Thursday, April 14, 2016
Once more, I shall attempt to clear up some confusion with regard to the conceptual framework within which Marx, Engels and indeed, many communists were working in the 19tfh century.
Neither Marx nor Engels ever used the term "socialist State". Socialism yes. But socialism for Marx and Engels meant a classless democracy and the political State was always meant to describe class ruled government. Included in this description is a workers' State. A workers' State would not be socialism. It would be class rule by the overwhelming majority a proletarian democracy. Marx and Engels used the word State to indicate the governing structure of class rule.
A political State controlled by workers would include other classes. For instance, if the workers as a class controlled the State, they could get legislation passed which would tax the wealth of the capitalists and landlords in order to use that revenue to benefit people who had to work for wages in order to make a living. An example might be something like free healthcare paid for by the government using the aforementioned revenue. A proletarian democracy would be run in the class interests of the useful producers.
A worker controlled democratic republic is what Marx and Engels are proposing in section II of the COMMUNIST MANIFESTO. The reforms listed at the end of this section are general proposals which a workers' State might implement in 1848:
"Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads on the rights of property, and on the conditions of bourgeois production; by means of measures, therefore, which appear economically insufficient and untenable, but which, in the course of the movement, outstrip themselves, necessitate further inroads upon the old social order, and are unavoidable as a means of entirely revolutionising the mode of production.
"These measures will, of course, be different in different countries.
"Nevertheless, in most advanced countries, the following will be pretty generally applicable.
1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
5. Centralisation of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
6. Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
8. Equal liability of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.
10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labour in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, &c, &c."
Further, it should be noted that even after the Paris Commune of 1871, Marx and Engels would speak in terms which many think they renounced after that workers' revolt. On September 8, 1872 more than a year after the Paris Commune was drowned in the blood of the proletariat, Marx said:
"But we have not asserted that the ways to achieve that goal are everywhere the same.
"You know that the institutions, mores, and traditions of various countries must be taken into consideration, and we do not deny that there are countries -- such as America, England, and if I were more familiar with your institutions, I would perhaps also add Holland -- where the workers can attain their goal by peaceful means. This being the case, we must also recognize the fact that in most countries on the Continent the lever of our revolution must be force; it is force to which we must some day appeal in order to erect the rule of labor."
As for the so-called "dictatorship of the proletariat", it was never Marx's or Engels' intention that it would be Lenin's dictatorship of a party. In fact, that's just what they were arguing with the anarchists about in terms of the interpretation of the concept. If there has been any doubt as to whether the USSR was a dictatorship of the party, as opposed to being a proletarian democracy after the 10th Party Congress of the CPSU (B) in 1921, then I would suggest reading the well documented work by Maurice Brinton titled, The Bolsheviks and Workers' Control .
The point of writing all this is to get people who "know" what Marx and Engels wrote, without reading what they wrote, to grasp that they might be taking off from a conceptual base which does not correspond to the conceptual base Marx and Engels were taking off from. So, to reiterate:
1. A workers' State is controlled democratically by the workers. It is not common ownership and democratic control of the collective product of labour after the wage system has been abolished i.e. it is not the lower stage of communism/socialism. It is not a classless democracy. It is, like all political States, the dictatorship of a class, in this case, the still existing working class. Commodity production for sale can still exist in a such a proletarian democracy. A wage system can still exist. Under the wage system, labour power is a commodity.
2. Communism or socialism, if you will, signals a change in the mode of producing wealth from the capitalist mode which depends on wage labour and commodity production to the communist mode in which a free, classless association of producers democratically decide how to distribute the collective product of their labour. Socialism/communism means that commodity production for sale with a view to profit no longer exists, whether in its initial stages or in its more advanced stage. You can begin to see the outlines of this in various writings of Marx and Engels. Wobbly times number 88 contains some quoted examples.
Thursday, April 7, 2016
Gort! Klaatu barada nikto.
Looking for the POTUS. S/he'll help us out of this climate mess we're in.
Oh no! It's Gort come to punish the human race for destroying the ecosphere! No Gort! It is the capitalist class and their system of wage slavery which is leading to the Great Collapse. Don't destroy us! Destroy the wage system!
Saturday, February 27, 2016
“It is as clear to me now that was upon arrival as an immigrant that there is no link anywhere to be found between the child who I was in Zimbabwe and the adult I was forced to become upon immigration. I had learn to speak again, from scratch, and when I did it came of as academic jargon. I had resorted to teaching myself from book, the only companions who were tolerant enough to bide with me until I’d figured enough things out. I still had the choking hesitation in my voice, of the strangled child, but I was on fragile steps, little mermaid walking on a ground of swords steps, in order to assert myself and my perspectives.
“Donald Meltzer, the psychoanalyst, says that those who murder their inner child develop a grave capacity for brutality against themselves and others. Mine wasn’t dead yet, and was doing her best to stay alive, but all was based on precepts from a different cultural paradigm, which I could not have dwelt in any more, due to my growing need for knowledge, even if a part of me had wanted to remain that innocent--to retain the innocence of a child indefinitely.”
Give it a go. THE FATHER DAUGHTER WAR is very well written. Have patience. Keep reading. At first, her father’s voice adds the adult to the child’s first person memory. Reality is captured through an ever maturing scamper through the memories of one, Jennifer Frances Armstrong. Grieving for a lost home where nature was everywhere and taken for granted. Armstrong is honestly pulling you back to a different sense of time and place. Immersion in THE FATHER DAUGHTER WAR will help cure some of your uncritically examined Cold War narratives.
From the impressionistic imagery of first childhood memory to the growing consciousness of a girl becoming teen, you can feel like you’ve been there, in a certain part of Africa, in a certain set of circumstances from a certain individual’s maturing memories, reflections and experience.
Remember what it was like to be 12, a child on the edge of puberty?
What did you know about the world then?
What amazing discoveries were you making every day of your life?
Well, at least to you, they appeared as “amazing discoveries”.
Only this was Africa, specifically a Rhodesian child’s life. Things were different from the way you remembered them at 12 or 2 or 4 or 16, unless you lived in Borrowdale before 1984. Still, there is a connection to be had in the sheer wonderment of the adventure life was when we were children flowing through THE FATHER DAUGHTER WAR.
To be sure, there were the differences.
Want to go on vacation? Better catch the convoy or risk being shot in an ambush along the way. Everyday life in a zone of civil war. You read about them nowadays--personal stories of everyday life in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. And then, the trek out to the new land. Culture clash is part of the immigration story. For one thing, nature changes. Fauna and flora in the outdoors are much more under control in the Perthian urban setting. Nature seems drier, hotter and much less fecund.
This has its effects within the culture. There are other matters, many other matters covered in THE FATHER DAUGHTER WAR. You’ll see.
Ever wanted to hug your secret 6th grade heart throb? Of course you did. And so, when the opportunity arises at a girlfriend’s birthday party, you grab Paul kind of tightly. Jennifer is coming of age. But the convoy and Paul come years after she has eaten African soil, liked it and been punished for it by having her mouth washed out with soap by her mother. It’s also after being told by her elementary school teacher that playing with boys’ toys was wrong. Bricks are not for girls! But that happens after soil.
Give it go now. You’ll be glad you did.
Sunday, November 15, 2015
Friday, November 13, 2015
This is where I was on Friday the 13th of November, 2015.
I was at two union demos yesterday. Comrade John Tattersall came over to my place at 6:45am and we took off in his car for the rally in the video below. I went home on public transit, had brekky and then off by bus and train to another union rally at Liberal Senator Michaelia Cash's office in West Perth.
The bourgeoisie are out to break the unions in Australia. Their polytricksters are putting in legislation to put downward pressure on wages and working conditions all the time.
Personally, I don't see much sense in making appeals to reason to bourgeois democrats in our government. What's needed is class conscious political and industrial action by rank and file workers. Considering the embedded leitmotif of social Darwinism which plagues our collective Mind, it's going to be a very tough road to hoe. My freedom equates with your unfreedom. I stab you in the back in order to get the job or the promotion or any of a number of other positions of political power over you.
I've known this for decades. My Hegel prof at Michigan State brought it to my consciousness. That was back in 1970. The reality hit me like a tonne of bricks yesterday as we waited for workers from BAE to come join us at the rally in front of the AFP guarding the office of Senator Cash.
Thanks to Jennifer Armstrong for editing this rather wobbly video.
Monday, November 9, 2015
My extended family (Benson side) gets together for a BBQ at the Livingston's place in Baldwinsville, New York. I think this event took place in 1957. (Turn the sound up high to hear my narration of this otherwise silent film).