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 Changing the mode of production, one is told, is old fashioned and out of date.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.  

Friday, July 23, 2010

Wobbly Times number 68


Plato didn't have much written history to make more than an Idealist stab at what needed doing in his REPUBLIC. At least, he made the political equality between men and women part of his proposed utopia. We've seen social relations change a lot since the 5th Century BC. Back then, slavery was considered an unchanging norm of society and to be sure, Greece at that time was a class dominated society, even though Athens had a political democracy, limited as all political democracies are, to empowering the those with ownership of property over those without ownership of property. Remember, slaves and women were considered property in that era.

Social relations of power are grounded in material relaties of wealth ownership. I would argue that those relations have changed and have been changed by an rising sense of entitlement to freedom and democracy. The historical process has been slow; but it is inexorable because it is firmly founded on a part of our human nature to wit the instinctive desire amongst all animals not to be caged, tied down or fettered and instead to be free.

To be sure, to be free in nature is to be more or less totally dominated by nature. A lion cannot live outside its hunting ground unless it is caged and fed at a zoo. Survival is a strong driving instinct too.

Civilisation is like a zoo with the zoo keepers in the role of rulers. The difference though, is that humans possess reason as their primary adaptive trait, their evolutionary trump card. And as human reason develops, it can begin to shape its own environment through imagination coupled with reason. And that's precisely what humanity has done over the eons.

When humans are able to dream and plan for a better, freer world, they start forming that new world within the womb of the old world. Looking back at history, we can see this developing consciousness emerging in the ancient, feudal agrarian societies which dominated before the 15th Century AD...and then came the invention of the printing press, literacy for the many in the venacular as opposed to just for the few in sacred languages/foreign tongues of the past and so on......under all, lay the drive to become freer, an instinctive drive.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wobbly Times number 67


Wages adjusted for inflation aka 'real wages' are now below what they were in 1964.


As for the minimum 'real wage', it's now below what it was in 1958. ... See More
see chart with blue and red diamonds at:

Meanwhile, real productivity, output per hour of labour has increased by an average 2% or more per year over the 20th Century up till now. We're always being told via our media pundits and pollies that when productivity rises, wages rise. This axiom is a commonplace which you'll hear constantly coming from talking heads employed by the capitalist class...all part of the infotainment game. Thus, the vast accumulation of wealth continues apace. The lion's share ends up in the bank accounts, bonds, stocks and real estate holdings of about 10% of the population aka the capitalist and landlord classes.


If you believe capitalist propagandists in the corporate and State media then, you're likely to think that the minimum wage is too high. You're likely to fall into the trap of a 'race to the bottom'. "If workers didn't ask so much, Ford wouldn't be shipping our jobs to Mexico and China."

We're really never educated to become class conscious in capitalist society. We're never told that labour creates all the wealth not already found in Nature. We are told that we're mere indvidudal consumers. Our knowledge of production (what goes on in our minds) is such that we attribute wealth creation to capitalist owners of industry instead of the people who must sell their time and skills to the employing class in order to make a lving e.g. Mercedes Benz makes great cars. This phenonmenon is known as 'reification' in philosophy.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wobbly Times number 66

Identity Politics as Empty, Meaningless Abstraction

Political power is the ability to be able to tell someone else what to do and expect that they will do it or else they’ll be in for it….they’ll get what for. Ideology without power remains an abstraction. Sure, we all think in abstractions; but without the content of political power, theoretical abstractions remain empty. Because wealth goes with the ability to hire armed bodies of men & women to carry out your threats, a tiny minority of humans, the ruling class, has political power. The OTHERS are many, they are, in fact, the most, ninety percent or more, but divided politically. As opposed to being united in One Big classconscious Union, we are united as a class to produce wealth for the aforementioned rulers. Thus, our rulers stay in power and never give us a hint that they’ve done what they have their pundits say, we could never do: organise as a class to produce wealth. Talking heads of the culture industry babble at the OTHERS, keeping them, as much as possible, in a state of thinking of themselves as narrow individuals, cowboys and heroines, each with their own special concerns about their own identity. The only collective sense of ‘power’ they are allowed to entertain is the power of the consumer in the marketplace of commodities. Chicken, beef or turkey, which do you choose?

Oh yes, and then there are the collective ideological forces which channel our libidinous desires for power into the content of action for our rulers' interests or into relatively meaningless acts of faith. On the left, this translates into liberalism, even radical liberalism i.e. demanding that rulers act morally and 'smart' as the left defines those terms. The BIG Idea, become a modern day material force because it has garnered so many believers, is 'our nation'. The second is, of course, our religion or even lack of it. Then, there's sexual orientation, age, weight and so on, all the way down to narrow individualism, the dominant ideology of our atomised age.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wobbly Times number 65

What is a Wage-Slave?

A wage-slave a person who has to sell their skills and time for a price to an employer in order to make a living. One has to be educated in order to have skills. Are you a wage-slave?

Employers make their living by selling the goods and services which are made by the wage-slaves whom they employ. Members of the landlord class make their living from renting and selling real property which they own.

To sum up: the employing class makes its living from selling the property which its wage-slaves produce. The landlord class makes its living from renting and selling the real property which it owns. The working class makes its living from selling its skills and time to the employing class for a wage. Only the working class owns a property which can add wealth to what wealth already exists in class dominated society. The workers are forced to sell their skills and time to the employing class because they don't own any other exchangeable property other than maybe the house they live in, if the bank doesn't own it, or their socks and shoes. The employing class owns the places and machinery needed for the production of wealth. The employing class could be nested in the State apparatus or, more likely in privately owned corporations or small businesses. It is because the working class is obliged to sell their life-time to another class that they are wage-slaves. They are in bondage to their employers during the time they've sold themselves for.
Of course, the working class is also free. After all, the working class are not chattel slaves. The working class is free to go homeless and collect cans for the recycling industry in order to keep body and soul together. But this is just a sub-minumum form of wage-slavery. The working class is free to sleep under hedges as opposed to buying a home from the banks or renting from landlords--using their wages of course. The working class is free to travel to another country where the political State uses its hired, armed bodies of men to enforce capitalist property laws. The working class is free to use its time and skills to grow vegetables. The working class is also free to become members of the capitalist class, if they can get enough capital together by saving their wages or engaging in selling illegal commodities. Risk ideology is big amongst the promoters of capitalism. But, in essence, most of the working class are wage-slaves and will remain so, until they become class conscious enough to organise One Big Union.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Wobbly Times number 64


The wage system, which Marx said was the foundation of capitalism, is also at the root of alienation. In German, alienate means to separate and the separation of the product from the producer is the essence of the wage system. This separation leads to the workers, the real producers of wealth, to be alienated from political power for political power, no matter what the mode of production is in civilised, class dominated society, is always organically connected with the ownership and control of the wealth which the producers create. Thus, the feeling of powerlessness which accompanies what we call alienation is founded on the wages system of slavery. Thus, the alienation from each other which we feel in our everyday lives and which manifests itself in various stabs in the back to our fellow workers as we compete in the labour market against each other in front the employing class, for a chance to sell our skills and time in order to make a living.

Marx wrote a profound critique of political-economy. I think he focussed so heavily upon it because he knew that the root of capitalism had to be destroyed before capitalist social relations could be surpassed and common ownership and democratic control of the social product of labour i.e. socialism, could be implemented.

Until the wage system is abolished, alienation will exist in spades. As long as the producers are alienated from control and common ownership of the product of their labour, they will remain powerless pawns in their rulers' political games.