Monday, December 27, 2010

the state and parliament

To establish socialism, must the workers first gain control of the powers of government through their political organisation

It is the recognition that the state is the central organ of power in the hands of the capitalist class. By gaining control of the powers of state, the socialist majority are in a position to transfer the means of living from the parasites, who own them, to society, where they belong. This is the only function or need the working class has of the state/government. As soon as the revolution has accomplished this task, the state is replaced by the socialist administration of affairs. There is no government in a socialist society. We emphasise that the ballot is the lever of emancipation. We do this just because the conscious, socialist majority takes political action in order to be in a position to transfer the means of living from the hands of the parasites into the hands of society, as a whole. The ballot symbolises the nature of the socialist revolution.

We advocate the ballot because we cannot visualise the need for a socialist majority to use violence. Violence does not symbolise the socialist revolution. However, we can get all tangled up in speculations of projecting possible contingencies that may exist in a future event. History may make liars out of us in predicting the workings of social forces based on scientific analyses. When we say that socialism is inevitable it always implies: barring unforeseen catastrophes such as astronomical collisions or the wiping out of the human race. However, given capitalism and its laws of motion, the next stage in social evolution is socialism.

Regarding the common accusation that the SPGB is unaware that Parliament is not the real seat of power, and that Parliament is only a façade for the real rulers: Question: what is the central organ of power used by the “real rulers,” if it isn’t the state itself?

The word “government” is often confused with the word “administration.” It is a very common misconception, until one realizes that “government” is but a synonym for the “state,” that is, rulers and ruled; governors and governed. (Although all governments have a secondary function of administering social affairs, it is a secondary function that is subordinate to its primary function of ruling society in the interest of the ruling class.) Where the social relationships of private property exist, there is a need for state machinery (a government) to keep the people in check and under control, as well as to protect the national ruling class interests against the rivalries of foreign “enemies.” Thus, we have had governments in chattel slave, feudal, and capitalist societies. Primitive tribal societies were typically administered communally and had no governments, as such. Socialism is a classless society, without rulers and ruled. a genuine democracy where there exists a real community of interests between all the members of society and society as a whole. It is a social administration of affairs where everyone cooperates in the common.

The state has demonstrated its function as the executive committee of the capitalist class. You will never hear the anarchists or syndicalists, at any time, mention just what is the seat of power of the ruling class! It only points out incidents, in a vacuum, out of context of the workings of the state. They can’t deny that the final decision must be determined in Parliament, when the chips are down, just because modern capitalism cannot function fully and properly and for any length of time under a military dictatorship.

Many compound the felony by accusing the SPGB of seeking to be returned as a Parliamentary majority.Where did the SPGB, ever, at any time, agitate such a program. We are uncompromisingly opposed to any leadership policy or principle! We urge the socialist majority to vote for socialism, and socialism alone. If the workers ever rely or depend on the SPGB , the SPGB may well indeed sell them down the river. Nothing could be more repugnant to the SPGB than the idea of voting for the SPGB so that the SPGB might do something for the workers.

Anarchists make a distinction between “direct action” and “political action,” . The key question is “Action for what?”

We are organised for action to change the world from capitalism to socialism. We are not concerned with the problems of administering capitalism. Capitalism cannot be administered in the interests of the working class or of society as a whole. Karl Kautsky wrote:-
"It is claimed that we have today sufficient democracy in all civilized countries to make possible a peaceable revolutionless development. Above all it is possible to found cooperatives for consumption whose extension will introduce production for use, and so slowly but surely drive capitalist production out of one sphere after another. Most important of all, it is possible to organize unions that shall continually limit the power of the capitalist in his business, until constitutionalism shall supplant absolutism in the factory, and thus the way will be prepared for the slow transition to the republicanized factory. Still further, the socialists can penetrate into the municipal councils, influence public labor in the interest of the laboring class, extend the circle of municipal activities, and by the continuous extension of the circle of municipal production narrow the field of private production. Finally the socialists are pressing into parliament, where they are ever gaining more influence, and push through one reform after the other, restrict the power of the capitalists by labor legislation, and simultaneously extend ever wider the circle of governmental production, while they work for the nationalization of the great monopolies. So by the exercise of democratic rights upon existing grounds the capitalist society is gradually and without any shock growing into Socialism. Consequently the revolutionary conquest of political powers by the proletariat is unnecessary...This idyll becomes true only if we grant that but one side of the opposition, the proletariat, is growing and increasing in strength, while the other side, the bourgeoisie, remains immovably fixed to the same spot. Granting this, it naturally follows that the proletariat will gradually, and with no revolution, outstrip the bourgeoisie and imperceptibly expropriate it."

Nor are we primarily concerned with the economic phase of the class struggle (unions) although we are always prepared to fight the economic struggles between the wage slaves and their parasitic masters over the division of the wealth produced by the workers. We are also always prepared to fight for civil liberties. Workers who are satisfied, contented slaves are poor prospects for socialist revolution. The fight for civil liberties is basic, just because democratic forms are powerful tools for socialist victory.

The work of introducing socialism is the work of the working class. Socialism is democratic both in objectives and means. Our objective of socialism — which is real democracy — shapes our means, which can only be democratic. This is socialist action — real “direct action”!

Now look at the anarchists and syndicalists. If they have the majority convinced of socialism, the weapon in existence for the majority to use is the ballot, already at hand. The trouble is not the franchise, but the political ignorance of the workers, who support capitalism.

To many the road to socialism is via the economic organization of the workers. They stress that the State is an organ of the ruling class. It can only function as the central organ of power and the ballot is a deception, merely a democratic form and not democratic essence. However, they overlook that it is not the economic phase that is the highest expression of the class struggle, but the political phase. The economic phase by its very nature is limited to working within the framework of capitalism. It is the fact that State power is in the hands of the ruling class that stymies workers from revolutionary changes. Titles and deeds, the military forces, etc., are in the hands of the ruling class through its control of the State.

The essence of Marx’s writing was consistent in stressing the need for political action; and this view has stood the acid test of unfolding events. Just because the state is the central organ of power, it requires the political action of a resolute, determined class conscious majority to accomplish the transfer of the means of living from the hands of the parasites to the possession of society, as a whole. That is socialist political action. What confuses the question is the activities of reformists who call themselves “socialists.” Their political activities are confined to administering the capitalist state, and instituting palliatives for the smoother operation of capitalism.

The missing ingredient

Nothing can be more basic than the realisation that socialism is, by its very nature, a classless society. It is not composed of workers, as such. This concept is a carry-over from capitalist social relationships. Such a view is alien to the social relationships of socialist society, and gives rise to such expressions as “workers’ councils” as features of socialism, which typify several “democratic, libertarian, socialist” journals. Can it be denied that the socialist revolution has for its object: the establishment of a system of society based on the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production and distribution of wealth by and in the interest of society as a whole? It is not a quibble to emphasize both that the socialist revolution emancipates not only the working class but all mankind from the chaotic limitations of outworn capitalism, and also that the revolution must be the work of the working class. Nor can it be denied that the immediate goal, today, of class-conscious and revolutionary socialists is to gain political power in order to transfer the means of production from the parasites to where it belongs, the new socialist society. The capitalist class is powerless when confronted by a determined, overwhelming majority of socialists. It is an illusion to think that the workers in the factories can institute socialism while the political machinery remains in the hands of the capitalist class. The revolutionary political struggle for power is not to be confused with parliamentary efforts to reform the effects of capitalism. The very essence of scientific, revolutionary socialism is that the political struggle for power is the highest expression of the class struggle.In the factories, co-ops, unions, we are fragmented, sectionalised and tied to our interests, but on the political field, we can make our numbers tell in a way win which they cannot use the state to strangle.

Based on the writings of I. Rab, a member of the World Socialist Party of the U.S.
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Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Marxmas


When an organisation gets rich from the bottom through donations and converting others to give money to it as well, it's called a Ponzi or Pyramid scheme...or it's called religion.

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Socialist Labour Party

Prior to about 1903, the SLP was a true socialist party. However, around 1903, DeLeon made the “discovery” that the Industrial Union is not only a more effective type of economic organization for the workers, but that it is a revolutionary weapon and the nucleus of the new society, socialism. Up until that time, with some minor and relatively moot exceptions, the SLP was sound on political action, reforms, and Marxian economics. Prior to about 1903, there would have been no reason to establish a WSP in the United States. The World Socialist Party is not in competition with other organizations for the privilege of inaugurating socialism, and the SLP was such an organization until then. Should there ever appear, at any time, an organization dedicated to socialism, we would immediately make overtures for combining forces. How can there be two socialist parties in one country? We recognise that it is not the WSM, but the working class itself that will use its political victory to overthrow capitalism. It is the politically organised conscious socialist majority that will use the World Socialist Movement as their instrument. As the Communist Manifesto emphasises: it is the party of the working class. The bond that binds us together.

On the surface, it would appear that there are so many basic points of agreement between the Socialist Labor Party and the World Socialist Party that there is really no justification for two socialist parties in the United States, both of whom claim to be Marxist, revolutionary and scientific. Both parties agree on the futility of reforms and on the validity of the Law of Value and the economic lessons it teaches. Both organizations accept the Materialist Conception of History and the Class Struggle. Granted, there are some differences between the two parties. The WSP holds that socialists are materialists and cannot be religious, at the same time. We do not regard the founding fathers of the United States with the same high esteem as the SLP. We consider Russia to have the social relations of state capitalism, and that the material conditions in 1917 were not ripe for any socialist characteristics; and the World Socialist Movement has taken this position. Further criticisms of the SLP are their position that religion is a private matter and not a social concern, thereby ignoring the scientific, materialistic basis of socialism; their “reverence” for the American founding fathers; and their dogmatic sectarianism, in the sense of ignoring reality and looking at history to prove their ideas instead of making their ideas harmonize with an understanding of historic forces.

But the basic and primary distinction between the two organizations is that we have different objectives. If both the SLP and the WSP had the same goals, there would be no valid reason for the existence of the World Socialist Party in the United States. Up until the early years of the 1900s, the SLP was the voice of Marxian socialism in the United States. DeLeon’s “What Means This Strike?” is a classic of socialist analysis. The object of the World Socialist Party is “The establishment of a system of society based upon the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of society as a whole.” The object of the Socialist Labor Party is “To inaugurate the Socialist Republic of Labor.”

But to make bad matters worse, the SLP, strange as it may seem, do not want socialism and have no concept of socialism as a system of society. They certainly do not have the same object that we have and are not fighting for the same things we are. Whilst we cannot make a blueprint of socialism, we can realise its general process because of our knowledge of the laws of motion of society. It is fundamental and basic to recognise that socialism would be but a fantastic, utopian dream if it were not for the fact that man has solved the problem of production and has become potentially the master over nature. Mankind is not confronted with the problem of how to plan and organise production. If he were, he would not yet be ready for socialism. In other words, the conditions for socialism would not be ripe, if the problem was how to organise the productive forces and processes. This blueprint chart with the wheel of the various industries in socialism is merely the projection of capitalism into socialism. This SLP wheel demonstrates that they have no concept of even the outlines of a socialist society. Even a superficial view of the world today, under capitalism, already reveals that the world is an integrated, socialised, interrelated unit, economically, and is not divided industrially. Socialism means a classless society (not an industrial union society), where the very social interrelationships are so closely intertwined that production cannot be conceived as functioning industrially.

History has passed the SLP by. The problems of a socialist society are everything but that of production, in spite of all those detailed charts of the clairvoyants. In socialist relationships the arrangements are for leisure, culture, refinements, sanity, each day being an adventure in living, square pegs in square holes, social behavior; in short, the identity of interests of every individual and of society as a whole. How ludicrous to those living in a socialist society will appear the SLP worries about industrial divisions and voting from where you work. The SLP doesn’t realise that when plenty and abundance become the order of the day, it completely changes people’s behavior and attitudes. But to show how far from having any grasp of socialism the SLP are, and how they are thinking in terms of capitalism, consider their notion that workers, under socialism, get the full product of their toil. In the first place, there are no “workers” under socialism. There is no working-class section of society, but all are equally members of a classless society. No problem of equal share with equal work could possibly exist in socialism; people in a sane society would not be that limited in vision or behavior. Just the reverse, the inspiration of socialism is that, being social animals, people give according to their abilities and receive according to their needs (without any thought of getting their “full” share — a meaningless concept in a sane society).

Their Industrial Union concept altered their concept of socialism and of the socialist revolution in a way that is not borne out by either evidence or analysis. the SLP “campaigns for Industrial Unionism.” That is one of the major points in the SLP analysis that not only distinguish it from the WSM but demonstrate the unsound understanding of the nature of capitalist society by the SLP. If the SLP were content merely to state that within the framework of capitalism industrial unionism might be a more effective form of resistance to the encroachments of capital than the craft unions, there would not be any serious quarrels and there would be no justification for two organisations on that score, itself. But to them industrial unionism is something far more than that. It constitutes a new contribution to Marxism. (Not that Marx is a biblical prophet and that there couldn’t be further contributions to Marxian science, since his days.) But, industrial unionism does not constitute any new addition to socialist science. In fact, it is erroneous, when examined scientifically in light of the workings of capitalism.

In this Industrial Republic of Labor, workers cast industrial ballots for a gradation of councils from a plant council, to a local industry council, to a national industry council, and finally to an all-industry council, the socialist Industrial Union Congress, composed of manufactures, public service, construction, food supply, lumber, farming and transportation. It also includes wages of a sort, in the form of checks which represent the “full” product of their toil.
The concept of socialism held by the companion parties of the World Socialist Movement is a social system which is possible, practical and necessary today, here and now. Due to the workings of capitalism, mankind has already solved the problem of production. Potential abundance prevails today. If this were not so, the material conditions of existence would not be ripe for socialism. Socialism is not a blueprint or a utopia, but a product of social evolution. The times are now propitious for a harmony of interests between all members of society and society as a whole. It is now possible for everyone to live useful, interesting and meaningful lives where everyone gives to the best of his abilities and receives according to his needs. The real problem of socialism will be not the organization of the productive process, but the enjoyment of genuine, meaningful leisure. Socialists, as social beings, will come to grips with problems as they arise democratically, because all are imbued with the common interests. Socialism is an administration of affairs by the members of society.
Unwittingly, the SLP projects the extension of capitalist relationships into its socialist society. The separate branches of industry of the 1904– 1905 period no longer typify the closely interrelated socialized technology and production of 1966. The SLP chart, like so many other plans, has been bypassed by the march of events. But equally sad is their stress on Labor in a socialist system. Socialism is a stateless society. It is also a classless society. Labor, as such, is a meaningless term in describing socialist relationships. The discovery of the Industrial Republic of Labor proved to be merely a matter of sounder union tactics within the framework of capitalism and nothing more.

It is no wonder that the SLP has never really described the economy of Soviet Russia. For a long time, they maintained a critical but friendly attitude to the “socialist” nature of the Bolshevik Revolution. Later, because of unfolding events, they branded Russia as “bureaucratic statism,” and other similar terms, none of which described the social relations. At no time, up to the present, have they recognized that the system that prevails in Russia is state capitalism. This attitude flows from the similarity of the SLP’s concept of the industrial union basis of the “Socialist Republic,” and the Russian Soviets’ form of the “Dictatorship of the Proletariat.” One of the finest descriptions of the transition period that has ever come to my attention: “The political organization necessary to vote capitalism out and to vote socialism in. (our emphasis.). It is Sunday Supplement stuff that the Russian Revolution did stir and inspire large segments of our own members? Have we forgotten the sneers and scorn heaped on us by those who should have known better because we “did not recognise a socialist revolution when it took place”? In light of developments, which revealed a healthy “instinct” (groping) for a society, the World Socialist Movement would be a far greater force and factor today had it not been for the wasted energies and illusions of the Bolshevik counterfeits as far as a genuine socialist revolutionary movement is concerned.

The socialism the present SLP envisages is but an extension of capitalist relations, even though they retain the language of a “classless” society, much as do the Bolsheviks. No wonder Lenin praised DeLeon’s “contribution” of Industrial Unions as the basis for the “Soviets.” Their socialism is the Industrial Republic of Labor and they have a blueprint (the famous wheel) to illustrate its operation.
The outstanding historic factor that lays the groundwork for socialism is that socialism is based upon abundance made possible by the strides in the means of production: technology. This very technology is no longer industrial but overlapping and integrated into a cohesive whole; production is socialized, in almost a literal sense, today. Socialism is not confronted with problems of the organisation of production, but rather with problems of leisure, full lives and conditions worthy of human beings. (How far superior and more scientific is the Marxian projection of socialism.)
The SLP and the WSM do not have the same objective.

Further, this misconception of socialism arises from their viewing the Industrial Union as the revolutionary weapon. It can be conceded that the industrial union has advantages as economic organizations of resistance for workers within capitalism over craft and trade unions. But the SLP goes on to project the industrial union as a revolutionary weapon: “The ballot is as weak as a woman’s tears unless backed up by the economic might of the workers.” This splitting of the workers into two sections presumes that the majority of socialists who vote for socialism will support capitalism in their economic activities. In spite of some fine SLP pamphlets on the nature of the state, they have forgotten that whoever controls the central organ of power, the state, gains control of economic power, by the same token. Peculiarly enough, they have confused economic bases, economic influence, etc., with economic power. It is the development of economic social relations that gives rise to the state, but it is state power that gives rise to economic power. In order to get economic power, the new rising social class must first get in possession of the state powers. (The classic illustration, of course, is the revolution from feudalism into capitalism. For example, with all their economic influence the rising capitalist class in France and England were economically and politically shackled by feudalism and the absolute monarchy. It was necessary for them to achieve political supremacy in order to make secure and extend their economic power, as the French bourgeoisie did in the French Revolution. Also note that no two revolutions are the same, but here we are dealing with the Materialist Conception of History.)

Let us examine industrial unionism in two aspects: As the road to power and as the germ of the new society. The Socialist Labor Party stated their practical program:— “Not a ‘general strike’ of the workers but a ‘general lockout’ of the Capitalist Class is our slogan. And this can only be done by organizing the workers, industrially, to take and hold the means of production.” Of course, “only” eliminates any other means. The SLP Manifesto of 1921 is stated flatly: — “the might of the Working Class lies on the economic field and there alone” (emphasis theirs).The lip service the SLP have always paid to what they term the “political arm of labor” is seen here in its true colors. A study of history will show that control of economic resources is only made secure by control of the State. The SLP can say “Without the industrial might and organization, the political vote would be nothing…” But is it conceivable of a worker being a socialist in the factory and not, at the same time, a socialist in the voting booth, or vice versa? And just what strength has the worker got industrially? He has two alternatives: either starve or be driven back to work by the armed forces.
What gives title and deed to ownership of the factory? It is the state, the central organ of power! The highest expression of the class struggle is the political phase. On the economic field, the working class is impotent. What do they possess, aside from their muscles and brains? They are propertyless. All that the workers can do on the economic field is to attempt to slow down the worsening of their condition, so far as wages, hours, shop conditions are concerned; but they cannot stop the direction: downward. If they go out on a strike, who starves first, the workers or the owners? The trouble is not that the workers are not organized into the proper kind of economic organization, but that they are not socialists. Socialists know what to do and will utilise all the tools and weapons that are available. Actually, the essential thing is the realisation that in order to introduce socialism, the workers must first gain control of the state machinery in order to transfer the means of living from the hands of the capitalists to the hands of society — after which the state disappears and in its place we have an administration of affairs.

The SLP maintains that the ballot is as weak as a woman’s tears unless it is backed up by the economic might of the workers. This concept presupposes that workers who are clear-thinking socialists politically will not be socialists economically. It is inconceivable that people who are socialists in the political field are not likewise socialists everywhere they may be, whether at work in the shop, going to the movies, or wherever they may be. People are not divided in half, one half of the body socialist and the other half not. Once they are socialists politically, they are by the same token socialists economically. Whoever gains control of the state machinery (and the gaining control of the state machinery is a political act) also, by the very same act, gains control of the economic resources. The capitalist class itself maintains its control and ownership of the economic resources through their control of the state machinery. The revolutionary act is the political victory of the workers, which puts them in a position of power, with the resulting control of the military, every organ of propaganda, the police, courts, etc. The objective of the socialist movement, i.e., a socialist working class majority, is accomplished, by the conquest of political power. This is the essence of understanding the nature of the state, the central organ of power.

Furthermore, to talk of the economic might of the workers in their industrial unionism is not correct when society itself is examined. On the economic field, the working class is impotent. What do they possess, aside from their muscles and brains? They are propertyless. All that the workers can do on the economic field is to attempt to slow down the worsening of their condition, so far as wages, hours, shop conditions are concerned; but they cannot stop the direction: downward. If they go out on a strike, who starves first, the workers or the owners? The trouble is not that the workers are not organised into the proper kind of economic organisation, but that they are not socialists. Socialists know what to do and will utilise all the tools and weapons that are available. Actually, the essential thing is the realisation that in order to introduce socialism, the workers must first gain control of the state machinery in order to transfer the means of living from the hands of the capitalists to the hands of society — after which the state disappears and in its place we have an administration of affairs.

It is impossible for the working class to take and hold industry as long as the state is in the hands of the capitalist class. All the industrial unions in the world are powerless in face of the armed forces of the modern states with their machine guns, cannon and tanks. Moreover, this power is placed in the hands of the capitalist class by the workers themselves. To expect these workers to do two diametrically opposite things simultaneously, is going it a bit too strong. On the economic side the working class is weak. They are propertyless. They own nothing but their ability to work, which they must sell to the capitalist class in order to live. The objectives of a union are confined to questions of hours, wages and conditions, problems within the four walls of capitalism. A union, regardless of type, to be effective today must depend primarily on numbers rather than understanding. Ever changing productive methods as well as the continuous introduction of new industries, make unions powerless to cope with even their immediate problems. Their view that the industrial union is the only means of taking and holding industry, is but the pipe dream of the SLP. In the light of this review, it should be apparent that our concern is not what “practical” measures to advocate. Our task at the moment is to carry on the work of socialist education. The capitalists rule today because the workers sanction and uphold the existing form of property relationships.

What stands in the way of socialism, today? It is not the limitations of technology, nor of the material conditions of existence. It is not the lack of literacy, scientific information or democratic forms. The only material condition lacking is a majority of class-conscious revolutionary socialists determined to inaugurate the new social system. Building that majority is the task of the socialist movement. Our great ally is the workings of capitalism and the lessons of experience. That is the latent strength of socialism. Once the workers wake up and the ideas of socialism spread like wildfire, they have the tools ready to hand — the ballot. All that the capitalist class can do is to submit to the inevitable. It is significant, isn’t it, that there is no reference in any major work of Marx and Engels to the “Transition Period.” The first step in the socialist revolution is to capture the powers of the state for the sole purpose of transferring the control of the means of living from the hands of the ruling class to where it belongs, the hands of society.

“The possessing class rules directly through universal suffrage. For as long as the oppressed class, in this case the proletariat, is not ripe for its economic emancipation, just so long will its majority regard the existing order of society as the only one possible … On the day when the thermometer of universal suffrage reaches its boiling point among the laborers, they as well as the capitalists will know what to do.” (Engels, Origin of the Family, p. 211.)

Also based on the work of Isaac Rab

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Plague on both houses

The Left-wing have just not been interested any criticism of what has become a dogma in their circles: that Socialists are duty-bound to support struggles for "national liberation". The "revolutionary" Left simply "trot" out the old anti-imperialism position of supporting the weaker country against imperialist aggression which refuses any real class analysis of war.

Lenin wrote a pamphlet which he entitled Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. In it he argued that, through a process which had been completed by the turn of the century, capitalism had changed its character. Industrial capital and bank capital had merged into finance capital, and competitive capitalism had given way to monopoly capitalism in which trusts, cartels and other monopolistic arrangements had come to dominate production. Faced with falling profits from investments at home, these monopolies were under economic pressure to export capital and invest it in the economically backward parts of the world where higher than normal profits could be made. Hence, Lenin went on, the struggle by the most advanced industrial countries to secure colonies where such "super-profits" could be made. When, after 1917, Lenin became the head of the Bolshevik regime in Russia the theory was expanded to argue that the imperialist countries were exploiting the whole population of the backward areas they controlled and that even a section of the working class in the imperialist countries benefited from the super—profits made from the imperialist exploitation of these countries in the form of social reforms and higher wages, Lenin argued that imperialism was in part a conscious strategy to buy off the working classes in the imperialist countries. His evidence consists of one quote from arch-imperialist Cecil Rhodes , and one from Engels to the effect that the workers of England "merrily share the feast" of its colonies.
Firstly his analysis is out of date when applied to the current situation. Perhaps more importantly Lenin's theory of imperialism Lenin's theory of imperialism pitted the working class of undeveloped countries against that of the developed ones. It led to upholding national interest against class interest. Lenin's position was not a mistake. The Labour Aristocracy theory had the political purpose of enabling the Bolsheviks to argue for the workers in the colonies to form united fronts with their local ruling classes against Imperialism. This in turn had the aim of dividing the working class internationally, and turning it into cannon fodder for capitalist war. Lenin's expanded theory made the struggle in the world not one between an international working class and an international capitalist class, but between imperialist and anti—imperialist states. The international class struggle which socialism preached was replaced by a doctrine which preached an international struggle between states.

The whole thrust of Marx's own analysis of capitalism was that the workers movement would first triumph in the economically advanced parts of the world, not in a relatively backward economic area like Russia. Lenin explained away this contradiction by arguing that Marx had been describing the situation in the pre—imperialist stage of capitalism whereas, in the imperialist stage which had evolved after his death, the capitalist state had become so strong that the breakthrough would not take place in an advanced capitalist country but in the weakest imperialist state. Tsarist Russia had been the weakest link in the chain of imperialist countries and this explained why it was there that the first "workers revolution" had taken place. This was tantamount to saying that the Russian revolution was the first "anti—imperialist" revolution, and in a sense it was. Russia was the first country to escape from the domination of the Western capitalist countries and to follow a path of economic development that depended on using the state to accumulate capital internally instead of relying on the export of capital from other countries.

In the early days of the Bolshevik regime, when Russia was faced with a civil war and outside intervention by the Western capitalist powers, Lenin realised that this was a card he could play to try to save his regime. Playing the anti -imperialist card meant appealing to the "toiling masses" of Asia not to establish socialism but to carry out their own anti-imperialist revolutions. The 'super-exploited" countries were to be encouraged to seek independence as this would weaken the imperialist states, who were putting pressure on Bolshevik Russia. This strategy was presented to the workers movement in the West as a way of provoking the socialist revolution in their countries. Deprived of their super— profits, the ruling class in the imperialist countries would no longer be able to bribe their workers with social reforms and higher wages; the workers would therefore turn away from reformism and embrace revolution.

After Lenin's death in 1924, this strategy of building up an "anti-imperialist" front against the West was continued by his successors. Because it taught that all the people of a colonial or a dominated country had a common interest in obtaining independence, i.e. a state of their own, it was very attractive to nationalist ideologists and politicians in these countries. They called on all the inhabitants of the country they sought to rule to unite behind them in a common struggle to achieve independence. As a result, in these countries "socialism" became associated with militant nationalism rather than with the working-class internationalism it had originally been. The political struggle there came to be seen as a struggle, not between the working class and the capitalist class, hut as a struggle of all patriotic elements— workers, peasants and capitalists together—against a handful of traitorous, unpatriotic elements who would have sold out to foreign imperialists. They called on all the inhabitants of the country they sought to rule to unite behind them in a common struggle to achieve independence. As a result, in these countries "socialism" became associated with militant nationalism rather than with the working—class internationalism it had originally been. The political struggle there came to be seen as a struggle, not between the working class and the capitalist class, hut as a struggle of all patriotic elements— workers, peasants and capitalists together—against a handful of traitorous, unpatriotic elements who would have sold out to foreign imperialists.

Marx and Engels had little to say on the subject of imperialism. Their remarks on colonialism and foreign trade, particularly the section on counter-tendencies to the tendency of the Falling Rate of Profit, have been used to give authority to other theories and blown up out of proportion (Capital Volume 3 ) These three pages were used to justify anti-imperialism, but all they basically say is that a national capital tries to avoid the crisis caused by the Falling Rate of Profit, which in turn is caused by the increase in the ratio of constant to variable capital, of machinery to workers, by investing in foreign countries. Briefly, The Falling Rate of Profit is explained by the fact that capitalists are forced by competition to produce cheaper goods by increasing the ratio of machinery to workers. Because labour is the only source of value, the rate of profit is given by dividing the proportion of living labour in the product by the proportion of dead labour, or machinery. This rate must fall as the proportion of machinery rises. Capital invested "at home", in production for foreign trade, can also yield a higher rate of profit
"because it competes with commodities produced by other countries with less developed production facilities, so that the more advanced country sells its goods above their value". This enables the more advanced country to dominate the less advanced, by making more profit. Capital invested directly in production in the colonies also produces more profit: "the reason why this can yield higher rates of profit is that the profit rate is generally higher there on account of the lower degree of development, and so too is the exploitation of labour, through the use of slaves and coolies, etc." What this passage means is that a higher rate of profit is obtainable in countries where exploitation is less developed, where more variable capital (labour) is required to turn out a given quantum of value from a given unit of constant capital (machinery).

Marx doesn't make too much of this counter-tendency to the Falling Rate of Profit. He adds that though the more advanced country "receives more labour in exchange for less", it is all "pocketed by a particular class, just as in the exchange between labour and capital in general". Both foreign trade and capital export are just particular examples of capitalism in general. They are not qualitatively different from what capital does within its "home" country. The "super-profits" of anti-Imperialist theory are, in other words, simply larger quantities of ordinary profits. Taking over competitors with less developed production facilities by destroying them by selling cheaper goods, and taking advantage of these less developed facilities to make more profit, is part of capital's daily life. Moralistic protest about the unfairness of imperialism, as opposed to ordinary capitalism, is an attempt to confuse us about the nature of the beast. (The enslavement of Africans was qualitatively worse than the forced deportations of the English, Scots and Irish poor, but if a capitalist power is more savage and parasitic abroad than it is at home, that is only because the class struggle at home has restrained it. If "First World" workers have been "bribed", that is because they have forced the bosses to bribe them.)

Marxian economics does not measure the level of exploitation by how high or low wages are but by reference to the amount of surplus value produced as compared with the amount of wages paid, whether high or low. By this measure the workers of the advanced countries were more exploited than those of the colonies, despite their higher wages, because they produced more profits per worker. Lenin failed to understand why different rates of wages prevail in different countries. According to him, wages are higher in imperialist countries because the capitalists there bribe their workers out of the superprofits which they earn from exploiting the subjugated countries. Marx's explanation as to why wages were higher in these countries. Both productivity and the rate of exploitation (ratio of paid to unpaid labour) were higher there:
"The more productive one country is relative to another in the world market, the higher will be its wages compared with the other. In England, not only nominal wages but (also) real wages are higher than on the continent. The worker eats more meat, he satisfies more needs. This, however, only applies to the industrial worker and not the agricultural labourer. But in proportion to the productivity of the English workers their wages are not higher (than the wages paid in other countries)" (Theories of Surplus Value).
A lower rate of wages does not make any one country any less capitalist than another: The ruling class in all countries pay workers as much as they think they have to, calculated from:
a) the need for workers to stay alive and, to a greater or lesser degree, healthy,
b) the shortage or otherwise of workers capable of doing the job, and
c) the class struggle
(Where does a wage rise gained by struggle end and a bribe begin? Lenin's position implies that British workers should deduce what proportion of their pay checks are the proceeds of the exploitation of the colonies, and hand that proportion back to their employers, declaring their refusal to be bribed.)

"The different states of the different civilised countries, in spite of their motley diversity of form, all have this in common, they are based on modern bourgeois society, only one more or less capitalistically developed" (Critique of the Gotha Programme, 1875).
A country may be highly industrialised or a developed agricultural one or the chief supplier of raw materials for industry or whatever. This happens due to the division of labour amongst the various capitalist countries.

Another member of the Bolshevik party, Nikolai Bukharin, presented a different theory of imperialism which paid lip-service to the labour aristocracy position, but placed more emphasis on the necessity for revolution. The reasoning behind Bukharin's theory was if it could be shown that capitalism was inevitably divided into war-mongering states, that hence the horrors of the first world war were going to be repeated until capitalism was overthrown, this would constitute a convincing case for revolution. Bukharin tried to show a contradiction between nation states and international capitalism. Capitalism has created the world economy, the material basis of communism, but "national economies" and "state capitalist trusts" contradict this, leading to imperialism and war. Nation states were the "forms" which helped develop the "forces of production", but now they are "fetters" on their further development. His book Imperialism and World Economy was intended to show that imperialism is an inevitable stage of capitalism, in order to refute the possibility of a peaceful solution to the first world war. This was in turn necessary in order to oppose the "centrists" among social democracy, who were trying to sit on the fence on the question of the necessity of a proletarian revolution to end the war.

Lenin and Bukharin both claimed that Kautsky had completely abandoned Marxism, and now believed that capitalism could reform itself, eliminating its nasty bits, and evolve into a peaceful new world order. Kautsky actually said "What Marx said of capitalism can also be applied to imperialism: monopoly creates competition and competition monopoly. The frantic competition of giant firms, giant banks and multi-millionaires obliged the great financial groups, who were absorbing the small ones, to think up the notion of the cartel. In the same way, the result of the World War between the great imperialist powers may be a federation of the strongest, who renounce their arms race. Hence from the purely economic standpoint it is not impossible that capitalism may still live through another phase, the translation of cartellization into foreign policy: a phase of ultra-imperialism, which of course we must struggle against as energetically as we do against imperialism ."
Of the two theories, imperialism and Kautsky's concept of ultra-imperialism which has best stood the test of time? Capitalism has proved itself more flexible than many of its critics realised. Is there any reason why single capitalist firms should be tied to one state? It is possible for capitalism to dissolve particular national states and replace them with larger entities, such as the European Community?

Rosa Luxemburg's contribution to the debate on imperialism was her opposition to the idea that imperialism could be opposed by supporting national liberation struggles. Luxemburg's arguments, based on the experience of the Polish working class in its struggle against "its" poor oppressed national bourgeoisie, have been largely forgotten yet a significant section of the Bolsheviks supported her views against Lenin's "right of nations to self-determination". Rosa Luxemburg accused Lenin as having "thrown the greatest confusion into the ranks of socialism," and goes on to state: "The Bolsheviks have supplied the ideology which has masked the campaign of counter-revolution; they have strengthened the position of the bourgeoisie and weakened that of the proletariat ... With the phrase about the self-determination of nations the Bolsheviks furnished water for the mills of counter-revolution and thus furnished an ideology not only for the strangling of the Russian Revolution itself, but for the planned counter-revolutionary liquidation of the entire World War." She describes how during the course of the Russian Revolution "Contrary to what the Bolsheviks expected, one after another the liberated "nations" took advantage of the freshly granted freedom to take a position of deadly enmity to the Russian Revolution, combining against it with German Imperialism... of course it is not the 'nations' by whom that reactionary policy is carried on, but only the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois classes ... who have converted the national right of self-determination into an instrument of their counterrevolutionary class policy."

But eventually Lenin's views won the day, and the Communist International supported national liberation movements and thus the defeat of the working class in China, Germany, etc. The most obvious reason for the success of Lenin's views was the power of the Bolshevik state. It had both the means and very good reasons for supporting national liberation struggles. The self-determination of countries national policy of Lenin did not prove fatal to Bolshevik rule although it was true that large areas remained separate from Russia and become reactionary States, but the power of the Bolshevik state proved stronger than ever. Bolshevik Russia existed not as what it was at the beginning, not as the starting point of the world revolution, but as a bulwark against it. Lenin's theory of imperialism had contained the seeds of such a shameful outcome from the start as it made the most significant struggle at world level not the class struggle but the struggle between states, between so-called anti— imperialist and progressive states and so— called imperialist and reactionary states. This was a dangerous diversion from the class struggle and led to workers supporting the killing in wars of other workers in the interest of one or other state and its ruling class.

Anti-imperialism is the slogan of local elites. Anti-imperialism is a doctrine long used by capitalists in relatively weak countries to try and pursue their own ends. We reject nationalism as anti-working class because it has always tied the proletariat to its class enemy and divided it amongst itself: the workers have no country.
Anti-imperialist nationalism is the ideology of an actual or aspirant capitalist class that seeks the way to its own independent state blocked by imperialism and therefore must mobilize the masses to help break down this obstacle.The logic of such movements is to subordinate the interests of workers to those of the bourgeois leadership and that such movements can tie their movement to presently supportive states that may well be prepared to use it as a bargaining chip in their pursuit of their own geopolitical interests.Different regimes that may now present themselves as anti-imperialist have a history of collaborating with imperialism. It is of the essence of bourgeois nationalists that, when imperialism prevents them for building their own independent capitalist state, they may lead struggles against it, but they are striving to carve out a place for themselves within the existing system, not to overthrow it. This means that, sooner or later, they will come to terms with imperialism. Successful anti-imperialism becomes imperialism. This is well illustrated by the example of Germany. The Communist International actually offered some support to the Nazis in the early twenties on the grounds that they were a national liberation struggle. Germany was an oppressed nation, occupied and looted by French and British imperialism. The Nazis fought the occupying troops, so the Comintern supported the former, militarily and politically. A decade later, this anti-imperialist movement had become German Imperialism. Israel was founded in a national struggle against the British Empire and resulted in the forced removal of Palestinians and the occupation of the Palestine . Indonesia does not remotely correspond to any precolonial domain, and possesses an enormous variety of peoples, cultures, languages and religions.The people at one end have far more in common with their neighbours across the national frontier than with their fellow "Indonesians", its shape was determined by the last Dutch conquests. We witnessed the result in East Timor. The bourgeoisie is a global class. Nations mostly emerged after capitalism. Consciously or not, and there are numerous examples of conscious strategy, capitalism created nations. A key feature of global capitalism is that the world is organized into a system of states in which a few – the imperialist powers – dominate the rest economically, politically, and militarily." and this poses the question "...what stance Marxists should take when states fight each other ? "

Either - since the conflicting parties are all capitalist states the left should, as a matter of principle, take no interest in who wins.
Or - to follow Marx , Engels , Lenin and Trotsky and support wars that are judged to advance the interests of the international working class and support the country whose victory would be the least harmful to the interests of the international working class .

Yes, Marx and Engels did support certain nationalist movements and some wars - TO BRING CAPITALISM TO FEUDAL STATES, to usher the capitalist class into political power so they could create the pre-requisites of socialism; an actual working class within an industrialised society. Prussia against the Slavs. Britain and France against Tsarist Russia. Even Prussia against France so as to strengthen unification of Germany . But can anyone seriously think that such a policy is required in to-days world where capitalism is now the predominant system and its the working class thats the decisive class not the capitalists . What may have been right in the 19thCentury for Marx and Engels , may not now be the right choice in the 20th Century under changed circumstances . What was perhaps provident for backward Russia in the eyes of Lenin or Trotsky need not be applicable or advisable for the rest of us .

Almost every country is more powerful than another, and tries to dominate it, (apparently ignorant of Marx's advice that a nation which oppresses another can never itself be free.) Even the smallest countries harbour designs on bits of their neighbours' territory. The tendency of nations to dominate others leads to the view that they are all imperialist, which renders the term anti-imperialism meaningless.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Wasted Work

There are hundreds of occupations that would not exist in a society that had no need for money: they range from accountants, bank and insurance staff, salespeople, wages clerks to name only some of the more numerous occupations. Tangible products needed only in a money system include bank notes and coins, account books and invoices, meters, safes and many others. A high proportion of employment in capitalism consists of handling money in some way. They are inextricably bound up with the day to day operation of the market system but not intrinsically useful work.

240,000 private security guards
152,000 police officers to serve and protect the monopoly of private property system
91,000 prisoners the numbers fuelled by squalid social conditions, the absence of hope and the alienation of capitalist society.
44,000 prison staff, equally alienated , to guard the above

90,000 arms trade/manufacture. To see how the weapons industry can be transformed into producing medical equipment see http://libcom.org/history/articles/lucas-aerospace-fight
240,000 in the military forces with all the associated human resources being diverted to the cause of destruction and slaughter, rather than producing useful items such as houses, hospitals or schools.

100,0000 in the finance sector such banking insurance etc. All their work arising from the lending and borrowing of money for investment, purchasing and so on.
14,000 debt collecting
20,000 credit agencies
700,000 Advertising, marketing, pr, and sales managers, all encouraging us to go out and buy buy buy , shop until we drop.
73,000 working in gambling, providing the forlorn hope of quick escape from our mundane dreary lives.
All these functions are serviced by other workers. For example, carried to work by transport, they work in buildings which require maintenance and use equipment such as computers, they appropriate the most advanced technologies.

Finally, we have the industrial reserve army of the unemployed 2,400,000 and the 5,400,000 part timers seeking full time employment .What a cruel waste of human talent and potential.

Inside a socialist societry there will be no need to buy food from anyone—it is common property. There are no rent or mortgages to pay because land and buildings belong to all of us. There is no need to buy anything from any other person.
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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Reformism

Our opposition to reforms and reformism are just because their objectives are palliative in nature and are fought for in order to make the system function more smoothly. Though we do not advocate reforms nor fight for reforms, that does not mean that we refuse to accept reforms, as though we could if we wanted to. Historically, reform activities have dissipated the earnest energies of socalled socialists from doing any socialist work, whatsoever. The need for reforms is an all-time job.

Let us define what we mean by reforms. They are efforts to introduce measures into the legal machinery of the state for smoothing out the operation of capitalism. The difficulties that arise from the irreconcilable contradictions of the system require “remedial” measures. Thus the advocacy and fight for reforms, such as nationalisation, social welfare, tax relief, and the host of proposals as can be found in the programs of all the “socialist” and “communist” parties that are geared to the amelioration of the conditions of life with a view to a better administration of capitalism.

Activities such as resistance to the encroachments of capital and the fight for civil liberties are equated with reforms, as though they were synonymous terms. Just two illustrations will suffice:-
1. Workers going out on strike over wages, hours, work-shop conditions, Their objective is to resist increased exploitation. This is not a reform activity. The economic phase of the class struggle, unionism, is sometimes mistakenly referred to as a reform. It is undeniable that many unions do engage in reform activities. But unions and unionism are not synonymous terms. Workers are compelled to organize into unions by the very conditions of capitalism, i.e., the division of the new value produced by the workers into its two component parts: variable capital (the workers’ share) and surplus value (the capitalists’ share). Through the mechanism of unionism, the workers, over the long run, sell their commodity, labor power, at its value. Value, Price and Profit is invaluable on this question. One quote will suffice:
“They [the workers] ought not to forget that they are fighting with effects and not with the causes of those effects; that they are retarding the downward movement but not changing its direction…”
2. Socialists fighting for civil liberties, the right to free speech , to publish and distribute literature, access time to TV, etc. Such measures as free speech, removing restrictions from the franchise and similar activities strengthen the workers movement to get rid of capitalism — and have nothing to do with reforming the damn system. The strength of the socialist movement is that it is the task of the vast majority. Democratic procedures are the essential conditions for the social change we are working for; they themselves are the special products of the material conditions of the 20th century. Civil liberties are revolutionary weapons in the hands of socialists and the socialist majority. This is not a reform activity. The fight by workers for their economic interests within the framework of capitalism is the economic phase of the class struggle. The fight for civil liberties within the framework of capitalism is a manifestation of the highest expression of the class struggle, its political phase.
The acid test: neither of these two illustrations have as their objective legislative enactments to administer capitalism. Reforms have no significant meaning in any other context. There are too many ways of classifying human beings to list them. But, when it comes to separating people into classes, the only reference that makes sense is to social-economic classes. “Class” in this sense is determined by how individual human beings stand in relation to the produced wealth of the world. Social-economic classes are not separated by color, sex, religion, etc. All propertied societies, from the warrior chiefdoms of the early nomadic tribes to chattel slavery, right down to modern times, have consisted of various social-economic classes.

Today, in modern capitalism, there are but two classes remaining: the working class and the capitalist class. The working class, regardless of colour, sex, religion, etc., do not have access to the wealth produced by society as a whole. They are property-less, in the real sense of the word. They obtain their main source of income from selling their labor power (muscles and brains) for wages. They are the vast bulk of humanity, even in the now-emerging new African and Asian countries. On the other hand, the capitalist class derive their income by virtue of their ownership of the means of producing and distributing wealth. They, therefore, are the ruling class. I’m not speaking here as a “radical” or as an “intellectual.” Both appear to me to be bankrupt of understanding today’s world. I’m speaking as a revolutionary socialist who recognises the class nature of capitalist society; its dog-eat-dog jungle with its vicious conflicts that permeate its every fibre. It keeps workers divided into warring camps with “patriotism” and “national loyalties.”

The concept that the black worker is exploited by the white worker is but another form of that nationalism that contaminates modern society. The socialist analysis should recognise and emphasise the serious limitations of racial and nationalist views, even while sympathising with black people’s reactions against second-class citizenship. The success of the demonstrations will merely find the black worker “enjoying” the privileges of his white wage-slave brother. The economic beneficiary will be the black bourgeoisie. Civil rights are important socialist tools and weapons to carry on socialist education and propaganda and for the fight for them, we will march side by side with others but never under the banner of others. We will not be identified with non-socialists. Socialists are colour blind! Our sympathies are with the exploited of all colours. The great need of our times is working-class solidarity to overthrow capitalism and establish socialism. The inspiration of the Red Flag of socialism is a symbol of the red blood that courses through the veins of all human beings. We are all members of one species, Homo sapiens.

For years we have witnessed the “success” of a procession of practical efforts to rally workers to socialism by clever policies. We have seen the transformation of these advocates of socialist goals into supporters of the status quo — rebels who have been converted into supporters of the system. Their trademark has become reforming, improving and administering capitalism. Rebels become transformed into administrators of capitalist states, recruiters for capitalist wars. From Social Democrats to Bolsheviks, from Cuba and the Bolivarian countries to the new Afro-Asian nations?
In the name of building up a socialist movement among the masses, they have emasculated and compromised socialist principles. When elected, they have actually administered capitalism in the only way it can be administered, in the interest of the capitalist class, even to the extent of supporting capitalist wars and crushing workers on strike. They have complained that capitalist parties have stolen their planks (as though any capitalist party could steal a socialist program).
Question: Where are the convinced socialists they were going to make? Where are the socialist masses? Their practical, realistic policies have proven worse than illusory. They have failed to make socialists! Yet they continue to heap scorn and sneer at the World Socialist Movement for our small numbers. With smug omniscience, they dismiss the WSM as “ivory tower utopians,” “dogmatic sectarians,” “impossiblists,” etc. The real question is: — Who have ignored the lessons of experience?

We have been confronted and challenged by those who fight for something “in the meantime” and who are actively participating in the “workers’ struggles.” The lure and fascinationsof protest demonstrations and making demands is very attractive. (In a sense, it indicates how deep-rooted discontent with capitalism really is, and it demonstrates the latent strength of socialism once the masses wake up to the need for changing the system instead of adjusting to it.) But — and this is the vital point — these activities are not in harmony with the immediate needs of our time: the making of socialists. The lack of socialists is all that stands in the way of socialism, now.
In turn, we now put these guys on the spot by asking: Where are the socialists you have obtained by your efforts? Their vaunted “fresh approaches” prove to be very stale indeed. For years their antecedents — the Fabian socialists with their gradualism, the Labour Party with their enthusiasm for policy promises, the Bolsheviks with their “revolutionary” programmes and plans — actually gained victories on such policies and programmes. But on their hands is the recruiting of workers for capitalist wars and the crushing of workers on strike. All those “socialist governments” merely wound up administering capitalism for the capitalist class. WSM say : “If it is movement you want, take a laxative!”

“Socialist Activists” have had impressive “successes” and “victories” in very field except one. The lessons of experience and history have proven beyond any shadow of doubt that they have not remotely convinced the workers of the need for socialism. From the activities carried on in the name of socialism, the one thing conspicuous by its absence has been any mention of the socialist case. In common, the efforts of “socialist activists” — ranging from the CND anti-bomb demonstrators, through fighters for equal rights, to the administrators of both the social-democrat and “communist” varieties — have been geared to an attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable contradictions of capitalism. With contempt, they sneer at the dumb workers and their backwardness. Such groups have been guilty of disillusioning the workers about real socialism. The great indictment of these activists is that they divert the workers from the genuine socialist movement, and have hampered the growth of socialism by many years. Were all that tremendous energy and enthusiasm harnessed in the genuine socialist work of making socialists, how much more the movement would have been advanced! The “practical realist” has proven to be an impractical utopian; the “activist” has proven to be the occupant of an ivory tower.

If anything has been amply demonstrated over the years, it is that “reforms” by “socialist” parties have not been able to change the real conditions of the working class. These “practical realists” with their “in-the-meantime” activities have sidetracked the movement from what is truly meaningful. All those dedicated energies have diverted overwhelming numbers of workers from genuine socialism. Had all these efforts and all that enthusiasm been devoted to socialist education, just imagine how much further advanced and inspiring the movement would be today. What is encouraging is that, in spite of them, we see some signs of the times that workers are waking up!

Once more based on the writings of Rab

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Friday, December 17, 2010

The Industrial Workers of the World

If the IWW were content merely to argue that within the framework of capitalism industrial unionism might be a more effective form of resistance to the encroachments of capital than the craft unions, there would not be any serious quarrels between the WSM and themselves. But for many in the IWW, industrial unionism is something far more than that. It constitutes a new contribution to proletarian politics. But, industrial unionism does not constitute any new addition to socialist science. In fact, it is erroneous, when examined scientifically in light of the workings of capitalism.

Let us examine industrial unionism in two aspects: (a) as the road to power and (b) as the germ of the new society.

The IWW maintains that the ballot is weak and ineffective. It is the economic might of the workers which counts. This concept presupposes that workers who are clear-thinking socialists politically will not be socialists economically. It is inconceivable that people who are socialists in the political field are not likewise socialists everywhere they may be, whether at work in the shop, going to the movies, or wherever they may be. People are not divided in half, one half of the body socialist and the other half not. Once they are socialists politically, they are by the same token socialists economically. Whoever gains control of the state machinery (and the gaining control of the state machinery is a political act) also, by the very same act, gains control of the economic resources. The capitalist class itself maintains its control and ownership of the economic resources through their control of the state machinery. The revolutionary act is the political victory of the workers, which puts them in a position of power, with the resulting control of the armed forces, the media and every organ of propaganda, the police, courts, etc. The objective of the socialist movement, i.e., a socialist working class majority, is accomplished, by the conquest of political power. This is the essence of understanding the nature of the state, the central organ of power. In the factories, co-ops, unions, we are fragmented, sectionalised and tied to our interests, but on the political field, we can make our numbers tell in a way win which they cannot use the state to strangle

Furthermore, to talk of the economic might of the workers in their industrial unionism is not correct when society itself is examined. On the economic field, the working class is impotent. What do they possess, aside from their muscles and brains? They are propertyless. All that the workers can do on the economic field is to attempt to slow down the worsening of their condition, so far as wages, hours, shop conditions are concerned; but they cannot stop the direction: downward. If they go out on a strike, who starves first, the workers or the owners? Just what strength has the worker got industrially? He has two alternatives: either starve or be driven back to work by the armed forces. What gives title and deed to ownership of the factory? It is the state, the central organ of power! The highest expression of the class struggle is the political phase. The first step in the socialist revolution is to capture the powers of the state for the sole purpose of transferring the control of the means of living from the hands of the ruling class to where it belongs, the hands of society .

The trouble is not that the workers are not organized into the proper kind of economic organisation, but that they are not socialists. Socialists know what to do and will utilize all the tools and weapons that are available. Actually, the essential thing is the realisation that in order to introduce socialism, the workers must first gain control of the state machinery in order to transfer the means of living from the hands of the capitalists to the hands of society — after which the state disappears and in its place we have an administration of affairs. It is the development of economic social relations that gives rise to the state, but it is state power that gives rise to economic power. In order to get economic power, the new rising social class must first get in possession of the state powers. Suffice it to say, that the workers do not have “economic power” as long as they are wage slaves. Economic power has no meaning when it is confined to just withholding your labor power from production, which still leaves economic power in the hands of the masters. Economic power flows from having political control of the state machinery. Remember: in spite of all their growing economic influence, prestige, and advantages, the rising bourgeoisie were choked by the control of the state by the feudal aristocracy. The success of the bourgeois revolution (capture of the state) transferred economic power into the hands of the new rising bourgeois class. For example, with all their economic influence the rising capitalist class in France and England were economically and politically shackled by feudalism and the absolute monarchy. It was necessary for them to achieve political supremacy in order to make secure and extend their economic power, as the French bourgeoisie did in the French Revolution. It is impossible for the working class to take and hold industry as long as the state is in the hands of the capitalist class. All the industrial unions in the world are powerless in face of the armed forces of the modern states with their machine guns, cannon and tanks. Moreover, this power is placed in the hands of the capitalist class by the workers themselves.

Before dealing with their IWW Industrial Republic, where everyone votes from where they work, let's make a preliminary observation. Whilst we cannot make a blueprint of socialism, we can realize its general process because of our knowledge of the laws of motion of society. It is fundamental and basic to recognize that socialism would be but a fantastic, utopian dream if it were not for the fact that man has solved the problem of production and has become potentially the master over nature. Mankind is not confronted with the problem of how to plan and organize production. If he were, he would not yet be ready for socialism. In other words, the conditions for socialism would not be ripe, if the problem was how to organise the productive forces and processes. This blueprint chart with the wheel of the various industries in socialism is merely the projection of capitalism into socialism. This IWW wheel demonstrates that they have no concept of even the outlines of a socialist society. Even a superficial view of the world today, under capitalism, already reveals that the world is an integrated, socialized, interrelated unit, economically, and is not divided industrially. Socialism means a classless society (not an industrial union society), where the very social interrelationships are so closely intertwined that production cannot be conceived as functioning industrially. History has passed the IWW by. The problems of a socialist society are everything but that of production, in spite of all those detailed charts of the clairvoyants. In socialist relationships the arrangements are for leisure, culture, refinements, sanity, each day being an adventure in living, square pegs in square holes, social behavior; in short, the identity of interests of every individual and of society as a whole. How ludicrous to those living in a socialist society will appear the IWW worries about industrial divisions and voting from where you work. The IWW doesn’t realise that when plenty and abundance become the order of the day, it completely changes people’s behavior and attitudes. But to show how far from having any grasp of socialism the IWW are, and how they are thinking in terms of capitalism, consider their notion that workers, under socialism, get the full product of their toil. In the first place, there are no “workers” under socialism. There is no working-class section of society, but all are equally members of a classless society. No problem of equal share with equal work could possibly exist in socialism; people in a sane society would not be that limited in vision or behavior. Just the reverse, the inspiration of socialism is that, being social animals, people give according to their abilities and receive according to their needs (without any thought of getting their “full” share — a meaningless concept in a sane society).

The outstanding historic factor that lays the groundwork for socialism is that socialism is based upon abundance made possible by the strides in the means of production: technology. This very technology is no longer industrial but overlapping and integrated into a cohesive whole; production is socialized, in almost a literal sense, today. Socialism is not confronted with problems of the organization of production, but rather with problems of leisure, full lives and conditions worthy of human beings.

Further, this misconception of socialism arises from their viewing Industrial Unionism as the revolutionary weapon. It can be conceded that the industrial union has advantages as economic organizations of resistance for workers within capitalism over craft and trade unions. But the some in the IWW go on to project the industrial union as a revolutionary weapon. The objectives of a union are confined to questions of hours, wages and conditions, problems within the
four walls of capitalism. A union, regardless of type, to be effective today must depend primarily on numbers rather than understanding. Ever changing productive methods as well as the continuous introduction of new industries, make unions powerless to cope with even their immediate problems. Their view that the industrial union is the only means of taking and holding industry, is but the pipe dream of the IWW.

The capitalists rule today because the workers sanction and uphold the existing form of property relationships.

“The possessing class rules directly through universal suffrage. For as long as the oppressed class, in this case the proletariat, is not ripe for its economic emancipation, just so long will its majority regard the existing order of society as the only one possible … On the day when the thermometer of universal suffrage reaches its boiling point among the laborers, they as well as the capitalists will know what to do.” (Engels, Origin of the Family)

Adapted from the writings of Rab late member of the WSPUS

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The Union Fight

Socialists would disagree with the proposition that labour and management have a common interest that can be jointly and intelligently settle over the bargaining table. Fundamentally, the interests of management must be to operate profitably. They are not in business for love or for the benefit of the employees (albeit some employers may be benevolent because it means harmonious industrial relations and therefore good business). Labour, on the other hand, is primarily concerned with wages, hours, and working conditions. Without their unions, labour would be in a sorry plight, for capital is in the stronger position, economically. Unions are the only weapons workers have. There exists ample experience and plenty of evidence to realise where labour would be if they had not resisted and fought.

It is badly mistaken to imagine that anyone can serve both the bosses and the work-force and their conflicting interests. There is a basic conflict of economic interests. Employers must be concerned with lowering labour costs; employees must be concerned, at the minimum, with a sufficient wage to support their families. It is as simple as that. This fact of life is what gave rise to unionism in the first place. Some have argued that the labour movement was created for the comfort, not the distress of the working man. This reveals an ignorance of the history of unionism. The labour movement was not created by philanthropists. It arose because of the solidarity of unionists in their common interests.( This very solidarity gave rise to its democratic procedures. Within trade unionism no action should be taken without the approval of the membership.The members must be watchdogs, constantly on the alert for abuses of sound unionism. The union is controlled by its members and not by any officialdom. We advocate unionism — the economic phase of the class struggle, but we certainly do not support all aspects of trade union activity such as its growing bureaucracy and endorsement of capitalist political parties. )

Without resistance by workers in their unions, the tendency of capital is to reduce labour costs to the very bone in the interests of their profits. Invariably, capital will always cry “poverty,” despite what the real facts might be.There is a conflict of interests between capital and labour because, in the final analysis, a reduction in wages results in an increase in profits. Conversely, an increase in wages results in a decrease in profits. Inexorably, wages are determined by the cost of existence of the workers. It is the rise in living costs that compels the fight for higher wages.The superstition that a rise in wages causes a rise in prices is nothing but brainwashing propaganda on the part of capital.

When scholars really come to grips with scientific problems and search for objective answers, they reach Marxian conclusions. No longer is it possible to get meaningful answers without recognizing the physical-material nature of existence, which is the heart and core of Marxism. Nothing has taken place in recent developments that has even remotely repudiated the wage-labor and capital basis of present-day capitalism. This also applies to the following: the prime object of production is the production of commodities to be sold on the market with a view to profit; that the accumulation of capital is accompanied by and concomitant with the production of surplus values; that there does take place a class struggle both economically and politically; that the transformation of ownership from entrepreneurs to gigantic combines and state ownership still finds a class whose members are the “eaters of surplus value,” even though they may be government bond holders, bureaucracy or a party. The general analyses of Marxian economics even on problems of inflation, money, gold, etc., have not been found invalid. But, we have seen, time and time again, new fads in modern economics come and go, popular today and forgotten tomorrow. Keynes is a good example. The consistent refrain of the bourgeois economists from Marx’s time to date: "You were correct yesterday but you are wrong today." Both in the “simple” capitalism of Marx and the complex “monopoly” capitalism of today, prices cannot be arbitrarily fixed for any length of time, not even by national capitals. In spite of iron controls and legislative actions and executive edicts, the competition of new processes, new sources of power, new synthetic materials are at work intensifying international competition on a gigantic scale, even leading to war. It is easy — but false — to ignore that the only thing that matters is the accumulation of capital itself. Fluid capital is ever seeking new avenues of investment. Capitalism remains capitalism, with its economic laws of motion, despite Keynes and the rest.

Workers are divorced from the means of production. Unions function to offer workers some protection within the limits of this divorcement. Therefore unions do not and cannot give workers an opportunity to have a real say in the vital processes of our society; unions, like the workers who compose them, are cut off from the roots of social processes.

The point of production is not a social relationship of production but a basic facet of this social relationship. The pitfall lies in “economic determinism” answers, i.e., equating behaviors with the means of production. Social relations among humans are not limited to the point of production, even though the only source of surplus value production is to be found at the point of production. That said, however, many evidences of solidarity and militancy can be observed in times of stress, in wildcat strikes, etc., at the point of production. The real key to “human relations at the point of production” lies in the examination of the class struggle.

It is suffice to say that the workers do not have “economic power” as long as they are wage slaves. Economic power has no meaning when it is confined to just withholding your labor power from production, which still leaves economic power in the hands of the masters. Economic power flows from having political control of the state machinery. Remember: in spite of all their growing economic influence, prestige, and advantages, the rising bourgeoisie were choked by the control of the state by the feudal aristocracy. The success of the bourgeois revolution (capture of the state) transferred economic power into the hands of the new rising bourgeois class. The class struggle is one of scientific socialism’s three great contributions to knowledge. Unions deal with the economic phase of the class struggle, not its political phase. The realisation of the class struggle leads to the understanding that the politically awakened working class will vote for socialism.

Anton Pannekoek and Paul Mattick were very close to WSM views on most matters, except on Workers Councils and on the ballot. Theie views on the ballot arose from the Workers Councils concepts. To them the road to socialism was via the economic organization of the workers. They stressed that the State was an organ of the ruling class. It could only function as the central organ of power. The ballot was a deception, merely a democratic form and not democratic essence. However, both overlooked that it is not the economic phase that is the highest expression of the class struggle, but the political phase. In the factories, co-ops, unions, we are fragmented, sectionalised and tied to our interests, but on the political field, we can make our numbers tell in a way win which they cannot use the state to strangle. The economic phase by its very nature is limited to working within the frame work of capitalism. It is the fact that State power is in the hands of the ruling class that stymies workers from revolutionary changes. Titles and deeds, the military forces, etc., are in the hands of the ruling class through its control of the State. The essence of Marx’s writing (from the Communist Manifesto on) was consistent in stressing the need for political action; and this view has stood the acid test of unfolding events. Just because the state is the central organ of power, it requires the political action of a resolute, determined class conscious majority to accomplish the transfer of the means of living from the hands of the parasites to the possession of society, as a whole. That is revolutionary socialist political action. What confuses the question is the activities of social democrats and the Bolsheviks, who call themselves “communists.” Their political activities are confined to administering the capitalist state, and instituting reforms for the smoother operation of capitalism.

The class struggle is one of scientific socialism’s three great contributions to knowledge. Unions deal with the economic phase of the class struggle, not its political phase. The realisation of the class struggle leads to the understanding that the “politically awakened working class will vote for” socialism.We advocate unionism — the economic phase of the class struggle, but we certainly do not support all aspects of union activity such as its endorsement of capitalist political parties

A number of organisations are fond of describing socialism as a society in which the worker gets the “full product of his toil.” This is an erroneous concept. “Full product” is only another expression of the bourgeois “equality and justice.” There is no class of workers in a socialist society. There are only citizens, members of society, who receive according to their need. If everyone got the full product what would be left for the common administration of the affairs of the whole community? For a superb annihilation of the Lasallean “full product” concept, Marx’s refutation of the Eisenachers in the Gotha Program is a gem of analysis

The complaints of the many splinter groups of the Left, both new and old varieties, arise from disappointments and discouragements at their lack of results, despite their sincere and dedicated “activism.” One important factor is their feeling of being “leaders” and “professional revolutionaries,” even if this is not stated overtly. In the great stirring in the depression days of the Thirties, especially in Detroit, the workers in the auto industries — without leaders or agitators — spontaneously wanted to organise into unions. The ambitious careerists and the Communist cadres were taking credit for organising the workers into unions, through their efforts. (Naturally there were ample squabbles among these “heroes” for that self-claimed credit.) It was as though they were taking credit for the rising of the sun. To paraphrase Marx’s comment in the Preface to the Critique of Political Economy (paraphrased): It is not ideas that make material conditions but material conditions that give rise to ideas. Supplement this with Victor Hugo’s famous quip: “Nothing is more powerful than an idea come of age; it is stronger than the strongest armies.

And to add yet another cliché: “He who only waits does not serve the cause of socialism"

Based on the writings of Rab , late WSPUS member

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Banish Gods from the Skies, and Capitalists from the Earth

Religion – thy name is superstition.

Religion divides the universe into spiritual and physical realms and all religions offer their adherents relief from their earthly problems through some sort of appeal to the spiritual. Religions locate the solution to society’s problems in the individual’s salvation. Socialists see the problems that wrack human society as material and political, and their solutions as likewise material and political, not supernatural. Socialists do not hold beliefs. They have an understanding of the world based on the best evidence available.

Ideas have no independant existence from human beings, and those ideas are determined by the material world in which we live. God only exists as an idea in society. Gods are products of the human imagination given powers to dominate the lives of those who create them.

Religion perform two essential functions. It buttresses the established order by sanctifying it and by suggesting that the political order is somehow ordained by divine authority. Its sanctification of the existing social order makes it a counter-revolutionary force. Yet it consoles the oppressed exploited by offering them in heaven what they are denied upon earth. By holding before them a vision of what they are denied, religion plays at least partly a progressive role in that it gives the common people some idea of what a better order would be. But when it becomes possible to realize that better order upon earth in the form of communism, then religion becomes wholly reactionary, for it distracts men from establishing a now possible good society on earth by still turning their eyes towards heaven.

Our position on organised religion is that religion is debilitating to the mind of the worker and thus to the progress which we wish to make as workers in advancing our interests. New Age religion is merely the old age religion in a new, modern form. Rather than obeying a priest, they choose the form of our own mental domination and the flight from reality into a magical world.

Banish Gods from the Skies, and Capitalists from the Earth

“God” is relegated more and more to the background. The “God” of the modern capitalist is a different “God” than the feudal lord or slave owner of more ancient times. And the “role” that “God” plays in the explanation of the working of the material world has changed. The role of “God” has changed from that of belief in predestiny, to "God" as a “personal God”, from “God” as the first creator of the world and the “cause” to “God” as an afterthought (agnosticism) who has no control and the question of belief in him as irrelevant. Socialism, as the science of society is the application of that science to the relations between men, a branch of natural history, holds a monistic view of the universe, each part is in inseparable causal relation to the rest, can leave no nook or cranny for “God”.

It has been religion that has had to do all the hard work of accommodating more and more scientific progress, which is why religions tend to become ever vaguer and more metaphorical. Those modifications of religion have been the reflexes of changed conditions and interests.

Christianity is not losing out to other religions, but primarily to a rejection of religion altogether. One in five Americans said they have no religious identity or did not answer the question, and more than one in four said they do not expect to have a religious funeral. In every single state there was a rise in the “nones” – see http://edition.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/wayoflife/03/09/us.religion.less.christian/index.html?eref=rss_topstories

There is no need to use force to end of religion, when it is already dying a natural death. Socialists no longer looks to the heavens for a supernatural savior, nor seek a Moses to lead us out of bondage. It is about becoming conscious of the strength that resides within ourselves and in the knowledge that who would be free, must free the mind from chains.

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