When I began reading the article on Punk rock in the June issue, I wondered if I had got the date wrong and it was one of those April 1st spoofs beloved of the Guardian. I was surprised to see so much valuable space devoted to so much pretentious twaddle. It’s bad enough to read this sort of pseudo intellectual rubbish in the Daily Telegraph, least of all in the Socialist Standard.
DENHAM FORD, Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex
Reply: We can understand that punk music can’t be everybody’s cup of tea but it was a significant social phenomenon in its time and its jubilee was certainly worth commenting on more than the other one—Editors.
Capitalism has been defined as a political economy based on commodity exchange and surplus value. Thus under capitalism economic production portrays the implicit class interests of the bourgeoisie and not the satisfaction of general social needs as such.
Commodity production alienates the working class from the physical objects of their labour. Their social essence as members of civil society comes to be determined by the money wages obtaining under existing conditions. The working class’s engagement in economic production ends in the creation of commodities.
The realisation of surplus value thus becomes the major factor motivating economic production under capitalism. Commodities and social goods are created not for unrestricted consumption but for sale.
The nature of the working class social deprivation under capitalism warrants no further elaboration other than the sanctification of unemployment, inflation and social poverty in every capitalist society. Because economic production is undertaken in order to realise surplus value the full satisfaction of the basic social needs shall always remain unrealised under capitalism.
Scientific socialism aims to change the fetishistic economic framework of capitalism. The eradication of capitalism will entail a class war between the state and civil society that can only be realised through a working class inspired socialist revolution.
The illusory projection of political and economic freedoms under abstract and fictitious entities abstracted from the immediate reality of civil society has led to the blind acceptance of the political state as a universalisation of human freedoms. The political and economic interests of civil society come to depend upon the arbitrary whims and fancies of political elites. The political state illuminates the unrealised political and economic freedoms that cannot be realised under the intrinsic economic relations based on competition.
The division of labour has suppressed labour’s potentialities for individualised self-realisation by subjecting its mental and physical potentialities to the limiting conditions of the commodity market. The division of labour is a fetter upon labour’s physical and mental potentialities and limits its self-realisation. Thus the eradication of capitalism will liberate labour from its restricted social conditions under the division of labour.
Karl Marx and Frederick Engels developed and formulated their systematic and dialectical premises of dialectical materialism while domiciled in England. Their critical analysis of capitalism was heavily influenced by political and economic transformations taking place in the 19th century. Thus the scientific and dialectical assumptions of Marxism are open to further historical development that may transcend the predictions of Marx’s own theories.
KEPHAS MULENGA, Kitwe, Zambia