Monday, February 16, 2009

Alternative to capitalism

Posted here and plagiarised from here and here

The oldest existing socialist party in the UK has been propagating the alternative to capitalism since 1904. A Marxist-based ( but perhaps a William Morris - Peter Kropotkin amalgam , may be a better description ) organisation . It is a non-Social Democrat 2nd Internationalist , non-Leninist 3rd Internationalist , non- Trotskyist 4th Internationalist political organisation that is a formally structured leader-less political party .

Socialism is almost globally misunderstood and misrepresented. Socialism will be a basic structural change to society, and many of the things that most people take for granted, as "just the way things have to be", can and must be changed to establish socialism.

People tend to accept as true the things they hear over and over again. But repetition doesn't make things true. Because the truth and the facts often contradict "common knowledge", socialists have to show that "common knowledge" is wrong. That takes more words than just accepting the status quo.

Commodity production is organised within the constraints of the circulation of capital .This capital can accumulate , maintain its level or become depleted . The economic pressure on capital is that of accumulation , the alternative is bankruptcy . The production and distribution of goods is entirely subordinate to the pressure on capital to accumulate .Therefore the practical , technical organisation of production is entirely separate from the economic organisation of the accumulation of capital in which cost/price , value factors play a vital part. The economic signals of the market are not signals to produce useful things . They signal the prospects of profit and capital accumulation , If there is a profit to be made then production will take place ; if there is no prospect of profit , then production will not take place . Profit not need is the deciding factor .

This market system , involving the circulation of capital , generates commodity values which are brought into a relationship of exchange in the market , so that value , surplus to the value of labour-power , embodied in commodities is realised through sales . When enterprises calculate costs as a relationship of labour-time to output this is not with a view to passing on socially useful information about the organisation of production . They are calculating costs plus the average rate of profit . Through the exchange of labour- power for wages , capital is invested in the power of workers to produce goods . It is with active labour functioning as deployed capital that capital expands . Labour-power generates more values than it consumes . These surplus values belong to the enterprise in the material form of commodities which are then sold on the market . This is where capital realises its self-expansion and thereby accumulates . The market price of commodities produced must exceed the price of the materials and labour-power required to produce them . This is what costing is all about , it has nothing to do with the practical organisation of production In its overall effect the subordination of useful production to the accumulation of capital distorts and constrains social production . The market is at every point in the system a barrier of exchange between production , distribution and social needs . The circulation of capital confines useful labour within a self-enclosed system of exchange . Labour is activated by an exchange of labour -power for wages and this is determined by the capacity of the market to provide profit through sales .

In a socialist society, there will be no money and no exchange and no barter. Goods will be voluntarily produced, and services voluntarily supplied to meet people's needs. People will freely take the things they need.Socialism will be concerned solely with the production , distribution and consumption of useful goods and services in response to definite needs . It will integrate social needs with the material means of meeting those needs .

Common ownership is not state ownership. State ownership is merely the ownership by the capitalist class as a whole, instead of by individual capitalists, and the government then runs the state enterprises to serve the capitalist class. In the self-proclaimed "communist" states the state enterprises serve those who control the party/state apparatus. The working class does not own or control. It produces for a privileged minority.

Common ownership means that society as a whole owns the means and instruments for distributing wealth. It also implies the democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth, for if everyone owns, then everyone must have equal right to control the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth.

The task of capitalist ideology is to maintain the veil which keeps people from seeing that their own activities reproduce the form of their daily life ,the task of Marxism is to unveil the activities of daily life, to render them transparent. As soon as people accept money as an equivalent for life, the sale of living activity becomes a condition for their physical and social survival. Life is exchanged for survival. Creation and production come to mean sold activity.As soon as people accept the terms of this exchange, daily activity takes the form of universal prostitution.

Capitalist ideology treats land, capital , and the products of labor, as things which have the power to produce, to create value, to work for their owners, to transform the world. This is what Marx called the fetishism which characterizes people's everyday conceptions, and which is raised to the level of dogma by Economics. For the economist, living people are things - factors of production -, and things live money - works, Capital - produces .When men refuse to sell their labour, money cannot perform even the simplest tasks, because money does not " work ". The notion of the "productivity of capital," and particularly the detailed measurement of that "productivity," are inventions of the "science" of Economics.

The production of surplus value is a condition of survival, not for the population, but for the capitalist system. Surplus value is the portion of the value of commodities produced by labour which is not returned to the labourers. It can be expressed either in commodities or in money , but this does not alter the fact that it is an expression for the materialized labour which is stored in a given quantity of products. Since the products can be exchanged for an "equivalent" quantity of money, the money "stands for," or represents, the same value as the products. The money can, in turn, be exchanged for another quantity of products of "equivalent" value. The ensemble of these exchanges, which take place simultaneously during the performance of capitalist daily life, constitutes the capitalist process of circulation. It is through this process that the metamorphosis of surplus value into Capital takes place.

The portion of value which does not return to labour, namely surplus value, allows the capitalist to exist, and it also allows him to do much more than simply exist. The capitalist invests a portion of this surplus value; he hires new workers and buys new means of production; he expands his dominion. What this means is that the capitalist accumulates new labour, both in the form of the living labour he hires and of the past labour (paid and unpaid) which is stored in the materials and machines he buys.

The capitalist class as a whole accumulates the surplus labour of society, but this process takes place on a social scale and consequently cannot be seen if one observes only the activities of an individual capitalist. It must be remembered that the products bought by a given capitalist as instruments have the same characteristics as the products he sells. A first capitalist sells instruments to a second capitalist for a given sum of value, and only a part of this value is returned to workers as wages; the remaining part is surplus value, with which the first capitalist buys new instruments and labor. The second capitalist buys the instruments for the given value, which means that he pays for the total quantity of labor rendered to the first capitalist, the quantity of labour which was remunerated as well as the quantity performed free of charge. This means that the instruments accumulated by the second capitalist contain the unpaid labour performed for the first. The second capitalist, in turn, sells his products for a given value, and returns only a portion of this value to his laborers; he uses the remainder for new instruments and labour.

If the whole process were squeezed into a single time period, and if all the capitalists were aggregated into one, it would be seen that the value with which the capitalist acquires new instruments and labour is equal to the value of the products which he did not return to the producers. This accumulated surplus labour is Capital.

In terms of capitalist society as a whole, the total Capital is equal to the sum of unpaid labour performed by generations of human beings whose lives consisted of the daily alienation of their living activity. In other words Capital, in the face of which men sell their living days, is the product of the sold activity of men, and is reproduced and expanded every day a man sells another working day, every moment he decides to continue living the capitalist form of daily life.

Matters little if capitalism is small or large - either way , it is based on robbery .

The choice of "good" or "bad" capitalism is little different than choosing between typhoid or cholera

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