others, and, on the basis of it, enjoy a higher standard of living. They may have a larger surplus product, which they sell and acquire money, which may enable them to buy additional animals and so on. But, none of this constitutes capital. There is no point in them expanding their agricultural surplus product significantly, because no market for it exists. Such a market depends upon peasant producers not producing the food they require, and having to buy it. The market itself, therefore, is constrained in size, because it depends on there being consumers who must buy food, rather than being able to produce it for themselves. Some peasants may be less efficient, and so produce less than others, but it does not prevent them still being self-sufficient. In an economy of direct producers, all of them can produce food for themselves, and so do not need to go into the market to buy it from the richer peasants, who may have large surpluses. The richer peasants can only raise production to raise their own living standards, not to accumulate capital. Even where the direct producers begin to concentrate on producing commodities, i.e. products in which they have some particular comparative advantage, this remains the case. 

If peasant A gives up producing potatoes, because they have a comparative advantage in producing carrots, they will only buy the potatoes required for their consumption, and give up carrots in a corresponding proportion. Even this commodity production, here, is still really direct production, because the peasant merely produces one use value they can produce efficiently, in order to obtain some other use value they can either not produce, or can only produce less efficiently. It continues to be production for the purpose of obtaining use values for consumption C – M – C. In order for capitalist production to commence, the demand for a commodity must be sufficiently great that it makes it possible for a capitalist producer to produce on such a scale, and by employing wage labour that they can sell all of their output, and, thereby, realise the surplus value produced by their workers, as profit

As Marx points out, this is in those lines of industry that develop in the towns. The craft guilds producing industrial products that the agricultural producer cannot produce for themselves tend to make large profits, particularly where they can be sold to the landlords. In part, these profits derive from unequal exchange between town and country. But, it is this condition that is then required to enable capitalist production to develop in the towns. First, it is the individual craft producer who goes under for a variety of reasons. The master craftsman, or else the merchant who previously sold materials to, and bought the final product of, the craft producer now takes over their means of production, and employs the craft producer as a wage worker alongside others. It may take the form of the Putting Out System, or the creation of a handicraft workshop or manufactory, where these workers are brought together. But, now, the means of production have been turned into capital. 

That is why capitalist production must always begin in industry, and so in the towns, and not in agriculture. Its only when this capitalist production in the towns develops, expanding the market for its commodities as it goes, that this industrial production also undercuts the traditional domestic production that had previously been undertaken in the peasant's cottage, alongside their agricultural production. As soon as the peasant's domestic production is undermined, they are unable to produce the revenues required to cover rents, taxes, and their requirements for other commodities. So, now, too, the poor peasant, in order to obtain these revenues, must also sell their labour-power. They must become a wage worker, at least for part of the week. Now, at last, the money accumulated by the richer peasant can be turned into capital. They can, at last, buy labour-power itself, and extract surplus value from it. The longer the poor peasant must work as a wage labourer, the less time they have to produce even their own food, which they also must now buy in the market. 

Sunday, 24 May 2020

How Capital Produces Capitalists and Capitalism, and Then Socialism - Part 6 of 13

As Lenin points out, if you want to change that mode of production it cannot be done simply by demanding that the state goes down some alternative path, as the Narodniks sought to do, on the back of their subjectivist sociology. Nor can it be done simply by changing the government, or even by seizing control of the apparatus of the state. It can only be done on the basis of changing society itself, of changing which class is economically and socially dominant, and whose ideas, thereby, become dominant, and so capable of infusing the spirit of the state itself. 

“And so, in order to compel the wheel of history to turn in the other direction, one must appeal to “living individuals” against “living individuals”... appeal to a class against a class. For this, good and pious wishes about “nearest roads” are highly inadequate; this requires a “redistribution of the social force among the classes,”... This is the only and hence the nearest “road to human happiness,” a road along which one can not only soften the negative aspects of the existing state of things, not only cut its existence short by speeding up its development, but put an end to it altogether, by compelling the “wheel” (not of state, but of social forces) to turn in quite another direction.” 

(Lenin – The Economic Content of Narodism) 

This is simply a restatement of the point made by Marx in The Critique of the Gotha Programme that the state is not some autonomous body separated from society, and so society cannot be changed by simply capturing or attempting to “perfect” the state, but only by changing society, which then changes the nature of the state itself. 

“The German Workers' party — at least if it adopts the program — shows that its socialist ideas are not even skin-deep; in that, instead of treating existing society (and this holds good for any future one) as the basis of the existing state (or of the future state in the case of future society), it treats the state rather as an independent entity that possesses its own intellectual, ethical, and libertarian bases.” 

(Marx – Critique of The Gotha Programme, Chapter 4)

Saturday, 23 May 2020

What The Friends of the People Are, Part I - Part 18 of 31

Lenin quotes Marx's comments in relation to his use of the dialectic, as a means of elaboration, as opposed to its use by Hegel. For Hegel, the dialectic is the unfolding of The Idea, which determines reality. 

“Marx says plainly that his method is the “direct opposite” of Hegel’s method.” (p 167) 

For Marx, the starting point is an accurate analysis of reality, and how that reality is changing. It is understanding the nature of this process of change in reality, the laws underpinning it that allows us to see where the result of that change is heading. 

“With me, on the contrary,” says Marx, “the ideal is nothing but the reflection of the material.” (p 167) 

The role of consciousness, then, is to understand this process of change, to identify the destination, and to facilitate it. Childbirth happens as a consequence of pregnancy; it is facilitated if a midwife is there to assist. 

Yet, Lenin points out, Mikhailovsky does not set out any understanding of dialectics, or discuss whether the development of society can be analysed in the same way that the evolution in natural history is analysed. Instead, Mikhailovsky attributes the use of Hegelian triads to Marx, thereby setting up a straw man to knock down. In this, Mikhailovsky echoes Duhring, but without mentioning him. Duhring, like Mikhailovsky, suggests that Marx arrives at his conclusion for Socialism, and the “expropriation of the expropriators”, on the basis of the application of the Hegelian dialectic. But, the opposite is the case, as Marx's comments in Capital III, Chapter 27, set out previously, illustrate. Marx's comments about the expropriation of the expropriators were not a prediction of the future, based upon some manifestation of the Logos. It is a description of what had already happened in reality. When Marx talks about “inevitability”, it is never a prediction of the future, but a statement about what is already reality. 

First, the scattered means of production of individual producers are expropriated, and become capital. Then bigger capitals expropriate smaller capitals. Finally, even the biggest private capitals become fetters on accumulation, and so they are expropriated by socialised capital, in the form of cooperatives and joint stock companies/corporations. This was not a prediction, but a reality that already existed by the second half of the 19th century, and, as Engels says in his Supplement to Capital III, after the passing of the Limited Liabilities Act, in 1855, this process of the expropriation of the expropriators accelerated further, with a massive expansion of this socialised capital. 

“And the whole matter thus amounts to an “affirmative recognition of the existing state of things and of its inevitable development””. (p 167) 

Northern Soul Classics - I've Got To Be Strong - Chuck Jackson

Friday, 22 May 2020

Friday Night Disco - Green Onions - Booker T & The MG's

Written when Booker T was just 16.

How Capital Produces Capitalists and Capitalism, and Then Socialism - Part 5 of 13

Capital is not created by capitalists. Capitalists are created by capital. As soon as peasants and petty producers begin to produce commodities, a process is set in place, whereby competition between them arises. In previous times, this results in some of them being reduced to slavery, but when the historical conditions develop, so that sizeable markets, in towns, for some types of commodities, develop, it instead results in the means of production of some becoming capital, whilst the others become wage labourers.  This is not a matter of a subjective desire of the individual peasant to get rich. It is just a simple fact that, in order to sell their commodities, so as to get the other commodities they require for their consumption, or to get money to pay taxes, they must be able to produce those commodities at least as cheaply as all other producers. But, some will have natural advantages, which is a direct consequence itself of material conditions.

In the same way that, under different conditions, either a lighter or darker moth is better adapted, so too, here, some are better adapted to these new material conditions than others. Some will have better land, some will be more adept at producing certain commodities and so on. As a consequence, as a market value is established for each type of commodity, so some producers will produce at an individual value below it, and some above it. The former will accumulate money, the latter will gradually find they must borrow money, then leading to them going into debt, and then losing their means of production. Even before that, they will have to get the money they require by selling their labour for part of the week. They will sell it to the richer peasants and commodity producers, who now have surplus money to hire this labour, as well as to buy additional and better means of production. The surplus money they accumulated becomes capital not out of any conscious design on their part, but as part of a natural process of social evolution. 

As Marx says, in his comment above in Theories of Surplus Value, Chapter 9, this is simply a matter of certain individuals being able to take advantage of the given material conditions, because they are best adapted to those conditions. As Lenin says, in response to the Narodniks subjectivist analysis of the development of the Russian bourgeoisie, as comprising people who were cheats, and so on, it is not these characteristics that causes capitalism to develop, but the development of capital itself, which enables such people, particularly in its earliest manifestations, to prosper. It is those characteristics that best enables capital to grow more rapidly, by extracting the greatest amounts of profit.

And, once this section of society does begin to prosper, it then has access to all of those things that the previous ruling class was able to utilise. It sends its children to school, and to University; those children, become writers, and teachers, and university professors, as well as civil servants, lawyers, judges and so on. All of the ideas that flow from a bourgeois lifestyle, and bourgeois production now colour all aspects of life from literature, and culture to science and law. It is by these means that capital not only creates capitalists, but it creates the ruling ideas of the age.

Society and history is driven forward by real individuals, but the ideas in the heads of these individuals are by no means simply accidental or arbitrary, or the product of some rational thought process, separated from reality, but are themselves the product of the experiences of those individuals of real life, of the material world in which they exist. The state, as the instrument of the ruling class is itself, made up of such individuals, and the ideas in their heads, are likewise, thereby, the ideas of this ruling class. The combination of capital as the dominant form of property, along with the development, on the basis of it, of a capitalist class, and the development, therefrom, of a state comprised of individuals, themselves imbued with the ideas of this capitalist class, is what comprises the capitalist mode of production itself.