24/10/2017 by socialistfight
Sean’s comments are quotation boxes, my reply is in plain text. The original post is at the bottom.
A response to Gerry Joseph Downing.
Sean Robertson: “If Socialists continue to argue among themselves, when are they going to be able to convince anyone else?”
Congratulations, Gerry. You have just evidenced my point eloquently.
There is a lot of value in what you have to say, so I will simply address the points with which I most strongly disagree and agree that the rest has some merit, at least.
I would be lying if I said I have put much effort into this, because most of what you have to say is self-defeating and I have far more important things to concern myself with.
The capitalist system is unworkable. Any honest economist will tell you that. It is a system of bubbles that repeatedly and inevitably ends in financial disaster; as demonstrated by the inter-war crash which contributed so much to the rise of Nazism. As demonstrated by the 2011 crash which has contributed to much of the political unrest we now see. Capitalism eats itself, regurgitates and carries on as normal.
Keynesianism is the best-known approach to reform which maintains the hegemony of the existing system, that much is true. But this hegemony is achieved by the voluntary participation of the workforce. Debt-bondage, for example, in the form of mortgages on overpriced property.
Debt and finance are illusory. All finance is debt. The money in your pocket is does not represent wealth – it is an IOU from the state. Think about state debt. Who is this money owed by? Who is it owed to?
There is no ‘iron law of falling profit’. There are no ‘iron laws’ of anything in Economics as Economics is not a physical science. It is an ideological system. It is an illusion.
Profit itself is an illusion. Profit is a form of economic inefficiency. The problem with Marx, and subsequently your own argument, is that it centred squarely in the principles of Classical Economics.
Marx’ argument is powerful and valuable. It has contributed to a lot of alternative thinking. But it’s value in the modern age is as a system of ctiticism – an analytical tool. Marxism, at heart, simply restates Cicero. “Cui bono?
Consider Marx, by all means, but it is necessary to think outside of that system. Which brings us on to the problem of using C19th models in a C21st context.
Unpicking Piketty, Thomas Piketty Capital in the 21st century Harvard 2014, pp677, £29.95, Weekly Worker, 05.06.2014. Issue 1013, http://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/1013/unpicking-piketty/
Debt and finance are not illusory nor indeed are they confidence tricks, which I assume you mean. They are the real material means which the current mode of production, capitalism, operates. Since the era of imperialism which arose during the last quarter of the 19th century when finance capital replaced industrial capital as the main ruling faction of the capitalist class. Wall Street and the City of London have vied for primacy for a century and a half since then with the USA as a whole (with all its other finance centres and allied transnational corporations) the overwhelming global hegemonic imperialist power since WWII.
Money must be related in some way to real wealth, it is not just paper. The only source of real wealth is the labour power of the working class and nature itself. Workers take from nature the means to live. In modern capitalism only the surplus value given to raw materials by the labour expended by workers produces wealth, not banks, not finance houses or speculation on stock exchanges.
State debts and personal debts are real things, real products of the capitalist mode of production, absolutely necessary for it to continue in existence. IOUs are serious things, and all wars are, in a certain sense, are fought over them.
The law of the Tendency of the Rate of Profit to fall fallows logically from the above. Since all value is produced by the labour power of workers, and all capitalists operate in competition with each other, its real progressive elements drive it to continually revolutionise the means of production, constantly investing capital and introducing newer and better machinery, culminating in the looming robot culture to replace the majority of workers with electronic people, robots.
Capital was divided by Marx into constant capital, invested in buildings and machinery, and variable capital, spent on workers’ wages. We can see that constant capital is continually increasing in relationship to variable as competition drives the capitalist to outdo his rivals. As profit can only come from the labour power of the workers it follows logically that the rate of profit has a tendency to fall over time, despite all the efforts of all capitalists to overcome this tendency. All classic 19th century economists agreed with this analysis; Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, David Ricardo and Stanley Jevons. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tendency_of_the_rate_of_profit_to_fall
Of course, as with all criticism of the capitalist system explained by Marx, all later bourgeois economists reject this because it supplied a logical explanation of the ‘business cycle’ and slumps and the reasons for all wars. It must therefore be denied by explanation of greed and human nature and ‘bad men’ theories of history. There is no such thing as an honest bourgeois economist, they cannot admit that capitalism is an outmoded and anarchist and massively inefficiently mode of production and if they do they lose their jobs.
There is no strict division between the proletariat and bourgeoisie anymore. Many working-class people now run their own businesses, have shares and investments. They are as invested in the current economic system. Perhaps even more so than the ruling class. This is one of the reasons that Socialism is such a hard sell.
The proletariat is defined as someone who must sell their labour power to live, the capitalist is the owner of the means of production who hire and exploits labour and pays the workers about half of the wealth he or she had made and expropriates the rest as profit for himself or herself and their company. As long as capitalism exists it can only function in this way. Wealth is privately owned and socially produced. The goal of socialism is that wealth should be socially owned and produced for need and not for the profit is individual capitalists, but for human need in a planned economy. Of course between the worker and the capitalist stands the ‘middle class’ very often well-paid workers who might own stocks and shared who imagine themselves as not of the proletariat. But remember the class is objectively defined, it is not selected by how people view themselves. Even managers and directors, if they do not own the company, and enormously well paid Premier League football players like Wayne Rooney are objectively workers. Of course, peasant farmers who own their farms are petty bourgeois, although there are almost none of these left in England and Wales. Professionals who are self-employed are petty bourgeois, and, if they employ workers, are obviously aspiring capitalists. There are no feudal economies in the world but some states like Saudi Arabia, employ semi-feudal methods of rule. Socialist Fight believes that most of the degenerated and deformed workers states created in after 1917 and WWII have reverted to capitalism now, apart from Cuba and North Korea.
“And for that, we must have a conscious revolutionary socialist vanguard party which prepares that now ideologically and politically.”
We ‘must’ have no such thing, Gerry. What you are proposing is simply a different coloured parasite. My parents and grandparents were Trade Unionists and Labour Party people. I grew up with Socialism. These were the people from who I learned Socialism. Not from you, or Marx or any narcissistic academic who had never seen a picket line.
The system you propose is faulty in that it shares many of the faults of the system which it seeks to replace. To return to Plato; “Only those who do not seek power are qualified to hold it.”
You are no socialist at all, Sean, whatever socialist aspirations you parents may have had for a future socialist society you have none because of your “council communism” petty bourgeois anarchist political outlook; you lack the class consciousness to empathise with the oppressed working class.
This was demonstrated most clearly in the abuse of union power in the 1970s. The unions do not represent the workers – they represent the power of the unions. They simply use the workers as a justification.
Here is the rejection of the working class. In fact, the class struggle militancy of the workers in the 1970s brought them huge gains after the Shanghai People’s Commune in January 1967, put down by Mao, the 1968 French uprising which visibly rocked a major imperialist state on its heels and was only saved by the class treachery of the French Communist party. The fall of Coronels in Greece in 1974, the revolutionary uprising in Portugal and the fall Saigon in 1975 all fostered a global rise in the class struggle and class consciousness so workers in every country, including Britain. Of course, it was betrayed by the trade union bureaucracy of Vick Feather, Jack Jones, and Len Murry and with the assistance of the Morning Star, who managed to divert the struggle in to one of just electing a Labour government.
You are, of course, correct about Corbyn and Sanders. They represent the ‘soft status-quo’. British workers are tired of Corbyn talking endlessly about the rights of foreign workers without any apparent concern for the interests of the domestic workforce. As a consequence, Labour increased its share of the vote among the middle-classes by 12% while the Tories increased their share of the working-class vote by the same percentage (s. Ashcroft) The workers owe nothing to either party.
The Guardian agrees with you here:
“Labour, founded as the party of the working class, and focused on redistributing resources from the rich to the poor, gained the most ground in 2017 in seats with the largest concentrations of middle-class professionals and the rich. The Conservatives, long the party of capital and the middle class, made their largest gains in the poorest seats of England and Wales. Even more remarkably, after years of austerity, the Conservatives’ advance on 2015 was largest in the seats where average incomes fell most over the past five years, while the party gained no ground at all in the seats where average incomes rose most.”
However, I do not; Ukip voters split almost 50/50 between Labour and Tory:
Corbyn: an imperialist politician with a leftist Manifesto and a mass following
Although an imperialist politician nonetheless Corbyn is a Labour leader with a mass working class following who are now becoming enthused for socialism. It would be impossible for a Tory leader to make a speech such as he made after the Manchester bombing blaming it on the situation in North Africa and the Middle East. Though it was pacifist it still had that modicum of truth that the mass media and all warmongering imperialists have furiously denied. A Tory landslide would have been a disaster for the working class. A Labour victory has advanced the class consciousness of the class towards revolution. Corbyn has a bigger percentage of the vote than Brown or Miliband and Tony Blair’s third election in 2005. Shifting the body politic to the left significantly will supply the water for the revolutionary fish to swim in. Thatcher knew that and drained the fish tank and we lost a whole generation of revolutionary socialists because of her success.
But the sharpest indication of class polarisation in 2017 was the wiping out of Ukip, marginalised in every constituency, having won the EU elections in 2014 with 27.5% and 23 MEPS compared to Labour’s 25.4% and 18 MEPs and the Tory’s 23.9% and 18 MEPs. They played a crucial role in securing the Brexit vote on 23 June 2016. The right-wing anti-immigrant surge represented by Brexit is now unravelled also. Its right wing has gone to the Tories and its left back to Labour, thereby partially overcoming their own previous rightism. It is not the case that Corbyn’s agreement on triggering Article 50 to begin the Brexit negotiations or his backsliding on immigration controls won those wayward voters back but the alternative anti-austerity manifesto proposed an implicit class struggle against capitalism itself as we explained above.
“This can only work if the right and far-right ideologues advance policies of import controls, immigration controls, and national chauvinism, the very political sympathies Brexit embodies.” You have absolutely no idea what Brexit ’embodies’, Gerry. None whatsoever. Nada. Nothing.
What’s more, you apparently lack the basic good manners to ask. No-one care about Right and Left. No-one cares about ‘Fascism’ and ‘Socialism’. These are terms that are only relevant to A-Level Politics students.
Again, a total absence of class consciousness, a petty bourgeois reactionary in all political and social attitudes. I should have “the basic good manners to ask” you for guidance???
People make judgments based on their subjective experiences. On the basis of empirical evidence. If this coincidentally aligns with either of these fabricated divisions, then they are happy to adopt the terminology. There is no deeper significance than this.
A pathetic allegiance to the dominant ideology of the British ruling class, empiricism and pragmatism and a total contempt for theory with is so very English. Trotsky:
“If the advanced bourgeoisie has banished inertia, routinism and superstition from the domain of productive technology, and has sought to build each enterprise on the precise foundations of scientific methods, then in the field of social orientation the bourgeoisie has proved impotent, because of its class position, to rise to the heights of scientific method. Our class enemies are empiricists, that is, they operate from one occasion to the next, guided not by the analysis of historical development, but by practical experience, routinism, rule of thumb, and instinct.
Nevertheless, the exceedingly potent class dexterity of the world-ruling British bourgeoisie is proving inadequate – more and more so with each passing year – in the epoch of the present volcanic convulsions of the bourgeois regime. While they continue to tack and veer with great skill, the British empiricists of the period of decline – whose finished expression is Lloyd George – will inescapably break their necks.”
“The contempt for the poorest, least organised and most oppressed immigrant and Black and Asian workers seen in Brexit”. Blacks and Asians voted for Brexit in their droves, Gerry. How do I know this? Because I am part of the working-class. Because I know them. Because Asia, and Africa and the Caribbean are not part of the EU. Because the EU discriminates against these people.
You are totally wrong about how Blacks and Asians voted in the referendum, you have chosen to lie about what Lord Ashcroft says, having referred to him above. The fear of racism is clear in the voting returns:
“White voters voted to leave the EU by 53% to 47%. Two thirds (67%) of those describing themselves as Asian voted to remain, as did three quarters (73%) of black voters. Nearly six in ten (58%) of those describing themselves as Christian voted to leave; seven in ten Muslims voted to remain.”
How the United Kingdom voted on Thursday… and why, Friday, 24 June, 2016, By Lord Ashcroft, http://lordashcroftpolls.com/2016/06/how-the-united-kingdom-voted-and-why/
And for the sharp rise in hate crimes just google:
 Jon Sharman and Ian Jones, The Independent, 15 February 2017, Hate crimes rise by up to 100 percent across England and Wales, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/brexit-vote-hate-crime-rise-100-per-cent-england-wales-police-figures-new-racism-eu-a7580516.html
Let me ask you this. Why should a British citizen of Asian ancestry have to pay £30k+ to bring his wife here when a white European is not expected to do the same? Why does an African doctor have less rights than a Polish potato-picker?
It is no use defending one racist policy by pointing to the continued existence of other, more internationalist racist politics. Which we will only finally overcome by world revolution.
in the racist campaign of the Black Cab drivers against Uber workers and the demands for immigration controls. I agree with you about black taxi-drivers but they are doing nothing that the ‘Socialist’ Trades Unions didn’t do before them. Remember ‘Closed-Shops’?
Closed shops meant that you had to be a trade union member to get a job at that workplace. They were progressive in defending wages and conditions, however, there were aspects of the defence of the privileges of a labour aristocracy of labour. But that was a problem of the system that could be and was corrected in many instances.
“This stretches from the CPB/Morning Star and Stalinism in general to the Socialist Party to the SWP and others…” So, basically, anyone who isn’t you?
No, not only Socialist Fight. Also, other left Trotskyist groups like Red Flag and Socialist Resistance and many leftist individuals who retain and internationalist socialist perspectives. And the Alliance for Workers Liberty.
“…who wallow in its ideological wake over No to EU, Yes to Democracy of Bob Crow, the TUSC etc who are opposed to Racist immigration controls”, i.e. for immigration controls in general to save capitalism in a single country.
This is nonsense, Gerry. By your own reasoning, Keir Hardie was part of the problem. And he did far more for the working-class than you have ever done.
My best days are ahead of me.
“The increasing number of renegades from Trotskyism who have become Stalinists in Britain to my knowledge is an astounding phenomenon which reflects this ideological dilemma.”
I am writing a piece on just this subject. Concentrating on David Broder.
Only to you. No-one else cares. They care about the pound in their pocket, the future of their children and the interests of their communities. Such petty divisions are irrelevant, if they are aware of them at all.
You must not assume everyone is as theoretically and politically empty-headed as yourself.
“I have just returned from Athens.” Where the EU has imposed a policy of austerity against the interest and the wishes of the Greek people.
And refused to leave the EU
“… this layer of reactionaries because see no hope for human liberation as catastrophe threatens other than capitulation to this bureaucratic layer of apologists for the counter-revolutionary Joe Stalin.” The Russian Revolution created Stalinism, Gerry. Stalin wouldn’t have existed without it. It was inevitable. See my earlier point about the Unions.
You don’t need to defend the Revolution to me, Gerry. I am already onside. It was a necessary evil. But let’s have some reality. The Russian Revolution was a bloodbath. The unnecessary murder of the Romanovs is what most people remember. No matter who did it, Lenin was always going to get the blame. He directly facilitated it.
In doing so, he planted a seed of hate in Western Europe towards Russia that far transcends any value in the economic ideal and exists to this very day. When people refer to Communists as barbarians, this is the reason. This crime led directly to the rise of Nazism – another failed ‘Socialist’ project. Which, of course, was defeated by Stalin.
The Russian Revolution did not create Stalinism. That is the biggest lie about it. Stalinism and the rise and victory of a corrupt bureaucracy was a consequence of the isolation of the revolution, its failure to spread to Germany in the first place and that poverty and devastation after WWI and the Civil war. A bureaucracy which had the job of distributing the wealth of society and who never forget itself in so doing. Trotsky fought this counter-revolutionary bureaucracy until they assassinated him in 1940. The execution of the Romanov family was necessary because if the fell into the hands of the Whites they would become a focus for rallying reaction. Leon Trotsky at the head of the Red Army defeated 14 invading armies on all fronts.
“Traditional reformist socialists via parliament in the Labour party and other Social Democracies world-wide must choose between these two versions of socialism and even ‘revolution'”
That is the definition of a false dichotomy Gerry. No-one ‘must’ do anything of the sort. The solution is to look forward – not backward. In conclusion, Gerry, here is the problem you are going to have.
I fundamentally disagree with you there.
The Brexiters are the revolution. They are the working-class. They are multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-faith. They always were. They do not require your guidance. You are not qualified.
I have proved that wrong above. And I don’t know what qualifications you imagine I must have to engage in political struggle.
You vilify them as racists from a position of white, middle-class privilege. You adopt the arguments of the Guardianista bourgeoisie. This is more to do with your desire to be accepted by that class than it is any real notion of political equality.
I don’t know what “white, middle-class privilege” you think I enjoy. I am a retired bus driver. Not many who do enjoy “white, middle-class privilege vote labour and far less support socialist revolution. Although the best of them will when the working class move in struggle sufficiently to make the overthrow of capitalism a viable proposition.
The Russian Revolution would not have happened without the consent and support of the working-class, as you well know. By taking the side of their class-enemy, you have made yourself an enemy of the working class. The working classes aren’t the racists. The Guardian-reading, exploitative, parasitic class who are only interested in racism when they can use it to defend their own interests are the racists. These are the people who cared nothing about the effects of racism until they saw an opportunity to exploit it. These are the people who brought you Grenfell, Orgreave, Hillsborough, etc.
Now you are accusing me of opposing the Russian revolution, something you accused me of supporting above. Many workers are racist, many are sexist and homophobic. But most are not hard-line in these attitude, they merely reflect the attitudes promoted by the Sun and Mail. And it does not prevent then engaging in the class struggle, or even overthrowing capitalism. Maxim Gorky recounts that the Russian working class and peasantry who overthrew capitalism there who had the most appalling social attitudes. It will take a new society with new social values which produces for need and not profit to overcome all these backwardness’s.
They have conveniently desensitised the concept of racism in their own interests and the Right have leapt upon this gift to push their own cause. If the violent revolution you wish for ever actually happens, then I suggest you get as far away from it as possible. Because you have categorised yourself as part of the problem.
It seems sure we would be on opposite sides, Sean Robertson, with the attitudes you have displayed above.
The original post:
Sean Robertson: “If Socialists continue to argue among themselves, when are they going to be able to convince anyone else?”
Gerry Downing replies:
The economic and political degeneration of the capitalist system is in an advanced stage. The reformist system of Keynesian economics is based on the expansion of state debt to kick-start the economy. Suggestions that this will work after the 2008 collapse is nonsense because recovery, such as it was, is based and a re-adoption of personal and state debt to overcome the falling rate of profit.
The iron law of the falling rate of profit, the most powerful of all economic laws of capitalism according to Marx, and absolutely endemic to and inseparable from capitalism itself, is the cause of all slumps, recessions, and wars, global and local, which finds its expression in the political machinations of all capitalist and imperialist politicians.
Objectively the only solution to this crisis is the massive elimination of both surpluses, non-profit and low-profit-bearing, capital and surplus worker who cannot be gainfully employed and exploited by the capitalists. This solution will begin to be put into operation in earnest in the metropolitan countries when WWIII begins. Only socialist revolution, which will, of course, have to start in a single country but which cannot succeed or survive for long without the unfolding of the world revolution. Crucially it with have to kill the monster of global imperialism at its head, in the USA, Europe, and the East. And for that, we must have a conscious revolutionary socialist vanguard party which prepares that now ideologically and politically.
Waiting and hoping Jeremy Corbyn or even more ridiculously Bernie Sanders will ever adopt such a perspective means vacillating and forever putting off this absolutely vital ideological and political task and assigning it to an objective process. Assigning ourselves only reformist tasks because the working class is not ready to overthrow capitalism is the very reformist capitulation to the status quo and rejecting revolutionary tasks via the united front the Transitional Method right now.
This can only work if the right and far-right ideologues advance policies of import controls, immigration controls, and national chauvinism, the very political sympathies Brexit embodies.
World economy is entirely tied up together in trade and a global division of labour and a consequent political class consciousness, at least in embryo in the working class. In other words, its global class advances in class consciousness every time it achieves victories in any section anywhere in the world and that retreats every time there is a defeat.
The great deficit is the ideology of the vanguard of the class, the nature and content of its leftism. Without the perspective of world revolution, achieved in Russia a hundred years ago, the leftist alternative is socialism in one country, Stalinism, which proposes to challenge the far right and fascists for a nationalist perspective for socialism. A non-revolutionary and impossible perspective which is inflicted on the organised working class by a combination of Stalinist ideology and its close relationship today with the aristocracy of labour represented today by the trade union bureaucracy.
The contempt for the poorest, least organised and most oppressed immigrant and Black and Asian workers seen in Brexit, in the racist campaign of the Black Cab drivers against Uber workers and the demands for immigration controls. This stretches from the CPB/Morning Star and Stalinism in general to the Socialist Party to the Socialist Workers Party and others who wallow in its ideological wake over No to EU, Yes to Democracy of Bob Crow, the TUSC etc who are opposed to Racist immigration controls”, i.e. for immigration controls in general to save capitalism in a single country.
The increasing number of renegades from Trotskyism who have become Stalinists in Britain to my knowledge is an astounding phenomenon which reflects this ideological dilemma. I have just returned from Athens where I was questioned by several comrades on what on earth was happening in Britain and in particular to Ollie JC (the Russian Revolution was a “one-off”) who departed the Socialist Fight group to become a religious Maoist cult follower. Others are Alex Gordon (TUSC supporter who saw the light emanating from Uncle Joe), Bill Paterson, David Broder, and James O’Leary gathered around the hard Stalinist racist immigration controlling advocates on the Facebook site called Red London. And other former members and supporters of Socialist Fight who were former WRP members who capitulated to this layer of reactionaries because see no hope for human liberation as catastrophe threatens other than capitulation to this bureaucratic layer of apologists for the counter-revolutionary Joe Stalin.
1,000 executions a day in 1937-38 of all the remaining leaders and participants on the Bolshevik side in the Russian revolution together with simply random victims slaughtered in one case by picking names from the Moscow phone directory, to fill Stalin’s quotas is the midnight in the century that this layer now proposes to the masses as the version of socialism they should embrace. Revolutionary Trotskyism has a great ideological and political battle before it to put the perspectives that led the Russian Revolution to victory back on the agenda.
Traditional reformist socialists via parliament in the Labour party and other Social Democracies world-wide must choose between these two versions of socialism and even ‘revolution’ – Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky (the “one-off” revolutionary perspective of the Russian Revolution) or the peasant socialism version presented to the Labour aristocracy and trade union bureaucracy of Stalin, Mao, Ho and Castro as an alternative.