ALB

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  • in reply to: CPGB review of Paul Mattick Jnr #87813
    ALB
    Keymaster

    Mcnair does raise one interesting possibility: that the present crisis in the West is not just an ordinary economic crisis but also maybe a reflection of a shift of world capitalism’s centre of gravity away from North America and Europe. In which case there might never be a proper recovery here, but it would take place in other parts of the world. But, as Macnair says, this is merely a “speculative hypothesis”.

    in reply to: Party Aims #87799
    ALB
    Keymaster

    That’s good news. Email spgb@worldsocialism.org and someone will send you a Form A (that’s it). A Form C is a branch financial return !

    in reply to: Party Aims #87795
    ALB
    Keymaster

    Our use of the slogan “Abolition of the Wages System” has nothing to do with wanting to attract Occupiers but is something we inherited from Marx who, as I’m sure you know, ended his talk to English trade unionists in 1865 as follows:

    Quote:
    At the same time, and quite apart from the general servitude involved in the wages system, the working class ought not to exaggerate to themselves the ultimate working of these everyday struggles. They ought not to forget that they are fighting with effects, but not with the causes of those effects; that they are retarding the downward movement, but not changing its direction; that they are applying palliatives, not curing the malady. They ought, therefore, not to be exclusively absorbed in these unavoidable guerilla fights incessantly springing up from the never ceasing encroachments of capital or changes of the market. They ought to understand that, with all the miseries it imposes upon them, the present system simultaneously engenders the material conditions and the social forms necessary for an economical reconstruction of society. Instead of the conservative motto: “A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work!” they ought to inscribe on their banner the revolutionary watchword: “Abolition of the wages system!” [his emphasis]
    Quote:
    Trades Unions work well as centers of resistance against the encroachments of capital. They fail partially from an injudicious use of their power. They fail generally from limiting themselves to a guerilla war against the effects of the existing system, instead of simultaneously trying to change it, instead of using their organized forces as a lever for the final emancipation of the working class that is to say the ultimate abolition of the wages system.

    In addition, in 1881 Engels wrote a series of artocles for the English trade union paper the Labour Standard. Here’s how he ended one of them:

    Quote:
    The working class remains what it was, and what our Chartist forefathers were not afraid to call it, a class of wages slaves. Is this to be the final result of all this labour, self-sacrifice, and suffering? Is this to remain for ever the highest aim of British workmen? Or is the working class of this country at last to attempt breaking through this vicious circle, and to find an issue out of it in a movement for the ABOLITION OF THE WAGES SYSTEM ALTOGETHER? [his emphasis]

    So, don’t worry, Comrade, we haven’t departed from our principles. We are still what we were when you a member.

    in reply to: Party Aims #87793
    ALB
    Keymaster

    This is nit-picking! Somebody could equally argue that to call for the abolition of capitalism is not necessarily to call for socialism as there have been non-capitalist societies in the past some of which (in fact most of which) were very oppressive. OK, socialism (the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production by the whole community) is our aim, but give us a break and allow us to present this in different ways.

    in reply to: Pluto Press launch Get Political #87788
    ALB
    Keymaster

    It certainly will be a difficult thing to win the battle of democracy on the basis of the ideas of Lenin and Trotsky. I can’t see how  the non-democratic and state-capitalist ideas of Lenin and Trotsky can be squared with the democratic and socialist ideas of Rosa Luxemburg. I would have thought that the two of them were both dead dogs as far as any future anti-capitalist movement is concerned. No mass anti-capitalist movement is going to want to make the same mistake made in the 20th century of seeing the revolution as being led by a vanguard party which then establishes its dictatorship and employs violence and terror against all and any opponents of its rule.

    in reply to: Party Aims #87790
    ALB
    Keymaster

    Well, you could if “the wages system” is seen as a synomym for capitalist or profit system. After all, wage-labour and capital go together and you can’t have one without the other. In that case “abolition of the wages system” and “abolition of the profit system” mean the same thing, expressed differently.But if you mean (just) wanting to “abolish wages” the same objection can be raised against this as saying we (just) want to abolish money. Obviously, to just abolish wages or money and leave everything else about capitalist society unchanged would lead to chaos and in fact to the eventual re-emergence of both.To be absolutely precise, what we want is to establish a system of society based on the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production by the whole community, a state of affairs in which wages and money would not exist. This could be said to be our only aim.Having said this, slogans like “Abolish the Wages System” and “Abolish Money” could have a use to intrigue people to investigate more what we mean.

    ALB
    Keymaster

    I’d not heard of Frederic Jameson before but perhaps I should have since, apparently, he invented “postmodernism”. Since this is a load of old rubbish this suggests you should hold off buying the book until you get a further opinion from someone who knows more about him. If you want a literary approach to Capital there’s always Francis Wheen’s Das Kapital: A Biography (reviewed in the Socialist Standard, on this site at  http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/socialist-standard/2000s/2007/no-1239-november-2007/book-reviews ).Judging by the interview (and of course it’s a good thing that Marx’s ideas should be being discussed), Jameson seems to be a bit of an “underconsumptionist” (see the thread on Andrew Kliman, who criticises this approach). Capital is not really “a book about unemployment” in the sense that it argues that capitalism’s tendency to replace living labour in the production process will eventually lead to its collapse because if fewer and fewer workers are being paid wages there’ll be fewer and fewer consumers to buy the products. This, incidentally, is an analysis of capitalism that is shared by Peter Joseph and the Zeitgeist movement.What it overlooks is that what drives capitalism is not consumer demand, but investment demand, ie investment with a view to profit and the re-investment of profit as more capital. If the “underconsumptionist” theory was right — and people were putting it forward in Marx’s day — capitalism should have collapsed a long time ago. The fact that it hasn’t shows there must be something wrong with the theory.

    in reply to: Andrew Kliman & The “Marxist Humanist Initiative” #87110
    ALB
    Keymaster

    Here’s an example, from a talk by David Harvey, of the sort of “underconsumptionist” explanation of the present crisis (fall in working class effective demand) that Kliman criticises.

    ALB
    Keymaster

    The talk by Macnair against Keynesianism sounded interesting, but from the written version published in the last two issues of the Weekly Worker (here and here) turned out to be an argument for not basing a reform programme on Keynes’s theories but on some other basis. Basically, he was just criticising other leftwing groups for proposing that the State should take steps to increase spending (as recommended by Keynes should be done in a slump), as many do. But he wasn’t against putting forward reformist slogans to try to attract working class support for the vanguard, but only that the proposed reforms should be based on some other justification than Keynes.

    in reply to: Andrew Kliman & The “Marxist Humanist Initiative” #87109
    ALB
    Keymaster

    Yes, he is very good on why a “transitional society” between capitalism and socialism is an impossible contradiction in terms, but I see he comes out in favour of the “labour-time voucher” system mentioned once by Marx as one way of allocating consumer goods in a “first phase of communist society ” (had it been established in 1875).”Labour-time vouchers” seems to be an American disease. What with the SLP, Parecon and now Kliman and the Marxist-Humanists all favouring it. Still, it could have been worse. At least they accept that socialism does involve the end of commodity-production as production for the market and the end of money as the medium of market exchanges. Not that a labour-time voucher scheme could have lasted for any length of time before collapsing back into commodity-production, despite Marx’s tepid blessing for the conditions that obtained in 1875.Having said this, there is one who has moved beyond this — Paul Mattick (father). This is what he wrote in 1970,ie after a further 100 years development of the forces of production:

    Quote:
    In the advanced capitalist countries, that is, in the countries where a socialist revolution is possible, the social forces of production are sufficiently developed to produce means of consumption in overabundance. More than half of all capitalist production as well as the unproductive activities associated with it (totally disregarding the productive forces which are not exploited) surely have nothing to do with real human consumption, but only make sense in the irrational economy of capitalist society. It is clear, then, that under the conditions of a communist economy, so many consumption goods could be produced that any calculation of their individual shares of average socially necessary labor time would be superfluous.

    That’s more like it. Mind you the Marxist-Humanists are not likely to think too much of Mattick after his hatchet job on their founder, Raya Dunayevskaya (that first appeared in the Western Socialist, then the journal of our companion parties in the US and Canada).

    in reply to: Andrew Kliman & The “Marxist Humanist Initiative” #87105
    ALB
    Keymaster

    I see from the Events section here that Andrew Kliman is coming to England next month. There’s a shorter video of him here speaking a couple of years ago.You’re right he is good on explaining why the current (and past) crises have not been caused by a fall in consumer demand (as “underconsumptionists” claim) but rather by a fall in investment demand caused by a fall in profitability (though not necessarily for the reasons he gives, which in the first part of this video seem a bit schematic: can productivity increase that fast in a relatively short period?).He’s also good in explaining  (as in the second part of this video from 2009)why , therefore, an increase in consumer demand (as asked for sincerely by trade unionists and insincerely by Trotskyist groups) is not the way out of the slump, but would in fact tend to prolong it. In fact, in the second part of this video, he is pretty insistent in saying that, although of course workers should try to apply the brakes to the downward pressures on their living standards, measures aimed at countering “underconsumption” won’t work and should not be put forward and that only socialism and production for use is the solution.But does anyone know what he means by socialism? Is it the same as us?

    ALB
    Keymaster

    Picked up a copy of Socialist Worker yesterday, literally, from a dustbin and see that they have now made the change from the old version:

    Quote:
    The workers create all the wealth under capitalism. A new society can only be constructed when they collectively seize control of that wealth and plan production and distribution.

    (I imagine they put “collectively” in to avoid giving the impression that they were in favour of individual workers seizing it. back)to the new:

    Quote:
    Under capitalism workers’ labour creates all profit. A socialist society can only be constructed when the working class seizes control of the means of production and democratically plans how they are used.

    That makes them sound like old-fashioned syndicalists who used to talk about the working class “taking and holding” the means of production. But if you read on to the end, you will see that they consider a “revolutionary party” is needed to seize political control.Even so, the front page proclaims “Strikes can beat the Government”. Not true, the most strikes can do is slow down the rate at which things are getting worse — not that workers shouldn’t try to do this, ie they should strike but “without illusions”. Also, article after article blames the Tories not capitalism, so they are playing the old (and Old) Labour card too. I’m just waiting for their announcement that workers should vote for Ken Livingstone as mayor of London ….

    in reply to: Footballers as role models? #87742
    ALB
    Keymaster

    Has anyone else noticed the irony (or is it hypocrisy) of the whole affair? Terry is accused of making a racist comment and is sacked as captain for this. Capello resigns for criticising this and the whole sports press (including the broadsheets) unleashes a tirade of abuse against him … for being a foreigner.

    in reply to: Why some people think Noam Chomsky is wrong #87702
    ALB
    Keymaster

    Some probably are. Personally I’ve never been a fan of Chomsky (though I know some Socialist Party members are), especially not his stuff on US foreign policy, which is just boring and apparently (according to the link you give) not always accurate and does lend comfort to kneejerk anti-Americanism and its devotees.Having said this, I can’t deny that his stuff on the media, manufacturing consent is useful.There’s an assessment of Chomsky from the August 1998 Socialist Standard here:http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/socialist-standard/1990s/1998/no-1128-august-1998/chomskys-weakness

    in reply to: the Socialist Party #87701
    ALB
    Keymaster

    I see what you’re getting at but it’s a cross we have had to bear over the years. Fifty or so years ago the journalists at the Daily Express were instructed to always refer to the Labour Party as “the Socialist Party”. Of course there’s no point in Tory papers doing that now as everybody can see that Labour has nothing to do with socialism.

    TheOldGreyWhistle wrote:
    Unlike the SPGB I can imagine myself supporting a reform but I would never call it socialsm. It would be a desprate struggle for a few more crumbs or a bit more freedom under capitalism

    We’re not against either a few more crumbs or a bit more freedom. It’s just that, as a party, we campaign only for socialism. What we are against is the policy of reformism not necessarily against all reforms as such. And of course like you we’d never call any reform, however desirable or welcome, “socialism” or “socialist”.

Viewing 15 posts - 8,326 through 8,340 (of 8,486 total)