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In Feudalism, the landlord charged a rent/tax from the peasants in exchange of protecting them and giving them access to his land. You could rationalise this and say "Well the landlord is protecting the peasants, so it's a fair exchange." But ask yourself this, who is the landlord protecting peasants from? Well, from the other landlords he is constantly at war with...  Oh-oh, something seems rather fishy about Feudalism. It's like it's based on a type of circular logic, that the existence of the Feudal class system is what "justifies" the role of the Feudal classes (and hence their existence). The only thing that justifies Feudalism is Feudalism itself, it exists for it's own sake not for some bigger reason or due to eternal or "natural" laws of society; and the roles people play inside Feudalism are historically specific to that mode of production and subjected to change when relations of production change. The same is true for Capitalism.

Workers rely on Capitalists hiring them and advancing accumulated surplus as wages. Why do they? Because they lack means of production to employ themselves and surplus to sustain themselves. Why? Because Capitalists own the vast majority of the means of production. If access to means of production and relations of production changed, the role of Capitalist would be unnecessary, redundant. It is a historically specific phenomenon, not the result of eternal laws of economics, and trying to justifies it by saying "the Capitalist deserves X or Y" is missing the point.

It is very easy to rationalise the monopoly of the social surplus under any type of class society: If you tried to argue that the Capitalist plays an important role advancing Capital (and argue he "deserves" part of the surplus), you would be right! The Capitalist is definitely very important... but only for the Capitalist mode of production, much like the Feudal Baron played an important role in the Feudal mode of production - those respective modes of production wouldn't even exist if it weren't for people playing the role of Capitalist and Noble.

The function of Capitalist means advancing money and gaining back more money at the end of the day: Advancing money to buy means of production and labor-power, let labour power use the means of production to make commodities, sell commodities for more money. The process of exchange does not create or add any new value by itself (new value or an aggregate rise in prices can only come from producing new things, all pure exchange can do is shuffle existing value around), and neither can the means of production act as the source of surplus (they can not 'add' more than what they cost to buy as they are 'dead-labour' or 'stored-labour' that left alone produce nothing, in the end all production reduces itself to labour. So the only possible source of surplus from this exchange must be the work of the labourers: The price of labour-power is lower than the value produced by said labour-power, and hence the 'value added' to capital by the worker. In the aggregate labour-power is the only commodity that can "add" more than what is costs to buy.

 A capitalist doesn't need to "allocate labour and resources", he can hire managers and market analysts for that (and management, depending on the function, is productive labour). The function of Capitalist is the act of advancing money and obtaining more money. The most easily observable example of Capitalism is stocks and share-trading: Shares in a company can change hands multiple times a day on the stock exchange without the share-owners ever coming into contact with production, its decision making or resource allocation; and the factory keeps producing just the same. This is because investors are attempting to get money out of advancing money, exchanging money for more money - being capitalists.
A capitalist, for sure,  can do many things other than being a capitalist. He can be a manager and CEO, an inventor and innovator, or do absolutely nothing like a rentier or an heir to riches. But the function of a Capitalist, the function that is the source of most of his income as a capitalist, by itself produces or adds no new value to production - yet still gets a surplus. This surplus can only come from unpaid-labour. This carries several implications (that capitalists work to get as much out of workers as possible, that the rate of wages is not about 'marginal productivity' but about market power, that a reserve army of labour benefits the capitalist economy by depressing wages, etc).

 If workers do not have means of production (the ability to employ themselves) and also are not employed by a Capitalists, they would starve. Marx argues that, since the only choice workers have is to sell their labour-power in the market, Capitalists can buy this labour-power for less than the value the labour produces, and the difference between these two amounts is the surplus accumulated.

So the real question is: Why do workers not have the ability to employ themselves? Because the vast majority of the means of production are owned by a minority. How did that situation come about? Marx argues this situation came about and is maintained due to an enormous act of violence: During the last days of Feudalism, the Mercantile State did everything in it's power to dispossess the small producers and peasants. The Enclosures of common land, the establishment of artificial prices on un-settled land, banning hunting on forests, slavery, mercantilist monopolies and tariffs - all of this was part of a process that took the means of production from the many and put them in the hands of a minority. The "voluntary exchange" happens in a very involuntary context, workers and capitalists are not equal parties exchanging the commodity "labour-power" for the commodity "Capital"; it is an exchange between vastly unequal parties (one is completely reliant on the other) .

You must work for a living whether you want to or not, whether that's on land that you're farming or as part of a business organisation. The real question is: How do we work, in what conditions do we work, who gets to control the product of the work and what do they do with it? The answers to those questions give us the mode of production we live under. If we live in a class society, we have to work in a class society and our work must be understood in class terms. The fact we have to work is not the question, the fact we need to work in a class society is.

 One thing that can't be taken from workers is their labour-power. However, without access to viable means of production, labour-power is nothing. "It doesn't matter if you use it to till land or work a factory", but without the land or the factory, what are you going to do? Just look at the very existence of unemployment.

 After Capitalist relations of production were established, the bourgeois State must act as a monopoly on force and a defender of the Capitalist-type of private property, using continual coercion to maintain the system. Marx argues that no type of class society would stand without a State. Who would enforce Capitalist forms of private property and contracts and break up workers on strike if not a State? What would prevent workers from just seizing the means of production? It is on a similar line that Anarchists argue that Capitalist private property and relations of production are unenforceable in the absence of the State. The State isn't an "overarching" institution but part of the superstructure of Capitalism. If the most basic Capitalist social relations imply a conflict of interest, this will remain true regardless of the amount of government intervention in the economy.

The Marxist concept concerning the state is well-known. The state, as an historical category, is the tool of one class for suppressing other classes of society. If the state is a relation between men, then insofar as it oppresses, represses or dictates it does so in behalf of some men at the expense of others. Those who oppress and those who are oppressed represent a social division upon which the state is founded. This class division, this social antagonism as the source of the state power is the only scientific conception of the state.The core of state power is always the apparatus of violence: the police, the army and the courts of justice. The Marxist will always make use of and fight for democratic rights and liberties, but never believing that such demands may be obtained other than partially and incompletely under capitalist conditions. The socialist never attempt to hide that any success in such struggles under capitalist conditions, will only be partial and of limited permanence. Lasting and significant social progress will be part and parcel of an entirely economic system - socialism.

 The nature of the state is determined by its relation to the economic structure and the economic classes of society. The capitalist apologist  recognizes this fact by implication when he gives his own grounds for believing that the state is “impartial.” No sooner does the government, through a tax bill, legal decision, strike mediation or some other action yield to necessity, to class pressure, and deprive the capitalist class of 1% of its profits, than the pro-capitalist shouts: “You see, here is an anti-capitalist government.” He neglects to notice at the same time that the government has guaranteed, ensured, the other 99% of capitalist profits and the economic system which makes them possible. The superficial issues which so captivates the attention of the easily diverted media does not embrace the essence of the state power. Even if the working class were to win their battles on all these issues (which never happens), the government remains capitalist because the whole essential substratum of action and policy, which occupies the attention of the state 365 days of the year, is designed to uphold and administer the capitalist system.

The fact that the capitalist class or individual capitalists cannot get everything they want from the capitalist state does not at all impress. They can’t because circumstances make it impossible, not because the state power is against them. This is particularly true in the present period, when corporations must surrender a large portion of their profit to the war machine in order to safeguard the rest of it.  Some thoughtless and irresponsible (from their own viewpoint) critics on the libertarian right such as Ron and Rand Paul try to make political capital and anti-establishment platform of this, but they have been rejected by the overwhelming majority of the capitalist class in both the Republican and Democratic parties. For the rest, the capitalist class as a whole keeps up a running fire against high taxes, not because it could or would alter the tax structure fundamentally, but in order to keep its share as low as possible within the limits dictated by present circumstances.

The basis of the Koch brothers philosophy is that the existence of private ownership of the means of production makes it possible for the people to control the government because there are sources of power for them to lean on outside the government. If however private economic power is abolished, then there is a danger that when no power remains outside the government, government itself will rest on power. The “will of the people” could not prevail against the new pressures of government since only one power structure remains therefore the people are now disarmed. Here is the libertarian capitalist argument reduced to its bare bones: We need the capitalists and their power to rest upon in opposition to government.

 Historical research into the French, American, English, Dutch and other capitalist revolutions has demonstrated that the masses of the people (the professional and intellectuals, shopkeepers, workers, etc.) had to wrest these liberties from an unwilling capitalist class. Research find the power of the private propertied class to be a barrier in their way in all their efforts to control the government. Despite their vehemence against Marx, Middle America have to accept his law of capitalist development: that capital grows out of commodity production and that big capital grows out of little capital and that monopoly capital grows out of big capital, and that this process cannot be reversed by protests and lamentations so long as capitalism continues. We see the ridiculous spectacle of small-town conservatives  appealing to the Koch brothers and the Pauls, in all seriousness, that these are just the boys who will do the job!

In no country, after generations of capitalist rule, has democracy been carried to the full. In this country we have a hereditary chamber, a hereditary monarchy, and an irremovable judiciary, appointed by the elite from among the elite, to interpret and to enforce the laws, the whole forming a system of frustrating the people’s will which acted in a most effective manner. It is a system of “checks and balances” which reduces the rights of the population. Bourgeois democracy at its optimum is a restricted and partial form which serves as vehicle for the overlordship of the tiny portion of the population that owns the means of production.

In America there exists a president with near royal prerogative powers, and the administration, centralised in a way which only an autocracy could rival, invested with a plenitude of powers the Supreme Court is the supreme sanctifier of the laws. The “sovereignty” lies in the dropping of a piece of paper into a box every four or five or seven years. Democracy has been and still is to-day a  sham. Under its cover we had all along nothing else than the dictatorship of the capitalist class. Marx used the phrase “democratic swindle” whereby he meant it was a swindle not insofar as it was democratic but, on the contrary, insofar as it utilized democratic forms to frustrate genuine democratic control from below. Marx was referring to a country which had one of the most democratic  constitutional forms of the time: the United States. It was, indeed, “the model country of the democratic swindle” not because it was less democratic than others but for precisely the opposite reason. The fact that the US had developed the formal structure of the constitutional republic in the most democratic forms meant that its bourgeoisie likewise had to develop to its highest point the art of keeping the expression of popular opinion within channels satisfactory to its class interests. There has been a plethora of clever electoral systems devised to insert a manipulative factor into the forms of a more or less universal suffrage, beginning with the American Constitution. Engels would write  that “England is undoubtedly the freest, that is, the least unfree country in the world, North America not excepted”,  that the methods and forms of the political system are designed toward “making concessions merely in order to preserve this derelict structure as long as possible”. He goes on, “The Englishman is not free because of the law, but despite the law, if he can be considered free at all” , for it is the constant threat from below that ensures the recognition of democratic rights in practice. Engels concludes “But mere democracy is unable to remedy social evils. Democratic equality is a chimera, the struggle of the poor against the rich cannot be fought out on the ground of democracy or politics in general. Hence this stage too is only a transition, the last purely political measure that still is to be tried and from which a new element must immediately develop, a principle transcending everything political.This principle is the principle of socialism.”

What is democracy? It is the rule of the people, by the people, and for the people. It is our battle-cry in the class war. The Socialist Party has been sincere advocates and champions of democracy. The working class has succeeded in obtaining possession of political power. What is called bourgeois democracy, was never regarded by us as anything more than a means to an end. The fight for democratic forms of administration is part of the socialist effort; not its be-all and end-all but an integral part of it all. The issue has always been what will maximise the influence of the  workers movement on the political forces. Social democracy is not merely the replacement of the authority of bourgeois rulers with the authority of a socialist central committee but rooting out old habits of obedience and servility.  It is the use of all the means of political power to  expropriate the capitalist class – in the interests and through the will of the revolutionary majority, that is, in the spirit of socialist democracy. Without the conscious will and action of the majority of workers, there can be no socialism.?alt=rss
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Some choice In recent days capitalists in Scotland have been coming out in favour of a YES or a NO in the coming referendum in Scotland. The split is revealing. It's more or less the same as in the UK over the EU, with smaller capitalist concerns catering for the home market favouring breaking away and bigger concerns producing for export favouring staying. From today's Times (29 August):"Sir
15 hours 15 min ago
The 2014 global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) by researchers at the University of Oxford covers 108 countries:  31 Low-Income Countries, 67 Middle-Income Countries and 10 High-Income Countries. These countries have a total population of  5.4 billion people , some 78% of the world's population.  The MPI assesses poverty at the individual level.  If someone is deprived in a third
15 hours 15 min ago
P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } Who Is The Real Enemy? Here is a much condensed tale of farmers, family farmers growing soy beans, from the US and Brazil. It's taken from a long chapter in Raj Patel's 'Stuffed and Starved' about the many questions pertaining to a very contentious issue, that of agribusiness's role in the production of soy and the manufacture and distribution
18 hours 20 min ago

Edinburgh Anarchist Federation have posted a blog that reflects many of the views of the Socialist Party enabling the Socialist Courier blog to quote extensively from it.

“Don’t buy into the ideology of the Yes campaign or its variant, left nationalism. Whatever the rhetoric of some on the Left, this is a Scottish nationalist campaign, just as the No camp represents a British nationalism.  Anyone who cares about class struggle politics needs to strongly oppose both.

Nationalism, whatever form it takes, does two things: it tries to create a community of interest between the bosses and the working class; and it binds this community to the capitalist nation-state, reinforcing the latter’s power and role in exploitation. There is no genuinely ‘progressive’ form that this can take. We have, as Paul Mattick observed, a century of experience of national liberation struggles where apparently progressive anti-imperialist movements culminated in an oppressive new ruling class. And we could now potentially see a new wave of independence movements in Europe in response to neoliberal restructuring and the more immediate crisis of capitalism.  Do we expect different results?...

Are smaller states better and more democratic? 

...Well, if we were to take a critical look at actually existing small European states we find:
That they’re certainly no more favourable to workers’ organising;
They are also coercive (which is the role of any state apparatus) and can be just as authoritarian (an example being the role played by the Catholic church backed by the Irish state);
They have been remarkably open to neoliberalism and austerity (which has had a devastating effect on small states from Finland to the Netherlands, never mind southern Europe);
There is a growing anti-immigrant trend related to systemic white supremacy across northern Europe;
That some have also sent willing to send troops abroad (Denmark in Afghanistan) or have aided others who have (Ireland again, offering Shannon airport for use by the US Air Force);
And they are always subject to the dictates of larger supranational structures and of capital itself....

The Nordic example

... Common Weal want us to emulate the Nordic states where thanks to a number of reasons – a strong labour movement,  available natural resources etc. – it has been able to maintain more of its welfare provision than Britain.
“ we still have a cabin on the upper deck, but it is the upper deck of Titanic.” - Asbjørn Wahl

 But all of the Nordic states have experienced their own neo-liberal offensive and inequality is growing there too.
Swedish welfare academic, Daniel Ankarloo, argues that the labour movement there has been ‘weakened by ... class co-operation’  and belief in a ‘social policy road to socialism’– i.e. that somehow the welfare model was an example of socialism in practice that just needed to be expanded.  Instead, to defend existing gains as well as to fight for a different society, we need to rediscover class militancy and that this, ‘radicalisation must ... come from below in the form of the self-organisation of the labour movement’. .

 What about the Scottish Left? 

...Both Common Weal and the vision of the Radical Independence campaign are concerned with trying to manage capitalism better.

 Common Weal is an explicitly class collaborationist think-tank – nicely summed up in its slogan ‘All of us first’.  Its proposals in creating a high-growth economy, are in reality about increasing the rate of exploitation and outcompeting workers internationally. Its advocacy of ‘work councils’ to smooth relations in the workplace is a necessary part of increasing productivity – i.e. profit. Where they have been used in Europe they have consistently undermined unions and workers’ militancy....

The most comprehensive statement made by members of the Radical Independence campaign, is a call for united frontism to the extent that socialism – even a bureacratic state ‘socialism’ – isn’t even on the agenda, but is treated as a utopian project for some distant future. It seeks to create a Scottish broad left – not an ‘anti-capitalist’ – party along the lines of Syriza or Die Linke, and it reproduces the same ‘Keynesian wish list’ based on the same weak analysis of the state and capital, critiqued so well by Michael Heinrich. Like Common Weal, it sprinkles radical rhetoric – participatory democracy, decentralisation – on its reformism.  It doesn’t differ substantially from the latter, but offers mild criticism of certain aspects, including its support for the Nordic model.

After the referendum

...We should not trust an independent Scottish state to share much wealth, to protect NHS provision, not to attack the unemployed or the disabled, not to make cuts, to deport people or remove trade union restrictions. Some are hopeful that the grassroots pro-independence movement will produce an oppositional social movement after secession.  But this is wishful thinking.  It would require it to reject its own ideological basis, its very nature as a cross-class alliance organised by forces who seek to gain political power. ..

Whatever the result of this referendum, the lasting gains we need depend most of all on our own capacity as a class for itself to organise and struggle...

The Internationalist Communist Tendency on the Referendum

The Left Communist organisation on their website also made some insightful comments of the referendum which again is well worth quoting

One of the ruling class’s weapons in its armoury is its ability to mask the reality of the exploiter/exploited class relation. Its web of cultural constructs is aimed at obscuring that reality - and the weave of that web is religion, race, gender and above all, nationalism. Nationalism isn’t “natural”. It is manufactured. It is the particularly manufactured ideology of the capitalist class. For them it is the perfect expression of their rule. They can pretend that in the nation we are all “free” even if some of us are freer than others because they have more money...Scottish Independence is just a diversion from the real issue based on a reactionary fantasy.

Post Referendum

If a ‘yes’ vote created a Scottish state, it would begin life already crippled with its share of UK National Debt – a sum estimated by the National Institute of Social Research to be £143 billion. That debt will have to be serviced, as will the debt incurred in the functioning of any capitalist state – borrowing for investment, infrastructure, defence, the social wage (pensions, health, welfare etc). For example, Edinburgh, Scotland's capital, is currently paying £5.8 million a year interest on its new 8 mile tram line even before any repayment of the £776 million capital costs.. Naturally, services such as libraries, social care, teachers and nurses etc ( all part of the social wage) are discretionary spending, while interest repayments are written in stone. The UK state, despite its vicious hacking back of the social wage, its use of cheap migrant labour to help drive wages down, its attack on working conditions and wages, has so far been unable to cut its deficit – in other words far from being able to address its debt, it is daily increasing it. Again, that debt incurs interest – and that interest is set by global money markets that take a very close interest in state spending. The Scandinavian states, for long hailed as examples of successful welfare states, are seeing their social spending slashed because the money markets demand it. National governments are expected to be ‘responsible’ (i.e. shaft the working class) or pay the price when they come to sell bonds, gilts or raise loans. This is an inescapable fact of crisis ridden global capitalism – no country is immune...

...Foreign capital investment, crucial to any Scottish state will expect, and get feather-bedded treatment in terms of grants and tax-breaks. What the workers will get can be seen in the brutal working conditions of the staff in the huge Amazon depot at Dunfermline. Any serious attempt by a Scottish government to improve working conditions there would see Amazon pack up and move elsewhere. No surprise in this – it’s how capitalism operates. The surprise lies only in the fact that so many are prepared to believe ‘We’re different up here’...

....There is only one internationalist response to this referendum – fuck it! The real issue for the world’s workers is that they face an increasingly dire future under whichever capitalist regime rules us.... Our only hope lies in getting rid of the system that produces such misery and such abominations. In the long run only autonomous working class struggle on our OWN terrain can hold out any hope for our future. In the short term, refusing to be dragged in to ruling class power plays is a crucial first step – seeing our class brothers and sisters sucked into nationalist traps in the likes of Ukraine, Libya, Gaza and Kurdistan only underlines the importance of this....

Socialist Courier has to add the caveat that neither group accepts our position that we support the democratic principle of voting in the referendum by going to the polling station and spoiling our ballot. Neither No, Nor Yes But World Socialism. 

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