Monday, 31 January 2022

The Handicraft Census In Perm Gubernia, Article III, Section VI - Part 10 of 10

The review of the census data, Lenin says, confirmed the view that the term “handicraft industry” was meaningless.

“We have seen that this term has been used to cover the most diverse forms of industry, we might even say: practically every form of industry known to science. And, indeed, the term has been made to include patriarchal artisans who work for private customers using the customers’ own materials and receiving remuneration sometimes in kind, sometimes in cash. Further, it has been made to include representatives of an entirely different form of industry—the small commodity producers who work together in families. It has been made to include owners of capitalist workshops who employ wage-workers, and also these wage-workers themselves, who sometimes number several dozen to an establishment. It has been made to include manufactory owners who possess capital in considerable quantity and command a whole system of detail workshops. It has likewise been made to include workers employed at home for capitalists. In all these subdivisions, both agriculturists and non-agriculturists, peasants and town dwellers have equally been regarded as “handicraftsmen.”” (p 436)

No socio-economic analysis and conclusions could be drawn from such a classification. Yet, that classification was used by the Narodniks wherever they were undertaking such analysis, throughout Russia.

“And it is a favourite method of our Narodnik economists to lump together this endless variety of forms of industry, to call this jumble “handicraft,” “people’s” industry, and—risum teneatis, amici!—to contrast this meaningless hodge podge with “capitalism,” with “factory industry.” This admirable method, which testifies to the remarkable profundity and erudition of its initiator, was, if we are not mistaken, “theoretically justified” by Mr. V. V., who on the very first pages of his Essays on Handicraft Industry takes the official figures for the number of “factory” workers in Moscow, Vladimir and other gubernias, compares them with the number of “handicraftsmen,” and finds, of course, that “people’s industry” in Holy Russia is developed to a far greater extent than “capitalism.”” (p 436)

What Vorontsov failed to mention was that the overwhelming majority of these handicraftsmen worked for capitalist manufacturers. And, these same methods are used today by liberals who seek to present a vision of capitalism based upon the small business myth. The data for Perm showed annual output of “handicraft” industry as 5 million roubles, and factory output as 30 million roubles, but showed 19,000 people employed in factories, as against 26,000 in handicraft production.

“Naturally, such a classification offers endless scope for reflections on the “possibility of a different path for the fatherland”!” (p 437)

And, the same is argued today by the liberals who point to the existence of 5 million small businesses in Britain, for example, and the large number of people employed by them. But, as I have pointed out in relation to this small business myth, a) the large majority of those businesses are transient, about 75% go out of business in the first five years, b) for that same reason they account for a large proportion of unemployment as well as employment, c) they are, for the reasons discussed earlier, dependent upon large businesses, which is why, whenever a large producer in an area closes, a much larger number of these small businesses get taken down with it. They are not the backbone of the economy, but mere adjuncts of it.

Lenin, therefore, turns to an analysis of this data in relation to the workers employed in these two sectors, and to produce a more rational and useful classification.

The data included in this table was compiled from a range of sources, and, as Lenin says, is still not entirely satisfactory, because it does not include factory owners, but does include handicraftsmen who, in some cases, employed dozens of workers and so on.

“In any case, this classification gives an accurate idea of the real state of affairs, it explains the real social and economic relations of the various participants in industry, and, consequently, their status and their interests—and such an explanation is the supreme task of any scientific economic investigation.” (p 439)

Sunday, 30 January 2022

Adam Smith's Absurd Dogma - Part 48 of 52

So, say at the start of the year, there is 2 social working years of cotton, sitting waiting to be processed. This value is not value of current production. It already exists. The value was created by past labour. In the case of cotton it may be labour of last year, or, in part, years before that. For timber, it would certainly be labour of many past years, and so too for the wear and tear of fixed capital.

The spinner, in their year's labour, turns the cotton into yarn. But, considered from the perspective of this labour, as abstract, value creating labour, its clear that, in terms of the new value it creates, this cannot replace the value of the cotton itself (2 years congealed labour). The new value created amounts to just 1 social year, whereas the value of the cotton is 2 social years. Moreover, the 1 social year of new value, is revenue producing labour. All of it is required as revenue to meet the current consumption needs of workers and capitalists, leaving nothing left over to cover demand for cotton. Its equivalent must come, not in the form of cotton or constant capital, but of consumption goods, required to keep the workers, capitalists, and landlords alive for the next year. So, even if it amounted to an equal amount as the constant capital (i.e. if the value of consumed constant capital amounted to just 1 social year) it could not be used for that purpose. But, from what has been said, its clear that this is not required, because the constant capital is not reproduced from revenues, as Smith, the neoclassical school, and Keynesians believe, but is reproduced from capital itself. By processing the 2 social working-years of cotton already held in stock, at the start of the year, the concrete spinning labour preserves this value, and simply transfers it to the value of the end product. Its not abstract labour that produces this value, but concrete labour that preserves it.

At the end of the year, a total output value of 3 social working years exists, even though only 1 social working year of value creating labour has been undertaken. It exists, now, in the form of yarn, whereas, at the start of the year, the constant capital consisted of 2 social working years of cotton. The labour has not reproduced the value of this cotton – it is logically impossible to do so, because 1 is not 2 – it has merely preserved it, in a different form – yarn as against cotton.

When the next year begins, the spinner now requires a stock of another 2 social working years value of cotton, because the previous stock has been turned into yarn. But, as Marx says, this is now available, because simultaneously, as spinning labour is turning cotton into yarn, the consumed cotton is being replaced by cotton growing labour. When the spinner sells the yarn, they obtain the revenue of 1 social working year, required for the consumption of the worker and capitalist, but also they obtain the preserved value of the cotton, now transferred to the yarn, which they now use to buy its replacement from the cotton grower. This is the circuit of industrial capital, whereby, these material balances are being continually replaced from simultaneous production of inputs, as described by Marx in Capital II

In this can be seen the impossibility of Smith's absurd dogma, and its neoclassical and Keynesian descendants.

These material balances as well as those that replace the revenue,

“consists of the constant capital which enters into raw materials, and secondly of the constant capital which enters into the formation of the capital, and thirdly of the constant capital which enters into auxiliary materials.” (p 245)

In other words, it is the constant capital consumed in Department I, in producing materials and fixed capital. It is the seed used to produce grain, the coal to produce coal, the machines to produce machines, as well as the coal to produce steel and fuel machines that produce machines and steel, and produce grain, as well as the steel that produces coal and machines, and so on. All of this is production that simply reproduces constant capital, none of which is exchanged with Department II, and forms no part of the value of consumption goods, and produces no revenues as its equivalent. So, it appears nowhere in GDP data, or National Income data.

No To War Over Ukraine

NATO and Russia are facing up to each other once again, now over Ukraine. Neither will actually want to go to war with each other, a process that could quickly spiral uncontrollably into a World War fought with nuclear weapons, but the processes that lead to such wars are, by their nature, unpredictable, and take on a dynamic of their own. Thatcher and Galtieri didn't actually want, or expect, to go to war with each, forty years ago, over the Falklands, yet they did. The global working class has no interest in any such war, just as we had no interest in a war over the Falklands, a desolate piece of rock in the South Atlantic with more sheep than people. We have to say no to war over Ukraine. As with the Falklands, we have to say that the interests of the whole working-class override the interests of the people of Ukraine, however, harsh that sounds.

Again, as with the Falklands, the main responsibility lies with the workers and labour movements in the contending imperialist and expansionist powers, i.e. those of the NATO countries, and of Russia. It is up to the workers, socialists and labour movements in all those countries to demand that their own bourgeoisie ends its sabre rattling, and keeps their noses out of Ukraine. But, the workers of Ukraine also have a role to play, because they should also demand that their government stops inflaming the situation with its provocative approaches to NATO, and its military expansion right up to the Russian borders. Given the history of Russia, and its repeated invasion by Western European powers, and later by imperialist powers, its no wonder any such action is seen as a provocative threat, and one that plays into the hands of Putin, and the Russian kleptocratic regime.

In WWII, it was the USSR that defeated Nazi Germany, in effect even before the US even entered the war. In December 1941, the soviet troops turned back the Nazi advance, and continued to push them back from that point onwards. It was the USSR that suffered by far the greatest losses as a result of the war, losing 25% of its territory, and economic capacity in the first few months, and it lost 30 million people, far exceeding the deaths for all the other combatants combined. That, of course, came after the losses it suffered in 1918, when it was invaded by 18 imperialist armies that allied with the old vile, feudal landlord class, to try to overthrow the revolution. And, similarly, after the USSR had defeated the Nazis, those same imperialist states, quickly created NATO (1949) as they started again to isolate the USSR, leading Moscow to respond by moving more quickly to install its own puppet regimes in Eastern Europe, and to create the Warsaw Pact(1955) as a military counter to NATO.

NATO claims to be a “defensive alliance”, which is a joke. Firstly, the imperialist countries that comprise NATO have individually, more or less, been continually involved in some offensive war in other parts of the globe since WWII itself ended. Some times they have done so in concert. For example, in Korea, and later in Vietnam, which then spilled over into attacks on other neighbouring countries in South-East Asia. At other times, it has been individual countries combining with others with similar parochial interests, for example, Britain and France joining with Israel to attack Egypt in the Suez crisis of 1956. That also, however, shows that even within NATO, the economic and strategic interests of some of its members still outweigh their overall military/strategic interests, as the US, screwed over Britain and France, in order to replace their old colonial era relations with the Arab states, in order to further the interests of the giant US oil companies in the region.

That was also the reason for the US, via the CIA, overthrowing the democratically elected Mossadegh government in Iran, and replacing him with the puppet regime of the vile butcher, the Shah of Iran, which also exposes the lie that NATO, and its imperialist member states is an alliance in defence of democracy. The same was true of the CIA's actions with the Chilean state to overthrow the democratically elected Allende government in Chile, and the US support for the gangsters of the Batista regime in Cuba, and similar butchers in Nicaragua, El Salvador and so on, and their attempts to prevent and overthrow popular revolutions in all of those countries. More recently, following the overthrow of the US's puppet in Iran, the US backed the vile dictatorship of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, providing him with chemical and biological weapons, and expertise on how to use them in the battlefield, as it promoted his war against Iran.

The US also backed, financed and armed Osama Bin Laden, and the Mujaheddin he led in Afghanistan, in attempt to overthrow the soviet puppet regime in Kabul that had begun modernising the economy, including providing education for girls and so on. Later, it used its relation to Bin Laden for him to contact the criminal butchers of the Kosovan Liberation Army, whose main claim to fame until that time was their exploits in harvesting human organs, for sale on global black markets. Via, Bin Laden, they provided finance, arms and training for the KLA, enabling them to launch attacks on Serb villages in Kosovo to provoke communal violence, which led to the Serbian army entering Kosovo, to defend Serb villages, which gave NATO a pretext for its war against Serbia.

That war is a good example of the dangers now presented in Ukraine. As NATO forces pushed forward in Kosovo, whilst Russian forces were heading towards them, British Commander, General Mike Jackson has since reported that he was told, by the US Commander, General Wesley Clark to take Pristina Airport before the Russians, even if that meant opening fire on the Russians to do so. Jackson, notes that he refused to obey this order, telling Clark "I'm not going to start the Third World War for you"

Ukraine is a bourgeois state, as is Russia. In such conditions, the position of Marxists is that of “revolutionary defeatism”. In other words, we do not go out to deliberately cause the defeat of our own state, but nor do we take any part in defending it either, as against continuing to work for its revolutionary overthrow by the workers, and the creation of a workers state in its place. That is the position that the workers of Ukraine should adopt, now. Anything else amounts to social chauvinism, and alignment with the bourgeoisie against the workers of other countries. The bourgeoisie, and its representatives amongst the liberals and social-democrats, of course, raise the cry of “the right to self-determination”, but that demand is a bourgeois-democratic demand, which cannot be given precedence over the interests of the working-class in general. Moreover, as Lenin described, the demand for “the right to self-determination” had to be abandoned, precisely because it was being so misused by the bourgeoisie to justify social chauvinism, and “defence of the fatherland”.  Lenin proposed,

Instead of the word self-determination, which has given rise to numerous misinterpretations, I propose the perfectly precise concept: "the right to free secession".

That does not mean that we are indifferent to the rights of Ukraine, or any Russian aggression against it, which would infringe those rights. But, the primary goal of Ukrainian workers and socialists is the overthrow of capitalism in the Ukraine, and the establishment of a workers' state, it is not to align themselves with their own, bourgeoisie against Russia, and still less to align themselves with the imperialist powers organised militarily within NATO.  NATO is using Ukraine as part of its global strategic manoeuvring against Russia, just as it has also done in the Balkans, and against both Russia and China in Central Asia, where the US has lined up to support various butchers in the so called “stans”, and as it has done with its military intervention in Syria, to oppose the extension of influence of Iran, which in turn acts as proxy for Russia and China. The agency that workers and socialists look to to prevent Russian aggression is neither the Ukrainian capitalist state, nor NATO, but is the Russian working-class and labour movement itself, which must be called upon to similarly oppose the plans and ambitions of the Kremlin kleptocrats.

Similarly, it is workers and the labour movement in NATO countries that must mobilise to oppose the drive to war that threatens humanity itself. We must build an independent, working-class response to the imperialists drive to war that unites workers in NATO countries with those in Russia, China, and Ukraine. Our mantra should be neither Washington nor Moscow, nor Beijing nor Kiev, but international socialism, and workers solidarity.

Saturday, 29 January 2022

The Handicraft Census In Perm Gubernia, Article III, Section VI - Part 9 of 10

Moving through this backward phase of capitalist development as quickly as possible, and into the phase of large-scale machine production is desirable. As Lenin put it, a few years later.

“And from these principles it follows that the idea of seeking salvation for the working class in anything save the further development of capitalism is reactionary. In countries like Russia, the working class suffers not so much from capitalism as from the insufficient development of capitalism. The working class is therefore decidedly interested in the broadest, freest and most rapid development of capitalism. The removal of all the remnants of the old order which are hampering the broad, free and rapid development of capitalism is of decided advantage to the working class.”

This illustrates the reactionary nature of the ideas of the “anti-imperialists”, and "anti-capitalists", who focus their opposition on the role of large-scale, multinational capital, which offers the only currently available means of industrialising economies achieving that more rapid transition. As Engels put it to Danielson,

“You yourself admit that "the social conditions in Russia after the Crimean War were not favourable to the development of the form of production inherited by us from our past history." I would go further, and say, that no more in Russia than anywhere else would it have been possible to develop a higher social form out of primitive agrarian communism unless – that higher form was already in existence in another country, so as to serve as a model...

… capitalism opens out new views and new hopes. Look at what it has done and is doing in the West.””

Northern Soul Classics - Left Out - Jesse Johnson


Friday, 28 January 2022

Friday Night Disco - Heartbeat - The Pointer Sisters


Adam Smith's Absurd Dogma - Part 47 of 52

In Marx's analysis, as outlined, all of the output of Department II/GDP has now been accounted for. In the process, all revenues/National Income have now been accounted for in forming the demand for this output. So, it is clear that demand for the rest of total output cannot come from these revenues. But, total output amounts to 3 social working days/years/periods whereas the consumable product/GDP amounts to only 1 social working day/year/period. Smith's absurd dogma that the value of commodities/output resolves entirely into revenues is then clearly wrong, requires believing that 3 is equal to 1.

And, for that reason all of neoclassical theory, which takes that assumption as given, is also wrong. When the debates between Cambridge England and Cambridge Massachusetts took place, there was also a fundamental flaw in the position taken by Cambridge England. They focused on the question of whether the neoclassical model was internally consistent, and it was shown that the partial equilibrium model was not, leading to Cambridge Massachusetts falling back on the arguments of the General Equilibrium model, the cost of doing so, being that this model is even less connected to the real world than is the partial equilibrium model. But, in criticising the neoclassical theory for this lack of connection to the real world, Cambridge, England focused on questions of perfect markets, knowledge, initial endowments and so on. They failed to focus on the most glaring inadequacy of the neoclassical model, which is its basic assumption that the value of commodities resolves entirely into revenues, which Marx demonstrated is an impossibility.

You can have an internally consistent model, and the most beautiful mathematical elaboration of a world that does not contain black swans, but it does not change the fact that black swans exist, and so any model that does not account for their existence is wrong. A model that assumes that the value of commodities/output resolves entirely into revenues can be as consistent and mathematically beautiful as you like, it doesn't change the fact that the assumption is clearly false, and so any models based upon it are wrong.

Marx now turns to the question of this final part, the demand for the element of c in c + v + s, in total output.

“Thus, however, we have as residuum a third part of the total product whose constituent parts, when exchanged, can represent neither the exchange of revenue against revenue nor of capital against revenue and vice versa. This is the part of product B which represents B’s constant capital. This part is not included in B’s revenue and therefore cannot be replaced by or exchanged against product A, and therefore also cannot enter as a constituent part into A’s constant capital. This part is likewise consumed, industrially consumed, to the extent that it enters not only into B’s labour-process but also into the formation of value in B. This part, therefore, like all other parts of the total product, must be replaced in the proportion in which it forms a component part of the total product, and indeed it must be replaced in kind by new products of the same sort. On the other hand, it is not replaced by any new labour.” (p 244-5)

Again, Marx makes the point, here, that what must be replaced is not the value or historic price of these consumed means of production, but their physical use value in the proportion in which it forms a component part of the total product, and indeed it must be replaced in kind by new products of the same sort.” (ibid) In relation to the current value of these commodities, and any changes in it, arising from changes in social productivity, that only determines whether it causes a release or tie-up of capital, a greater or smaller proportion of total social labour-time required for its replacement, and the consequent effects on raising or lowering the rate of profit.

Although these use values are physically reproduced by current labour, none of the value of these use values is attributable to revenues, just as previously, none of the value of GDP was attributable to constant capital, being entirely composed of revenues. The value of these use values is attributable entirely to constant capital, and none of it is attributable to or exchanges with revenues. It is the equivalent of the farmer's seed that he replaces from this year's grain, or the 8 machines of the machine maker, that he takes from current production to replace his own worn out machines. The value of the farmer's seed enters the value of his total output, just as does the value of the 8 machines for the machine maker, but they do not sell all of this output. They sell only a portion of it, i.e. that portion that is equal to their revenues, and so, in value terms, none of that sold output consists of any value of constant capital. That value of constant capital, which never constitutes a revenue is simply replaced, on a like for like basis, out of current production. It is purely an exchange of capital for capital.

“In its use-value, product A represents the whole part of the annual total product which enters annually into individual consumption. In its exchange-value, it represents the total quantity of labour newly added by the producers during the year.” (p 244)

But, this does not constitute the value of total output of the year, because, in addition to this new value, created in the year, there is the value of the existing constant capital, which gets preserved in the labour process, and is, thereby, transferred to the value of production. In other words, there is the 2 social working days/years/periods of value residing in materials and wear and tear to account for.

Thursday, 27 January 2022

The Handicraft Census In Perm Gubernia, Article III, Section VI - Part 8 of 10

“What are the results of our review. We have become convinced of the absolute unsoundness of the Narodnik contention that the buyers-up, and even the assembly workshop masters, are mere usurers, elements alien to production, and so on. Despite the above-mentioned inadequacy of the Sketch data, despite the absence in the census programme of questions about the business conducted by the buyers-up, we have succeeded in establishing, for most of the industries, intimate ties between the buyers-up and production—even their direct participation in production, “participation” as owners of shops which employ wage-workers. Nothing could be more absurd than the opinion that working for buyers-up is merely the result of some abuse, of some accident, of some “capitalisation of the process of exchange” and not of production. The contrary is true: working for a buyer-up is a special form of production, a special organisation of economic relations in production—an organisation which has directly sprung from small commodity production (“petty people’s production,” as it is customary to call it in our lofty literature), and which to this day is connected with it by a thousand threads; for it is the most prosperous petty masters, the most go-ahead “handicraftsmen,” who lay the basis for this system by extending their operations through supplying work to domestic workers.” (p 434)

The supposedly independent producers were, in reality, mere adjuncts of the factory system. Changes in technology, and consequent changes in production, means that, over time, the extent to which those adjuncts play a greater or lesser role vary. For example, in the post-war period, there was a growth of conglomerates, and of large-scale vertical and horizontal integration. Large businesses bought up their suppliers, as well as their industrial customers, and they bought businesses in associated fields, for example, pottery manufacturers bought up glass manufacturers. They also built up or established their own ancillary production, including buying up existing businesses in those fields. For example, most large businesses had their own maintenance departments, employing engineers, electricians, joiners, plumbers and so on. In the 1980's, however, changes in technology led to this being reversed, and businesses concentrated on core production, sub-contracting things like maintenance, cleaning and so on to external companies, who also specialised in those areas. The external companies, as with the adjuncts described above, were often small, local companies, which, thereby, were entirely dependent on the large company for their existence, and which could dictate terms, prices, specifications etc. to them.

“In the scientific classification of forms of industry in their successive development, work for buyers-up belongs to a considerable extent to capitalist manufacture, since 1) it is based on hand production and on the existence of many small establishments; 2) it introduces division of labour between these establishments and develops it also within the workshop; 3) it places the merchant at the head of production, as is always the case in manufacture, which presupposes production on an extensive scale, and the wholesale purchase of raw material and marketing of the product; 4) it reduces those who work to the status of wage-workers engaged either in a master’s workshop or in their own homes. These features, as we know, are typical of the scientific conception of manufacture as a special stage in the development of capitalism in industry (see Das Kapital, I, Kapital XII). This form of industry, then, already implies the deep-going rule of capitalism, being the direct predecessor of its last and highest form—large-scale machine industry. Work for the buyer-up is consequently a backward form of capitalism, and in contemporary society this backwardness has the effect of seriously worsening the conditions of the working people, who are exploited by a host of middlemen (the sweating system), are disunited, are compelled to content themselves with the lowest wages and to work under the most insanitary conditions and for extremely long hours, and—what is most important—under conditions which render public control of production extremely difficult.” (p 435)

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Adam Smith's Absurd Dogma - Part 46 of 52

In Marx's examples and in his reproduction schema, total output is equal to 3 social working days/years/periods, whereas, clearly, the total new value created can only be equal to 1 social working day/year/period. The other 2 social working days/years/periods of value is attributable to the existing value of constant capital produced in the previous period, or before that, and whose value is merely preserved by the action of concrete labour upon it, and, thereby, transferred to the value of current production, producing no revenues in the process. It is similarly reproduced out of current production at current values. This constant capital does not consist of the fixed capital stock, because only the wear and tear of fixed capital is being transferred to current production, and replaced out of it. The large bulk of the constant capital value consists of raw and auxiliary materials, and, according to Marx, as set out in Theories of Surplus Value, and in Capital III, Chapter 6, it is this element that grows disproportionately, precisely because of rising social productivity, i.e. a given mass of labour processes a growing mass of material.

Dealing with the question referred to earlier, of those commodities that can be consumed both productively and unproductively, Marx notes,

“It is clear that it makes no difference if a third category C exists, whose products are consumable both industrially and individually; for example, corn, by men or by cattle or as seed or as bread; vehicles, horses, cattle, etc. In so far as these products enter into individual consumption they must be consumed as revenue, direct or indirect, by their own producers, or by the producers (direct or indirect) of the part of the constant capital contained in them. They therefore come under A. In so far as they do not enter into individual consumption, they come under B.” (p 240)

And, noting the point made above about it being only wear and tear of fixed capital that must be replaced, and the consequence for the rate of profit, Marx notes,

“A large part of the existing constant capital—large as regards the relation of the fixed capital to the total capital—does not therefore require to be replaced annually by new labour. For that reason the (absolute) amount [of the capital to be annually replaced] may be considerable, but nevertheless it is not large in relation to the total (annual) product. This entire part of the constant capital, in A and B, which enters into the determination of the rate of profit (with a given surplus-value), does not enter as a determining element into the current reproduction of the fixed capital. The larger this part in relation to the total capital—the greater the scale on which present, already existing, fixed capital is employed in production—the greater the current volume of reproduction will be that is used for the replacement of the worn-out fixed capital, but the smaller relatively will be the proportional amount, in relation to the total capital.” (p 242)

Marx notes the effect of moral depreciation, because firstly, the larger the element of fixed capital, the more durable it tends to be, meaning that a smaller proportion of its value, as wear and tear, has to be reproduced out of current production, and,

“This proves among other things that the quantity of labour reproducing machinery or fixed capital is not at all proportional to the labour which originally produced these machines (conditions of production remaining the same), since only the annual wear and tear has to be replaced. If the productivity of labour rises—as it constantly does in this branch of production—the quantity of labour required for the reproduction of this part of the constant capital diminishes still more.” (p 243)

This reduction, which cheapens the fixed capital means that it causes the rate of profit to rise, and also brings about a release of capital.

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Should Holding A Party In Your House Really Be A Crime?

Should holding a party in your house, really be a crime?  Should voluntarily going to a party in someone's house be a crime?

I think its only necessary to pose the question in this way to see that the answer is clearly no, it should not be a crime.  Not only should it not be a crime, but criminalising such normal behaviour should itself be seen as a crime, by removing from citizens, basic bourgeois rights and freedoms that have existed for more than 200 years.  Yet, its an indication of just how degenerate and deranged the politics in Britain - and not just Britain - has become that this criminal behaviour by the state, and its removal of basic rights and freedoms is accepted without question.  Indeed, its an indication of just how degenerate and deranged not only bourgeois liberals and social-democrats, but also many socialists, have become that far from protesting this removal of basic individual, human and workers' rights and liberties, they have instead encouraged the government into even greater removal of those rights and freedoms, even harsher enforcement of them!

At a time that the world is potentially on the brink of war over Ukraine, as NATO imperialism continues its push Eastwards, surrounding Russia and its allies, as it has been doing now relentlessly since the fall of the USSR, whilst the vile kleptocratic and totalitarian regime of Putin, and his clones in Belorussia and elsewhere, begin to push back against it, the media makes its headlines whether or not Boris Johnson held a party in Downing Street, more than a year ago.  Really?  That is the most important thing to be concerned with, now?  And, a totally bankrupt and opportunist Labour Party, unable to find even the faintest sliver of a political difference in terms of principles from the Tories, itself mires itself with the same endless chicken shit attempts at exposing Boris Johnson for engaging in the most mundane of activities that any rational person would never question - holding an informal birthday party!  Again, really?

Of course, Johnson has only himself to blame, because he introduced all of those ridiculous laws and regulations in the first place, to outlaw things that should never have been outlawed, that, for example, in Sweden never were outlawed, with no adverse affect, and so, created the rod for his own back, when he was found to be breaching them.  But, if the best that the Opposition can come up with is that Johnson breached laws that never should have been laws in the first place, it speaks volumes about just how dire politics in Britain has become in the wake of Brexit.

The Handicraft Census In Perm Gubernia, Article III, Section VI - Part 7 of 10

Lenin provides a table which illustrates the point made previously about the better pay and conditions of workers in the factories compared to those employed in domestic production, including that of the independent handicraftsmen themselves.

“We find that the wages of hired workers in the assembly workshops are higher than the incomes of the dependent handicraftsmen (100 rubles and 89 rubles respectively), notwithstanding the fact that the latter exploit wage-workers in their turn. But the wages of these latter are less than half those of the workers in the assembly workshops. Why, then, should our employers not prefer “handicraft” industry to factory industry, when the former yields them such substantial “advantages”!” (p 433)

Of course, those advantages only existed up to a point. As Marx demonstrates in Capital I and III, when productivity rises, due to large-scale technological development, the rate of surplus value rises, as a consequence of the production of relative surplus value, even though wages and living standards rise. Marx points out that wages in Britain were 50% higher than in Europe, and yet the rate of surplus value was higher in Britain, and Britain's output prices lower, because of the much greater productivity of British labour. In Capital III, the same point is made that, where productivity is low, even a poor standard of living requires a large part of the day to be taken up as necessary labour. That is why the exploitation of labour in developed economies is always higher than that in developing economies, despite the higher living standards of workers in the former.

Similarly, Engels pointed out that, by the end of the 19th century, in Britain, many of the former petty means of cheating the workers had disappeared, at least in respect of the larger employers.

“We find a fully analogous organisation of production for the buyers-up in the vehicle-building industry (Sketch, p. 308, et. Seq.; Handicraft Industries, I, p. 42, et. seq.)—the same assembly workshops, whose owners are “buyers-up” (and work-distributors, work-givers) in relation to the handicraftsmen who make the parts, and the earnings of the wage-worker in the workshop are again higher than the income of the dependent handicraftsman (not to mention his wage-worker). These higher wages are recorded for both agriculturists (Group I) and non-agriculturists (Group II). In the cabinet-making industry, the buyers-up are the furniture shops in the city of Perm (Sketch, 133; Handicraft Industries, II, 11) that supply the handicraftsmen with models when placing orders, and in this way, incidentally, have “gradually improved the technique of production.”” (p 433)

As far as tailoring was concerned, it was the shops selling off-the-peg clothing that acted as buyers-up, giving out materials to handicraftsmen, and taking in the finished product. Lenin notes that similar arrangements existed in Western Europe and N. America.

“The difference between the “capitalist” West and Russia, with her “people’s industry,” is that this state of affairs is called the Schwitz-system in the West and means are sought to combat this worst of all systems of exploitation; the German tailors, for example, demand that the masters should build factories (that is, are “artificially implanting capitalism,” as the Russian Narodnik would put it)—whereas in our country this “sweating system” is benignly called “handicraft industry” and its superiority to capitalism is argued and discussed.” (p 434)

But, to return to the point made above, at a certain point, the productive-capital turns the tables on merchant-capital. When productive-capital is able to produce on a scale large enough to employ machinery and other fixed capital on a scale that its productivity is such that its prices undercut those of the handicraft producers, however low their wages, the merchants are forced, by the laws of capitalist competition, to buy from them. On the one hand, any merchant who does so undercuts other merchants, thereby, fracturing the old merchant, guild monopolies, but, if such monopolies hold out, the larger producers can take on the function of merchant themselves. As Marx points out, in Capital III, therefore, the merchant capital becomes subordinated to the productive-capital, subsumed within the overall circuit of industrial capital. This same dynamic exists in industrialising economies so that even if, initially, it is merchant capital, in the form of a colonial power, which acts to promote generalised commodity production and exchange, that very fact of generalised commodity production, and the competition it necessitates, leads to the development of productive-capital in the industrialising economy, and, thereby, to the concentration and centralisation of that capital.

Monday, 24 January 2022

Adam Smith's Absurd Dogma - Part 45 of 52

Keynes also accepted this point made by Marx that there can be money hoarding/saving. Keynes developed the concept of the marginal propensity to consume, meaning that it will always be the case that consumption comprises only a portion of revenues, the rest forming savings. But, Keynes continued to accept the overall validity of Say's Law, and of Smith's absurd dogma that stands behind it. In that case, in relation to a balance between aggregate demand and aggregate supply, if a part of revenues goes to savings, not consumption, a portion of aggregate demand must go not into consumption but into investment. On that basis, Keynes simply restores the aggregate balance by making savings equal to net investment.

That is the solution that Michael Roberts also puts forward in the quote previously given. So, for Keynes, and Roberts, the proportion of revenues that go to savings (for Roberts profits are equated with savings) then simply becomes the basis of consumption/demand in a different form, i.e. productive consumption or net investment, the accumulation of capital. But, for the reasons previously outlined, that net investment cannot be the solution to the question of where the demand for the consumed means of production comes from, because, as net investment, it is only the additional accumulation of capital over and above what is required to reproduce the consumed means of production on a like for like basis.

Marx has removed that element of complexity that merely obscures the relations, by assuming a) that all commodities are produced in the appropriate proportions, and b) there is no saving/capital accumulation. In all spheres of production, however, revenues are created, because labour, in each sphere, creates new value. However, in Department I, unlike Department II, these revenues cannot be expended on buying the products of that department – as we have assumed no net investment. The Department I revenues can only be spent to buy Department II consumption goods. Given that the value of Department II output is 3000, and Department II revenue equals only 1000, Department I revenues can only find their equivalent in Department II consumption goods, and represents the value of constant capital in Department II output. But, this value of Department II constant capital, in value terms, itself contains no value of constant capital, but comprises entirely Department I revenues, i.e. the amount only of the new value created by Department I labour.

The portion of Department I output that represents this revenue can be viewed, as Marx previously outlined, in terms of physical quantities. If we take the machine maker, who produces 12 machines, then 8 machines may be required to reproduce their own worn out machines, or are exchanged with other Department I producers who supply them with means of production, as they mutually replace each others constant capital. Then, 2 machines may comprise workers' wages, and the other 2 profit.

But, the Department I workers and capitalists cannot consume the use value of machines. They can only consume their value, and to do that it must be metamorphosed into the form of different use values, the use values of Department II consumption goods. Similarly, Department II workers and capitalists cannot consume the use values of machines, which they can only consume productively as means of production. Thereby, Department I machines replace Department II constant capital, whilst Department II replaces Department I means of consumption to an equal value.

“This part of the exchange of commodities represents exchange of one man’s capital for another man’s revenue, and of one man’s revenue for another man’s capital. Only one part of the total product of the producer of consumable products represents revenue; the other part represents constant capital. He can neither himself consume the latter, nor can he exchange it for the consumable products made by others. He can neither consume in kind the use-value of this part of the product, nor can he consume its value by exchanging it for other consumable products. He must on the contrary transform it again into the natural elements of his constant capital. He must consume industrially this part of his product, that is, use it as means of production.

But in its use-value his product is only capable of entering individual consumption; he cannot therefore transform it again in kind into his own elements of production. Its use-value excludes industrial consumption. So he can only industrially consume its value, [by selling it] to the producers of those elements of production needed for his product. He can neither consume in kind this part of his product, nor can he consume its value by selling it for other products that can be consumed individually. Just as little as this part of his product can enter into his own revenue, can it be replaced out of the revenue of producers of other individually consumable products; since this would only be possible if he exchanged his product for their product and so consumed the value of his product, which cannot happen. But since this part of his product, as well as the other part which he can consume as revenue, by its use-value can only be consumed as revenue, must enter into individual consumption and cannot replace constant capital, it must enter into the revenue of the producers of unconsumable products —it must be exchanged against that part of their products whose value they can consume, or in other words which represents their revenue.” (p 236-7)

This is why, in terms of the consumable product/GDP, whose value is comprised of c + v + s, it can be consumed entirely by the revenues, which equals only the new value created by labour in the current year, which divides into just v + s. It is because, in terms of the element of c in this consumable product, although it has the form of the use value of constant capital, in value terms, it comprises only revenues and no value of constant capital. Taken on its own, the consumable product is comprised of c + v + s, but the whole point is that the consumable product comprises only a fraction of the total output. The total output includes all of that further production required to physically replace the means of production of Department I, consumed in its own production, and the further output of Department I, which replaces the consumed means of production of Department II. It includes the 8 machines out of 12 that the machine maker must take out of their production to replace their own worn out machines, and those of the Department I producers who supply them with constant capital. This element of total production continually expands, relative to the consumable product, as social productivity rises, and a growing proportion of social labour-time must be devoted to simply reproducing those consumed means of production, on a like for like basis.

Sunday, 23 January 2022

The Handicraft Census In Perm Gubernia, Article III, Section VI - Part 6 of 10

The second largest number employed by buyers-up was in the felt-boot industry. The Sketch gave more or less no information on it. The handicraftsmen employed dozens of wage workers, but the nature of this employment was unknown. What was known was that the working conditions of these workers were extremely unsatisfactory. Those employed could endure no more than 15 years in such work, and suffered with consumption. The sanitary inspectors called for much larger workshops and factories to be built, so that the workers had a larger volume and flow of air. Lenin notes,

“One cannot help hoping that this recommendation will be acted upon, for it would promote technical progress by eliminating a host of middlemen and would pave the way for the regulation of working hours and working conditions; in a word, it would eliminate the most crying abuses in our “people’s” industry.” (p 429-30)

Similar terrible conditions applied in the bast-matting industry. The data showed that a merchant called Butakov had a factory in Osa that employed 180 workers.

Little information was provided in The Sketch on the iron-working industry, but an interesting description is found in Handicraft Industries in relation to Nizhni-Tagil.

“The manufacture of trays and other articles is divided among several establishments: forging, tinning, and decorating. Some of the handicraft masters have establishments of all these kinds, and are consequently manufacturers of the pure type. Others perform one of the operations in their own workshops and then give out the articles to handicraftsmen for tinning and decorating in their homes. Here, consequently, the uniformity of the economic organisation of the industry—both when the work is given out to be done in the home and when several detail workshops belong to one master—stands out very clearly. The handicraftsmen who act as buyers-up, giving out work to be done at home, are among the biggest masters (of whom there are 25) who have organised the most profitable purchase of raw material and the marketing of the product on a large scale; these twenty-five handicraftsmen (and they alone) take their goods to the fair or have their own shops.” (p 430-1)

This illustrated the process whereby the differentiation of those producers was taking place, in which a small number of larger producers were able to use that advantage to also dominate a larger number of smaller producers who become dependent on them, both for the supply of raw material, and for the ability to sell their finished product.

“In addition to them, the big “manufacturer traders” are also buyers-up; they exhibited their wares at the Factory Department of the Ekaterinburg Exhibition. The author of the book classes them under “factory-handicraft (sic!) industry” (Handicraft Industries, I, pp. 98-99). Thus, on the whole, we get a very typical picture of capitalist manufacture, interwoven in the most diverse and fantastic ways with small establishments.” (p 431)

That was also the case with the chest-making industry,

“It is organised as follows: a few big proprietors who own workshops employing wage-workers purchase the materials, partly manufacture the goods in their own workshops, but mainly give out material to small detailed workshops, subsequently assembling the various parts of the chest in their own workshops and sending the finished article to market. Division of labour—the typical condition and technical basis of manufacture—is widely employed in production: the making of a complete chest is divided into ten or twelve detailed operations each performed by different handicraftsmen. Thus, the organisation of the industry consists in combining detail workers (Theilarbeiter, as they are called in Das Kapital) under the command of capital.” (p 432)

NHS Anti-Vaxxers

Several thousand NHS workers and their supporters, yesterday, took part in an anti-vaxxer demonstration, in London, protesting against a requirement by the NHS that its staff be vaccinated.  Those demonstrating have claimed not to be anti-vaxxers, only opponents of compulsory vaccination for NHS staff, against Covid, and oddly, many of those on the Left that have protested loudly in recent months, against anti-vaxxers, who have joined with fascists and others on the Right, have, themselves, been rather tacit in their comments on this latest anti-vaxxer demo.

But, the truth is that, however, they want to dress it up, those protesting, yesterday, did so on essentially the same basis as other anti-vaxxers.  When, the vaccines first became available, I was myself rather cautious about them, as it appeared that the testing of them had been somewhat rushed, in order to get them rolled out quickly.  But, we now have more than a year's experience of these vaccines, and the tiny number of side effects have already been identified, resulting from them, and appropriate actions taken.  In terms of any balance of risks, the benefit clearly lies with getting vaccinated rather than not.

Vaccination is the clear means of preventing serious ill-health from Covid, and also of bringing the pandemic to an end.  I can well understand, why even with the weight of evidence, some young healthy people feel no need to be vaccinated, even with a tiny risk from the vaccine, because they see, also only a tiny risk from Covid itself.  In general, I am opposed to compulsory vaccination, but, as I have said previously, an alternative might be that those who become ill having refused vaccination have to pay for any NHS treatment.  However, when it comes to NHS staff, the situation is somewhat different.

Firstly, NHS staff are not the same as any other group of workers, apart from care workers.  They are workers who are coming into contact with people who are themselves already ill, elderly and otherwise vulnerable.  That means they have a specific duty of care to all of those vulnerable people.  Now its true, that being vaccinated does not prevent someone still being infected with Covid, and, thereby, being a carrier of it, but, it does mean that those vaccinated do not themselves become seriously ill, and given staff shortages in the NHS, that is an important factor.  One argument being used against a requirement for vaccination, is that those that do not comply will have to leave the NHS, but if they are not vaccinated, and so become seriously ill, or even just have to self isolate, that would cause even bigger loss of available staff.

But, the other point is that workers in the NHS also are supposed to be themselves scientifically minded, and so to recognise the rational basis for vaccination, as against all of the various conspiracy theories and unscientific nonsense being peddled by the anti-vaxxers.  If they are themselves taken in by those conspiracy theories and reject the science, then probably they are the wrong people for the job anyway.

It is not unreasonable that the NHS or care homes should require its workers to be vaccinated, any more than it is reasonable for them to demand they use appropriate PPE, and other safety measures.  They should press ahead with it, and oppose the anti-vaxxers resistance.

Friday, 21 January 2022

Friday Night Disco - Things Have More Meaning Now - Peggy Scott


The Handicraft Census In Perm Gubernia, Article III, Section VI - Part 5 of 10

As Marx describes, in Capital I, this is merely a phase in the development of capitalist production, before all of those processes become operations within a division of labour inside manufactories, which, in turn, gives way to the creation of large-scale machine factories, and in which the division of labour gives way to machines which, themselves, perform multiple operations in one process, with the detail worker being reduced to merely a machine minder.

For the Narodniks, this relation between the large leather producers and the handicraft producers was seen as the ““typical expression of the idea of the organic connection between factory and handicraft industry to their mutual advantage” (sic!) . . . the factory entering into a correct (sic!) association with handicraft industry, with the object, in its own interests (exactly!), of developing and not reducing . . . its capacity (III, p. 3). (p 426-7) In fact, as Lenin sets out, in detail, in The Development of Capitalism in Russia, not only do these relations indicate the inevitable process by which the small producers were being proletarianised, but there was a direct correlation between their economic condition and the size of the establishment in which they were employed. The worst wages and conditions existed for those restricted to domestic production, rising for those employed in larger handicraft enterprises, improving further for those employed in manufactories, but being best for those employed as actual industrial workers in the large machine industries.

“We are now in a position to form a fairly clear idea of the economic organisation of the bootmaking and of many other allied “handicraft” industries. They are nothing but branches of large capitalist workshops (“factories,” according to the terminology used in our official statistics), performing nothing but detailed operations in the large-scale capitalist manufacture of leather goods. The entrepreneurs have organised the buying of materials on a broad scale, have set up factories for tanning the hides, and have established a whole organisation for the further processing of the leather based on the division of labour (as the technical condition) and wage-labour (as the economic condition): some of the operations (such as cutting out leather for boots) are performed in their workshops, others are performed by “handicraftsmen” who work for them in their homes, the employers determining the amount of output, the rates of payment, the kind of goods to be made, and the quantity of each kind. They have also organised the wholesale marketing of the product. Obviously, in scientific terminology this is nothing but capitalist manufacture, in part already passing into the higher form of factory industry (inasmuch as machines and machinery are used in production: the big leather factories have steam engines). To single out parts of this system of manufacture as a separate “handicraft” form of production is a patent absurdity, which only obscures the basic fact that wage-labour prevails in the leather goods production and bootmaking and that the entire trade is under the sway of big capital.” (p 427-8)

The reason some of these businesses preferred to operate on this basis of The Putting Out System are familiar today, when looking at the business model of Uber or Deliveroo. As Lenin points out, the domestic workers were atomised and so their wages and conditions were lowered. The employers saved on premises, implements and supervision, and “evade the not always welcome demands made on manufacturers (they are not manufacturers but merchants!)” (p 428) And, these handicraft producers themselves, in some instances, employed wage workers, in the same way that Marx described the sweatshops in Britain. The condition of these workers was worst of all.

Thursday, 20 January 2022

Losing His Wragg

The Chair of the Parliamentary Administration Committee, Tory, William Wragg, has come out to attack Boris Johnson and his government for “blackmailing” Tory MP's, into supporting the Prime Minister. Wragg has already come out to admit that he is one of those that is calling for Johnson to resign. Johnson is facing a coup attempt launched primarily by the reactionary wing of his party, centred upon the hard-line nationalists and Brexiters of the ERG, and hence the prominent role of people like David Davis, Lord Frost, and Andrew Bridgen. Compared to those forces, Johnson is a moderate progressive, which just shows why tactics and strategy based upon lesser-evilism, or “my enemy's enemy is my friend” will always lead you into dangerous territory. Opposing the greater evil represented by Johnson's detractors does not at all involve giving any support to Johnson and his supporters in the process.

Johnson is under attack from his Right, an attack, which the opportunists of the PLP are themselves lining up with, as they collapse, at an increasing rate, into their own cesspool of reactionary nationalism, because he is being forced, by reality, to backtrack on the inevitable consequences of Brexit. The first salvo was fired by Frost when he resigned from his position as Brexit Minister, in consequence of Johnson again having to capitulate to the EU over the Irish Protocol. Wanting Johnson and his government out is one thing, siding, opportunistically, with Johnson's opponents, to his Right, to achieve it, is another entirely.

The basis of Wragg's charges of “blackmail” is itself ludicrous. What it amounts to is this. In 2019, voters, in a range of seats across the country, where there had been large Brexit votes, based upon the support of a large, reactionary petty-bourgeoisie comprised of “white van wo/men”, and supported by a sizeable number of lumpen elements, were basically bribed by the Tories to vote for them, in order to obtain state spending in their areas, the generic term for which has been labelled “levelling up”. In many of those seats that then returned Tory MP's, the government did, indeed, provide funds for various spending, even as it denied such funding to other, more deprived constituencies, that returned Labour MP's. In other words, the voters in those seats were “blackmailed” into voting Tory, on the basis that, if they didn't, they would not get these funds, what in the US is called “pork barrel politics”.

Now, as some of those Tory MP's that were elected on the basis of the bribes that Boris Johnson promised voters, in those seats, turn on Johnson himself, as he backtracks on Brexit, Johnson is responding by, in turn, threatening to remove the initial bribes. The charge of “blackmail” is then rather absurd and hypocritical, because none of those Tory MP's objected to the initial bribery and blackmail of voters that Johnson and his government engaged in to get them elected in the first place.

And, the charge of blackmail is itself particularly absurd, because the whole of bourgeois-democracy – indeed of capitalism itself – is founded upon such blackmail, without which it would collapse. Bourgeois democracy, is based upon patronage, which is inherently a form of blackmail and bribery and corruption. The Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet are appointed by party leaders, giving them great power to bribe and blackmail MP's to support them, in order to obtain and retain such ministerial positions, for example. The government whips have always used such means to encourage MP's to toe the line.

But capitalism itself is founded upon blackmail. Capital says to the worker I will employ your labour-power, and I will pay the full price of that labour-power, however, the condition for me doing so is that in addition to the necessary labour you need to undertake to reproduce your labour-power, I insist that you work additional surplus labour, so that I can appropriate it as profits. The worker may appear to have a free choice in making such a deal, but, in reality, has none, because capital owns the means of production without which the worker cannot work, and without the ability to work, the worker has no independent means of living. So, fundamental to capitalism itself, is the blackmailing of the worker to provide free labour to capital, as the basis of profits, on pain otherwise of starvation for them and their family.

To call for an end to the blackmail and bribery that is inherent within capitalism, and of the bourgeois-democracy that arises upon it, is, in reality, to call for the end of capitalism, and bourgeois-democracy itself. Much as I would welcome such a development, if it signalled the arrival of Socialism, and proletarian democracy, the reality, however, is that no such prospect exists currently, and so the actual alternative would, in fact, mean only a further twist in the spiral of reaction that the forces of the petty-bourgeoisie, and the economic nationalists within both Labour and Tory parties are driving forward.

Adam Smith's Absurd Dogma - Part 44 of 52

Marx sets out these different types of exchange.

Revenue is exchanged for revenue, when for example the producers of linen exchange a portion of that part of their product—the linen—which represents their profits and wages, their revenue, for corn that represents a portion of the profits and wages of farmers. Here therefore there is the exchange of linen for corn, those two commodities which both enter into individual consumption—exchange of revenue in the form of linen for revenue in the form of corn. There is absolutely no difficulty in this. If consumable products are produced in proportions corresponding to needs, which means also that the proportionate amounts of social labour required for their production are proportionately distributed {which of course is never exactly the case, there being constant deviations, disproportions, which as such are adjusted; but in such a way that the continuous movement towards adjustment itself presupposes continuous disproportion}, then revenue, for example in the form of linen, exists in the exact quantity in which it is required as an article of consumption, therefore in which it is replaced by the articles of consumption of other producers.” (p 230-1)

In other words, we have, here, exchanges of revenue within Department II. That is in relation to Marx's reproduction schema, Department II c 2000 + v 500 + s 500 = 3000. The exchanges described above involve only exchanges of those producers in Department II, whose revenues, in total, amount to 1,000. Marx's example, here, including the farmers maybe not the best, because the farmer not only produces consumption goods, in the shape of corn, but also means of production, including corn used as constant capital by other producers. However, as Marx points out, this is not a real problem, because it is only a matter of dividing total output into Department I and Department II production, not producers.

One of the derivatives of Smith's absurd dogma is Say's Law, which says that supply creates its own demand, because, in the production, revenues are created, equal to the value of output, and these revenues then form the demand for that production. Its that fallacy that is contained in the quote also of Michael Roberts. It is also the basis of marginalist, factor cost theories of value, and, in modified form, Keynes analysis of aggregate demand and supply. Marx notes that the actual value of commodities is determined by socially necessary labour-time, which capitalist competition continually reduces. However, he notes that what comprises socially necessary labour-time is not just that in relation to the production, but also in relation to demand. At the extreme, if there is no demand for a particular commodity, then, no matter how little labour-time is required for its production, it will be more than is socially necessary. Demand is always demand at particular prices, and if, at any given market price, the demand for a commodity is less than the supply of that commodity, the labour-time expended on producing these excess units was not socially necessary, and so not value creating.

That is why Marx made the point above about those different commodities being produced in the appropriate proportions. Moreover, as Marx sets out in Theories of Surplus Value, Chapter 17, in money economies, which have existed for thousands of years, it can be the case that the demand for money itself is greater than the demand for all other commodities. Indeed, as Marx says, its that fact that enables this hoarded money to be turned into commercial capital or interest-bearing capital.

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Wakeford Defection - An Indictment of Labour

Christian Wakeford, the right-wing Tory MP for Bury South, has defected to Starmer's, new New Labour PLP.  The fact he could do so, is an indictment of Starmer's PLP.  It shows that when it comes to actual political principles there is no difference between Starmer's conservative PLP, and right-wing Tories.

Wakeford, didn't even feel the need to use the Liberals as a stepping stone, probably because he sees them as more progressive than Starmer's nationalistic PLP, and certainly because as a careerist, he hopes to line up a more lucrative future for himself joined at the hip with Starmer than he might hope for with the Liberals.  The experience of Tory defectors to Blair's original New Labour, after all, saw them quickly promoted into the ranks of Minister.

Wakeford himself, of course, has not renounced a single one of the right-wing Tory policies he has supported up to this point, which might give any actual Labour member pause for thought as to how, then, his ideas are compatible with membership of the Labour Party.  But, no such thoughts entered Starmer's head as he welcomed yet another right-wing Conservative into his pro-capitalist PLP, to sit alongside all of the other right-wing pro-capitalist MP's that he has stuffed into his Shadow Cabinet.

If you have even hinted at support for some left-wing outfit, no matter how long you have been a member of the Labour Party, it is enough to get you expelled from Starmer's LP, but you can be a Tory, who, quite openly stood against the LP in 2019, who has vociferously attacked Labour in the most vile terms, and yet, Starmer will welcome you on board with a full heart.

Of course, it will be interesting to see what say the long-standing members of Bury South CLP have in the matter of having one of their immediate enemies now foisted on them as their new Labour MP.  On past experience, they will also be given little say in whether Wakeford is allowed to contest that seat in Labour colours whenever the next election comes along either.

The Handicraft Census In Perm Gubernia, Article III, Section VI - Part 4 of 10

In similar vein, in The Poverty of Philosophy, Marx sets out this crucial function of competition, in relation to the development of capital and capitalism, and for the accumulation, concentration and centralisation of capital.

“Socialists know well enough that present-day society is founded on competition...

In actual fact, society, association are denominations which can be given to every society, to feudal society as well as to bourgeois society which is association founded on competition. How then can there be Socialists, who, by the single word association, think they can refute competition??..

It must be carefully noted that competition always becomes the more destructive for bourgeois relations in proportion as it urges on a feverish creation of new productive forces, that is, of the material conditions of a new society...

M. Proudhon talks of nothing but modern monopoly engendered by competition. But we all know that competition was engendered by feudal monopoly. Thus competition was originally the opposite of monopoly and not monopoly the opposite of competition. So that modern monopoly is not a simple antithesis, it is on the contrary the true synthesis...

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

It is competition which destroys feudal monopolies and necessitates the accumulation of capital. It is competition which necessitates production on an ever larger scale, and, thereby, concentration and centralisation. And, when this competition, via this process, results in monopoly, it is now monopoly on a higher level, which, in turn, leads to monopolistic competition.

“An exactly similar process is now taking place in the bulk of our so-called “handicraft” industries; and the Narodniks in just the same way shun an investigation of realities as they develop, in just the same way replace a discussion of the origin of existing relations and their evolution by a discussion of what might be (if what is were not), in just the same way-console themselves with the thought that so far these are “merely” buyers-up, and in just the same way idealise and paint in rosy colours the worst forms of capitalism—worst in technical backwardness, economic imperfection, and the social and cultural conditions of the working masses.” (p 425)

Lenin, turning to the data in the handicraft census, and to compensate for its deficiencies, previously mentioned, he also draws on “Handicraft Industries in Perm Gubernia”, also previously referred to. He picks out those industries which account for the bulk of handicraft producers employed by buyers-up. To do so, he refers to his own summary of the data. 

The data shows that 90% of handicraftsmen working for buyers-up were employed in these seven industries. Lenin begins with bootmaking, which was concentrated in Kungur Uyezd, which was also the centre of the leather industry in the Perm Gubernia. A large proportion worked for leather manufacturers. Lenin notes that The Sketch refers to 8 buyers-up, having 445 establishments.

“These include two buyers-up (Ponomaryov and Fominsky) who have 217 establishments working for them. Altogether, there are 470 bootmaking establishments working for buyers-up in Kungur Uyezd.” (Note *, p 426)

This itself indicates the degree of concentration already achieved with these two capitals dominating half of the bootmakers employed by buyers-up. It also illustrates Engels' point, in his Supplement to Capital III. The basis of the genesis of capitalist production is that when markets for industrial products, in the towns, reach a sufficient size, the suppliers of materials – be it a merchant, or, here, a leather producer – is able to utilise the failure of some independent handicraft producers, or their inability to buy materials, to provide the materials free to the producer, in return for buying their labour-power for a wage. It is then no longer a question of the supplier obtaining a commercial profit, from unequal exchange, but that capitalist production itself is undertaken, and the formerly independent producer, in reality, becomes a wage worker, producing surplus value, all of which is now appropriated by the employing capital, without any need for unequal exchange.

“The leather goods manufacturers cut out the leather and in this form distribute it to the “handicraftsmen” to be sewn. The lasting is done separately, by several families, who work to the order of the manufacturers. Generally speaking, a whole number of “handicraft” industries are connected with the leather goods factories, that is, a whole series of operations are done in the home. These include 1) dressing of hides and skins; 2) sewing of uppers; 3) gluing of leather clippings into boards for stiffeners; 4) making of screws for boots; 5) making of brads for boots; 6) last making; 7) preparation of ash for the tanneries; 8) making of “tan” (from willow bark). The scrap and waste of the leather industry are used by the felt and glue-making industries (Handicraft Industries, III, pp. 3-4, et al.). In addition to detailed division of labour (i.e., division of the production of an article into several operations performed by different persons), a commodity division of labour has arisen in this industry: each family (sometimes even each street in a handicraft village) produces one kind of footwear.” (p 426)