The Western Socialist
Vol. 36 - No. 267
No. 1, 1969
In an article in The Western Socialist, (No. 6-1968) , this writer implied that the often-used term, "Anarchy in Production," is a misnomer; that although anarchy does abound in the capitalist economy, it does not present itself until commodities reach the fierce competition of the market, a competition imposed by the mechanics of the price nature of the system. Labor-power (the energy of the workers) being itself a commodity is also subject to this fierce competition.
Our party Declaration of Principles states: "That society . . . is based upon the ownership of the means of living by the capitalist class and the consequent enslavement of the working class ..." and declares that an antagonism of interests exists between these two basically opposed elements.
In this society the basic interests of the owning class demands unity in its efforts to obtain as much "value" as possible from the productive efforts of the working class, while, conversely, the workers' interests demand resistance to the attempts to lower the achieved standard of living and prevent deterioration in working conditions.
But, as can readily be seen, these two classes, in their respective ranks, display many conflicting categories mutually hostile and inimical. It is in this area, in these varying subdivisions of both the master class and the working class, that much of the anarchy of the capitalist system appears. Opposing and definitely hostile groups, within each class, engage in ruthless and relentless warfare — the capitalists in the market for goods (the world market) and the workers, selling their one and only commodity, labor power, in the labor markets.
Competitive groups in business, in the same nation, constantly engage in the cut-throat game for market control for the sale of their respective products, while a nation (the capitalist owners) may be engaged in bitter conflict with the capitalist owners of another nation. Or groups of nations, in alliance, fight other national groups, also in alliance.
From these fierce economic rivalries political hostility arises. When compromise, attempted by each group's striped-pant diplomats fails, the end product invariably is WAR.
This is all too evident today: the international conflicts over the Congo, Nigeria, Indonesia, and currently the Middle East, all of them over oil, minerals and other raw materials. In the short period of a quarter-century, Britain and her allies battled Germany and her allies twice (with some slight variations in the allied composition on both sides).
Here is anarchy on the upper level of society, among the masters. Unity in the capitalist class exists only in its efforts to maintain the working class in subjugation that it may remain, eternally, a working class. But in the jungle of commodity selling it is "every one for himself and the devil take the hindmost."
The fierce competition of capitalist groups for success in marketing commodities, for acquisition of raw materials and holding of spheres of influence is matched in its opposite—the working class—in the fierce competition for jobs. The discrimination against minorities, especially blacks, is observed throughout the past century on the part of "superior" whites, especially organized labor.
The great reforms promised by the Presidential candidates in the recent nose-counting contest, particularly "equal opportunities for jobs," etc., to the black Americans, even if accomplished, would add only to the fierce competition in the labor market. Here is anarchy on the lower level. But why expatiate further on this?
THE RAT RACE
The rat race between business firms, the increasing number of corporate mergers now taking place, demonstrates to the full the epigrammatic statement of Marx "One capitalist kills many" and that capitalist society is saved from each crisis only because the circle of its ruling class is narrowed. Markets for all is as futile for the capitalist as jobs for all is for the workers. Marx's analysis not only gives us the fact of "surplus value" (and its source), it also shows the production of other surpluses—goods and population.
This, the highest technologically developed country of the capitalist world, boasting of its splendid affluence and achievements, also leads the world in heart disease, tensions, nervous breakdowns, frustrations and kindred disorders to such an extent that a new and flourishing business arises therefrom. The nation, in its madness for "free enterprise," has become a people of pill freaks. There are tranquilizers to put one to sleep and pep pills to wake one up; various remedies for headaches—each one the best: pills for arthritic pains and pills for the belly-ache; pills for sore backs and pills for ingrowing toenails; pills to promote pregnancy and pills to prevent it; until almost the entire populace is afflicted with joints loaded with aspirin, calcium and magnesium.
In the market, then—that for control by capitalist powers—and that of the workers, the labor market, where the "established" fight for seniority against the newcomer, etc. abounds, we find the anarchy of capitalism.
The dirt, disease, and overwhelming poverty of the rat-infested ghettos of our large cities is only too well known, as also is the almost indescribable destitution of large areas of the Deep South. But as a classical example of what capitalism in its development can do to a community and a country consider Appalachia—an area of acute poverty above ground and buried "wealth" below. Here in less than a generation an area covering the greater part of three states once considered "prosperous" for miners is now described as a "poverty pocket" —although absentee owners, with assets in the millions, do not partake of the poverty. Miners, men of skill, whose entire lives have been devoted to the exercise only of that skill, are thrown upon the industrial scrap heap, displaced by highly coordinated machines. These men, their wives, mothers and children become part of the "surplus" population, existing only on the barely adequate welfare payments.
This is an outstanding example of what the anarchy of the capitalist market can produce. And over this festering mess of the ghettos, Appalachia, and other areas the soothsayers for the system are able only to pour the slime of their sickening hypocrisy.
And as it is in these United States so also is it in all other parts of the world, for capitalism is a world wide economy. For all practical purposes the basic division of society is the all important one—the capitalist owner and propertyless wage workers.
CHAOS OR SOCIALISM
Socialism will do away with the market, this jungle of claw and tooth competition—and replace it with one world, with one human family, where anarchy gives way to order, strife to harmony and war to peace.
"Capital," said Marx, "is but dead labor that lives by sucking living labor and lives the better the more it sucks."
The entire geography of the world is now established. The world is now a shrinking world, a world of shrinking markets for vendible goods, a shrinking world for new capital investment, and a shrinking world—in the face of rapidly developing techniques—for the working class.
Knowledge and understanding are needed, and urgently, before this shrinking world chokes humanity or nuclear power incinerates us.
One more quote from Marx on capitalist production: "More than any other mode of production (it) squanders human lives, or living labor, and not only blood and flesh, but also nerve and brain. Indeed it is only through the most enormous waste of the individual development that the development of mankind is at all preserved and maintained in the epoch of history immediately preceding the conscious reorganization of society." (Emphasis mine, W.A.P.) (Capital, Vol III)
The last four words of that quotation should be re-emphasized: "The conscious reorganization of society." It precludes minorities giving point to the formless will of the masses; or elites of intellectuals specially equipped to lead the multitude; or the bureaucratic apparatus of a dictatorial, party suppressing the free flow of ideas.
It means: the conscious and determined efforts of the majority (and, I surmise, an adequate majority) of the world population to do away with the anarchy of capitalism and replace it with the harmony of socialism.
W. A. PRITCHARD