Saturday, July 24, 2010

Wobbly Times number 69


I'm an immigrant.

The elephant in the room of the immigration/refugee debate is the question of wage labour. Wage labour is a commodity, sold in the free market. Without wage labour, no capital would be produced. The employing class wants labour power to be cheaper, just like any buyer wants their commodities to be cheaper. More bang for the buck. So, from our rulers' perspective, immigration is all about increasing the supply of labour power in order to lower its price in the marketplace. But, our rulers don't want to lower the price too much i.e. not at the expense of losing control of the political situation in the nation. This is why our rulers speak in terms of 'sustainable population' and 'turning the boats back' and such. Our rulers want an ordered immigration process, preferably one in which they can pick and choose their labour power, their immigrant wage-slaves, by the needs for such and such skills in the marketplace for labour. This is why they want refugees to wait in camps and not pay people smugglers to get them on rickety boats to sail into Australian waters. Our rulers want to be able to pick and choose which refugees to admit to Australia on the basis of the skills the Australian ruling class needs, not based on the needs of the refugees for asylum.

I say all this as a revolutionary. I'm not a guilt-tripped radical liberal. I say this as an advocate for the abolition of wage labour and for the institution of a worldwide classless society of freely associated producers who determine, for themselves, how to distribute their socially created wealth to themselves. This level of democracy will allow for the free movement of humans between regions of the planet i.e. the end of the political State will at the same time be the end of political boundaries between States.

Radical liberals, just plain liberals or conservatives, are for maintaining the wage system in some form or another. Of course, they differ, depending on their definitions of Justice. An ideal, like Justice, can be reached through one adopting the proper ideas and living by them. Christians and other religiously minded people have been trying this method of achieving Justice for centuries. Changing the mode of production, one is told, is old fashioned and out of date. Well, that's what a radical liberal thinks, nine times out of ten. It's nice; but ultimately many will suffer much more over time because of the ineffectiveness of merely attempting to reform the wage system to make it nicer. Better to concentrate one's political energy in the direction of promoting common ownership of the collective product of labour i.e. social revolution.

Shorter work time and its relation to the issues of how xenophobic anti-immigration sentiments are stirred amongst the working class, all nicely illustrated most forcefully here.  Note the lack of moral appeal and the richness of hard class analysis.  This and other insights into what makes the working class weak and what could make it strong are presented in this speech given in New York City in 1903.  Some socialists used to speak this way.  Nowadays, it's mostly just radical liberalism in a socialist dress.

from Daniel DeLeon's  speech of 1903:  
"The Capitalist Class knows that what brings on the increased supply is not immigration so much, but the improved and ever improving machinery, held as private property. For every immigrant by whom the labor market is overstocked, it is overstocked by ten workingmen in the country whom privately owned machinery displaces. The Capitalist Class is full well aware that if this fact be known the conclusion would leap to sight ; to wit, that the solution oi" the Labor Problem is simply the public ownership of the machine. If fifty men, working ten hours a day, can, with improved machinery, produce as much as one hundred did before without such improved machinery, the publicly owned machine would not, as the privately owned machine does, throw out fifty men; it would throw out five of the former ten hours of work. It is clear as day to the Capitalist Class that it must raise dust over this fact so as to conceal it; and no better means to this end is offered than the fomenting of the plausible delusion that the evil lies in immigration. Anti-immigration laws are the fruit of these two purpose. Such laws kill two flies with one slap ; they draw attention away from the nerve that aches, and simultaneously they help to set the workers of the land in racial and creed hostility against the newcomers, who, of course, the Capitalist Class itself sees to shall not be lacking. Obviously, it is in the interest of the Working Class that this brace of fatal delusions be dispelled from their minds. What does the Labor Leader do? He helps nurse both delusions."

Needless labour is potential free-time.  Think of the intimacies you could achieve with family, friends and neighbours, if you had time of your own.  

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