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A-C Meetup: Part 1 on the Need for Anti-Capitalist Democratic Internationalism by Galtisalie

2:54 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

[Note: This is my version of light summer reading (but my nickname's not "Buzzkill" for nothing). Hey, I'm even breaking this diary into two parts. It's not healthy to read while you eat but if you do, have a nice sandwich (better make that two), chew slowly, and by the time you're to the pickle, maybe you'll be done. I want to present in bite-size easily digestible pizzas my vision of a peaceful deep democratic revolution. I'm not there yet. I enjoy all the rabbit trails that make up the whole too much and mixing metaphors like a ... concrete mixer. (Do similes count?--see, I do know the difference.) Below all bad writing is my own and unintentional.]

No pressure, but in late 2012 Kyle Thompson at The Other Spiral wrote:

I think the most important thing at this point in time is for the left to reclaim three areas: 1) Internationalism 2) The vision of the future and 3) Economic legitimacy. Without internationalism each struggle feels isolated and localism will never be anything more than localism. … Similarly the left needs to reclaim the future. If all we can imagine for the future is dystopia we will never be motivated enough to build socialism. This is basically the work of artists, conjuring up an image of what might be …. Finally the left must fight to achieve at least a niche of respectability in economic discourse.

I’ll up the ante and say that together we must constantly work to combine all three into a new praxis, one that learns from the past but also is willing to modify or even Jetson imagery that unnecessarily divides us. But, we’ve caught a break: in case you haven’t noticed, a lot of capitalist imagery has worn thin. Ecology and unemployment are biting capitalism on the buttock, just as our side predicted. When I was a kid, I was counting on one of those glass-topped space sedans to zip me around town one day. I’m beginning to doubt that’s going to happen. The caution yellow Pinto with shag carpetting on the dash that zipped me to my first job has long since finished rusting to nothingness, and only the bondo I liberally applied during those bong-heady times remains at the bottom of some landfill.

The future is with us, and that’s scaring the bondo out of the oligarchy, but our side’s still dazed and confused, and the oligarchy wants to keep its party going until the polar ice cap has gone and every last carbon chain has been broken to fuel the Pintos of the 21st century we will purchase to drive to the jobs we won’t have. I’m no artist and have no credentials for economic discourse. That leaves me with a possible niche of utility if not respectability researching internationalism. But since I’m writing from the Deep South of the U.S., home of a widely-held theory about the U.N. involving the mark of the Beast, I’d better toss in some revolutionary ever-modern art to get things started, and, in Part 2, follow-up with Luxemburg, who gives the political-economic basis for anti-capitalist democratic internationalism. If Rosa’s not respectable and respectful enough for the dismal scientists they can kiss my grits.

When El Lissitzsky created “Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge” he made a conscious decision to use the forms of the unrepresentational feelings-based suprematist school he had helped found to focus on their artistic opposite: the material world as he perceived it. This professional betrayal was motivated by a higher duty: universal morality. As a Russian Jew who’d lived most of his life under the Czar’s antisemitism, he wanted to use the best tools that he could muster to help beat the reactionary White Army. Nothing could have been more literal in the minds of the populace who viewed the poster and others like it in the Russian Civil War. Yet the use of geometric shapes and a limited palette brings a discordant transcendence so that even now when one looks at the poster it appears relevant– or so would have said two kids I showed it to if they used big words. Subconsciously, it is up to the individual viewer to decide where he or she fits among the objects, while pining for something missing from this divided two-dimensional incomplete but sadly accurate plane.

What tools do we have to muster and for whose cause should we be mustering them? Key questions of the 20th century and always.

I write this on the 70th anniversary of D-Day, when humanity did not need national banners to know that Hitler’s eliminationist ethnic nationalism was so inhumane it had to be defeated. (But humane posters are always useful.) Capital “F” Fascism has a way of reemerging on our one planet, and we rarely on this day consider why that is in our justifiable remembrance of the lives that were lost on those bloodied shores of Normandy. I am sure that millions of D-Day-themed posts and comments in blogs and on Facebook pages will be published before this one comes out on Sunday night, June 8, 2014. Rather than add to the digital pile, I am instead going t
o focus on the war to end all wars that came one generation before WWII, the choices that are involved in warring, and the political-economic reasons we keep doing the wrong thing as a single human species.

Interesting, “national” banners. They pop up, as with the U.S. Civil War, before ethnic armies that are not even nations. Two passed me night before last as I was walking my dogs in the Deep South: the rebel flag flying proudly on the right of the back of an old imported pick-up truck with its windows down driven by a “white” man with the Libertarian “Don’t Tread on Me” flag on the left. The skinny bearded great American working class Confederate man calmly smiled and nodded at me inclusively, assuming I was part of his team, like we were about to go over together and kick the dead Yankee bodies at Bull Run just for grins, or perhaps attend a lynching and pass the bottle (not spin the bottle mind you, 100% virile straight man fun stuff). I was wondering if he heard my loud “Booooo,” particularly when he began to slow down about thirty yards past me. (At least I thought it was loud, but not so loud as to upset the dogs–but pretty darn loud people.) I thought he, likely packing, was turning around to come back and tread on me or worse, but he turned right, fittingly. Maybe he had second thoughts about murder or maybe it was his muffler problem that allows me to write these words. How do we get him out of the white circle and in the natural polychromatic sphere of life, not pictured here? I think he’s hopeless, so mostly I ignore him, but, if and when he waves his hateful flags in my neighborhood or yours, I propose confrontation, red wedge wielded. And somewhere, those flags are always waving. And innocent kids are being raised to be in the white circle.

Forward, MARCH. But how and when? Human solidarity is our journey and our destination. The capitalist interests that prevent humanity from recognizing the economic, social, and cultural rights of all human beings should not be deciding our individual and collective fates. To be sure an international cooperative needs to be established with the means to stop genocide. But that international cooperative also needs to be democratically-controlled by the citizens of the world as such.

Any assemblage of nationalist banners is highly suspect. Sometimes all the banners that are flown are evil. Other times, for a brief period of time, some of the banners can actually recruit humane cooperation. Better for humanity to reorganize itself to take down all of the banners, put them in museums, and democratically flesh out the details of justice in the service of love without wasting innocent flesh. That worldwide revolution to true democracy of, by, and for humanity is our war. If we open our individual minds to our rights as human beings we can begin to begin again, and the revolution can be as peaceful as possible.

100 years ago this month, Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were murdered by Serbian nationalists, and I don’t feel so good myself. The world is still gripped by capitalism and its junior partners imperialism and nationalism. It is safe to say that the great democratic international communist Rosa Luxemburg did not feel that the cruel act necessitated world war and the expenditure of the blood of the workers killing each other over the alliances of their respective nation states. Not their fight.

A few years later, after the world had fought that awful imperialist war, the red wedge beat the White Army. After that came a lot of awful things in the Soviet Union Luxemburg sadly predicted. The workers of the Soviet Union, under totalitarianism, were forced to forget their rights. Stalin led a “real” “socialism in one country” debacle of his own inhumanity, and mass injustice and coerced stupidity occurred. He forgot that socialism is the fight for worldwide justice in the service of love in his quest for industrial state capitalist supremacy over market capitalist supremacy.

These days the workers of the world are even less likely to know our fights. Meanwhile, our legally-recognized rights, if any, are more and more circumscribed to non-economic matters. Coping strategies abound.

If we are unemployed, we can still sometimes find temp jobs killing each other.
Fine-tuning misdirection, in the U.S., with its endless drug war, workers like my mom’s kin are also much more likely to kill each other or ourselves through self-prescribed medicines far less ennobling than the killer weed Maureen Dowd sampled in Colorado for journalistic integrity. If we are employed, we are more and more likely to be working two or more minimum wage part-time jobs, if we can find them. The “free” market for consumer goods, virtual or otherwise, also dictates that the workers break the tenth commandment, coveting our neighbor’s ox if not his or her ass. Thus (not to be the Southern Baptist prude I was raised to be), the collective consciousness is expected to be on the level of a Super Bowl halftime show, with revolutionary levels of sex mania.

I would not dare begrudge anyone their jollies, and I know many loins are tender, and who does not want a hunka hunka burning love, but please, when your singin’ group is named after a dead alliterative archduke and you borrow Lissitzsky’s imagery, light your fire for the whole worker and not just the private parts.

I can attest from my own family history that, a dozen years before the Ferdinand assassinations, many workers in the U.S., including the brown cigarmakers of Hillsborough County, Florida, were at least as manic about their economic rights and their grounding in the international socialist movement as they were about their libidos. Yes, I am particularly fixated on when my great-great-uncle Francisco had his own brush with death–enunciating these very rights and that very movement under the direction of the workers themselves:

The Milián Affair

On Saturday, November 1, 1902, West Tampa was rocked by an almost unbelievable story. Francisco Milián, popular mayor of West Tampa and lector at the Bustillo Brothers and Diaz factory, was adducted, beaten, and forced out of town by the Tampa police chief and an unidentified mob under a threat of death if he returned.

This episode was the culmination of a series of actions against Milián. The owners of the factory where he served as reader to the workers had earlier charged him with being a radical labor agitator because the selections he read represented Marxist and anti-capitalist viewpoints. Although Milián read what the workers had selected, he was held responsible for inciting the workers. …

Mendez, Armando, 1994. Ciudad De Cigars: West Tampa, pp. 93-94. (Florida Historical Society.) (emphasis added).

Critical about this is not the fact that this was my relative (but did I tell you that this was my relative?), or even that he was reading Marxist and anti-capitalist viewpoints, but that the frickin’ everyday workers in Florida over a century ago were asking to be read these frickin’ viewpoints.

I don’t want to leave you hanging in the middle of the story:

As he left West Tampa City Hall on November 1, Milián was approached by the Tampa police chief and another man, who asked him to accompany them to another location in order to identify someone. They left in a carriage, and made their way to Six Mile Creek. Milián was told that because he was a labor agitator and a dangerous character, he was going to be punished. He was kept under guard until a number of men arrived. Milián was then stripped and beaten. Warned that he must leave Tampa and never return, he protested that he could not leave his family in West Tampa. Despite his protests, Milián was taken to the Port of Tampa and put aboard a steamer bound for Cuba. With a final admonition that he faced death if he returned, the men watched as the steamer took Milián south.

When the steamer docked in Key West, Milián sought friendly workers and told them his tale. Workers in Tampa were notified, and they went to the Hillsborough County sheriff to demand protection for Milián when he returned. A delegation also went to Tampa and West Tampa City officials with a threat of a long general strike if Milián was harmed.

On November 12, the Olivette, the Plant Line steamer, arrived in Port Tampa with Milián on board. Two sheriff’s deputies and 200 supporters were on hand to protect him.

When he arrived in Tampa, another 400 greeted him. From Tampa, Milián was escorted to the International Cigarmakers Union Hall on 6th Avenue for a reception. More than 2,000 people queued up to shake his hand.

This display of support was enough to stay the hand of the owners, and Milián was allowed to return to West Tampa and take up his job as lector and mayor unmolested. …

No charges were ever filed nor any arrests made in this bizarre incident despite the testimony of Milián.

Did you see those two words, “general strike,” in a writing centered on the then leading industry in the state that most recently elected he-who-must-not-be-named as governor?

Could this happen again? Could workers in Florida and the other 49 U.S. “states,” including the Deep South, get back our mojo? Not IMHO if we’re only thinking about the microcosm of our own specific struggles, however valid and critical. Labor mojo is synonymous with solidarity, which is all about viewing each of ourselves as part of something bigger than ourselves. But that “bigger something” cannot and does not stop at national boundaries! Never did, and certainly does not now. We need general strikes, and the more general the better, Taft-Hartley Act and its foreign legal equivalents be damned. Let’s, for instance, feel justified to democratically violate en masse unjust labor laws until they are stricken down one way or another–because this is justified. Let’s love each other as workers of the world, and demonstrate this with all the tools we can muster.

Where do laws come from in the U.S.? What truly democratic institutions do we have? Laws are to be in the service of justice, with justice being in the service of love. When we begin to think deeply about our own rights–not those written up in constitutions given to us by the powerful but those that should be written in our hearts because they can be logically derived by our minds and certainly encompassing the meeting of our basic human needs–we begin to recognize how irrational it is to think that these rights should or even can stop at national boundaries.

So, I say, let’s set the goal that by the 100th anniversary of Rosa Luxemburg’s murder by German nationalists who would soon become known as “Nazis” (January 15, 1919) that an overwhelming majority of the workers of the world will once again at least know our full spectrum of deep democratic rights as citizens of the world. We each as workers have to know our rights to peacefully fight for them.

Wearing my buzzkill hat, although I am a mere “ethical” democratic socialist I have to concede to the “scientific” socialists that to fail to know our rights is to invite a perpetuation of capitalist economic crises and worldwide environmental collapse. I do not want that outcome. So (as if you aren’t doing plenty already), let’s roll up our sleeves and describe for ourselves the proactive, non-fatalistic tasks that taken together will bring about an acceptable level of international justice, beginning with teaching ourselves our international rights as human beings.

Right now I think I will be coming back to our shared rights as citizens of the world in more and more detail in future ACM diaries until I feel that I have exhausted the topic, group administrators willing. I expect that this series will be done this calendar year. I hope it will not get too boring. And there are plenty of great writers in this group if I am not your cup of tea, so read their diaries if not mine. As I look deeper at these issues, I will hopefully be able to pass on some coherent thoughts on the subject for you to criticize. I am not predicting utopia, and I do not expect you to always agree with me.

I’m on the quest to find the holy grail of a reasonably good and systematic view of how to actually bring about loving “system change” lovingly, including the likely benefits of every worker (including every ally of workers, however one technically defines “worker”), with all of our varying abilities and circumstances, having a recognized constructive and consciously-revolutionary role to play, however small it seems. Others are focusing on what the anti-capitalist alternative should look like and the specific battles in which we should be engaged in the ugly austerity-filled interim. I worship your work. It is vital. I am your comrade, and, if it weren’t un-socialistic to say so, your loyal servant. I want to see your vision come true and will do anything I can do to help. I think that I can best help by being focused on the art of winning as peacefully as possible, with justice ever being in the service of love.

Observed the editors of Monthly Review on its 65th Anniversary last month, after quoting the socialist William Morris’s Signs of Change (1888):

To advocate for revolution … not as a fear but as a hope, obviously does not mean a rejection altogether of the process of legal reform, but rather the abandonment of the usual limited, non-starting, counterproductive reforms, offered up by the system, which are meant to close off the future and to defend the existing order, making real change impossible: what in socialist theory is known as reformism. All actions initiated by popular forces today should rather be aimed at “a change in the basis of society.” Revolution, as Rosa Luxemburg observed, is distinguished from reform not so much in representing a different method of change, or in occurring over a different duration, but rather in its constituting a distinguishing moment of the struggle.

My working theory is that lots of small acts, including consciousness raising, may end up with workers in everyday places around the world, such as West Tampa, once again agitating in multiple ways to make our collective rights a reality! Let’s begin again and party like its 1914, with an unmistakably internationally-focused praxis that rejects capitalist warring! We have learned so much in the ensuing century, much of it unpleasant, which we must never forget–including the fact that while capitalism and its love of money is the root of all evil, divide-and-conquer nationalism has been its strategic mercenary.

We may be able to collectively lead ourselves to a better world if we learn not to be overly dependent on “leaders.” Leaders will come and go, but we should each learn how our efforts can best fit together locally, nationally, and internationally. We, including both leftists and left liberals, need to respect each other because we all have key contributions to make. We all need to know how “it all” fits together strategically in order to feel the comforting breeze of emerging solidarity. Hell, we may even find something realistic yet strategically important for religious leaders of good will like Pope Francis to do! Heaven can wait. I have one very important idea that I am going to spring on Francis hopefully by year’s end, as I’m sure he reads my posts–just kidding! (Whoa! Slow down Francisco, aka Galtisalie, too many exclamation points!)

In the meantime, the next time I post for ACM (possibly in July) in Part 2 of this two-part diary on the need for anti-capitalist democratic internationalism, I want to describe the political-economic need for looking at these rights not only from an anti-capitalist perspective but also from an international, as opposed to a national, perspective. For that I will heavily rely on the above-mentioned Rosa, with an assist from Karl (the influence not the colleague). I like to think that I am channeling some of those radical cigarmakers who gave their dimes and quarters to my namesake, Tio Francisco. Like MrJayTee said last Sunday in his wonderful diary, I am no scholar. A penny for your thoughts.

[One final note: You may say to yourself, "I wish Francisco would stop being so self-referential and personal in his diaries. What a weirdo." As some of you know, I came out of a fundamentalist Christian background where personal "testifying" was part of the subculture. I made the decision last year to begin personally "testifying" about democratic socialism, not out of some sick social pressure like I grew up with but because it is truly what I believe in as an independent-thinking species-being. In fact, when I started gardenvarietydemocraticsocialist.com (which is just a little volunteer website, and which does not collect a dime or a quarter by the way), my first act at the website was publishing a lengthy autobiographical political pamphlet that, beginning at page 20, includes 27 or so pages on the very topic "Support and Recruitment for Granma’s Next Voyage: Why I Write Personally and Plainly About Democratic Socialism." Here is the page at gardenvarietydemocraticsocialist.com that gives the link to the pamphlet. I don't expect you to read it. Hardly anyone has! But at least you know where to go to read my self-justification for self-revelation! (Darn exclamation point key stuck again!!!!)]

AC Meetup: Mother’s Day and Humane Cat Herding–Know Our Rights and Fights! by Galtisalie

2:45 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

“Happy Mother’s Day” in many countries in the world. Hopefully you did not have to prepare a hormone-laden turkey dinner for eleven as in Rockwell’s “Freedom from Want” painting. I’m not an art critic, so no problem with his Thomas Kinkade style, but I never liked the composition of the painting, and now I pretty much hate it–it’s unchallenging paternalism, the grins, particularly of the younger men, the bourgeois crystal, linen, “silvah,” and china, unh-unh–it did not strike me as, shall we say, reflective of the seriousness of the challenge of resolving hunger in most of the world, or even of “coming out of” the Depression in the U.S. with a fledgling of a welfare state. What an incredible cultural missed opportunity to educate Amurrricans. On the other hand, we have to know our fights, and “our” rights will be met or unmet on tables both alike and unlike this one, and maybe we should suppose that those young men might indeed be overjoyed with the first feast they have had ever or in a long time. IMHO, best not to get too picky with our potential political allies in such matters. So, Norman, if you’re up there, hope you don’t mind my imaginative doctorin’; you did some good popularizing work on human decency, but in this case, thanks for nothing. I sort of love that, according to the most trusted name in news, in 1948 you voted for another Norman, Thomas, but you soon fell off that wagon (and by voting for him you in a tiny way almost helped throw the election to another Thomas, Dewey, and because I am a pragmatist on the left wing of the possible, I would not have liked to see that happen). I will not be holding any candles in your late afternoon-glow honor.

I will try to be at least a little more pro-system change in this diary than a Rockwell painting. This has turned into a socialized Mother’s Day wish directed equally to men and women–not to deprive mothers of deserved praise but in hope of one day achieving a world that will bring all women, and children and men too, freedom from want and fear, if not an occasional huge Butterball. If we want to achieve such a world we must first recognize the clear moral justification for it, something Rockwell completely missed, undoubtedly on purpose, and for that he is morally accountable in my accounting. This moral justification is the underpinning for “rights,” not hoped-for Thanksgiving Day bounty. However, “visualizing” our rights to freedom from want and fear, while incredibly important, is obviously not the same thing as “achieving” it. This diary is also about pursuing the most efficient and peaceful path to such a world. To be as efficient and peaceful as possible on the journey to a just and loving world, we need to know our fights as well as our rights. As many people as possible need to learn about humane “cat herding.”

I hesitated (not really) to raise this confusing cat-laden subject at a website that devotes a lot of cyberspace to cute kitty stories, and they are adorable, concerned that I would be rebutted with expertise about actual cat behavior, glorious traits, etc. In all seriousness, at the outset I do want to disclaim any intent to talk down to anyone, but especially the poor and their allies, by using this soon to be extremely tiresome cat herding motif, which will go on for several paragraphs and then abruptly end, I promise. It is just an illustrative tool. Please do not think that I think that any human beings, even the fat cats running our world, are actually less than full human beings and somehow lower forms of life, such as cats. That is not at all what I am trying to suggest. This diary will be clunky from start to finish, but it is with good intent, and not intended to disparage anyone by suggesting that I think any human beings are literally cats or “subhuman.”

Nor do I want to promote a “vanguard” approach to cat herding. I certainly do not mean to suggest that “the masses” are stupid, waiting around for a free turkey dinner, or even in need of external or hierarchical leadership. Rather, as I just stated in the above italicized sentence, “As many people as possible need to learn about humane ‘cat herding.’” Capital’s mercenaries, themselves the dominant cats in my illustration, are already herding us around with their sharp teeth and claws away from the world’s sustainable buffet table, which is derived from our rightful land. To defend ourselves and future humans justly and lovingly, we must learn to fight back efficiently while recognizing the inhumane but still all too human predilection for tribalism and susceptibility to the exploitative divisive tactics of the right.

I am endorsing and promoting the full democratization of cat herding. When we all become cat herders, the mercenaries will themselves be herded, if not declawed, and we will rise to our best non-Rockwellian expression of our inherent worth and beauty as human beings in full possession of HUMAN rights, not cat rights. And the only cats left will be the 1% or less, that’s right, the fat cats. All on the left have a role to play in deeply democratic cat herding. As much as possible, we all should become our leaders. We each, IMHO, have to figure out our most effective leadership role on one or more of the fronts against capital.

Women, whether they are mothers or not, often have been and still are forced to herd most of the cats. This typically reflects a desperate and unfair state of affairs antithetical to socialism, both in terms of the need for cat herding to begin with and in terms of the involuntary roles of women. Again, I am not advocating a vanguard of cat herders, whether composed of women or some secret society of enlightened cat herders. Certainly, if there is a need for cat herding, supplying this need should be equally done by men and women. However, I do believe that on the long journey to global deep democracy massive amounts of cat herding will be required and that when conscious united species beings arise with insistence to demand our HUMAN rights, most will naturally become cat herders wanting to make a positive difference in one way or another. In winning a global deep democratic revolution this special skill can at least partially be redeployed from internal nuclear family survival to external human family survival. Perhaps more women than men will in fact tend to lead the female and male “cats” of the world to “unite” and demand true freedom with full HUMAN rights.

Solidarity requires that beings formerly acting more like cats learn to cooperate in order that we may collectively lose our “chains” (Marx’s word). While “chains” is still an apt metaphor for the restraints on billions of women and other humans around the world, probably a better metaphor in many places is “the silver-inlaid concrete” of the paternalistic institutions imposed on us by the racist white males who have run our world for millennia, wrote the U.S. Constitution, and have since developed and imposed a system of global neoliberalism. So, let’s go with that. “Concrete,” as I use it, is something of a play on the word as used by Herbert Marcuse when he was giving a talk in 1966 about his late friend Paul Baran:

I would like to discuss the topic assigned to me by first dealing with Paul Baran’s critique of the social sciences. In his critique of the social sciences he emphasized the dialectical element in the Marxian method. The sentence he liked to quote again and again was “the truth is the whole.” To him it was a revolutionary principle of thought, because it broke with the fetishism and reification, with the fallacy of misplaced concreteness, prevalent in the social sciences, a pseudo-empiricism which in his view tended to make the objectivity of the social sciences a vehicle of apologetics and a defense of the status quo. Baran defined this dialectical principle negatively and I will read to you the definition, the short definition, he gives in “The Commitment of the Intellectual”: “The principle ‘the truth is the whole’—to use an expression of Hegel—carries with it, in turn, the inescapable necessity of refusing to accept as a datum or to treat as immune from analysis, any single part of the whole.”

I would like to supplement this negative definition by a positive one to the effect that in and for the social sciences every particular phenomenon, every particular condition, every particular trend, in a given society must be analyzed and evaluated in terms of its relations to the whole, i.e., to the established social order. Isolated from this whole the respective phenomenon, condition, or trend remains a false, at least incomplete, and inconclusive datum concealing rather than revealing its true place and function in the social order. The social order itself, the social order as a concrete whole, is determined and defined for Baran following Marx by the material process of social reproduction and by the hierarchy of functions and values established in this social process of production. But the concrete relation between any particular fact, datum, condition, or trend, on the one side, and the whole social order, on the other, is never a direct and immediate one. It is always established through various intermediate factors, agencies, and powers, among them psychological factors, the family as agent of society, the mass media, language, images prevalent in a society, and so forth.
(Footnote omitted.)

In politically but not economically “democratic” nation states, we are supposed to make-believe that the silver-inlaid concrete of the paternalistic institutions all around us are sufficiently malleable to be in our best interests; and that we can “participate” on an equal footing in national or sub-national elections, and maybe even national or sub-national court proceedings now and then, and these institutions can somehow be conformed to “our” satisfaction, consistent with free market supremacy of course. All this deception is intended to ensure that “the gold” of the world stays with the fat cats, and that the workplaces and fields of the world are producing that “gold” and not the gold of grains for hungry mouths to feed and other useful things.

No, “Brother Francisco,” aka Galtisalie, did not get into the bad acid again. I do tend to mix and match my metaphors like unto a tie-dye shirt. (“You think,” the generous manage to chuckle.) Again, I did not intend to make this a “Mother’s Day” message at all. I, a privileged male, have no qualifications to address women of the Deep South of the U.S., where I live, on Mother’s Day or any other day, much less the women of the world. But I am going to try anyway to address women as well as men, crummy metaphors and all. While I am hopeful that men in general will become truly free leaders deserving of the words in the revolutionary future, I know enough to doubt that men generally have the best stuff “to lead” our world any longer, and I am begging women of the left to error on the side of democratically taking over elective and other leadership positions before it is too late. I am not pandering, or giving up my own right to vote and otherwise participate in the forms available to me in these flawed institutions. I simply have the honesty to admit that men have messed up the world big time, so I reject on the basis of abundant evidence any paternalistic mindset as a qualification for leadership and look for leadership far outside of that paradigm. While I am not asking for a substitution of maternalism for paternalism, “far outside” of paternalism points me in the direction of the hearts and minds of women of the left.

I am definitely not trying to say I can tell women of the left what their priorities should be, as concerns for instance, the relative weight any or all should give to the class struggle versus “women’s” struggles. I know from Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man that it is unfair for “white people,” even well-meaning white people of the left, to seek to impose a world view on African Americans. Similarly, it is unfair for me, a male, to seek to impose a world view on females–on this or any other day of the year. When I say, “know our rights and our fights,” I am not trying to pre-determine the rights and the fights that are most important to you. For one woman at any point in time, the most important right may be the right not to be attacked or beaten by an abusive person, for another it may be the right to reproductive freedom. But, whatever your most important of our rights, you and I must know how to build unity to assure that they and hence we are protected. So, I hope that this diary will, without seeming to dictate “rights and fights,” help to identify “fronts” where the rights and fights most important to you, whatever they are, may be vindicated.

I certainly did not intend to talk to my comrades about cats. I am not at all suggesting that cats disprove dialectical materialism. Rather, “they,” (i.e., the cats a narrow “we” in the “wealthy” pet-keeping and powerful, typically northern, portions of the world, such as the Deep South of the U.S., typically think of when “we” think of cats, i.e., puddy tats which are well-fed and domesticated), seem to have a lot of priorities that are not measurable in caloric intake. (They do not truly need to eat Tweety, if you will–head spinning, stay with cat motif and away from birds.) While greedy capital runs the human world, focusing on the emotion of fear, in the “they” cat world pride and aloofness seems to be dominant.

My cat-related thesis begins first with the observation that because humans who reach high levels of capitalist power, be it in the, now transnational, “business world” or in the silver-inlaid concrete institutions that serve capital, be they the true fat cats or merely their handsome mercenary cats, do not fear where their next meal is coming from, when they are not purely motivated by greed at the behest of capital at their best tend to behave like well-fed spoiled-rotten self-centered cats. They use the walls of the halls of the silver-inlaid concrete institutions as posts to scratch their claws. Second, billions of hungry cats around the world are in a severely weakened and fearful state, and perhaps a billion or two more are comparably just enough more comfortable to still be extremely fearful of losing the extra that is “theirs.” These combined billions are unlikely to depose the cat powers that be, at least without a “united” effort, which these institutions are designed to prevent; so they need to build their own new institutions as much as possible, both locally where they live and globally to unite and self-humanize, with full HUMAN rights, cats everywhere. IMHO, the world-wide cat-human revolution primarily needs to take place on the ground level, wherever we can put our paws on the actual earth, and at the international level, where the silver-inlaid concrete is not quite completely dried. Third, because even ideally “conscious” masses of cat-humans cannot have full access and control of the earth and its resources without deeply changing national and sub-national institutions which undercut deep local and global democracy, and because we have to survive during a long revolution for there to be a successful revolution, we must continue to participate and in fact try to take over the very institutions that are most rigid so that we can eventually, somehow, someway, fundamentally change them to the extent they deserve to continue in existence.

For humanity, penned in by oppressive and repressive capitalist institutions, to accomplish great things for itself by all appearances will require great skill at cat herding. Being herded is against the nature of cats. The most archetypal domesticated felines are the least cooperative. Some well-fed cats perhaps can be made to cooperate if they do not realize they are being herded and can instead receive particularly tasty warm milk or stroking, but generally speaking, well-fed cats could not give a flip about where a well-meaning human wants them to go. Once in a while, however, through enormous effort and skill, all the necessary herding takes place to present a quorum or win an election and thereby accomplish something for some of the rest of the cat-human world.

The temptation on the left has sometimes been simply to call all of this faux democratic quorum-seeking, electioneering, and judge-justice appointment-seeking out for all of the bullshit that it is, because out there, outside the halls of power, billions of cats are not well-fed, and we cannot wait on behalf of the hungry, that is not our right. While I understand this, I do not think that we (the broader and inclusive non-fat cat “we”) can avoid cat-herding. Thankfully, with anarcho-socialism at the base of my ideal world, and even today in some places, we can potentially say, “screw you fat cats” to a limited degree and build our own new truly democratic and non-autocratic institutions of cooperation. But the fat cats do not want these oases of freedom to exist. So, in order to get to build most of our cooperatives, etc., we are going to have to have a “revolution” by most of the non-fat cats. And, that revolution will involve all manner of cat herding, not only of the proletariat cat-humans but also of the fat cats themselves, as well as the robust cats who form the mercenaries protecting the fat cats, as well as the not currently starving but fearful cats who form the bulk of the population in the so-called developed world, where they have civil and political rights entitling them to vote on the mercenaries.

In 1948, an older version of the above good woman and cat herder par excellence [No more cat talk--Phew!], was instrumental in the adoption of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The declaration had arisen gradually as an outgrowth of the organizing of the UN at the 1945 San Francisco Conference (chaired by a U.S. diplomat, Alger Hiss). According to the U.S. State Department (which has purged Hiss’s involvement from its website, perhaps to deflect the rightwing charge that the UN is part of a festering communist conspiracy if not the work of the Anti-Christ), FDR’s goal was “preserving peace,” which in turn built upon the (KKK-supporting) Woodrow Wilson’s goal to do the same in the League of Nations, which isolationist Republicans would not allow the U.S. to join.

Ironically, many nation states in the “free world,” the U.S. included (whose 32nd president had given freedom a fuller voice eleven months before Pearl Harbor), did not want to agree that freedom from want and fear were human rights. Many others on both sides of the Cold War and unaligned did. the Eleanor Roosevelt papers project provides an excellent short synopsis of the back and forth, including this important acknowledgement of socialism:

The covenant’s provisions clearly reflect the socialist emphasis on economic rights, which is what the General Assembly had intended when it took the matter up in 1951. As a result, the United States and other western democracies remained unconvinced of the covenant’s merits and refused to ratify it. Despite a lack of support from these countries, however, the covenant entered into force on January 3, 1976 for those states that had approved it. As of 2002, the United States had still not ratified the covenant.

The end result is a Committee, whoopee, which I will describe in detail in a future diary, but which I will mostly link to at this point:

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) is the body of 18 independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by its States parties. The Committee was established under ECOSOC Resolution 1985/17 of 28 May 1985 to carry out the monitoring functions assigned to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in Part IV of the Covenant.

Dispute exists as to what authority the committee has (see, e.g., http://hrlr.oxfordjournals.org/content/11/1/1.abstract), but I think that it provides the left with its best focal point on the official international front, including by pointing out the committee’s many major institutional flaws and limitations.

In the end, we can each do what the balance sheet of each day we have allows. We morally can only be sacrificial with our own individual bellies and not those of other human beings. The capitalists use this, our morality of human compassion, against us through the principle of divide and conquer, to defeat solidarity. Some of us may have intentionally eschewed “family” or other small bound grouping of two or more people, sought one and been denied one by fate, or we may have a family or other small bound grouping, in which case it has to chew. Maybe our immediate family is us and a real cat. Maybe our small bound grouping is “traditional” nuclear, communal, or some other combination of mouths to feed, but no matter what, we don’t want to see it starve. Finite resources meet x number of mouths to feed around the table, however we define it, a number which we, with the varied influence of our bodies, societies, and subcultures, determine to varying degrees. But it is these mouths to feed that we probably care about most, in all honesty, because we have to look them in the eye when they are in hunger or fear. And to fear that we will not be able to feed them is our greatest fear.

Life is weird. In the midst of writing this diary, I have been reading about the Ludlow Massacre a lot in JayRaye’s incredible diaries at Hellraisers Journal. And the same week, an Irish socialist friend put on his Facebook page the unforgettable defiant picture of Stepjan Filopovic, the Yugoslavian Communist Martyr, whose last words were “Smrt fašizmu, sloboda narodu!” (“Death to fascism, freedom to the people!”)

We never know when we may be on our last day or our last diary. Most of us will not have to lose our lives in the cause like the Ludlow Martyrs or Mr. Filopovic. The striking workers of southern Colorado were not seeking a fight but merely the right to organize and seek a modicum of justice for their families. If we are part of a small bound grouping, we may like them stand up for our rights–or we may become risk averse, or we may suffer from the PTSD of living on a capitalist-dominated earth which makes us “shell” shocked. So we may not be able or willing to put our lives on the line like they did. But, even though the things most of us do will likely not get us killed for standing up for the powerless, maybe that is more of an indictment than we would like to admit. I hope I have many days, and even decades to go, and many diaries. I hope you do too. A doctor told me the other day that, as a left-handed male, my subpopulation is statistically non-existent at the age of 80 (so maybe I do have a ways to go, and if I stop driving at a sensible age, maybe I won’t hurt myself or someone else), primarily because it is so accident prone, a personal tendency I cannot deny. Whatever the future holds, I am glad to be able to write this diary and have you with me on this beautiful planet. I am so grateful to this group and to Hellraisers Journal for making me feel true solidarity in the cause in which we believe. Down heah in the Deep South of the U.S., we don’t get that feeling much, and in fact, the whole concept of “we” is suspect.

I hope that this diary synthesizes some important concepts in a simple and understandable manner. I intend to work with my comrades on the fronts that this diary raises to the best of my ability for the duration, whatever that is, unless I am reassigned by socialism “learnin’ me” something else that makes more sense. ¡Viva la Revolución!

The tension between political democracy’s “negative” rights and economic democracy’s “positive” rights has never been resolved and may never completely be. But “we” have to try. Whichever system best resolves it may win the hearts, minds, and stomachs of humanity. Repression is the natural domain of the powerful few, who purchase military might and mercenaries to get their way over the masses. Absent repression, the left has the overwhelming advantage in this greatest of all contests. Because of constant repression by the right, the left will have to fight in newfound human solidarity on multiple fronts for its reformed deeply democratic message to prevail. Our blood and resources should not be spent on capitalism’s wars, at home or abroad.

We need to keep our own house in order so that never again will committed leftists wonder which side of a “Cold War” they should be on. However, we must be realistic and realize that the capitalists exploit civil and political rights to divide and conquer. Solidarity is our friend and capitalism’s enemy. To live in solidarity, we must know our rights and our fights.

Republicanism, beginning with the U.S. Constitution, particularly the Bill of Rights, came to be associated with civil and political rights. However, this paradigm has always been manipulated by the wealthy as a matter of their convenience, for whom true democracy of the polity and the economy has always been a grave threat to their privileges. Many who have been exploited and their allies–Native Peoples, African Americans, the poor of all ethnicities, women, GLBTs, labor martyrs and hellraisers, Mother Jones, Eugene Debs et al., countless victims of Eugene McCarthy, non-”Anglo” immigrants past, today’s undocumented workers, and the families and descendants of the victims of U.S. and U.S. puppet bombs, bullets, torture, murder, and dirty tricks the world over–readily can dispute the paradigm that the U.S. is a credible and virtuous purveyor of civil and political freedom. Meanwhile, through weak social welfare programs won by the left, some of the poor in the U.S. receive some state “charity,” but never under the rubric of “economic rights,” while “labor rights” to organize and use direct action against capital have been viciously denied and, when won in some regions, constantly undercut.

In a sad parallel, “real” socialism under Stalin’s Soviet Union and Mao’s People’s Republic of China also did not practice what it preached. It was supposed to deliver economic rights while making “capitalist” civil and political rights obsolete. Stalin’s show trials, brutal repression of millions of his own people as well as the anarchists and Trotskyites in 1930s Spain, and immoral temporary alliance with Hitler himself put conscientious leftists in a questioning and compromised position for generations. We have never fully gotten over it. While the Soviet Union provided some economic justice, it allowed some piggish behavior by the guardians of economic equality (piggish behavior which has, of course, dramatically increased with the dispensing with “outdated” socialist concepts and the adoption of capitalism in these places–although even today, North Korea is a shining example of state monopoly capitalist totalitarianism at its worst, providing no civil and political freedom and mass exploitation on behalf of the elite, with special privileges to the military.) Moreover, through some monumentally stupid central planning decisions, Stalin and Mao managed to buttress Ronald Reagan’s now Lafferble voo doo notion that the poor might somehow be better off if they only got pissed on more–a notion that, while thoroughly disproved, now rules the world through global neoliberalism.

The powerful few are destroying our one beautiful world long before an asteroid or the life cycle of the sun do it for us. With global warming and endless human suffering, humanity has no time to dither. The good answers are on the left. But until the left is able to communicate a just and loving future for humanity, and focus and unite in pursuit of this future, it will be treated as an anachronism by all but the desperate and their morally-devoted allies.

It is my ultimate thesis that by sincerely espousing an updated and greatly expanded version of FDR’s “four” freedoms, and coupling this with a modified praxis recognizing four challenging but unavoidable fronts in the battle for true freedom, the left can do just that.

Here is a hopefully handy-dandy chart:

And here is a good tune:

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.” by Annieli

2:44 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” (Who watches the watchers) Juvenal

Recently, a US rancher with unfortunate racist and fascist tendencies came to the attention of US media with unfortunate consequences but an interesting discourse path. I won’t repeat those issues here except to note that the concerns on which this dispute hinged were issues of common-pool resources. Those are publicly owned assets used by that rancher under a contractual agreement to pay for those property rights to the tune of $1 million. In this case the rancher refused on anachronistic ideological grounds to pay those fees with the contradictory premise that his citizenship beliefs were historically special and autonomously sovereign and therefore exempt from the obligations to his original contract. The Rancher was first lionized by conservative media as a hero resisting an “overreaching” oppressive federal state by privileging the authority of the local state but at this moment in the dispute and due to various public statements and further investigation is now seen as more of a pariah engaged in social banditry. The rancher was contesting issues of exclusion or exclusivity especially in terms of the right to claim rents owed for the contract with the Bureau of Land Management. As Ellickson (1991) has noted, much of the issues are less about land than they are about negotiation as constituitive communication or the social construction of rights.

The right to the city is not the right to the country much as libertarianism has no clear boundaries to what counts as wealth. In the case of Western grazing rights, matters of land and domain become more complicated just as eminence gains greater value as demographic values become less symmetrical. What is being contested are environmental resource rights which as ecological crisis shows us is non-excludable, however, they become reified and therefore excludable in the space of judicial discourse.

There is a line of thinking that leads to Lefebvre and his notion of the “right to the city” as the right that includes and combines all rights. This right is not a matter of access to city spaces (although we should not underestimate specific struggles for free access to parks, etc.), it is not simply a matter of being able to have your own house and the assets that are needed to support your own life, it is something which includes all those demands but also goes beyond them by creating a higher level of the commons. For Lefebvre the right to the city is the right to create the city as a collective work of art. The city, thus, can be produced through encounters that make room for new meanings, new values, new dreams, new collective experiences. And this is indeed a way to transcend pure utility, a way to see commons beyond the utilitarian horizon

This may be an example of what Massimo De Angelis calls a “new enclosure” in that its virtual capital value as mediated political/social capital and its land rent value while connected contain differing versions of capital formation particularly in the differences among use and exchange values. In this Nevada case most recently discussed, the adjudication of self-management for the common-property regime breaks down as competing ideological interests appropriate the message of cultural capital whether for anti-statist activism under some fictive militia meme, or main-stream media corporations looking to procure higher ratings from some core constituency in a low-information audience of reactionaries. The fissures in this discourse have emerged only recently as the character representations of the rancher’s own history have become known. Any possibility of creating a “higher level of the commons” available as a common-property regime defined democratically only an hour’s drive from Las Vegas seems bleak at best given the levels of political and social capital contesting for dominance and using a variety of social media.

Common-pool resources may be owned by national, regional or local governments as public goods, by communal groups as common property resources, or by private individuals or corporations as private goods. When they are owned by no one, they are used as open access resources. Having observed a number of common pool resources throughout the world, Elinor Ostrom noticed that a number of them are governed by common property regimes — arrangements different from private property or state administration — based on self-management by a local community. Her observations contradict claims that common-pool resources should be privatized or else face destruction in the long run due to collective action problems leading to the overuse of the core resource.

Many variations of this have been discussed here before in terms of alternative organizational arrangements: collectives, worker-ownership of firms, and cooperatives.

Massimo De Angelis: My interest in the commons is grounded in a desire for the conditions necessary to promote social justice, sustainability, and happy lives for all. As simple as that. These are topics addressed by a large variety of social movements across the world that neither states nor markets have been able to tackle, and for good reasons. State policies in support of capitalist growth are policies that create just the opposite conditions of those we seek, since they promote the working of capitalist markets. The latter in turn reproduce socio-economic injustices and hierarchical divisions of power, environmental catastrophes and stressed-out and alienated lives. Especially against the background of the many crises that we are facing today—starting from the recent global economic crisis, and moving to the energy and food crises, and the associated environmental crisis—thinking and practicing the commons becomes particularly urgent….

The discourse on the commons relates to Marxist thinking in different ways. In the first place, there is the question of interpreting Marx’s theory of primitive accumulation. In one of the final chapters of volume one of Capital, Marx discusses the process of expropriation and dispossession of commoners, which he refers to as “primitive accumulation,” understood as the process that creates the precondition of capitalist development by separating people from their means of production. In sixteenth- to eighteenth-century England, this process became known as “enclosure”—the enclosure of common land by the landed nobility in order to use the land for wool production. The commons in these times, however, formed an essential basis for the livelihood of communities. They were fundamental elements for people’s reproduction, and this was the case not only in Britain, but all around the world. People had access to the forest to collect wood, which was crucial for cooking, for heating, for a variety of things. They also had access to common grassland to graze their own livestock. The process of enclosure meant fencing off those areas to prevent people from having access to these common resources. This contributed to mass poverty among the commoners, to mass migration and mass criminalization, especially of the migrants. These processes are pretty much the same today all over the world. Back then, this process created on the one hand the modern proletariat, with a high dependence on the wage for its reproduction, and the accumulation of capital necessary to fuel the industrial revolution on the other.

Marx has shown how, historically, primitive accumulation was a precondition of capitalist development. One of the key problems of the subsequent Marxist interpretations of primitive accumulation, however, is the meaning of “precondition.” The dominant understanding within the Marxist literature—apart from a few exceptions like Rosa Luxemburg—has always involved considering primitive accumulation as a precondition fixed in time: dispossession happens before capitalist accumulation takes place. After that, capitalist accumulation can proceed, exploiting people perhaps, but with no need to enclose commons since these enclosures have already been established. From the 1980s onwards, the profound limitations of this interpretation became obvious. Neoliberalism was rampaging around the world as an instrument of global capital. Structural adjustment policies, imposed by the IMF (International Monetary Fund), were promoting enclosures of “commons” everywhere: from community land and water resources to entitlements, to welfare benefits and education; from urban spaces subject to new pro-market urban design and developments to rural livelihoods threatened by the “externalities” of environmentally damaging industries, to development projects providing energy infrastructures to the export processing zones. These are the processes referred to by the group Midnight Notes Collective as “new enclosures.”...

Furthermore, it is important to note that the problem of the commons cannot be simply described as a question of self-interest versus common interests. Often, the key problem is how individual interests can be articulated in such a way as to constitute common interests. This is the question of commoning and of community formation, a big issue that leads to many open questions. Within Marxism, there is generally a standard way to consider the question of common interests: these are given by the “objective” conditions in which the “working class” finds itself vis-à-vis capital as the class of the exploited. A big limitation of this standard interpretation is that “objectivity” is always an inter-subjective agreement. The working class itself is fragmented into a hierarchy of powers, often in conflicts of interest with one another, conflicts materially reproduced by the workings of the market. This means that common interests cannot be postulated, they can only be constructed. Link The Commoner.org

The Commons tragedy is a myth in the 21st Century and embodied in this dispute, with the most bizarre elements and participants ranging from sinophobic conspiracy theories to the militaristic fetishism of apocalyptic end-times enthusiasts

As Karl Marx wrote, nature requires long cycles of birth, development and regeneration, but capitalism requires short-term returns.

“[T]he entire spirit of capitalist production, which is oriented towards the most immediate monetary profits, stands in contradiction to agriculture, which has to concern itself with the whole gamut of permanent conditions of life required by the chain of human generations. A striking illustration of this is furnished by the forests, which are only rarely managed in a way more or less corresponding to the interests of society as a whole …” (Marx 1998: 611n)

In the current situation, a microcosm of the historical land disputes that have defined the US, all we are left with his a series of conflicts that while interesting from a law enforcement perspective, contribute nothing to the commons or community discourse necessary for a modern democracy. Depending on the regime in Washington DC, the environment is a contestable terrain for stewardship labeled variously as exploitation or wise-use. In the role of a tragic actor, an older man whose violation of law and a legal contract has been manipulated and appropriated by a host of interests we are left with a parody of the commons where the rancher cannot withhold anything and the state is paralyzed by low-information thresholds, while trust and reciprocity come from the barrels of firearms, truly The Comedy of the Commons

9:48 AM PT: This got published at the wrong time 3am instead of 3pm because of the DK system update that locked me out at 935pm yesterday. Minor edits have been made.

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Final Cuba Jeopardy Answer — “The Emergence of Marxist Holism” by Galtisalie

2:28 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

Sven. Who is Chris Farley?
No, I am sorry that is not correct. Your wager, your guaranteed minimum Celebrity Jeopardy $1,000, takes you down to 0.

Pendejo. I’m a gay pirate from Cuba. I’m sorry, you once again failed to put your response in the form of a question, such as where do you come up with this stuff? With your wager of $1,000, you are also at 0.

Richard. Why to the capitalist overlords Cuba must fail and for the rest of us Cuba “must” succeed? Yes, you placed it in the form of question, with the correct question word at that. You succinctly hit themes of your obscure 2008 India-published book, Talking About Trees: Science, Ecology and Agriculture in Cuba . You even subtly changed prepositions to connote the not fully recognized nature of Cuba’s importance to humanity’s future and added appropriate quotation mark qualifiers recognizing the pivotal role that Cuba could play but implying the stubborn persistence of socialism even if Cuba goes the way of the Soviet Union or China. But don’t get fatheaded elitist. A portion of your winnings is being expropriated for Obamacare! And you’ll be coming back tomorrow to battle the SuperTeachers, beginning with “The Embargo” for $100 on an original reason for the embargo was when Castro declared Cuba a _________ state. If all this musical, graphical, and intellectual stimulation makes you nauseous, go back to Hahvard professor.

Nananana nanana, nananana Na nanananana, nananananananana, Na nanana, na, na, na, pum pum.

I hope I did not give you a flashback. I was more of a “Let’s Make a Deal” kid growing up and always got nervous watching Jeopardy. I never could get my reptilian brain around receiving information first and then finding questions that make sense of the information. Later, as a high school student forced to be a Wheel Watcher every weeknight, I reached an unhappy medium in the limbic region around the same time Pendejo was first bearing his chest to a national audience. Good times. I know, I should not joke about such things. Game shows, blockades, and Spandex are serious matters.

I particularly should not tease Sven up there. He dun gooo-ad by standing up to Pendejo. It passes for bravery these days for someone in the corporate media to stand up to a conservative gun nut who uses Nazi imagery (“subhuman mongrel”) for rhetorical purposes when referring to the nation’s first African-American president. He cannot help it that when Alan Gross called him on May 4, 2012 with his weekly phone call that he did not have time to prepare much less to consider notions like the possibility that laying off over 10 percent of a country’s work force might actually contribute to problems that the private sector in the U.S. and around the world is already quite expert at causing not curing:

BLITZER: If you could speak directly to the top leaders in Cuba, what would you say?

GROSS: I would say to Raul Castro that I think he’s trying to do some very courageous things. I think that he himself has been on national television before the national assembly. And he said that a major problem with the economy here is the low productivity. And that can’t be blamed on the United States. It cannot be blamed on the United States.

And I think it took a lot of courage to say that.

And I think that, you know, the – the – the million-and-a-half or so people who are being retrenched from government jobs have to find employment somewhere. And I think he’s a very pragmatic individual who recognizes the need for private sector growth and development here. And he has said that he’s hoping that the – the – the growth of the private sector will offset those newly unemployed.

I don’t know how – I don’t know what the employment j the unemployment rate is in Cuba. But if a million-and-a-half people are – are retrenched from their jobs and there’s only 11 million people in the country, that’s got to say something about a very high unemployment level.

And so I would say – I would say to President Castro that I think he’s – he’s – he’s – he’s courageous and I applaud his – his pragmatic approach to beginning to – to try to create a – a more positive business environment. …

BLITZER: And, Alan, what’s your message to the highest officials here in Washington, including the president and the secretary of State?

What a daunting follow-up question! It also might have been appropriate for Sven to query Mr. Gross about his connections to the U.S. government, including possibly the CIA, which had already been reported on by AP. As noted by The Jewish Daily Forward:

[O]fficial trip reports he filed for an American government agency, revealed by The Associated Press on February 12, paint a picture of a man who knew the risks he was taking. “Detection of satellite signals will be catastrophic,” Gross warned in a report that filtered back to the U.S. Agency for International Development, according to AP.

When he was arrested, Gross, a resident of suburban Washington, was carrying a high-tech cell phone chip more commonly used by the CIA or the Defense Department. …

In addition to using Jewish missions to Cuba as a cover, Gross even asked fellow American Jewish travelers to smuggle electronic equipment into Cuba and then give it back to him at his hotel, the AP said.

The cell phone chip found on Gross when he was arrested would have allowed a user to make satellite phone calls without being detected.

Such activity seems to go beyond the picture painted by Gross’s supporters of a man interested in only helping Cuba’s Jews.

So, I’m confused. Cuba poses an existential threat to my country? Let me try to enter the mind of Pendejo up there, to be followed up later with a strong digital germicidal spraying–

Like the War of the Worlds, we know how this ends PEOPLE. We’ve known it since the Reagan administration, and I’m not talking about Footloose people:

Infiltrators came up illegal from Mexico. Cubans mostly. They managed to infiltrate SAC bases in the Midwest, several down in Texas and wreaked a helluva lot of havoc, I’m here to tell you. They opened up the door down here, and the whole Cuban & Nicaraguan armies come walking right through, rolled right up here through the Great Plains.

An excerpt from IMDb’s 15th most popular feature film in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four of all years.

What more do we need to know????!!!!!????

Get the heck off this computer, duck, and cover yur Dynasty, and I don’t mean Ducky Dynasty, but the time when we had real serious teevee shows about wealthy oil tycoons.

But wait, are not all male Amurricans after all strangely compelled by “Cuba.” Is Cuba the kitty next door?

Well, I don’t know where they come from but they sure do come
I hope they comin’ for me
And I don’t know how they do it but they sure do it good
I hope they’re doin’ it for free

And do not all Cuban women secretly desire at least the younger version of a “gay pirate from Cuba”-joking, guitar hero capable of nimbly purring out a 3-tone minor-key melody harmonized in parallel fourths? Can’t we all be friends? Serious online places like the Hahvard Political Review assure us that Cuba is not after all an existential threat, at least “anymore”: “Does the Republic of Cuba pose a threat to U.S. national security and American interests around the world?” Heck no. It is that truly virulent oil state kitty further to the south:

Venezuela is more of a threat to U.S. interests than Cuba. Venezuela continues to challenge the United States in international relations through OPEC and most recently in the Edward Snowden asylum negotiations.

Ah yes. That is the enemy. Meanwhile in Cuba, a Hahvard “economics concentrator living in Grays” assures us they just need capitalism in Cuba, or maybe Putinism, because, after all, “The embargo is blamed for economic woes when in reality the communist model is likely responsible.”

Have the highly educated people who write this crap ever thought about living conditions on the island next door to the east, which the Spanish named Hispaniola, and which now contains the racist, exploiting of persons of Haitian descent, big sugar lands of the Cuban ex-patriot Fanjul brothers? Hispaniola is not such a nice “Tropical Retreat” for the masses. The DR (and in particular the transnational Fanjul brothers) knows quite a bit about dependency on the U.S. for sugar exports, just like it knows quite a bit about dependency upon the U.S. for grain imports, or as they call it down there, Harina Blanquita. I have seen with my own eyes that neocolonialism in the DR is a continuation of the colonialism of yore, which is to say, about “Conquista y explotación.”

I hate to tell you Grays livin’ man, but when Cuba lost most of its ability to export its primary crop to its largest trading partner, who now, over half a century later, will not allow a Jefferson nickel’s worth of the world’s third largest nickel reserves to be put in a nickel or even a third party country’s components, that might have a bit more to do with Cuban economic woes than Cuban national health care, free university education, the disbanding of the latifundia, the expropriating of corporate property, ecology, sustainable agriculture, public control of science, and other egalitarian “abuses” of its people. But breathe a sigh of relief Hahvard concentrator and “USAID,” “American style” love and austerity is coming to Cuba. Cuba’s austerity will no longer be imposed by the US from the outside but through some measure of coopting of the socialist project! Uu-um gooo-ad. More and more women can adopt capitalist coping strategies involving pleasuring gooo-ad ole’ Uncle Sam, just like women everywhere from the Deep South to the DR.

I am not going to turn this diary into a laundry listing of the amazingly broad and deep extent of the U.S. blockade of Cuba, which, by operation of U.S. law in violation of international law, effectively sabotages Cuba’s ability to have normal trade relations with any nation on the face of the earth, much less the U.S., not to mention directly results in the death of Cuban people unable to access patented U.S. medicines. (For a recent full account of the extent and impact of the Cuban blockade on Cuba, please see Salim Lamrani’s The Economic War Against Cuba (Monthly Review Press 2013).)

The question remains, why the heck does the U.S. go to so much trouble against Cuba? In a word, as the SuperTeachers recognize, “socialism.” It is not just about the preference of expats but about the coinciding of the preference of powerful expats with overall capitalist preferences. As I discussed in a comment in a Cuban-blockade-related diary I wrote last year on the occasion of the annual U.N. condemnation of U.S. treatment of Cuba:

Helms-Burton is replete with references to the requirement for a “market economy” to satisfy the U.S. After all this was among the great crimes of the Cuban government, in the eyes of Senator Helms at least. As per SEC. 2 “Findings”:

(3) The Castro regime has made it abundantly clear that it will not engage in any substantive political reforms that would lead to democracy, a market economy, or an economic recovery.

For Senator Helms types, and perhaps you, democracy is synonymous with a market economy:

SEC. 206. REQUIREMENTS FOR DETERMINING A DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED GOVERNMENT.
For purposes of this Act, a democratically elected government in Cuba, in addition to meeting the requirements of section 205(a), is a government which–
*
(3) is substantially moving toward a market-oriented economic system based on the right to own and enjoy property;

There is nothing mysterious about this. It is part of the modus operandi of U.S. trade relations with former socialist countries. Interestingly, even proponents of this market-based outcome are against the blockade: See the Washington University School of Law journal article entitled, “THE HELMS-BURTON ACT: A STEP IN THE WRONG DIRECTION FOR UNITED STATES POLICY TOWARD CUBA.” The reason the U.S. government, and the business interests that run it, promote “democracy”-lite, like we have in the U.S., is so that it can obtain investment treaties that accomplish the following:

The [Poland] BIT “established two foreign policy strategies: (1) to encourage the development of pro-investor international legal norms; and (2) to promote free-market economic reforms.”

(Id. at n. 120, p. 234.)

Yes, for my entire lifetime, the most powerful country in the history of the world has tried to crush “socialism” in a small island nation off its southern coast. The socialism of Cuba has not always been pretty or even socialism, which needs to be deeply democratic to be deserving of the name, but its flops often have eventually flipped, sometimes in part because of the very oppression of the U.S. However, Professor Levins demonstrates that patterns of positive living that need to be implemented around the world which first emerged in Cuba through its Marxist holism did not actually have its roots in the added pain imposed upon Cuba through the collapse of the Soviet Union, which led to the Special Period. For instance, while responsive to the continuing economic duress of the blockade, “[I]n 1987 Raul Castro called for the widespread introduction of organopónicos, raised beds of enriched and composted soils where crops could be grown in small areas with no dependence on outside resources.” (p. 150)

Looking even more closely, Cuba’s enormous contribution to demonstrating patterns of ecologically-sensitive, sustainable living developed, and hopefully will persist going forward, because of an evolving Cuban revolutionary commitment to a way of thinking, Marxist holism. (I find it to be completely consistent with my personal intuitive commitment to begin by “accepting life’s complexity,” so I guess that makes me a Marxist, although I have never consciously sought to be one.) The U.S. and by extension the world is stuck in the second corner of a “three-cornered struggle,” with considerable elements of its population, particularly in the rapture-fixated Deep South, keeping a toe or two in the first corner.

The struggles around the nature and value of science can be understood as a three-cornered struggle in which the contenders are (1) a pre-capitalist holism which is hierarchical, static or ahistoric, reactionary and mystical; (2) a capitalist-era liberal, rationalist, secular, reductionist, instrumental scientism; and (3) a post-capitalist, dynamic, anti-hierarchical materialist dialectical holism.
This tri-partite classification is, of course, an abstraction from a more complex reality. Individuals form their own belief system in the context of their society and location in that society but also from more idiosyncratic experiences. Schools of thought borrow and are influenced by each other. Post-colonial societies often combine modern globalized capitalist relations with pre-capitalist modes of power and join their willing subordination to the global corporate system with a petulant cultural nationalism.
(p. 84)

Scientists free to follow principles of Marxist holism sometimes can do “better” scientific work because not only are they not directly or indirectly working for capitalists and subservient to profit but also because they look at problems “better”:

Marxist holism starts from Hegel’s dictum that the truth is the whole. It is a warning that if problems are posed too narrowly they end up attributing explanation to external events. We further claim that many of the major failings of contemporary science have come about because problems have been posed too narrowly. …
A common theme to these failings is a systematic reductionism that posed problems too narrowly, bounded by unstated constraints, and as static. Hegel’s dictum is a warning that there is more out there. We must always ask in studying a particular problem “where is the rest of the world?” it is a further warning that what we have not taken into account can, and eventually will, overturn our theories.
Marxist holism does emphasize connection among phenomena. … Our emphasis on connections among phenomena does not mean that we can cast spells to get justice but that we must trace the connections even among phenomena that are not obviously related.

(pp. 88-89)

“As historical materialists we do claim that knowledge is a social product”:

But we do not stop with the naïve claim that received knowledge is false or that some knowledge is wiser than other because it comes from nicer people. Rather the claim of social embeddedness is a demand to study how that knowledge is produced. We claim that all knowledge comes from experience and reflection on that experience in the light of previous knowledge. Therefore we have to examine the domain of experience that gives rise to knowledge. Learning from the people does not mean that the less educated person wiser, or that “what the ancients say” is a proof of validity. We ask which ancients, why was what they said recorded and why millions of other ancients left no trace in the records. …
[I]n the end nature intrudes. …
“Epistemic charity” is not a blank cheque to the past but the acknowledgement that sometimes, old knowledge is profound where modern instrumentalism sacrifices the long run to immediate gain, and that the wholesale dismissal of traditional knowledge remains a part of colonialist arrogance.
(pp. 89-91)

Professor Levins is a cradle Marxist, key ecologist, and the John Rock Professor of Population Sciences at the Harvard School of Public Health. He is, in my estimation, a really good species-being. We come from totally different immediate backgrounds, but I believe that he is sensitive to understand mine–and yours, whatever it is, and I appreciate that on multiple levels:

Philosophers have sought to understand the world. The point, however, is to change it.
Karl Marx (Theses on Feuerbach, 11th Thesis)

When I was a boy I always assumed that I would grow up to be both a scientist and a Red. Rather than face a problem of combining activism and scholarship, I would have had a very difficult time trying to separate them.
Before I could read, my grandfather read to me from Bad Bishop Brown’s Science and History for Girls and Boys. He believed that as a minimum every socialist worker should be familiar with cosmology, evolution, and history. I never separated history, in which we are active participants, from science, the finding out how things are. My family had broken with organized religion five generations back, but my father sat me down for Bible study every Friday evening because it was an important part of the surrounding culture and important to many people, a fascinating account of how ideas develop in changing conditions, and because every atheist should know it as well as believers do.
On my first day of primary school, my grandmother urged me to learn everything they could teach me–but not to believe it all.
(p. 11)

Society is made up of individuals ideally connected by solidarity. Solidarity can be born in the hearts and minds of individuals who were not always committed to the cause. Seeds of Red and Pink may have been planted decades prior to emergence. Secret unknowing agents for Marxism, like my dear hard core Republican dad, may wear capitalism on their sleeves. You and I don’t have to have been born Red or Pink to die Red or Pink and to bring others into the great cause. And when our journeys become our journey, the converging and converting power of Marxist holism also can emerge if we dedicate our hearts and minds to wise questioning and wise acting.

Leaving aside overarching issues of family and necessity, many of us are compelled to dedicate our hearts and minds to something other than capitalism, for capitalism, even if sufficiently profitable personally, leaves us unsatisfied in one way or another. Not everyone is seduced by the opportunity to sell something, including their souls. We may for a time fixate on one “mysterious” tradition or another, and we may for a time self-medicate with Wheel Watching or chemical remedies to suppress the urge. Friendship sometimes is prescient of getting stoned together watching ball games or aging rock stars strut their stuff and fire their guns, but it also can take off in unpredictable directions. Malcolm Little became Malcolm X who continued to grow and shake off dead skin until he was murdered.

If we are fortunate to be exposed to a humane and tolerant socialist consciousness, we may one day deeply challenge ourselves to be loving, thinking, acting species-beings. Or, in my case, we may find a convert zone with some traditional elements and a whole lot of Marxist holism which embraces literally getting my hands dirty in the gardens and compost piles of life. I do not know what works for you.

Levins believes that, whether it is rolling cigars, growing vegetables, or cutting sugar cane, the drudgeries of working and especially rural life can be at least somewhat alleviated through liberation and empowerment of the workers to be not only in creative control of their own environments but also as much as possible scientists themselves. Although Cuba, at least pre-layoffs, has led Latin America and much of the world in per capita dedicated “scientists,” it has also insisted that they be dedicated to the people and not in league with capital. Marxist holistic science does not support the commodification of anything, much less science itself. This has its genesis in principles of the founder of Cuba’s original liberation movement which merged naturally with socialist notions of science:

José Martí’s modernist value of learning was joined with the traditional socialist appreciation of science to encourage the young revolutionaries to give a high priority to science from the earliest days of the revolution. The traditional socialist view was that scientific knowledge had been produced out of the wealth created by working people but was monopolized by the rich to be used for profit and to build the instruments of power. Therefore the recapture of scientific knowledge for the people was a common goal of radicals throughout the world, and any scientific learning was considered a victory. Further, scientific literacy was seen as liberation from religious obscurantism and bigotry. Scientific news or controversies frequently appeared in the socialist and communist publications. Public lectures in England, the United States, and Russia contributed to this goal. My own grandfather, who had a third grade education, believed that every socialist worker should at least know cosmology, history and evolution. In pre-revolutionary Cuba the lectores (readers) in the tobacco factories were hired by the workers to read from world classics and scientific literature while they worked. [Shout out to my own great great uncle Francisco (whose photo and partial story is in this diary), who while a lector in West Tampa also read "Marxist and other anti-capitalist viewpoints" to the cigar workers"! He was a bad ass who would have recognized Pendejo from the model citizens in pointy hoods who kidnapped him at gun point, stripped and beat him.]
Thus it was natural for Cuban revolutionaries to look toward science for economic development and as part of the necessary culture for a free people.
(p. 128)

Primarily sticking with the words of “Hahvard men” (and Sven, Pendejo, and Alan Gross), it is noted that on March 7, 2014, the Harvard Business Review published an admirably revealing on-line column written by its executive editor entitled America’s Long and Productive History of Class Warfare. Despite the fact that the term is in one of my groups at Daily Kos, I do not like the term “class warfare,” and prefer the term “class struggle.” But I am not here to quibble. In any event, as Warren Buffett has acknowledged for almost a decade in a favorite talking point, the class waging the warfare in recent decades has been his class, through the tax code, not the poor. In fact, its been “a rout.”

Although I disagree with Justin Fox’s underlying assumptions and capitalist economic views (including the part about “our economic system has … largely thrived”), most of what the Executive Director of the Harvard Business Review Group wrote was accurate and keenly perceptive:

Fourteen years ago, with the dot-com bubble fizzling but the rest of corporate America seemingly still going like gangbusters, the great management journalist Geoff Colvin wrote a column in Fortune titled “Capitalists: Savor This Moment.” An excerpt:

The business culture is triumphant. Not just for those in authority but for most of society, business is at the center, and that’s pretty much okay with everybody. It doesn’t feel remarkable to us for the same reason fish don’t notice water; we live in it. But step outside the moment and look at commerce’s role in the culture. It’s unprecedented.

Colvin’s conclusion was that this just couldn’t last. He wasn’t sure what would replace it, and even now it’s not obvious what will. By the numbers it’s still a pretty awesome time to be a plutocrat, but clearly the mood has changed. It’s important to remember, though, that the anomaly is not the current mood of skepticism of business and the rich. It’s what preceded it.

(Emphasis added.)

And that to me is the continuing relevance of Cuba. Cuba helps to demonstrate what would replace capitalism. Cuba may fail, it may abandon socialism, which would be terribly sad. But socialism will always come back because Marxist holism will continue to liberate and empower each of us who chooses to be liberated and empowered by encouraging us to think deeply and freely, and to fight not just to understand the world but to change it.

Socialism for Cuba has made, and for all of us can make, “ecological choices more likely”:

In spite of the incentives and commitments to an ecological pathway, Cubans could have decided otherwise. In fact, they did so at the beginning when in the absence of ecological consciousness, the urgency to meet the needs of the people led to harmful decisions. But when the first, Green Revolution developmentalist approach turned out to be destructive of productive capacity and poisoned people and nature, this was sufficient reason to reexamine the strategy. There were no greedy institutions committed to defending the harmful course with lobbyists, public relations firms, lawyers and hired witnesses. [Cf. NYT 3/16/14, Billionaires With Big Ideas Are Privatizing American Science.] It meant that Cuban scientific and political leadership, which is strongly committed to a broad, dynamic and integral approach, was able to recognize the origins of the different developmental strategies in the world political economy and the implications of alternative choices. It meant that there were scientists prepared to argue the case for ecological development, receptive ears in the leadership and public to receive the arguments sympathetically, and a logic of decision-making that made an ecological pathway of development along with equity and collectivity an essential part of Cuban socialism. That’s how they are doing it.
(p. 154-55)

I very much appreciate Professor Levins’ humility combined with a conscious lifelong extending of the hand of solidarity:

We do not know what roles self-conscious Marxists or the religious left will play in the new movement, how much it will remember from the past or have to learn anew. …
We have to examine and invent new forms of struggle, all aimed basically a changing consciousness and building solidarity even when we are small and seemingly helpless. Revolutionary politics are not limited to storming the winter palaces. Any action that pushes back the boundaries of the permissible, that legitimizes thinking and questions the unquestionable, that strengthens our own capacity to analyze and organize and that tightens the ties that unite us for the long haul, that invents ways of broadening participation and that undermines the crippling burdens of racism and sexism and homophobia and hierarchical posturing within our own movements, is revolutionary practice. …
From the bottom of the trough we need to see the present moment in perspective, to know that it isn’t over, that even when exuberant capitalism wins big victories these do not solve its problems. The problems return even more sharply. Therefore the struggle will surge again, and we will add new pages to our songbook. I expect to see you there.

(pp. 160, 65). How interesting that he wrote this before Occupy Wall Street. And how apt for such groups as Anti-Capitalist Meetup: “Nor do I put down what is derisively called ‘preaching to the converted.’ We, the ‘converted,’ needs lot of ‘preaching,’ lots of analysis, education, encouragement.” (Id.)

Thank you Richard Levins for appearing on Cuba Jeopardy.

And thank you Fidel and Raúl for your dedication to our world. In the blogosphere, little ole’ I, an anti-totalitarian democratic socialist, have been both an active defender and an occasional critic. Free expression is not only a human right but also a good thing even under war conditions, as Debs stood for in WWI and Orwell demonstrated in WWII. If you go to my website’s blogroll you will find publications with “pro-Castro” points of view as well as a link to the critical Cuban left. I do not think any one anti-capitalist individual, party, or organization has all of the answers. International solidarity must be improved and that requires dialogue among all potential allies on the left and openness to the complicated issues relating to both economic and political democracy, particularly in an aggressively capitalist neoliberal world. With a commitment to the Socratic method, I have learned a lot even from engagement with some of your most ardent opponents in the Cuban American community (please see this example of an ongoing effort of mine resulting from dialogue at a popular Cuban dissident blog where the left and the right regularly meet to lash out at each other).

The ultimate goal should be an international social compact that brings together all people of good will. Some people, including the capitalist overlords, will not like this. The citizens of the world must through a creative sacrificial combination of direct actions build from below a deep international democracy while at the same time seizing control of power and property from the capitalist overlords. Democracy must include both civil freedoms and basic economic justice for all. Indirect, i.e., political, action at the nation state level is necessary but not adequate. We each are responsible for system change through cultural change of hearts and minds. I do not know if this can be done. I do know that we have to try. All of our voices count. (From time to time, out of the blue a person searching for ideas on the other side of our world takes notice of my small contribution to the effort.)

We realize the path to the future will not be easy or dogmatic. That is why we need and hopefully increasingly will appreciate the Cuban experiment. For the foreseeable future, Cuba is much more likely to become truly democratic than the US, which is as stuck as Pendejo’s arteries in a democracy-lite, aka capitalist democracy, and with Citizens United just keeps getting worse. (“Funny” how US corporations are people now, free to give money to US politicians but not free to ship junk food and misleading financial instruments to Cuba.) I am for equal human, not corporate, rights and against profiling and police oppression, whether under US, Russian, Chinese, Saudi, Israeli, Cuban or any other jurisdiction. You have acknowledged many “errors” and, under generations of enormous unethical pressure from the US, probably committed some “crimes” (using Levins’ definition, p. 163, which includes the use of force “to settle disagreements within the revolution,” whereas I expressly emphasize that even counter-revolutionaries should be able to participate fully in Cuban political processes–but not Cuban Americans who gave up their rights as Cuban citizens–just like in the US convicted felons who have served their time automatically should be restored their voting rights).

Your country will continue to change, just as mine will and our world will. I hope one day the world, including Cuba, will be far less militarized. The US should remove the plank from its own eye before picking at your country’s military speck, but the speck is not a good permanent state of affairs even if it does not disproportionately take economic resources from the non-militarized people. Guns are, as evidenced by Pendejo’s love for them, not the answer. The correct Jeopardy Question on point is “Why do humans allow the defense and gun industries to lead them around by the nose?” I am not a utopian. Hence, I am not focused on the impossible of ridding our planet of guns and bombs, but as a species we have to admit that guns and bombs are merely one more capitalist commodity seeking buyers, and a deadly one at that. Even if individuals are going to be able to keep and bear some arms useful in hunting and theoretically turning back the hordes, nation states should demilitarize as much as possible. Militarization and international trade in arms promotes death, land and resource grabs (see, e.g., Western Sahara), conflicts which interfere with farming and other peaceful pursuits, and steal from the mouths of hungry people.

Removing the blockade, giving up the notion that democracy is synonymous with capitalism, giving back stolen Guantanamo Bay, and disbanding the CIA, which, with all the self-control of Pendejo just cannot help itself from being capitalism’s evil enforcer, would help to achieve demilitarization of our world, which needs to come into balance, ecologically and economically, and reduce transnational corporate hegemony. Meanwhile, the best global demilitarization plan would be to eliminate corporations themselves, which are a legal experiment conducted on humanity and run amuck and the reason for a great deal of the violence inherent in both the national and international systems. Over time, all nation states should wither and global unity ascend, just like Simón Bolívar dreamed, but that is not going to occur with capitalism, for which the world must be kept “safe” through conflict-accentuating militarization.

I am concerned about authoritarianism in the future of Cuba even more than in the present because at least for now Cuba, unlike the US, is a country built on equity, collectivity, and ecology. Please do not abandon the quest for a true and humane “socialism” worthy of the name. Socialism should always be iterative, fight alienation, maintain “fierce honesty,” and never “debase[] Marxism to apologetics [or cover up] corruption.” (p. 163) Please make it deeply democratic so that long after you are gone citizens of the world will want to be part of a liberating global alternative to capitalism. Please defy history, and possibly your own desperate inclinations, and do the opposite of “most favored nation” China, which abandoned “equity and collectivity,” is a major factor in the global ecological crisis, and preserved authoritarianism. Please when and if the blockade is lifted continue to fight the revolution of “an ecological pathway of development,” (p. 155) which Cuba has pioneered.

You are welcome by me any time in my country, just like “we” welcomed those greedy exploiters. Although I do not so much believe in heaven anymore, I like to imagine tio Pancho, mi abuela, and countless other Hillsborough County cigar workers are smiling down on you, still glad that you prevailed and that they paid from their meager earnings to buy José Martí’s bullets and then yours. Nowadays in my country, by capitalist design it is Pendejo who is armed and dangerous, standing his ground against all manner of human beings with the wrong skin tone or political doctrine. He awaits you and your kind, which is to say my kind too and any other kind that is not his kind. If the cholesterol or Viagra-induced fever does not get him first, he will die serenading a Republican convention or red state county fair opening for Mannheim Steamroller with the world’s longest gray soul patch, so there’s that. But the planet will be boiling while most of the workers and lumpenproletariat are raging for more than kickass rock-n-roll.

Whichever “side” will “win” is a complex question. All we can do is try to ask the right underlying questions as well as possible, hope they are large enough, and act accordingly. There will be no camo outfits, assault rifles, or 24-hour pablum that can prepare us for what awaits. The Road Warrior was just another good times Reagan era movie. More than Cuba is in jeopardy. Which side are you on Sven and Hahvard men with your big sexy brains? Win the race to build the next widget or join the sluts and homos in Cuba to try to save the world?

My comrades and I know which side we are on. Levins’ Postface identifies “some of our tasks.”

First:

1. Assist in the revival and growing clarity of popular struggles, helping the new movements to broaden their vision, to understand the context of their immediate situations and the lessons of past struggles that they can draw on. The long view is vital in sustaining the short term and local struggles in the face of countless disappointment and frustrations, anticipating the pressures of our adversaries to divide and co-opt, and in discovering the common ground between different struggles for justice when they seem to conflict because each asks too little.

Second:

2. Combat despair. As against the retreat into nationalism we reaffirm our internationalism, maintain ties among revolutionaries across borders, pool our experiences and ideas, and work for joint strategies. We uphold special solidarities with Cuba and Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico because as one of the last of the old colonies it may spearhead the resistance to the recolonizing of the Third World. Cuba because it is the one society which has retained a revolutionary commitment although having to make concessions to global capitalism. Even as it retreats in some spheres of life it leads the world in others, in the vision of an ecological society and the development of socialist democracy.
As against individualism we learn from left feminism to examine the much ignored areas of the personal in society, explaining how our individual miseries are not ours alone, how the commonly marketed solutions to personal fulfillment fail to address the root of the prevailing miseries and wasted talents. …

Third:

3. Faced with the dismissal of Marxism as obsolete even by some progressives, we reaffirm a militant Marxism. Rather than shrinking it down to merely a humane economics in order to gain respectability we broaden the scope of its engagement to confront all the ideologies of aggressive capital in all aspects of our existence. Only an honest, creative, and self-critical Marxism can survive to play a vital role in the coming struggles.
a) As a matter of theoretical coherence, practical necessity, and intellectual integrity we have to examine the history of our movement and understand the defeat it suffered. …
b) Openness to new ideas. Just as Marxism acknowledges its debts to English political economy, German philosophy, and French socialism so it must also welcome the insights of feminism, national liberation and anti-racist struggles, and ecology. …
c) Openness to new phenomena, to changes in our society and in the ways people confront that society, to new patterns of consciousness. …

(pp. 160-65)

US occupants did not always treat Cuban revolutionaries with contempt. One of the “new phenomena” we should be open to is actually an old one: the natural neighborliness among all oppressed people searching for answers, the right questions, and the right actions, regardless of nationality. Martí spoke in Spanish (translated here by Pablo Medina in A Century of Cuban Writers in Florida, p. 59 (Pineapple Press 1996).) on November 27, 1891 in Tampa, likely with some of my cigar worker ancestors in attendance, commemorating the deaths of eight martyred medical students summarily executed twenty years before in Havana on trumped up charges of scratching the tombstone of a Spanish newspaperman. The students were not granted weekly telegrams to the US but rather executed two days after their arrest.

Good thinkers who are also effective leaders, be they a founder of a world-changing socio-economic theory and movement, an oft-ostracized leftist Hahvard professor and path breaking ecologist, or a poet and future hero of anti-colonialism, have a way of making other folks sense their own potential significance to “changes in our society,” their own potential significance as species-beings. Sometimes they use emotional messages with holistic symbols from the earth that touch our hearts as well as our minds:

Today let us sing the hymn of life before the memorial of their graves. Yesterday I heard it coming from the earth itself, when we came to this gracious town. The landscape was damp and shadowy; the streams ran turbulent and muddy; the sugarcane, sparse and withered, did not move sorrowfully like the one far away that seeks redemption for those who nourished it with their death. Rather, its blades entered, rough and sharp, like daggers through the heart. In defiance of the storm and clouds, one pine stood with its top raised. Suddenly the sun broke through a clearing in the forest, and there in the midst of the shimmering light, I saw growing over the yellowed grass, next to the blackened trunks of fallen pines, bunches of new pines. That is what we are: The new pines!

Then it is up to each of us to ask the right questions AND to take appropriate action.

It is not just Cuba’s children who have skin in this game. Viva Cuba.

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: The Power of the Flea Market by Annieli

3:50 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

The idealized image of the free market is the seasonal trade route.

Flea markets, Free market: not so much a pun as a reality, that informal economies flourish with the inevitable rise and subsequent failure of so-called free-markets, first as deregulated, then as re-regulated as discussed by The Regulation School. Scale is signified here and the expansion of a gloablized economy is not so much the work of invisible or virtual hands (one thread of my research), but the aggregation of so many marginalized sectors of that economy into their own systems of exchange. Bitcoin is but one example on the capital side; bartered labor might be its polar opposite. Alternative and heterodox economies and their institutions have been recent topics of discussion here, so while the implementation and functioning of such economies is paramount, some history to fill some gaps might be useful this week.

What wanton grace, what saucy innocence! What heroic wrestling with aesthetic problems! This nonchalance and originality are worthy of a Heine!
We have deceived the reader. Herr Grün’s literary graces are not an embellishment of the science of true socialism, the science is merely the padding between these outbursts of literary gossip, and forms, so to speak, its “social background”….How right was Heine when he said about his imitators: “I have sown dragon’s teeth and harvested fleas.”(1)

This chapter was published by Marx separately as a review in the monthly publication Das Westphälische Dampfboot in August and September 1847. Before that, in April 1847, Marx had published a “Declaration against Karl Grün”. He stated in it that he intended to publish a review of Grün’s book Die soziale Bewegung in Frankreich und Belgien (see present edition, Vol. 6) in the Westphälische Dampfboot.

For those less familiar with Heine here’s a particularly modern example from 1827 close to the time of the invention of the latent image technology called photography, where the absence and presence of meaning/message of the transmitted information while interdependent are only interoperable by thinking beyond the margins.

The German Censors —— —— —— —— ——
—— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— ——
—— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— ——
—— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— ——
—— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— ——
—— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— ——
—— —— —— —— —— idiots —— ——
—— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— ——
—— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— ——
—— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— —— ——
—— —— —— —— ——

My earlier experience in economic history led me to study with a scholar of medieval economies but he also showed me how to look at the variables involved in plagues and this history of fleas seems hygienically anomalous with the development of things like “flea circuses” or “flea markets.”

Importantly, plague was spread considerable distances by rat fleas on ships. Infected ship rats would die, but their fleas would often survive and find new rat hosts wherever they landed. Unlike human fleas, rat fleas are adapted to riding with their hosts; they readily also infest clothing of people entering affected houses and ride with them to other houses or localities.

The idealized image of the free market is the seasonal trade route with its bazaars or agoras with exchange regulated not only by coinage but also the space in which these transactions occur: formal and informal, official and illegal. The market for speech in public spaces, as we have seen is even more controversial whether OWS or Citizens United. Those who would claim that the web is a free market attempt to base it on both conventional and less conventional “flea market” exchange sites: eBay, gun auctions, etc. many transactions and their prices/costs are less formal and perhaps as invisible or virtual as during any point in recordable or documentable history. Entertainment also accompanied the historical market-route culture so a variety of actions and exchanges developed with the more fundamental trade of basic sustainence goods and services. The space and scale of such activity is by its very actions marginal and gold mining and gold farming are not so different, and economies have treated such insurgent activities at their peril. insurgencies are like fleas, ubiquitous and virtually invisible.

The first records of flea performances were from watchmakers who were demonstrating their metalworking skills. Mark Scaliot in 1578 produced a lock and chain which were attached to a flea. Flea performances were first advertised as early as 1833 in England, and were a major carnival attraction until 1930. Some flea circuses persisted in very small venues in the United States as late as the 1960s. The flea circus at Belle Vue Zoological Gardens, Manchester, England, was still operating in 1970. At least one genuine flea circus still performs (at the annual Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany) but most flea circuses are a sideline of magicians and clowns, and use electrical or mechanical effects instead of real fleas.

Replacing actual fleas by mechanical and electrical effects is a parody of industrialized labor’s technological substitutes and their spectacular globalization. More spectacles to flee are found below the fold as conflict concentrates in urban centers and their peripheries are defined by linear demolition and alienated margins. All of these arterial relations experience blockages or barricades.

1830 Paris barricade

Barricades, or the exit/egress barriers to trade, whether in food or firearms on which I’ve previously written can be spatially visible and invisible, defined as many carcereal elements as many theorists have written, and which have proven to be recently instrumental in regime change. This history is a labor history whose space is defined more informally and certainly represents alienated classes, and hegemonic regimes have treated such insurgent classes’ activities at their peril.

2014 Kiev barricade

1848 Paris Barricade

In the time of the Emperor Napoleon III, the imperial architect Haussmann made plans for the broad, straight boulevards with rows of square houses in the center of Paris, along which army divisions could march with much pompous noise. The plans forced many dealers in second-hand goods to flee their old dwellings; the alleys and slums were demolished. These dislodged merchants were, however, allowed to continue selling their wares undisturbed right in the north of Paris, just outside of the former fort, in front of the gate Porte de Clignancourt. The first stalls were erected in about 1860. The gathering together of all these exiles from the slums of Paris was soon given the name “marché aux puces”, meaning “flea market”, later translation.

Elected president of the Republic of France in 1848, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte became emperor on 2 December 1852 and adopted the title Napoléon III. With his new rank, Napoléon III decided to modernize Paris after seeing London, a city transformed by the Industrial Revolution, which offered large public parks and a complete sewer system. Inspired by Rambuteau’s ideas, and aware of social issues, he wished to improve the housing conditions of the lower class; in some neighbourhoods, the population density reached numbers of 100,000 people/km2 (250,000 people/sq. mile) in conditions of very poor sanitation. The goal was also for public authority to better control a capital where several regimes had been overthrown since 1789. Some real-estate owners demanded large, straight avenues to help troops manoeuvre. Le Marais was one of the rare neighbourhoods almost untouched by the Haussmann renovations To satisfy his ambitions the new emperor had a considerable amount of power at his disposal, enabling him to ignore any resistance, something his predecessors had lacked. But Napoléon III still had to find a man capable of implementing a project of such magnitude. He eventually found Georges Eugène Haussmann, an effective administrator of proven loyalty, and he nominated him Prefect of the Seine in 1853. The two men formed an efficient team, the emperor supporting the prefect against his adversaries, and Haussmann showing loyalty in all circumstances, while promoting his own ideas such as a project for Boulevard Saint-Germain.

Widening of streets: a tool for an authoritarian regime? Revolution needs its labor force as well and its avant-garde has historically required an arrière-garde to sustain its insurgency.

1871 Paris barricades

Many of Napoléon III’s contemporaries accused him of hiding, under the guise of improving social and sanitary conditions, a project for more effective military policing of the capital. By this theory, the wide thoroughfares were constructed to facilitate troop movement and prevent easy blocking of streets with barricades, and their straightness allowed artillery to fire on rioting crowds and their barricades. A small number of large, open intersections allowed easy control by a small force. In addition, buildings set back from the center of the street could not be used so easily as fortifications. This interpretation has been widely repeated and accepted, notably in Lewis Mumford’s writings.

Australian military historian Dr Peter Stanley noticed while visiting Paris that the putative use of artillery in suppressing urban unrest could have determined the city’s characteristic acute angles at intersections. A right-angled grid plan would have resulted guns shooting from side-streets onto boulevards hitting “friendly” forces. By contrast, artillery firing from subsidiary streets at acute angles would both direct an effective cross-fire onto insurgents on the boulevards and avoid the problem of friendly fire. Can this theory be verified from the documents, he asked.

The extent of the work itself shows that Napoleon III’s objectives were, at least, not solely security-oriented in nature. Beyond the spectacular piercing of the main boulevards, city transformations also included the construction of a modern underground network of sewers and freshwater, the installation of an efficient building plan on the surface, and the harmonisation of the architecture along the new avenues.
Yet it is true that Napoleon III was concerned with maintaining strict order.

Haussmann never hesitated to explain that his street plan would ease the maintenance of public order when presenting his projects to the Conseil de Paris or local landowners. When reports of the Paris Commune insurrection reached Haussmann he expressed his frustration at not having been able to implement his reforms quickly enough to make such an insurrection futile. The tactical dimension is thus indeed present, but it is but one element among others; it is perhaps most important where there was question of joining Paris’ main casernes between them. It should also be noted that the police were not one of Haussmann’s responsibilities. His mandate actually reduced the position of préfet de police, as it removed from this office problems such as city hygiene and the lighting and cleaning of its streets.

Many contemporary observers denounced the demographic and social effects of Haussmann’s urbanism operations. Louis Lazare, author, under Haussmann’s predecessor Rambuteau, of an important “dictionary of Paris streets”, considered in 1861 in the journal Revue municipale that Haussmann’s works disproportionately increased state-dependent populations in attracting masses of poor to Paris. In reality, in certain respects Haussmann himself slowed the progress of his renovations in order to avoid a massive flood of workers to the capital. However, critics denounced as early as 1850 the effect that the renovations would have on the social composition of Paris. In a slightly oversimplified manner, they described pre-Haussmannian buildings as a synthesis of the Parisian social hierarchy: the bourgeoisie on the second floor, civil servants and employees on the third and fourth, low-wage employees on the fifth, house staff, students and the poor under the eaves. Thus one building was shown to represent and house all social classes. This cohabitation, of course varying from quarter to quarter, disappeared in its majority after the completion of Haussmann’s work. This had two effects on the dispersion of dwellings in Paris: The city-centre renovations provoked a rise in rents, and this forced poorer families towards Paris’ outer arrondissements

Certain urbanism decisions contributed to a social imbalance between Paris’s wealthy west and its underprivileged east. Therefore no eastern neighborhood in Paris benefited from renovations comparable to the large avenues surrounding the Place de l’Étoile in the XVIe and XVIIe arrondissements. The poor were concentrated in arrondissements neglected by the city renovations. As an answer to this, Haussmann presented the complex creation of the bois de Vincennes forest-parklands that would give working populations a promenade comparable to the bois de Boulogne. Also, the unsanitary quarters “cleaned” by Haussmann contained very few of the bourgeois class. Indeed, the parting of established working-class residential areas may have been another security measure, as a disrupted and scattered community will find it harder to unite and so will pose less of a threat. To moderns this may seem odd, but working-class people were still known as “the dangerous classes” to Parisians and the French in general, and the 1789 and 1848 revolutions, in which workers revolted against the state, were still remembered well. That way, a sort of “zonage” was established that still dominates the distribution of housing and activities in Paris and its nearest suburbs: from the centre to the west, offices and wealthy neighborhoods; from the east and outer rim, poorer housing and industry.

Les Halles 1954

Les Halles was the traditional central market of Paris. In 1183, King Philippe II Auguste enlarged the marketplace in Paris and built a shelter for the merchants, who came from all over to sell their wares. The church of Saint-Eustache was constructed in the 16th century. The circular Halle des Blés (grain exchange), designed by Nicolas Le Camus de Mézières, was built between 1763 and 1769 at the west end of Les Halles. Its circular central court was later covered with a dome, and it was converted into the Bourse de Commerce in 1889. In the 1850s, the massive glass and iron buildings (Victor Baltard Architect) Les Halles became known for were constructed. Les Halles was known as the “Belly of Paris”, as it was called by Émile Zola in his novel Le Ventre de Paris, which is set in the busy marketplace of the 19th century.

Unable to compete in the new market economy and in need of massive repairs, the colorful ambiance once associated with the bustling area of merchant stalls disappeared in 1971, when Les Halles was dismantled; the wholesale market was relocated to the suburb of Rungis. Two of the glass and cast iron market pavilions were dismantled and re-erected elsewhere; one in the Paris suburb of Nogent-sur-Marne, the other in Yokohama, Japan.

The site was to become the point of convergence of the RER, a network of new express underground lines which was completed in the 1960s. Three lines leading out of the city to the south, east and west were to be extended and connected in a new underground station. For several years, the site of the markets was an enormous open pit, nicknamed “le trou des Halles” (trou = hole), regarded as an eyesore at the foot of the historic church of Saint-Eustache.

Les Halles today

Don’t Touch The White Woman! is a 1974 French-Italian farce, an absurd “Western” set in Paris, directed by Marco Ferreri. Marcello Mastroianni stars as a vain General George Armstrong Custer. Richard Nixon is the American president. Buffalo Bill Cody (Michel Piccoli) is here portrayed as a charlatan media impresario. Ugo Tognazzi gives a fictional portrayal of Mitch Bouyer one of Custer’s Native American scouts, who runs a curio shop selling Native artifacts made in sweatshops by white women. Alain Cuny plays Sitting Bull who must defend his people when their homes (apartment buildings) are destroyed by the Union Cavalry. The movie climaxes with the Battle of the Little Bighorn held in a large construction excavation where Les Halles market used to be. The language used to justify the conflict parodies the Vietnam War and the Algerian War.

Centre Georges Pompidou now, adjacent to Les Halles

Centre Georges Pompidou before…

The Production of Space begins with Lefebvre’s premise that ‘space’ as a concept, an ideology, and a practice, has a ‘history’, just like all other ideologically freighted terms. That history develops from what he calls ‘absolute space’, a space lived and developed in coincidence with social and religious life − what we might call ‘traditional’ space − to the modern version which he calls ‘abstract space’ construed according to the developing technologies of vision from the Renaissance on: geometrical space, visual (perspectival) space, and the space of power, or phallic space. Modern space is abstract, but not for all that unified − it contains discontinuities, disruptions, contradictions − it simply has the will to be unified. And when abstract space is ‘constituted’ − represented in real space − it does so in its most reduced form, fragmented and broken according to class divisions and class experience, contradictions that tend to be ignored or illusorily resolved in architectural projects. When considered as social space, space divides into space dominated and space appropriated, where the latter − as in the appropriation or ‘détournement’ of Les Halles before their demolition − has potential for the creation of new social spaces.

These new social spaces as spatial economies are our flea markets, free in that they are accessible to all like surveillance and the surveilled, but whose reality is consciously constrained by more invisible, contradictory meanings and values and are the contagion sites for so many global social revolutions, and whether caused by dragon’s teeth or fleas, they are historiographic itches that need to be scratched at one’s peril.

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: What in Tarnation is “Prout” and Why Should We Care? by Galtisalie

3:31 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

Introductory Note: As background for this diary, it might be helpful to read Geminijen’s excellent and balanced diary from a few weeks ago, Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Fagor Goes Bankrupt – Trouble in Camelot, which discusses one of the world’s most important cooperative movements, founded by a do-gooder Catholic priest. The subject of the instant diary also involves cooperatives, but as will be apparent, much more.

I am biased but to me, “Prout,” which stands for “Progressive Utilization Theory,” is a lovely theory of progressive socialism we all should study, learn from, and consider adopting as part of our praxis and our goals for humanity. Unfortunately, as a new student of Prout, I cannot nearly do it justice in this diary or anywhere else at this time. In addition, I am not in a position to report on the practical experiences of putting Prout into practice. As someone who grew up in irrational Christian fundamentalism (and still lives in the repressive Deep South, where I can see such “faith” put into practice on a daily basis in anti-”other” bigotry and legislation), I no longer like to make my decisions based on “enthusiasm” for what people, spiritual or otherwise, say as opposed to what they do. And I am HIGHLY skeptical about any religion’s ability to confront the harsh world of capitalism in an effective and objective manner (although, from what I understand, Prout’s associated spiritual movement claims not to be a religion).

But I do not want to let my skepticism itself turn into blinders or cynicism for what may have value in the critical work for justice down here on terra firma. All human endeavors are to some degree a mixed bag. I am, after all, a socialist, after a century of ultimate public humiliation of the cause I still dare to hold dear. Course correction is nothing to be embarrassed about but rather something to be celebrated. The work to save humanity is entitled to a mulligan every single day until we get it right.

The first part of my personal credo is to “accept[] life’s complexity.” To me that includes the challenge to evaluate honestly both the positives and the negatives of all things relating to “spirituality.” Prout is not only a system with many complex moving parts but also a holistic system whose whole is intended to vastly exceed the sum of its parts. I can only give my gut impressions of whether it could even theoretically help to accomplish the enormous task of like “saving the world” or something else “major” for humanity, but I am not qualified to explain much less critique all of its parts.

Fortunately, I have a lovely book to help me explain its details, Dada Maheshvarananda’s 2012 updated version of a book first published in 2003, and currently titled After Capitalism: Economic Democracy in Action (Innerworld Publications).

And, I have you, my comrades, to help me critique the parts and the whole within the context of various movements and sub-movements on the left, both historical and potential.

Dr. Marcos Arruda says of the book in the Foreword, “The nine years that have passed since Dada Maheshvarananda first published this precious book have proven its validity and relevance.” I could not agree more. One of the things I have greatly benefited from in the last couple of years are book recommendations from kindred spirits on the left with whom I have gratefully come into contact via the information superhighways and byways. I am still no socialist scholar (and do not make it a priority to become one), and often the people giving me book suggestions are, but if I had to make one book recommendation at this point in my fledgling socialization process, this would be it. Not because the book is perfect or because I agree with everything in it or in Prout more generally, but because Prout as explained in this book comes closest to announcing to the world the direction I think we should be heading than anything else I have yet read.

Plenty of us realize capitalism is a disaster. Marx got that quite right, and Prout, whose founder actually was a big fan of Marx, seconds the notion. Prout also does a really good job of telling us where we should be going to fix things. And this book is a compelling, reasonably detailed, and accessible explanation of Prout.

I only learned about Prout when I read Hans Despain’s helpful article It’s the System Stupid: Structural Crises and the Need for Alternatives to Capitalism in the November 2013 Monthly Review. Here Despain first succinctly surveys the playing field:

The conventional wisdom is “There Is No Alternative,” or TINA. For this reason most Americans simply acquiesce to capitalistic social relations and, like Sisyphus, are resigned to performing eternal tasks while enduring the “endless” quadruple crises generated by a pathological system.

The most extraordinary aspect concerning the absence of an alternative is that it is fallacious. The capitalistic system itself must be transformed. To put it into a slogan: Capitalism Is No Alternative, or CINA.

Despain describes Maheshvarananda’s book as outlining “the failures and pathologies of ‘multinational corporate’ capitalism. He argues that Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar’s PROgressive Utilization Theory, or PROUT economics, already exists as a well-developed alternative to both capitalism and state socialism. PROUT has important similarities with both Marxism and Participatory Economics, but its real philosophical basis is in Tantra Yoga, with influences from Hinduism, Taoism, and Buddhism (especially Zen). …”

Then Despain contrasts it to three other recent books outlining somewhat comparable approaches on the left:

Maheshvarananda, much like Wolff, Schweickart, and Alperovitz, believes that the activity needed for the democratization of the workplace and economy is already underway. Maheshvarananda offers many existing examples of Proutian enterprises. Most of these are the same discussed by Schweickart and Alperovitz, including the Mondragon cooperative in Spain and Evergreen in Cleveland. However, Maheshvarananda also offers extensive details of cooperatives in Venezuela, where he has founded a PROUT research institute.

In addition to mending the social pathologies of capitalism, he explains how Proutianism promotes leisure, spirituality, and a new humanistic ethic. He also insists that a transformation away from capitalism is urgently needed for environmental production and a new Agrarian Revolution to save the planet and human life. In this sense, Maheshvarananda is far more ambitious than Wolff, Schweickart, and Alperovitz, and is sure to be far more controversial for left-wing theorists and activists. …

Wolff, Schweickart, and Alperovitz … have given less thought toward the longer term goals. Maheshvarananda has in mind a very long-term alternative to capitalism. It requires not only transformation in the workplace, but transformations in the political dimension. On the one hand, it could be argued his vision is far more remote, while on the other hand, once the transformation within the workplace begins, the ripple effect could be massive and sudden. For this reason Maheshvarananda’s perspective can be understood in highly practical terms and can be seen as complementary to the works of the other three. …

From whence cometh Prout? A brilliant loving species-being who seemed particularly determined, while walking a blissful personal path, to eschew any selfish material benefits for himself from his insights, and whose most determined followers are described as monks and nuns, but seem remarkably well-connected to a place I and all on the left take quite seriously, namely the suffering-filled, harsh, and chaotic reality where the billions of marginalized poor and desperate live around our class-embattled world:

Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar was born in 1922[ 6] in Jamalpur, Bihar, India into a respected family that had its roots in regional leadership and ancient spiritual traditions. To support the family after his father’s death, Sarkar chose to discontinue his higher education in Calcutta, and in 1941 returned to Jamalpur to work as an accountant in the railways. About that time he began to teach the ancient science of Tantra meditation, insisting that every practitioner follow a strict code of moral conduct. In 1955, at the request of his followers, he founded the socio-spiritual organization Ananda Marga (“ The Path of Bliss”). In 1959 he introduced the Progressive Utilization Theory (Prout), a blueprint for how to reorganize society and the economy for the welfare of everyone.

The Ananda Marga and Prout movements spread quickly in India during the 1960s. Many of Sarkar’s followers – who held key positions in the Indian civil service – actively challenged the systemic corruption of the government as well as the Hindu caste system. Opposition therefore arose from nationalistic Hindu groups, eventually leading the government to declare Ananda Marga to be a politically subversive revolutionary organization, banning any civil servant from being a member. Perhaps surprisingly, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) – which for decades controlled the state government of West Bengal – also opposed Ananda Marga and Prout because Sarkar’s unique blend of spiritual and social ideals was attracting members away from the Party.
Maheshvarananda, Introduction.

Many, to my current view highly unfair, attacks on the group both in India and worldwide have been documented, which I will not go into here in any detail, including the framing for a 1978 bombing of a Hilton in Sydney, Australia that actually seems to have been the murderous plot of the self-justifying state security apparatus. The recent decades have been gradually more serene for the serene folk who make up the movement, but not because they avoid desperate situations. Rather, in a way that seems highly compatible with Pope Francis’s Evangelii Gaudium (which I discussed in detail here from a combined socialized praxis and Jesuit history and scholarship perspective) the movement seems to want to make both tangible and intangible headway in, and to replace as soon as possible, a sick capitalist world. The emphasis of Prout on cooperatives is shared with the Catholic Church, on paper at least, going back to the late 19th century. But, unlike the Church at most times, Prout seems to be fixated on making cooperatives a “reality” on the nasty ground around the world rather than a pious talking point for criticizing those nasty commies without actually proposing and fighting for a suitable alternative. Further, Prout has an openness to spirituality that many Liberation Theology and leftist Dorothy Day-style Catholics have found to be perfectly compatible with their faith in action. Given that I am a leftist pro-choice “Anglo-Catholic,” I just want all us supposedly “spiritual” folk, what with the whole idea of communion and such, to get along while waging a kind but effective revolution, which means to keep our eye on the prize of rejecting capitalism and putting in a system that meets shared “Proutist” goals.

Please go below the fold for my generally favorable summary of the good monk’s omnibus Prout in a nutshell, as well as a few concerns that I have about Prout. Or, if you have no interest in spirituality and other “soft” topics which much of the world may now or in the future appreciate as complementary to economic justice, here’s Despain’s nice but barebones “materialist” list:

PROUT’s economic principles are that: (1) all citizens deserve the minimum requirements of life of food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and education; (2) employment is guaranteed; (3) the progressive use of science and technology and a federal institution geared toward research and development should be promoted; (4) the federal political system must include decentralized planning at the level of the local economy, with balanced development of what is needed by local citizens; (5) a three-tier economic system that supports privately owned small businesses, cooperatively owned medium and large businesses, and government-run large industries must be created; (6) “decentralized self-sufficient” local economies should be maximized; and, (7) crucial to PROUT, are the cooperatively owned businesses.

I like this list, as it initially sparked my interest in Prout. However, for brevity’s sake he also necessarily left off many materialist Proutist notions, including that little subject of “world government,” (a critical aspect of Prout’s long-range ideas for governance, Ch. 11) a dream many of us, Proutists or not, hold dear. Read the rest of this entry →

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: “If You Meet The Buddha On The Road, Kill Him” by Annieli

3:40 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

All things appear and disappear because of the concurrence of causes and conditions. Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else. -The Buddha

Marx: “constant revolutionizing of production uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all precious ones. all fixed, fast frozen relations, with their train of ancient prejudices and opinions are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses, his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.”

Unlike the Marshall Berman book, the reality of human conflict today is not so much about modernism as it is modernizing in the pre-industrial context, the civilizing and evolving, uneven yet parallel, paths from primitive, pre-modern communism through feudal modes of production, many of which still operate today whether the American Taliban or their calabash cousins in South Central Asia. The Koch Brothers, as corporate despots, are no different in their ideological commitments to devoting their wealth to an Anti-Communist Christianity that memorializes a martyr like John Birch and promotes inequality and suffering from uneven economic development. It is not a stretch to compare sacralized warfare and sectarian violence where today’s Oath Keepers see themselves as displaced Zen-samurai or Ronin of the Tokugawa Era. For example the original film The 47 Ronin directed by Kenji Mizoguchi is released near to the date of the Pearl Harbor attack. and the 1998 film of the same name by John Frankenheimer with script by David Mamet refers directly to the same historical event. ” The popularity of the tale grew during the Meiji era of Japanese history, in which Japan underwent modernization, and the legend became subsumed within discourses of national heritage and identity.”

The connection or family resemblance of feudal despotism and a repressive political state apparatus that attempts to control reproductive rights or democratic representation is now mobilized by ideology and ideological institutions such as Religions, Governments, and Mass Media and are mobilized much like Pat Buchanan’s meme of a Culture War. Its bastardization into a variety of discourses about race, class, and gender occupy much of the time and space of DK. As a matter of making the analysis of contemporary events, especially those exhibiting false consciousness like acts of racism or other violence clearer, some variants of Marxist methodology can be useful beyond some inerrant textual applications of Marxological theories. Excuse the lapse into the technical but the recent histories of human conflict as well as conflict among humans and nature require methods that can help make even the simplest of practices more coherent under the “shock doctrine” of crisis capitalism. There is a fluid boundary between culture war and actual war much as there is between abstract and concrete violence.

Althusser explains that the SA (State Apparatus) functions predominantly by violence or repression and only secondarily by ideology. Similarly the ISAs (Ideological State Apparatuses) function predominantly by ideology but can include punishment or repression secondarily.

This diary begins with a consideration of a recent book on Buddhist Warfare, a topic which has interested others as representative of the apparent contradiction of perhaps more Western stereotypes about the peaceful resistance to authoritarianism by some Buddhisms (Tibet) and the hegemonic behavior of other Buddhist majority regimes (Myanmar/Burma) where punishment or repression seems anomolous to a population significantly Buddhist. There is no space here to discuss the complex sectarian struggles of global religions and the focus here is on the material justification of cultural violence in the context of this recent book edited by Jerryson and Juergensmeyer Buddhist Warfare OUP 2010. The ideology of any religion and its worldly sectarian practices can be considered as some Marxists did in the last century as Ideological State Apparatuses (ISA) in the case of the ambitions of early to mid 20th Century Japanese imperialism, Buddhism was manipulated to become an ISA in terms of forging a national will and an industrialized state to sacrifice for humans claiming the status of feudal deity-monarchs. In the cases of contemporary Thailand and Myanmar among others, the identity of Buddhism and a ruling class creates a complex set of contradiction for both Buddhist resistance movements and military-political elites no different structurally than many other regimes Marx described as an Asiatic mode of production, (AMP), and that Oriental Despotism reproduces itself structurally in many contemporary Asian corporatized ruling class economies that have many different oligarchic names such as Chaebol in South Korea, family-controlled corporate conglomerates. In Japan before World War II, large holding companies formed wealth groups, or zaibatsu, which dominated most industry. The zaibatsu were dissolved after the war, but keiretsu—large, modern industrial enterprise groupings—emerged. And the tensions between the imperatives for military and economic self-defense as well as the need for corporatist, oligarghic, yet familial expansion create more challenges for the many corresponding Buddhisms.

MSDF Hyuga, a contemporary Japanese aircraft carrier classified as a destroyer:

What is important for this brief narrative is the point of view reconciling the complexity of many Buddhisms within the context of such societies, the expansion of rationalized violence against a populace and the rationalizing discourse of remote killing. This is where the army does the killing so one’s own responsibility is intact. Drone warfare can represent the instrumental separation and distance possible and even resemble the Buddhist position or relative autonomy on just violence. In these cases, that group or even individual violence or exploitation are situated in a discourse of class struggle that has an ideological structure consistent with other capitalist and even pre-capitalist practices. There is some literature on the political economy of arbitrary seasonal regional violence in France in the late middle ages. This same discourse exists in the justification or rationalization of individual and group religious practices in military organizations working for governments that represent a separation of church and state. This is historically a relatively new term considering the number of theocratic regimes that do not recognize that formal or informal separation in contrast to democratic rules of law which attempt to keep public order in a republic despite the actions of corporate despots.

The theory of the Asiatic mode of production, (AMP) was devised by Karl Marx around the early 1850s. The essence of the theory has been described as “[the] suggestion … that Asiatic societies were held in thrall by a despotic ruling clique, residing in central cities and directly expropriating surplus from largely autarkic and generally undifferentiated village communities.” The theory continues to arouse heated discussion among contemporary Marxists and non-Marxists alike. Some have rejected the whole concept on the grounds that the socio-economic formations of pre-capitalist Asia did not differ enough from those of feudal Europe to warrant special designation. Aside from Marx, Friedrich Engels was also an enthusiastic commentator on the AMP. They both focused on the socio-economic base of AMP society.

Marx and Engels were trying to reconcile why development was uneven in the East Asian context, partially to explain European colonialism and the creation of spheres on influence based on new forms of extractible exchange in the form of mobile surplus value, in this case, opium as a medium of exchange value.


Opium Godown (Storehouse) in Patna, Bihar (c. 1814)

“China, one of those faltering Asian empires, which one after the other fell prey to the entrepreneurial spirit of the European race, was so weak, so much collapsed, that it did not even have the strength to go through the crisis of a people’s revolution, so that an acute indignation has turned into a chronic and probably incurable disease, an empire, so much decomposed, that it was almost unable to rule its own people or to offer resistance to the foreign aggressors”.

Asiatic mode of production
This is a controversial contribution to Marxist theory, initially used to explain pre-slave and pre-feudal large earthwork constructions in China, India, the Euphrates and Nile river valleys (and named on this basis of the primary evidence coming from greater “Asia”). The Asiatic mode of production is said to be the initial form of class society, where a small group extracts social surplus through violence aimed at settled or unsettled band communities within a domain. Exploited labour is extracted as forced corvee labour during a slack period of the year (allowing for monumental construction such as the pyramids, ziggurats, ancient Indian communal baths or the Chinese Great Wall). Exploited labour is also extracted in the form of goods directly seized from the exploited communities. The primary property form of this mode is the direct religious possession of communities (villages, bands, hamlets) and all those within them. The ruling class of this society is generally a semi-theocratic aristocracy which claims to be the incarnation of gods on earth. The forces of production associated with this society include basic agricultural techniques, massive construction and storage of goods for social benefit (granaries).

Yet colonial extraction and power projected itself easily into East Asia in the 19th Century, partially because of the kinds of labor agreements made in parallel with native merchant capitalists as well as a hegemonic ensemble of colonizing projects, each bringing its own version of Orientalist (sic) value to Europe. Yet concurrently and administrative violence brought to a country has its relatively autonomous indigenous religion still operating as an ISA in parallel to missionary Christianity where spiritual volition could be retained.

Cetanā is a Buddhist term commonly translated as “volition”, “directionality”, or “attraction”. It can be defined as a mental factor that moves or urges the mind in a particular direction, toward a specific object or goal

It is no stretch to see the use of religion in legitimating state violence as seen in the image of the Taliban demolishing sacred Buddhist sites as motivating or rationalizing the initial invasion into Afghanistan and its continued use on a more informally profane way in the conduct of the subsequent wars. These are moments of justifying/rationalizing violence against self or Other (preemptive violence prevents a greater sin). In some historical cases they are the reasons for oppressing rival sects or religions to this day.


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Recall the earlier discussions on modes of production and uneven development. Infrastructure is still a key element as is a history of pre-capitalist labor formations or infant mercantile and capitalist industries operating on parallel paths even today in terms of formal and informal market cultures in developing countries.

Wittfogel is best known for his monumental work Oriental Despotism: A Comparative Study of Total Power, first published in 1957. Starting from a Marxist analysis of the ideas of Max Weber on China and India’s “hydraulic-bureaucratic official-state” and building on Marx’s sceptical view of the Asiatic Mode of Production, Wittfogel came up with an analysis of Oriental despotism which emphasized the role of irrigation works, the bureaucratic structures needed to maintain them and the impact that these had on society, coining the term “hydraulic empire” to describe the system. In his view, many societies, mainly in Asia, relied heavily on the building of large-scale irrigation works. To do this, the state had to organize forced labor from the population at large. This required a large and complex bureaucracy staffed by competent and literate officials. This structure was uniquely placed to also crush civil society and any other force capable of mobilizing against the state. Such a state would inevitably be despotic, powerful, stable and wealthy. Wittfogel’s anticommunism led in “Oriental Despotism” to extend the hydraulic hypothesis to Russia, where it hardly is applicable.

Whereas for example, the California Water Project much like the New Deal WPA projects is less a despotic but clearly an imperious state/corporate action with both infrastructure costs and benefits.

Marx’s theory focuses on the organisation of labour and depends on his distinction between the following:
The means or forces of production; things such as land, natural resources, necessary for the production of material goods; and
The relations of production; the social relationships people enter into as they acquire and use the means of production.
Together these compose the mode of production and Marx distinguished historical eras in terms of distinct modes of production (Asiatic). Marx and Engels highlighted and emphasized that the role the state played in Asiatic societies was incredibly dominant and this was accounted to either the state’s monopoly of land ownership, its sheer political and military power or its control over irrigation systems. They accounted this state domination to the communal nature of landholding; this isolated the inhabitants of different villages from one another.

In order to exercise alienating power over land and water resources, a globalized Military Industrial Complex representing a variety of unevenly developed nations will project power first as surveillance to affect the discourse of remote killing, where the instrumental separation and distance possible resemble the Buddhist position or relative autonomy on just violence and where we will see the justification of greater pre-emptive projection of power using technology rationalized by ideological state apparatuses. It’s important to note that the despotism described above as with pre-war Japanese capitalism and ruling class militarism guiding a deified warlord State is no less modern than the avarice of Wall Street or the corporate wars for market or dominance. The post-US Afghanistan will have its own renewed moment of Central Asiatic despotism and it will come from a new breed of warlord.



RAW VIDEO: Drone Shoots vehicle… by NewsLook
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Yet another windy response to “What is Capitalism”

2:45 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

Written by Annieli


I’ve been writing diaries here as a matter of praxis, that is, bringing theory and practice together as dialectically critical action, this is yet another attempt to make the somewhat odious task of understanding the core of marxist thought and applying it to coherent contemporary circumstance. This example shows the fundamental problem in taking an oppositional stance to capitalism as anti-capitalist thinking, how to discuss the alternatives as types of post-capitalism, and what comes afterward in terms of development. One first must understand the materialist approach to history and see capitalism’s place. Human development as cultural/social development laid upon nature’s development is always sets of uneven development even in terms of the prehistoric, knowing that many different versions of humanoids did at some moments live in parallel, some evolving to survive and others not, in a godless ecological struggle. Similarly uneven development exists for each of the historical stages of human social/economic development often described as Modes of production and the Five stages of history. Where it can get complicated is specifying the forces of production.

History can be described as divided into these stages
2.1 Primitive Communism
2.2 Slave Society
2.3 Feudalism
2.4 Capitalism
2.5 Socialism
2.6 Communism

We can still see echoes of more primitive relations even today in the informal economies of barter as forms of primitive communism and the indentured labor of some immigrant labor whether in this country or others. Enslavement exists in many forms in these uneven developments whether as actual human ownership in sex traffic or wage slavery as in globalized mass-market, corporately-owned consumer industries. Socialism or collective ownership of the means and forces of production has been achieved at various historical moments with varied success and failure and always exists as a non-totality in that other historical stages have and continue to exist in an uneven relationship and in various evolutionary forms.

This diary’s example will be of necessity a schematic version applied to the current situation of wind energy production in the United States signifying those uneven stages of historical development

The economy in which these modal stages are situated have three moments: production circulation consumption, which as a circuit reproduces itself. that is. each consuming moment induces a new, subsequent producing moment, much like the dialectic of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis producing a new thesis.

Writers who identify with historical materialism usually postulate that society has moved through a number of types or modes of production. That is, the character of the production relations is determined by the character of the productive forces; these could be the simple tools and instruments of early human existence, or the more developed machinery and technology of present age. The main modes of production Marx identified generally include primitive communism or tribal society (a prehistoric stage), ancient society, feudalism, and capitalism. In each of these social stages, people interact with nature and produce their living in different ways. Any surplus from that production is allotted in different ways. Ancient society was based on a ruling class of slave owners and a class of slaves; feudalism was based on landowners and serfs; and capitalism based on the capitalist class and the working class. The capitalist class privately owns the means of production, distribution and exchange (e.g., factories, mines, shops and banks) while the working class live by exchanging their socialized labour with the capitalist class for wages.

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Personal, the Political, and the Poverty of Children by Le Gauchiste

2:54 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

Memory believes before knowing remembers. Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders. Knows remembers believes a corridor in a big long garbled cold echoing building of dark red brick … where in random erratic surges, with sparrowlike childtrebling, orphans in identical and uniform blue denim in and out of remembering but in knowing constant as the bleak walls, the bleak windows where in rain soot from the yearly adjacenting chimneys streaked like black tears. –William Faulkner, 1932

Infants process a great deal of information through mechanisms involving procedural memory and begin to assemble their repertoire of survival-based learning long before conscious memory is developed. — Robert Scaer, 2005

Two kids with tricycles

Child poverty is getting worse.

Child poverty is a form of child abuse perpetrated by society as a whole on its most vulnerable, helpless members, and its effects are permanent and devastating. After reviewing some newly released data on child poverty in America, this essay discusses some of the devastating impacts of child poverty on a personal level.

Even as mainstream economists tout macro-economic data showing the economy picking up steam, poverty in the U.S. remains stubbornly high, according to data released last week by the Census Bureau.

For the eleventh time in twelve years, poverty has worsened or gotten no better. The official poverty rate–which greatly understates actual poverty–remains at 15%, meaning that 46.5 million Americans are living on less than $18,300 for a family of three, including 21.8% of all children (16.1 million kids), 27.2% of African-Americans, 25.6% of Hispanics and more than 28% of people with disabilities.

That’s $6,000 a year per person, or $500 per month. Try living on that some time and then tell me, like that entitled billionaire boob Michael Bloomberg, that America’s poor aren’t really poor.

From 2000 to 2012, poverty increased overall by 3.7%, and by 5.6% among children, even as median income for non-elderly households fell from $64,843 to $57,353, a decline of $7,490, or 11.6%.

In 2012, more than one-third (34.6%) of all people living in poverty were children, including 37.9% of black children and 33.8% of Hispanic children. The poverty rate for families with children headed by single mothers was 40.9%, and of the 7.1 million families with children living in poverty, 4.1 million (57.7%) are headed by a single mother.

But nearly half of the poor—43.9% or 20.4 million Americans—live below one-half of the poverty line, or $9,150 for a family of three. Thus 6.6% of the total population lives in “deep poverty,” including 7.16 million children.

Also remaining stagnant last year at 106 million Americans was the number of those living in “near poverty,” below twice the poverty line—less than $36,600 for a family of three. This means that more than one in three Americans are either already poor or are living one catastrophe—a job loss or serious illness—away from poverty.

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Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Undermining Our Past & Our Future aka Austerity is an Attack on Women by NY Brit Expat

2:40 pm in Uncategorized by Anti-Capitalist Meetup

This piece is a summary of a paper that I presented at the Left Forum in a panel organised by Geminijen. If you want to see a copy of the longer paper (which is being edited for English and clarity), send me a personal message here with your email and I will send it to you. Fran Luck who is the producer of the radio series “Joy of Resistance: Largest Minority” on WBAI was in the audience and asked us to appear on her show. If you would like to listen to Geminijen, Diana Zevala (who has written for the ACM on education), Barbara Garson and me, please click here: http://archive.wbai.org/files/mp3/wbai_130703_210001wed9pm10pm.mp3).

While in no way denying the impact of the introduction of austerity upon the working class, the disabled and the poor as a whole, there is no question that the impact of austerity on women is far greater. This is due to the job losses in the state sector where women’s labour is predominant, our historically lower wages due to the undervaluation of traditional women’s labour in a capitalist labour market leading to greater dependence upon the social welfare state, and our overwhelming responsibility for reproduction of the working class and how that impacts on our working lives. The failure of the state to provide completely for social reproduction especially in childcare and care for the infirm and disabled has resulted in women having: 1) discontinuous working lives; 2) and the predominance of our labour in part-time employment.

With incomes falling in the advanced capitalist world as part of general economic policy, women face greater threats than men due to our responsibility as primary caretakers of children, the disabled and the elderly. Women are facing lower incomes, lower pensions, and an increasing reluctance for the state to support women in the workplace through provision of child-care and after-school programmes and shouldering carer responsibilities for the elderly and infirm. Given the transformations in general employment possibilities towards increasingly underemployed and part-time labour, we will begin to face competition from men for the jobs we have normally held while benefits are increasingly run down.
 photo CameronandOliver_zps5d9bc530.jpg
We face increasing economic insecurity without sufficient state assistance to ensure that our children and families can have a decent standard of living provided through employment. Women can no longer depend upon the fact that our labour is of sufficient value to capitalists as men also face increasing precariousness in their employment, and in the absence of a strong labour movement or left-wing movements, can serve the same role of an easily intimidated low-paid work force.

The destruction of the public sector enabling the weakening of the last bastion of trade union organisation to force through even lower wages and a reduction in social subsistence levels of wages along with a further deterioration in working conditions on the basis of non-competition with emerging and peripheral economies is nothing less than a race to the bottom and women will be the first, but not the last, victims of neoliberal economics in the advanced capitalist world.

This piece will be divided into 3 parts. The first is composed of some general statements on austerity. The second part will discuss the women’s labour market in Britain and the impact of austerity. The third part addresses the attack on the universal social welfare state in Britain and its impact upon women.

Part I: What is “Austerity” and why is it being introduced?

What is called austerity is not a new series of economic policies; these policies were introduced by the World Bank in Latin America and Africa and are now being introduced in the advanced capitalist world either voluntarily by governments in (for example, in Britain) or forced through by the Troika of the EU, European Central Bank, and IMF in Greece, Ireland, Spain, and Portugal, for example.

The term austerity is misleading implying that across classes the whole country is facing cutbacks and lower levels of incomes. That is false. Overwhelmingly, the burden of austerity falls on the working class and the poor; and of these, women and those with disabilities are impacted the most.

Austerity is not shared equally by all classes. A cursory look at Figure 1 below, demonstrates quite clearly that those that have been hit hardest are the two lowest incomes deciles which relate to those whose incomes derives completely from benefits (poorest) and the working poor (second lowest decile).
 photo distributionalimpact_zpsfe34dcda.jpg
(Source: http://www.ifs.org.uk/comms/comm124.pdf, P 52)
The formal excuse or justification for the introduction of austerity in Britain has been to cut the Deficit /GDP. While it is dubious economic policy to cut budget deficits in the middle of an economic crisis (as a grotesque understatement) and while there is no historical evidence that this is an effective way of stimulating the economy or economic growth, this is the neoliberal perspective that is justifying cutting the budget deficit. Instead of increasing government revenue through financial transaction taxes, increased taxation of corporations or higher personal incomes, this is done through cutting the state sector and by cutting expenditures. Increasing wealth and income differentials in a period of economic crisis is dubious and will definitely lead to increased financial and economic instability.

Its introduction is part of a longer term attempt to recover profitability in the advanced capitalist world. While the financial sector recovered very quickly from the crash due to the bail-outs and the resulting centralisation of capital eliminating redundant capital, the same cannot be said of other sectors in the economy.
 photo catsontheinternet_zps980dd014.jpg
Its introduction is part of a longer term attempt to recover profitability in the advanced capitalist world. While the financial sector recovered very quickly from the crash due to the bail-outs and the resulting centralisation of capital eliminating redundant capital, the same cannot be said of other sectors in the economy.

Using the crisis as a justification for increasing income and wealth inequality, governments believe that it will enable economic growth; in other words, politicians and the IMF, EU and ECB are trapped in a delusional supply-side and monetarist economic policy mentality.

Essentially, the purpose of austerity is twofold and the reasons are interrelated:
1) Using the excuse of competition and economic stagnation, given low profitability outside of the financial sector, the economic crisis is being used to squeeze wage incomes to keep profits up. This is part of a longer term attack on workers’ incomes that began in the late 1970s and its purpose is to undermine workers’ incomes and working conditions in the advanced capitalist world due to continuing profitability problems outside of the financial sector which is what led to the shift of industry and manufacturing to emerging and peripheral capitalist economies;
2) Secondly, the privatisation of potentially profitable areas of the public sector is being introduced. Its purpose is to open up new areas of profitability for capital and also to undermine the trade unions in the public sector in the last bastion of unionisation in the advanced capitalist world.

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