Sunday, December 27, 2009

Wobbly Times number 39


Old leftist professor:

In this context, of organizing as a class, how

does one define "working class"? I always have

the feeling when I come across references to

"the workers," etc. that probably the writer

has an image in his/her head, that harks back

a half century or so and has no particular grip on
current actuality.


The working class is made up of those men and women who make their living from wages. Most of the people in industrialsed countries are in the working class and not in the employing class or the landlord class. There are also people who sell their skills directly to a customer, kind of one on one, as opposed to an employer.

Old leftist professor:

Most workers today are _not_ blue collar.

So what are the "signs" of
class that one can organize around?


The basic dependency structure inherent in Capital is a good guide. Workers are dependent on employers buying their skills in the labour market. If workers don't make a sale of their skills to an employer, they will have a hard time making ends meet. They often become homeless after extended periods of unemployment. Sometimes they become eligible for government handouts of parts of the wealth they've already created and given over to the employing class in exchange for wages e.g. food stamps or in Australia, Centrelink payments.

Old leftist professor:

At a highly abstract level of _capitalism_ as such

it is easy to define _working class_ and essential

to do so. But at a practical level of
organizing struggle it is probably not relevant.



I disagree. As Marx and Engels wrote back in 1848: "The proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the interest of the immense majority." I think that's a practical principle to operate with.

Listen up now. These figures concern the distribution of wealth (and therefore power) in the USA. Similar figures exist in every State where the wage system prevails.

Of investment assets 90 percent of Americans (the working class) own 12.2 percent. The rest goes to the top 10 percent. The top 10 percent are those people in the employing class, the landlord class and independent service providers e.g. lawyers and doctors who sell their skills directly to a customer without having that sale mediated by employment for a wage or salary at a corporation. The median household income in the U.S. is $50,000. Only 34% of U.S. households make more than $65,000 per year. The bottom 90 percent (the working class) have been saddled with 73 percent of all debt. In other words much of what constitutes workers' so-called wealth is connected to debt. Debt is slavery for many especially with egregious credit card companies taking people out with absurd levels of interest. Yet the corporate propaganda machine is strong and mighty. Have you ever received an inheritance? A large one? Probably not because only 1.6% of all Americans receive an inheritance larger than $100,000.

Wobbly Times number 38


The capacity for love
must grow beyond boxes
within which
it has been constrained
by the blockheads
of the world
the ones who want your power
your consent
Why do you give them away
forever and ever

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Wobbly Times number 37

The queen of Australia
looked like a little old lady
in ice blue attire
as she peered out my TV
and told me 'bout how
war is peace and how sorry
she was 'bout climate change
happenin' and to pray to our mutual Lord up in heaven
who makes sure that the poor
appreciate our niceness and
Merry Christmas and good night

Friday, December 25, 2009

Wobbly Times number 36

One aspect of the issue of stagnant real wages (see: Wobbly Times number 22) is the continuing commodification of wage-labour itself. The commodity sells best which sells most cheaply in the marketplace. As the skills necessary to reproduce Capital have become simpler, less time consuming to produce and reproduce, the value and fluctuating price of labour power has gone down for a majority of the class, while for a minority of it, the price remains the same or goes higher with the addition of greater skills to the worker. (However, it should be mentioned here that even if all the working class had Ph.d.s, the unemployment rate would remain about the same, even as the banter at the workplace might change to concerns over whether Foucault or Stephen Jay Gould had more to say about culture.)

Thus, on average, real wages have stagnated. Capital is not only exported to class ruled States which enforce lowered wage demands through coercion and terror,the movement of industry to pools of more cheaply priced labour power also makes the use of skilled labour amongst the majority of the working class in already industrialised nations superfluous. Thus, overall, real wages for workers as a class can stagnate in advanced, industrial, bourgeois democracies as the employed members of the working class are increasingly obliged to flip burgers or open crates at Wall Mart, shipped from dictatorships like China in order to make a living, as opposed to making steel, tires and cars.

Capital is wealth expressed as exchange-value; it is itself a commodity. Labour power is bought and sold as a commodity on the market, just as pork and beans are. The big diff is that labour power has the ability to expand wealth through creation of more commodities. The capitalist hires labour for wages (the price of labour power on the market) and keeps the commodities (goods and services) which the workers have created (aka wealth). These commodities can include constant capital e.g. machinery of production, circulating capital e.g. raw materials from nature like coal which go into the production process and money, which is used as a means to exchange commodities, to 'circulate' them. Money is circulating capital. Thus, money is also a commodity, a mutually agreed upon abstraction playing the universal equivalent.

After the working class creates the wealth, the capitalist has that wealth sold by wage-slaves in order to realise profit. Capitalists hire sales-wage-slaves to market the wealth they've appropriated from already employed wage-labour. Profit can't be realised unless the wealth workers create can be sold. This uncertainty about sale is what pro-capitalist spokespeople call, 'risk'.

Like all commodities, labour power has exchange-value embedded within it. Exchange-value is determined by the amount of socially necessary labour time bound up within it e.g. education.

BTW, if someone says that this labour theory of value has been proven false, you can always ask them how much wealth would be produced, if the workers of the world went on a week long general strike. The answer is zero. Wealth has to be produced to come into existence and it doesn't come into existence without employing wage-labour, unless you're using your money to buy/commodify nature for nature is the other source of all wealth.

The socially necessary labour time embodied in a worker's abilities, which is expressed as the exchange-value of labour, forms the concrete substance of skill. However, the exchange-value of any commodity, including labour power, is expressed in money aka price. Prices of commodities fluctuate with supply and demand on the market and the market is human beings with money perceiving what they can use, for whatever they deem is necessary i.e. what they can buy with the wealth, expressed as money in their pockets.

Most bourgeois thinkers only look at the demand side of the commodities to explain their conception of 'value' i.e. from the point of view of the consumer, not the producer. The 'effective' demand side is very important, as Marx explained a long time before Jevons, demand is an expression of the use-value of a commodity. If a commodity has no use-value, all the socially necessary labour time in the world will not make it into a saleable commodity and therefore, no profit could be realised from it.

In a classless society, production could be carried on for use and need and there would be no necessity for the expression of wealth to be measured by money. Wealth would be wealth, not an accumulation of commodities for sale with a view to profit.
In a classless society, work would be carried on by and for the association of free producers. There would be no need for wages, which are but the price of labour power, the price of yet another commodity. In a classless society, there would be no need for wealth to be fettered by exchange-value.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Wobbly Times number 35


What we gonna be

a piece of history

That forest

those trees

things of past years

These glaciers

those insects

things of the past

The penguin and polar bear extinct

They just can't last

The multi-coloured coral

with multi-coloured fish

shot in a barrel

of warmed water

killed during the rein of the commodity

Salty tasting tears

Wobbly Times number 34


Parading my ignorance
I admitted not knowing how to make sense of the war
I fought for freedom

What will you do to maintain dignity
in your old age
Don't ask

The sound of
new houses going up
Winter rain falls on a homeless man

Advertising executives
you are the slaves
of Advertising

He's in the garage
working on the car
to escape the wife and kids

Jets gulp clean fresh air
Chemically polluted 
rain falls

Insects feed on
dead kangaroo
Long red highway through the bush

Before the young woman
the executioner hesitates
for a moment

Red dust under my swag
the moon and stars in my eyes 
till dreams

A dove's feather
caught in dead leaves
wind moving one not the other

Stop cutting the flowers
The Buddha 
has enough now

Be a human
try not to kill too much
you really don't have to

Were it not for their power
our rulers 
would be irrelevant

Four Ibis fly across
dirty cirrostratus clouds
Sun breaks through a hole

Subjects create objects
Objects affect subjects' lives
Time flows on

Silently we stared into the headlights 
not knowing what to do.  
Train passes in the distance.

The equality of death
plagues each and everyone
even those with the most toys

Our equality at birth
is undermined
by our first diaper

Our muse speak 

Commonsense roars in the background

Life is at least
love's political equality
or it is wasted

Trying to calculate desire
he lost all

Gravity forces 
a violent collapse
Eruptions galore ensue

Orgasms die
on the vine
Neuroses bloom

She got a job 
and dreamt of freedom
He lost his job and dreamt of wage-slavery

The Gorgon blocked most of the light
at the mouth of the cave
Fear turned us toward darkness

The silence of a fatal accident
Sirens seduce 
from wave pounded cliffs

More and more
texts/calls for attention received from work
More and more sensuous life castrated

Abstraction rules
humans become inhuman
Objects unaware of their creators themselves

Orgasms with your lover
What is as close to perfection as
you'll ever get? 

Life is short
Death's forever
Enjoy the here and now

Three o'clock
in the afternoon
Werewolves howl under full moon

Waiting for the wealth
to trickle down
Pat put another coin in the pokie

Monkey see monkey do
Mirror neurons firing
on all fours

Catching flies on green

fields of dreams
Being twelve

It's not a question 
of accumulation
Make your sensual moments count

Some things go round

and round
Others go up and down

Black cat likes to lie in the green grass
Sun goes down
as the wind picks up