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Text coloring decodes as follows:
Black: Ken Ellis
Red: Marx, Engels, Lenin, etc.
Green: Press report, etc.
Blue: Recent correspondent
Purple: Unreliable info
Carl quoted me:
>>> snip old dialogue
>> <snip newer dialogue for brevity> Would double time
>> be an acceptable reform for the new SLP to advocate?
> ------------------------------------------------------ I guess I am a humanitarian,
> I care about my fellow workers and the hardships we all endure. I only wish
> they could see the tremendous power we have as a class, and how that power
> could be applied to building something that will benefit all of us. It would be a
> good thing if we could eliminate unemployment and make sure that everyone
> had a fulfilling job and life. Unfortunately we live under a system where that
> is impossible. It is in the capitalist's best interest to maintain a "reserve army
> of unemployed". The benefits are twofold-first with a percentage of people
> unemployed it keeps wages low and at a manageable level. If everyone were
> employed wages would skyrocket, something no capitalist wants.
Unemployment benefits the capitalist class, so it is national
by governments, just the way tax credits for children encourages population
growth. GWB is doing exactly the wrong thing by increasing the tax credit
for kids, because it is a stupid, wasteful and bourgeois way to manipulate the
economy to consume excess commodities and services. Naturally, it would
be silly for anyone to expect anything else.
A certain amount of unemployment is tolerated to maintain the
competition and resulting low wages, but any huge variation from 'acceptable'
figures impels the Fed to adjust interest rates to bring unemployment to within
'acceptable' levels, but still inhumane. Thus far, their unemployment policy
meets with little opposition, but I'd like to help create a bigger opposition,
and allow the success of France's 35 hour week to lead us in the right
direction. It may not be what the capitalist class wants, but at some
point we will have to enact policies to benefit the working class.
> Second, a ready pool of unemployed
workers means that when the capitalist
> is ready for expansion, he can draw from this group of more than willing
> workers, usually at a lower wage than his veteran employees. Also, when
> the veterans are making top dollar wages the capitalist can lay them off
> and hire from the unemployed at a much lower wage.
That sounds like a two-tier wage system, which hasn't met with
acceptance by workers and unions, thank goodness. Workers have been
known to fight back and win against such policies, as well as lose.
> Unemployment, reasonable unemployment
that is, benefits the capitalist.
> Of course large numbers of unemployed become desperate and often willing
> to listen to someone with ideas for change. Not a good thing for the capitalist.
> I believe that the double time for overtime would be something worth working
> for. I really don't think it could be considered a reform. Workers are entitled to
> receiving the full social value of their labor, anything that brings us close to that
> goal isn't a reform, workers are entitled to it. I don't think we would have a
> problem supporting such an amendment.
If 'time and a half' were to be scrapped in favor of 'double
of people would recognize the change as a reform, for it would involve an
amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act. If not willing to recognize it as
the obvious reform that it is, then it sounds like the old taboo against reform
is still in place after all. If I haven't asked before, has the SLP changed its
attitude toward reform at all? What's the new ruling, if at all?
>> <snip some old dialogue for brevity> Kellogg,
who inaugurated a 6 hour day
>> during the Depression to help his workers share work, and whose successors
>> didn't phase out 6 hours until well after his death, was certainly not cruel.
>> Few capitalists are.
> --------------------------------------------------------- The capitalist would be
> motivated to replace labor with machinery for several reasons. A machine
> never takes personal time off, never complains and never strikes for higher
> wages. A machine works continuously without a break, unless the machine
> itself breaks. Most importantly there are virtually no labor costs involved, only
> maintenance and repairs. Of course the machine becomes obsolete after a time
> and must be replaced to keep up with the competition. Eliminating labor would
> have a definite positive influence on the bottom line, thus the only motivation a
> capitalist would need to be rid of his troublesome workers. The capitalist's only
> motive is to make a profit, anything that improves his chances of doing so is fair
> game. He or she doesn't care a hoot about the hardships imposed on the workers
> because of a layoff. Their only concern is more and bigger profits.
That's a good analysis of the basic economic mechanism. More
capitalist benevolence make it to the media, most memorable for me being the
burndown of the Polarfleece factory in my home state of Massachusetts. The
factory owner maintained full wages for his workers while the factory was
being rebuilt, which earned him and a few other 'heroes' an honor by former
2002 note: Carl made portrayed his analysis in starkly contrasting black and white, but
the world is much more complex than that. Modern laws prevent such stark exploitation.
> Mr. Kellogg wouldn't have done the
things he did unless it meant a benefit
> for him as well. No capitalist does anything without something substantial
> in return. That is just the way it works. I know. I've been on the receiving
> end of a layoff notice myself. I know that cold feeling in the pit of my
> stomach, wondering how I will provide for my family. The fear that I
> will not be able to find another job. The humiliation of standing in an
> unemployment line, waiting for a measly pittance that is just enough
> to keep me looking for another job.
Welcome to the club. I'll bet a lot of us in this forum have
similar notice. When Ronnie Ray Gun took office in 1981, Lawrence
Berkeley Lab, where I worked in a computer maintenance shop, did a
RIF, or reduction in force, and cut almost a third of the workforce. Last
hired, first fired, so I got the boot for nearly a year while the government
recovered its senses. I enjoyed the vacation at half pay, and went off to
Alaska for a couple of weeks, and also volunteered to build a little studio
at my favorite listener-sponsored radio station, KPFA-FM - sister station to
KPFT-FM in Houston, and 3 other stations - which are all having problems
with their bureaucratic, intransigent, secretive and censorious national board.
> I hold no pity for the capitalist,
he would throw me off a cliff if it meant
> bigger profits for him. This is no exaggeration, they really don't care.
It's true that we are just another commodity to them, but your
me of 'the demonization of a class', as an element of the old familiar trio of
'racism, sexism, and classism'. For years I wondered where I would find an
example of classism, as the other two are usually bandied about quite
constantly, but classism? But, revolutionary parties practice classism all of
the time when they portray the capitalist class as a uniform pack of worthless
blood-suckers. They tell tales of woe and brutal exploitation to feed the
notion that 'workers would have nothing to lose by overthrowing the rule
of the capitalists, and take away their property'. So far, the classism
has been ineffective, and will remain so. People have seen enough
demonization, and are ready for the loving politics of inclusion.
> I have also been on the other end
sort of. I used to work for a rural power
> company and one of my jobs was collecting on past due light bills. I had to
> look into the sad faces of hard working people who were just down on their
> luck, all the while throwing the switch on their power. I cannot tell you the
> shame I felt while doing this. It was obvious these people were not dead
> beats, they worked hard and still could not maintain a minimum existence.
> My conscience bothered me horribly. I still remember the words of the
> general manager of the company when he hired me, he said "Do you think
> you will have a problem cutting off deadbeats who don't pay their bills?"
> I wanted the job so I said "No sir." I ended up quitting. I still get sick
> when I think about it. The only good thing to come of it was it started me
> thinking about a different way of doing things. I reasoned that there is no
> reason for anyone to go without power just because some company's profits
> came before people's well being. It just didn't make sense to me.
Lousy jobs like that remind me of another good reason to create
shortage of labor, which would kill several birds with one stone. It would enable
us to open up employment opportunities for everyone, raise wages enough for
rurals to make a good living and pay their bills - eliminating the need for your
old job - and provide enough economic security to enable people with lousy
jobs like land-mine manufacture to boycott those jobs without fearing that
they wouldn't be able to find a good job to replace the old, because we could
always reduce hours again so that everyone could fit into a more benign
economy. As Gompers said, 'As long as one person remains out of work, the
hours of labor are too long.' Marx applauded the passage of the 10 Hour Bill
in England as another example of replacing the political economy of the
capitalist class with that of the working class, by converting 'working class
competition for scarce jobs' into 'capitalist competition for scarce labor'. If
OPEC is smart enough to create an international artificial shortage of oil in
order to raise oil prices, then why can't labor create an international artificial
shortage of labor, thereby putting everyone to work, and raising wages for all?
> I began reading Marx, and later
I read De Leon.
> Then I joined the SLP. Now I am dedicated
> to ending this rotten system.
I think that everyone in this forum is dedicated to the abolition
We merely differ on the method. Some methods are more feasible than others.
To find a feasible and effective method of abolishing class distinctions, ahh,
there's a quest towards which many a fine mind has applied itself.
> It cannot be reformed, we cannot make nice nice with the
> capitalists, we must kick the rotten supports out from under
> them. We must put them to work, just like the rest of us.
We will never put them to work, for their work isn't essential
to running the
economy. Work may very well be a relatively benign form of punishment, but
punishing capitalists isn't as fruitful as loving our class enough to find a way
to enable every worker to enjoy a place in the economy. Look at it this way
for a moment: Say, by way of familiar example, we presently work 40 hours
a week, and the bosses work 0 hours. That situation is bad for us, but good
for them. A few more years go by, and we somehow manage to force through
a 30 hour week while the bosses continue to work 0 hours. Not quite as bad
for us, but still very good for them. Another few years go by, productivity leaps
forward, and we force through a 20 hour week, while the bosses still work 0
hours. Even better for us, while they still have the better end of the deal.
More time goes by, and we force through a 10 hour week, while they still
work 0 hours. You can see that our level of freedom is definitely catching
up to theirs. A few years after that, the length of the work week becomes so
ridiculously low that energetic youths and other highly motivated people
volunteer to do the remaining work until it can all go the way of the bronze
axe, and we institute free access to the necessities of life. By doing that,
capitalism as we've suffered from it will cease to exist. It is also the only
feasible way to liberate ourselves from capitalist exploitation while the
capitalists 'dig their own graves' by replacing workers with machines.
> Any time I hear someone trying to
reform this criminal system
> it makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. It makes me sick.
Marx always favored reforms in the interests of the working
class in democracies,
so maybe Marx makes you sick. You wouldn't be alone, for he also made many
other people sick. Engels wrote to Sorge on May 17, 1893: "The May First
demonstration here was very nice; but it is already becoming somewhat of
an everyday or rather an annual matter; the first fresh bloom is gone. The
narrow-mindedness of the Trades Council and of the socialist sects - Fabians
and the S.D.F. - again compelled us to hold two demonstrations, but everything
went off as we desired and we - the Eight-Hour Committee - had many more
people than the united opposition. In particular, our international platform
had a very good audience. I figure that there was a total of 240,000 in the
park, of which we had 140,000 and the opposition at most 100,000. ...."
As you can see, no socialist group in London was worth supporting
at the time,
but the 8 hour movement certainly was. When one considers that the means of
oppression of workers flows out of surplus values, and that the best way to diminish
surplus values is to stop working so many hours, that right there tells us what to do,
far better than anything else. One could say that 'the workers back then were entitled
to an 8 hour day', but the best way to win the 8 hour day was and is to enact a law to
apply to everyone, or, in other words, a reform. Marx and Engels never had a personal
conflict with reforms in the interests of the working class. If such reforms were all
right with M+E, with their unblemished record of support for the working class,
I wonder why such reforms wouldn't be all right with you?
If your resistance to reforms in the interest of the working
class is because
of something De Leon might have written or said, you should recall that De
Leon changed his views quite noticeably within a space of 16 years. The SLP
newspaper 'Workmen's Advocate' of August 3, 1889, contained a report of a
speech he gave to a Congress of the Second International in France:
"Nationalists look upon government
not as an oppressive force, as an
institution foreign to the people, but as emanating from the people. It is
the very self of the nation. Nationalists, therefore, deem it necessary, and
demand that all industries shall be of national organization, because these
are the people's interests, and, consequently, the concerns of the government.
"We are not, like the anarchists,
opposed to all government, but we are
opposed to the present industrial system, that accrues to the profit of the few.
"The individual owes duties to the
government, but the government
owes greater duties to the individual.
"The Nationalists demand, first,
the right to the opportunities of labor
and security for all the result of it; second, assurance of promotion; the
gratification of laudable aspiration; the sense of honor; third, pensions for
the disabled by accident or old age. This right all are entitled to who have
worked and thus contributed to the wealth of the people, just as the soldier
who is ready to sacrifice his life for his country is entitled to a pension
when old or disabled.
"We demand certainty of position
for all. At present the poor and the sick succumb.
By nationalizing the industries poverty will be abolished and sickness will be relieved.
"We recognize the laws of exchange
of values, and propose to establish a
government composed of representatives of trades unions. The present barbaric
competitive system must go, and with it the accursed system of wage slavery.
What we are aiming at is Socialism, although we have another name for it,
simply because the name must be adjusted to the history of the country. Our
"democrats" do not call themselves Progressists, as in Spain; neither do our
Free Traders call themselves Liberals, as in England."
De Leon's Nationalist proposal "to
establish a government composed of
representatives of trades unions" was quite consistent with his later advocacy
of Industrial Unionism. But, several of the items De Leon demanded of the existing
state in 1889 were reforms, such as jobs, and old age and disability pensions. Could
political conditions in the USA have changed enough between 1889 and 1905 to
account for De Leon's later rejection of reforms? We had a democracy that
whole time, so some other reasons might have motivated the change.
> I think about myself without a job,
my wife, my child and the
> disappointment and hardships they had to endure. I think about
> those sad people who watched me cut their power. This way of
> doing things must go. One day it will. God willing.
It will. We are slowly evolving out of our scarcity economy
and into the realm
of abundance. We just have to learn to take care of the need of our class to
fully participate in the economy, which is a precondition to social progress.
By thus making workers richer in terms of free time, we will do our bit
towards ABOLISHING CLASS DISTINCTIONS, a Marxist goal to
which too few Marxists pay any attention.
> I don't want to think about what
that will entail. I really don't see where
> your theories are going, you seem to think that simply reducing the workday
> is the key to economic freedom when in reality it will mean wide spread
> pauperdom for the working class.
If long hours necessarily translate into a higher standard
of living, then one
could thereby reason that 1870's 60-72 hour week meant a higher standard
of living than what today's 40-hour workers enjoy.
snip for now the long bit about the alleged negative affects
of a shorter work week
>> <snip other text> If Southerners were willing to fight to the death to
>> preserve as immoral a form of ownership as slavery, then just think
>> how hard they would fight to preserve ownership of everything else.
> ------------------------------------------------------ How is gaining ownership
> and control over something built and operated by the working class wrong?
> How is using this property once held by the rich and using it for everyone's
> benefit a criminal act? I personally don't have a problem with it. I think it is
> the right and just thing to do. I think it can and will be done here one day.
> I honestly think that it is not too far in the future. The cracks have begun
> showing for a long time now. The contradictions are becoming more clear.
Gaining ownership and control of the means of production is
not so much
a matter of right and wrong as it is a matter of feasibility. As my old SLP
study class instructor said some 28 years ago, 'standards of right or wrong
change when the majority substitutes a new standard for an older one. Thus,
the abolition of private property, while regarded by many as correct for one
era, will be found illegitimate in a new era.'
I had no difficulty with Henning's statement. Private property
has never been
an absolute for me, and I concur with Morgan that a property career will not
be our destiny forever. I'm certain that property* will someday be placed in the
museum alongside the bronze axe. What remains to be agreed upon is 'what
is a good way to get it to the museum?' All at once and now? Or, little by little?
It hardly stands to reason that an institution that developed over millennia, and
survived feudalism, capitalism, and goddess knows what else, will go away
one fine day, and with one big bang, and all because we supposedly are
helpless to solve a future crisis of overproduction and underconsumption.
*2002 note: Engels actually spoke of placing "the whole machinery of state
where it will then belong: into the museum of antiquities, by the side of the
spinning-wheel and the bronze axe." The state, not private property. But, the
M+E scenario fated both institutions to the same museum.
> A great example is California's
power troubles. The reason for the blackouts
> is not because there is not enough power, the blackouts are happening because
> a power company can no longer afford high priced power generated by another
> company. Their only recourse would be to raise rates, or get bailed out by the
> government. The former will generate more than just power, it will generate
> bad feelings. The latter will only buy a little time. Socialism would solve this
> problem because power would go where it is needed, without profit constraints.
> More would be generated or new generating facilities built to ease the burden.
> Simple as that. Simply because it is needed.
Clumsy deregulation caused the present power crisis, which
will spread to
much of the rest of the country this summer. Gas and electric rate hikes have
already forced a lot of low income households (like mine) onto subsidy
programs. If enough economic incentives to create electricity existed, the
USA could have plenty of power. The good old days of cheap and regulated
power may be coming to an end, and I think that it may be because of a
government decision to allow the energy suppliers to have their way with us.
> Speaking about the Southerners fighting
to keep slaves, they did fight
> to keep slaves but they mainly fought for state's rights, the right of each
> state to decide whether or not to keep slavery legal. Economics were at work
> here also. Since the south was dependent on agriculture and farm machinery
> was only a distant dream, in order to work the massive plantations of the time
> manpower was needed. Since white southern labor would be too expensive
> and scarce and would not be easily controlled the only answer at the time
> was slavery. The ruling class of the south was made up predominantly of
> wealthy planters, thus class interests were at stake here. It can be said that it
> was a war between the ruling classes of the South and the federal government,
> the Union. The result of the war was a strong central government instead of a
> conglomeration of independent states, so much the better for us. Now we
> fight to free humanity from wage slavery. A goal no less worthy.
If Southerners were willing to fight and die to preserve slavery,
hard would the general population fight to preserve ownership of all other
means of production? That was the question that needs to be thought about
and answered. Activists have long alleged people's willingness to give up the
institution of private property, but the Civil War's demonstration of people's
willingness to die to preserve even immoral forms of ownership speaks
otherwise. Activists have to take people's limitations into account, and can't
willy nilly brush away their close attachment to property, which is destined
to last for as long as the scarcity economy continues, for a little property
is sometimes all that a worker has to show after decades of hard work. The
ideology around private property is cast in cement. Not everyone can be
enlightened and selfless like us socialists, so we have to learn to work with
the human material as we find it, as Marx and Engels instructed us to do.
I still believe that what Marx and Engels
> were working for was control of the means of
> production by the working class so that the full
> potential of industrialism could be realized.
That certainly is one good reason, but I've seen 2 others mentioned.
reason was to remove from the owner's grasp the material means by which they
could carry out a counter-revolution. A third reason was given in an 1877 biog-
raphy of Marx by Engels (MESW 3, pp. 85-6): "... the social productive forces,
which have outgrown the control of the bourgeoisie, are only waiting for the
associated proletariat to take possession of them in order to bring about a state
of things in which every member of society will be enabled to participate not
only in production but also in the distribution and administration of social
wealth, and which so increases the social productive forces and their yield
by planned operation of the whole of production that the satisfaction of all
reasonable needs will be assured to everyone in an ever-increasing measure."
As Engels explained, taking possession was regarded as the
best way to help
achieve full participation in the economy. That was the humanitarian content
of expropriation, but modern socialist parties seem to have forgotten that
humanitarian content, and can only think about one thing - taking away the
property of the rich. The fact that we no longer live in a world in which
workers could theoretically smash monarchies, come to power by force,
and take away the property of the rich - makes no impression upon modern
socialists, because they have their sights set on control over all of that property,
but won't cooperate with one another to actually gain control, for each of them
has their own special and sectarian way of gaining control and expropriating,
which often perfectly excludes the methods of other parties. The result? Inability
to cooperate on a single revolutionary socialist program, and disintegration into
ineffectual sectarianism. The cause? Futile efforts to take away the property of
the rich, or to otherwise redistribute wealth and income, every bit of that
program classifiable as 'meddling with purely bourgeois affairs'.
> I think the reason for over production during this time
> was the fact that markets were smaller then.
The point Engels made was that 'crises
of overproduction have been commonplace
since 1825, so the economies of the most advanced countries can support socialist
revolutions.' Engels didn't pine away for the possibility of a socialist revolution in
1905, 1917, 1933, 1968, 1989, or 2001. To him, a socialist revolution was feasible
almost from the date of his birth. Someday you will have to admit that "Marx and
Engels believed that the economies of the most advanced capitalist countries were
strong enough to support socialist revolutions during most of the 19th century."
The economic conditions were there, but what was missing was the political element.
The workers of the most advanced capitalist countries were the least interested in
socialist revolution, and M+E complained about the political nullity of English
workers for decades. In America, the most bourgeois country on earth, as Engels
called us, the proletariat trailed the bourgeoisie, so socialist revolution was
practically undreamed of. Marx's scenario was plausible for Germany,
Russia, and a few other European countries.
> There was still a great deal of
subsistence farming in this era,
> thus the market for industrially produced goods was much smaller.
> The goal was to expand the potential of industrial development so that all
> would have access to these goods and improve the standard of living for
> everyone. Something which would be impossible under the capitalist system.
Impossible under capitalism? You only have to look around to
see that the
standard of living for most people has improved immensely over the past few
centuries. And, we did it under no system other than capitalism, which is why
capitalism and democracy are winning all over the world, bringing in a half
billion more people after 1989. We just need to manage it better.
> Some things were just as true then
as they are today, the rule of the
> bourgeoisie is just as obsolete today as it was then, growing more so with
> each passing day. It is long past time for us to organize and overthrow it.
No one will overthrow the rule of the bourgeoisie, because
and democracy signify 'the rule of the people'. We will not overthrow ourselves,
no more than the Europeans supported the Russian revolution in 1917 by
overthrowing their democracies.
snip old text
> But if you think that industrial capacity then is equal to capacity now
> then I think you need to get out of the house more.
We should try to avoid sarcasm, and try to be compassionate
one another's experiences, which are very likely limited as a result of our
proletarian backgrounds. I didn't think that I said any more than 'the several
crises of over-production after 1825 led M+E to believe that the means of
production were far enough developed to support successful revolutions in
the most developed countries.' Furthermore, the fact that they advocated
reductions in the length of the work day during the proposed era of proletarian
dictatorship was all of the proof anyone would need to know that the means
of production were well enough developed to eliminate want. Of course,
'want' back then, and 'want' now, are 2 different things. It's hard to imagine
people in the 1800's pining away for TV's and jet planes when they hadn't
been invented or conceived of. If anyone wanted those toys back then, I'm
afraid that there's nothing that could have been done for them. Similarly,
we may be wanting in some of the things that will be available in 2100,
but which few to none of us can even imagine. In spite of our limitations,
we can still do positive things. Replacing monarchies with democracies
may be out of the question for us, but we could learn to share work.
> I don't know if want could have
been eliminated during Engel's time,
> but I know for certain it can be eliminated now without a doubt. Now is
> what I am most concerned about. The fact remains that this tremendous
> economic potential can only be realized under a different system.
> That system is Socialism, nothing less.
Your reasoning seems to be: 'If socialism
didn't happen in the days of M+E because
their means of production were insufficiently developed, then the lack of development
in previous centuries is no lonhrt an excuse for socialism not happening today, so
workers should overthrow their governments and establish socialism now.'
But, people do not overthrow democracies for the sake of putting the means
of production into the hands of people who will never be able to decide on
whether to have an anarchist revolution, a communist revolution, or to reform
what they have. Goddess bless them, people are smarter than that.
> The capitalists cannot be persuaded to relinquish their grip
> on this power through reforms, we must seize it for ourselves,
> and use it for everyone's benefit.
I think that we should get away from the idea of dealing with
class in any way, shape or form, and instead think about enacting work-sharing
measures that could put everyone to work. No other issue is more important to
the future of the working class. To be ambitious for power and property before
one has first put the entire working class to work ... well, if one refuses to even
THINK about doing the simple thing first, then what hope can one have for
doing the difficult thing? Before anyone will listen to a socialist, socialists
must first establish a bit of a track record, but socialists know little more
than how to lose on one issue after another.
> This power is not just political,
it is economic and it is economics which will
> move the masses to act. The common working man could care less about the
> goings on in Washington, until that is, something they do affects his or her
> everyday life and most especially when it affects it economically. I don't think
> the situation can be boiled down to politics, although that is part of the equation.
Engels wrote to Sorge: "And the
American, like the Englishman, wants to
influence his state; he does not throw his vote away." If we weren't just as
concerned about political affairs, we wouldn't be so interested in eliminating
butterfly ballots in Florida, and fixing the voting system in the rest of the
country as well. We don't need any more elections like the last one by any
means, and I am very glad that so many people are interested in preventing
the level of 'legal fraud' that permeated the last election, which will no doubt
result in a widening of the gap between rich and poor. The 40 hour law also
happens to have a devastating effect on working class economic conditions,
so our job should be to amend that law, and make the new law a lot friendlier
to working class interests.
snip assertion, snip old text
> --------------------------------------------- I think few regard Socialism as
> a solution because they don't yet realize the power of the working class
> once it becomes organized and moves with one soul and one objective.
Organizing the working class to do anything at all is a big
activists. Should we try to do the hard thing and 'have a socialist revolution',
which means different things to different people? Or, would we first try a few
easy things? Politics is the art of what's possible, so we should look at our
history and learn from previous successes. Considering the reductions in the
length of the work day from 12 to 10 to 8 over the past 150 years, then we
are more likely to follow in the footsteps of France's 35 hour week than
we are to attack the institution of private property.
> I think it's not a popular issue
in the west because people don't yet
> realize the great benefits that the new system will offer and they
> don't yet know how to go about reaching this goal. They still
> confuse the Soviet Union and the rest as being socialist.
Billions of people regard parts of Europe and Scandinavia as
the old Soviet Union, China and Cuba, etc., as communist. With all of the
troubles I had trying to get the man on the street to think about socialism at
all, going the extra mile and trying to get them to think about socialism from
the SLP perspective was impossible, at least for me. I question the value of
an ideology that requires people to change everything they believed about
socialism, communism and anarchism.
> The powers that be never cease pointing
this out as truth. In reality it is
> the biggest lie ever perpetrated by one group against another in my opinion.
If Arnold Petersen's 'dictatorship of the proletariat over the peasantry and
middle classes' was an example of socialist truth, then saying that 'the old SU
wasn't communist' has to be of similar worth, at least as far as a few billion people
in the world are concerned. One can't expect to change how a few billion people
regard communism and socialism, no more than one can teach them brain surgery.
It wouldn't improve their lot in life, so their eyes would just glaze over.
> I think changing property relations
will be possible
as soon as the
> working class wakes up and realizes the robbery that is taking place
> on a daily basis and how they can have a society that will benefit
> them many more times better than the present one.
For most people, the economy works well enough. Most people
are getting what
they need, the products and services that produce and reproduce labor power, with
a little left over to salt away for a rainy day. The majority isn't about to jeopardize
institutions they trust will get them through another day without incident.
> The workers are in position to make
this happen overnight
> if they wished. Only the knowledge and will is lacking.
That's a pretty big 'if'. Native intelligence will lead workers
to use up
simple solutions before they adopt industrial strength varieties.
> That is where we come in. Although
our message doesn't get the mass audience
> it needs I feel it is just a matter of time before it does. I think the SLP is going to
> grow to be a force, that is my hope anyway and I will do what I can to make that
> happen. I think Socialism is not only possible but also badly needed. Now it is up
> to the working class to decide the same thing. Once they do it is only a matter of time.
If you were to read Prof. Ben Hunnicutt's "Work
Without End", you would
discover what workers actually did for themselves when economic times got
rough in the USA. On the other hand, Marx built his revolutionary ideas upon
what he saw workers do for themselves in the struggles of 1830, 1848 and 1871,
etc. He also observed workers in the 2 most advanced democracies, USA and
England, fight for shorter work days and higher wages. Marx could generally
support every working class struggle for revolution or reform. But, workers
have yet to show signs that they are ready to overthrow their democracies, so
what's left in the present day is reform. Workers generally do what was effective
in the past, and will not try anything radically new until all of the accustomed
programs are exhausted. They have not tried to shorten the length of the work
week for a long time, but they will most assuredly try that some day, and then
they will keep on exhausting the shorter work week possibility until the work
week itself is exhausted, wage labor is replaced with volunteers, necessities are
freely accessed, and capitalism as we've suffered from it is no more, thus getting
society to classless society without first dismantling the state. We have only to
read a little M+E to know that the state will no longer have a purpose after
class distinctions are abolished. Why any socialist would want to tackle
the state before abolishing class distinctions is beyond me.
> <snip old text> I will again pose the question - how will the
> himself and his family with a much reduced work week? The capitalist will
> certainly not pay for services not rendered so how will the worker make up
> for the lost income? He will have to work several reduced hour jobs in my
> opinion and thus he will have gained nothing. He will still be working 40-50
> hours a week and the only difference is he will be getting robbed by several
> more capitalists than he was before.
The trick will be done because we will become much more productive
we are now. A long, long time ago, back when tools of production were in their
infancy, productivity - measured in terms of how many people another person
could support - was very low, and people fed themselves from what they could
scrounge from jungles, forests, fields and streams. But, agriculture was born,
productivity improved, private property was adopted to assure the survival of
those who worked the hardest, and enough surpluses were eventually generated
to enable the division of society into classes. Jumping ahead to 'Capital', Marx
often used the example of a 12 hour day with 6 hours of necessary labor, and 6
hours of surplus labor. Today, we are probably down to less than one hour of
necessary labor and up to 7 or more of surplus labor. Forty years from now,
productivity could easily be infinite. In other words, anything anyone could ever
want could be produced with zero effort, other than to transmit the wanderings
of our imagination to the tools of production, whatever they may be like.
Getting back to an example of what's possible in 2001, we could
easily proceed to
the IWW-promoted four hour day, which would still mean one hour of necessary
labor, but only 3 for surpluses. But, that would only work if the small number of
hours of labor become the rule for ALL workers. Today, if only one worker decides
to go on a reduced work week, he is docked accordingly, but, if we pass a law
pertaining to all workers, then we all reap the benefits of the shorter work week.
United we stand, divided we fall. With the many-fold increases in productivity yet
to come, and with the work sharing ideology yet to become popular, prosperity for
all will replace today's misery and suffering. A revolution in thought may be required
to get people to seriously consider sharing the remaining work instead of fighting over
every last scrap of it, but, once that hurdle is cleared, and the benefits manifested, we
will kick ourselves for not doing it years before. I hope that the proletarians of the SLP
will consider the work sharing solution. Society will have no other choice but to think
about it within a few short years. The workers of IBM and Intel, etc., will see to that.
>> Whatever will push people to socialize ownership and replace bourgeois
>> democracies just doesn't seem to be on the horizon as of yet.
> ------------------------------------ Obviously the contradictions and hindrances
> to further development have not become intolerable to the working class yet
> and there is nothing we can do about that. The contradictions and injustices
> are there but I guess they are not yet to a point of moving the working people
> toward organizing for a new system. We cannot force a revolution, that will only
> come when the situation warrants it. All we can do now is educate and demonstrate
> how a new system would benefit us as a class. When will the fateful moment come?
> I don't know but we will continue to do our part to bring it as quickly as possible. It
> could come tomorrow or it could be decades, who knows what will set the wheels in
> motion? In the 1968 Paris revolt it was as small as closing a university that brought
> France to the brink of a complete change in their society. Economically, times were
> pretty good in France, unemployment was low, inflation was under control, people
> just got tired of the system all at once and for a few weeks they joined together and
> did something about it. Factories were occupied and operated completely under
> worker control, a shadow government of sorts was set up, people met openly and
> debated how the new society would be set up. Cooperative stores and social services
> were operated completely under the people's control. But somehow it failed. Some
> say it was due to a lack of leadership and direction, some say it was due to betrayal
> by the French communist party, some say both. But for a few weeks everything you
> say is a pipe dream became reality. It can happen here and I think that someday it
> will. We in the SLP have tremendous faith in the working class because we are part
> of that class and we know what it will take to make it happen. We refuse to wait until
> Socialism is "popular" and then ride the coattails to victory. We are out there now
> doing what needs to be done.
From the perspective of what will be possible after a few short
scene in France in 1968 sounded as primitive as what happened during the
Paris Commune. Both years saw successes and failures. Maybe there's a
100 year rule somewhere that says that 2017 could be as eventful as 1917.
snip old text
>> <snip> In the meantime, people will patch up capitalism the best way
>> they can, because they have the democratic means with which to do it.
> --------------------------------------------- Again, I've already touched on the
> first part of this statement. As to the part about the "democratic means to
> make changes", when was the last time a major reform was granted? I'm a
> major nationwide reform. I think it was in the 60's under Johnson's war on
> talking poverty. How many of those reforms remain today? Only a shadow
> of their former selves. I think people are realizing that reforms are no answer
> to the question at hand. The problem is they don't realize what the alternative
> is and how to get there. That is where education comes in, a De Leonist
> education in the school of the class struggle and worker's emancipation.
I think that society has always operated in fits and starts.
It's true that no
ameliorative effects of an economic reform last forever. Even after we decide
to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act and switch to a double time overtime
premium, and/or copy France's 35 hour work week, those reforms might not
last for long before needing to be superseded by triple time and a 30 hour
week, and so on.
>> The coming crisis of unemployment (caused by truly
>> will certainly have a political element if the politicians don't adopt work-
>> sharing and/or job creation measures quickly enough to enable enough
>> people to make a living. Activists should prepare to have a lot of fun,
>> with plenty to do, in the next few decades. :-)
> ------------------------------------- We hope that it will not take a depression to get
> the workers to become classconcious, but it might. A large number of unemployed
> workers will certainly present a threat to the system. Especially with a system
> whose primary motive is making a profit and not the well being of it's people.
Because our consciousness doesn't seem to be changing very
it may take a depression on the scale of the 1930's to get people thinking and
moving again. I dread the thought of having to suffer as much as we will, but
"... It is the revolutionising of all established conditions by industry as it
develops that also revolutionises people's minds." ... From a December
31, 1892 letter from Engels to Sorge.
>> <snip> Replacing capitalism and moving toward
>> constantly repairing the chinks in the labor market is a program of
>> evolution. When we get there, the ones who fought against Marx's
>> teachings all of their lives, but who then find themselves living in
>> an age of classless and stateless society, but were powerless to
>> stop the tide, might feel a little embarrassed by the whole thing.
> ----------------------------------------------------- An interesting theory, it
> seems well thought out but it relies too much on the capitalist giving a
> hoot once machinery replaces labor and millions of people are out of work.
The theory doesn't really rely upon the humanitarianism or
cooperation of the
capitalist class as much as it relies on the humanitarianism of the people who
will soon be adversely affected as increasingly smart technology replaces
human labor on a greater scale. We have the democratic machinery in place
to take care of our political and economic needs as they arise. The bosses
will be outvoted in one sphere of interests after another, and their powers
and influence reduced accordingly, thank goodness.
> As long as their profits hold out,
which I don't see how they can with
> so many people out of work,
That's a good economic observation. Both classes benefit more
participation in the economy. With declining participation, such as is probably
inevitable under the GWB regime, problems may multiply enormously. As the
Fed cuts interest rates again and again in order to prop up our wasteful economy,
rates may have to go into negative territory in order to prop everything up. Since
rates won't go negative, people may then be forced to think about distributing
work more equitably to everyone who could use a little to get by.
2002 note: Here's another place where I must have answered in my sleep.
Sharing work means that NO ONE will be out of work.
> I am thinking they will have foreign
markets for their goods since
> most countries lag far behind us in technology, they will chug merrily
> along without a care in the world about the misery of the working class.
We will care about ourselves. No one should stand in awe of
a small class when
we have the numbers to outvote them. The state will eventually stand up for workers,
just the way they presently enforce time and a half after 40. A new class of politicians
will replace the Strom Thurmonds and his ilk, and will see to it that the little people get
what they need, especially if politicians want to be re-elected. Computers and robots are
pushing us towards a very different world.
> I think so many people out of work
will be ready to explore the possibility
> of change, and will be willing to cooperate not in sharing work but how to
> lay low the system which put them in such a miserable state.
Revolution is perfectly fitted for bringing down intransigent
those of King Louis 16 or Nicholas 2, but is inapplicable to the democracies
for which work-sharing measures are perfectly fitted.
> This would be one of the situations
where the system
> become unbearable and a choice would have to be made, keep
> the old system and hope for brighter days, or take possession
> of the means of production and operate them in society's
> interests. I think they will choose the latter.
I've never known a democracy to become unbearably undemocratic.
we would replace them, just like we do to a certain extent whenever we have
elections, and we get rid of politicians who don't know how to please voters.
People who don't vote deserve the rotten politicians they often end up with.
snip old dialogue
> ---------------------------------------------- I am a thinking individual. I looked over
> the programs and beliefs of hundreds of parties and groups before I came upon
> the SLP. I find a logic in the SLP's program that is not there anywhere else.
When I was attracted to socialism 30 years ago, I also rejected
except the SLP. Their careful economic analysis was very appealing. Careful
economic analyses seemed to be missing in all of the other party publications
that were screaming about issues in foreign countries that I really couldn't
relate to very much. I wanted to understand the USA, not some
underdeveloped country I would never get a chance to visit.
> I didn't join the SLP because I
like the window dressing, I joined
> because I believe in what they are trying to accomplish.
I think that I joined because I was lonely, the members I met
were very much
like the lower middle class people I came from, and they weren't outrageously
dressed, nor did they speak outrageously. I just wanted to be one of them,
and pursue my revolutionary dreams with people I could identify with.
> I agree with De Leonism and believe strongly in its principles.
De Leonism never really connected that strongly in my mind.
I used to enjoy
the class analysis, the economic analysis, and the history lessons very much, so,
when it came time to actually join, the only part of the exam that I greatly feared
was having to convincingly put across the party program to the satisfaction
of the other members. Somehow I muddled through that part well enough to
become a member. Were they as desperate to join me up as I was to join them?
> As far as the Party itself, I have
no control over who
> was national secretary before or what his policies or
> beliefs were. But in the here and now I have a say
> in how the Party functions and who it's officers are.
Not long after I became a member, we voted for a National Secretary.
it a little odd not to know anything about the perspectives of whoever was running
for office, and not to be told how I could possibly learn a little more. I hope that
oversight has been remedied, and that members might now have a little more to
go on than what they can merely learn through the grapevine.
> That is all I am concerned with
at the present time. I think you have
> seen posted here and in the files section of this website that the SLP
> is not the party it used be. The Party has made an effort to break with
> the policies of previous national secretaries and has engaged in self
> criticism in the process. I don't know what else we can do.
I suppose that the only thing left would be to create a theoretical
which members could post their concerns without fear of an 'editor' deleting
entries which don't please the powers that be. That level of internal democracy
would make the SLP worth a lot to the proletariat. Anything less would be
'business as usual'.
> It's up to the thinking individual
to see this or not see it as he or she
> sees fit. As for me, I am in for the long haul unless the Party is taken
> over by Trotskyists or Stalinists, unlikely at best.
I agree that it would be unlikely at best. BUT, back in the
'70's, I heard
that the treasury had quite a pile of moolah in it, so that might inspire at
least SOME people to be interested in taking it over.
> <snip> I hope it is a while before you respond.
I've had plenty of distractions recently, with a flooded cellar
on top of some
other new things. Feel free to take as much time as you need, while I catch up
with some other correspondence.
'Refuse to work overtime for less than double time.'
As Engels wrote to Sorge on Dec. 2, 1893, "... American
very great and peculiar difficulties for a steady development of a workers' party.
First, the Constitution, based as in England upon party government, which
causes every vote for any candidate not put up by one of the two governing
parties to appear to be lost. And the American, like the Englishman, wants
to influence his state; he does not throw his vote away."
> Ya know, that quote of Engels is
a very good example of why we need
> unity. It also puts into question your whole analysis!
> Engels said: "The great thing is to get the working class to move as a
> class; that once obtained, they will soon find the right direction, and all
> who resist ... will be left out in the cold with small sects of their own."
> So looking at that it really does not matter what variants of Socialists,
> Anarchists, and Communists there are as the working class will decide
> the right path and it's our duty to go with them, otherwise we'll die away.
Engels wrote a letter to Sorge on May 17, 1893: "The May First demonstration
here was very nice; but it is already becoming somewhat of an everyday or rather
an annual matter; the first fresh bloom is gone. The narrow-mindedness of the Trades
Council and of the socialist sects - Fabians and the S.D.F. - again compelled us to hold
two demonstrations, but everything went off as we desired and we - the Eight-Hour
Committee - had many more people than the united opposition. In particular, our
international platform had a very good audience. I figure that there was a total of
240,000 in the park, of which we had 140,000 and the opposition at most 100,000. ...."
In 1893 in England, Engels found no socialist sect worth anything,
supported the very important 8 hour movement of their day. The shorter work-
day movement, carried to its logical end, can and will lead to the abolition of class
distinctions, which is the precondition to the abolition of the state. Will today's
socialists ever figure out that trying to take state power in order to abolish private
property is impossible in democracies, and was only plausible after overthrowing
the monarchies of a century ago? Or will leaders continue to pursue their impossible
goal because they can always make a living selling the impossible?
> Thus social activism and unionism
are two ways in which we of the Left
> should keep with the working class. In the recent protests worldwide the
> workers have been very much a present force. The massive strikes in Korea
> lately have been a strong showing of workers strength and we of the Left
> must join with them in that action, we are one of them!
> "An injury to one is an injury to us all."
> In Solidarity,
> Joe Weidt
Joan quoted the list of benefits to a shorter work week, and critiqued it:
>> Labor time reductions could:
>> 1) Put everyone to work who wants to.
> There is no set number of jobs. - Joan
Isn't 'number of jobs' a little irrelevant to the argument?
I wasn't talking
numbers, but rather - percentages - and, in this case, 100 percent
participation in the economy. A society can enjoy 100% participation,
no matter what the actual numbers, even under capitalism.
>> 2) Create the kind of shortage
of labor that would force wages up.
> Except that people will choose to work longer... - Joan
Not too many people I know are addicted to work. At every factory
in, people have kept their eyes glued to the clock. Many people who are self-
employed in this most bourgeois country in the world are 'free' to work
as much as they want, and they often willingly work 60 hour weeks.
>> 6) Provide real economic security
to workers, enabling them to do the
>> right things for both people and the planet, enabling workers to boycott
>> occupations lacking redeeming social values, and without fear of suffering
>> unemployment as a result of following their conscience. Such security would
>> also eliminate fear of getting locked into any one job, and would enable them
>> to pick and choose the occupation that best suits them.
> It would give people a chance to quit frivolously... - Joan
What's wrong with us moving about freely through the economy?
are interested in DIMINISHING people's freedoms might complain, but no one in
this forum should be that arriere, I hope. Besides, the complete replacement of
humans with technology will soon mean PERFECT FREEDOM for all humans,
especially if we learn in the meantime to take care of our class interests,
which will prevent us from degenerating into a Brave New World scenario.
>> 7) Encourage technological innovation,
enabling further work reductions.
> Funny, I always thought technological innovation was encouraged by people
> having a personal stake in their work... - Joan
Does that mean: 'innovation should enhance job fulfillment'?
It would certainly
be nice if we could all truly enjoy our work so much that we didn't want to go
home at night, but that doesn't seem to be a very common occurrence.
>> 9) Improve a country's economy,
as in the example of France, with its 35 hour week.
> France's economy sucks. - Joan
Allow me to list a web site that reports positive effects of their shorter work week:
Their latest unemployment was 8.8%, which is a lot better than
>> 12) Reduce stress on the environment
by eliminating the 'job creation'
>> justification for 'economic growth'.
> Jobs are created every time a person decides to go into business.
Few dare go into business unless they perceive a market for
or wares. Otherwise, they set themselves up for bankruptcy and failure, which
happens often enough in this country. I once heard the statistics on the number
of businesses that fail every year, which is a truly staggering number. One figure
that does stick in the mind is: 500 family farms go belly up every week in the USA.
Think of the jobs lost right there.
> Are you saying they should lock
in the system
> as it is like a corporate nobility? - Joan
If greater freedom for workers can be proven to be caused by
then everyone should line up in favor of growth. But, greater freedom for workers
can not be demonstrated to be caused by economic growth. That perspective is just
the opposite of Marx's, where he wrote in the middle of his 3rd Volume of Capital:
'The precondition to freedom ... is a reduction in the length of the working day.' If
Marx observed several crises of overproduction after 1825, then he wasn't afraid to
put an end to those crises by means of shorter work days and weeks, no more than
the AFL wasn't afraid to advocate a 30 hour week to put an end to our Great
Depression, which measure passed the Senate, and almost passed the House as well,
before being defeated by advocates of wasteful 'tax and spend' means of job creation.
>> 13) Pare down the enormous profits
which are plowed into non-productive activities
>> such as rampant speculation, excessive advertising, and campaign finances. - Ken
> Actually I don't think it would do that, though if it did it would be good. - Joan
Ahh, ye of little faith. Merely give it a chance, and it will.
>> If labor time reductions can do all of those good
things, then those of
>> us who would like the lower classes to improve their lot in life should
>> consider supporting it. As for the bosses, they will continue to support
>> their greedy short-term interests by OPPOSING labor-time reductions.
>> Just think, if the bosses didn't have so much credibility, the lower classes
>> would automatically oppose everything the bosses advocate. But,
>> progressives are so insecure about jobs issues, that they perhaps
>> think that the 'work your fingers to the bone' policies which are
>> good for their bosses are also good enough for labor. - Ken
> I think it's more important to have a personal stake in a job than to
> have an hourly limit. I would hate to work as a cashier 40 hours a
> week, but I would gladly work 50 at something I loved doing. - Joan
From other dialogues in this forum, it appears as though you
are lucky enough
to have a satisfactory job. Congratulations for finding something you like to do.
Not everyone else is that lucky.
>> One of the best ways to understand why we are as pathetic
as we are is to find
>> a bunch of lies somewhere, and spend some time refuting them. That is, if we
>> are not afraid of making enemies of the people whose structure of lies we are
>> refuting. But, we either cower before insolent power all of our lives, or else
>> we take a stand against it. - Ken
> I agree. The thing is though, that lies don't always come in big, obvious
> bunches. Oftentimes they're woven in with truths. - Joan
You are 100% correct about that. The March 10, 1888, edition
of The Workmen's
Advocate - an old American socialist newspaper - included a quote from Colton:
"Falsehood is never so successful
as when she baits her hook with truth; and
no opinions so fatally mislead us, as those that are not wholly wrong, as no
watches so effectually deceive the wearer, as those that are sometimes right."
>> Thinking one's way through contradictions and lies
is an excellent way to
>> gather a good self-education, and that process is available to everyone who
>> wants to. Sometimes one can proceed only so far in the vacuum of one's own
>> mind. At that point, reading about other people's approaches to the same issues
>> can be extremely gratifying. Learning what EVERYONE thinks about a certain
>> issue is the province of scholarship. Did you know that 'leisure' and 'scholar'
>> come from the same word root? I never had enough leisure to be as scholarly
>> as I wanted, unfortunately. - Ken
> Again, though I value education and discussion of ideas, It is also not
> everything. Education also comes from experiences, not just book learning.
That's true. We could all use a little 'Lehr
und Kunst', as a German expression
chiseled in stone over the doorway of an old college building proudly states -
'Theory and Practice'. At some point, we have to practice some of the ideas we
>> I wouldn't worry about us necessarily HAVING to grow
and expand, because
>> productivity keeps on increasing, and we are 40 times as productive as we were
>> 200 years ago, indicating that the hours of labor could be cut without hurting
>> anyone. Don't forget that our 'need for growth' is perfectly artificial, and is
>> described by some as nothing less than cancerous - considering our usual
>> lack of planning and aesthetics. Growth is not something we are compelled
>> to do by absolute necessity. It's just that the present economics favor growth,
>> as in point number 12 of the list above. Unless we really want to over-burden
>> the environment, we should militantly insist upon labor time reductions. - Ken
> If the population grows, then need is greater, and therefore production has
> to be greater. If the population became stable and planned, growth would
> not be necessary at all.
That's true. Also, check out my response in the message entitled: 'Jobs 2'.
> I don't like your addition of the word "militantly." - Joan
Working class politics are sure to run into opposition in Congress,
but we can't
just take 'no' for an answer. We must persevere. I only meant 'militant' in the spirit
of 'perseverance'. Those who want to take environmental protection to a higher level
might want to get militant about their demands for shorter and shorter work weeks,
but, no matter how easy-going or militant we might be on the issue, a compromise
somewhere between 2 extremes will be reached.
>> Whatever they want to do, I guess, because they will
be liberated from the
>> drudgery of the ages, liberated from class divisions, and liberated from the
>> old impulses to victimize others. Since everyone will have whatever they want
>> whenever they want, we will be free to follow our whims, wherever they may
>> take us. The lack of motivation to keep up with the Joneses will enable us
>> to diminish and eliminate our materialistic tendencies. - Ken
> First of all, you give it way too much credit -- the human experience is
> defined by work and has been as long as humans have existed.
That's no more true than saying: 'our chimp-like ancestors
sweated their lives
away working in factories'. A long time ago, people did not work, and merely
gathered what they could from jungles, forests, fields and streams, etc. Work
as a social discipline didn't begin until the tools of production evolved to the
point where surpluses arose, people fought over the surpluses, and the concepts
of private property and state originated to deal with the surpluses. Factories have
only been around since 1800. The last 200 years represent no more than an eye
blink of total human history. Even class divisions only go back a few thousand
years. There's nothing we can do about the past, but we can use what we know
of it to prevent accidents and mistakes in the future.
> Human nature would still be there
no matter what --
> including its ability to commit violence.
So? I hope that you are not suggesting that my version of the
prevent people from doing anything about violence.
> Having whatever you want whenever
you want is impossible and silly
> since it would raise brats, not people.
Our need to cooperate in order to take the first step in the
direction of sharing
work will ensure that we will become a much more responsible society some
time further off in the future, when no one will be compelled to toil in order
to produce the necessities of life. Our close cooperation will ensure that we
will not use the means of production in a frivolous or irresponsible manner,
such as today, when a single rich person has the means to wreak havoc.
> Not to mention the resources that
would use would destroy the earth.
> Following whims, by the way, is not always good. Competition will always
> exist, and good -- you're searching for utopia in the wrong places. Utopia
> doesn't mean the expectation to be a lazy bum -- it means the chance to
> work for yourself. - Joan
Newer technologies will be an awfully lot easier on mother
earth. The little
robots which will soon clean house for us automatically, for instance, will
derive their energy by using the biological energy in the dirt they consume,
and will deposit the waste intelligently. Bigger projects will make use of new
technologies to get the work done without waste, because we will conserve
energy and resources in ways which are not encouraged at present.
> It's not that I don't trust the unknown -- it's that humanity will not exist without work.
To what ends do you present that assertion? Would you use it
to justify a
refusal to help people to share work, for fear of heading down a slippery
slope of abolishing your own work, and the meaning you derive from it?
> The goal should not be to eliminate "work" but to personalize
> so the people work for their own benefit rather than sacrificing their
> time for the profit of a corporation. -Joan
That's a laudable and noble goal, but it would involve quite
of society, which few have the time and energy to do.
snip a bunch of misunderstandings, etc.
> I don't think it [the end of work] is coming. And if it is, fine. So be it.
> You can all live in the cities in the Brave New World. I will claim the rest
> and declare it independent. It isn't coming, but if it were I would not join
> in. Sometimes I think the Amish have got it right. - Joan
If we could all live like the Amish, that would be an advance,
compared to what
a lot of people suffer from today. Amish rural peasant life is reminiscent of the
Jeffersonian ideal, and it has a lot of good human and cooperative values
associated with it. If we could ALL live like that, it would be a better world.
You seem to have a lot of suspicion about what may seem to
you as a new
scheme, and I can't blame you for being suspicious of touted 'miracle cures'.
So much fraud exists in the world of ideas, and few sincere activists have the
time to go back to the history books to see what people in the most developed
countries actually did to arrive at social justice. Taking away the property of
the rich without compensation (ripoff) was only possible in less developed
countries, and was never successful in the most developed countries, so
everything that even hints at taking away the property of the rich should not
be touched with a ten-foot pole. Most countries value private property so much
that activists can't advocate expropriation without discrediting themselves and
their parties. But, the shorter work week cure is fitted perfectly for the soup we
are in, for it is nearly 200 years old, and first developed in the USA and England,
the 2 most developed capitalist economies of the 19th century. If we have to do
something to get to social justice, and if we know of something that works,
then we should try it again, especially if its time has come.
Other than that, my dialogues on the Internet are not very
satisfactory. People do
not seem to be responding well. They spew out sectarian nonsense in response to
tough questions. Being part of a group is more important to them than anything
else. They are so happy to be part of any group at all that they often give up
their common sense as part of the conditions of joining the group.
I've had some long conversations with people, but no one wants
to change their
tunes. People don't seem to know truth from lies. So, it becomes more and more
difficult to become excited or interested in the dialogues anymore. For me to be
happier, I might have to give up on the intense dialogues and apply my energies
elsewhere, but I don't yet know where. :-(
Now that spring is here, I may spend more time outside, and
in the garden. I
always have onions and asparagus, and I am also cultivating some little trees
that spring up here and there. I hope to give away most of them, hopefully to
neighbors. Do you have lots of trees and forests where you live, or is it mostly
a grassy plain?
I know that you are busy, so please take your time in answering.
Don't rush. Be well.
Your olde friend,
> Under Lenin, it was better than
during the period of the Czars, or so I
> hear, but it all went to hell after he was out of the picture. Stalin fooled
> it up, and destroyed every chance there was for a real socialist nation.
Sorry to report that it wasn't anything Lenin or Stalin did
or didn't do, but
it was the failure of Europe to revolt in support of the Russian Revolution
that wrecked the chances of socialism at that time. Marx's scenario called for
simultaneous revolutions in Europe and other developed countries in order to
prevent the kind of counter-revolution that defeated the Paris Commune, which
fell because the rest of Europe didn't sufficiently support Paris. The fact that
the most advanced countries did not revolt according to Marx's plan shows
that it had to have been flawed.
In historical retrospect, taking away the property of the rich
smartest thing activists can hope to do. It was supposed to happen first in
the most developed countries, but the zeniths of capitalist development in
Marx's day - America and England - were the LEAST interested in socialism.
Engels couldn't work with the ineffectual socialist sects of
England and the
USA, but he did support the 8 hour movement, which would have had a good
effect on workers back then, just the way a world wide 35 hour movement
would be a very positive advance for workers today.
It is past time to make progress to socialism, but the only
way to get there in
the most developed democracies will be to drive down the length of the work
week proportional to advances in technology. When the length of the work week
becomes absurdly low, volunteers will replace the remaining wage labor, ending
capitalism as we've suffered from it. Anyone who says that we will get there by
taking power and property away from the rich is merely taking advantage of
people's ignorance and gullibility. People should do their own research in
order to be sure of anything.
Engels wrote to Sorge on May 17, 1893: "The
May First demonstration here
was very nice; but it is already becoming somewhat of an everyday or rather an
annual matter; the first fresh bloom is gone. The narrow-mindedness of the Trades
Council and of the socialist sects - Fabians and the S.D.F. - again compelled us to
hold two demonstrations, but everything went off as we desired and we - the Eight-
Hour Committee - had many more people than the united opposition. In particular,
our international platform had a very good audience. I figure that there was a total of
240,000 in the park, of which we had 140,000 and the opposition at most 100,000. ...."
Joan quoted me from a while back:
>> <<Ken: One purpose for reducing hours of labor is to
>> make room for everyone in the economy; therefore, no
>> 'unemployed' after the reform is fully implemented. We
>> already have programs for the 'unemployable', so those
>> programs would stay in place.>>
> What about when there are more workers in the country due to population growth?
The whole purpose of reducing hours of labor is to make the
economy serve the
WHOLE working population, no matter how big or small, nor does it matter what
the physical numbers are. One hundred percent is one hundred percent, no matter
how many would-be workers exist. Social justice cannot be attained as long as a big
percentage is left out with not much to do but starve or get into trouble. One of the best
ways for us to express our humanitarianism would be to ask our Congress people and
politicians to absolutely insist that 'the work week be short enough to enable FULL
participation in the economy'. That's not asking much. It's not asking people to grab
rifles and muskets and take state power. It's not asking the government to nationalize
the industries. It's not asking people to ask their Congress people to tax the rich and
spend the money on the poor. All it asks is to make room in the economy for the
maximum percentage of eligible workers, and it doesn't matter if the population grows,
stays the same, or shrinks. We just need to apply a little intelligence to our problems,
and make room in the economy for everyone by means of a few little amendments to
the Fair Labor Standards Act. We will have to do this sooner or later, but we could save
a lot of suffering and heartache by doing it sooner, rather than later. One glimmer of
intelligence is in House Resolution 1289, supported by nurses, which would prevent
mandatory overtime, a bigggg labor issue in my neck of the woods. If MANDATORY
overtime could be outlawed, or made more expensive (double or triple time), then work
could be more fairly shared. It's not fair to put it all on the backs of people who clearly
would just prefer a little less. Overwork is about as close to slavery as one can get.
> Joan: My point is, with the constantly
changing population it would be
> necessary to have a constantly changing amount of jobs, as there is. You
> said the economy should not "grow", but if there are say 290 million people
> instead of 280 million, don't you think a little more food and clothing and stuff
> would have to be produced? How do you intend to deal with that problem?
It's not as though 10 million people are going to suddenly
show up for supper
one night, and, in a panic stricken hysteria, we hold our hands to our ears, and
run around screaming, "Jesus Christ, what are we going to do?" If a population
grows, it grows slowly, and new people get slowly integrated into the economy.
The latest census figures for my region arrived last week, and the last decade
showed a 6% decrease in population for my home town, from 100,000 down to
94,000, while the surrounding communities showed net increases. So, more roads
and schools, and consequently more jobs, were created in the suburbs. Somehow
the economy slowly evolves to accommodate newcomers and outgoers.
A growing population automatically translates into more work
needed to handle
the growth. Though I can't imagine anyone arguing for us to produce more people
than what we already have, a growing population itself is encouraged by tax policies
and out-of-date hours-of-labor legislation. A country which is run by the rich, and
which greedily wants to encourage more profits for the rich, will also set their hours
of labor artificially high, and they will also encourage economic growth as well as
population growth in order to absorb the surplus commodities and services. But,
we can only grow so much before we totally wreck the environment, which I'm sure
everyone in this forum WANTS us to do for the sake of making the rich richer
than their wildest dreams. If everyone here agrees with that, then they should
encourage a higher tax credit for having kids so that we can have even more, and
they should encourage a return to a 10 hour day, plus the abolition of all laws
protecting labor. Then the rich could see some short-term profits for awhile, and
they could also build a lot more prisons to hold the people who can't find jobs.
When we consider that only 2% of the work force produces all
of the food
for 100%, compared to 80% of us living down on the farm 200 years ago,
then one could easily conclude that the only excuses for hunger in the
developed countries are political excuses, and certainly not economic.
> Has anyone else noticed lately how
on television the newscasters
> report that the birthrate in some places is actually "going down!!"
> I think that terrifies some people. I'm not sure why.
Some people are afraid that a declining birth rate will translate
into a declining
economy, unemployment, poverty, etc., but that's because they don't understand
that hours of labor have been set artificially high in technologically advanced
countries, often resulting in overproduction. When consumption fails to keep up
with production, the imbalance can lead to recession and depression. Instead of us
doing the smart thing by reducing hours of labor in order to reduce production,
society has foolishly adopted several wasteful mechanisms to help consumption
match production: increased advertising, promotion of consumerism, easy credit,
encouragement of population growth, government tax and spend programs, etc.
For nearly 2 centuries, long work days and weeks have created
overproduction. When hours of labor are more than necessary, then too few
people get to do most of the work, the rest face unemployment, workers compete
for scarce jobs, desperate workers gladly accept any work at all for low wages,
forcing them to do evil things because of their desperation, profits go up, and
the gap between rich and poor increases.
Labor has historically fought back by struggling for shorter
work days and weeks,
which is the most efficient and logical way to limit crises of overproduction. Not
everyone is enlightened enough to automatically favor the shorter work week
solution to over-production. On that score, the interests of workers and bosses
are diametrically opposed. Bosses' short-term economic interests mandate 'as
few people doing as much work as possible', while workers' interests are for
'as many people doing as little work as possible'. Our task, should anyone be
up for it, is to make the latter policy the law of the land. Look to France's 35
hour week for inspiration. We will soon have to do the same, so be adamant
in your demands for that reform.
Thanks for remembering me. I didn't mind the long delay, because
I've been kind of
distracted for awhile on the home front. Lots of things to catch up on, and all at once.
> Hello Ken,
> Please forgive me for the lateness of my response. I only found your
> email message today while I was going through a delete purge. I must
> of over looked it. I have been reading that last chapter of your book
> about your work sharing program and I find it very interesting. I have
> some questions for you though
> First what exactly is work sharing? Give me an example of it.
When unemployment grows, it's rather humanitarian for us to
various ways to share the remaining work so that we can all get by with at
least a little for everyone. Shorter work weeks, more holidays, longer paid
vacations, etc., are some of the various ways to legislate a more equitable
sharing of work. Any measure one can think of to withdraw some labor
off of the labor market is a method of sharing work.
> Second, to get the goal of a work
week of 4 hours a day, what
> transitional steps do you go about to get it ? Do you first fight
> for double time, then work sharing ?
Double time is also a form of work sharing, for it would reduce
incentive to keep the same old workers on the job past 40 hours per week. When
one considers the high cost of insurances and benefits, then it is often worth the
bosses paying the same old workers time and a half rather than hiring new workers.
Adopting double time would result in a more equitable sharing of work.
> I will surely have more questions
after you answer those. Here are some
> responses to your last message. I pretty much have given up trying to
> convert you to a revolutionary, but I still wish to state my line. My
> socialist group does not believe that the fall of capitalism is inevitable,
> as many parties and the SLP say as you stated. As Marx said our choices
> are socialism or barbarism. My group always fights for reforms and
> wouldn't do anything so stupid as to declare revolution when we are not
> in such a situation. If there was someway to end the horrors of capitalism
> by some scheme like "labor sharing" than of course we would support it.
Well it's good to hear that your group isn't 'stuck' on revolution
single method of getting to socialism. Keeping an open mind is the only
way to make progress. Unfortunately for the silly rabbits of the SLP, their
revolution is the final word.
2002 note: Nowhere in their writings do M+E state the choice as between
socialism or barbarism. But, the SLP often does.
> In the first paragraph you discuss
democracy and state that bosses need
> democracy and criticise me (the socialists) for complaining about it. As
> I already stated the bourgoise enjoy democracy and prefer it to any
> dictatorship. However I believe based on historical experience the
> bourgoise will overthrow it and replace it with a dictatorship as a
> lesser evil from its point of view. Hitler is histories greatest example.
> He was financed by capitalists. And as I stated before we take great
> advantage of the freedom and democracy we enjoy here by protests
> and running candidates for office for example.
None but small fringe groups would consider turning to dictatorship,
especially when one considers our grass roots drive to correct the flaws in
the old system, as exemplified by the Florida voting fiasco. Hitler was over
50 years ago, and we have come a long way since then. The world is heading
toward democratic capitalism, and away from all other forms of state. We
won't go back to the dreadful old past, especially with the revolution in
communications which has given us the Internet, and will yield even
greater advances in the not too distant future. We have nothing to
fear but fear itself, as FDR said.
> I mention the last elections. <So,
are we going to revolt over that?>
> I mentioned that to show how there was a significant change in the way the
> bourgoise rules. Many people, especially minorities believe there was some
> sort of conspiracy made by the Bush cronies. I don't believe the last election
> would cause a revolt. However it might make workers more determined to
> make sure nothing like this happens again when they vote again.
True. That's exactly what people in general are doing - pouring
of money and resources to study the problem, and to try to find a way
of voting which prevents the problems experienced in Florida.
>> The fact that taking away the property of the rich
was possible only
>> after overthrowing feudal monarchies in backward countries, or after
>> liberating colonies, but was not possible after winning mere elections
>> in Western Social-Democracies, and the fact that communist countries
>> never knew democratic freedoms, proves that socialism and democracy
>> have never been compatible, and never will be. You have unwittingly
>> repeated yet another socialist lie which the majority will never believe.
> I say you are wrong, many times in bourgeois democracy, the government
> takes away property from capitalists, usually in the interests of the capitalist
> class as a whole In WW2 we nationalized a great deal of the economy. There
> are many examples of taking away capitalist property. There are also examples
> of people taking away property in other types of society and lesser developed
> capitalist nations. the history of the united states is based on 1 group taking
> away property from another. Please note that socialists don't believe that away
> property means your mere possessions, we are for workers taking the means
> of production. I don't consider the "communist" countries communist or
> socialist. Socialism is democratic or it is nothing. Under socialism everyone
> works together to plan and distribute the wealth. A bunch of party
> bureaucracies can in no way satisfy the wants and needs of all.
The government may very well appropriate property for national
other purposes, but they always do it WITH compensation, as provided in our
Constitution. The communist way, as practiced in Russia, Cuba and other
places, was to expropriate property WITHOUT compensation. Engels in 1894
mentioned Marx saying repeatedly over the years that he thought they 'could
get away cheapest by buying out the whole lot of them'. M+E were civilized
enough to want to avoid conflict and civil war under some circumstances,
while many of today's activists don't think nearly as clearly as they did.
>> Every party believes that it is the one true party
of socialism or communism,
>> and that all others are phony. It's a lose-lose game they all play.
> Actually, many have the same concept of socialism. The disagreement
> is the means of getting there.
Either way, the method alone is a big enough problem. If one
plans to take
away the property of the rich without compensation, then one must smash
the state that protects the property. One cannot replace the state with a
classless, stateless administration of things at the same time one replaces
it with a workers' state. One can't do either of those if one intends to reform
one's way to socialism. Those splits will paralyze the socialist movement for
as long as they think they can get to socialism by directly confronting the
state and private property. The only thing socialists have a chance to all agree
upon is the necessity to share work by means of a shorter work week, higher
overtime premiums, longer vacations, earlier retirement, etc. No socialist but a
total fool would ever advocate longer hours, nor would they advocate hours of
labor remaining the same, because there is no 'same' since France went for a 35
hour week, and Scotland, Germany and Switzerland are debating that same reform.
>> A lot of the parties in the previously 'communist'
countries have converted
>> to advocating Social-Democracy, as befits their new democratic conditions.
> New democratic conditions ? Most of these former 'communist countries'
> are run by capitalist mafias. The Russian government is already in the
> process of making laws against freedom of speech. Its been 10 years
> and things will get worse before it will get any better.
As admittedly bad as things are over there, things must have
been bad enough
already to force the people to think that the old system wasn't worth hanging
on to, and that something would be gained by allowing all parties to vie for
power in a new democracy. If the West can learn from its mistakes, and if
it can make democracy work and last this long, then so can the rest of the
world - if not very smoothly in the short run, then at least eventually.
Cheers. Let me know when I can count you as an ally in the
struggle to share
work by means of shorter work weeks, higher overtime premiums, etc.
Sorry for the delay in replying. Domestic matters have recently
chewed into my composition time. Carl wrote:
> I want to start by saying that we appreciate your contributions to this list.
I'm glad that you appreciate the principled dialogue. Among
there is still a lot of room for theorizing about socialist fundamentals.
> I also want to say that it is time
to put this to bed.
> obviously not going to change your mind and you are definitely
> not going to change mine so we might as well quit while we are
> ahead. I just want to summarize and answer a few things.
It's disappointing that one side would unilaterally decide
to opt out before we
achieve clarity and agreement. The fact that we dialogue at all is an admission
that neither side has all of the answers, and that the process needs to continue
until we achieve clarity and unity of purpose.
> You asked about the SLP position
on reforms and if the Party had
> changed it's policy. Yes and no. The Party does not and will not
> include demands for reforms in it's program. From this standpoint
> this is nothing new and it is the correct position. The SLP is a
> revolutionary party, reforms have no place in a revolutionary program.
> However, we will participate in movements that are reformist in nature
> in order to present our program to as many people as possible and to
> involve ourselves in the day to day struggles of the working class.
I hate to see you let this go without commenting on Marx's
record of advocacy
of reforms in the interest of the working classes living in democracies. Activists
should feel a duty to either agree with Marx on the usefulness of reforms, or
explain exactly why they might disagree.
> This may or may not be new to you.
If you will go to the SLP website
> there is a booklet online that is issued to all SLP members, it is called
> Intervention and Union work, an SLP handbook. This booklet describes the
> Party's policy for involving ourselves in single issue and reform movements.
> The link to this is
> http://www.slp.org/SLP_Statements.htm you will need the adobe acrobat reader
> to view these booklets and it can be downloaded for free from the adobe website.
After I sent my last message, I learned about the new additions
to the web site,
so I downloaded half a dozen new items, and read them. True, the essence
doesn't seem to have changed very much.
> Now, let me summarize my position
once and for all. I am not sure
> when the ability to eliminate want arrived on the American or world
> scene, you say it was during Marx's day, okay I'll go along with that.
I'm glad that your old opinion was finally overwhelmed by the
evidence. If only we could make as much progress in other areas. The SLP could
be so much more useful to the working class if it would encourage reforms, which
is all that is possible in democracies. Workers don't overthrow democracies for the
dubious pleasure of putting property in the hands of people who will never be able
to decide whether to use the existing state, replace the state with a classless and
stateless administration of things, or to replace it with a workers' state.
> One thing is for sure though, the
ability to eliminate want in our society is
> definitely here now so all of the prerequisites for Socialism have been fulfilled.
Not all, for you forgot to mention
the political prerequisites. Bad economic
conditions by themselves have a history of being dealt with by reforms, while
the bad political conditions exemplified by dictatorships and intransigent
monarchies have historically led to democratic revolutions.
> The only thing remaining is the will to carry out a Socialist
> and I nor anyone else knows when that will will manifest itself to the
> point of action. You believe that we should attack capitalism a bit at a
> time instead of overthrowing it once and for all. Of course I disagree
> with your point, we believe that capitalism must be overthrown now,
> as soon as possible to alleviate the suffering and misery it is causing
> not just here but around the world.
I am certain that workers will use up their democratic alternatives
stronger measures, and will follow in the footsteps of the French with their 35
hour week. Already there are rumblings for the same reform in Switzerland,
Germany and Scotland. When the developed countries get on the same band-
wagon, we will shorten the work week all of the way to the abolition of wage
labor, and to the abolition of class distinctions. We will arrive at socialism, and
the socialists who insisted all along on beginning by taking away the property
of the rich will end up like the Parisians of whom Engels satirically wrote in a
letter to Laura Lafargue on February 4, 1889: ".. the social revolution will go
on in spite of them, and when it's done they can cry out: Ah tiens! c'est fait -
et sans nous - qui l'aurait imaginé! [Bless my soul, it's happened - and
without us - who would have thought it!]"
> As a member of the SLP that is in
> the only answer to society's problems.
For many years, that was my opinion as well, but it wasn't
opinion. To inform oneself, one must keep an open mind, and tackle issues
and discrepancies head on.
> We know that capitalism cannot be reformed, it must be overthrown.
I was once persuaded to believe the same, until I learned that
the purpose of
revolution was to overthrow intransigent monarchies, or to liberate colonies,
or to bring democracy to where it didn't exist before.
> I do not believe that shortening
the workday, work sharing
> schemes or any other half measures will suffice. You are
> more than welcome to your opinions and your ideas, but I
> do not agree with them. You will not convince me otherwise.
Then, for the umpteenth time, I have failed again. But, the
of a shorter work week in a few more years will have its effect. My only
question is: How short will the work week have to decline before the SLP
admits that it has been dead wrong for the past century? In the meantime,
how much more crime, unemployment, poverty, 'going postal', government
bungling, bombardment with advertisements, environmental degradation, etc.,
will activists allow to occur while they wait for their revolution?
> As for the part of my last message
where I suggested you get out
> of the house more, that was a tongue in cheek sort of thing and it
> was not intended sarcastically, if you took it that way then I apologize.
I'm sorry to have misinterpreted your intent. Thanks for the
We can let that particular matter rest.
> So let us move on to other subjects and let this one rest.
Very well. What should we discuss next?
Sorry for the delay in answering this message.
Li'l Joe quoted me a while back:
>> Sorry to report that it [the failure of the Russian
>> revolution] wasn't anything Lenin or Stalin did or
>> didn't do, but it was the failure of Europe to revolt
>> in support of the Russian Revolution that wrecked
>> the chances of socialism at that time.
> Lil Joe:
> This is true. However the basis for Marx's anticipation
> of proletarian revolutions happening simultaneously in
> the advanced industrial countries was his analysis of the
> cosmopolitan character of capitalist commodity production,
> on the basis of exploitation of wage-labour in a uniform
> system connecting the workers of various industrial
> countries, on the one hand, but also because this was
> confirmed by the revolutions that swept Europe in
> the years 1848- to their repression in 1850.
> The reason that Lenin and Trotsky pinned their
> expectations on workers coming to power in Western
> Europe, was because those countries had the industrial
> and technological capacity to socialize ownership
> of the means of social production.
Communist revolutions having to be simultaneous in the most
countries had NOTHING to do with economics. The necessity instead was
purely political. If revolutions could NOT be simultaneous in the West, then the
countries which did NOT revolt could be used as bases of counter-revolution,
and whatever revolutionary progress that might have happened in one (or a few)
countries could be overturned, which is what happened in Eastern Europe after
1917, what with the overthrow of the Spartacists in Germany, and of Bela Kun
in Hungary and Slovakia. The Bolshevik revolution itself barely escaped defeat.
Marx's revolutionary scenario was purely political, involving
governments, and was in no way directly dependent upon industrial or
technological capacity, no more than the American Civil War was a trade
war of any sort. Marx's revolutionary scenario was specific to the political
conditions extant in Europe in his day, and had everything to do with further
developing many bourgeois-democratic revolutionary states into red republics
with universal suffrage, all at the same time, thus making the revolutions
permanent, for the workers would theoretically always vote for workers'
parties instead of bourgeois parties, and would be unified in warding off the
kind of counter-revolutionary offensive that doomed the Paris Commune.
>> Marx's scenario called for simultaneous revolutions
>> Europe and other developed countries in order to prevent
>> the kind of counter-revolution that defeated the Paris
>> Commune, which fell because the rest of Europe didn't
>> sufficiently support Paris. The fact that the most advanced
>> countries did not revolt according to Marx's plan shows
>> that it had to have been flawed.
> Lil Joe:
> Where in the world did this analysis come from?
One has to read a bit of M+E, and even a little between the
The real history of Europe in Marx's day was the ongoing replacement of
intransigent monarchies with democracies, or of forcing democratic concessions
from the monarchies which were not overthrown. That era is pretty well over with,
as most European countries evolved into Social-Democracies enjoying universal
suffrage. Gone forever is the era of hopefully further developing 'pushing', (Lenin
called it) bourgeois-democratic revolutions into proletarian dictatorships, thus
making the revolutions permanent.
> The fact of the matter is that Marx
> had already articulated the reality of proletarian
> internationalism, in the "Communist Manifesto",
> which was written in 1848 - i.e. 23 years before
> the Paris Commune! The experience of the working
> class in the revolutions of 1848 proved worker's
> international solidarity was not only possible,
> but necessary. Thus, the International
> Working-mens Association (IWA).
All of these issues: Proletarian internationalism, the Communist Manifesto,
the fact that the Manifesto was published 23 years before the Commune, the
possibility of workers' international solidarity, and the First International, all
have nothing to do with the subject matter. I was explaining why the revolution
didn't happen during Marx's era, and why its failure to happen after 1917 forever
ended the chances of forcibly expropriating the rich, which expropriation was
possible only after overthrowing monarchies in semi-developed and backward
countries, or after liberating colonies - the only times when victorious communists
held full state power, so could do what they wanted with property. In today's world,
few rotten-ripe intransigent monarchies are waiting to be overthrown. The old 19th
century communist dream of overthrowing monarchies and cruel colonial regimes in
sufficient numbers to prevent counter-revolution was specific to a century or so ago,
but is lost forever, so we at some point have to grow up, put away our revolutionary toys,
and start thinking about peaceful ways of obtaining social justice in our democracies.
> Not only this, but Ellis is lying when he asserts
> that Marx proposed a "scenario" for the Parisian
> proletariat to rise up, on the hope that workers
> revolutions in other counties would ride to the
> rescue. This kind of "scenario", based on wishful
> thinking, would be not only absurd by criminal
> political irresponsibility of the highest order!
If I lied, then Marx had to have lied as well during his 1872
Speech at The
Hague Congress of the First International, when he gave us the reason for
the fall of the Commune: "The revolution needs solidarity, and we have a great
example of it in the Paris Commune, which fell because a great revolutionary
movement corresponding to that supreme rising of the Paris proletariat did
not arise in all centres, in Berlin, Madrid, and elsewhere."
Accusations of lying being a very
serious charge, I certainly hope that Li'l
Joe will make good for what everyone will recognize as a mistake on his part.
We must strive to be correct in all of our theories, for mistakes are what have
made the socialist movement sectarian in the first place. By correcting mistakes,
we can smash sectarianism, and can replace impossible programs of property
redistribution with a solid program worth dedicating our lives to.
2002 note: Marx most assuredly did not instruct Paris to revolt. Li'l Joe
was quite wrong to put those words in my mouth. After the Commune
became a fact, Marx tried his best to prevent it from turning into disaster.
Li'l Joe said that I allegedly said:
> Marx proposed a "scenario" for the Parisian
> proletariat to rise up, on the hope that workers
> revolutions in other counties would ride to the rescue.
Truth is, however, I never said anything close to that. What I said was:
>> Marx's scenario called for simultaneous revolutions in
>> Europe and other developed countries in order to prevent
>> the kind of counter-revolution that defeated the Paris
>> Commune, which fell because the rest of Europe didn't
>> sufficiently support Paris. The fact that the most advanced
>> countries did not revolt according to Marx's plan shows
>> that it had to have been flawed.
My statement said nothing about 'Marx egging on the Communards to revolt',
nor would I ever, because the history is very clear about Marx's warnings to
them not to revolt, which I was well aware of all along. Still, M+E are on record
about the necessity of simultaneous revolutions, as in 'Principles of Communism'.
'Simultaneous revolutions' is so commonplace in their writings that it shows up
in subject indexes of their works. Back to 2001:
> As the real history of the Paris
Commune, and of Marx
> and the IWA's relation to it, Marx had actually warned
> AGAINST it! Marx warned the Parisian workers NOT to
> attempt a proletarian revolution at that time! Marx predicted
> it would result in tragedy. They did so anyway; as Marx had
> correctly predicted, 10s of thousands of workers were killed,
> imprisoned, or exiled.
Li'l Joe is right about that, but we also know that, advisable
the Commune HAPPENED. They 'stormed heaven', as Marx put it
in a letter, but they lost the battle. It's a gruesome lesson of the ages.
> Yet, the International Working-men's Association still
> provided whatever assistance they could.
> In an "Address", titled "Civil War in France", Marx
> provides a brilliant critical analysis of the Paris Commune,
> taking the side of the revolutionary workers as a matter of
> principle. There is nothing in this "Address", nor any where
> else in Marx writings, that Marx advances anything like the
> "scenario" that Ellis attributes to Marx. Kenneth Ellis's
> whole "analysis" is the blowing down of a straw-man
> that he himself constructed and attributed to Marx.
Li'l Joe added another mistake to the first, which is just
if he corrects it.
> The proletarian revolution will take place
> Britain, and France because there are in those countries
> a class conscious proletariat, organized in socialist and
> communist parties. This reality has nothing to do with
> what Marx "plan", but are historically determined.
Not much is happening to lead anyone to believe that a 'proletarian
revolution will take place in Germany, Britain, and France'. Any proximity
to revolt on their part would certainly be news, but I haven't heard any.
> The working classes and toiling
masses don't become
> socialists and communists because they read Marx "Capital"
> and agree his "plan", but rather the contrary, they come to read
> "Capital" as they become revolutionary. It is not the consciousness
> of men that determine their existence, but their social being that
> determine their consciousness, and "scenarios", "plans",&c. The
> working classes organize themselves into trade unions and
> political class parties because it is in their interests to do so.
That's the prevailing socialist perspective, but revolution
has no application to 21st
century democracies. Very few people nowadays become revolutionaries, as is
proven by statistics of how few people vote for revolutionary party candidates.
0.2% for SWP candidates in Monroe County, New York, doesn't indicate
much interest in revolution in the USA, and revolutionary hopes aren't
going to rise much higher than that.
> American reactionaries and liberal
"progressives" are hell bent
> on attacking Marx and Marxism not because his analysis were
> "wrong", or his "plan" was "flawed", but because his economical
> critique of the capitalistic mode of production is irrefutable.
I have no argument with Marx's analysis of production under
use it all of the time, and I think that I know how to apply his theory of surplus
values in the most developed countries better than what Marxists (from Marx
onwards) do. Marx would have been smart to have said: 'If huge profits derive
from unnecessarily huge surplus values, and if huge profits and surplus values
are the result of unnecessarily long hours at work, then the best way to deal
with that problem is to reduce the length of the work day and week.'
But, no, Marx did not say that anywhere I can find it, so it
seems that no one
since Marx has been able to articulate it either, maybe because they are prevented
by their rigid party ideologies to do anything seemingly 'unMarxist'. But, all of the
justification for concluding the way I did is right there in Marx's analysis of capitalism.
No Marxist worth his salt is going to deny that unnecessarily long hours of labor lead
to all kinds of poverty problems for workers and high profits for capitalists. If Marxists
were not so fascinated by the impossible task of taking away the property of the rich,
they might be more inclined to advocate a very useful and logical work week reduction.
> The whole argument re the reduction
of the working day
> as the pivotal praxis of proletarian struggles moving from
> economism to politics was first, and best articulated by Marx
> "Capital" in the chapter in Volume One titled "The Working Day".
Marx applauded the passage of the 10-Hour Bill in England as
nothing less than 'the replacement of the political economy of the capitalist
class with the political economy of the working class', simply because it
reduced competition among workers for scarce jobs, and provided fuller
participation in the economy. In the middle of the 3rd Volume of Capital,
Marx wrote that 'the precondition for freedom ... is a reduction in the length
of the working day'. But, Marx always regarded the struggle for shorter
working time as more appropriate to the era of proletarian dictatorship than
under bourgeois rule, as indicated both in V3 of Capital and in a letter to
Dr. Kugelmann. But, with no current possibility of creating a proletarian
dictatorship, all that's left is for us to use our democracies the best way we
know how - by reforming what we have in the interests of the working class.
> But there is no preconceived plan as to how that would come about
As for alleged preconceived plans as to how to shorten the
length of the
working day and week, no reason for mystery exists. In democracies, where
legislation in the interests of workers is always possible and desirable, Marx
and Engels always favored workers pursuing that course, as did Lenin. In the
monarchies of olde, where legislation protecting workers was either less likely
or impossible, democratic revolutions were the first item on the agenda, after
which some shorter work time legislation would have followed as a matter of
course. Lenin is on record of favoring a shorter work day, and the Bolsheviks
had the legislative power to implement such a policy, if they hadn't also been
so constrained by war communism to have to encourage the opposite, with
subbotnik labor besides.
> As far as Socialism in the developed
> is concerned, socialism can only be based on social industrial
> production in a worker's state where society seizes the basic
> means of production and make them public property.
That very well have been Marx's programme, but seizing
the means of production
isn't possible in a country like the USA, where Southerners fought and died to
preserve and extend as immoral a form of ownership as slavery, so would be
many times more willing to fight and die to preserve the zillions of forms of
ownership which are not considered immoral, such as 'private ownership of
means of production'.
>> In historical retrospect, taking away the property
of the rich isn't the
>> smartest thing activists can hope to do.
> Lil Joe, Response
> It is not only the smartest thing to do, but the only
> thing to do that could lead to the abolition of capitalist
> commodity production, which is based on the buying
> and selling of labour-power and thus the commercial
> basis for the exploitation of wage-labour by capital.
Private ownership doesn't hurt anybody, no more than do weddings
parties. Private ownership is merely a social relationship in which everyone would
like to participate, and the more the merrier. What hurts people are things like poverty,
sickness, unemployment, bureaucratic intransigence, etc. But, in a world in which
everyone associates their personal security with their property, it is widely regarded
as a positive attribute which only a handful finds fault with.
But, impossible as it is to deal a blow to property under current
property will not be an enduring human institution. After human labor is
completely replaced with much smarter technology in another few decades,
and people will have no jobs with which to earn the necessities of life, and
people instead freely access those necessities, and class distinctions fade
away, then and only then will property fail to accrue to the benefit of its
owners, and only then will private property decline as a durable human
institution. So, be patient.
> Of course, the proletarian praxis is necessary before the workers make their final assault.
No one will lift a finger to abolish private property, nor
will they have to.
It will die out along with the state, and maybe even with the nuclear family
as well. If we do the Marxist thing and abolish class distinctions, then the
abolition of state and property will follow soon after.
> Marx is attacked by the partisans
of the rich capitalists
> by such as yourself, in the same way the writings of
> Rousseau and Locke were attacked by the nobility and
> the clergy. The reactionary feudalists argued to the poor
> peasants to pay no attention to Rousseau and Locke,
> because their analysis were "flawed". But, the real point
> of the reactionary arguments was that the peasants, and
> the bourgeoisie should not overthrow the Estates by
> violent revolution, and not to expropriate the property
> of these estates. To do so, the reactionaries argued,
> would not be "smart".
Partisan of rich capitalists?
I have never owned more than a car or a small
skiff and trailer, and never anything as substantial as a house or a factory,
nor a stock nor a bond, etc. If Marxism was unassailable, then the worldwide
proletarian revolution, simultaneous in the most advanced countries, would
have happened at the very latest in 1917, and in support of the Russian
revolution. Its failure to happen then proved that Marx and Engels were
fallible, and that activists have to re-think their Marxism. If it were not
necessary to rethink Marxism, then periodicals dedicated to doing just that
would not have sprung up all over the place, and the University of Havana
would not have dropped Marxism from its curriculum. In order for unadulterated
Marxism to live, it should have remained as relevant to the world as from 1848-
1917, and then it should have become even more relevant after 1917, but we
have instead seen Marxism decline rapidly in recent decades, especially after
1989, and for one good reason - proletarian revolution in the West was
nothing more than a wish and a dream, and will forever remain that way
in the hearts of those who sadly refuse to think clearly about it.
> Kenneth Ellis:
>> It was supposed to happen first in the most developed countries,
>> but the zeniths of capitalist development in Marx's day -
>> America and England - were the LEAST interested in socialism.
> Lil Joe:
> What world does Ellis live in? Does he not know that
> the Communist Party in Japan last week held a rally
> that drew 20,000 workers "interested" in Socialism?
Perhaps Li'l Joe didn't notice that I used the PAST tense,
indicating that I
was talking about the world of Marx's era, not today's world. Big parties of
today calling themselves communist are little better than Social-Democratic,
indicating little more intent than reform, which is good enough for billions
of people. Revolutionary parties in the West will never grow bigger than tiny
sects. The communist party of Japan is so mainstream that it is smart enough
to want to do something real about economic problems by eliminating unpaid
overtime. See Japan Press Service Release of March 19 -- JPS20010319-2:
>>> "Japanese Communist
Party Central Committee Chair Tetsuzo Fuwa proposed
>>> an all-industry major drive to be carried out on the government's initiative,
>>> under which economic organizations and all corporations are asked to map
>>> out business programs in which they operate business without unpaid
>>> overtime, and employ more workers to meet this requirement. Fuwa said
>>> it is desirable for the movement to develop into abolishing overtime work."
Japan's Communist Party is smart and realistic enough to advocate
in the interests of the workers.
Li'l Joe continued:
> Is Ellis not aware that in Germany,
> Britain, Italy, &c. that workers "interest" in socialism
> and communism is demonstrated by the fact that there are
> communist, socialist and/or labour parties in power in each
> of those countries? The problem is not that the worker's are
> uninterested in "socialism", but that the leaders of these parties
> have the same social-democratic mentality advocated by Ellis,
> and so are holding the workers back.
French Social-Democratic parties recently ADVANCED the workers'
'freedom from toil' by means of reducing the work week from 39 to 35 hours,
and similar interest is growing in Switzerland, Germany and Scotland. Activists
who still refuse to regard shorter work time as an important enough advance to
advocate the same for their own countries have a bit of catching up to do. Some
are even foolhardy enough to OPPOSE shorter work time as a diversion to their
revolutionary movements. Some want workers and unemployed to suffer enough
from the ill effects of long hours to 'hopefully motivate them to revolt'. But, workers
won't overthrow their democracies, and will instead amend the USA's Fair Labor
Standards Act, and will move towards socialism and freedom in their own way,
and without the help of socialists who refuse to think past the obsolete
programme of getting there by taking away the property of the rich.
> For the rest, I have no problem
with the rest that Ellis
> says below:
> Kenneth Ellis:
>> Engels couldn't work with the ineffectual socialist sects of England and
>> the USA, but he did support the 8 hour movement, which would have had
>> a good effect on workers back then, just the way a world wide 35 hour >>
>> movement would be a very positive advance for workers today.
>> It is past time to make progress to socialism, but the only way to get there
>> in the most developed democracies will be to drive down the length of the
>> work week proportional to advances in technology. When the length of the
>> work week becomes absurdly low, volunteers will replace the remaining
>> wage labor, ending capitalism as we've suffered from it. Anyone who says
>> that we will get there by taking power and property away from the rich is
>> merely taking advantage of people's ignorance and gullibility. People
>> should do their own research in order to be sure of anything.
>> snip signature and quote
> Li'l Joe
> I made a mistake. The reading of the last part of
> Ellis statement the point about not expropriating
> capital got past me. Ellis wants to leave wealth and
> political power in the hands of the capitalists, and
> "evolve" to "socialism"! I definitely disagree with this.
Surely Li'l Joe must know that M+E regarded democratic republics
negation of monarchies. If the monarchy was the instrument of the capitalists
and nobility, then the republic is the instrument of the lower classes. If monarchies
had to be smashed, then republics are worth keeping around and using. If the republic
is the form of state in which the final battle between worker and boss will be fought
to a finish (as Marx wrote in his Critique of the Gotha Programme), then workers
are free to pursue their working class interests therein.
> The overthrow of the governments
in the advanced
> industrial capitalist countries, to by means of state
> power expropriate capital and making the means
> of production public property is the only way to
> destroy capitalism, and advance a material
> foundation for humanities march to socialism.
> Lil Joe
The brave old days of overthrowing monarchies are behind us,
workers have yet to overthrow their democracies. Engels was injured
while trying to democratize Germany, but we in the USA will never
have to shed a drop of blood if we keep our wits about us.
Dear friends of SWT,
I haven't had time to check this out, but on another discussion list, someone wrote:
> Interesting that Scotland has now voted for a 35-hour week like France.
If so, then maybe we are seeing signs of the beginning of the
end of the 40
hour week. We can hope, anyway.
> Hi folks!
> Hiya Ken - sorry for the delay in replying to your last posting!
I have a similar problem at this end; some recent difficulties
have severely cut into my composition time.
> I doubt that most southerners in the Confederate armies
> were consciously fighting to preserve slavery - any more
> than British kids in uniform on the streets of Belfast have
> some deep ideological commitment to the Queen or NI's
> status as part of the UK. They don't usually. People end
> up fighting in armies for many reasons: conscription,
> money, social pressure, fear of what will happen if "their"
> side lose a war (and get invaded - as happened in the US
> Civil War) etc. etc.. Most of the cannon fodder on the
> Confederate side would have had sod all property, no
> political rights and would certainly never have been
> likely to own slaves.
Marx wrote quite a bit about the American Civil War, and many
of his articles were printed in The New York Daily Tribune, and
quite a few were reproduced in a McGraw-Hill compendium entitled
'Karl Marx - On America and the Civil War', edited by Saul K. Padover.
Regarding the consciousness of the combatants, Marx wrote
(pp. 133-4): "... Colonel Jennison in Kansas exceeds all his
military predecessors with a speech to his troops in which he
says, among other things: "... I told General Fremont that I would
not have taken up the sword if I thought that slavery would survive
this war. The slaves of the rebels will always find protection in this
camp and will be defended to the last man and the last bullet. I want
no men who are not Abolitionists among my troops; I have no place
for them, and I hope that such people are not found among us, for
everybody knows that slavery is the base, the center, and the spearhead
of this hellish war ... If the government should disapprove of the way I
am acting, it can have my commission back, but in that case I would act
on my own hook, even if I could count on only six men to begin with.""
It doesn't sound like there could have been much cannon fodder
among that particular batch of Union troops.
> Also - the notion that the North
fought a war to end slavery
> is way off-beam. They wanted to expand industrial capitalist
> relations across America at the expense of an archaic plantations
> system ... oh, and of course to get hold of the mass of propertyless,
> hugely exploitable former slaves who would now have to support
> themselves as wage labourers (and often move north to do so).
> If I've got any of this totally wrong, please tell me ...
> I'm no expert on American history after all!
Marx thought that the Civil War wasn't perpetrated by the North
to END slavery, but rather was initiated by the South to PRESERVE
and EXTEND slavery. For decades, the North had made legislative
concessions to the South to prevent its secession from the Union.
But, because the USA was growing, and the non-slave territories
were growing faster than the slave territories, slave-holding
influence in Congress was eroding, and slavery's defeat was feared
imminent after the election of Lincoln and his Republican Party.
Marx on page 70: "Above all, it
is to be remembered that the war
did not emanate from the North, but from the South. The North
finds itself on the defensive. For months it had quietly looked on
while the Secessionists appropriated to themselves the Union's
forts, arsenals, shipyards, customs houses, pay offices, ships, and
supplies of arms, insulted its flag, and took prisoner bodies of its
troops. Finally the Secessionists resolved to force the Union
government out of its passive attitude by a sensational act of war,
and solely for this reason proceeded to the bombardment of Fort
Sumter near Charleston."
p. 71: "... the election victory
of the Republican party of the North,
the election of Lincoln as President, gave the signal for secession."
p. 76: "John Calhoun, whom the slaveholders
admire as their
statesman par excellence, declared in the Senate as early as ...
1847, that ... the attempts of the South to create new slave States
by force were therefore justified. ... A tight restriction of slavery
within the old terrain was bound, therefore, according to economic
law, to lead to its gradual extinction, to the annihilation, in the political
sphere, of the hegemony that the slave states exercised through the
Senate, and finally to expose the slaveholding oligarchy within its
own states to threatening dangers from the "poor whites". With the
principle that any further extension of slave territories was to be
prohibited by law, the Republicans therefore attacked the rule of
the slaveholders at its root. The Republican victory was accordingly
bound to lead to an open struggle between North and South."
p. 92: "Between 1856 and 1860 the
political spokesmen, jurists,
moralists, and theologians of the slaveholders' party already
sought to prove, not so much that Negro slavery is justified, but
rather that color is a matter of indifference and the working class
is everywhere born for slavery. Thus one sees that the war of the
Southern Confederacy is, in the true sense of the word, a war of
conquest for the extension and perpetuation of slavery."
p. 93: "The present struggle between
the South and the North is
therefore nothing but a conflict between two social systems, the
system of slavery and the system of free labor. The struggle broke
out because the two systems can no longer live peacefully side by
side on the North American continent. It can end only with the
victory of one system or the other."
So, where was Marx's great ECONOMIC analysis as to the cause
of the Civil War? Where is the trade war issue? Good questions.
The economics were to be found mainly in one place: In the fact
that wage labor had become, over time, a more efficient form of
production than slavery, and hence was fated to replace slavery.
Whoever said that the Civil War was fought because the North
"wanted to expand industrial capitalist relations across America
at the expense of an archaic plantations system" planted a bum
steer. Southerners DID fight and die to preserve and extend as
immoral a form of property ownership as slavery. So, how
ferociously would ordinary people fight to preserve ownership
of forms of property which few people find immoral? People won't
give up their hard-earned property because of the requests of a
few who can't figure out whether to replace the bourgeois state
with a workers' state, or to replace it with a classless, stateless,
etc.less administration of things. The century+ long battle
between anarchists and communists shows that those 2 groups
won't cooperate to make a revolution. Every group calling itself
revolutionary expects the proletariat to suddenly get a flash of
inspiration and adopt the same perspective as the revolutionary
group, but there are so many different groups and varying
opinions, and the opinion-holders can't agree on a single plan,
so the revolution gets nowhere. On the other hand, no activist but
a complete idiot would favor LONGER work hours, so why can't
they all get on the shorter hour bandwagon for social justice?
> Anyway, the important thing is how
many workers would fight
> and die to prevent the establishment of socialism? Not many
> I would reckon.
It all depends upon the method chosen by the socialists. If
try to get to socialism by taking away the property of the rich (as
all socialists except myself presently seem to want to do), then
workers and capitalists alike would fight and die to prevent the
establishment of socialism. Property-grabbing socialism is so
unthinkable in democracies that it discredits the name of socialism,
which is why socialist ideology must be rescued from Marx, Engels,
Bakunin, De Leon, Lenin, Mao, Castro, or anyone who insists upon
getting there by taking away the property of the rich.
> One reason being that for many people
> that they work so hard for the little they have does
> NOT make them appreciate what is laughably called
> their "property" (I haven't bought any factories or
> offices recently and I doubt anyone else here has!) -
A good portion of the population has a big stake in the homes
they live in, and regard them as good chunks of everything they
have ever worked for, so are not about to cede ownership to
people who will not be able to decide on a single common plan
for dealing with property. Activists all have their own particular
ways of dealing with property and state, and are in a state of
denial over the divisions that paralyze their socialist plans.
> it makes them resent their poverty and the crapness
> of what they "own" even more. Defensiveness at having
> pissed your life away as a wage slave is another matter...
In our scarcity economies, splendor for the rich (and jobs
at good wages for the rest of us) may be the BEST we mere
mortals can hope for. Future generations, reared under
circumstances of free access to necessities of life, will know
nothing of class divisions and poverty, but getting there can
only be a gradual process, just like economic development
in general. Activists will get nowhere if they rally behind a
revolutionary program, and if they refuse to recognize that the
prospects for grabbing property died when Europe failed to have
long-lasting revolutions in support of the Russian Revolution.
snip 'capitalist retreats'
> On working time reduction:
>> <<After we amend again, it will be smooth sailing the
>> rest of the way, simply because we are on the threshold
>> of unprecedentedly huge productivity increases that will
>> put so many more low-wage people out of work that new
>> jobs will not be found for them, creating a permanent
>> unemployment crisis that will require ever more drastic
>> work-sharing devices>>
> Or a drastic reorganisation of society? Why continue with
> the system which causes the crisis - especially if there is
> the projected class unity to attack long working hours?
If people are going to organize to do anything, they will organize
to do a simple thing rather than a nebulous thing. It will be so much
easier to amend hours-of-labor legislation than to organize a revolution.
People will be much more willing to focus their energies on one little
clearly-worded amendment rather than cogitate endlessly about a plan
that has yet to be concretized. Revolutionaries have had more than a
century to get things right, but what is the first step we should take on
the day of the revolution? If the revolution is going to be peaceful and
democratic, then I would like to know: what is the particular law which
people will get to vote on? What are the words that will steer their
votes into the socialist camp?
Capitalism will endure because economic progress can only be
and steady, so the idea of a 'big-bang' solution to class divisions will
hardly enter the minds of anyone, except for the few who will continue
to pray for the kind of change which was plausible only during Marx's
era, and ended forever after Europeans failed to support the Russian
Revolution with long-lasting revolutions of their own. Not enough
workers back then were willing to replace their Social-Democracies
with communist workers' states. People will continue to be reluctant
to put the means of production in the hands of people who will be
unable to decide whether to replace the state with a workers' state,
replace the state with a classless, stateless, etc.less administration
of things, or to nationalize industries with compensation. These
divisions will continue to be fatal to any attempts to seriously
deal with issues of property and state.
>> <<Democratically imposed work-sharing measures
>> renew people's faith in democratic processes, making it
>> impossible for a coup d'etat to succeed. >>
> Without revolutionary class consciousness I fear there
> would be the potential for a coup d'etat - they are, after
> all, carried out by minorities...
Your cautionary note is similar to that which other socialists
expressed many times before. But, in a world in which more and
more countries are converting to democratic capitalism, I have no
more fear of a coup d'etat than did the fighting French when they
recently lowered their work week from 39 to 35, nor did the Brits
when they adopted their 10 hour day in Marx's time. What would
any bourgeois have to fear from a law passed by their very own
legislatures and parliaments? Plenty, especially when a shorter
work week limits profits like no other measure can. But, revolt
over a labor law passed by one's own legislature? As we saw
in the American Civil War, it was a feared change in PROPERTY
RELATIONS that got the Southerners up in arms. So, are we to
conclude from your cautionary note that the bourgeoisie would
welcome socialism more than a shorter work week? I can't think
of a counter-revolution that was motivated by the profit losses
associated with a shorter work day or week. The beauty part of
shorter work time legislation is the universality and equality of
profit losses, preventing revolution, whereas the abolition of
slavery only applied to SOME rich people, making them MAD
enough to kill to impose slavery, and die to protect it. Shorter work
weeks are much more just and fair than property rearrangements
ever could be, which is why fair-minded people adopt it so often.
> Anyway - all the best bro'!
> For working class power and world socialism,
Cheers, bro'. Eyes on the prize - a better and saner world.
Thanks to Phil's recent suggestion, I added another benefit
to the list, this one in the family section. As promised last time, I also
rearranged all of the suggestions into a more logical pattern. Now may
be a good time to spread the word, so copy and send it to a friend today.
Labor time reductions could:
1) Put everyone to work who wants to.
2) Create the kind of shortage of labor that would force wages up.
3) Provide real economic security to
workers, enabling them to do the
right things for both people and the planet, enabling workers to boycott
occupations lacking redeeming social values, and without fear of suffering
unemployment as a result of following their conscience. Such security
would also eliminate fear of getting locked into any one job, and would
enable them to pick and choose the occupation that best suits them.
4) Improve productivity by eliminating worker fatigue.
5) Encourage technological innovation, enabling further work reductions.
6) Promote a higher general standard of personal health and well-being.
7) Enhance domestic harmony and bliss.
8) Give people more time to spend in
service to their communities, hobbies,
with their families, and for unexpected family emergencies, etc.
9) Give people more confidence in 'the system', and restore social optimism.
10) Improve a country's economy, as in
the example of France,
with its 35 hour week.
11) Cost no more in taxes, and would
add more people to the tax base,
enabling tax reductions.
12) Enable reductions in unemployment insurance premiums.
13) Reduce stress on the environment
by eliminating the 'job creation'
justification for 'economic growth'.
14) Pare down the enormous profits which
are plowed into non-productive
activities such as rampant speculation, excessive advertising, and campaign finances.
15) Alter investment priorities, enabling
the economy to serve a greater
portion of humanity.
For those who might be interested in where technology may someday
take society, check out this website:
Sorry to be so late with this reply, as well as with others,
but a bunch of problems recently complicated things for me.
> I was talking about why socialism,
or "socialism" I should say,
> didn't work in the USSR.
Sometimes I don't give people the information they want the
but, hopefully, I'll get closer to the mark this time. If I don't, be sure to let
me know, because this isn't the easiest stuff to put across, and it's easy for
me to lose focus and go off on all kinds of tangents.
Russian 'communism' was like a fish out of water and couldn't
help but be but
an oddball, compared to what Marx and Engels envisioned. M+E didn't intend
for communist revolutions to occur one at a time in single backward countries.
M+E's worldwide revolution instead was supposed to occur simultaneously in
the most developed countries. Indexes of their works often have a category
dedicated precisely to that very subject, such as: ".. proletarian revolution will
take place simultaneously in all advanced countries". M+E never varied from
that view, and for good reason: Countries which DIDN'T have revolutions at
the same time as the others could be used as bases for counter-revolution.
As Marx explained in his 1872 speech at The Hague, the Paris Commune was
defeated because corresponding revolts did not occur in Madrid, Berlin, and
other important cities of Europe. They didn't happen numerously enough to
be sources of mutual aid, and they did not unite to create that big universal
proletarian dictatorship Marx dreamed about, which would have enabled the
united working classes to take away the property of the rich with no fear of
counter-revolution, simply because the upper classes would have been so
thoroughly defeated that they could not have fought back with any effect.
The parallels between the Paris Commune of 1871 and Russia
are several. Each involved 2 separate revolutions. First there were bourgeois-
democratic revolutions, representing the interests of the middle classes, and
then there were proletarian revolutions, which generally followed the precedents
set in France in 1789-93, and in 1848-9 as well. Like all previous proletarian
attempts, the Paris Commune was crushed, but the Russian revolution barely
survived because it happened in a very big and determined country, and the
West lacked perseverance in overthrowing it. But, the 'communism' that
survived the Russian revolution, suffering as it did from attempts at counter-
revolution, the Civil War, the starvation, and economic collapse, was but a mere
caricature of what Marx envisioned. What developed in Russia, China, Cuba,
Albania, Vietnam, Mozambique and other places, had only one major thing
in common with Marx's dream - state ownership of means of production,
but not much else. The republican and democratic freedoms that were an
integral part of Marx's proletarian dictatorship were nowhere to be found
in the actually existing communist countries.
Then comes the matter of the economy. Running the Russian economy
did not work for long before the economy steadily declined, peasants refused to
grow or ship (if they could get away with it), and Lenin had to re-instate a certain
degree of capitalist marketing under the aegis of the New Economic Policy. Somehow
the Russians managed to keep things going, and decades later Khrushchev promised
to 'bury' the USA economically, but the West finally demonstrated the superiority of
market capitalism over their system.
What would M+E have thought if they had lived to witness the Russian
revolution NOT trigger long lasting revolutions in Europe? As in everything
else they did, M+E would have been honest enough to rethink their whole
communist revolution, for they were dedicated - NOT to erecting an unchanging
monument of ideology to redound forever to their memories - but instead to the
fastest possible relief for the toiling classes, so they would have been more than
willing to correct their mistakes and think about a new programme. But, they died
well before 1917, so they didn't have a chance to rethink their revolution for us,
and we humble people are forced to do it for ourselves.
> And you have to admit that the totalitarian
> that Stalin introduced had some affect on that.
There's no doubt that 'Country Joe' had a notoriously bad effect
country. But, no one else would have been able to do much better under the
circumstances. Russian communism was little better than a unpleasant filler
between feudalism and capitalism, but did not constitute the transition to
classless and stateless society that Marx's proletarian dictatorship was
supposed to be. Marx's whole revolutionary scenario deserves a decent
burial. The failure of Europe to support the Russian revolution with long
lasting revolutions of its own proved that Marx's scenario would never find
another opportunity to happen according to plan. It was too much dependent
on having a whole bunch of feudal monarchies to overthrow, thus propelling
socialists and communists into the kind of power relationship which would
have enabled nationalization of means of production without compensation,
but those political conditions are all gone.
Sorry for the delay in responding. I've been really busy close to home.
> 1) How long do you expect that shortage to last amid growing population?
One of the basic intents of the shorter work week movement
is to reduce over-
production so that it more closely matches consumption, thereby enabling us
to stop inciting population growth for the sake of using up all of our excesses
and surpluses, which are created by unnecessarily long hours of labor.
> 2) People have kids because of biology.
Taxes are a secondary concern,
> and people would still have them -- families would just be poorer. Not a
> bad idea to start though, assuming there would be a plan to follow it...
As you say, biology is certainly the biggest factor in having
kids, but just
think of all of those millions of people presently of child bearing age, and
think about how at least SOME of them would react if the tax credit for kids
were to be reduced, instead of INCREASED the way GWB wants to. At least
SOME people would wonder if they shouldn't use a little contraception, and at
least SOME people would use contraception rather than take a chance of causing
future financial stress by having another kid. Say, for sake of argument, that the
tax credit may not be a factor with 90% of them. But, the other 10% will try to
live within their means, keep to a family budget, and watch their pennies closely
enough to pay attention to little factors like tax credits for kids. If GWB gets his
way, then MORE people will NOT be as careful about not having as many kids
as humanly possible. Then, because we work longer hours than necessary, the
extra population will come in handy to absorb the excess products and services.
When do you think we will come to our senses and do more to stop encouraging
the population bomb? Not very soon, if the Republicans have their way. If everyone
is so scared of us falling into a depression caused by us not having enough kids (to
absorb the excess production), then we will continue to race like scared lemmings
toward the edge of a cliff. There are an awful lot of people with big brains in high
places, and making plenty of money, who have already figured this stuff out, but
are paid well enough to keep their mouths shut.
> 3) There are plenty of lousy jobs.
What makes most of them lousy, however,
> is that people have no personal connection to their work and therefore it is
> not fulfilling. But work itself is not what causes misery. And do not forget
> that the human experience is defined by struggle.
It's true that all natural species have to struggle to survive,
and that we grow
strong by means of struggle. But, the people living in the most developed
countries of the world are far from struggling for survival in the sense of
before a couple of centuries ago. Very soon, our struggle for basic survival
will be zero, and no one will have to work to earn the necessities of life.
Necessities will then be freely accessed without financial transactions.
We will still need to struggle in order to be strong, but over WHAT will
we struggle? If not the necessities of life, then it will have to be in other
fields of endeavor. Participation sports may play a larger role than it does
now. People will also be free to strive for excellence in scholarship, arts,
humanities, etc. People will compete with one another in all of those fields
and many more, but the old competition for scarce jobs will be laughable,
if conceivable. Jobs? Work? Wages? Bosses? All of those words will
become as obsolete or quaint as spinning wheels, thimbles, steam
locomotives, banks, stock markets, advertising, property insurance, etc.
> You just said yourself that when
someone refuses to do a job there will be
> another to take their place -- that would hold true even with a shortage of labor --
> remember, someone always has a worse job, and people have different ideas of
> morality. Also, it must not go too far -- they can always send the jobs overseas,
> and destruction of the economy is really bad for working people in the long run.
If people someday take the same moral stance toward land-mine
or toward the clear-cutting of old-growth redwood forests, with which they once
took toward slavery, then those particular industries will not stand any more of
a chance than slavery. Few people today would deny that slavery would be
wrong for the USA. But, many people today refuse to regard clear-cutting and
land-mine manufacture to be wrong, simply because real jobs are associated
with those industries. But really, how many preachers are going to stand up in
the pulpit and extol the virtues of land-mine manufacture and clear-cutting? A
lot of people - many, many people - know that it is plain wrong to do either. At
the same time, many of us are too afraid to say anything because of the loss of
jobs entailed by shutting down either industry. That's because we are stuck in a
rather old mind-set when it comes to the issue of 'jobs'. Those who are firm
enough about their beliefs to sit up in the branches of the old redwood groves can
often have a good effect. I unfortunately don't know of any activist who encircle
and blockade the land-mine manufacturers yet, but maybe that day will come.
If we become smart enough to create the kind of shortage of
labor that would enable
workers to boycott land-mine manufacture, activists could set up information booths
near the factory gates, and warn prospective workers of the immoral nature of the
product, and recommend that they work somewhere else. Prospective workers would
have no trouble finding jobs in less destructive parts of the economy if we first create that
requisite shortage of labor. Doesn't that high level of working class power to enforce
good moral values sound like what most of us in this forum would find to our liking?
> (The discussion just had lots of
people phoning in to say that they worked
> 60, 80, or even 110 hours a week. The longest worker was a fish and chip
> shop owner who worked 7 days a week. Nobody very seemed pleased
> about working long hours, somehow.)
Any job can be regarded as a millstone around one's neck, but
a long-hour job is as
bad as 2 millstones. Owning a shop and being one's own boss is one thing - bosses
are free to work as many crazy hours into the night as they want. If they hire people
to take part of the load off their backs, and if bosses insist upon imposing long hours
on workers, then that's where labor laws should step in to protect the workers.
If time and a half isn't enough of a disincentive to prevent
overwork, and if it's
cheaper for bosses to keep the same old people on the job for more than 40 hours,
then time and a half is too small of an overtime premium, and we ought to increase
the premium to double time. That would provide a lot of needed relief. For us to sit
back and say nothing, though, the slavery we suffer from is perhaps the slavery we
deserve. People ought to talk up a movement to replace time and a half with double
time, and make sure that the law applies to all workers.
'Refuse to work overtime for less than double time.'
'It's in the bosses' economic interests to get as few of us
as possible to
work for as many hours as possible, while it's in the workers' interests
for as many as possible to work for as few hours as possible.'
> Dear Ken:
> Read this Ken and try to understand it. For a person who has written
> a book on the SLP you seem to know very little about it. You have
> consistently ignored our statements which refute your claims that the SLP
> does not support the immediate economic demands of the working class.
The demand for a shorter work day or week can be either political
depending on its context, as elucidated in a letter Marx wrote to Bolte on Nov. 23,
1871 (MESW 2, pp. 423-4): "For instance, the attempt in a particular factory or
even in a particular trade to force a shorter working day out of individual capitalists
by strikes, etc., is a purely economic movement. On the other hand the movement
to force through an eight-hour, etc., law is a political movement."
According to your first paragraph, the SLP would certainly
economic demands of workers in a particular factory or trade for a shorter
work day or week. I can't imagine much controversy between us over that. My
concern was whether the SLP would support POLITICAL efforts to force through,
say, a 35 hour week amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act, to make a
shorter work week uniform across the country. I'll patiently await your
response, which I hope will be as unambiguous as a yes or a no.
> You've ignored other statements of fact as well and then you
> why not only the SLP but most of the WSM refuses to debate you.
Since you wrote that, 2 others in the WSM forum have responded
to a recent
post, so I now have 3 separate dialogues going there. In this and other forums,
I have a whole dozen messages in progress. Don't forget that we are all socialists,
and that we merely disagree with how to get there. I remain alone in saying that
'trying to get to socialism by directly confronting property and government is
impossible in democracies', but I am certain that history will prove my
perspective correct, barring an ecological or apocalyptic disaster
before we have a chance to fully get there.
> You are a very selective reader--try
reading the excerpt below--
> it is just about as clear a statement as they come.
> From the 1984 SLP Convention, Speech by Robert Bills, pages 24-25.]
snip for brevity 3 paragraphs illustrating SLP's long commendable
of support of palliatives
> On another occasion, the WEEKLY
PEOPLE carried an open letter
> addressed to a Child Welfare League, and signed by the party's
> editor [De Leon], that stated in part:
> "None minimizes, let alone denies the value of reform where reform
> brings relief. The physician who keeps his eye single on the disease,
> and recks not the comfort of his patient, is unfit. At the same time the
> physician who ignores the disease, and centers his attention upon
> alleviations should be stricken from the rolls. He is a quack who will
> do vastly more harm than he can possibly do good. Applying these
> general principles to factory legislation, militant Socialism countenances,
> favors, encourages and supports reforms--but is cautious in its posture
> of favoring, encouraging and supporting." (March 1, 1913.)
> One could go on at considerable length citing chapter and verse,
> demonstrating that the party, for years, engaged in principled, non-
> opportunist intervention in ongoing class struggle events without
> compromising its revolutionary integrity or in any way conflicting
> with its long-standing uncompromising position on reformism.
Perhaps you could comment on the following blurb on the inside
cover of the
1965 19th edition of De Leon's address "Reform or Revolution": ".. instead
of wasting time and energy in attempting to reform the old order, the workers
should consolidate their forces to abolish it and build a new one."
In his 1896 address "Reform or Revolution",
De Leon identified reformers
as 'mentally sickly', 'suspicious', 'bosses', 'prevaricating', 'in perpetual
contradiction of himself', 'autocrat', 'immoral', 'defier of individual freedom',
'flying off on a tangent', 'dupers', 'disobedient', and guilty of many other
vices, including, of course, shallow meddling. As indicated by the title, it
really seems to be 'reform OR revolution', but not both. As De Leon summed
it up on p. 3, "We Socialists are not Reformers; we are Revolutionists."
Forgive me if I can't help but detect a bit of a contradiction
between De Leon's
1896 pamphlet and the quote you provided above: "Applying these general
principles to factory legislation, militant Socialism countenances, favors,
encourages and supports reforms .."
Could this mean that the SLP sometime or other renounced De
or Revolution' pamphlet? Or, has the SLP now adopted a policy of advocating
'reform AND revolution'?
> The party's current intervention
policy is in harmony with the
> party's record and history of principled, non-opportunist tactics
> and strategy. In many instances, what the party's position is and
> must be is quite obvious.
With regard to what I've dug up, I do hope that you won't dismiss
for 'clarification on the SLP's perspective on reform' as unreasonable. Does
the SLP advocate 'reform OR revolution', or 'reform AND revolution? If I can
come right out and say that I oppose revolution in democracies, and if I can
fearlessly advocate a shorter work week as a reform, then I hope that you
will be just as succinct and crystal clear in your reply.
> ECONOMIC DEMANDS WE HAVE SUPPORTED,
> DO SUPPORT AND WILL CONTINUE TO SUPPORT--
> ALL THE WHILE EMPHASIZING OUR BASIC PRINCIPLES AND GOAL.
> [Emphasis Added.]"
I'm glad that the SLP supports economic
struggles. Now for the tougher question:
Does the SLP support the POLITICAL struggles of the working class?
> In Solidarity,
> John-Paul Catusco
From the 1871 London Conference of the First International (DFI 4, pp. 444-5):
"The Conference recalls to the members of the International:
"That in the militant state of the
working class, its economical movement
and its political action are indissolubly united."
Not long ago, Li'l Joe accused me of lying
about Marx's revolutionary
scenario, and of lying about the significance of the necessity of the proletarian
socialist revolution being simultaneous in the most developed countries. I sent
a long response to the forum on the 11th, but Li'l Joe has yet to reply or
acknowledge it. What are Li'l Joe's intentions? Should I just be more patient?
snip repeated message
> In fact, I see all technological
developments as work-minimizing in one way
> or other. The puzzle for me is: how come everyone is working as hard as ever,
> if not harder than ever, given all this labour-saving technology? Until this question
> gets answered, I can't see what needs to be done. Basic Income doesn't answer it.
> In fact, it dodges the question completely.
Maybe it's our willingness to apply our energies full-blast,
right up until
the very end of work, which will arrive in a few short decades. If I had my
choice, I would instead prefer that increased productivity redound at least
somewhat to the benefit of workers in the form of increased leisure, but the
bosses prefer that the benefits accrue to them in the form of increased profits,
so we get wage-slavery, and they get wealthy. We could change that if we
wanted to, but people prefer not to change very much until they absolutely
have to. As long as we can muddle through with our 4% or so unemployment
(using the U-3 figure, while total unemployment counting everyone - the U-6
figure - is almost twice as high), no one is willing to rock the boat.
> Hey Ken,
> I emailed the work sharing theory to a comrade that lives near me in
> Houston to get his opinion. I have yet to hear from him. In the mean
> time I still have questions. First, do you believe in the class struggle?
Yes. It's in the bosses' economic interests to get as few of
us as possible to
work as many hours as possible, while it's in the workers' economic interests
for as many workers as possible to work for as few hours as possible. That
right there is a polar opposite.
> I believe it would be easy to get a reform
like 35 hours, but am not
> sure how much more afterwards the ruling class would take. No ruling
> classes in history have given up their power without a war. With that in
> mind, how do you think the capitalists would respond after laws being
> created to lower the work week to something very low which would be
> unprofitable for them ? Without making enough money they would go
> out of business. I think many companies would find it more profitable
> to move to 3rd world countries.
Bosses have already been 'suffering' under the restrictions
of having to pay
time and a half after 40, minimum wages, etc., under the Fair Labor Standards
Act, so they wouldn't likely cause too much of a fuss over amending it to double
time after 35, especially if enough people demanded such an amendment. No one
should worry about the bosses not being able to afford it. Profits have been going
up up up, as well as worker productivity and surplus values. There's been a century-
old discussion in this country as to whether workers should take the benefits of
increased productivity in the form of increased leisure, but the bosses have been taking
the benefits of increased productivity in the form of increased profits. Isn't it about
time we addressed this disparity? We shouldn't fear any measure which would bring
increased well-being to the broad masses of the people. On the other hand, socialists
have had every right to feel afraid to try to impose socialism, considering the fact that
Southerners were once willing to fight and die to preserve and extend as immoral a
form of ownership as slavery, proving that people would be much more willing to
preserve private ownership of all other forms of property.
> Also how would you respond to large
scale calls from the labor movement
> such as nationalized health care and other socialist type issues ?
If everyone wants those things, like many of us do, then they are worth fighting for as well.
> You pointed out that we are
moving to a more democratic capitalism,
> thus preventing a bonapartist form. Let me point out this democratic
> capitalism. While we have the right to vote, we don't see that much
> people voting. Why?
I can't really explain the apathy. Maybe people are too busy.
Maybe, on top
of having too many other things to do, they are pessimistic over the effects
of their single vote. Maybe they have heard the polls announce that Joe Blo
is going to win the race, so maybe they just give up and let Joe win the office.
> The capitalists set up the system
where workers can only
> choose from two parties that represent the capitalist interests.
> When you don't have real choices there's no real reason.
I would prefer a more European, or proportional representation
to what we have. It may be a reform worth looking into.
2002 note: Certain obstacles exist, but people can organize into
3rd party alternatives whenever they want. Before the Republican
Party grew during the Civil War, Americans had Whigs and Democrats.
> Even the people who do decide to
vote either do it because they fear
> a 'lesser evil' or just vote for the person they feel has the best chance
> of winning (throwing away the vote).
I voted for Nader, but did it in a state in which Gore was
guaranteed to win,
so felt pretty safe in 'throwing my vote away' on someone who has a rather
admirable record, but was guaranteed to lose.
> Sure the capitalists might be pretty
lenient to us here on basic human rights,
> but look what they do in other countries. For years US imperialism has staged
> coups and has overthrown democratically elected people in other countries. They
> have set up their crony dictators in countries where their economic interests lie.
> They have bombed to death Yugoslavia and Iraq all in the name of 'human
> rights' when in reality it is for their economic interests and to show other
> regimes that US imperialism will do this to you if you react.
It's true that the people have had all too little influence
on foreign affairs.
They have been generally content to allow the state alone to conduct
the affairs of state, and all too secretly. It's still not bad enough a
situation for revolutionaries to get people to smash the state.
> Now today ruling class here has
reached a new low and has made
> drastic steps to amass its wealth. Recently Congress has enacted
> legislation that took away safety laws and workers rights to know of
> them, it has forced them to keep working as in the Airline strike case
> called off, made tougher bankruptcy laws, and the Big tax cut, all in
> the favor of the rich. I just saw a strike on tv at a car plant where the
> striking workers were sitting down Indian style and were then attacked
> by police who hit them with their shields. Remember WTO ? The police
> started attacking innocent protesters under the pretext of a few anarchists
> in the crowd. In my opinion the ruling class is more than ready to violate
> their own bourgeois democratic rights to get their way.
At least part of the above is the Republican prerogative upon
power in the Executive branch, despicable as the new policies are. The
rest of the repression is business as usual. It's still not bad enough for
revolutionaries to get anybody to smash the state.
> As for the Florida problem, I heard
its going to cost a hell of a lot.
> Are you really sure they are going to fix it, or did the TV just say
> they will look into it ?
I haven't been following the issue too closely, but the movement
to fix the
election process with new hardware is practically universal among the states.
It may cost a few bucks, but it will more than pay for itself in terms of
people's confidence in a fair electoral system.
>> One cannot replace the state with a classless, stateless
>> of things at the same time one replaces it with a workers' state
> Agreed, the state must be smashed,
I wasn't so much advocating the smashing of the state as I
to divisions that are bound to cripple the revolutionary left. The fact that
anarchists want to replace the state with a classless and stateless
administration of things while communists want to replace the state with a
workers' state, while the rest of the left wants to reform the existing state,
all of these divisions indicate that the left will never cooperate enough to
perform a basic restructuring. It's hopeless to think they will ever agree
on a new form for the state, or agree on 'the best way' to take away the
property of the rich, or to redistribute wealth and property. It's absolutely
hopeless to agree on any policy dealing with property.
> but a workers state must be set up immediately
> The workers would of course have control of the state and as
> long as the 4 basic points summarized on the Paris Commune
> by Lenin in his state and revolution are followed, the state won't
> degenerate into another soviet union.
> 1) election of all officials with right of recall at any time
> (at all work places, soviets)
> 2) no elected official to get paid more than a skilled worker
> 3) no standing army but the armed people
> 4) rotation of all jobs; cook can be prime minister and vice versa.
The historical purpose of revolution has been to bring democracy
it didn't exist before. People are not going to do anything approaching 'the
replacement of existing democracies'. The only thing to replace a democracy
with ... is another democracy, so people should learn to use the democracies
they already have. According to M+E, democracies are the form of state in
which the final battle between worker and boss will be fought to a finish, and
M+E were right about that, even if they were wrong about the proletarian
revolution, which is a dead dream that deserves to be buried. Reform is the
only thing that can be on the agenda in a democracy like the USA. There is
absolutely no sense in speaking about revolution under the present
circumstances. All we can hope to accomplish here and there are a few piddling
reforms, and hopefully to share work a little more equitably and fairly.
> Hi Ken
> I promised I wasn't going to engage with you,
> but I can't resist this one.
> You wrote, 'If they try to get socialism by taking away the
> property of the rich----'. The questions that have to be asked
> are, do they the rich have a legitimate claim to this wealth?
If legitimate in this case implies
'legal', then bosses certainly
do have a legitimate claim to the wealth which we produce, a
legitimacy which is upheld in every court of law; but, if by
'legitimate' you mean 'moral', as in 'right or wrong', then that
particular aspect of working class fate is not a great moral issue
for me. What's wrong or immoral, in my estimation, is when
workers compete for scarce jobs, for lots of misery is caused
right there. On the other hand, what's right and moral to me is
when bosses do what they can afford to do, i.e., when THEY
compete for scarce labor, and workers can then take home a
living wage, enjoy freedom to move about in the economy, enjoy
a far greater chance of exerting workers' control over the economy,
enjoy the power to determine what is and is not produced, destroyed,
etc. In a world of competition for scarce jobs, someone is always
willing to do the dirty work, and few are unwilling to do what the
bosses ask them to do, including cutting off utilities from poverty-
stricken widows for non-payment, cutting down the last of the old-
growth redwoods, or building land mines. Where the prevailing
attitude is: "If they pay me to do it, then I'll do it", then morality
doesn't have a chance to prevail, and we get to live in a brutal,
dog-eat-dog world. We can change that.
> Seeing as it was produced/provided
by the non rich,
> the poor if you like, can this property be viewed as stolen?
Few workers regard the product of their labor as stolen from
them, unless they are not sufficiently compensated in return. For
ages, workers have considered the wages they receive as fitting
compensation in exchange for what they produce. Otherwise,
workers might try to drive the cars they build to their homes after
driving them off the assembly line. I have no doubt that at least
some cars have been taken home in that manner in the history
of the auto industry, but the whole rest of society would regard
such an act as plain theft, and would deal with it accordingly.
> Just a thought.
Good to hear from you again. Keep thinking.
Lewis provided some food for thought after quoting me:
>> So, where was Marx's great ECONOMIC analysis as to
>> cause of the Civil War? Where is the trade war issue? Good
>> questions. The economics were to be found mainly in one
>> place: In the fact that wage labor had become, over time,
>> a more efficient form of production than slavery, and
>> hence was fated to replace slavery.
> It is often said the slavery became economically
> "inefficient" vis-a-vis wage labour, but where is
> the evidence for that claim?
Good question. I'll admit, in this instance, to having repeated
gospel nothing better than mere leftist scuttlebutt, about which
I had never heard anything controversial. I should have known
that it was a little shaky, maybe because it was just a little too
convenient an argument.
> In Fogel and Untermann's oddly titled
book _Time on the Cross_
> (1974), they gather evidence to argue that:
> *the purchase of slaves in nineteenth USA was as good an
> investment as any, and better than manufacturing;
> *the slave system was flourishing in 1860 and would not
> have been brought to an end for "economic" reasons;
> *profitability in slave agriculture was not generally less
> than free agriculture;
> *and that slavery was not incompatible
> with an industrial system.
snip the rest for brevity
Lew and others may very well be correct about that. Simple
economic inefficiency may not suffice to explain slavery's decline
and fall in a country in which free labor ascended side by side
with despicable slavery. In the USA, where transportation and
communications developed by leaps and bounds, it would have
been at least quaint for slavery to have lasted much longer than
it did. When one thinks about all of the freedoms of travel and
association enjoyed by ordinary people today, it's hard to imagine
slavery, and being bound to a plantation, still co-existing side by side
with free labor. If the South hadn't committed its act of desperation,
slavery would have eventually given way under the North's political
pressures. One thing the War proved was that it was fought over
property concerns, not over trade or economic issues.
While deeply appreciative of Lewis's well-considered contribution,
I wonder why he didn't tackle the deeper lesson about property
concerns I derived from the Civil War: If Southerners were willing to
fight and die to preserve and extend as immoral a form of ownership
as slavery, then how much more willingly would people fight and die
to preserve the forms of ownership enjoyed today? It simply is no
contest, which is why socialists in the West gave up on socialism by
means of force and violence a long time ago, and is why socialism
never really took root in the most bourgeois country in the world,
as Engels thought of the USA.
Since bringing this topic up some months ago, I've developed
little habit of thinking about the myriad ways in which property
considerations determine, or play some part in, human behavior
in everyday life, including my own. The list of the ways in which
property rears its ugly head is endless. Future generations, reared
in circumstances in which the necessities of life are freely accessed,
will not be bothered by property concerns. In the meantime, we
shouldn't try to mess with property in a world in which people have
to work for what little they own, and thus have a large personal stake
in holding on to it. When property becomes as easy to access as
leaves from a tree, and no one will be able to make any money off
of either property or labor, then we will be able to say that socialism
has arrived. The prevailing socialist notion that 'people will work in
the socialist era' is looking less and less tenable. The connection
between work and property is too strong.
snip my old text asserting: 'We will adopt a shorter work week.'
> Even as the number of workers continues to increase, more production is
> needed, and more businesses are needed to produce for a larger population?
> If they all have jobs they like so much, who will start that off? - Joan
I doubt if so many people are addicted to their 40 (or more)
hour jobs that
they would selfishly block a shorter work week movement. Since the bulk of
the population is rather humanitarian, then I think that a lot of people would
understand that it's far more important to share work than to greedily and
selfishly amass the 'satisfaction' that comes from working long hours at
satisfactory jobs, especially when work sharing becomes enormously
more important in the near future, and the population hangs together,
just like during other times of stress, such as natural disasters.
I've toyed with another idea along the lines of making work-sharing
fair to everyone. A lot of young people are tireless go-getters, and don't mind
long hours at jobs they enjoy, so I think that special dispensation should be made
for them. When people get older, a break from long hours can be therapeutic. Tell
me how you like this interim plan, or the general idea, for when something like this
becomes more necessary: People aged 20-40 get to work 40 hours, people aged 40-
45 work 35 hours, people aged 45-50 work 30, people aged 50-55 work 25, people
aged 55-60 work 20, and people aged 60-65 work 15, all with no loss in pay. People
would also be free and encouraged to volunteer as much time as they want.
The 20 hour week bracket seems appropriate to people my age.
But then we
should make dispensation for people who want to work 40 hours or more their
WHOLE life. At some point, the idea of Basic Income could become more
attractive, though that idea may seem a little unfair to hard working people
at present, which is why I can't support 'Basic Income with no contribution
to society' right at the moment.
Better than trying to rigidly fit people into inflexible little
should advocate extending people's freedoms, but our number one priority
as humanitarians should be to make room for everyone in the economy.
When machines really start taking over big time in another few years, it's
hard to imagine us fighting a civil war over the last of the declining number
of opportunities to spend long hours making the rich richer than their
wildest dreams. The common sense of people will hopefully prevail.
>> snip old text
> My first real job was at a grocery store, where I worked for a year. They paid
> low wages, and it was non-union, so no one was pushing for higher pay. Some
> people's solution was to work 60 hours a week so that they could make enough
> money to get by on. Buy some people chose to work 60 hours a week so that
> they would have more money to buy a bigger TV set or stereo or whatever. - Joan
60 hour weeks are quite bearable up to the age of 40, but then
starts taking her toll on the flesh. It's also not a pretty picture for people to
have to struggle at low wage jobs all of their lives. I was lucky to acquire fix-it
skills at an early age, so luckily didn't spend TOO much time doing the stuff
I really hated, but I surely spent PLENTY of time doing precisely that.
>> snip 'freedom to move about in the economy'
> If everyone just randomly gets bored and quits, it would lead to lack of
> stability in the economy in general and lack of job security for others who
> don't know if the places they work are even going to be in business the next day.
If you had a reputation as a respected economist, and if you
that 'freedom to move about in the economy would destabilize the economy',
then I might be willing to rethink my idea that 'people can responsibly handle
their freedom'. After all, it won't be long before everyone will be perfectly free,
so there had better not be anything in human nature that would guarantee that
'perfect freedom will yield nothing but trouble'. If so, then we had better follow
the advice of Bill Joy, and put a clamp on nano-technology NOW.
Barring conclusive evidence that perfect freedom will turn
us all into monsters,
then I wonder how much anyone is going to want to cater to anyone's FEARS
of other people doing what they want to do in a civil, peaceful fashion. If we are
going to be guided by fear, then let us fear that people will suffer if we don't find
equitable means of sharing work with all; let us fear that our willingness to work
unnecessarily long hours will translate into a heavy toll on the environment, etc.
> There is no such thing as "perfect
> all freedom implies responsibility. - Joan
At all times, we have a responsibility not to do any harm to
the future, work-related responsibilities will be increasingly shifted to
computers and machines, as it already has begun to be shifted.
>> snip old text
>> It would certainly be nice if we could all truly enjoy our work so much
>> that we didn't want to go home at night, but that doesn't seem to be a
>> very common occurrence. - Ken
> I don't mean necessarily enjoy it so much, but I do mean have a personal
> stake in it. I suppose I should again discuss my year at the grocery store.
> I hated my job because it was completely impersonal. They didn't want a
> person there -- just a body to run the cash register. Initiative of any kind
> was frowned upon (even if it would increase sales), and managers were
> jerks. It's no wonder the turnover rate is so high there. If I had worked
> for a smaller store where they actually cared what my name was or that
> I was a human being, I would have enjoyed my job much more, only
> because of having a personal connection to it. - Joan
That sounds like a pretty common experience. I know the feeling
well. It's all
part of the horrors of struggling to get by in a dog-eat-dog scarcity economy.
Sometimes we make it easier on one another, other times we can be as vicious
and competitive as our bosses.
>> snip France's 35 hour week
> So it's getting better. That doesn't mean it's doing all that great. - Joan
You may recall a time in the not too distant past when Britain
was known as
'the sick man of Europe'. I can't recall France ever being as bad as that, though
other people's memories on that subject may be better than mine. In the media in
the past week, though, France seems to be having another few rounds of troubles.
>>> snip for brevity
>> Few dare go into business unless they perceive a market for their services
>> or wares. Otherwise, they set themselves up for bankruptcy and failure,
>> which happens often enough in this country. I once heard the statistics on
>> the number of businesses that fail every year, which is a truly staggering
>> number. One figure that does stick in the mind is: 500 family farms go
>> belly up every week in the USA. Think of the jobs lost right there. - Ken
> Though I don't know if the statistic is right, I agree that the farm issue is
> a big problem. However, I don't see why you're surprised that people only
> start businesses where they see a need for it. Duh. Businesses that fail is
> nothing new or horrible -- often people fail at 2 unsuccessful businesses
> before starting one that works. Until they find their niche. It is not jobs
> lost, but new opportunities created. Business people take risks when
> they start a business; nothing ventured, nothing gained. - Joan
Now you have me doubting that your paragraph faithfully represented
perspective. Why do you think that I was 'surprised that people only start
businesses where they see a need for it'? I wasn't surprised, because that's
what I was asserting all along. The point I tried to make was that: people don't
often start businesses which seem certain to fail before they even start. I agree
that business failures are nothing new or horrible. It's just a fact of business life,
and it happens all of the time. What ensures that it doesn't happen more often is:
People often take out loans when they start new businesses, but lenders don't
often lend unless business plans seem like they have darned good chances of
succeeding. A good business plan and a promising market doesn't guarantee
success by any means, but they surely improve the chances.
>> snip old text
> What i have a problem with is that you're disregarding the fact of
> population growth.
If you think that I am 'disregarding the fact of population growth', you have
yet to quote the passages in which such disregard manifested itself. On the
other hand, I have made considerable efforts to explain why I think that
population growth in itself is public policy. Please agree or disagree that
'population growth is partially determined by public policy, and is affected
by legislation already on the books.'
> The number of hours of production
needed is not the same because more
> people means more need for goods & services. How do you intend to address
> this problem? New businesses mean new goods and services and increasing
> number to meet increasing demand. - Joan
I have already explained that a GROWING population requires
hours of labor in order to provide all of the commodities and services to
service a GROWING population. It would be difficult for me to believe
that I haven't already satisfied my obligation to that particular aspect of the
controversy. Economic growth is public policy, so is quite artificial. We
are far from the 'invisible hand' of Adam Smith's era. I oppose unnecessary
economic growth, along with its additional strain on the environment. A
shorter work week would diminish the motivation for unnecessary growth,
but would not eliminate change, innovation and improvement.
>>>> 13) Pare down the enormous
profits which are plowed into non-productive
>>>> activities such as rampant speculation, excessive advertising, and campaign
>>>> finances. - Ken
>>> Actually I don't think it would do that, though if it did it would be good. - Joan
>> Ahh, ye of little faith. Merely give it a chance, and it will. - Ken
> I can have as much faith as I want that I can fly off the cliff at the old
> strip mine and across the acid lake to a soft landing on the other side --
> either way, I'm going to go straight down into that beautiful blue
> mine-drainage water. - Joan
I must apologize. You deserved a better answer than what my
imagination was able to provide at the time, so I'll give it another try.
What part of #13 did you not understand
or accept? Was it the 'enormous
profits'? The word 'profits' hardly needs an explanation, but 'enormous profits'
is not as common a term, and it may not have even been necessary for me to
modify the 'profits' with 'enormous'.
If profits are large enough, then they can be plowed into 'rampant
by which I would mean, by way of example: stripping a patch of land naked
and building a high-rise, with no guarantee that anyone might be interested
in renting a suite. With all of the incentives to build, all they have to do is
build something, and people will flock to it.
When it comes to advertising, I remember watching TV programs
in the 1950's
with much shorter commercial breaks, and only every 15 minutes. Sometimes a
whole hour's worth of entertainment would be sponsored by just a single big
company, like Chevy, P&G, Lever Bros., etc., and with just four commercials.
Still we complained back then, but not as much as during a recent golf
tournament that didn't even include Tiger, but advertised every 5 minutes
with a couple of minutes of commercials each time, making the
commercial percentage around 40%.
Two hundred years ago, it required 80% of the people living
on the farm to
provide food for 100%. Nowadays, only 2% of the workforce provides for
everyone, indicating a 40 fold increase in agricultural productivity in 2 centuries.
Back 200 years ago, nearly all of what was created remained in the possession
of its creator. In a 10 hour day, one might work more than half of the time for
oneself, and give up the rest of the day's products to a boss, other family members,
etc. Productivity improvements over time means that workers provide for the needs
of increasing numbers of people. Today, each agricultural worker can provide for 50
people. In another 10 years, each may provide for 100 or more. In 20 years, when a
confluence of new technologies comes together, each may provide for 1000 people,
and in 40 years, no agricultural labor at all may be required.
If fewer and fewer agricultural workers can support more and
then the same can also be said about other necessities of life, and they soon
plan to bring on line a clothing factory in which the raw cloth enters the factory
at one end, and new clothes go pouring out the other end, but no workers will be
slaving away at sewing machines in the middle. Food, clothing, shelter. No one
needs to be told that new housing goes up faster than ever before. A contractor
was bragging to me recently that he and a gang of workers built a whole house
from scratch in one week flat.
The necessities of life, over which previous generations devoted
life's work, are now being created in a relative blink of an eye. So, if we are
not spending so much time creating necessities of life, then we must be
spending a lot more time creating non-necessities, or surplus values, and
we have but one thing to blame for that: the increasing productivity of labor.
The rate of creation of surplus values has been increasing
the years. Out of surplus values comes profits, which have enjoyed record
levels in recent years, enabling the rich to do just about anything they want.
There are 2 major ways to increase surplus values: extend the
hours of labor
far beyond what is necessary to keep everyone functioning, or improve the
productivity of the means of production. We are so productive that no excuse
can be made for LENGTHENING the work day or week, but the ongoing
replacement of machinery with ever better machinery continues, and its
performance escalates exponentially, as Ray Kurzweil observes, as a
confluence of new technologies will soon result in a 'singularity',
sort of like a cosmic starburst as a mass of new technologies
merge together and replace all human labor.
If we used to spend the bulk of our lives creating necessities,
but now spend
far more time creating non-necessities, and if wages merely represent necessities
of life, then that can only mean that wages have fallen over time, in spite of our
obviously increased standard of living. The fact that wages are relatively lower
than in previous decades, while surpluses and profits are higher, explains the
greater economic and political power of the rich. It explains why the rich have
the power to speculate with money which pours into their pockets seemingly
effortlessly. Our increased productivity and our needlessly long hours of labor
explain why the rich can afford to pour so much money into political campaigns
(making campaign finance reform a hot topic), explains why real estate speculators
can throw up developments and skyscrapers with seeming abandon, and it explains
why advertisers are eager to clog up our TV viewing pleasures with so many
commercial ads that it sometimes doesn't seem worth the viewing. Thank the
goddess for mute and surf buttons on remote controls. I never listen to a
commercial if I am close enough to a mute button.
>> 15) snip dominance of
bourgeois ideology throughout the population
> snip good job offer> I am not opposed to time reductions (assuming potential
> problems are addressed); however, I also think that improving the working
> environment is just as important, if not more important. As it stands, people
> spend several hours a day at their job. And whether it is 8 hours or 7 hours
> or 6 hours, you can bet they'll want to be treated like human beings and have
> a clean place to work where they are allowed to sit down and take breaks
> once in awhile. This I give you from the experience that told me I would
> never again want to work for another grocery store chain. - Joan
In some industries in which labor is scarce, and bosses are
anxious to make a
good impression on workers, such as in the field of high-tech, some working
conditions can be mighty pleasant. In jobs which are considered low-skill, such
as your old grocery store job, there bosses feel free to treat workers like dirt.
Workers who quit because they can't stand the low pay, the lousy conditions,
nor the abuse, will be replaced in an instant by a dozen others willing to put up
with the crap, at least for a little while. Create an artificial shortage of all kinds
of labor (instead of just high-tech and other glamor jobs), and then you will see
bosses treating all workers with more respect. But, no one should expect bosses
to respect workers BEFORE workers respect themselves and create the shortage
of labor to save their own hides.
>>>> snip the joys and benefits of refuting lies
>> a quote from Colton:
>> "Falsehood is never so successful as when she baits her hook with truth; and no
>> opinions so fatally mislead us, as those that are not wholly wrong, as no watches
>> so effectually deceive the wearer, as those that are sometimes right." - Ken
> Perhaps then you should seek to have more objective analysis. - Joan
What does that mean?
>>>> snip 'Theory and Practice'.
>> At some point, we have to practice
>> some of the ideas we read in the books. - Ken
> I would say it's imperative to involve theory and practice with one another
> -- not just come up with ideas then try and put them into practice, but use
> practical ideas along the way, even if it means that the long-term ideals
> are at times just simmering on the back burner. - Joan
I know a little about back burners: After leaving my first
party, I waited 15
years before beginning to write my book of refutations of socialist ideology.
Some socialist ideology is based upon pure fraud, designed to snare gullible
newcomers, because corrupt leaders know that a lot of would-be revolutionaries
are never going to be motivated enough to go to the sources, and will learn just
enough to help them fit into a group of like-minded people. If I had finished the
book before the fall of the Soviet Union, my exposure of the folly of taking away
the property of the rich by means of force and violence might have been considered
a significant contribution to social theory, because the book would have been
vindicated by the events of 1989+. Oh, well. Better late than never.
>>> snip origin of employment
> I don't mean just a certain kind of work -- i mean work in general. Whether it
> is hunting and gathering, planting and harvesting corn, working in a factory or
> programming a computer. Humanity has always had to do some kind of work to
> survive and it has therefore become an inseparable part of the human experience.
> Eliminating work, even if possible, would fundamentally change who and what
> we are. I am a believer in the fact that without challenges to face, of some kind,
> man is nothing. - Joan
Maybe I can better see what you are driving at now. I should
differentiated between work and employment. Employment is the thing that
has only been around for awhile and is doomed to extinction in a few decades,
while work (in the form of struggle) will be eternal, for it bestows all of the
benefits you mention. Are we on the same page yet?
>> snip 'responsible behavior'
> Everyone has a different definition of frivolous. The puritans thought that
> dancing and card-playing were frivolous and evil. Anyone who said that
> today would be laughed at. I think it will take a long time for people to
> develop that kind of responsibility to society that you speak of. But,
> by the way, there will always be someone who has the means to
> wreak havoc. It's just a question of who, and how. - Joan
Once we get to employmentless, classless and stateless society,
no one person
will have their way with power. Whatever entity creates the means of life will
not respond in any fundamental manner to any input except mass democratic
input. We will build that in as a feature. What the entity does spit out for
our consumption will be as innocuous and pure as the trill of a robin.
>> snip earth-friendly technologies
> Well, we need to have the technology before we can use it... Btw, I don't
> trust a machine to clean my house. I'd rather do it myself. - Joan
You will certainly always be free to do that and more, if you'd
like, but the
machines will always be at your disposal if you ever change your mind, as
you are bound to when you get older, and you might feel more in the mood
for taking a break. Goddess bless the energy of youth.
>>> snip inseparability
of humanity with work
> No. What I'm saying is that without work -- a thing that has always defined the
> human experience -- we will cease to be what we are. And I think the question
> of what we would become -- and what it would mean for the future of our
> species -- are ones that need to be considered if we come to a point where we
> believe it is possible. Remember that in history every leisure class has become
> decadent and corrupt, often to the point of their own destruction. - Joan
If people were really interested in preventing our society
from enjoying total
leisure, then we would hear a roar and outcry against the march of technology,
but such a rebellion has yet to materialize in my neighborhood. Most of the
people I know are not going to rebel over having their employment taken
away from them, because most regard their work as pure drudgery.
>>> The goal should not be to eliminate
"work" but to personalize it --
>>> so the people work for their own benefit rather than sacrificing their
>>> time for the profit of a corporation. - Joan
>> That's a laudable and noble goal, but it would involve quite a
>> reorganization of society, which few have the time and energy to do. - Ken
> Not any more of a reorganization than what you propose. - Joan
My idea isn't a conscious grappling of a situation, taking
it in hand, and
leading it down a path that it otherwise wouldn't go. I am merely detecting
the direction in which we are heading, and I am merely warning people to take
care of the inevitable unemployment which will arise from our unstoppable
plunge into the employmentless future. Regardless of all of our words and
thoughts, we are helpless but to follow this capitalist-determined process of
further replacing human labor with machines to its ultimate end - the abolition
of employment, the abolition of class distinctions, and the abolition of the
dominance of the rich. And it will take little effort on our part other than
advocating that the remaining employment is equitably shared at every step
of the way, until its own abolition. Simple, eh? Simple enough even for the
working class to understand, which is why it will someday become very
popular, in spite of anything you or I will ever have to say about it. Some
may feel free to join the Bill Joys and others who want to prevent the
further development of nanotechnology, but they should be prepared
to be criticized as modern-day Luddites.
>>> I don't think it [the
end of work] is coming. And if it is, fine.
So be it.
>>> You can all live in the cities in the Brave New World. I will claim the
>>> rest and declare it independent. It isn't coming, but if it were I would
>>> not join in. Sometimes I think the Amish have got it right. - Joan
>> If we could all live like the Amish, that would be an advance, compared
>> towhat a lot of people suffer from today. Amish rural peasant life is
>> reminiscent of the Jeffersonian ideal, and it has a lot of good human
>> and cooperative values associated with it. If we could ALL live like
>> that, it would be a better world. - Ken
> I agree. But you can't reverse the wheels of technology and progress. - Joan
We can't reverse progress, but a lot of people would stop it
if they could.
Just think about where we would still be, technologically speaking, if people
who wanted to stop progress had their way 100 years ago. Would you like to
live with that level of technology? There's a possibility that people a century
ago would have re-channeled their energies in improving human relations,
but we were still of the mentality to enter into 2 more world wars, and found
it necessary to engage in numerous revolutions. Maybe we need further
technological progress in order to make humanitarian progress. It would be
a gas if it turns out that humanitarian progress was entirely dependent upon
technological progress. Such a gas. I've been toying with that thought for quite
awhile now. I can guess that you might disagree, but we can discuss it further.
>> snip compatibility of shorter work weeks with Western
> Again, I am not arguing against the idea. I am, however, pointing out that
> it is not a cure-all and that the problems it would present must be dealt with
> and considered at length by all involved, especially as we progress toward a
> shorter work week. Otherwise it would lead to disaster in the long run, and
> all gains that might be made in a few generations would be lost, and returned
> to the middle ages. - Joan
Have no fear, humanitarians are here. The future is coming,
no matter what
either of us may say. The march of technology will soon have a devastating
effect upon employment, but we will meet the challenge as we've met it many
times before. Those who would meet the demands of the future with Luddite
or socialist proposals will be ignored. Those who take the time to study the
past, measure the arguments, apply a little common sense to the problems,
will be in a position to guide society toward a happy future in employmentless,
classless, moneyless, propertyless and stateless paradise, where there will be
lots of time for everyone to play and struggle to their hearts content.
Here I am, late again. Joan replied:
>> Social justice cannot be attained as long as a big
percentage is left out
>> with not much to do but starve or get into trouble. One of the best ways
>> for us to express our humanitarianism would be to ask our Congress
>> people and politicians to absolutely insist that 'the work week be short
>> enough to enable FULL participation in the economy'. - Ken
> How do you intend to define that to them in feasible terms? - Joan
Under the influence of business people, as we are, everyone
seems to think
that full employment is equal to around 5% unemployed (as if zero is close
enough to 5 to actually equal 5). Would-be workers desperate for jobs cannot
simply be told that 5% is full employment, and that they should be happy that
the country enjoys 'full employment'. Unemployed people are not very happy
people, and lying to them, wittingly or unwittingly, doesn't elate them for very
long. But, in the court of public opinion, that 5% of the work force doesn't
seem to count for very much, except to activists and rabble-rousers like 'us'.
But, a good percentage of 'us' includes people who want to rouse that 5% to
revolution, or to support some other unworkable property and/or income
distribution scheme. Activists have been telling other activists for so long
that some form of socialism is going to yield social justice, that they don't
bother figuring out that 'unemployment should be countered with a program
that deals with unemployment', and that property and income schemes do not
directly affect unemployment. One might as well talk to a wall. Party and group
loyalties are so strong that logic has less effect on absurd ideologies than a flea has
on an elephant. No one wants to think, but everyone wants to follow their leaders.
The USA has enjoyed various laws regulating the length of the
work day and week
for over a century, but people are somewhat more familiar with the 60 year old Fair
Labor Standards Act, passed on a national level in response to the ravages of the
Depression. The FLSA provides for minimum wages, time and a half after 40, and a
host of other things, so the length of the work week is already pretty well regulated, but
is regulated in the interests of the bosses so as to ensure at least some unemployment
and competition for scarce jobs, which ensures sufficient desperation for work to
encourage job offers to be snapped up immediately, in spite of the low wages offered.
Low wages ensure high profits. A portion of high profits can be used to finance
political campaigns, and the politicians will certainly pay attention to those who can
finance their campaigns. So, social justice is impossible in a world in which workers
compete for scarce jobs. It would be much better for vast the majority if the bosses
could chase after scarce labor, such as on rare occasions when a little economic boomlet
occurs, such as was recently reported for the Madison, Wisconsin area, where labor
became quite scarce, unemployment sank quite low, desperate bosses offered high
wages to attract workers, profits 'suffered' accordingly, but the general mood in the area
was quite pleasant under the conditions of a much fuller participation in the economy.
The present workings of the economy already tell us just what
to do: If
unemployment rises and soars, as it someday will when ever smarter technology
replaces human labor on an unprecedented scale, then we will no doubt follow
France's example by adopting a 35 hour week, a measure which is actively
debated now in Switzerland, Germany and Scotland. Because time and a half
isn't much of a disincentive to keeping the same old people on the job past 35 or
40 hours, we should increase the overtime premium to double time. We should also
offer more paid holidays, more paid vacations, earlier retirement, paid sabbaticals, etc.,
and any other device that will help draw labor away from a glutted labor market.
Because many of these measures are already legislated, hence are already quite
feasible, then a few adjustments here and there will prove just as feasible as
the original legislation.
>> snip area of agreement
>> It's not as though 10 million people are going to suddenly show up for supper
>> one night, and, in a panic stricken hysteria, we hold our hands to our ears, and
>> run around screaming, "Jesus Christ, what are we going to do?" If a population
>> grows, it grows slowly, and new people get slowly integrated into the economy.
>> The latest census figures for my region arrived last week, and the last decade
>> showed a 6% decrease in population for my home town, from 100,000 down to
>> 94,000, while the surrounding communities showed net increases. So, more roads
>> and schools, and consequently more jobs, were created in the suburbs. Somehow
>> the economy slowly evolves to accommodate newcomers and outgoers. - Ken
> It does under the current system. But if the expectation is for everyone
> to be employed at all times, it won't work the same way.
'Under the current system', things
work a certain way. We could change
things a little, and the system would still work the same general way. Whether
unemployment is high or low, the system still works the same way, as the past
2 centuries of history of Western civilization ought to sufficiently prove to
anyone. Some people might labor under the false impression that 100%
unemployment would necessarily mean a fundamental change in the current
system, but that change wouldn't be fundamental that I can discern. The first
fundamental change will occur someday in the future, when the length of the
work week becomes so short that it becomes trivial to shorten it any more,
volunteers do the remaining work, and the necessities of life are freely
accessed, while we simultaneously evolve into much more of a community
than a dog-eat-dog rat race, and competition for survival (and to accumulate
possessions) falls to the wayside. That will be a different system, and at
your age, you will probably live to see it. I'm jealous.
2002 note: '100% unemployment' is not the correct terminology. The goal
of the shorter work week program is 100% employment, no matter how
thoroughly the march of technology abolishes human labor.
> Remember that I don't have any problem with
the concept of a shorter work
> week -- what I have a problem with is the logistics of implementing your
> theory, and the places where your long-term ideas do not fit with realities
> I have come to understand. The transition is missing. My problem is not
> with a plan to reduce working-time to 7 hours a day instead of 8 -- it is
> with your view of where the theory will lead in the future and how you
> expect it to do so without problems. - Joan
The 40 hour week has only been around for 60 years, a mere
eyeblink of human
history. If anyone expects it to go on forever, then they should put aside all
thoughts of evolution. 'This is how the world is, and how it will always be.' But,
in 1870, the average work week was 60 hours. No one should expect anything
to stay the same in this world, which is evolving faster and faster, and some
things appear uncontrollable. Soon we may be paying $3.00 per gallon of gas.
"It is the revolutionising of all
established conditions by industry as it
develops that also revolutionises people's minds." ... From a December
31, 1892 letter from Engels to Sorge.
Thanks to Li'l Joe for responding:
> It's not personal. I thought Kenneth
> and thus consciously distorted the view of Marx re
> proletarian revolution in advanced industrial democracies.
In a few short sentences, what does Li'l Joe think comprised
re proletarian revolution in advanced industrial democracies'?
2002 note: The reason I colored the whole passage in purple was because Li'l Joe
understood full well that my understanding of Marxism is quite good, and didn't
want his own dogmatic (in comparison) portrayal of it to be brought to light.
> But, when in his "long response"
he wrote that Marx
> and Lenin's theory of proletarian revolution had nothing
> to do with economics, and were "purely political", then
> it became evident that he knew nothing about Marxism.
> I therefore withdraw the charge that he was lying.
Thanks for withdrawing the charge. I feel better about that.
But, I still wonder
what economics has to do with proletarian revolution. As I understand it,
economics has to do with civil transactions, such as buying and selling, while
proletarian revolution is about smashing an existing state, and replacing it
with either a classless and stateless administration of things (if one is an
anarchist), or with a workers' state (if one is a communist). Unless the
proletarian revolution involves some kind of buying or selling spree, then I
don't understand where the economics is supposed to enter the proletarian
revolution scenario. I'll await Li'l Joe's elucidation, and hope that he won't
regard the answer to be so elementary that he refuses to answer. We should
participate in the dialogue with the attitude that not all of us are up to the same
speed in all areas in the realm of socialist theory, so should be comradely
enough to stoop, if necessary, to bring everyone up to the same level.
> As for why I haven't answered that
post tit for tat,
> is that there is no tit in the long response to which
> I need to response. My earlier piece on the Marxist
> perspective on proletarian revolution: "expropriation
> of the expropriators" &c., stands on its own.
I can't help but moan in disappointment at the news of my alleged
but I would inquire further as to the feasibility of expropriating expropriators
(without compensation, I presume) in a country in which Southerners fought
and died to preserve and extend as immoral a form of ownership as slavery.
It would appear that people would be even MORE willing to fight and die in
order to protect all other forms of ownership. Few people think that owning
means of production (other than humans) is immoral, so would be willing to
fight, die, scheme and more to retain ownership. What chance does expropriation
without compensation have in a country like the USA? We already know why
expropriation succeeded in Russia in 1917, where nationalization of land took
place on the first day of the revolution. Expropriation was feasible there because
the Bolsheviks had smashed the old states and enjoyed full state power, so they
could do with property whatever they wanted. In a democracy like the USA, no
communist, socialist or anarchist party is going to get anywhere close to winning
a presidential election, and even if they did, merely winning an election does not
confer the kind of full state power needed to expropriate without compensation.
When socialists and communist parties came to power in the civil societies of Italy
and France, nationalization of some industries took place with compensation, and
capitalism proceeded merrily along, state capitalism as well as private.
> I think that anyone who knows anything
> re economics as the basis for political activities will see
> that Kenneth's long response does not require a response.
Hopefully, Li'l Joe will give us a few words, hopefully 50
or less, which will
help us understand exactly how economics are the basis of proletarian revolution.
When it comes to explaining things to unsophisticated workers like myself, educators
have to occasionally keep things very simple and spoon-feed the fundamentals to us
under-educated novices. How else are we to grow into proletarian warriors, except
under the expert tutelage of willing and able teachers? Such is my plea.
> I suppose that I will never be able
to agree with your ideal that work
> should be eliminated -- the boredom would destroy us all. - Joan
Well, it's not so much an ideal as an inevitability which we
will have to deal
with in a humanitarian fashion. The future replacement of all human labor will
certainly pose a challenge to humanity, but if humans evolved out of apes who
didn't suffer from class divisions, chattel slavery, wage-slavery, serfdom, etc.,
we will be mentally prepared to meet the challenge very nicely, and will study
and play lots of games to keep our minds occupied. I may not live to see it,
but most 20 year olds and younger are statistically certain to see it. Imagine -
being freed from all of those time-consuming and petty concerns! It will be a
true liberation. Future generations will look back with thanks at all of us hard
workers who struggled for millennia to enable people to someday be free.
With no property concerns to chain us down, we will be so much happier.
--- In LeftUnity-Int@y..., "Jake Lowen" <jlowen@u...> wrote:
> Being that the object of this list
is Left Unity, I think that we need to
> take more steps towards achieving this goal. One idea I have is to start
> discussion around what is the basic common denominator which all of
> us on the left have in common?
There are too many ways for taking away the property of the
rich for the left
to agree on any one plan. Incessantly trying to confront the state, wealth and
property has been the downfall of the left. Such a plan was once plausible
during Marx's era, when there was a mass of intransigent monarchies to
overthrow, and victorious socialists theoretically would have had the kind
of state power in enough new liberated states to be able to expropriate the
expropriators without fear of counter-revolution, but those days are gone, so
we should get realistic about socialism, and understand that we are not going
to get there by attacking state and property. The left is divided over whether to
replace the state with a communist workers' state, or replace it with an anarchist
classless and stateless administration of things, or to reform the existing state. These
divisions are crippling enough to make anyone wish that the left would grow up.
> An active discussion of this sort
could easily in the future
> lend itself to creating an actual platform, a set of goals and
> points that can be agreed upon by the majority of the "left"
> and thus pursued most effectively.
Accordingly, which leftist is going to advocate people working
in an era in which work is being gobbled up by machines? Meanwhile, workers
compete over scarce long-hour opportunities to make the rich richer than their
wildest dreams, they cut down the last of the old-growth redwoods, and
otherwise destroy the earth. It won't be long before even smarter technology
will replace human labor on an ever greater scale, and we enjoy a productivity
rate which will soon approach infinity. We are already 40 times more productive
than we were 200 years ago, so theoretically could provide everyone with the
necessities by each of us working a mere hour per week.
As many times before in history, people will eventually get
on a shorter work week
bandwagon, and no one on the left is going to oppose it, except for the farthest and
most discredited sections of the left who will use the high unemployment figures
as a reason to 'smash the state' or perform some other stupid act.
> So lets start talking about this.
> 1st point. Being on the left we
all must obviously agree on the desirability
> of a more egalitarian economic structure to some degree. While I may
> advocate full blown socialism, the left is not confined to only socialists.
> To what degree, if any, should we promote economic redistribution of wealth?
If someone's goal might be to divide the left, then all one
has to do is
advocate some kind of property or wealth redistribution scheme. If socialism
is what you want, then be aware that there is a better way to get to classless
and stateless society, and it's by driving down the length of the work week to
its logical conclusion (zero), as made possible by constant improvements in
technology. No one will oppose it, for everyone wants a shorter work week
(except for the crazies who think that hardship will drive people into the
arms of revolutionaries) and they all want to get to classless and stateless
society. Driving down the length of the work week is the only feasible way
to get there. Some people won't have the patience to wait another 40 years,
but I think it's soon enough to start planning ahead for it.
> There are around 150 people on this
list. Please, even if you have never
> said anything before, please just simply state where you fall on the
> redistribution spectrum. Even leftist capitalists, (American democrats)
> will agree to some very limited redistribution. You will not be chastised
> for this belief. After a lot chime in on this, perhaps we can tell what the
> most unifying concept is, and then move on to another issue.
Far more than we need to divide the left by advocating redistributing
and wealth, we need to redistribute work so that everyone can get a little to
get by. One cannot arrive at social justice as long as so much unemployment
exists in the West.
> Without Unity the left will never
be able to secure its goals against the
> vested interests of those who make decisions now.
> With Unity anything is possible,
> Jake Lowen
Jake, you sound like a reasonable person. I think we could
have a reasonable
dialogue. Please tell me about any reservations you might have about what I've
written, and let's see if we can achieve a little unity, at least between the two of
us to begin with. Give me a bit of a chance to prove some stuff to you in a
comradely fashion before you run off screaming with your hands in the air.
"Live working or die fighting."
"The watchword of the modern proletariat"
that the silk winders of Lyons
inscribed upon their banner during their strike (From Marx's 1869 "Report
on the Basle Congress").
> I'm re-reading your bit about replacing broken socialist dreams, and
> probably will get to parts of your book. Is there anything at all in either
> of those that you would prefer to change, since the beginning your
> participation in the WSM Forum?
> Shaun Le Conte
A month ago, I made a small change to my book as the result of rethinking the
intent of M+E to smash democracies as well as monarchies, but I don't have any
plans to change anything at the moment. Let me know if you see any problem areas.
David McDonagh wrote:
> McD: If Fogel is right then Marx
as well as
> Smith & Cairnes. Fogel did get the Nobel Prize for his
> ideas. Marx cites Cairnes in _Capital (1867) as being right.
Why does McD bother to pronounce people right and/or wrong
with barely a mention of the subject matter? In Capital, Marx
quoted Cairnes' 1862 book as an authority on slavery. Cairnes
noted that the slaves of the South used the crudest of plows and
implements. Elsewhere, Cairnes was quoted about the intensive
overwork of slave labor, with no cautions to conserve life or energy.
He also observed that slaves needed a great deal of supervision
compared to wage-laborers. Does anyone want to argue against
those points made by Cairnes?
Lew did not quote Fogel as saying that slavery was more
EFFICIENT than wage-labor. How many of us can imagine slave
labor with crude instruments, and requiring a lot of supervision, as
being more efficient? Considering the lack of wages paid to slaves,
slavery might have been economical and profitable, but efficient?
snip old text
--- In LeftUnity-Int@y..., utku balanan <butku1@y...> wrote, in part:
> ALL OF THE ANALYSES MADE TILL NOW -UNFORTUNATELY-
> RESEMBLE TO KEYNESIANS
> I understand your concerns about poverty and methods of getting rid of poverty.
> Mails written till now have been only about this: all of us know "the
> labor-value theory of marx". (Thank you, Kenneth) that is, not wealth
> but labor is the object of (re)distribution.
> However, i have a critique for all of the mails -except mine, of course J-:
> How can one distinguish between the "leftists" and the technocrats or
> fundamentalists -especially, islamic fundamentalists- , if we put the issue
> (the denominator) as a problem of redistribution.
> That is, if we define our denominator only as
> "eliminating the poverty", we can never find
> "our poor masses" who can accomplish the revolution.
It was a long exercise to read that message, and I'm not sure
what it all
meant. What I propose is rather simple to understand - that we shorten the
length of the work week in order to put everyone to work who wants some to
get by. We should replace workers' competition for scarce jobs with bosses'
competition for scarce labor. This is an all-inclusive movement motivated by
the humanitarian goal of full employment with a minimum waste of effort. It
is also non-revolutionary, recognizing that the historical purpose of revolution
was to bring democracy to where it didn't exist before, and that everything that
needs to be done in our existing democracies can be done by means of simple
reforms. Because, for Marx, expropriation was secondary to full participation in
the economy, and because expropriation was possible only after overthrowing
monarchies and liberating colonies, expropriation can safely be left behind as a
technique, and we can proceed directly to reforming our way to full participation.
"Live working or die fighting."
"The watchword of the modern proletariat"
that the silk winders of Lyons
inscribed upon their banner during their strike (From Marx's 1869 "Report
on the Basle Congress").
> Hey Ken,
> I still cannot test completely in my mind the reality of such a plan.
It took me a long time to figure out that taking away the property
of the rich
is impossible in a country like the USA, where Southerners were willing to
fight and die to preserve as immoral a form of ownership as slavery, so would
be many times more willing to fight and die to preserve ownership of the means
of production. Once that revolutionary avenue of activity was ruled out, it took
me some time after to figure out that: taking the length of the work week to its
natural conclusion (zero) would be another way to get to classless and stateless
society, and in a manner completely compatible with western values of private
property, and peaceful and legal change. All we have to do is get on the shorter
work week bandwagon, and ride it to the end of the road - socialism. Give it a
good think some day when your have an hour of peaceful contemplation available.
> However I already came to the conclusion
that a full campaign of some sort is
> needed for a 35-hour work week. Such a campaign would have more support
> among workers today than other reforms like 'nationalized health care' or the
> minimum wage which many trot groups (including mine) like to use through
> agitation. We consider all reforms granted on the government 'transitional
> demands' because as the theory goes ; workers fight for current demands,
> then they realize their potential as a class to fight, then in the future, if the
> capitalists do not grant them; that would transform the workers demands
> for reform into demands for socialism. I think that these type of demands
> will be the best kind suited for transitional demands.
The way your group treats reforms is a lot more realistic than
the SLP's, for
sure, but the question of revolution is very problematic. If, because of the work
of the AFL during the Depression, a 30 hour Bill could pass the Senate, and
nearly passed the House of Reps, and nearly became the law of the land, I don't
see where this business of 'the capitalists do not grant demands' comes in. I have
come to regard that bit of propaganda as fear mongering of the worst sort. It urges
us to become so scared of how the capitalists are going to regard our demands that
we stop short of demanding them, thereby sit on our hands and simmer, and then,
when the pressure becomes great enough, we finally explode in a destructive rage
that accomplishes little to nothing. Paralysis by fearing ordinary reforms does
nothing to ensure that the remaining work gets equitably shared. Spreading fear
of ordinary reforms has to be a bourgeois trick, but I don't know of a socialist
who has thought it through that way. With some of the less scrupulous, it's like
they are trying to say: 'if you stick with us and fight for a socialist revolution, you
will have nothing to fear, and the revolution will be practically in the bag; but, if
you go off and advocate your stupid reform, then you won't get anywhere.'
> The question I ask you, How do you
> spread the word ? Maybe a an ' 8 Hour Committee "
> from Engel's letter to Sorge?
If an idea is one whose time has come, it will spread by word
of mouth, on the
Internet, and over the airwaves. We can also hope that those who have come to
regard socialism as impossible will want to create a party. People will pick up on
a good idea and will run with it. On the other hand, when you have a very bad or
unfeasible idea, like the SLP's 'revolution in democracies', then all of the marketing
strategies in the world can't prevent such parties from failing to thrive. But, trying to
convince sectarians that they haven't been very smart for over a century isn't a very
rewarding venture. Not too many have thanked me so far. In the richest countries
of the world, where a lot of people can afford to ignore logical arguments and
play dumb, people will still be roped in by unfeasible plans, like I once was.
> Here are some questions from a comrade,
who read that chapter of yours,
> that I can't answer; but maybe you could:
> 1. If wages increase, won't the capitalists resort to
> moving their capital elsewhere to save profits?
I'm glad that you feel free to share my views with your friends.
The more the
merrier. If a single country lowers the length of its work week, then capital can
be expected to flee, especially if the difference between the length of its work week
and the other countries is significant. So, this is where the international solidarity of
labor comes in. Labor's strategy should be to lower the length of the work week
EQUALLY around the world, to prevent capital from wastefully flitting from one
country to another, and to ensure that all workers are equally protected.
> 2. How will wages increase by lowering the work week?
It may not be so much of an ABSOLUTE increase as a relative
represent the necessities of life, and the quantity of products and services required
to produce and reproduce labor power doesn't change just because the length of the
work week changes. Whether a worker works merely one day per week or all seven,
his rent and food bills are the same. So, the basic thing is that the pay check at the end
of the week should pretty much remain the same, no matter how long or short the work
week, as long as the length of the work week is uniform for the class. But, then there
is the labor market factor. Because we compete for scarce jobs, bosses confidently
offer low wages, knowing that desperate workers will snap the jobs up. But, if we
create an OPEC-like shortage of LABOR (instead of OIL), wages could easily go
up enough to provide every worker a living wage, and far beyond the minimum
wage. In terms of dollars per hour of work, wage rates would certainly increase,
but, due to the reduction in hours, the end result could remain relatively stable.
> They could keep the wages the same,
and the other people will just have
> get part time jobs. If the work week was 4 hours, the companies could simply
> leave wages the same and the person would have to work 10 jobs!
Not if the wages earned in a single 4 hour job were sufficient
to satisfy a worker's
money needs for a whole week. Mass consciousness would also change as well,
preventing us from madly dashing about seeking as many jobs as possible. With
work-sharing ideology more popular, work-hoarding would be frowned upon,
and become taboo. This new consciousness and training in the art of sharing
work would also prepare us to share the products of whatever entity creates
the necessities of life at a future date, when there is no longer a way to go
out and get a job to earn them.
> 3. As it is now a company would
rather hire another
> full time worker than let someone work over time (1.5x).
In many cases, time and a half is still somewhat effective
as an overwork
disincentive; but, not too long ago, bosses figured out that the rising costs
of hiring new people was becoming so great that it was cheaper to keep the
same old people on the job well beyond 40 hours. Hire a new person, and they
are going to demand benefits like health care plans, dental plans, they will require
a separate insurance policy, and unemployment insurance is a heck of a burden on
bosses. This is why people with full time jobs are often asked (or required) to work
far beyond 40 hours per week. Double time would definitely make a lot of bosses
think twice about asking the same old people work beyond 40 hours.
> In double time this sentiment would
be even greater.
> And since the work week will be shortened, there
> would be plenty of people willing to get a part
> time job when wages don't increase.
That might be if we retained the same old dog-eat-dog competitive
We haven't varied from time and a half after 40 for about 60 years, and we have
known for a long time what it's like to be rather vicious in our competitive spirit,
and we don't know any other way. In order for us to change to double time after
35, for instance, will first require a national dialogue. When the machines become
ever so much more productive, unemployment will rear its ugly head ever more so,
but we will decide that the right thing to do will be to share work equitably. The
benefits of doing so will change people's minds about trying to steal all of the work
away from other people. Young and more energetic people may be more willing to
take on greater work loads, and I don't know if the work load might be better spread
more to the young. In another forum, I asked an interested correspondent:
>> Tell me how you like this interim plan, or the general
idea, for when something
>> like this becomes more necessary: People aged 20-40 get to work 40 hours, people
>> aged 40-45 work 35 hours, people aged 45-50 work 30, people aged 50-55 work 25,
>> people aged 55-60 work 20, and people aged 60-65 work 15, all with no loss in pay.
>> People would also be free and encouraged to volunteer as much time as they want.
The point is that people will someday become very inventive
and creative in
their ways of sharing work, and no plan which helps get labor off the labor
market should be casually dismissed.
> So instead of working 40 hours in
a job, you would be forced to work
> 2 different jobs just to make the same amount of money, and when time
> and transportation between jobs are added in this would just make our
> lives more burdensome.
Don't forget that just making the very first change in labor
time will require a
very big change in consciousness. Work-sharing ideology will help prevent
work-gluttony. The other thing militating against work-gluttony will be the
elimination of low-wage jobs, and the resulting high wage jobs will provide
people with all of the money they will need to live well with just one 35 hour job.
> The point on the election issues
I was trying to make is that the
> capitalists like it this way where the major candidates are all capitalists
> from the 2 major parties. They fear any mass labor movement. That's
> why Nader was not allowed into the debates and escorted out by police.
Nader has made a few statements in favor of a reduced work
week, but, because
he fails to promote it as the center-piece of his program, I can't yet regard
him as much of a spokesman for the labor movement. Maybe some day.
2002 note: I forgot to mention that ordinary non-capitalists get elected to office
all of the time. There's no property requirement on getting elected. Plus, people
sometimes vote against the richest candidates, such as recent rejection of billionaire
Huffington in California.
>> It's true that the people have had all too little
influence on foreign
>> affairs. They have been generally content to allow the state alone
>> to conduct the affairs of state, and all too secretly. It's still not bad
>> enough a situation for revolutionaries to get people to smash the state.
> The government does still conduct its affairs 'secretly' sometimes. They
> make full use of their media control and espionage departments to tap phone
> lines and go through peoples' email accounts for information they may need.
> The problem is also that the working class is still a sleeping giant and lets the
> state conduct its imperialist adventures as you said. My point in stating the fact
> of imperialism was not that it makes workers want to destroy the state, but was
> this; what makes the capitalists not want to conduct such measures at home
> when it can safely do so else where and by facts mentioned above ?
Sleeping giant is right. There's not much we can do about the
structure in our present state of somnabulence, but we can get full participation
in the economy if we want. Full participation would give us the kind of economic
security that would enable worker control of the government and economy. So many
people are running scared in our country. Make the wrong move, and one is out of a
job lickety-split. No one dare blow the whistle on errant companies or government
agencies, so business continues as usual, and most of us become part of the system
of human betrayal. Sharing work would enable workers' control of the economy,
and also give us the power to successfully oppose policies.
> ..I was pointing to divisions that
are bound to cripple the revolutionary left...
>> It's hopeless to think they will ever agree on a new form for the state,
>> or agree on 'the best way' to take away the property of the rich, or to
>> redistribute wealth and property.
> Your point sounds good but the thing is that I see things from a
> completely different angle. If there was a revolution in the future,
> many of these leftist groups will not even play any major role at all.
> The problem is that 99.99% of all the leftist groups are undemocratic
> and don't know anything about party building.
I've also been critiquing the undemocratic nature of the left.
One of my
favorite statements is: "The left offers its members LESS democracy and
freedom of speech than the very democracies they would like to overthrow and
replace." That's because they never were serious about revolution in the first
place. Leaders know as well as I that revolution is impossible in democracies.
Marx himself noted the indifference to socialist revolution in the USA and
England. The best that the leaders can hope for is to create a sect dedicated
to some ideological niche and make a business out of roping in gullible
followers, some of whom may have their own designs on power. The power
struggles in the left is why they have to operate in secrecy. Lip service may
be paid to self-criticism, but the rank and file can't have as perfect a freedom
of speech as what's enjoyed in independent forums on the Internet. Revolution
can be nothing more than a small business in a democracy. Your perspective
is quite like mine after all, and it reflects an observant mind.
> You could tell the way many of these
groups work by just visiting their
> webpages. I had the experience to either meet some or email them. In order
> for me to explain all the reasons why they will never get anywhere would be
> for a different email at your request.
If you have a concise summary of findings, I wouldn't mind
taking a look.
It might give me some good ideas.
> Until we have a mass labor movement
there we would see a slight inflation of
> the other groups and people like Ralph Nader because they would be the ones
> filling the vacuum of a mass labor movement.
> The last problem with your theory I want to mention is this: Maybe the
> capitalist class would never resort to oppression if the day comes when
> we stand up for ourselves. We would like that fine. But what happens if
> they do resort to such methods and we as a class have no revolutionary
> party to lead us to take state power? Such a defeat could resort to a
> tragedy worse than the Paris Commune. Why not build a revolutionary
> organization that can prepare in advance for a revolution?
I wouldn't bother preparing for a threat that didn't materialize
back when the
AFL nearly won its 30 hour week during the Depression. Revolutionary defense
movements do not address the problems people suffer from right now. A shorter
work week is perfectly acceptable because it is not based upon hate, is not secretive,
conspiratorial, censorious or sectarian. The movement to share work is based upon
love and humanitarianism. It has one goal, and one goal only, which is to see that
the remaining work is equitably shared for the few remaining decades during which
people will still have to get up in the morning to go to work. Adherence to that vision
would provide the finest set of circumstances a movement could ever hope for: it is
all-inclusive, does not exclude the mafia, the KKK, the politically incorrect, the far
right wing, the Christian right, government agents, etc. This movement is for the
benefit of all of the people, so it tolerates all tendencies and factions. When the
employment crunch arrives, everyone will be interested in the same thing -
sharing the remaining work. To create such a movement now will be to sow the
seeds of universal love which will overcome all hate, and will give everyone
exactly what they are looking for, and which alone can be the basis of the
classless and stateless society we all yearn for.
> Just so you know, the ideas of Marx
are getting more popular
> with young people today through things like the Internet.
As the hits to my website approached 1,000,
an unexpected surge of interest became apparent.
You have a good mind, and I am favorably impressed with the
degree of thought
you have poured into this subject. Keep up the good work, and maybe you will
one day be able to dismiss revolutionism as a useless diversion from putting
everyone to work at a livable wage.
chris.davis quoted me:
>> If I had my choice, I would instead prefer that increased
>> productivity redound at least somewhat to the benefit of
>> workers in the form of increased leisure, but the bosses
>> prefer that the benefits accrue to them in the form of
>> increased profits, so we get wage-slavery, and they get
>> wealthy. We could change that if we wanted to, but people
>> prefer not to change very much until they absolutely have to.
>> (Ken Ellis)
> Also people seem unable to imagine any other life than working life. Like
> old lags who've been in prison most of their lives, it's the only life they know,
> and they'll even commit crimes simply to get back into the world they know.
> I don't think that much is going to happen until significant numbers of people
> begin to entertain the possibility of some other life than working life. And the
> signs aren't particularly good. A year or two back a 17-year-old asked me how
> long I thought the computer business would last. Seeing that it's been going
> 50 years, it seemed entirely plausible to say that it would probably run for
> for another 50 years. "Good." He said, "That'll see me out." He was
> figuring on being safely employed for 50 years.
> But in fact the computing business is probably the biggest work-destroyer
> ever to be unleashed onto the world (although when I try using Microsoft
> Word, I wonder), and has yet to really get into its stride. (I'm thinking of
> the time when all trucks and trains have their drivers replaced by computer
> guidance systems that don't fall asleep at the wheel, don't drink, don't
> lose their tempers, keep to the speed limits, etc.) All I see is the usual -
> increasing mass unemployment, insecurity, and suffering at the bottom,
> fantastic wealth at the top.
> The only explanation I have for people wanting to be that rich is that it
> ensures that they don't get that poor.
Chris makes a lot of very good points here. The ongoing replacement
by computers and machinery will increase at an unprecedented rate as a
confluence of many new technologies enters the productive process in the next
couple of decades. The way we meet this challenge will probably be the same
way we met it in the past. During the Depression, labor fought for a 30 hour
week and got 40 hours instead, and they also got a lot of make-work programs
to prevent them from having the leisure time they deserved. We seem doomed
to have to work our fingers to the bone until some future final day of grueling
slavery, when there will be absolutely nothing left to do, and we can spend the
rest of our lives playing instead of working.
Many of the problems we will have along the way will depend
upon how well
we learn to hang together as a society. We should think about resurrecting the
kind of work-sharing ideology that convinced half the companies to voluntarily
adopt shorter work weeks during the Depression. The more we adopt and
propagate work-sharing ideology now, the more cohesive and cooperative
our society could be in the future. United we stand, divided we fall.
> Kenneth, if you are not sure what
i mean , please
> read the first message i sent as a response for the
> "denominator discussion". you will see a link
> between the first and the second mail.
> and shortly about you proposal; this sounds good.
> yet it includes exactly what i tried to criticize: the
> "perfect" geometries we try to draw are confronted
> with the solid facts of the reality and then they fail.
> if we ,as leftists, have experienced the same thing
> several times, we should re-structure our framework.
> what i claim is that we should return to marx again:
> mainly to the german ideology where he describes his
> philosophic structure by criticizing the german idealists.
> if one reads it very carefully, one can comprehend
> what i try to say in a better way.
Thanks for the suggestions. But, rather than become too philosophical
our problems, I try to be more practical. I don't think we have to go too deeply
into philosophy to arrive at a program for a shorter work week which will bring
so much social justice in itself that people will wonder why they didn't think of it
sooner. A lot of would-be working-class heroes have petti-fogged and confused
issues for a long time. I had to refute a whole mass of pure lies in order to get
things clear in my mind. Now I know what to do. Perhaps others would also
know what to do if they would spend more time refuting lies and hogwash
spread by the left. But, leftists are supposed to be guided by all that is good,
pure, true and beautiful, while the right is supposed to be guided by all that is
false, venal, and greedy. My experience, on the other hand, was that my first
socialist party lied to me as badly as anyone had ever lied to me beforehand.
All kinds of discrepancies between its teachings and Marxism were 'justified'
by quotes out of context and lies cut from whole cloth. Once the lies are cleared
away, it becomes much easier to see that no one will ever be able to lay a finger
on another person's property for as long as people still have to work in order
to create wealth. That era is coming to an end in another few decades, so people
should be patient with regard to property, and do what they can about sharing
work in an era in which it is still necessary to do so. Learning to share work
fairly and squarely will also prepare us mentally to share the product of
whatever entity that creates the means of life when it's no longer possible
(in a few decades) for us to go out and earn them.
> I responded to the following 6 paragraphs
> a very long post by Ken Ellis in response to Lil Joe:
>> 1) snip Marx's revolutionary scenario
> It was political, yes. But if I recall the theory was that the most industrial
> nations would be the ones who have the largest percentage of toiling wage-slaves...
That's true, but I wish you had tried carrying through with
that thought a little
more. If I may guess, you might be implying that the economic differences
between the proletarianized West and the peasant-dominated economies to
the East played a big part in Marx's theory. But, it wasn't critical, for the worker-
peasant alliance was supposed to make up for any difference. Socialist revolutions
happened only in countries dominated by peasant agricultural labor and relatively
scarce industry, demonstrating that Eastern communism could never be anything
better than a stop-gap between feudalism and capitalism in backward countries,
and will never be the transition between capitalism and classless, stateless society
that it theoretically was supposed to be.
> Any intelligent person who wants real change in this country should agree.
It's nice to be agreed with. But, what did I say?
>> 3) That very well have been Marx's programme, but
seizing the means
>> of production isn't possible in a country like the USA, where Southerners
>> fought and died to preserve and extend as immoral a form of ownership as
>> slavery, so would be many times more willing to fight and die to preserve
>> the zillions of forms of ownership which are not considered immoral, such
>> as 'private ownership of means of production'.
> You better bet on it. But just to clear things up, the civil war wasn't
> just about slavery -- more important were things like states' rights and
> individual liberty free of government intervention...all things that are
> just as opposed to socialism.
Those other factors may have played a part, but, here's the
clincher. On a
good day, many leftists would rather listen to Marx than anyone else on the
subject of history. Regardless of Marx's faulty revolutionary scenario, he was
an astute observer of history in the making, and the Civil War unfolded during
the peak of his powers. True, he lived in England, and it's true that information
took a week to get across the pond. But, he was astute enough an observer that
his Civil War commentaries were printed in the New York Herald Tribune over
a number of years, and quite a few of his articles were reproduced in a McGraw-
Hill compendium entitled 'Karl Marx - On America and the Civil War', edited by
Saul K. Padover. Here is what I recently sent off to another forum:
>> Marx thought that the Civil War wasn't perpetrated
by the North to
>> END slavery, but rather was initiated by the South to PRESERVE
>> and EXTEND slavery. For decades, the North had made legislative
>> concessions to the South to prevent its secession from the Union.
>> But, because the USA was growing, and the non-slave territories
>> were growing faster than the slave territories, slave-holding influence
>> in Congress was eroding, and slavery's defeat was feared imminent
>> after the election of Lincoln and his Republican Party.
>> Marx on page 70: "Above all, it is to be remembered that the war
>> did not emanate from the North, but from the South. The North
>> finds itself on the defensive. For months it had quietly looked on
>> while the Secessionists appropriated to themselves the Union's
>> forts, arsenals, shipyards, customs houses, pay offices, ships, and
>> supplies of arms, insulted its flag, and took prisoner bodies of its
>> troops. Finally the Secessionists resolved to force the Union
>> government out of its passive attitude by a sensational act of war,
>> and solely for this reason proceeded to the bombardment of Fort
>> Sumter near Charleston."
>> p. 71: "... the election victory of the Republican party of the North,
>> the election of Lincoln as President, gave the signal for secession."
>> p. 76: "John Calhoun, whom the slaveholders admire as their
>> statesman par excellence, declared in the Senate as early as ...
>> 1847, that ... the attempts of the South to create new slave States
>> by force were therefore justified. ... A tight restriction of slavery
>> within the old terrain was bound, therefore, according to economic
>> law, to lead to its gradual extinction, to the annihilation, in the political
>> sphere, of the hegemony that the slave states exercised through the
>> Senate, and finally to expose the slaveholding oligarchy within its
>> own states to threatening dangers from the "poor whites". With the
>> principle that any further extension of slave territories was to be
>> prohibited by law, the Republicans therefore attacked the rule of the
>> slaveholders at its root. The Republican victory was accordingly
>> bound to lead to an open struggle between North and South."
>> p. 92: "Between 1856 and 1860 the political spokesmen, jurists,
>> moralists, and theologians of the slaveholders' party already
>> sought to prove, not so much that Negro slavery is justified, but
>> rather that color is a matter of indifference and the working class
>> is everywhere born for slavery. Thus one sees that the war of the
>> Southern Confederacy is, in the true sense of the word, a war of
>> conquest for the extension and perpetuation of slavery."
>> p. 93: "The present struggle between the South and the North is
>> therefore nothing but a conflict between two social systems, the
>> system of slavery and the system of free labor. The struggle
>> broke out because the two systems can no longer live peacefully
>> side by side on the North American continent. It can end only with
>> the victory of one system or the other."
Marx said that the War was fought because
of the desperate attempt of the
South to try to save slavery by extending it by force to the whole country. If
the South had succeeded, they probably would have needed a dictatorship to
enforce it. Few people in their right minds would have gone for that, so there
were several attempts documented of Southerners rebelling against the rule of
the Secessionists right in the middle of the War. Slavery was THE BIG ISSUE
in the Civil War. One cannot study its cause and conclude otherwise, because
losing property in slaves was a huge issue for the slave-holders, and was
something worth fighting over. Common knowledge has it that the Civil
War was fought over slavery, and I don't know why people would want
to contradict common knowledge.
>> 4) snip as non-controversial
>> 5) French Social-Democratic parties recently ADVANCED
>> cause of 'freedom from toil' by means of reducing the work week from 39
>> to 35 hours, and similar interest is growing in Switzerland, Germany and
>> Scotland. Activists who still refuse to regard shorter work time as an
>> important enough advance to advocate the same for their own countries
>> have a bit of catching up to do. Some are even foolhardy enough to OPPOSE
>> shorter work time as a diversion to their revolutionary movements. Some
>> want workers and unemployed to suffer enough from the ill effects of long
>> hours to 'hopefully motivate them to revolt'. But, workers won't overthrow
>> their democracies, and will instead amend the USA's Fair Labor Standards
>> Act, and will move towards socialism and freedom in their own way, and
>> without the help of socialists who refuse to think past the obsolete
>> programme of getting there by taking away the property of the rich.
> What is to be done about companies that depend on cheap part-time labor
> by students, immigrants, mentally deficient, and bored retirees so that they
> can pay very low wages? If most employees quit within a year, and most of
> them are not even in a position to worry about hours per week -- how are
> such companies to be controlled?
Why would anyone want to worry about businesses? Don't they
Chambers of Commerce and political parties to take care care of their own interests?
On the other hand, workers don't even have a party they can call their own, and no left-
wing sect currently fills the bill. Let us exercise our humanitarianism by not resting
content until everyone who wants a job can have one, which is the best guarantee
of a functional society and good economy.
>> 6) The brave old days of overthrowing monarchies are
behind us, while
>> workers have yet to overthrow their democracies. Engels was injured while
>> trying to democratize Germany, but we in the USA will never have to shed
>> a drop of blood if we keep our wits about us.
> Not in that old sense -- but remember that such changes as civil rights
> don't come without someone making the ultimate sacrifice.
When it comes to Civil Rights, it's true that martyrs to the
cause help rally
support, which precipitates a lot of legislation. But, I can't imagine anyone
having to die over the struggle for a shorter work week, or for the struggle
to equitably share work among everyone who could use a little work to get
by. I hope that I won't be unpleasantly surprised someday.
"Live working or die fighting."
"The watchword of the modern proletariat"
that the silk winders of Lyons
inscribed upon their banner during their strike (From Marx's 1869 "Report
on the Basle Congress").
I have a big reservation with regard to the Parecon program,
attractive as it
may appear to some. According to the web site, private ownership of means of
production would somehow be done away with. But, if Southerners were willing
to fight and die to preserve and extend as immoral a form of ownership as slavery,
then how hard would people fight to preserve all other forms of ownership? Few
people consider private ownership of means of production to be immoral.
Expropriation with compensation is compatible with Western
values, for as long
as people would find it useful, and would be willing to support it. Expropriation
without compensation, as practiced by Lenin and others, is out of the question,
> Hiya folks!
> With all the discussion about slavery and the American
> Civil War, I thought this (below) might be of interest. It
> was published in the Standard a while back. The third
> passage quoted is particularly good. I haven't got the
> quote any more, but at another time Douglas commented
> that LESS care was shown towards wage workers in his
> experience, than was shown to chattel slaves.
I can't remember anyone in the dialogue claiming that chattel
slaves got any better or worse treatment than wage slaves,
but there's always room for more data.
> This being due to the investment
embodied in a slave
> who has been bought body and soul. If a slave was killed
> on the job this represented a financial loss; whereas if a wage
> worker was killed on the job the employer could just hire
> another! What changes??!!
> << Chattel
and Wage Slavery
> <snip most of Frederick Douglas quote> "The difference
> between the white slave, and the black slave, is this: the
> latter belongs to ONE slave-holder, and the former belongs
> to ALL the slave-holders, collectively. The white slave has
> taken from him, by indirection, what the black slave had
> taken from him, directly, and without ceremony. Both
> are plundered, and by the same plunderers" (p.309).>>
> For socialism,
That pretty well corresponds to Marx's observation
on p. 92 of "On America and the Civil War":
"Between 1856 and 1860 the political
moralists, and theologians of the slaveholders' party already
sought to prove, not so much that Negro slavery is justified,
but rather that color is a matter of indifference and the working
class is everywhere born for slavery. Thus one sees that the war
of the Southern Confederacy is, in the true sense of the word,
a war of conquest for the extension and perpetuation of slavery."
Well, Bro' Ben, everyone else has ducked the following question:
If Southerners were willing to fight and die to preserve and extend
as immoral a form of property as slavery, then how hard would
people fight to preserve all other forms of ownership?
Would you like to take a crack at it?
> McD: You will need to read some of Fogel's books.
If only I had the time. The only point that I wanted to make
in the first place was what I wrote to Ben today:
>> If Southerners were willing to fight and die to preserve
>> extend as immoral a form of property as slavery, then how hard
>> would people fight to preserve all other forms of ownership?
>> Would you like to take a crack at it?
Anyway, David, what do you think? How likely are people to
the expropriators? Do you think that our emotional attachment to property,
as testified by the Civil War experience, will prevent people from socializing
property ownership, at least for the few remaining decades during which
people will still have to work to earn their property?
I'd love to take part in your forum, but it looks as though
I won't be able to
do so without paying some dues, which is financially unlikely for a low-income
chap like myself. So, I may have to resign myself to merely wishing you every
success with the forum, unless someone could provide a scholarship. I have
done a bit of research on the social question, and have a book on-line, free
for anyone to read.
In the meantime, I am sorry that you didn't try to answer the
question I posed
in my original message. Everyone else in the left has avoided that question,
sometimes making me wonder, like Mr. Jones of that Bob Dylan tune,
whether I am all alone.
You answered my question with your own. I'd love to be able
to give a good
answer, but I don't understand what my critique of a left-wing program has
to do with Bill Gates' admittedly high income. He puts out a decent enough
product, and perhaps it's the monopoly dominance of his products which
made him so rich. At least he's a philanthropist, and doesn't use his money
like Osama Bin Laden.
Please try to get back to my question if you have time.
Subject: RE: Property
Please use the forum system -- are you
telling me you think
we ought to pay Billl Gates more than the net national worth
of Norway in order to have Microsoft be a parecon institution?
I think not...
-----Original Message----- snip for brevity
--- In LeftUnity-Int@y..., "R C" <raycun@h...>
> Let me run this by, and see if anyone objects.
> The existence of poverty is only vulgar when it represents an inequality
> perpetuated by unjust circumstances of production, influence, or means of
> distribution. In a world of ever increasing production, it is obscene that
> any should want for basic needs. It is the goal of the left to fight to
> achieve even basic fundamental guarantees of quality of life for all.
> The problem is that practically everyone agrees that poverty is a Bad Thing.
> But the right-wing will say that capitalism/the market is the best way to end
> poverty. (Typically, they'd argue for an absolute standard for poverty, but
> even that's a standard they generally fail to meet).
> I'd argue that a situation where there's an uneven distribution of power -
> economic and political - will inevitably lead to an uneven distribution of
> resources, and will tend to reinforce the initial unequal distribution of
> power. To end poverty, we must abolish power.
Good luck with the abolition of power. That was a plausible
agenda item back
in Marx's era, when there were several monarchies in Europe to hopefully be
overthrown, thereby giving socialists the power to expropriate the rich, and do
it in enough countries simultaneously to be able to avoid counter-revolution.
Because the revolution didn't happen simultaneously in the most developed
countries, and because those days ended forever after Europe failed to whole-
heartedly endorse and support the Russian revolution with long-lasting
revolutions of its own, then the hopes of getting to classless and stateless society
by means of directly confronting power and property are gone forever, and we
will simply have to learn to work with reforms in our existing democracies.
> Dear Ken:
> I did write "most" of the WSM didn't I? From the conversations I've
> had with a few of the regulars on that site and the many posts I've
> read, the overall opinion of its 250 members is to ignore you.
I'll admit to having 'bored a few people to death' over there.
is true that quite a few refuse to engage me further. I wonder if it's all my
fault, though. I give it the old college try, but maybe the old college try isn't
good enough for those who are determined to market a type of socialism
which is inappropriate to democracies. In the most developed and richest
countries, some groups will always be able to afford to advocate whatever
they want, no matter how obsolete or inappropriate, and no matter how
little support they receive.
> Secondly you state that "we
are all socialists here" which is rather
> comic because according to your book and your posts on the WSM,
> Carl, myself, and anyone else who is a member or supporter of the
> SLP is an Anarchist; in fact according to you we are members of
> the ASLP (Anarchist Socialist Labor Party).
Sorry about the misunderstanding. I can't remember if I ever
perfectly clarified why I
used the terminology 'ASLP' in the WSM forum, which just happens to be headquartered
in Britain, which already has a SLP (or 2), so I used 'ASLP' to distinguish the American
SLP from the British SLP. I never in a million years would have dreamt that anyone would
misinterpret my use of ASLP to mean an 'Anarchist SLP'. To willfully distort the name of
the American SLP in that manner would be infantile, venal, mean-spirited, and counter-
productive. I just wonder, how would a cheap shot like that square with all of my
attempts to engage people in principled dialogue?
As for me being a socialist, I may have vacillated on that
one. It took a
conversation with Ben Malcolm of the WSM to set me straight that I am
a socialist, but I differ with most others by not expecting to get there by
directly confronting property and state.
> According to you De Leonism
is actually nothing more
> than anarchism behind a Marxist front.
Since 1976, I have believed that to be the case. The SIU program
has a lot
more in common with Bakuninism than with Marxism. M+E criticized the
'union administration of society' idea as early as 1869.
> Does the SLP demand a shorter work
week, an end to wage slavery,
> an end to Imperialism, nationalism, racism, sexism, Capital Punishment,
> Global Pollution, poverty, etc.? Yes we do. All of those demands
> (plus many more) are wrapped up in a single word: SOCIALISM.
Before 1889, the SLP had in its program a very sensible demand
time to diminish proportional to advances in the means of production'. Engels had
no trouble with that, and, according to an 1893 letter, he found that working with the
8 hour committee was more rewarding than working with any of the existing socialist
sects in either the USA or England. If the SLP has any official pronouncements or
policies on a reduced work week AS A POLITICAL REFORM, I would appreciate
hearing about it. Otherwise, I'll assume that you are merely referring to a local
demand for a shorter work week in a particular trade, or in a particular factory.
> SOCIALISM IS THE ONLY POLITICAL
> WHICH THE SLP MAKES.
I don't understand how socialism could be a demand.
Of which higher power
does a party DEMAND socialism? What if the higher power says 'no'?
> SOCIALISM IS THE ONLY POLITICAL
DEMAND WHICH THE
> SLP MAKES. Anything less would make us con artists.
Again, there's that association of reform with all kinds of
shady deals, as
though a choice between reform and revolution could possibly exist in a
democracy. This is not 1871 or 1917. People in democracies do not vie
for the kind of total state power required to expropriate the rich.
> If you had read the handbook on
Intervention as well as the
> Nathan Karp speeches and other info on this site you would
> have realized that the revolutionary demand for socialism does
> not exclude the SLP from giving critical support to reforms
> when they bring relief to the workers and from participating in
> the fullest capacity in the daily struggles of the Working Class.
There's that 'revolutionary demand for
socialism' again. If ever there is
an oxymoron, it has to be between 'revolutionary' and 'demand'. Can anyone
imagine Marx demanding socialism? I really don't understand the concept of
DEMANDING a new social system, if the old powers would be 'abolished'
in the process. To me, revolutionary demand sounds like a minuscule party
demanding that the capitalist class and its state commit suicide. One might
as well demand that they jump over the moon.
> If you had even read the COMMUNIST MANIFESTO you would have
> realized the same thing, that: "...the Communists fight for the attainment
> of the immediate aims, for the enforcement of the momentary interests
> of the working class; but in the movement of the present, they also
> represent and take care of the future of that movement."
> Reform by nature excludes the revolutionary. It is an attempt to save
> a social system not to fundamentally change it.
Did you know that Marx BRAGGED in a Oct. 9, 1866, letter to
an electoral reform movement he initiated in England? In Marx's lifetime, England
was never politically ripe for revolution, so activists strove to wrest whatever
concessions they could. And they did, with Marx's blessing and cooperation.
Reform certainly excludes revolution, and communist revolution
anarchist revolution. A workers' state cannot be created while at the same time
others vainly try to create a classless and stateless administration of things. So,
we find 3 main camps, and no one camp is going to come out with a plan for
dealing with property and state that will be agreeable to the other two. How
many times must I repeat this spiel about divisions among activists before you
admit that you have finally been cornered by it, and therefore should say a few
words about the significance of these divisions on the prospects for revolution?
Or, maybe the divisions are irrelevant to 'the one true party of socialism, to
whom everyone will flock when the revolutionary crunch arrives.'
One thing that the 3 camps will generally agree with: the hours
should not get any longer. On a good day, they might agree that hours should
get shorter instead of staying the same. That points the way to unity. Not on
issues of property and state, but on the issue of the length of the work week,
and on the necessity of sharing work equitably.
> Revolution on the other hand does not exclude the Reform.
May we pause here for a moment? You say that 'reform
which seems to make of them 2 different objects, separated by a distance. But,
you also said that 'revolution includes reform', as in 'a box within a box'. Does
mathematical set theory allow you to do what you want with reform and revolution?
> It [the SLP] holds up the principle
of revolution and educates the workers
> towards that achievement yet it does not deny the workers their 'daily bread'
> so to speak. If the workers can wrest more 'bread' in their daily struggles
> so much better for the Revolution and the strength of its components.
It would have been nicer to hear that you agree with Marx in
political reforms in the interests of the working classes of non-revolutionary
countries, but your words indicate little better than an endorsement of the
gains won by mere economic struggles.
2002 note: If revolutions are supposedly caused by bad economic condtions, then
it would be more logical for revolutionaries to want conditions to get worse by denying
passage of reforms, so it doesn't make much sense for true revolutionaries to support
reforms. That is probably why it often seems that revolutionaries vacillate between
their 'tough on reform' stance and their own humanitarianism.
> Whenever I meet a homeless person
in New York City I give them both
> money (or food) and a copy of THE PEOPLE. I want them to have food
> for that day, and I also want them to learn how they can end that hunger
> permanently. If it makes you happy you can call that REFORM AND
You describe an act of individual charity, which is not to
be disparaged. You
also promote the revolution during or after the same act of giving. I wonder
how many political scientists would describe your 2 acts as 'reform and
revolution'. For reform to enter the picture would require that one
advocate a new law, or an amendment to an old law.
> Com. Miller suggested that you refresh
yourself with the concept of
> Historical Materialism and I back that suggestion whole-heartedly.
Historical materialism is a rather broad area. Could you tell
which aspect I need to brush up on?
> You simply quote REFORM
OR REVOLUTION (1896) as if it exists
> forever in an economic and political void. De Leon believed quite firmly
> that the 1890s heralded the downfall of capitalism and that the only
> forces holding it up were those which advocated reforms of the system
> like the Populists, Greenbacks, Henry George, etc.
This takes us back to the paradigm of the reformers of 1896
as a horde
of vile reactionaries, and the revolutionaries of the SLP playing the role
of far-sighted, enthusiastic, and well-intentioned liberators. The paradigm
also includes the USA as supposedly ready for revolution. Over what?
A little unemployment and poverty in the inner cities? A big capitalist
like Rockefeller ruining smaller capitalists?
> De Leon rightfully stated that reforming capitalism is like "washing
> the garbage before throwing it in the can." De Leon also states in
> REFORM OR REVOLUTION the need for the State to nationalize
> the major industries; this is a position which he had rejected by
> 1904-05 when De Leonism as we know it today actually took shape.
> Marking the dividing line between Reformists and Revolutionaries
> still stands as one of De Leon's greater contributions to socialist
> literature (except of course when it is abstractly quoted as a dogma).
From your text, De Leon apparently thought that the
time was ripe for
socialism in 1896, but his plan had not yet been fully formulated. A decade
later, when his plan was ready, the revolution still didn't happen, begging
the question: 'Why not?' Help me figure out what we are supposed to
learn from what you wrote.
> We're not reading from the Ten Commandments
here Ken. The vitality
> which runs through Marxism is its ability to constantly be reapplied
> to the conditions of the present day; De Leonism is only valuable
> because it has that same vitality.
Vitality? I see little more than stagnation and infighting.
scenario never applied to the USA, for it was plausible only during his own era
in which plenty of European feudal monarchies were ripe for overthrow, after
which socialists would have had the full power of their new universal state with
which to socialize ownership without fear of counter-revolution. The fact that the
West is rather fully democratized means that Marx's scenario has been perfectly
obsolete since 1917, when Europe failed to wholeheartedly revolt in support of
the Russian revolution. Even the University of Havana dropped Marxism from its
curriculum. The events of 1989+ drove quite a few nails into Marxism's coffin, which
is quite dead, along with all other revolutionary ideologies in the democratic West.
Not all is lost, though. Marx thought that the
republic is the final form of
state in which the final battle between worker and boss will be fought to a finish.
He even prescribed the republic as the form of the proletarian dictatorship, a
fact which the SLP has yet to acknowledge, preferring everyone to think that
revolutionaries were quite lost and confused before the SIU. Not really.
> I've read most of your book Ken
so I know your
> of SLP members as uneducated fools.
You won't be able to quote me on that one. What I do say quite
is that members never really get the kind of education necessary to attain
competency in the field of socialist theory. So, they end up merely helping
to market a plausible plan to create a better world, a plan which is advertised
to bring social justice in a peaceful manner, and which is seemingly compatible
with democratic values and freedoms. I've always regarded SLP members as
good people, and competent in their own professions, which once gave me
hope that their honesty would enable them to see the flaws in their program,
which observation would open their minds to a more logical replacement,
which involves us rallying love for our fellow humans, by making places
in the economy for everyone.
> Don't expect us to fit that description when you post on this site--
I would never denigrate the rank and file membership of the
same party to
which I was once attracted. I merely urge them to try to keep an open mind,
despite the urgings of those who would like their minds to remain closed
about their 'revolutions in democracies'.
> and don't expect us to buy into your two-faced approach.
What is the nature of the two faces you attribute to me?
> John-Paul Catusco
Best wishes to all,
> We have very different values, Ken.
I wouldn't say that they are ALL that different. I respect
your obvious struggle
for social justice. Perhaps you may someday see that I also struggle for that.
> I did reply...but you apparently
don't get it or agree with it.
> It was quick...all I have time for.
Perhaps it was too subtle for my working-class brain.
> When there were kinds, would you
have urged that those seeking democracies
> should allow the kinds to continue to own most of the country, or should
> reimburse them sufficiently so they could rebuy it all, so to speak.
'Kinds'? Sorry not to understand
what you mean by 'kinds'. As to the
reimbursement of ownership, our constitution provides for expropriation
with compensation, as in the last sentence of the Fifth Amendment: ".. nor
shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation."
That's a big difference between what the Russians were able to do on the
first day of their revolution, when all private ownership of land was abolished.
> When there were slaves, and they
were freed, should the state
> have paid the already rich landowners?
Perhaps the country considered private ownership of people
to be so immoral
that 'setting slaves free without compensating previous owners' was good justice.
When it came to partitioning the plantations to provide the freed slaves with their
40 acres and a mule, people must have decided that depriving Southerners of their
landed property - as well as of their slaves - was not the moral thing to do, so the
slaves went without land. That wasn't very just, either.
> Capitalists have their property
-- productive assets -- due to dynamics
> and means I consider utterly immoral.
That's not a very popular perspective, as you probably already
Without popularity, a program doesn't stand much of a chance.
> More, much of the point of having
no one own such assets is to
> make the distribution of wealth and income commensurate with the
> distribution of effort and sacrifice by actors -- thus, one doesn't take
> from Bill Gates, for example, the equivalent of the national wealth
> of six central american nations, and then pay him that amount
> for it, which is simply doing it, and then undoing it.
So, it sounds like you advocate expropriation without compensation.
If expropriation WITH compensation is kind of iffy, then multiply
the iffiness by at least a hundred for what you suggest.
> The logic of remunerating for effort
and sacrifice, not property, power,
> or output, is enunciated in the piece about parecon.
Compensation according to effort is certainly more equitable.
The only problem
will be in converting people over to doing things a completely different way.
Not very likely, especially where property rights are concerned.
> Will capitalists resist such a change. Of course. So?
Directly confronting property and power is the reef upon which
equitable plan founders.
It is not property, wealth and income which need to be redistributed,
Everyone who could use a little work to get by should be able to have what they
need. That should be our first step towards social justice. While bosses want work
to be done by as few people as possible for as many hours as possible, we should
see to it that the remaining work is distributed to as many people as possible, and
for as few hours as possible. We otherwise couldn't help but be hopelessly divided
among those who are overworked and those who are underworked. The most
efficient way to distribute work more equitably is by shortening the length of
the work day and week. Americans have nearly a 200 year history of struggling
for shorter working time. Taken to its natural conclusion, driving down the length
of the work week, as made possible by further advances in productive technology,
could get us to Marx's classless and stateless society painlessly and peacefully.
I do hope that you will carefully consider this plan for social
justice. It is a
very logical, peaceful and efficient replacement for broken socialist dreams.
After a few work-week reductions over the next few decades, my idea will
become very popular, while expropriation will slowly fade into insignificance.
But, don't worry. After work is abolished, property itself will fade away as a
durable human institution.
-----Original Messages----- snip redundancies
Hi, Carl, you quoted me from the last time:
>> I'm glad that you appreciate the principled dialogue.
>> activists, there is still a lot of room for theorizing about socialist fundamentals.
> --------------------------------- I like a good dialogue and a give
> and take sort of exchange, however it seems that nothing was
> being accomplished in our exchanges.
Progress is prevented whenever one side refuses to admit that
it has erred,
and when it becomes as resistant to change as a monarchy of olde.
> You continue to express your disdain
for the SLP
and it's program
> while promoting your own ideas which still remain mysterious to me
> as far as how they can possibly be implemented under a capitalist system.
Work sharing is based upon rallying brotherly and sisterly
love, while many
other activists think that hate must be rallied to bring down the old order, and
to replace it with a new order. Rallying hate was appropriate for overthrowing
the intransigent monarchies of the past, but is inappropriate for the democracies
of today, which represent the rule of the people. The democratic model of
peaceful and incremental struggle is quite a mystery to radical activists
who are bent upon destroying instead of building.
> Repeatedly harping on a given set
of beliefs or ideas without sound,
> logical backing does not make them realistic.
One would therefore think that the SLP might have learned a
from its lack of success over the past century and more.
> The SLP's program is based on sound, logical principles.
> It was not arrived at haphazardly and neither did it appear
> in it's present form overnight. It is the result of the work of
> three of the greatest figures in the field of scientific socialism,
> Karl Marx, Frederick Engels and Daniel De Leon.
There has never been much congruence of thought between De
Leon and the other
2 on political issues, though they do seem to agree on some basic mechanisms of
capitalist economics. It would have been more honest if De Leon and other early
SLP leaders had accurately described Marx's revolutionary scenario before criticizing
and rejecting it. Instead, they merely described the state capitalism theory, but called
it the Marxist theory, and then they proudly demolished the state capitalist theory
(improperly labeled as Marxist). The SIU turns out to be little better than Bakunin's
programme as modified by De Leon to take monopoly capitalism into account.
Industrial unionism reflects vertical control and ownership of industries, but
Marx and Engels had already criticized and rejected the basic idea behind the
SIU as early as 1869.
> These men did not formulate their
> while sitting in the lazy boy in front of the TV.
Even I knew that much. Marx did his work in his study, while
his kids probably
watched TV in the parlor. :-)
> These men were involved in the working
class movement and its day to day
> struggles. This is where the sound and logical principles originated from.
> If you do not accept these principles that's fine, neither do we accept yours.
I have no trouble with some of the SLP's economic theories,
but the SLP
doesn't accept enough of M+E's POLITICAL theories to qualify it as Marxist.
On the other hand, those who want to create a proletarian dictatorship in the
form of a workers' state - they qualify as Marxist. But, in a democracy, a
proletarian dictatorship is worth no more than the SIU.
>> It's disappointing that one side would unilaterally
decide to opt out
>> before we achieve clarity and agreement. The fact that we dialogue at
>> all is an admission that neither side has all of the answers, and that the
>> process needs to continue until we achieve clarity and unity of purpose.
> ---------------------------- I attempted to disengage myself from this
> morass, but here I am again, trying once more to convince you that
> your theories are not based on a firm footing.
But, you merely ASSERT my theories are unsound. You have never
analyzed my shorter work week theory the way I've tried to refute SLP political theories.
> Let's face some facts Ken, we will
> clarity and agreement. Perhaps we will achieve the
> former to a degree, but we will never achieve the latter.
You gave up the struggle before we even had a chance to honestly
and logically examine the subject.
> I don't think I ever claimed that
we have all the answers,
> I have not heard you admit as much either.
At the WSM forum, I hashed out a bunch of stuff along similar
lines, but I
was the only one who seemed capable of learning a little from others, or of
conceding certain small points to others. A lot has to do with attitude. An
individual like myself, who admittedly doesn't have all of the answers, is free
to learn and adapt to new knowledge, while a Party which is afraid of change
can often permanently insulate itself from anything that doesn't correspond
with its ideology, and its members will remain loyal. So, members end up
enjoying each other's company, and they enjoy defending the SLP and SIU
without giving up an inch of turf, and they think they are doing the right thing.
> I do believe, however, that the
answers we do have are the best ones to solve
> society's problems, which is what we all want. You disagree, of course, but
> you have yet to offer anything concrete as far as how your theories will
> come to reality and just what benefit they will have for the working class.
The shorter work time solution to unemployment in America and
older than the SLP, and is also older than Marxism. Workers have used it in
the past because it worked, and it will continue to work in the future. Taken to
its natural conclusion - the end of all human labor - the shorter work week will
even take us to classless and stateless society, barring some kind of intervening
ecological or political disaster. I can't help but begin to question the sincerity of
those who claim to want to better the lot of the working man, and can see that the
remaining work is continually being eroded by labor-saving machinery, but who
refuse to adopt a method of social justice which is nearly 2 centuries old, and has
a history of being acceptable and promoted by organized labor. If that isn't enough
evidence to get any honest supporter of labor's issues over to the side of the shorter
work week solution, then I don't know what would. Here is a good source of links
and information on the world-wide struggle for a shorter work week:
> A shorter workday alone will not solve society's
> There is a greater underlying force here which stands firmly
> in the way of your dream. The profit motive.
According to that reasoning, the profit motive should have
permanently unregulated work day and week, and that the 8 hour day
is merely a figment of our over-active imaginations. But, the fact is
that the length of the work week is regulated by law.
> You say that eventually capitalism
will gently give way to a classless
> society based on productivity and technology. I say that productivity and
> technology will merely throw more of our brethren out onto the streets.
Sharing work equitably will ensure that no one who needs or
wants work will
have to go without. Full participation is implicit in the very words - 'sharing work'.
You are taking your resistance to this simple concept to unreasonable lengths, as
though you have never read any labor history, and perhaps don't want to, either.
> You say this will somehow harp on the capitalists' sweet side
> and they will institute work sharing.
Some have a history of being sweet. Kellogg instituted a 6
hour day during
the Depression, and it wasn't fully phased out until the late 1980's. If the
government were to escalate work-sharing in the form of double time after 35,
then the bosses would have no choice but to obey, just the way they are forced
to obey time and a half after 40. The law of the land can't be willy-nilly
disobeyed without consequences. My own nephew was involved in a case of
forced overtime without time and a half, and, after they woke up and decided
to talk to the Labor Relations Board, he and his fellow workers took home
handsome settlements. Your government at work. It's like the Hammurabi
code - the purpose of power is to protect the powerless.
> Okay, I guess half a week's salary is better than none at all but
> does this solve? What we have here is a type of industrial feudalism.
The increasing productivity of labor will ensure that the wages
for a 20 hour
week would be at least as good as that of today's 40 hour week. We wouldn't
be so brazen as to slash the length of the work week until a vastly improved
technology had made labor correspondingly much more productive. Under
THOSE conditions, no one would be motivated to hog all of the work for
themselves. If consciousness would have to change in order to acquire
socialist consciousness, then consciousness would also have to change
in order to share work equitably. People have much more physical and
mental capacity than for a mere 20 hour week, but social pressures will
encourage us to abstain from hogging all of the work, just the way we
are already socially pressured to share and share alike.
> No sir, once the workers find themselves
out of a job,
> in greater numbers than the world has ever seen,
Workers won't let unemployment get too high before we institute
When one considers the stink in the press in the mid-90's over the way the
downsizing crisis hit 'the middle classes', then classes which previously
enjoyed long-hour jobs at decent wages will come around to share work
when it becomes a matter of greater social necessity.
> what we will have is a powder keg
and it will be our
> light the fuse. They will move not only to end their own misery
> but to put an end to the status quo which caused it.
If we will always be as selfish as to try to hog the remaining
40 hour jobs
for ourselves, then a powder keg certainly would develop. But, we will not be
that selfish, and will come around to see the necessity of accepting shorter
jobs to enable everyone to have enough work to get by. People will no more
suffer from the 20 hour jobs of the future than anyone suffered when the 40
hour week replaced the 60 hour week of the 1870's.
> I don't think your shorter workday
scheme will win much popularity with
> workers who are determined to change society in their own interests. Why
> settle for peanuts when they can own the farm?
I probably need not recall the ways in which the unemployed
the living standards of the employed. As long as labor is allowed to remain
divided in two camps - employed and unemployed - unity over fundamental
institutional changes will not arise, and labor will never attempt to take
possession of the farm. Full participation is relatively so simple that I can't
imagine socialists not insisting upon full participation, and building upon
success in that field in order to promote more far-reaching goals. How can
socialists expect to arrive at GREAT success if they are unwilling to achieve
a SMALL success? I hope that the answer is not that you are counting on
escalating unemployment to enrage people enough to accomplish your one and
only revolutionary program. I hope that isn't the reason why you are seemingly
so unreasonable about a nearly 2 century old solution to the problems created
by increasing productivity. Sharing work and shorter work time are real
solutions. Every labor advocate should integrate it into their own philosophy.
>> I hate to see you let this go without commenting on
>> of advocacy of reforms in the interest of the working classes living in
>> democracies. Activists should feel a duty to either agree with Marx on
>> the usefulness of reforms, or explain exactly why they might disagree.
> ----------------------------------- I think it has been stated time and time
> again that the SLP is wholly and deeply involved in the day to day
> struggles of the working class.
I can never seem to get any more of a commitment out of anyone
'support for ECONOMIC struggles', and no one wants to commit to support for
POLITICAL struggles. Marx wrote during the time of the First International:
"The [London] Conference recalls to the members of the International: That in
the militant state of the working class, its economical movement and its political
action are indissolubly united."
In other words, if the party of the working class wants to
ECONOMIC demands, then it only makes sense for the party of the working
class to support their POLITICAL demands as well. Parties which refuse to
support both working class economic AND political demands should not
PRETEND to fully represent workers' interests.
> Every single member of the SLP is
concerned about the
> suffering and misery caused by this system.
I guess that members would have to be perfectly bourgeois not
to be concerned.
I know that they do not share the perspective of the capitalist class, which is
helplessly and competitively driven to try to wring as much work as possible
out of as few workers as possible, while our working class interests militate
that the remaining work be shared among as many workers as possible,
and for as few hours as possible.
> We know the revolution will not
come overnight, so we must do something
> that will help now. Do you read what is posted on this forum?
All of the time.
> I and my fellow member here in Houston
were involved in a protest at a low
> income housing project where residents were being evicted for petty reasons,
> low income applicants were being screened out, the duly elected residents
> council was rendered null and void by the bureaucracy that is the Houston
> Housing Authority. We not only distributed our papers, we helped. We
> participated in the picket line, we cooperated with other groups whom
> we consider blatantly reformist, we even tolerated the snide attitude of
> a Maoist, all to help get justice for working people. How can you say
> that we are unwilling to involve ourselves?
I don't disparage practice. People can learn a lot from practice.
2002 note: I never accused the SLP of being uninvolved. That accusation
was instead often made by Engels over a century ago.
>> After I sent my last message, I learned about the
new additions to the web
>> site, so I downloaded half a dozen new items, and read them. True, the
>> essence doesn't seem to have changed very much.
> I figured that you would take the opportunity
> to pooh pooh the SLP once again.
I merely observed that 'relatively little had changed'. Few
will agree that my
unremarkable observation, correct or incorrect, amounted to 'pooh-poohing
the SLP'. If I had devoted more time, perhaps I would have picked up on
some changes which you might regard as significant.
> The SLP could completely change
to fit your beliefs (God help us!)
> and you would still find something wrong. Unhappy man!
My goodness. I didn't mean to touch a nerve. I rather expected
to be proud of your party's stability.
>> I'm glad that your old opinion was finally overwhelmed
by the preponderance of
>> evidence. If only we could make as much progress in other areas. The SLP could
>> be so much more useful to the working class if it would encourage reforms, which
>> is all that is possible in democracies. Workers don't overthrow democracies for the
>> dubious pleasure of putting property in the hands of people who will never be able
>> to decide whether to use the existing state, replace the state with a classless and
>> stateless administration of things, or to replace it with a workers' state.
> ------------------------------------- Definitely not sir!
> I merely conceded to end this interminable misery.
If you didn't really intend to concede in the first place,
then it wasn't very
productive to make believe that you did concede.
> You have given no preponderance of evidence,
> in fact your evidence, while well quoted from
> the writings of Engels, was somewhat weak.
Weak may be one thing, but what can you quote from M+E
in support of your assertions? Not much that I have seen.
> A rash of overproduction does not an advanced industrial society make.
Advanced industrial societies alone do not make for revolutionary
as proven by the march of history. What made the revolution plausible in Marx's
time were the intransigent monarchies which were rotten ripe for overthrow, which
overthrow and replacement by the universal proletarian dictatorship would have
given the socialists the physical force with which to divorce the rich from their
property. Slow economic change in the 19th century made the bourgeoisie powerful
economically, but they remained second fiddle politically, a contradiction which in
SOME countries was solved by violent revolution. Both slow democratization AND
democratic revolution comprised the political history of Europe in the 19th century.
There was absolutely NOTHING economic about Marx's revolutionary scenario.
The only way to describe the replacement of one state power by another is by
calling it a political change. Who would dare call it an economic change? Great
political changes ENABLE economic changes which otherwise wouldn't happen.
2002 question: I often wonder why I overcomplicate matters. If overproduction
does not define us as advanced, then what in tarnation does?
> I guess you will continue to hold
to your theory
> that if a Socialist revolution didn't happen then, why
> should it happen now. I would have thought as much.
In the last 2 centuries, absolutely NOTHING happened in the
USA to mandate
a proletarian revolution. M+E often remarked about the lack of revolutionary
conditions in the USA and England. They may have expected the USA to develop
into a 'purgatorio' in time, but had they lived long enough, they too would have
heeded the lesson that 'bad economic conditions alone do not make for revolutions'.
> I still hold that Engels was saying
that the POTENTIAL, I repeat, the POTENTIAL
> for eliminating want was present during his time. What was lacking to make that
> POTENTIAL a reality was common ownership of the means of production by
> the working class. Which of course you will vigorously deny.
Who would deny that? That's similar to what Engels wrote in
Utopian and Scientific' (MESW 3, p. 149): "The possibility of securing for
every member of society, by means of socialized production, an existence
not only fully sufficient materially, and becoming day by day more full,
but an existence guaranteeing to all the free development and exercise
of their physical and mental faculties - this possibility is now for the
first time here, but IT IS HERE." [Emphasis by Engels].
A half dozen crises of overproduction after 1825 proved to
M+E that the time
for proletarian REVOLUTION had arrived in their day. But, the amount that
could have been accomplished in the economy on the day of the revolution
would have fallen far short of what's required to arrive at the upper phase of
communist society (classless and stateless, which the SLP calls 'socialism').
The first day of the proletarian and socialist revolution was regarded by M+E
as significantly different from the first day of classless and stateless society.
One cannot read the Critique of the Gotha Programme without concluding the
same. Because the proletarian dictatorship era most assuredly was intended to
be a transitional era, society at the end of the transition must necessarily appear
a lot different than it did at the beginning. The SLP's suggested immediate
leap into classless and stateless society is a far cry from Marx's scenario.
> Here is where you will once again
harp on your theories of reducing
> the workday and work sharing schemes and state your case against
> revolution. Fine. On the question of the SLP being useful to the working
> class, we want to end wage slavery and the evils that it entails once and
> for all, you wish to prolong it and even extend it further through various
> schemes. Who is more useful to the working class sir?
Life wouldn't have to be so horrible if activists could get
inspired to create
an artificial (OPEC-like) shortage of labor which would put everyone to work
at a decent wage, giving the working class INSTANT RELIEF. Revolutionaries
who pray for things to get bad enough to motivate workers to overthrow their
democracies are the ones who want the misery of the working class to continue,
and to even get worse. I want instant IMPROVEMENT in the lives of all workers,
while you want instant TOTAL abolition of misery. Given the seeming glacial
rate of change, which do you think will be more likely?
If an instant total abolition of labor is impossible, then
shortening the length of
the work week will provide increasing amounts of leisure time for workers. If
we get on the shorter work week track, freedom for workers will gradually
approach the level of freedom enjoyed by bosses, and we will be as free as
the bosses are after all human labor is abolished, inaugurating classless society.
> You also seem to believe that revolution
is impossible in a "democracy".
> know where you live but in Texas there is nothing remotely resembling democracy.
> There is no such thing as equality or justice in our society, unless you are wealthy
> or are one of their hand picked henchmen involved in politics or some other illegal
> pursuit. How is selecting from two choices every two or four years democracy?
Not everyone can administer our common affairs. Because most
people have to
work for a living, and because of the division of labor, only a small percentage
gets to administer our common affairs. At least we get a chance to vote for
some of them, and can even recall some if they do a bad enough job. This
situation may not be perfect, but our common affairs are not likely to be
administered by the whole people until we abolish the division of labor. We
won't be able to abolish the division of labor until labor itself is abolished.
> At what point do we start calling
it what it is -
> economic and political tyranny. Workers will overthrow
> a democracy when it is a democracy in name only.
One compelling part of Marx's revolutionary scenario was that
it was a logical
extension of what workers did at the barricades during the revolutions of 1848-9
in France and Germany, etc. There was precedent for building upon the experience
of the brief red republics of his era, and extending those small successes into the
theory of the universal red republic with the power to take away the property of the
rich while preventing counter-revolution. But, where is the precedent for workers
abolishing their democracies for the sake of pleasing revolutionaries who won't
be able to decide whether to replace their democracies with workers' states, or to
replace them with a classless and stateless administration of things? Your revolution
was decimated by internal divisions well before it had a chance of getting off the
ground. Marx's scenario was the only one that ever had a chance of being realized,
which is why M, E, and Lenin were respected by billions of people, at least before
1989, when their common mistake of trying to take away the property of the rich
finally caught up to them. Like Mao is reported to have said, 'We will someday
appear quite ridiculous.' So true.
> They will not put private property
in someone else's hands, they will put it in
> their own hands and will decide the best way to use it. Come on Ken, you know
> full well what a revolution is and why it is carried out, I don't have to go over this
> again, do I? I know you retained something from those SLP study classes.
People do not willy-nilly smash democracies. They simply elect
every few years or so. There has to be a good reason why people elect
Republicans and Democrats, and why they don't elect socialists. Republocrats
have as much credibility as the institutions of private property and democracy.
If socialism was credible, people would elect some sort of a socialist party.
It's not like people have never heard of socialism. They just don't want it,
due entirely to the preoccupation of most socialists with taking power,
and then taking away the property of the rich.
>> Not all, for you forgot to mention the political prerequisites.
>> economic conditions by themselves have a history of being dealt with by
>> reforms, while the bad political conditions exemplified by dictatorships
>> and intransigent monarchies have historically led to democratic revolutions.
> -------------------------------- At some point the contradictions inherent in this
> system will be so overwhelming that no reform will be able to smooth them over.
Where's the precedent for conditions getting that bad in the
were bad during the Depression, and in spite of the large size of the socialist
movement at that time, people found ways to share work, a law was passed
granting time and a half after 40, and all kinds of make-work programs were
enacted in order to keep people busy. Those were rather simple economic
and political programs to deal with a crisis of overproduction and under-
consumption. Don't you think we will try doing the same thing again if it
worked in the past? The government was so responsive to the will of labor
that a 30 hour bill passed the Senate, and even looked like a shoe-in for the
House before it was finally attacked as a little too liberating. Soon, we will
face another crisis of overproduction due to further advances in the means
of production, and soon we will try the same tricks we tried some 60-70
years ago, and they will all work, some better than others, and the country
will come less close to a political crisis this next time because of the far
better means of communications we enjoy. If your assertion was at all
based upon precedent, then people might listen a little closer, and demand
that SLP candidates run in the next election. As it is, the SLP is little better
than a very nice group of people who happened to bite off a little more in
the political department than what they are willing to chew upon.
> The only reason politics will be
a factor at all is because the capitalist
> politicians will be scurrying to find some way to stem the tide of rising
> discontent with the status quo. Of course, the revolution itself will be both
> a political and an economic act, a victory will be needed on both fields. You
> seem to believe that revolutions only come about because of political situations
> such as brutal dictators or monarchies. You still fail to see that economics has
> played a major role in every major change that has come about down through
> history. REREAD THE COMMUNIST MANIFESTO AND PLEASE
> STUDY THE MATERIALIST CONCEPTION OF HISTORY AGAIN.
Certainly major changes were a combination of political and
hardships, but, what some people still foolishly believe is that people would
be willing to revolt over purely economic oppression, which is absurd. As
long as people can vote for their representatives, democracy will withstand
economic pressures, as the march of history amply proves.
>> <snip> We will arrive at socialism, and the
socialists who insisted all along on
>> beginning by taking away the property of the rich will end up like the Parisians
>> of whom Engels satirically wrote in a letter to Laura Lafargue on February 4, 1889:
>> ".. the social revolution will go on in spite of them, and when it's done they can
>> cry out: Ah tiens! c'est fait - et sans nous - qui l'aurait imaginé! [Bless my soul,
>> it's happened - and without us - who would have thought it!]"
> ------------------------------------------- I can think of no time where
> Engels even remotely agreed with your theories or methods.
In that case, why did Engels in 1893 take up with the 8 Hour
London, and why did the shorter work time warriors of the day enjoy bigger
audiences than the socialists? That's because the socialist revolution in England
and America didn't have any credibility. Regarding the English government, Engels
even wrote that 'workers have a good enough democracy to get what they want'.
> You continue to quote Engels but
your ideas and notions run contrary
> to his beliefs, you will not convince me otherwise.
If any group of people have an ideology which contradicts the
of Engels, it is the SLP. If Engels swore up an down that the form of the
proletarian dictatorship was to be a democratic republic, as the Great French
Revolution had already proven, then the SLP says that 'the form will be the
classless and STATELESS SIU'. How's that for a contradiction?
If M+E could write in the Communist Manifesto
and in Socialism: Utopian and
Scientific that the means of production would be turned into STATE property,
the SLP says that 'it will become the property of the whole people organized in
their stateLESS SIU'. How's that for a contradiction?
If Engels intended for the proletariat to turn
the means of production into
proletarian state property, the SLP said that 'such an act would amount to no
more than turning the property into capitalist state property'. How's that for
If M+E talked about the proletariat holding state power, the
any role for the state except for its abolition, and replacement with a classless
and stateless SIU. How's that for a contradiction?
I could go on, but the examples show that the SLP has little
to no interest
in the political philosophy of M+E, but instead has far more in common with
Bakunin's philosophy. I only wish that SLP leaders would give members a
chance to fully examine the SLP's many differences with M+E, so that they
could better decide just exactly what to support. If this dialogue has served
to create any doubt in any members' minds, they should not rest peacefully
until their curiosity is fully satisfied. Members owe such an examination to
themselves and to the proletariat.
> I know they (Marx and Engels)
cheered on the fight for the shorter workday,
> but it was not the basis for their entire body of work. Whether you want to
> admit it or not, they wanted SOCIALISM, PURE AND SIMPLE.
According to Engels in his 1877 biography of Marx (MESW 3,
"... the social productive forces, which have outgrown the control of the
bourgeoisie, are only waiting for the associated proletariat to take possession
of them in order to bring about a state of things in which every member of society
will be enabled to participate not only in production but also in the distribution
and administration of social wealth, and which so increases the social productive
forces and their yield by planned operation of the whole of production that the
satisfaction of all reasonable needs will be assured to everyone in an ever-
As anyone can see, M+E believed that socialist expropriation
to full participation in the economy. Full participation was the higher goal which
expropriation would have facilitated. That was plausible in Marx's scenario, i.e., after
overthrowing monarchies and establishing that universal proletarian dictatorship which
would have enabled expropriation, and would have been wide-spread enough to prevent
counter-revolution. Nowadays, having witnessed half a billion people in previously
'communist' countries turn to democratic capitalism, we know that it is silly to get
rambunctious about property and state, and we have the democratic tools with
which to arrive at full participation without upsetting any except a few
profiteers, but not enough to get them to go crazy.
>> For many years, that was my opinion as well, but it
wasn't an informed
>> opinion. To inform oneself, one must keep an open mind, and tackle issues
>> and discrepancies head on.
>> I was once persuaded to believe the same, until I learned that the purpose
>> of revolution was to overthrow intransigent monarchies, or to liberate
>> colonies, or to bring democracy to where it didn't exist before.
> -------------------------------------- Two more knocks against the SLP.
It wasn't my fault that the SLP decided to redefine the proletarian
as a dictatorship over the peasantry and middle classes instead of over the
bourgeoisie. It wasn't my fault that they did it illegally by means of quotes out
of context. It wasn't my fault that they accused Engels of formulating no more
revolutionary a theory than 'state capitalism'. I could go on. The SLP needs to
be reminded that people in a free country with free forums will not settle for
half-way plausible answers. People prefer their ideologies to hang together
perfectly logically, so that they will feel like competent spokespeople for what
they believe in. Ideologies which hang together poorly will be poorly supported.
> All SLP members are well informed, we
read widely from all literature, most
> of our members are much more well informed than you can imagine or would
> be willing to admit.
A membership which is not aware of the great benefits of a
shorter work week
cannot help but be poorly informed about the history of the labor movement.
> That is why we defend our program so vociferously.
> the proper methods and principles for working class emancipation.
I can't understand how any SLP member could feel confident
program. I always felt on shaky ground with it, not really understanding how
it related to Marxism until I hit the books, after which I found that it is more
related to Bakuninism.
> THE PURPOSE OF REVOLUTION IS TO
CHANGE SOCIETY, NOT
> JUST TO OVERTHROW MONARCHS OR LIBERATE COLONIES.
The purpose of revolution is to bring democracy to where it
didn't exist before.
Once a democracy is in place, changes take place by means of reform. That's
Political Science 101. I don't understand the usefulness of contradicting common
knowledge, unless it's to befuddle the workers. My SLP study class leader used to
claim that 'the purpose of competing socialist parties is to confuse and confound
the working class.' I often wonder to what extent he was part of the system of human
betrayal. Years later I wondered, 'how could a person with such a deep knowledge of
so many things possibly teach something as phony as Petersen's 'dictatorship of the
proletariat over the peasantry and middle classes'?' I wish I had the answer to that one.
> REVOLUTION WILL MEAN A COMPLETE
> IN THE WAY A PARTICULAR SOCIETY OPERATES, IT
> WILL NOT MEAN A MERE CHANGE IN EXTERNALS
> SUCH AS THOSE YOU MENTIONED. KINDLY REREAD
> REFORM OR REVOLUTION BY DANIEL DE LEON.
Shouting doesn't prove anything. Besides, our democracies do
not need a
complete change. A complete change will arrive in 40 years or so, well after
I'm dead and buried, when human labor has been entirely replaced. In the
meantime, we will have to be patient with property and government, and
insist that the remaining work be equitably shared, so as to mentally prepare
people to share the product of whatever entity creates the means of life
for when no more opportunities to go out and earn them will remain.
>> Then, for the umpteenth time, I have failed again.
But, the American adoption
>> of a shorter work week in a few more years will have its effect. My only question
>> is: How short will the work week have to decline before the SLP admits that it has
>> been dead wrong for the past century? In the meantime, how much more crime,
>> unemployment, poverty, 'going postal', government bungling, bombardment
>> with advertisements, environmental degradation, etc., will activists allow
>> to occur while they wait for their revolution?
> ------------------------------------- If the work week declines to the level
> you say, which it won't - the capitalists won't go for it, ever, then society
> will have reached the point where change is on the horizon because there
> will be many poor and struggling workers looking for change.
Not if we create the OPEC-like artificial shortage of labor
that would enable
everyone to find work. That's the purpose of sharing work: to enable full
participation. Your seeming inability to understand the concepts of sharing
work and full participation doesn't seem genuine, no more genuine than
Petersen's 'dictatorship of the proletariat over the peasantry'.
> You still have not explained, for the umpteenth time, how the workers
> survive even if your shorter workday comes about. How will they maintain
> their meager standard of living on half wages or worse?
The pre-1889 SLP had no trouble with 'labor-time
to advances in productivity'. So, I don't understand why it has to be such a
problem for you, unless, perhaps, you follow the tradition of 'a blanket
rejection of all things SLP that came before 1889'.
If, after another decade of making shoes, and enjoying increasing
labor time gets chopped in half, then what do we do? If the same number of
workers continued to work the same number of hours as at the beginning of
the decade, then the output would be doubled, but only half of the shoes would
be sold. The bourgeois solution to such overproduction is to lay off half of the
workers. The proletarian solution is for the same number of workers to work
half of the week. Two different classes, two different solutions to the same
problem. I hope you won't continue to exhibit the same skepticism to the
proletarian solution as exhibited by the bourgeoisie.
> I say the trend is more toward the
longer work week because fewer
> workers are needed and those that remain have to work harder to
> keep their jobs and make up for those who are unemployed.
That's a perfect description of the bourgeois solution to increased
productivity. Kiss off the redundant workers, and overdrive the ones
who are 'lucky' enough to keep their unnecessarily long hour jobs.
> You want to prolong all of those ailments you mentioned with your
> which only prolong capitalism.
If we had a choice as to capitalism vs. something else, the
would have to be as viable a choice as capitalism, but rearranging property
relations isn't a viable choice. When people work, they create property,
whether in the form of products or services. Wages also represent property,
which is hard-earned. As long as people work, they will want to hold on to
what little they get, so putting it all in the common store will remain
unthinkable. When work is replaced totally, and the means of life become
as abundant as leaves of grass, then property will become less significant.
> Every single one of the nasty byproducts
you mentioned go hand in hand
> with capitalism and yet you want to pussyfoot around instead of putting
> an end to this madness. Wake up man!
If there was a viable alternative to capitalism, then I might
go for it. But,
not all is lost, for Marx thought that the passage of the 10 Hour Bill in
England meant nothing less than the replacement of the political economy
of the capitalist class with the political economy of the working class,
which is a very high recommendation for a shorter work day law.
> In closing I want to say that I
have been extremely tolerant of your
> anti-SLP rantings, this is an SLP forum after all, and I have read
> endless lines of criticisms of our program and goals.
Until the SLP program is more appropriate to the USA in 2001
than to Europe in 1848, then the criticisms will be well-deserved.
> I would like to say that allowing
you to stay on this forum is more
> than enough evidence that we tolerate those who do not agree with us.
It is good that you are so tolerant of opposing viewpoints.
How else can ideas
compete in the great marketplace? Look at the alternative. It would be heart-
breaking if I had to remind you that Engels once wrote to fellow socialist
Trier: "Are we demanding free speech for ourselves, only to abolish it again
in our own ranks?"
> You have been allowed extreme latitude
for your criticism yet your feelings
> are hurt when we reply in kind.
Hopefully, we will never see anything in this forum
that could be construed as a personal attack.
> I applaud Comrade Catusco's comments
> earlier post and agree most firmly with him.
Jean-Paul and I just completed another round of debate, and
I will try to
address the issues he raised today over the course of the upcoming week or
more. Recognizing that he and others are very busy, I never pressure anyone
for quick replies. I certainly take my own sweet time to research at least SOME
material rather carefully, but I can't expect everyone else to do the same.
Since the cat is well out of the bag, those who might be interested
in reading my story of involvement with the SLP in the 1970's
should feel free to visit my web site:
> Dear Ken, Thanks for your post.
What a lot of moaners
> they are in the SPGB these days.
They seem to be in a big state of denial about people's
attachment to private property, among other things.
>> snip Fogel's books
>> KE: How likely are people to expropriate the expropriators?
> McD: I fear that this is romantic myth, Ken. Communism or free access is
> the idea that we can have all we want but that is a futile attempt to dismiss
> the economic problem. This problem is fairly addressed by money as Marx
> said, but there was no movement towards monopoly or any other hint in
> history of capitalism ever digging its own grave. The anarchy of production
> is more efficient than planning! Marx, like Smith, never did comprehend
> entrepreneurship as Schumpeter rightly said.
I agree. I think that as long as people have to work for their
they will be unwilling to give it up to the common store. Socialism and work
seem to be incompatible. Sectarian movements can afford to ignore logical
>> KE: Do you think that our emotional attachment to
property, as testified
>> by the Civil War experience, will prevent people from socializing property
>> ownership, at least for the few remaining decades during which people will
>> still have to work to earn their property?
> McD: I think that there never will be a mass movement to get social
> ownership & if there was it would fail as it is folly free of all merit: it
> is sheer romance. See D.R. Steele _From Marx To Mises(1992).
> You can argue this out on the LA list. We do not moan at contributors
> there (at least they have not done so hitherto & Robin sent in as much
> as he liked & got about three replies to each post).
I already agree with a lot of Libertarian ideology. My only
quarrel is that
they don't have much of a program for labor, and don't seem to be able to
anticipate the complete replacement of human labor with computers and
machinery in the next few decades, and their ideology prevents them from
advocating regulating hours of labor to enable 'what little work that remains
to be done' to be equitably shared. Correct me if I'm wrong.
The mention of Rushdie's Satanic Verses reminded me of a time
a dozen years
ago when courageous Susan Stone of the Drama and Literature Department of
the old KPFA on Shattuck Ave. decided to read it over the airwaves. Some threats
were made after the on-air announcement, but the reading went off without a hitch.
Not long after, I came across the remains of what could only have been a Molotov
cocktail that had been tossed up from the street and onto the roof adjacent to the
studio, but had failed to ignite. The police investigated, confirmed our suspicions,
and took it away.
Ken Ellis, KPFA engineer, paid staff 1984-92
Thomas Koch made some very good points:
> My complaint though is not with
the work itself, but with the hours. 2087
> hours per year is hardly my whole life. However, only having about 130 days
> off per year is a bummer for me, probably no matter what I am doing, und it
> drops to about 100 days if they make you work Saturdays half the time. I
> think it might help if corporations were forced to pay double-time for
> mandatory over-time.
Years ago, because of the high costs of insurances and benefits
for new hires,
some bosses figured out that it was cheaper to keep the same workers on the
job well past 40 hours per week, so those with full-time jobs got over-worked,
stealing work away from those who could use a little work to get by. Double
time after 40 would be a great way to help distribute work to more people.
Even better would be double time after 35.
'Refuse to work overtime for less than double time.'
> Actually, revolution is arguably
now than it was back then -
> mass literacy and mass communication means that ideas can be spread
> rapidly and it's much easier to organise simultaneous actions (look at all
> the events that happened worldwide on S26, N30, or A22). I'm not saying
> its easy now, of course, but it was hardly easy a century ago either.
For a revolution to occur, does all it take is for the right
idea to come along?
The historical purpose of revolution over the past few centuries was to bring
democracy to where it didn't exist before. Once a democracy is in place, people
do not overthrow their democracies for the dubious pleasure of putting property
in the hands of people who won't be able to decide whether to replace the state
with a communist workers' state, or with an anarchist classless and stateless
administration of things, as the failure of Europe to revolt wholeheartedly
in favor of the Russian revolution demonstrated around 1917.
> Trying to enact reforms is equally
a confrontation with power and property,
> just one with no long-term perspective.
In our democracies, reform is the only tool we will ever have.
Reform will be
good enough to get us to classless and stateless society, but in one way only:
by driving down the length of the work week to its logical conclusion (zero)
as made possible by advances in technology, and as ever smarter machinery
replaces more and more human labor, and we learn to share in the meantime
what little work that remains for humans to do.
> Everything we can do to improve
our situation means facing off
> against those who'd prefer to keep the situation just as it is.
One of the big misconceptions floating around among activists
is that the big
choice is between revolution and stasis, but, if one merely looks around, one can
see changes coming down the pike. The French led the way with their 35 hour
week. It's up to the rest of us to follow, and to be militant with that demand. Nearly
200 years of fighting for shorter work hours should teach us something about the
way to go in the most advanced democracies, whereas revolution was more fitted for
replacing the intransigent monarchies of olde with democracies. People don't smash
democracies for the sake of replacing them with new democracies. Revolution is a
big waste of time and effort, and mainly serves to discredit impatient activists who
fail time and again to take the long view of things.
> If my working week was reduced,
but my pay stayed the same,
> my boss's profits would go down, so that's something that
> can only be won by confrontation.
That's very true. The battle for shorter working hours has
fought on 2 fronts: in the work place, and politically. Workplace struggles
won a little social justice in a few workplaces, but the important thing is to
win it on a national scale, and to make that gain general for the whole
working class. Just the way time and a half after 40 was a reform enacted
in law some 60 years ago, double time after 35 would be a very important
amendment to that law. It's the best thing we could do for ourselves. In
another forum, we compiled a list of 15 benefits of a reduced work week:
Labor time reductions could:
1) Put everyone to work who wants to.
2) Create the kind of shortage of labor that would force wages up.
3) Provide real economic security to
workers, enabling them to do the
right things for both people and the planet, enabling workers to boycott
occupations lacking redeeming social values, and without fear of suffering
unemployment as a result of following their conscience. Such security
would also eliminate fear of getting locked into any one job, and would
enable them to pick and choose the occupation that best suits them.
4) Improve productivity by eliminating worker fatigue.
5) Encourage technological innovation, enabling further work reductions.
6) Promote a higher general standard of personal health and well-being.
7) Enhance domestic harmony and bliss.
8) Give people more time to spend in
service to their communities, hobbies,
with their families, and for unexpected family emergencies, etc.
9) Give people more confidence in 'the system', and restore social optimism.
10) Improve a country's economy, as in
the example of France,
with its 35 hour week.
11) Cost no more in taxes, and would
add more people to the tax base,
enabling tax reductions.
12) Enable reductions in unemployment insurance premiums.
13) Reduce stress on the environment
by eliminating the 'job creation'
justification for 'economic growth'.
14) Pare down the enormous profits which
are plowed into non-productive
activities such as rampant speculation, excessive advertising, and campaign
15) Alter investment priorities, enabling
the economy to serve a greater
portion of humanity.
snip reliance upon property for security
snip lack of sense of community
snip a lot we can agree on
> For myself, I'd far prefer to live poor but surrounded by friends, than live
> rich in isolation. There is no financial substitute for community. As they
> say: if we don't all hang together, we'll all hang separately.
One thing that will soon put an end to the old over-reliance
on property and
money will be when the machines and computers really begin to put an end to
the promise of a job, and we are forced to share the remaining work equitably,
or else witness a lot more suffering than what we witness now. Hanging
together in a common fight to share work will be the thing to do, and the
sooner the better, unless we would rather see a lot more prisons built.
Bosses want as few workers as possible to work as many hours
as possible. On the other hand, it is in society's interest (as a whole) for as
many workers as possible to spend as few hours per week as possible. The
only way to turn things in that direction is to unite in a common struggle to
pass a shorter work week amendment, like France's 35 hour law. Even better
will be to adopt double time after 35 instead of time and a half, in order to
provide a greater disincentive to overworking the same old people.
Dear Carl, let's work this out.
> When you joined the discussion list you and I arrived at a gentleman's
> agreement that we would discuss the issues and you agreed to hold
> at least a civil tongue concerning the SLP and your opinions of it.
I couldn't help it if some topics opened up that needed frank
I certainly couldn't lie about my perceptions. I've been quite civil in all of
> Now you have posted what I would
consider a direct assault on the SLP and
> it's program with your last post ie Is Socialism a Realistic goal 8.
The SLP and its program are 2 separate things. The SLP is its
and consists of people.
People need a free forum in which the merits of various programs
discussed, as befits life in a free marketplace of ideas. I'd hate to think that
anyone in 2001 would prefer that every word of every message should be
measured by a committee, or that fear of retribution should guide our every
> I am well aware, as I told you when
you joined the forum, of your opinion of
> the SLP and it's program. Now you not only attack the SLP directly but you
> put a link to your website where one can get their fill of anti-SLP rhetoric.
I never attack the SLP directly, because the SLP is the membership,
attacking the membership would be tantamount to attacking myself.
I was a member myself, so I only attack some of their ideas.
It wasn't *I* who told the world about my book, and told the
world many times
before I ever dared to give the address. That is why I spoke of 'the cat being
out of the bag' when I posted the URL.
Once again, you have identified my book with 'anti-SLP rhetoric'. But, I am
NOT 'anti'-the membership. If anti-anything, my book is primarily against
the late Arnold Petersen's theories, and against expropriation philosophy in
democracies. I like to think that I've made principled arguments about those
subjects, as in 'food for thought, and grounds for further research'.
> I am informing you now that it is
time for you to hold up your end
> of the bargain. I have allowed great latitude for you to express your
> opinions even though we don't agree with them, with the understanding
> that this forum is for the benefit of those interested in the SLP and I
> thought you understood this as well.
I understand that you would like it to be a recruiting tool.
taking part in the forum probably has their own ideas as to what it should
be. In a better world, people wouldn't be quite as afraid of the idea of an
independent book about the SLP, and would take the opportunity to freely
discuss it. No one should be afraid of what a few words can do. If I happened
to be wrong about a subject or 2, then I think that people would be smart
enough to dismiss my opinions as hogwash.
> Now I ask the question-
> Do you want me to eject you from the list?
No, because I enjoy the opportunity to discuss subjects which interest me.
> I don't want to resort to this but
if this is what
> you are trying to get me to do I will gladly oblige you.
I'm not goading you to do anything drastic. I'm merely trying
to meet issues
head on. If you would like the forum to be no more than what you want it to
be, then the law of the land gives you the prerogative to act at your whim, and
there's nothing anyone could do to stop you. I and the courts would recognize
your right to do what you want, but I do not request such action on your part.
To do so would be like inviting you to hang me for a crime whose nature has
yet to be very well defined.
> Of course I realize that this will
only give you something else to complain
> about concerning the SLP, but I am willing to risk that if that is what you wish.
If any party in this country were perfect, then it would be
time. If a party makes mistakes, then people fail to support it. If a party
cannot tolerate criticism of perceived mistakes, then it puts itself in danger
of becoming intransigent. Members should not let that happen, unless
they prefer their party become a mere museum of De Leonism.
> This forum is big step forward for
the SLP and I risked a lot in setting
> it up, I did this on my own initiative without consulting the NEC or the
> National Secretary in the hopes that this medium would bring more people
> into contact with the Party and hopefully result in new members.
Well, now this is turning into a different situation entirely.
Perhaps you are
a member at large and don't have to answer to a Section, where this forum
would ordinarily be reported to the NEC as part of a Section's activities. At
least that's the way things happened in the 1970's, and anything else would be
'unorganizational behavior'. If the rules remain the same, then I can understand
your trepidation over running a forum without the blessing of the NEC. Rare is
the person who hasn't put themself in a similar situation, and been forced to walk
on eggshells as a result. So, I can sympathize. But, don't worry, for no one is
going to get too excited over a little discussion over theory and principles.
Perhaps you anticipate someone complaining to the N.O. about
I can easily imagine people doing such things in this world. If you must sacrifice
me in order to keep this whole thing a secret from the NEC, then I can only say
that I wish it didn't have to be so.
> But once the list was established
we began attracting expelled
> members such as yourself and Frank Girard and those from other
> parties and groups. We also began discussing matters that are
> outside of what I intended the scope of the discussion to be.
Sometimes one has to wonder about the balls of wax we get ourselves
and whether the whole thing is worth it. If I were you, I would consult with the
National Office, completely describe the problem, and insist that the question
be submitted to the next convention or NEC session. The time may be ripe to
introduce a little openness in the Party, and you may end up with more allies
than what you may think. Sometimes we have to be brave about these things.
The battle for truly free speech within the party could begin with a brave act
by you. Winning it would be worth a lot to the membership, and you would
be able to pin a great achievement proudly on your vest.
I think I can help your case by continuing to limit the discussion
of principle and position, and to policies which may someday become open
to discussion and possible change. In that manner, we could keep the slate
clear of charges of low-minded crimes against good protocol.
Sorry if you somehow got the impression that I was expelled.
When I walked
out of the N.O. on a Friday night in April of 1977, I didn't contact the Party for
18 years. That's when I wrote to Bob Bills, with whom I worked at the N.O.,
asking if he wanted a copy of a draft of my book, which I sent in 1995.
> I did not have an agreement with
these other people but I had one with you.
> I thought I could count on your cooperation but obviously I was wrong.
Good lord. It's not like I'm an axe murderer or a father-raper
or is a discussion of principles worse than that?
> In closing I will say that I will
not allow you to promote your hatred
> of the SLP on this forum.
I wonder if you would have confided in me if you really believed
that 'I hate
the SLP'. We should cooperate to bring the SLP into the 21st century, and
maybe the first big issue should be freedom of association and discussion.
SLP members should be as free as anyone else in the USA to discuss
whatever they want, whenever and wherever. It's not like they're PLANNING
a violent overthrow of the gov't, and therefore have to be secretive about
anything. The SLP is not the SLA, thank goodness.
> There are plenty of other forums
out there where you can vent
> your feelings but you are not going to do it here. I hope to hear
> from you in the shortest possible time.
> Fraternally yours,
> Carl Miller
Sorry to be kind of late with this response. I've had an awful
with some unknown malady that slowed me down.
> Hi folks! Hi Ken!
> On this:
>> Well, Bro' Ben, everyone else has ducked the following
>> question: If Southerners were willing to fight and die to
>> preserve and extend as immoral a form of property as
>> slavery, then how hard would people fight to preserve all
>> other forms of ownership? Would you like to take a crack at it?
> Well, that's just not how wars are sold to the working
> class. In years to come, no doubt people will be asking
> why "westerners" were willing to fight and die in the
> Gulf to protect oil companies' profits and spread US
> domination in the mid-east.
A few might phrase it that way, but popular scuttlebutt will
it that we got involved to prevent Sadam Hussien from imposing
his will on Kuwait, just the way popular scuttlebutt (as well as Marx)
understood that slavery was the major cause of the American Civil
War, without which the War would not have occurred at all.
2002 note: What a way to duck my question! Making matters far worse
was the weakness of my reply.
> But of course, this was not how
the Gulf War was "sold".
> We (and those doing the actual fighting) were assured that
> the war was fought for "democracy" and to liberate Kuwait
> and the wider region from "the forces of dictatorship".
I would find it hard to believe that Sadam intended to impose
democracy on Kuwait, instead of dictatorship. Few have forgotten
the fires he set as he backed out of Kuwait. He didn't have many
> No doubt southerners in the Civil
War were told the same
> sort of bollocks to encourage them to fight against the Union.
> Or does anyone know if Confederate propaganda urged the
> southern poor whites to fight to "preserve slavery" explicitly?
Now that is a very good question. As can be seen from
the appended documents gleaned from a google search for
'motivation' and 'cause', little doubt exists as to the exciting
cause, though ancillary causes and co-factors are noted.
Perhaps the very last paragraph best described the War's cause.
At one commercial web site, I was amazed to see an informal
poll in which only 30% believed that slavery was the primary
cause of the Civil War. It is not unusual for rather high levels
of denial to pervade people's consciousness.
> All the best.
> For working class power and world socialism,
"In the first place, while states'
rights were why the South sought
to secede from the Union, the rights in question were meant to
protect the ownership and employment of slave labor.
"If the right to own human beings
as slaves lay behind the
secession of the South in 1860-61, it does not follow that the
principal motivation of most of those North Carolinians who
enlisted in the Confederate Army was to support the institution
of slavery. It was far more basic and visceral than that. Their state
was under attack. That was why they went to war -- and one of
every four Confederate soldiers killed in battle was a North
Carolinian. Yet we ought not to confuse the gallantry of the fight
that the North Carolina boys put up with what all of us now agree
was the underlying evil of owning human beings as slaves.
"People, most of them ordinary decent
people, fought hard and
well in a cause that was morally flawed, and that they would have
been economically, politically and morally better off not having
been maneuvered into supporting. Because they did support it,
the life of their state was blighted for a century to come.
"By basing his book entirely on
the assumption that emotions were
the sole factor that compelled Southerners to fight, Sword does not
recognize or discuss the connection between the ideological principles
on which the Confederacy was established and Southerners' patriotic
attachment to the legacy of 1776. He never considers that Southerners
fought for reasons of ideology and principle as much as they fought
to protect hearth and home.
a civil war could be fought and won to end slavery, but
full civil rights not be granted to blacks until a century later." An
explanation is to be found in The Forgotten Cause of the Civil
War by Dr. Lawrence R. Tenzer whose 21 years of research
show that many in the North perceived slavery as a personal
threat to their free Northern way of life.
"Southern political power opened
up the potential for slavery
being nationalized, and as such the very real possibility existed
that enslavement could be extended to the lower class of white
laborers as well. Lincoln himself made reference to slavery
"regardless of color" during a speech he gave in Chicago on
December 10, 1856. Lincoln also spoke of white slavery in other
speeches, all of which Tenzer has fully documented. PLATE 9 is
his book shows an 1856 Republican party handbill which clearly
states in capital letters, "SLAVERY IS RIGHT, NATURAL, AND
NECESSARY, AND DOES NOT DEPEND UPON DIFFERENCE OF
COMPLEXION. THE LAWS OF THE SLAVE STATES JUSTIFY
THE HOLDING OF WHITE MEN IN BONDAGE." Illustrations
which depict actual white slaves and other historical documents
having to do with white slavery provide enough proof to convince
even the most skeptical reader that white people were slaves in the
American South and that white slavery was indeed a cause of the
Civil War. It is very important to point out that white slavery was
merely a by-product of black slavery since there were certainly
a great many more black slaves than white. It was the idea --
not the reality -- of white slavery and the threat to freedom
it posed which concerned the North.
"The point of departure, then, as
you know, was the question of
slavery. Naturally, since this institution is the source of the wealth
of the South, it was defended to the utmost by those who derived
profit from it. Two reasons impelled the inhabitants of the North
to seek the destruction of slavery by all possible means. The first,
which was given by those who wanted to deceive, to win over,
chivalrous hearts and to lure European sympathies, was a simple
reason, that of humanity. In a free country like America, there
shouldn't be any slaves, and complete equality should prevail
among all classes. The proof that this reason was not sincere is
that the abolitionists spent millions in order to incite insurrections
among the slaves, or to induce them to flee from their masters, but
let them die of hunger because they were free, and gave them no
opportunity for moral advancement. However, the real sentiments
which guided them, and which they did not dare admit in that
moment, was that feeling of leveling whereby everybody would
have to be nominally equal. They couldn't bear to see the inhabitants
of the South with 200 hands at their service, when they had only
two hands themselves. This feeling was the first germ of the social
revolution which is now swiftly following the political revolution.
You will recall that I have been talking to you about this for a long
time. - Rothschild
"They seceded. Unfortunately for
them, the secession was carried
out, as everything is done on this continent, illegally and boastfully;
and their bravado alienated many moderate men from them and
prevented the central slave states from joining them right away.
"The Republican administration,
thinking that it was dealing
with just a small number of states without a large population,
and supposing that within these very states the Unionist feeling
was still very much alive and was silent only because of the
violence and coercion of some demagogic ringleaders, resorted
to repressive measures, for which the constitution of the United
States gave it no authorization at all.
"The first effect of these measures
was to make the sentiment
for secession unanimous in the Gulf states and strongly to estrange
the central states. The latter made a last effort to bring the two factions
together, but failed on both sides. After having promised the evacuation
of Fort Sumter, the administration tried to resupply it. Several warships
appeared in the roadstead; the population of Charlestown was aroused
and, perhaps in too much haste, bombarded the fort and captured it.
This first cannon shot decided the question.
"Lincoln issued a proclamation ordering
the rebels to disband
within twenty days and to raise the flag of the United States again
under penalty of being punished and coerced by force of arms. The
situation was becoming clear. The entire deep South was united; the
North was beginning to be, but it still had within its ranks many
persons who favored Southern rights. Pecuniary interests did the
rest. The great question over which the representatives of the
South and those of the North had been locked in bitter
combat for thirty years was the question of tariffs.
"The South was a producer of raw
materials, and a consumer;
the North was a manufacturer. Free trade, or at least very
moderate custom-duties, was the desire of the inhabitants of
the South. The North was contending in favor of protection,
often even of the prohibition [of imports]. By the old tariff
law, the eastern states and New England furnished the other
states merchandise which these latter could procure in
Europe at reductions of twenty-five and thirty percent.
"As soon as the Republican administration
(the protector of
tariffs) came to power, Congress passed the Morrill Tariff,
which raised duties to an unprecedented rate. The states
which had seceded responded with a very great decrease in
these same tariffs, intimating their eventual, complete abolition
when the peaceful state of the country should allow them
freedom from recourse to extraordinary measures.
"The North understood that it was
lost if secession continued
and made progress. Who would then come to buy the iron
products of Pennsylvania and the manufactured goods of New
England? It would no longer by the South, for the South would
get its supplies in the European markets and would find a way to
pass its purchases into the western states. From that moment on,
the South no longer had a supporter in the North; Republicans
and Democrats crowded around the flag of the Union. Patriotism
and the old memories played some part in this; but believe me,
the principal motive was the pocket.
"It was therefore necessary to get
rid, at all cost, of this spirit of
revolt which was making daily progress and bringing the North
closer to its ruin. The western and eastern states offered their
troops and their treasuries to the government, and were willing
to go to any extreme of sacrifice, but this appeal reverberated in a
different way in the states which had as yet not decided. Virginia
seceded immediately and, bringing to the Southern Confederacy
the help of her numerous population and of her inexhaustible
storehouses, sought to make up for lost time by seizing the
federal arsenals. Tennessee and Kentucky answered that they
didn't have a single man to aid the administration to coerce the
states of the South, but that they would find a hundred thousand
men to defend them. Governor [C.F.] Jackson of Missouri, who
was not counted on at all, for that state is surrounded by
abolitionist populations and is only half slave, answered Lincoln
"that his request was illegal, unconstitutional...and diabolical."
Maryland also revolted, and the Federal troops had to make
their way through Baltimore amidst a rain of paving stones,
which killed some of them and wounded many more.
"Wars are complex events, and every
soldier's rationale was his
own, but the fundamental friction between the South and the rest
of the nation was irrefutably the issue of African slavery. It was
the desire of the South to keep humans enslaved for profit and
the inability of the North to stomach the evil of slavery that led
so many thousands to their deaths. The Declaration of Causes
of Secession issued by the Georgia House and Senate (as well
as similar documents issued by other seceding states) is
unmistakable in its words: "we have had numerous and serious
causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate
States with reference to the subject of African slavery." Even
the Confederate Constitution explicitly states, "the institution
of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States,
shall be recognized and protected by Congress."
"Following the Missouri Compromise,
there were fears in the
South that tariffs which protected Northern manufacturing profits
were causing economic difficulty in the slave-holding South. Because
of these tariffs, they argued, Southerners had to pay much higher prices
for imported manufactured goods. A recession in the South during the
1820's was essentially blamed on the country's tariff policies. The South
Carolina Senator and then Vice President under John Quincy Adams, John
C. Calhoun, was among the leaders in the fight against there protective tariffs.
As feelings of nationalism began to diminish among Southerners, Calhoun
issued a doctrine that proclaimed it was "the right of any state overrule or
modify not only the tariff but also any federal government law deemed
unconstitutional. Nullification was a complete theory of government that
placed the greatest powers on the state level rather than the national.
With this proclamation of states' rights, Calhoun had come full circle
in his political philosophy" (Davis, 38).
"In the words of the eminent historian
Bruce Catton, "Slavery
poisoned the whole situation. It was the issue that could not be
compromised, the issue that made men so angry they did not
want to compromise....It was not the only cause of the Civil
War, but it was unquestionably the one cause without which
the war would not have taken place.""
> Dear Ken:
> This is by no means a real response. it's just to clear a few things up.
> First of all I apologize if my language was a bit harsh and a bit
> rushed. I usually don't get home from college until 11:30 PM when
> I check and respond to my e-mails. Needless to say it sometimes
> becomes a bit agonizing to find a seven to twenty page post.
> I also work on pretty much all of the days that I am not in school.
> I know you have retired recently but you might simply want to take
> into account that many of us don't have that same luxury of time.
No problem. I appreciate the conciliatory attitude. I wish
had as much time as I do, but I understand if people don't.
> I recently reviewed the section
of your book on 'SLP Membership'
> I guess a better description is that we are either naive or willingly allow
> ourselves to be misled.
That's very close. In the early 1970's, when I was new to the
I was favorably impressed by the knowledge of the membership. But,
when I went to the Nat'l Office and became aware of the knowledge amassed
by the Weekly People writers, and when I saw how their knowledge contradicted
that of the members out in the field, then I felt like a little lost babe in the woods,
not knowing what to think. Later, I understood that it's really up to us as individuals
to do our own research in order to feel confident in our knowledge, and it's essential
to test our knowledge in dialogue with others. That's why I ordered the 45 volumes of
Lenin, and later bought the Selected works of M+E, a volume or two of correspondence,
and the Documents of the First International, and many other volumes. But, many SLP
members in the field need know little more than what the N.O. wants people to know in
order to become or remain members, and the same holds true for every other party I've
observed. But, the big question is: Is what they know correct? Is it useful to society?
The more I researched, the more I understood that ALL revolutionary ideologies
do not apply to Western democracies.
> The reference to your "two-faced
approach" is that on this site you
> seem to play the part of our friend and ally while on the other sites
> I've visited you do not miss an opportunity to bash us in some way.
The theories of Arnold Petersen certainly lent themselves to
a lot of criticism,
but I have always taken it easy on the rank and file. Bob McClintock, as pleasant
a member and volunteer as one could possibly find, 25 years ago heard me divulge
my fears, doubts and suspicions about Petersen and the SIU for weeks on end while
we wrapped the Weekly People on Friday afternoons at the Nat'l Office. One day,
a straw broke the camel's back, and he slammed down a copy on the wrapping table
and exclaimed: "Well, let's not do this if it's not any good." Then it was I who had to
backtrack and make excuses for the Party so that I could hope to keep him there
on Fridays, and so that I wouldn't have to do the job alone. But, not long after,
he excused himself. That whole incident proved to me that the rank and file
really didn't have much strength in their convictions.
In the WSM forum, the similarity of the SLP and WSM approaches
noted, so I often illustrated the shortcomings of the WSM's theories with
examples from SLP ideology. I haven't done that in awhile.
'Bashing' doesn't really describe
my critique. A principled critique of SLP
theories doesn't translate into an attack on its membership. I have always
given people plenty of opportunities to rebut and rejoind. A good theoretical
dispute is best fought out within a member's party, but after I quit and thought
about membership of ANY party for awhile, I knew that it would be a betrayal
of my new principles to join any revolutionary party, so the SLP will have to
get its house in order before I become a member again, though I am available
for consultation in the meantime.
I can't help but feel a certain amount of alliance with the
interests of rank
and file members, who deserve and need an uncensored forum in which
theoretical matters can be analyzed in depth, and in which the legacies of
the Party's theoretical blunders, such as Petersen's 'dictatorship of the
proletariat over the peasantry', can be investigated in depth.
> You may think that we're dictators
who censor people
> and do not promote open dialogue.
Having been out of the Party for 24 years, I really am not
aware of the present
policy, but my experience in 1977 was not very encouraging. I wasn't allowed
to explain a critique I had written about Petersen's Preface to Engels' pamphlet
Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, where he opined that Engels didn't give the
world much better a revolutionary scenario than state capitalism. My Section
voted down my motion to discuss that issue. The intellectual leadership of the
Nat'l Office knew all about A.P.'s horrible influence on the Party, but were not
ready to deal with it due to the fact that most of the membership, especially the
older and more financially supportive members, would rebel against attempts to
dethrone A.P.'s theories, so the N.O. plan was to slowly educate the membership.
Old age would take care of some old stalwarts, while newer members might be
more open to change, and to new ideas. I favored more of a direct assault, as I
not about waste my life working for a program that I had proven to myself was
was based upon quotes out of context, so I split the scene. It would have been
too uncomfortable to try to work much longer in a total vacuum.
> You say this on an SLP Discussion
site that allows
> for the fullest uncensored expression of views.
For that I am grateful, and would hope that it would continue.
> Even the WSM had to censor a few
> of your messages (mainly for being repetitive).
I got into deep doo doo for 3 main reasons: questioning the
of another correspondent, for failing to snip text that didn't have the greatest
of relevance, and for questioning the Marxist content of the WSM's program.
Only one of my messages didn't make it through, but only because I didn't
persevere. I earned some wrath by creating a data base of addresses of past
participants, and then doing a couple of 'private posts' in order to reach as
many of them as possible. Each occasion created a storm of protest over
censorship. People who wouldn't give my theories the time of day were
the staunchest defenders of my right to say what I wanted. The fences
were slowly mended, and no more problems are anticipated.
> I know that Comrade Miller does
not ever want to be forced to
> ban or censor anyone from the site and I agree with him. I enjoy
> it when people poke holes in our theories, it keeps us fresh.
If you enjoy it when participants poke holes, then I wonder
who might want to complain very much about my participation.
> I do not believe however that Carl
set this site up as a wrestling
> arena for the beliefs of Ken Ellis vs the SLP.
That's certainly true. I don't often say very much unless someone
and opens up another can of worms. That's when I feel compelled to try to clarify.
> I have always felt that this sort
of endless theoretical debate
> turns more people off than it does on.
In a way, I can't blame a lot of people for not wanting to
go too deeply into
theory. That is one sphere of interest in which contestants all too rarely play
fairly. But, as someone with a smatter of technical training and an interest of
science, I knew that I wanted to be as clear as I could about what I believed in.
I long ago suspected that: if what I believed in didn't hold water, I would never
become a valuable member of society, and my beliefs might do people more harm
than good. The subject is so complex that I didn't really become confident about
socialist theory until well into writing my book. I'd recommend that everyone write
their own book about socialist theory, and to try to keep it consistent from beginning
to end. It's a great way to either throw up one's hands in despair, or to persevere
and become quite confident and clear about socialism and history. It's well worth
the effort in terms of rewards to the working class.
> One correction: You state that before
1889 the SLP had a very
> sensible demand for a shorter working day. That demand actually
> remained in the SLP's platform until 1900, it was in fact the very
> first demand: "1. Reduction of the hours of labor in proportion to the
> progress of production." We still stand by this--we simply recognize
> that it will never happen under capitalism and the wages system both
> of which demand the hourly exploitation of the working class.
Thanks for the clarification. I always wondered how long that
continued. But, it seems a bit contradictory for the SLP to allegedly stand
by that platform plank while simultaneously disavowing its pertinence. I doubt
if the early Party members would have adopted such a plank if they didn't think
it could be realized, for the plank originated when political reforms were by no
means out of the question, well before De Leon's participation. Is there any
hope that the Party could come to terms with that contradiction, and either
reject the plank, or embrace it wholeheartedly?
If the bosses' demand for exploitation is as overwhelming as
I wonder how we ever got a law establishing time and a half after 40 in the
first place. Now that the Fair Labor Standards Act is the law of the land,
isn't it possible to amend it to read 'double time after 35'? And, wouldn't it
be possible to hold the bosses' feet to the fire on that amendment as easily
as we make them obey the original? Or, should we allow the authorities
to continue to build prisons for the unemployed?
> You might wish to read some of the
De Leon editorials concerning
> "Demands Immediate and Constant" as well as the "De Leon-Harriman
> Debate" which are available in the SLP's online library.
After the inconclusive debate we've had so far, the Party should
unambiguous position about political reforms. Ironing out ambiguities might
make a good subject for a discussion journal, or for a Convention debate.
A party can't straddle fences for very long before coming to the conclusion
that straddling is an awfully uncomfortable position to maintain.
> I don't have the time to really
respond and I might not until June.
> I have term papers, finals, readings, work, and a lot more things
> which I have to do. Plus there are other things going on on this
> site which I would rather donate my free time to than this constant
> reiteration of theory. I still think one of our main problems here is
> one of semantics, i.e. definitions of democracy, Reform, demand,
> Revolution, etc. For instance you seem to be constantly insinuating
> that Marx was a Reformist because of his support for various reforms.
Both reform and revolution were applicable and plausible in
Marx's day. I
found Engels advocating proletarian revolution in democracies as well as well
as in monarchies, but M+E didn't seem to have any problem at all with passing
laws in the interests of the workers in democracies, as their promotion of the 8
hour day and electoral reforms in the USA and England indicates. At the same
time, M+E certainly opposed middle class reforms. Their attitudes altogether
were quite reasonable, except for their advocacy of 'revolution in democracies',
and 'taking away the property of the rich'.
A blanket condemnation of reform is quite consistent with the
perspective which regards ALL states as instruments of oppression, and does
not recognize the concept of a workers' state, except as a contradiction in terms.
Nor do anarchists recognize the value of democracies. When one considers the
types of states Marx dealt with in Russia and central Europe - generally intransigent
monarchies without socially redeeming values, rotten ripe for overthrow, and practically
perfectly useless to the proletariat - if that's the only kind of state an activist is surrounded
with, then rejecting the use of such states is understandable. But, it has been quite a while
since 'intransigent monarchies' or 'fascist dictatorships' applied to very many European
countries, and we have seen European workers win many a concession from their Social-
Democracies, proving that democracies ARE useful to workers; so, the attitude that
'the existence of the state is inseparable from the existence of slavery' is quite limited
in application to today's world, and we should learn to use reform in democracies as
a tool of social justice, seeing that reform is all that will ever be available to us.
> I consider Marx to be a Revolutionary
because he supported reforms
> that were in the interest of the working class and which were designed
> to act as a springboard or lever to increase their class-consciousness
> and their revolutionary direction.
I consider Marx to be a revolutionary because he supported
of revolution in the countries in which revolution was relevant - on the
continent of Europe. Supporting the overthrow of intransigent monarchies
of olde was a rather reasonable policy, while supporting the overthrow of
democracies didn't ever really apply to the USA and England. Engels even
wrote in the 1890's that he thought that England was 'a good enough democracy
for workers to get what they want'. In his 1872 speech at The Hague, Marx said
that workers in democracies could get what they wanted by peaceful and legal
means. So, even M+E were ambiguous about revolution in democracies, so
revolution shouldn't rigidly determine anyone's ideology. When it came to
intransigent monarchies, M+E were a lot more clear and consistent.
> Marx was not supporting reforms
in order to
> prolong the life of a system which he despised.
> John-Paul Catusco
Well, there is hate for a system, and then there's having to
live with a hated
system, all because a party might not be able to rally sufficient hatred to
replace it. Rallying hatred to overthrow rotten-ripe monarchies, on the other
hand, was quite a bit more plausible. In his Nov. 12, 1875 letter to Lavrov,
Engels wrote (MESC, p. 284): "In our country [Germany] it is hatred rather
than love that is needed - at least in the immediate future - and more than
anything else a shedding of the last remnants of German idealism, and the
establishment of the material facts in their historical rights." (Everyone
should also read that same letter for Engels' opinion that 'periodic crises
of overproduction superannuate the struggle for existence'.)
On the other hand, rallying love for our fellow workers is
appropriate to present-day democracies. We can best express our fraternal
love by ensuring that the remaining work gets equitably shared by as many
workers as possible, in order to prepare us for the day in the not too distant
future when there will be no way for anyone to earn a living, as machines and
computers become smarter at practical tasks than we are. By learning to share
the remaining work, we will simultaneously prepare ourselves to share the
product of whatever entity creates the means of life after there's no longer
a way for anyone to earn it.
Len quoted me:
>> Well, Bro' Ben, everyone else has ducked the following
>> question: If Southerners were willing to fight and die to
>> preserve and extend as immoral a form of property as
>> slavery, then how hard would people fight to preserve all
>> other forms of ownership? Would you like to take a crack at it?
> As Ben rightly pointed out, people end up fighting wars for
> reasons other than the actual underlying causes.
In my research for my response to Ben's latest message, which
unfortunately forgot to title 'Slavery 4', the great majority of web
sites devoted to the CAUSE of the American Civil War listed
slavery as primary, which agrees with Marx. One cannot read the
little compendium: "Karl Marx - On America and the Civil War"
without becoming very aware of the struggle waged by the South to
legalize slavery in the expanding territories of the growing USA. The
battle had been fought in politics for many decades before the hot
war started. Because the end of slavery meant depriving a wealthy
class of its property, few would expect the rich to give up their slaves
without a battle. By firing the first shot at Fort Sumter, the South
initiated the battle to impose slavery on the whole country.
> As an example, World War I was sold
to the working class
> as a war for "democracy", for "national self determination",
> and the imperialist aims of the imperial powers was hidden
> under a mountain of state lies.
Lies or no lies, if no one bothered to stop Germany from over-
running Europe, and if Sadam Hussein had been allowed to take
over Kuwait, then what kind of a community of nations would we
have? No world power is simply going to sit back and let tin-pot
dictators like the Kaiser, Sadam, or Milosevic to overrun other
countries, even though a considerable portion of the population
might advocate non-intervention. Intervention reflects the will of the
majority - for all nations to learn to live in peace, or learn the hard way.
> Likewise, the soldiery of the Southern
> were, for the most part, thought they were fighting for
> "states rights" as opposed to federal domination, against
> encroachment by "Yankee" capitalism.
With regard to states' rights, allow me to drag over just one
quote from Ben's message which seems as perfect a response
as I could hope to find:
"In the first place, while states'
rights were why the South sought
to secede from the Union, the rights in question were meant to
protect the ownership and employment of slave labor."
> General Lee, the commander of Confederate
> was not a diehard supporter of slavery. He convinced
> himself that he was fighting for state rights and the
> "preservation of a way of life".
One can go to many web sites mentioning 'the motivation of
soldiers', and/or go to sites devoted to 'the cause of the Civil
War'. 'Motivations' were one thing, and pursuing them led me
down quite a few blind alleys, but searching for 'cause' was
more fruitful. The great majority of the web sites list slavery
as the cause, without which all ancillary causes - like tariffs -
would not have sufficed by themselves to cause the War.
> Those who were the landowners/slave
owners made up
> the officer class in that army and fought to preserve
> themselves as a slave owning class.
> The U.S. Civil War was not fought upon the singular issue
> of slavery. As Marx noted, it was the expansionary capitalist
> industrial system of the northern states that could not coexist
> with a slave holding system in the south.
> Len W.
If it hadn't been for the tricky property issue, the American
Civil War wouldn't have occurred at all, according to a majority
perspective. It wasn't started by the North, but rather was initiated
by a desperate South in order to preserve and extend slavery, as
abundantly proven by Marx's statements in the April 11 message:
'Consciousness, Media and Work 7', which Len may not yet have
read, as he didn't return to the list until April 17th. Allow me to
suggest that Len read what Marx had to say in that message.
Because the South fired the first shot at Fort Sumter, and
prepared itself for a military confrontation for many years before
the War, Southerners WERE prepared to fight and die to preserve
and extend as immoral a form of ownership as slavery, proving that
people would be many times more willing to fight and die to preserve
private ownership of the means of production, because few people
regard ownership of means of production as immoral. So, any attempt
to establish common ownership under existing conditions wouldn't
stand a snow ball's chance in hell. Activists really should give up
hoping they will ever be able to do anything about property for
as long as people have to work like hell in order to earn a little
property for themselves, whether it's wages, homes, autos, stereos,
etc. Socialism and work are quite incompatible. Blame human
nature, blame the weather, or blame the messenger.
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