alanjjohnstone

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  • in reply to: class war in Africa #88845
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    Our African blog Socialist Banner has highlighted the Chinese controlled mines in Zambia and elsewhere fairly regularly see for instancehttp://socialistbanner.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/chinese-capitalism.html

    in reply to: The ‘Occupy’ movement #86600
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    If ridiculous caricatures of political positions are being made they of course come from yourself, Stuart. The example of the truck-load of lit you mentioned said: “Socialists can only hope that Occupy Wall St develops further, by shedding particular campaigns for the improvement of capitalism, into a general and radical attack on capitalism itself. These are people who are actually looking for answers as to why the world is in such a mess and think we need to be there with truck-loads of leaflets and having a dialogue with anyone prepared to listen to counter-act those with a reformist agenda of a “tamed capitalism” to push. Once again we welcome the fact that some people are moving towards identifying capitalism as the cause of problems they had previously sought to deal with on a single-issue basis, and now we urge them to take the next step and join us in the struggle for socialism as the only practicable alternative to capitalism. Recognising ones class position as many have done on at Liberty Plaza, that they are the 99% and the capitalists the 1%, is the first step, yet an indispensable step, towards socialist consciousness, and the easier it must be for us to put our case across. So how can we as socialists not welcome the emergence of Occupy Wall St? Where else, if not amongst such people, are we to find those we are trying to win over to the socialist case. It can only be hoped that they will come to realise that a real alternative is up for grabs. Socialists are not in the business of protesting for a larger slice of the cake that the workers bake, but for control of the whole bakery plus the grain fields. We argue that we should only settle for free and equal access to all that we produce and all the services we, the working class, provide.” But having now set yourself up on a pedestal as more knowledgeable and more in spirit with the Occupy Movement (not to mention being a soothsayer) than the rest of us mere mortals still inside the SPGB who now by the inference of your language are also now designated to be outside the working class, the minutes of your ex branch don’t appear online like some others, but tell me, what was your own actual motion for the branch’s engagement with the Occupy Movement that precipitated your resignation?”The Communists, therefore, are on the one hand, practically, the most advanced and resolute section of the working-class parties of every country, that section which pushes forward all others; on the other hand, theoretically, they have over the great mass of the proletariat the advantage of clearly understanding the line of march, the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement. The immediate aim of the Communists is the same as that of all other proletarian parties: formation of the proletariat into a class, overthrow of the bourgeois supremacy, conquest of political power by the proletariat. The theoretical conclusions of the Communists are in no way based on ideas or principles that have been invented, or discovered, by this or that would-be universal reformer. They merely express, in general terms, actual relations springing from an existing class struggle, from a historical movement going on under our very eyes.”The above should be our approach and i believe we performed within our limitations just that. We push the Occupy Movement forward to a line of march; because of our theoretical advantage, (but perhaps you now deny the validity of the principles of the party you twice joined. ) We identified and exposed the fakirs with their political and economical constructs. We drew attention to the need to go beyond protest and challenge political power. We placed the Occupy movement in its historic and social context, which may have pricked the inflated egos of some participants. We all hoped that the Occupy Movement would grow wider and not remain in isolation but partly due to what was an inherent weakness of organisational structure the vaunted aspirations of November 30 last year, or May Day of this year, opportunities where the Occupy Movement had a potential of inspiring and giving a much needed boost to a previously very insipid labour union movement (which is also now showing some signs of re-invigoration and re-juvenation)  proved sadly disappointing and came to nothing. The link with the public space and the factory floor never reached fruition.Solidarity doesn’t mean silence or playing lip-service to rituals. The arrogance you accuse ourselves of can easily be re-directed back at some of those in the Occupy Movement who believed they were unique but they were in fact in many cases re-inventing the wheel. Workers constantly develop new strategies and tactics in conducting the class war. The positive parts will be expanded upon and furthered and the faults rectified or discarded. These need to be identified and specific remedies taken.If Occupy Movement truly accept that they speak for the 99% then the 99% cannot be excluded from the decision makiing. As i have said to many anarchists, if politics is to be decided on the streets and on the barricades, what about those unable to physically join in and participate, do their voicies get ignored? Electoral involvement helps to bring those people into the decision process – marking a cross on a bit paper should be considered as legitimate as jazz hands. Some could justifiably describe Occupy of being exclusive in the sense that we are all part of the 99% and that those who claim to act and speak for us need to have our permission and authority to do so by some democratic means. If for all extents and purposes Occupy have currently faded away, the search for the reasons should be within Occupy because that is where they are to be found. Not searching for the scapegoats in the attitude of the SPGB or any other political party. Our own particular failure was not having our own clear and determined presence within the Occupy Movement, whether it was by a truck-load of literature, or hosts of public speakers on soap boxes who don’t require a human microphone to be heard, or discussions at the improvised study groups. We should have targetted the online lists with our  position. After all, there is no debate if no-body is aware of your existece or know about your political outlook. What we should not have done and did not do, is to subscribe to the view that Occupy was beyond the criticism.The point really missed is that the class struggle has to evolve into something more tangible than some sort of amorphous anger and all the talking and writing about it won’t bring that about – it takes practical concrete steps and at times stepping on peoples’  toes.

    in reply to: The ‘Occupy’ movement #86594
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    Of course, there always some who think their own shit smell of roses. If you accept an analysis that a certain strategy is the more appropriate course of action whether workers council or revolutionary use of parliament where is the arrogance in communicating and promoting those means? The alternative is some sort of radical Bernsteinism. The movement is everything.  The objective indeed remains formless just waiting for all those Left Keynsesians and currency cranks to define the shape who appear to have had a more measure of success than ourselves, not just locally but world-wide. One lesson that has been learned and it something thats is constantly debated on Libcom between those of the Left Communist currents and others in regard to trade unions – whether there is a need for a permanent organisation of class struggle of trade unions or whether the strike committee and ad hoc work-place committees should supplant the union organisation. The same issue of difference exist for those  who desire the abolition of the socialist political party and others who see it as the organisation umbrella where a diverse heterogenous working class gather under. On the personal side one of the most ridiculous scenes i witnessed on TV was a group of Occupiers at a political meeting and aping Wall St Occupiers where because of city by-laws the use of amplification equipment by speakers was restricted so the human megaphone system was devised for those at the back could hear what was going on. This clip showed how the intervention chose to mimic Wall St when there was absolutely no need to use it. It was an example where content is deemed unimportant and is replaced by an improvised form of public address that becomes ritualised. Libcom, btw, has a comment by someone from i think the Pittsburg Occupation who described the way his contribution was sabotaged simply because the human megaphone participants practised their own form of censorship and kept quiet and did not repeat his statements because of their personal disagreement with it. There is ample evidence that due to the manner of the decision making Occupy was NOT democratic in the sense that minorities(often very small minorities) could thwart the majority will or subsitute for it by claiming a legitimacy they did not possess. To argue as i did in  the blog did that this type of “formless” was not desirable but detrimental and arguing that Occupy has to go beyond “structurelessness” may indeed be seen as shit by some but dealt with actualities and practicalities not just abstract theory – revolutionally fluff. As for the future I know it is not materialist to say that history repeats itself exactly but I hope that the present hiatus of the Occupy movement can be seen as mirroring the gap between 1905 Russian Revolution and  February 1917 and that genuine revolutionaries are more effective in warning of and blocking an October,  that the socialist/anarchist movement are more prepared for it without resorting to spouting platitudes.  After all, as the link you gave demonstrates, there is ample philosophying about Occupy, the point is to change it !!!

    in reply to: 100% reserve banking #86776
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    Isn’t it about time we had a dedicated pamphlet on this topic, or at least an educational study guide. I am not sure how much and how detailed Darren P intends to include in his effort but i find our responses are scattered higgelty piggelty in articles and on discussion lists eg their mis-quotes, their misrepresentations of early banking history and what not. Surely we should now be considering collating it all into a proper answer to all this since these currency and bank cranks are not going away and are actually gaining influence with many mainstream commentators being taken in by their seemingly authorative-based evidence.  And it overlaps from those on the Left and Right wings. It is easy enough to say the Media Committee or whichever department that has the responsibilty to respond to articles and blogs but they require the tools. If we have something substantial and in depth then even ordinary members can respond with its link to debunk any banking and money myths they come across. It may not convince those who appear to have gone beyond facts but for the neutral third-parties  i think it is desirable we reach out to them with something meatier to undermine the “reasonable” analysis of Positive Money or NEF I’m not asking too much. I think we have produced enough rebuttals over the years in print  and online and all it requires is editing into a single reply and checked and double checked by those i know are well qualified in the subject. i think it should be treated as a priority.   

    in reply to: Are crises caused by overproduction? #88237
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    “Never before in the history of the world has so much cash been hoarded in so many places by so many large organizations…Canadian companies have piled up more than $525 billion in cash reserves – almost a third the size of the entire economy – up from little more than $150 billion a decade earlier. According to a recent analysis by the Gandalf Group, at least 45 per cent of Canada’s biggest companies are hoarding cash rather than investing… In America the Federal Reserve estimates that a staggering $5.1 trillion – an amount larger than the economy of Germany – is piling up in American corporate cash holdings…In Britain, companies have accumulated almost $1.2 trillion in cash and deposits, equivalent to half the entire economy. And, no surprise, investment there grew by only 1.2 per cent last year……It’s strange, because this should be a great time for companies to invest: low prices, low interest rates, cheaper labour costs. A sensible company would build up cash during boom times – when investments are more expensive – and spend it during recessions, when consumer demand is weak and capital is cheap. Yet this is the precise opposite of what actually happens. Companies look at the low consumer demand and become terrified”http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/tear-down-those-mountains-of-cash/article4431702/

    in reply to: Street crime and State crime #88279
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    Steve, you will find plenty food for thought and contrasting opinions in all these following discussion threads and blog links, perhaps too many for you to read through. The riots/disturbances/uprising or how it is variously described was discussed and debated extensively and as far as i know there was no party-line laid down and no overall concensus except that capitalism is a bastard of a system in many ways. Some comrades understand that the revolution may well be a messy affair, others take a less anarchic stance and therefore less tolerant of their fellow workers behaviour.I think most members found the Marxian term lumpen-proletariat (like others eg under-class or precariat), to be ultimately not particularly useful in socialist analysis. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/spopen/message/13776http://groups.yahoo.com/group/spopen/message/13528http://groups.yahoo.com/group/spintcom/message/12537http://groups.yahoo.com/group/spintcom/message/12418http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/WSM_Forum/message/47393http://socialismoryourmoneyback.blogspot.com/2011/08/riot-or-revolution.html 12 commentshttp://socialismoryourmoneyback.blogspot.com/2012/01/media-have-been-saying-that-antony.htmlhttp://socialismoryourmoneyback.blogspot.com/2011/10/rioters-young-poor-but-not-gang-members.htmlhttp://socialismoryourmoneyback.blogspot.com/2011/08/feral-society.htmlhttp://socialismoryourmoneyback.blogspot.com/2011/08/criminality-and-riots.htmlBrixton 1981 http://socialismoryourmoneyback.blogspot.com/2011/04/brixton-explodes.html

    in reply to: Brushing up on your Zeitgeist #88742
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    The Krugman/Keen debate was touched upon here if any missed it. http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/forum/general-discussion/100-reserve-banking?page=3 i think I like DarrenP’s  tack which seems to be the more appropriate one …Do banks create ACTUAL wealth? and  keeps our eye on  the ball –  the Labour Theory of Value – which may be our best approach rather than get tied up with economists arguing about M0 M1 M2 M3 or whatever. I found Keracher’s pamphlets on economics surprisingly easy to follow about the nature of money and gold and recommend them. Our own John Bisset uploaded the text tohttp://www.marxists.org/archive/keracher/1935/producers-parasites.htmhttp://www.marxists.org/archive/keracher/1935/economics-for-beginners.htm There was talk of up-dating and re-printing Economics for Beginners, but perhaps also combining both into a single edition would also be worthwhile project.    

    in reply to: Street crime and State crime #88275
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    Hch,As you say we have been there before. But just to belabour one point. We have nothing at all against you engaging in a defence of the NHS and the benefits it bestows. As been said before,  the SPGB views it role solely to make more socialists and of course to get elected. We have no objection to workers, nor our own members, getting involved in fights for partial demands but we don’t believe the party should do that and risk a situation of people supporting the party for the wrong reasons. As we have also said,  the party’s task is not to lead the workers in struggle or to instruct its members on what to do in trade unions or community groups, because we believe that socialists and class-conscious workers are quite capable of making decisions for themselves as you clearly do independently of your own particular party affiliation. I am also sure you do not always necessarily accept or follow the party-line in every situation in your every day personal activity. The party is not always right!As an aside i was reading some socialist history and came across this site.http://www.marxisthistory.org/subject/usa/eam/index.htmlIt has an interesting observation. The Socialist Party of Michigan adopted a platform bereft of reforms, standing solely upon the maximum demand calling for the abolition of the wage system and the establishment of an industrial republic. The program proved no impediment to growth, as the group’s membership continued to swell. More evidence that “impossiblist” ideas can be accepted by the working class, even in the bitter class warfare of early 20th century America. 

    in reply to: class struggle in India #88781
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    WSWS website has a few interesting observations on the 2011 strikes. The company paid (bribed) up to 30 union agitators to resign from the company.http://www.wsws.org/articles/2011/nov2011/maru-n12.shtmlAnd a background articlehttp://www.wsws.org/articles/2011/oct2011/maru-o04.shtmlOften though the fact that unions are party affiliated means numerous in-fighting plus when those political parties become state governments it leads to union co-option and collaboration. In India the class war is not just figurative but literal.”At least 12 workers have died of starvation in an Assam tea estate in the last four months when it remained closed following a strike.” The 12 of them died during the lockout because they had nothing to eat  People’s Rights Forum (PRF), a rights watchdog, claimed.http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_in-assam-12-tea-estate-workers-die-of-starvation_1654976

    in reply to: Street crime and State crime #88273
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    Hch, i thought you had given us all up as a lost cause and left. Welcome back to the discussion list

    in reply to: Are crises caused by overproduction? #88236
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    Just to continue how companies are actually cash-rich and not re-investing but hoarding – can it be described as a capitalist strike? – these links may be useful.The FT writes that in 2006, corporate treasuries placed a mere 23 per cent of their funds in banks. But 2011, the proportion of funds sitting in banks doubled – and this year it rose above 50 per cent. Companies are eschewing capital market products, since they think that the returns are too low to justify the risk.Another factor that is prompting this flight towards the bank is a perception that bank deposits are relatively safe, if they are Federal Deposit Insurance Corp insured. Thus, the favorite destination for treasurers now is a non-interest bearing account, which carries a FDIC stamp. Never mind that this is producing negative returns; it does at least promise to return the cash. And that is important in a world where 98 per cent of treasurers are now also telling the AFP that their top priority is to protect their money, not earn yield.It could take years before they really start feeling confident enough to take long term investment bets again. The velocity at which money moves around the system – and cash is used in a productive way – may have now slowed in a more permanently; doubly so since the banks themselves are very risk averse and wary of lending. A corporate freeze is a world where money has slower velocity is also a place where it will be harder to produce growth.Companies could return to the capital markets again. History suggests that greed usually triumphs fear, in the end.http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/e234e886-cc38-11e1-9c96-00144feabdc0.html#axzz20VC9pG00This story seems to be verified by this article in Business Insiderhttp://www.businessinsider.com/the-world-is-experiencing-the-opposite-of-a-sovereign-debt-crisis-2012-7Borrowing costs for government are plummeting everywhere. US 10-Year Treasury, which is once again within a few basis points of an all-time low. Australian 10-yr bonds are at new lows. What this essentially means is that there’s a lot of money out there that sees no productive investments in the real world, and thus people are willing to stick it with entities that promise them a very meager return. It’s not about governments reaching their end-game. It’s about a growth-deficient world, governments being the one place that can absorb all this money. 

    in reply to: WSM – Time For Change? #88664
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    “For the publication of the Standard to be globalised introducing uniformity”British or American spelling?;-p

    in reply to: Ever Wondered Why There’s So Much Debt? #88683
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    Darren, another threat isn’t just the “crank” theories but supposed alternative economics such as I have come across on frequent occasions  arguing for such things as “True-cost pricing: The prices that guide economic decisions in markets and government policies must be based on a full accounting of costs and benefits. When costs such as pollution – or benefits such as care for children and the elderly – are hidden from view, the result is implicit subsidies and taxes that deflect incentives away from the goal of long-run well-being. Costs that are hidden from view can grow over time, as in the case of global warming pollution; and benefits that are hidden from view can erode over time, as in the provision of unpaid labor for care of dependents. A full accounting of costs and benefits does not mean that non-monetary aspects of well-being such as liberty, community, and life expectancy must be translated into dollars and cents. It means that non-market values should not be ignored and thereby effectively valued at zero.”http://econ4.org/newsThey call themselves the new economy movement and appear to be establishing an academic  presence on American campuses. Those type of “left-capitalists” who believe a reasoned (or reasonable capitalism) can be achieved may also merit a debunk in your up-coming pamphlet.

    in reply to: Are crises caused by overproduction? #88235
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    ALB explains “In fact, from one point of view, a crisis is caused by capitalists choosing not to buy (not invest profits because they judge they won’t make any profits or not enough).” Returning to previous posts on just how much exactly we have now figures for just British companies and also for  Europe rather than US or world stats.”British listed companies are sitting on a cash hoard worth a total of about £19 billion as they hold off from investing due to the shaky economic outlook. Research from corporate financial health monitor Company Watch found that 211 UK-listed non-financial companies are sitting on cash of at least 
£1 million. Construction giant Amec led the way with £521m, followed by fashion house Burberry, which has £338m in the bank. Argos and Homebase owner Home Retail Group has £194m stashed away and Carphone Warehouse has £103m. Companies in other Western European countries are holding even more money, although nowhere has as many hoarders as Britain. In total, European firms are sitting on £110bn net cash. A survey of chief financial officers (CFOs) from accountancy firm Deloitte, which showed worries about recession and a break-up of the euro are having a direct impact on the confidence, behaviour and business strategies”In regards, to B of E injecting all that Quantitative Easing – as the saying goes – you can lead the horse to water but you can’t make it drink. No prospect of profit – no investment and the money put under the mattress big style!!!http://www.scotsman.com/business/economics/cash-is-king-for-uk-listed-companies-seeking-security-in-face-of-global-woes-1-2400234

    in reply to: Is Nuclear Power Safe? #88297
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    So a reading of that would infer that nuclear energy is safe if proper procedures are followed. It wasn’t after all the actual technical process out of control, nor an individuals human error causing it but a systematic culture of cutting corners on safety by both the company and its supposed overseers. Socialism would not have a disposition towards such lax standards would it when profit motive and running cost factors are removed from the equation. 

Viewing 15 posts - 10,981 through 10,995 (of 11,134 total)