Thursday, January 16, 2014

Israeli nukes

On 22 September 1979, a US satellite, detected the double-flash typical of a nuclear weapon test off the coast of South Africa. The Israelis had carried out the detonation of a nuclear bomb.

Israel’s nuclear arsenal is now estimated at 80 warheads, on a par with India and Pakistan.  Israel, unlike Iran, never signed up to the 1968 NPT so could not violate it. But it almost certainly broke a treaty banning nuclear tests, as well as countless national and international laws restricting the traffic in nuclear materials and technology.

The list of nations that secretly sold Israel the material and expertise to make nuclear warheads, or who turned a blind eye to its theft, include today's staunchest campaigners against proliferation: the US, France, Germany, Britain and even Norway. Israel had few qualms about proliferating nuclear weapons knowhow and materials, giving South Africa's apartheid regime help in developing its own bomb in the 1970s in return for 600 tons of yellowcake.

Israel's nuclear-weapons project could never have got off the ground, though, without an enormous contribution from France. The country that took the toughest line on counter-proliferation when it came to Iran helped lay the foundations of Israel's nuclear weapons programme.  2,500 French citizens helped build the Israeli Dimona nuclear establishment.

Andre Finkelstein, a former deputy commissioner at France's Atomic Energy Commissariat and deputy director general at the International Atomic Energy Agency, told Avner Cohen, an Israeli-American nuclear historian, "We have been the most irresponsible country on nonproliferation." France sold material assistance to other aspiring weapons states, not just Israel but also including Iraq and Pakistan.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

New Capitalism


Capitalism is a profit economy. No profit – no prosperity. This in turn creates an antagonism between production and consumption: capitalism is unable to develop freely and fully the conditions of consumption. The conclusion is inevitable: crises and depressions are inherent in the capitalist relations of production, they can be avoided only by the abolition of those relations. But this conclusion is either evaded or openly rejected by the bourgeois economists. Even where the conclusion arises logically out of their own analysis, if consistently pursued, they fly off at a tangent and offer “cures” based on secondary factors. They prefer, in theory and practice, to cling to capitalism.

The upsurge of labor militancy in the strikes of 1877 led the employers to consider the problem of “harmony” between labor and capital. It aroused new interest in profit-sharing, (John Lewis Partnership in the UK,) Today, it is suggested that co-operatives are the answer. Benevolent welfare by the capiialist is calculated to strengthen the dictatorship over labor to maintain ‘loyalty.’

There was a theory once propagated  of “trade union capitalism.”  Its assumption was this: if the workers mobilize their “enormous” savings, and invest them in corporate stocks and labor banks, the working class will eventually get control of industry. Workers will become capitalists, and the antagonism between labor and capital will be ended. It disappeared in the mists of times, occasionally resurfacing when romantics suggest that the working class can buy out the capitalist class because in the end small as the workers’ share of the national income is, their share of the national savings is still smaller.

Raise the wage

Recurring  breakdowns of prosperity in the form of recessions are a typical, damnable spectacle of capitalist civilization. After every depression the cry goes up, “Never again!” But it does agin and  again, and always will in capitalism. New economic models of a new capitalism are developed by the experts despite that usually they are not new but resurrections of past failed and flawed ideas.  Jacob Vanderlint, a merchant and economist, wrote in 1734, when capitalism was in its revolutionary youth:
“Increase the power of labourers to buy half as many more necessaries for their support and comfort, and there would be almost half as much more Trade and Business ... Raise the wages of the labouring People and augment the profits of the trading part.”

Why not stimulate consumption? This is the obvious solution. The productive forces are highly developed. Their mere use means the abolition of unemployment and poverty. But the question is not whether an increase in consumption is possible and would result in permanent industrial revival. It is and it would. The question is whether capitalism can and will promote an increase in consumption which interferes with the making of profits.  The apologists of new capitalism ignore, or they insist that higher profits and higher consumption are not mutually exclusive.

The latest proposal termed by some is ‘re-distributionism. ’ They claim their program means the redistribution and more democratic ownership of wealth. Its proponents insist that high wages are profitable to the capitalists: they want to raise wages and control profits in the interest of prosperity and of assured higher profits. Fair wages and fair profits is the aim. The the government  by intervention and regulation will ‘control’ industry to compel the capitalists, in their own interest, to raise wages and limit profits, and thus assure ultimately higher profits.  The  objectives is the desire to ‘save’ capitalism from itself.  These ‘practical’ economists manufacture a theory to make the deception appear rational full of promises to equalize income and wealth.

The fatal flaw in the “policy of high wages” is this: Higher wages might mean more consumption, production, and profits, but as employers are free to raise or not to raise wages, the employers who did not raise wages would gain more than the employers who did, because in terms of a particular enterprise higher wages mean relatively lower profits. If the “fixing” of a statutory minimum or living wage raises labor costs (leaving aside that minimum tends to become maximum), profits must fall, and efforts to increase the productivity of labor to lower costs and raise profits must be intensified, resulting in an absolute or relative decrease in total wages and employment.

Profits are not made by paying the workers higher wages. They are made by forcing down wages relatively to profits, by appropriating more surplus value, more unpaid labor.

If $10billion is added to wages it would increase consumption and production; the capitalists would make only a very small profit, however, on the additional output and sales. If the capitalists retain the $10billion as profits, their wealth is correspondingly augmented and its investment creates new claims upon labor, production, and income. It is not that part of labor’s product (wages) consumed by the workers as means of subsistence which enriches the capitalists, but that part of labor’s product (profits) converted into capital goods. Capitalist production means accumulation of capital, an increasing output and absorption of capital goods, thereby converting profits into capital and permitting an increasing exploitation of labor. Profits and wages must necessarily clash and profits beat down wages, whether capitalism is unfettered free enterprise or under state-capitalist controlled.

 The policy of fixing minimum wages is reformism. Always limited and largely illusory. They might have had some value during prosperity, during an upswing of capitalism. In recession and its aftermath the policy merely “fixes” wages at prevailing low levels. frequently below average wages. Not only that but only a  part of the workers are affected by the minimum wages, the so-called precariat. Their practically vulnerable nature allows employers to evade paying the minimums. Evasions involved all sorts of expedients and pressure upon the most helpless workers, particularly temporary and migrant workers. Granted there was some increase in some wage rates, mainly among the most exploited workers and only in comparison with the recession  low pay levels; but that is offset by the lesser number of hours worked as part-time employment increases  and the pervading rise in the cost of living by falls in the real wage by inflationary rises.

As earlier mentioned in passing the minimum wages tends to become the maximum, driving down wages in general, a complaint made again and again by the unions in the history of minimum wage laws. The result of the minimum wage “fixing” has a tendency to break down the differentials between skilled and unskilled and semi-skilled workers. It is desirable to decrease the differentials: they are largely artificial, altogether too great, and they create antagonisms between different groups of workers but the the law breaks down differentials not by raising the wages of the poorer-paid workers but by lowering the wages of the better-paid.

In return, for accepting the minimum wage, we can expect the capitalist class to exact a price for this ‘concession’ which would be a new  controls over labor, preventing strikes, and restricting independent industrial action. The controls imposed upon capital are in the interest of capital while the controls imposed upon labor are not in the interest of labor. Workers must fight for shorter hours and higher wages, whatever the effect upon profits.  But as any shorter hours and higher wages threaten the existence of profit, the capitalists will not yield and the workers must broaden their action: the issue becomes one of saving capitalism or of overthrowing it.

Those in favor for a new capitalism  argue its objective is to decrease unemployment and increase purchasing power. But the objective and the means are limited by the nature of capitalist production. Purchasing power is ‘increased’ by slightly raising total wages and lowering average wages: a peculiar way of increasing purchasing power, but profitable to the capitalists.

Profits and wages clash, and profits beat down wages, because the accumulation of capital is the primary aim and driving force of capitalist production. In its origins and  development and capitalism is inseparably identified with accumulation. The accumulation of capital means the conversion of profits into capital. Profits are realized surplus value, the surplus product of the workers which the capitalists appropriate through ownership of the means of production. As surplus value and profit are unpaid labor, wages and profits move in inverse ratio: the lower the one, the higher the other. The capitalists consume only a part of the surplus product they appropriate; if they consumed it all, there would be no accumulation and no expansion of industry, and, consequently, no new profits yielded by new capital. A part of the surplus product must be transformed into capital, which takes the form of capital goods to produce more profits. Thus accumulation depends upon the capacity of industry to make profits and to transform them into capital by means of an increasing output and absorption of capital goods. Capital goods, the growth of capital plant, multiply and secure capitalist wealth and its claims upon labor, production, and income.

The accumulation of capital, the production of profits and their conversion into capital, means both life and death to capitalism. Capitalist production aims to make profits. Consumption is subordinate to production, and consumption grows incidentally, as a mere by-product of the accumulation of capital. The worker works to consume, but capitalist production permits him to work and consume only if profits are thereby realized to enrich the owners of industry. Capitalist enrichment results from accumulation, not from consumption.  Production and consumption, instead of being complementary, are in fundamental antagonism.

The capitalist class strives to throw the burdens of  recessions upon the workers. It slashes their wages, throws millions out of work, and limits their consumption.  Workers displaced by improved technological efficiency, are no longer re-absorbed in the upswing. Even if it were true that workers displaced by technological changes and higher productivity are absorbed as output rises, great hardships would still be imposed upon them. Unless the displaced workers are absorbed by greater output in the same plant and on the same job, they lose their skills or familiarity with particular processes, the older workers are thrown upon the scrap heap, and at least an interval of unemployment must ensue. Thus there is wanton human suffering and wastage even if the displaced workers are eventually absorbed. Workers are forced to take new jobs at lower wages. They are deprived of old skills and experience.  Displacement of labor by technological progress is not a result of technology itself.  For technology is a part of the progress of mankind, since man is a tool-making and tool-using animal. Its development strengthened man’s control over natural forces and, consequently, his capacity to produce. When technology, under capitalism, became the purposive application of science to industry, it resulted in an enormous increase of the productive forces of society and of man’s mastery over nature. Now these developments are undermining capitalism. Technology is being limited in its progress and uncontrolled in its results. The great productive forces of society bring permanent unemployment and want in the midst of plenty. Thus technology is not an independent but an historical factor; its forms, development, and uses are interlocked with the social-economic relations of production.

The Banksters and Corporate Oligarchy

Modern capitalism has two interlocking aspects: separation of ownership, management, and control; usurpation of control by the financial oligarchy. However, there is an unclear conception of how control is secured and exercised and by whom. Who make up management? Not the mass of managerial employees, but the officers and directors; most of them are financial capitalists, all of them are identified, by interlocking interests and directorates, with the institutional arrangements of financial control dominated by the oligarchy. Management becomes an institutional function of employees. Owners become absentees, rentiers in one form or another, who merely receive the income of ownership. The capitalist is now a mere exploiter, as the organization and management of industry is an employee function. Industrial capitalists operated primarily with their own money; financial capitalists operate and secure control primarily with other people’s money. The financial oligarchy, speculative, adventurous, wholly parasitic, dominates the capitalist class.

 Stockholders own, but they do not manage.  The stockholder, beyond the pieces of paper which represent ownership, is unable to say “this” or “that” is “mine.” He knows nothing of the enterprise in whose ownership he has a stake, except its dividend yield and stock market quotations. Corporate industry is institutional or impersonal, an immense objective socialization of production;Management does not own, but it manages as employees. The financial capitalists are merely exploiters; they control, and have a monopoly share in ownership, but they perform no useful social function. Separation of ownership and management permits seizure of control by the financial oligarchy, which imposes its dictatorship over industry; the financial capitalist is wholly predatory, its ownership becomes more wholly parasitic.

Neither management nor stockholders control industry; control is usurped by the financial oligarchy and its institutional mechanism, the great banks. Of whom is management composed? It is under control of the higher administrative officers and directors, many of them major or minor financial capitalists, most of them plundering their corporations, and all of them dependent upon the financial oligarchy. Upon them the real management, the lower officers and managerial and supervisory employees, is dependent. This dependence, moreover, is not only objective; for the ideology and practices of management are still dominated by the social relations of capitalist production. Nor is management independent of the stockholders; its most important elements are themselves stockholders.

Concentration of the ownership of stock, of wealth and income, provides the sinews of speculation. Because of control by the financial oligarchy, corporate industry becomes increasingly irresponsible, adventurous, speculative, and unstable.

Speculation depends, in final analysis, upon the exploitation of the producers. Superabundant capital became more and more aggressive and adventurous in its search for investment and profits, overflowing into risky enterprises and speculation. Speculation seized upon technical changes and new industries, which were introduced planlessly, regardless of the requirements of industry as a whole. Large profits were made by simple speculative manipulation.  Mergers and take-overs became the objects of speculation; they yielded huge promoter’s profits and inflamed speculative hopes. Giant corporation interlock with the great banks; there is a fusion of financial and industrial capital. The financial oligarchy operates with the mass of paper title claims and increasingly subordinates the production of goods to the production of speculative profits. It subjects whole industries to predatory speculation and plunder.  Speculation flourishes because profits are high.  Banks encourage over-expansion, speculation, and risky enterprises, convert their constructive “book-keeping” function into a source of malfeasance. Financial capitalists move from enterprise to enterprise, industry to industry, and country to country, seeking and extorting higher profits. All this is both result and negation of the constructive achievements out of which arises the predatory dictatorship of finance capital. Marx clearly foresaw the development:

“This is the abolition of the capitalist mode of production within capitalist production itself, a self-destructive contradiction, which represents on its face a mere phase of transition to a new form of production. It manifests its contradictory nature by its effects. It establishes a monopoly in certain spheres and thereby challenges the interference of the state. It reproduces a new aristocracy of finance, a new sort of parasites in the shape of promoters, speculators, and merely nominal directors; a whole system of swindling and cheating by means of corporation juggling, stock jobbing, and stock speculation. It is private production without the control of private property.”

Monopoly and finance capital multiply the contradictions and antagonisms of capitalist production.

 the growing magnitude and importance of money capital, which is separated from the function of capital itself. There is both an increase in the capital needs of large-scale industry and in the social wealth, which increasingly assumes the form of money capital. This capital is concentrated in the banks. Its sources are the funds of money capitalists and of industrial or commercial enterprises and the scattered savings of all classes of society. The bank’s money capital is enormously augmented by credit, which is of constantly greater importance in capitalist production. (Credit, whether based on savings or not, is a command over social labor; it reveals clearly that appropriation of surplus value, of unpaid labor, is the source of profit, for credit represents neither the “saved” capital of the capitalist nor, much of it, the savings of anybody, but merely command over labor. At the same time, credit becomes the basis of speculation, fraud, intensified competition, and overproduction, creating disturbances and maladjustments. [2*] The social nature of credit is, however, one form of the objective transition toward a new mode of production, toward socialism. Industry becomes constantly more dependent upon the money capital under control of the banks.

Industrial capital itself increasingly assumes the form of money capital. Industrial capital is bound up with the person of the industrial capitalist. But he is now replaced by stockholders, non-participating absentees, whose dividends are not essentially different from interest, except that they are more subject to fluctuations.  Industrial capital in the form of stockholdings is almost as mobile as money capital: it moves from industry to industry and enterprise to enterprise; this is particularly true of the stockholdings of great financial capitalists, whose inside information tells them where the profits – and losses – are. There is a fusion of industrial and money capital; the forms merge into one form, finance capital, which is mobilized by the banks and the financial oligarchy.

Banking is transformed. Originally the primary function of banks was to make payments, to supply industry with the “commercial” capital to finance the distribution of goods (whence the name commercial banks). This type of bank was dominant when industry was small-scale and the merchant capitalist was the chief entrepreneurial factor. As industrialism developed, the commercial banks, at first exclusively limited to mercantile operations, began to supply industry’s growing needs for fixed capital. In the 1880’s arose the trust company, whose phenomenal expansion paralleled that of corporate enterprise. The trust company combined commercial and investment banking with ordinary trust functions; it acted as fiscal agents for corporations and performed other services for them. (By acting as investment expert for non-active investors in corporations the trust company emphasized the separation of ownership and management and the growth of parasitism.)  After the 1890’s, the commercial banks engaged more and more extensively in investment operations. Banks have grown in size by concentration, by reinvestment of profits, and inner expansion of business. They have also grown by absorbing other banks or merging with them. These monopolist combinations of banking capital, with enormous control over the money capital of society, are no longer mere intermediaries serving industry, they are the masters of industry. The mastery is strengthened by industrial combination, with its separation of ownership, management, and control. Monopolist banks become the dominant force in the centralization of financial control over industry, by the command of credit, the operations of security affiliates, and the interlocking of directorates. A handful of financial oligarchs control industrial and banking capital, the most decisive portions of social capital; they control, in one concentrated institutional mass, the use of savings and credit, the mobilization of investment capital, and the great corporations in which most of the capital is invested. It is the dictatorship of finance capital.

Out of capitalist competition arises the concentration of industry. For the competitive struggle, waged primarily by cheapening costs, develops the imperative to produce more and sell more. This involves the necessity of enlarging the scale of production, emphasized by the pressure of technological change, with its constantly greater demands for fixed capital and raw materials, and the efforts to overcome a fall in the rate of profit by increasing its mass. Thus capitalist expansion and accumulation are accompanied by the gradual but inexorable rise to power of large-scale industry. Small individual producers are replaced by giant corporate enterprises, utilizing the most efficient methods of production and distribution, including inner planning and the control of raw materials and markets throughout the world.


 New Capitalism advocates seek to ‘save’ the ideals by “more generous” distribution of small independent property, the remnants of the American Dream , clinging still to a petty-bourgeois world which modern capitalism destroyed. Liberals reformists catch ideas on the wing, combine them haphazardly, never bother with fundamentals, and scornfully reject the Marxist analysis. These ‘radical reformers’ propose to “reconcile” the class struggle and combine the  best features of capitalism with  ‘socialism’. An impossible task.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Friday, January 10, 2014

Science Fact

We have the potential during our lifetime, in the next 10 to 30 years, to slay water, energy shortage, hunger, health care, educational issues, where we can create a world of abundance, where we can meet the basic needs of every man, woman and child on this planet.

Think about the fact that a Masai warrior in the middle of Africa today on one of these cell phones has better mobile com than President Reagan did 25 years ago. And if they're on Google on a smartphone, they've got better access to knowledge than President Clinton did 15 years ago. It's extraordinary.

What people don't realize is that we're living on a planet that's bathed with energy; 5,000 times more energy hits the Earth's surface than we consume as a species in a year. It's just not accessible yet. Solar energy is doubling every two years. It's now only seven doublings from meeting 100 percent of the world's energy needs, and we have 10,000 times more sunlight than we need to do that.

We have the technology now, it's being done in a number of labs, to actually grow meat products in the laboratory, in the test tube, so to speak. These kinds of new food products will be far better for you, because they will have the best proteins, the best fats, the nutrients built in. It will taste better than a hamburger.

Sticking in the needle

Acupuncture has been practiced for thousands of years. Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners explain acupuncture as a way to rebalance the energy, or "qi," that flows through specific pathways in the body by applying needles to designated points along these pathways. But that doesn't mean it actually works.

Researchers followed a group of 47 women being treated with aromatase inhibitors, a breast cancer medication that can cause menopause-like side effects (hot flashes, night sweats) as well as joint and muscle pain. Twenty-three of the women received eight weeks of acupuncture; the rest received eight weeks of something called "sham acupuncture," where needles are placed on the skin somewhat randomly — not at traditional acupuncture points — and then not actually inserted.

There was no significant difference between the group that had received real acupuncture and the group that had received "sham acupuncture." So why the improvement in both?
"You could conclude that it's a placebo effect." said study author Ting Bao of the University of Maryland, Baltimore.