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Selected Political Correspondence

August 2001

Text coloring decodes as follows:

Black: Ken Ellis
Red: Marx, Engels, Lenin, etc.
Green: Press report, 3rd party, etc.
Blue: Recent correspondent
Purple: Unreliable sources


Hi, Bro,

> if your shorter work week philosophy is dependent on robots taking over
> for us, it is built on a shaky foundation. This idea that we are all going to
> be ultimately idle and in a state of bliss is as hard for me to accept as my
> sister's belief in her future as a Jehovah's witness.

Just give machinery a few more decades to evolve, cuz they evolve at far
greater rates than living creatures. You should subscribe to the Kurzweil
newsletter like I do, and read some articles that strike your fancy. I'll
append this week's newsletter as a sample.

> This mental exercise that you go through is a holdover
> from years of having to rationalize a humanistic perspective,

Is that the same as 'justify a humanistic perspective'?
To myself? Or to others?

> compounded by your need to challenge
> these various ideologues and show them the error of their ways.

I certainly do that. As Engels wrote: ".. if we are not to go against the
popular current of momentary tomfoolery, what in the name of the devil
is our business?

> As you seek sweet revenge,

No humanitarianism behind sharing work? Is it all motivated by revenge?
I like to think that I am getting people to think about their belief systems
so that they will not waste their time believing in obsolete programs,
and will switch to a feasible program.

> it must be obvious to you that these folks are
> incorrigible and at least as stubborn as you are.

That they are, bro'. Some have little businesses to maintain, and suckers
to rope in, and all to scratch together enough pennies to survive.

> I will read the attached dialogue and give you more feedback if you like.

If you'd like. I merely sent it for your amusement. Feedback would be welcome,
as usual, but I don't want or expect you to stress yourself out.

> snip irrelevancies
> -Nicholas




Hi, Mateu,

> Dear Kenneth,
> To answer your question, yes, I did link to your e-mail address through your
> website. I tried to read more of your book about the Socialist Labor Party
> but had troubles seeing the print, it is sometimes so small. Is there any
> way I might be able to buy a printed copy?

At this point, I don't have any printed copies of this present version. One of the
reasons I broke the book into 8 parts or so was to enable people to download the
book into their own computer, and reassemble it into one big book on their hard
disks, if they would like. Then they would be able to manipulate the size of the
text to suit their own needs. It really wouldn't take very long to do. I used a few
different text fonts and sizes in order to help people figure out 'who was saying
what', but I guess not all computers read all fonts and sizes the same way, which
is probably the problem you are having. In that case, downloading and readjusting
sizes would definitely help.

I'm glad to hear that you are interested in reading the book, because it contains
a lot of important lessons for people who may not be as familiar with socialism
as they'd like to be. The book is kind of like: 'Everything you wanted to know
about socialism, but which socialist parties were afraid to tell you.'

> Not too long ago when I found myself an advocate of socialism, I went
> looking for a party to join or to correspond with, and one of the first parties
> I discovered was the Socialist Labor Party, but I almost immediately dismissed
> contacting the SLP because I didn't like the static, doctrinaire feel of it, or of De
> Leonism. Next, I read about the Democratic Socialists of America, read Michael
> Harrington's last book, titled (I think): Socialism: Past, Present, Future, and was
> largely impressed. However, because the DSA does not involve itself with direct
> political action and supports the Democratic Party by and large, I dismissed the
> DSA too (though I am certainly willing to work side by side with Democratic
> Socialists). Finally, I read Nick Salvatore's Eugene V. Debs: Citizen and Socialist
> and decided the Socialist Party--though small and perhaps irrelevant--was the party
> for me. Eugene Debs and Norman Thomas were both, in my opinion, genuinely
> concerned by the plight of the working class and were interested in seeing the for-
> mation of a just society. They're dead and gone, times have changed, but strong,
> passionate voices from the past are still strong, still passionate, and still inspiring.
> I hoped that this party's membership was one of sincere democrats--so far I am
> not disappointed. David McReynolds, the SP's year 2000 candidate for president,
> is an honest individual, I believe, and his voice is clear. So, with the SP, I found a
> worthwhile association, and I was most impressed with the fact that they are so
> strongly for the 30-hour work week.

That's good to hear. Like I may have advised in my last message, though, you
should also look for signs that they might want to redistribute property and
wealth, such as by 'taxing and spending', etc. If their program is really a
potpourri of Social-Democratic reforms, then helping them achieve more
clarity would be in order.

> Have you ever read Liberty, the publication of the Libertarian Party?

No, don't recall ever doing so.

> Libertarians often seem as enthralled, and I literally mean enthralled, by
> the theories of Ayn Rand as Communists are by the political doctrines
> of Vladimir Lenin. What is it about the cult of personality? The SLP is
> "De Leon's party," isn't it? And I myself am quite fond of the work and
> speeches of Eugene Debs. How does this relate to the dictatorship of a
> Vanguard party? More about that later, for that question strikes right at
> the heart of what democracy is all about.

I feel your pain. The SLP is definitely a De Leonist party. All of the
leftist parties I have been aware of are characterized by - cults of personality,
bureaucracy, censorship of members, secrecy, nepotism, sectarianism, etc. A
preponderance of petty-bourgeois influences within the parties results in an
obsession with getting control of the world's power and property. A separate
movement of people knowledgeable of the futility of trying to affect property
relations is what's needed. Property is bound to decline as an institution
AFTER the abolition of work, so it is useless to try to affect property
relations beforehand.

> First, I like what you had to say about wanting "to bring the working class up
> to the capitalist level of freedom." Do you recall the saying about the French
> Revolution, that the bourgeoisie simply wanted to occupy the First Estate?

I might have missed that one, but it makes sense.

> The American Revolution too was similar, for the proto-capitalists thereafter
> occupied the positions of power the nobles and gentry formerly had. It was a
> republican revolution because the property owners specifically did not want de-
> mocracy. And with the Russian Revolution, this usurpation of the aristocracy was
> just as plain, just as republican, but ultimately even less democratic than the others.
> If the real goal of revolution isn't to bring the working class (that whole broad mass)
> to freedom, to political, social, and economic power, what else could it be?

One thing for sure is that the USA will not have another revolution. The
evidence shows that the proletarian revolution has always been a myth,
and that the people in power made a mockery of it. Stalin's 'proletarian
dictatorship' had little in common with Marx's thoughts about it.

> If Liberty isn't enjoyed by all citizens then the word Liberty becomes
> as hollow as the word Socialism(or Christianity for that matter). So it
> is true that social revolution must not be to replace the capitalists with
> state socialists, or whatever, but rather to make it possible for individuals
> to be free, self-governing citizens of a Democracy.

I never use the word revolution to describe the evolution which will take
place in the future. The age of revolution is over, and was useful mostly
to bring democracy to where it didn't exist before, or to liberate colonies.
Democracy has already been won in the USA, so the only thing before
us is evolution.

> Democracy itself is the matter I really want to discuss. You stated in your book
> the Left claims there is no real democracy in the West, but you refute their claim.
> So I have to ask: Why? There is, after all, a real, significant difference between a
> republic, even a liberal one, and a democracy. Consent to being ruled, as is the
> case in the USA, Europe, and Japan, is very different from self-governance.

Having universal suffrage makes all of the difference. Politicians simply must
comply with the wishes of the POPULATION if they want to be re-elected.

Revolutionaries want to demonize democracy and capitalism simply to get
the working class to feel as though they'd have nothing to lose by abolishing
both; but, their ploy is ridiculous, because average people 'know' that we have
democracy, so are willing to lay down their lives to protect it. No one on the left
will get anywhere by contradicting common knowledge, which is one big advantage
held by Marx and Lenin, for their populations detested the feudal monarchies of their
day, so the masses needed only to be told the TRUTH about their oppression to rally
them for revolution. Socialists must never put 'democracy' in quotes, because the
evolution to socialism will be entirely peaceful, and will be 100% dependent upon
technological evolution. We have all of the democracy we will ever need to evolve
to socialism, and ordinary people will lead the way.

> It is certainly true that Socialists (that is, members of actual socialist parties)
> have had little success in the United States, but they have, and continue to have,
> success in most other Western republics and parliamentary "democracies."
> Furthermore, even our Democratic Party has its social democratic elements and
> together with the Greens, the Center-Left had more popular votes than did the
> Right and Center-Right. That said, I do understand that "Marxist" revolution
> will never occur in the West because liberal republics do safeguard enough
> freedoms to mollify the majority of the public; they are superior to the forms
> of government that preceded them. But then again, it took a thousand years for
> the people of Europe to become so discontent with monarchies and feudalism
> as to demand constitutional monarchies and republicanism.

What's pushing the speed of political change is the acceleration of technological
change, which is logarithmic, and even the logarithmic rate of change is accelerating
at a logarithmic rate. We may be astounded at the changes of the last hundred years,
but the end of the 21st century will seem like a different planet. Those who live to
2040 will face a much different world from today's.

> I think a good reason as to why Socialists have enjoyed so little success in
> the American political arena is because they were often suppressed, sometimes
> violently. Eugene Debs was imprisoned for a speech made in Canton, Ohio.
> Socialist presses were smashed during the First World War. Socialists elected
> to seats in New York State were not permitted to take office. Members of the
> I. W. W. were lynched, murdered, and in Arizona, deported. There were the
> Palmer raids, the Red Scare, the threat of the Red Menace, etc. Even left-of-center
> Democrats are frequently equated with Communists in this land of Liberty!

Most of the socialist tradition is based on rearranging property relations, often
by force - the communist and Leninist way. That particular way is so antithetical
to Western values of private property that no one can blame Americans for viol-
ently detesting communism. Even the somewhat related Social-Democracy falls
under suspicion. Socialists may never have the trust of the people, because of the
name. While agitating within the left, I use socialist phrases freely - because I am
presently dealing with leftists. If dealing with people in general, I never use the words
communism, socialism or anarchism, because everyone is prejudiced against them,
and will not budge an inch to get to any one of them. This new socialist movement
I am working on, so far as it is actually socialist, is a movement strictly among
leftists, to get them to see that rearranging property relations is futile, and that the
way to socialism will be by dealing with intangible politics of inclusion, rates of
compensation, and labor time, but never with dollars and property. Americans today
feel as though the red menace was just about defeated since 1989, so they feel free to
sneer at it as the irrelevancy that it is. Little do they know that they are marching right
toward socialism, but people need not be informed of that. All they need to worry
about is jobs for all at good wages.

> Another reason for the lack of success by socialist parties is that the
> American political system itself is all or nothing. It reminds me of binary
> code: 1s and 0s, yes or no--Conservative or Liberal; Republican or Democrat.

That is a drawback, but the system is still capable of reflecting the will of
the people. At one particularly low point in the Depression, in 1933, the
Black-Connery 30 hour bill passed the Senate, and looked like a shoe-in
for the House before FDR's Brain Trust urged him to kill the bill. 5 years
later, we got the Fair Labor Standards Act, which phased in the 40 hour
week. See the web site for links to more history.

> Milton Friedman wrote a book stating that he believed the Socialist Party
> was the most successful of all American third-parties, sighting the fact
> that the 1928 party platform was largely implemented over the following
> years. He went on to say that because the Republican and Democratic
> parties are of a non-ideological orientation, that they would eventually
> succumb to demands of ideology and that ideology was socialistic. Being
> a laissez-faire type, he then proceeds to claim, essentially, that everything
> wrong with the United States is the implementation of the Socialist Party's
> 1928 platform. Their are two glaring problems with his observations
> though: 1. If conditions were such that there was pressure enough to
> make Republicans and Democrats bend to Socialists, then those
> conditions were indicative of a genuine problem, the problems of
> poverty, unemployment, and overwork, for many, many Americans.

A more thorough perspective on history will show that the most popular
solution to the Depression was the AFL solution - the 30 hour week.
But, the 30 hour week was not popular with businesses and politicians,
so they chose the tax and spend alternative.

> The situation was bad enough to motivate the working class to demand
> something more than what the capitalistic system they toiled for and under
> was capable of giving them.

Socialists simply love to overinflate their self-importance to the recovery
from the Depression. They ALWAYS leave out the AFL's 30 hour solution
when they recount history. Many socialists are even HOSTILE to the shorter
work hour solution, especially the more revolutionary socialists, communists
and anarchists, because they know that the shorter hour solution would work
so well that people would lose all interest in the more radical solutions. Don't
forget how petty and venal and competitive the left is within its own ranks, as
leftists struggle to get support for THEIR parties, and THEIR programs. They
invoke stupid and specious arguments against the shorter work hours solution.
Property interests in their own parties and programs get in the way of good logic.

> 2. The programs may very well have been those enumerated on the SPA's 1928
> platform, but the actual writing of the bills and their subsequent implementation
> was not achieved by Socialists who cared about the programs and who would
> have tried to see them work well. Furthermore, the implementation of these
> programs has allowed, over time, for conditions in the USA to improve, if
> even not to Mr. Friedman's wishes. These were the social democratic
> reform of which you surely wrote in your book, aren't they?

Yes, there was no doubt during the Depression that SOMETHING
had to be done, and that the 30 hour week was not an alternative for
big business, so we got the government spending programs. A time
will come when all of the government tax and spend programs in
the world will not satisfy society's need for a shorter work week.

> Social democratic reforms made here are generally less effective than those
> made in Scandinavia, Germany, Japan, and France. I mean, the French 35-
> hour work week, after all, is one such social democratic reform, as are the
> generous vacation packages extended to Danes, Swedes, and Norwegians.
> But then again social democrats (in coalition with social liberals) frequently
> form the governments of these nations, and that has not been the case in the USA.

We really aren't a whole hell of a lot different from the other countries. We
really are very much akin to a Social-Democracy, because our democracy is
socially controlled through universal suffrage, which goes back to the root of
the word as it evolved during the First International.

> All said though, like you, I do think social democratic reforms are
> ultimately of dubious value. And that brings up a whole new set
> of questions as to what the future of democracy, socialism, and
> the political-economy as a whole holds.

I like to speculate about the future as well.

> I promised to return to the relationship between political parties,
> democracy, and the Vanguard party, and I will do that in my next letter.
> Thank you for returning my E-mail, and I will look up the WSM. Have you any
> contacts with the SP-USA? There are a number of good ideas being discussed
> there too.
> Sincerely,
> Matthew Thomas

I regularly receive the SP discussion forum messages at
I haven't initiated much discussion there. I keep very busy with the WSM and
RBG forums, with matters of socialist theory. Always learning something new.

Good to dialogue with you. Try to get ahold of Prof. Ben Hunnicutt's book
"Work Without End". It is the untold story of America's shorter work hour

Ken Ellis



Today I thought of another benefit of shorter working time -
reducing lengthy and wasteful commutes to work. It's the new #5.

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) Reduce the waste of lengthy commutes.

6) Encourage technological innovation, enabling further work reductions.

7) Promote a higher general standard of personal health and well-being.

8) Enhance domestic harmony and bliss.

9) Give people more time to spend in service to their communities, hobbies,
with their families, and for unexpected family emergencies, etc.

10) Give people more confidence in 'the system', and restore social optimism.

11) Improve a country's economy, as in the example of France,
with its 35 hour week.

12) Cost no more in taxes, and would add more people to the tax base,
enabling tax reductions.

13) Enable reductions in unemployment insurance premiums.

14) Reduce stress on the environment by eliminating the 'job creation'
justification for 'economic growth'.

15) Pare down the enormous profits which are plowed into non-productive
activities such as rampant speculation, excessive advertising, and campaign finances.

16) Alter investment priorities, enabling the economy to serve
a greater portion of humanity.

Ken Ellis

PS: I just heard on the TV that an IBM computer plant in New England
will slice 6 hours per week due to slumping sales. Glimmers of timesizing?



Carl Miller wrote:

> Hello All,
> I have subscribed to this forum to answer some statements
> posted by Ken Ellis concerning why he was banned from the
> SLP Houston forum.
> My name is Carl Miller and I am the moderator of that particular
> forum. The SLP Houston forum was established in order to attract
> interested people to the SLP and to discuss our program and goals.
> This is clearly stated in the introduction to the forum.

Anyone who understands why their program won't work is not
welcome in their forum. That kind of information interferes with
their marketing plans.

> When Ken Ellis subscribed I immediately e-mailed and asked
> him what his intentions were since his anti-SLP stance is well
> known. His response was that he wanted to be part of the
> discussion in so many words, and he clearly stated that he
> would leave his anti-SLP baggage out of his posts.

My 'anti-SLP baggage' wasn't simply a matter of personal
prejudice. I always argued socialist principles at their forum, but
their marketing plans are incompatible with socialist principles.

> The story of Ken Ellis and the SLP is a long one
> and he holds a grudge against us to this day.

Grudge sounds like a personal issue, but my problem with the
American SLP is 'whether or not their lies should go unchallenged
in the great marketplace of ideas.' Can people of principle simply turn
their backs on ASLP lies, and allow them to continue unopposed? As
Engels wrote to Marx's daughter Laura Lafargue: ".. if we are not to
go against the popular current of momentary tomfoolery, what in
the name of the devil is our business?

> It all boils down to the fact that the SLP refused to adopt
> his ideology which he must have formulated while a member.

To demonstrate the puniness of my 'ideology' after discover-
ing their lies in 1976, I considered myself to be an unaffiliated
MARXIST-LENINIST for the next 18 years. It wasn't until
1994, well into writing my book of experiences in the American
SLP, that I discovered the obsolescence of ANY scheme to
expropriate, and it wasn't until 1995 that I replaced my obsolete
Marxist ideology with the shorter work week path to workless,
classless, etc.less society. Only a month or so ago, I began to
call my ideology 'labor-time socialism' to distinguish it from
the 'power and property socialism' that predominates.

While I was still a member (until 1977), I wanted little else than for the
ASLP to think about and discuss the lies that underpinned its program.
But, here it is 2001, and they are still circling the wagons around their
SIU program, banning intelligent discussion of the lies which underpin it.

> He also claims to have found some errors in a pamphlet
> authored by former National Secretary Arnold Petersen.
> This pamphlet and many others authored by Petersen have
> long been out of print for various reasons yet he still dredges
> these facts up at every opportunity.

Party leaders allowed some Arnold Petersen pamphlets to go
out of print (because of their rather ridiculous absurdities and
fairy tales), in spite of the fact that supporters of the late Petersen
would have perpetuated the pamphlets forever. The National leaders
were on the horns of a dilemma - alienate Party supporters, or don't
alienate them. If faced up to, the strong pro-Petersen faction probably
would have withdrawn their copious support of the Party.

Today, their program remains unchanged and useless because
it isn't grounded in anything better than fairy tales and quotes out
of context. The leaders failed 100% to deliver on their pledge to
'someday come down hard on Petersen'. To think that the people
of the Western Hemisphere will adopt a Socialist Industrial
Unionism program, and expropriate the means of production on
the basis of lies and quotes out of context, is to be unrealistically
optimistic. People just aren't that gullible.

> He eventually claims that he "quit" the SLP, but in fact
> he was expelled for abandoning his responsibilities at the
> National Office, where he was employed.

After I quit, part of their normal procedure is to formally expel members
who become inactive. If they say that they expelled me, then they expelled
me, but in absentia, and sometime AFTER I QUIT their National Office
and refused to have anything more to do with them. After that final Friday
at work in their National Office, I needed a clean break from everything
ASLP, but always kept the idea for an exposee on the back burner. That
idea was finally reactivated after a 1992 discussion with another ex-ASLP
member. After I started what I thought would be a mere pamphlet, it grew
into a 500 page book, free to read on the Internet.

> This is a digression from my point though. For awhile Ken
> played by the rules, he kept to the subject being discussed
> and he left his obvious dislike for the SLP out of his posts.
> But, he eventually tired of the rules and began to promote his own ideology.

The subject matter eventually turned to matters of principle, so,
why shouldn't I bring up the absurdity of expropriation, and the
suitability of a shorter work week? I'm not about to allow a few
censorious rules get in the way of the education of the proletariat.

> He would not discuss any of the subjects broached

The glories of local agitation in Houston can hardly hold
the attention of an audience forever.

> but instead launched into using the forum to promote his own ideas.

They feel free to discuss THEIR program, but other methods
of abolishing wage labor are apparently taboo.

> As Comrade Catusco mentioned in an earlier post he would not listen
> to reason. He began to regularly attack the SLP and it's program and
> began placing a link to his anti SLP website at the bottom of his posts.

I allowed others to mention my book several times before posting its
URL the way I regularly append it to my signature. The site averages
about 4 visitors per day. I politely withheld the URL at first, but their
subsequent several mentions of my book looked like an open invitation
to tell people where they could find it on the Internet, after which SLP-
Houston took umbrage. They simply cannot tolerate a little competition
in the great marketplace of ideas, so they resort to banning people,
instead of logically proving the superiority of their revolutionary
program over labor-time socialism, which apparently cannot be done.

> I e-mailed him personally many times, urging him to stick to the
> subjects being discussed and to stop using the forum for his own
> ends. He persisted in his lengthy dissertations. The other subscribers
> to the forum demanded that he be banned because he was ruining the
> forum and preventing us from focusing on what we were supposed
> to focus on the SLP and it's program.

Because their ideology has always been fragile, they need many
rules to keep certain subjects (like their lies) out of their public
forums. They react to encroachments on the rules by banning
people like me as 'rule-breakers'. With me out of the way, they
are free to propagate their obsolete expropriation ideology, free
to remain useless to the working class, and free to discredit
socialism with their naked commercial commodification of
their ideological niche.

> I was elected as a delegate to our National Convention and one of
> the things discussed was the need to operate the discussion forum
> as we would an in person discussion meeting, in other words, keep
> the subscribers focused on the subject being discussed,
politely of
> course
, and to try to ease disrupters out so that they would not
> detract from the other members of the forum.

Their sales pitch must not be interfered with, lest people be shown
the exit, politely of course. But, sometimes not so politely, as in his
July 4 message to me: "You are a worthless person and a mental
midget, and this is putting it nicely. I advise seeking mental help.
you send another e-mail I will delete it without reading it. I prefer not
to deal with your garbage any longer.
" Some principled argument, eh?

> It was obvious Ken was a definite distraction. Finally in one
> of his last posts, he pointed to an Engels quote as supporting
> his program for gradual revolution through reduced work hours
> and work sharing.
The quote was taken completely out of context
> and was another obvious attempt by Ken to promote his own
> ideology. I rejected the message.

It is incontestable that Engels meant what he said about
struggles for higher wages and shorter work hours being
legitimate means of abolishing wage labor, proving that the
quote was not out of context. If Carl would like to address an
Engels quote out of context, then he should address the snippets
that Petersen used in order to try to prove that 'Engels didn't give
the world any better a revolutionary theory than state capitalism'.

I have often charged ASLP theoretician Arnold Petersen with
misusing quotes out of context, but Carl merely spun that charge
on its heels, and sent it right back to me, though devoid of any
substance. Compare Carl's assertion of wrong-doing on my part
to my thorough examination of the attempt of Petersen to take a
snippet of a quote from Lenin completely out of context in order
to try to 'prove' that 'the proletarian dictatorship was a dictatorship
over the PEASANTRY and middle classes
', and how the relatively
low peasant population of the USA aided his conclusion that 'a
proletarian dictatorship (over the peasantry) would not be necessary
in the USA, with its practically non-existent peasantry
'. Practically
everyone on the left, on the other hand, can easily correctly guess
that Marx intended for the proletarian dictatorship to be over the
UPPERMOST classes, not the lowly peasants. Why would a theor-
etician from any socialist party lie in order to promote their brand of
property socialism, IF property socialism were valuable and inevitable?
What is it about property socialism that the proletariat doesn't support
it, so it has become the exclusive playground of the petty-bourgeoisie,
who feel free to corrupt socialism with lies and absurdities for their
own weird sectarian purposes?

Socialism needs to be rescued from the ASLP, Lenin, Trotsky,
Stalin, De Leon and Bakunin, and even from Marx and Engels,
who all made the mistake of thinking that expropriation would
get us somewhere valuable. In 2001, expropriation lacks mass
support, and didn't even have sufficient mass support in Marx's
day in France, the Communards intending to compensate owners
for the factories that were taken over and used during the Commune.
Because expropriation without compensation was possible only after
overthrowing monarchies in backward countries, and after liberating
colonies, it becomes more obvious that Leninism in less-developed
countries was merely a stage between feudalism and democratic
capitalism. Clear as well is the fact that socialists, communists
and anarchists in the most developed countries owe it to the
working class to re-think expropriation, a task the ASLP refuses
to do, for as long as the sale of expropriation ideology can still
keep their secretive and censorious party bureaucrats in power.

> I e-mailed this fact to Ken and he was not happy,
> calling my decision authoritarian and that he was
> disappointed in the fact that messages were now
> reviewed before being posted to the forum.

Our ancestors fought for free speech for all, while sects devoted
to expropriation choose to abolish free speech within their own ranks.

> I decided to poll the subscribers concerning this matter
> and the result was unanimous that Ken should be banned.

There's the answer to all of their marketing problems. Now the
crimes against the working class can continue unimpeded by
attempts to introduce proletarian work sharing ideas to compete
with petty-bourgeois expropriationism. Free competition in their
marketplace of ideas has been replaced by monopoly.

> They had had enough of Ken and his incessant tirades.
> The decision was made for me. I banned Ken. I e-mailed
> him notifying him of this fact and we continued in a
> limited way our discussion by individual e-mail.

The dialogue concluded when he promised to delete my messages unread.

> The final straw came when he directly insulted two prominent figures
> in the Party
and accused them of perpetrating a fraud on the membership.
> These were heinous charges and completely unfounded.

If early party theoreticians were willing to commit gross fraud by
trying to sell a 'proletarian dictatorship over the peasantry', and to
try to convince us that 'Engels didn't give the world any better a
revolutionary theory than state capitalism
', then those leaders were
not about to recommend successors to the throne who might have
wanted to lead the party out of its moral turpitude. My best hope
was to try to influence ASLP rank and filers who might have felt
(like I once did) 'taken in' by a program that seemed reasonably
compatible with American institutions, and who would have been
indignant over the fact that they were merely being used to market
ridiculous lies. Maybe I was wrong about the rank and file, and
maybe they are as corrupt as their leaders.

> One of the men he so brutally attacked

Here's what I wrote, which Carl considered a 'brutal attack':

"Joining into SIUs wouldn't harm workers. We all want workers to
get organized, politically and industrially. But the SLP program of
abolishing the state at the ballot box on election day expects much
more of them than what they will ever be willing to do. The Karps
know this, Bob Bills knows this, but they still want YOU and the
rest of the world to believe what they stopped believing a long
time ago, so they will deny what I said here."

> One of the men he so brutally attacked had recently
> passed away
after devoting his entire career to proletarian
> emancipation, this made his razor edged message doubly
> hard to swallow
. I replied with a searing attack on him and
> his program and I urged him to refrain from contacting me
> further.
I said some things in that message that were completely
> out of character for me but he had directly insulted my beliefs,
> my organization, and people whom I respect a great deal.

Carl actually had a long record of attacking me personally.
His comment reproduced above was not the isolated incident he
would like to make it out to be. I could easily dredge up a dozen
more insults, and maybe I will have to dredge them out if that
later becomes an issue, unproductive a side track as it might be.

> Ken Ellis is a self centered individual, he is capable of
> tremendous hatred toward those who refuse to subscribe
> to his beliefs and acknowledge his intellectual prowess.

What intellectual prowess? In his July 4 message, he called me a 'mental midget'.

Anyone, like myself, who could fall for the lies of the ASLP could
never be accused of intellectual prowess. It took a lot of work to
become aware of the truth about Marx's era, what M+E stood for,
and what they considered important. I'm no genius, but I somewhere
along the line developed a healthy respect for truth and accuracy as
antidotes to the lies I'd been fed from day one.

It was because I personally liked most of the rank and file ASLP
members I associated with that I wrote my book primarily for their
benefit, but they demonstrate as little effort to rectify the lies as
American workers demonstrate a willingness to replace their
democracy with Socialist Industrial Unions.

> That is why he never misses an opportunity to belittle the SLP.

To go extinct, they won't need my 'belittlement'. They could always
choose, on the other hand, to face up to the lies underpinning their
program, try to figure out all of the ramifications of the lies, and
that would be an extremely valuable exercise which would ensure
that the Party would thrive. That party is so interested in digging
up the dirt about governments and capitalists, while with the other
hand, they sweep their own dirt further under their own rug.

> I realize that I don't owe anyone in this forum an explanation,
> most of you already know how he is so I am preaching to the
> choir. All I am asking is that you don't take everything he says
> about the SLP and the SLP-Houston forum at face value
> because from what I have read here,
it has all been lies.

A lot of people in this forum, as well as at SLP-Houston, are very
happy to take what you say at face value. Why should anyone care,
one way or another?

> If you need proof, all of his posts are on our forum for all to see,
> all you have to do is read them for yourself.

Except for myself, because I have been banned from a
supposed 'working-class forum'.

Carl is so confident in the disinterest of the present readership, that
he has no fear that anything I have written will change anyone's mind.

> I allowed Ken a tremendous amount of leeway and was more
> than patient with him, but in the end, he refused to mend his
> ways and become a positive contributor to our discussions.

Translation: I refused to toe the party line.

> That is why he was banned. He would try to make you
> believe that he was banned because we are afraid of his
> ideas.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
> The proof is on the SLP-Houston forum.
> Fraternally yours,
> Carl Miller SLP

If everyone in this forum is as sold on the anarchist revolution
as Carl and the ASLP, then no one should fear anyone being
influenced by 'wrong ideas'.

Ken Ellis

Engels wrote: "Are we demanding free speech for ourselves,
only to abolish it again in our own ranks?



Li'l Joe Continued:

> Li'l Joe: Only bourgeois ideologists,
> such as Kenneth Ellis, regard "democracy",
> and "universal suffrage", as ends in themselves.

Not so. Continually lying about another participant's program proves nothing,
and does not comprise principled dialogue.

> This is because "democracy" hides the economic power of
> the capitalist class, the Constitutional guarantee of capitalist
> property rights, and the legitimization of their use of state
> power to suppress slave or/and working-class revolts.

Oh, sure, like people here are going to regard my efforts as so intensely pro-
capitalist that I favor the subjugation of the workers to the bosses. People
in this forum were not born yesterday.

Looks like Li'l Joe is demonizing democracy again, as if workers in the 19th
century didn't find democracy to be valuable enough that they didn't fight for
socially controlled democracies, and as if those democracies were fit only for
being replaced with nebulous communist workers' states, and as if Europeans
didn't prove their disinterest in communism by failing to support the Russian
revolution by replacing their Social-Democracies with communist workers'
states. Demonization of democracy, capitalism, private property, and the
capitalist class will get activists nowhere.

> Li'l Joe:
> Although Mr Ellis bases his attacks on community property in general,

Mistakes need to be critiqued for their flaws and corrected. Few people are
interested in communizing property, so that idea should be abandoned for its
ultra-left irrelevance to reality.

> saying that it's a 19th century Marxian idea and that we need to deal
> with 20th century realities as discussed in today's polemics, after
> trying to engage him in stating his opinion about some of the
> prominent modern economists
he ignored the challenge.

Which challenge? Am I supposed to GUESS what the above-mentioned economists
thought about various unspecified subjects, and then ANSWER MY OWN GUESSES?

> Instead, Kenneth Ellis wrote:
>> But, the century in which we find ourselves makes an enormous difference
>> to tactics. Just look at how few years, within the lifetimes of M+E, it took
>> to superannuate street-fighting at barricades. In the days of intransigent
>> monarchies, it was correct to advocate democratic revolution.
> Li'l Joe, Response:
> Everyone knows that the strategy I advocate is to "win the battle of
> democracy" by organizing the working class into a class party to win
> the majority in the House of Reps, thus abolish the Senate, Presidency,
> Supreme Court.

If the 'battle of democracy' were really to be won, then democracy shouldn't
be demonized as 'a smokescreen to hide the power of the bourgeoisie'.

Worse things than 'winning the battle for democracy' could be dreamt
about, but creating a new political party to vie with Reps and Dems won't
be necessary. Creating an artificial scarcity of labor will suffice to bring
about all of the social and environmental justice that ordinary people
could hope for. They won't very easily be led down a primrose path.

> Kenneth Ellis Continues:
>> In the present days of machines becoming really smart, we should
>> advocate work-sharing. Activists would advocate whatever methods
>> are appropriate to the times and countries in which they live, if they
>> could think for themselves, and were not mere slaves, knowingly
>> or not, to obsolete party lines.
> Li'l Joe, Response:
> You see what I mean? This
advocate of capitalist property ownership
> of the means of production dismisses the transformation of capital
> from a private tool of exploiting wage labour to publicly owned
> productive forces
merely by calling it an "obsolete party line" --

Changing property relations would be as useless as rearranging the deck chairs
on the sinking Titanic. The times do not cry out for rearranging property relations,
but instead cry out for work to be equitably shared. In spite of us doing absolutely
nothing about private property, it is as doomed (in another 50 years) as work, class
distinctions, and the state. Private property doesn't need me to protect it in the here
and now when so many others are so willing to do a much better job than I.

> although my Labour Party strategy is newly developed and not in any
> "party line" of any American Marxist party.

Parties have been advocating various shades of public and/or workers'
ownership of means of production for nearly 2 centuries.

> But, even if it were, it would still be incumbent upon Mr Ellis to refute it.

Logical refutation is what my half of the dialogue is all about.

> Calling something "obsolete" is name calling,
> not mature economic and political science.

Calling something 'obsolete' is merely descriptive. Calling something
'stupid', on the other hand, would be name-calling.

Does everyone want a refutation of changing property relations one more time?
OK. Expropriation was a key element of Marx's revolutionary scenario, but was
possible only after overthrowing monarchies in backward countries, or after liberat-
ing colonies, but never was possible after winning mere elections in the industrially
advanced countries where expropriation was supposed to happen first, proving the
contradictory nature of expropriation. Its greater applicability to less developed
countries indicates its backward nature, the awareness of which will prevent
people from ever again adopting it as a means of bringing social justice.

> More importantly, Communists have always advocated "work sharing"
> by the reduction of the hours of the working day.
Connie and I proposed
> to the Black Radical Congress that the work-day be reduced to a 5 hour
> day/ 25 hour work week and developed a strategy with tactics on how
> to win it in Labour Party campaigns.

I wonder why activists don't just begin with the much more feasible 35
hour week. It won't hurt to copy the French efforts, and our sympathetic
internationalism would help the French efforts. People have to start
somewhere, and it's best not to scare people by being too radical with one's
proposals. I can understand some reluctance to take a step that would not be
large enough to put everyone to work, but EVERY step we take toward the
abolition of wage labor will only be a temporary step along the way. After
the first reduction in hours, each succeeding step forward will be a little
easier. We have to learn to walk before we can run, and we have been
standing still at 40 hours for over 60 years. Think of the inertia.
It's better to start with a baby step than boast about ability
to make a giant leap. Hic Rhodus, hic salta.

> Mr Ellis, however, only comes up with rhetoric about "smart
> machines", and "advocate" on the basis that
Star Trek "Data"
> type automatons
will one day replace human labour altogether

Maybe neo-Luddites will soon stop all improvements in the means of production,
and maybe technology will never become much better than it is in 2001. ;-)

The point of that tongue in cheek comment was that property socialists require
that the means of production never get much better than today's relatively low
level. If technology remains the same, then it would make a lot of sense to
redistribute property and wealth more fairly, enabling people to even forget
about work-sharing. But, we live in a dynamic world, and the capitalist class
can't help but improve technology if they want to remain competitive with one
another. Improvements in productivity threaten to abolish all human labor in a
mere 40 more years, so, instead of us smashing the state in order to nationalize
property, why not wait a few more decades to become just as free as our there-
tofore bosses? I know, some people want instant change, and can't wait 40 years
for the abolition of wage labor. But, they will have to wait, along with the rest of us.

> that workers ought in the meantime to leave all productive assets and
> wealth in the private ownership of capitalists, folk should give up as
> "obsolete" the goals of public property. He says what the working
> class need new tactics, by shortening the hours of the work-day/week
> while leaving the productive forces in the hands of the capitalist class.

It's not really a NEW tactic, having been advocated
by American workers since 1820. It's time to revive it.

> Mr Ellis claims that this will someday result
> in "socialism",
but he never develops a single
> sentence on HOW this is to come about.

If some rich capitalists presently enjoy 0-hour weeks, and if they let their
well-paid managers do all of their sweating for them, then they will never
know any more freedom than what they already have, because I can't imagine
a work week shorter than 0 hours. To me, no compulsion to work represents as
good a stage of freedom as it gets. For the working class, a single diminishment
of the length of the work week would bring them a step closer to the freedom of
the rich. A 35 hour work week would make us 5 hours more free than today. A
30 hour week later on would make us 10 hours more free than today, and so on,
until the remaining work gets taken over by volunteers, and wage slavery is
abolished forever. When work and class distinctions are abolished, we will
arrive at a low stage of socialism, because capitalism as we've suffered from
it will have been abolished. Property, the state, money and the nuclear family
will disappear some time after, taking us to a higher stage of socialism.

> What is his practical strategy, what are his tactics?

Simply to talk up the advantages of a shorter work week, higher overtime
premiums, longer vacations, etc., and see how much support can be drummed
up for the idea, see if such a movement can be created, after which politicians
could be urged to propose appropriate legislation. The nice part about such
legislation is that it doesn't involve expenditures of much money, so it
wouldn't have to go to a ways and means committee. If a proposal is tied
in with all kinds of property and income considerations (as some property
socialists would like to do), then the proposal would run into tight-fisted
opposition, because few want to pass legislation for DIRECT money outlays.

> What is he DOING to make the capitalists reduce the hours of the working day?

All I can do is try to drum up some support among the working class,
without whose support the idea can go nowhere.

> What is the name of his organization, and what is its practical program?

No organization exists yet. The program elements have been discussed before:
higher overtime premiums, shorter work week, longer paid vacations, earlier
retirement with full benefits, bringing more workers under the protection of
the Fair Labor Standards Act, and perhaps other devices to help withdraw
labor from the labor market.

> What is he doing other than every day all day attacking the struggle for community
> property, and defending capitalist property rights and capitalist wealth.

Arguing on principled grounds against property socialism is merely one of the
ways to get people to think about better ways to wage class struggle.

> Matter of fact, Mr Ellis is even opposed to deep taxes the corporations
> and the wealthy to feed, cloth and house the homeless, and destitute
> families, denouncing this Galbriathian economics as "punitive",
> and mean spirited class war.

Plenty of people already advocate taxing corporations. If a good idea, it would go
far, but it is old, and people are tired of it, because it can't do anywhere nearly as
much as sharing work. Feeding and clothing the homeless and poor is never a bad
idea, but is like a treadmill, unless we ask WHY people are poor and hungry and we
do something to address the ROOT CAUSES of homelessness and hunger. Sharing
work is the most hopeful method of permanently addressing the problems of the poor.

> Mr Ellis Arrogantly asserts:
>> Some activists think that they are perfectly conscious of what
>> they believe in, but have yet to figure many things correctly.

When I think of the hundreds (and thousands, going way back) of members
of my old party who swallowed and believed in a pack of lies, and when I think
about the hopelessness of doing or enacting some proposals from this forum,
then I know that my statement was not made out of arrogance, but rather out
of a realistic assessment. Think about things another way: If the left was really
right on with all of its goals and proposals, and if the right wing was all wrong,
then the left would have a lot more support than what it enjoys now. The reason
the left garners little support is that its proposals are this, that, and a million other
things, with no seeming thread of logic to hold it all together. A party cannot replace
the state with a classless and stateless administration of things while at the same time
replacing it with a workers' state. Leftist ideology is riddled with unfortunate contradic-
tions that do little to recommend leftism to the population, who prefer simple things
like property, democracy, living wages, motherhood, apple pie, etc. The left proves its
petty bourgeois disconnectedness to the masses by proposing ridiculous programs.

> I doubt that Mr Ellis has ever even took the time to read the
> volumes of Capital. If he did, it is his obligation
if he wants
> to be considered an economist
to disclose what it is in these
> volumes he thinks is "fine",

I didn't read the 3 volumes to become 'an economist'. I read them mostly
to gain insight into economic processes, and for their historical lessons.

> and show how these "fine" ideas inexorably led to such a "little
> mistake" as the prediction of a universal proletarian dictatorship!

Actually, the logical conclusion to be gleaned from the pages of Capital is
for us to struggle for shorter work days and weeks, whereas the proletarian
dictatorship flows from Marxist politics, which is so unrelated to Marxist
economics as to render M+E occasionally ambivalent or luke-warm on the
struggle for shorter hours, which isn't very different from current attitudes.

> Kenneth Ellis wrote:
>> The times in which Marx lived, and the time in which we live, are very different.
>> Some of his conclusions have to be considered absurd today. If one would
>> enjoy a chuckle, all it takes is to read the chapter in Capital dealing with the
>> 'Modern Theory of Colonisation':
>> Page me35.755
>> "As in the colonies the separation of the labourer from the conditions of
>> labour and their root, the soil, does not yet exist, or only sporadically,
>> or on too limited a scale, so neither does the separation of agriculture
>> from industry exist, nor the destruction of the household industry of
>> the peasantry. Whence then is to come the internal market for capital?
>> ".. The wage worker of today is tomorrow an independent peasant, or
>> artisan, working for himself. He vanishes from the labour market, but not
>> into the workhouse. This constant transformation of the wage labourers into
>> independent producers, who work for themselves instead of for capital, and
>> enrich themselves instead of the capitalist gentry, reacts in its turn very
>> perversely on the conditions of the labour market. Not only does the degree
>> of exploitation of the wage labourer remain indecently low. The wage
>> labourer loses into the bargain, along with the relation of dependence,
>> also the sentiment of dependence on the abstemious capitalist.
> Li'l Joe, Response:
> You see?
Instead of making a critical analysis of Marx theory
> of colonialialism - making the critical corrections as did Lenin in
> "Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism", and Nkrumah in
> "Neo-Colonialism, the Final Stage of Imperialism", all Kenneth
> Ellis offers the reader is a "chuckle".
I fail to see the humor.

I DID analyze what Marx wrote. Instead of Li'l Joe commenting upon
what I had written in the following paragraph, he merely asserted that
I didn't analyze it. Here was my response (which Li'l Joe ignored):

> Kenneth Ellis Continues:
>> In what we once regarded as '20th century colonies', did "The wage worker
>> of today
[become] tomorrow an independent peasant, or artisan, working
>> for himself
"? Was their exploitation 'indecently low'? Did they become
>> independent producers? Marx's 'modern' theory might have applied to
>> Canada or Australia in the 19th century, but not to the countries we
>> regarded as colonies in the 20th century.

In Capital, Marx spoke of colonists becoming independent producers, and
settling new territories instead of slavishly working for the capitalists who
helped them to emigrate, which doesn't happen like it used to. But, Marx also
wrote of the brutal exploitation of the Irish, which is more in tune with the
kind of colonial exploitation the left became more familiar with in the 20th
century. What's gives me a chuckle today is my own previous mistaken
assumption that the two examples of colonialism were unrelated.
My mistake - they are related.

> Now, in addition to having "discovered" that it is in the
> interest of workers to reduce the hours of the working day,
Mr has rediscovered dialectics as something new, writing:
>> EVERYTHING changes, except for the obsolete ideology
>> of property socialists, who are driven by one thought -
>> get control of all of that property and power.
> Li'l Joe, Response:
> More than two thousand years ago Heraclitus wrote that all
> things are in a constant state of flux and change: "It is not
> possible to step twice in the same river" (see Philosophic Classics:
> Thales to St. Thoman by Walter Kaufmann p.19). But, Mr Ellis,
> having finished his "chuckle", might want to explain how the
> writings of words in the book Capital could "change".

This statement doesn't evoke much of a response from me.

> Again, without doing a critical analysis of Marx's critique
> of the capitalist mode of production as a whole, the laws of
> motion of capital accumulation by the exploitation of wage
> labour by capital, instead we are informed that it is "obsolete".

No matter how many times I have written that 'only Marx's political
revolutionary scenario (combined with expropriation) is obsolete',
Li'l Joe still thinks I am asserting that all of Marx's Capital is obsolete.
But, the economic lessons of Capital militate in favor of work sharing
by means of work reductions.

> Kenneth Ellis wrote:
>> Labor-time socialism, on the other hand, is not driven by base material
>> concerns. It cares only that what little work that remains to be done gets
>> equitably shared among all who could use a little work to get by.
> Li'l Joe, Response:
> Now we get to the heart of Mr Ellis motivation. Workers ought not
> be concerned with "base material concerns" such as community
> property as the basis for socialism.

So far, so good.

> Yet, ALL of his torturous arguments are concerned with
protecting capitalist ownership of the productive forces!

No matter how many times I say that property is (eventually) as doomed
as capitalism, Li'l Joe trots out the same tired old false accusations. With
all of the people willing to protect private property, capitalists certainly
don't need my help.

> Why does he not devote all this time and effort to explain
> to capitalists that they ought not to be "concerned" with such
> "base material" things as private ownership and personal wealth?

I don't bother explaining much to capitalists, because 'whoever owns the
property' doesn't make much difference to social justice. For as long as
people must work, newly created property will be fought over quite
intensely. Nowadays, because people have to work for property,
everyone has their fingers in the pie, and workers get ripped off. I see
no reason to escalate that battle. When production of new property no
longer requires human input, people will no longer fight over property.

> Kenneth Ellis concludes:
>> If labor-time socialism were motivated by material concerns, then
>> its proposed legislation would focus on wealth and property, but
>> its legislation instead focuses entirely upon intangible labor time,
>> or on overtime premium rates,
> Li'l Joe, Response:
> Since I am concerned with "base material concerns" such as wealth
> and property I am doing all in my power to build a labour party to
> have the ultimate aim of legislating expropriation of property and the
> redistribution of the wealth produced by the working classes and toiling
> masses from the capitalists to the working classes and toiling masses.

Go right ahead, but don't expect expropriation to help people share work. For
M+E, there was nothing religious or magic about expropriation. It was merely a
device to enhance fuller participation in the economy. Now that people's attitudes
toward expropriation and government ownership have become more clear since 1989,
its magic has been diminished, so activists, if more concerned with full participation
than gaining control over power and property, would do better to put away the dream
of expropriation (which few ordinary people support), and concentrate on the politics
of inclusion which will become very much more important in the near future, when
machines become a lot smarter than they are now.

> Since Mr Ellis claims to not be concerned with such base
> material concerns, why doesn't he get out of the way.

I simply hate to see activists repeat mistakes, so I try to help them to understand
some of the lessons of history to enable them to go compatibly with the flow.

> He is in fact passionately concerned
> with these base material objects being owned by capitalists.
> Li'l Joe

'Who owns what' makes little difference to the level of participation in the
economy, which is the limit of my activism. For those who are determined
to redistribute tangibles, come hell or high water, then they can butt their
heads against the wall for as long as they see fit. They will make little
progress in that direction, while the need for fuller participation will
become ever more pressing in the near future, in spite of whatever
distribution of property we end up with.

Ken Ellis

Page me26.212 Origin of the Family, ...
"In short, wealth is praised and respected as the highest treasure, and the
old gentile systems are abused in order to justify forcible robbery of wealth.
Only one thing was missing: an institution that would not only safeguard the
newly acquired wealth of individuals against the communistic traditions of the
gentile system, would not only sanctify private property, formerly held in such
low esteem, and pronounce this sanctification the supreme purpose of every
human society, but would also stamp the successively developing new forms of
acquiring property, and consequently, of constantly accelerating the increase in
wealth, with the seal of general public recognition; an institution that would
perpetuate, not only the arising class division of society, but also the right
of the possessing class to exploit the non-possessing classes and the rule
of the former over the latter.



Mike Morin wrote:

> Ken Ellis is not a bourgeois socialist, as Li'l Joe claims.
> Ken Ellis is a sham.

In what way?

> Ken wrote:
>> As usual, I'll probably opine that dealing with tangibles is too
>> complicated a waste of time for the working class to get involved with.
> Mike responds:
> Such
elitist contempt for the "working class" is contemptible.

In what way was my answer elitist? Is the working class so hung
up on tangibles that they will choose baubles forever? The times cry
out increasingly for us to exercise the politics of inclusion. Wealth
redistribution fails to solve all of our problems, and will fail even
more with the flow of time.

> Ken must think of himself as an aristocratic labor union boss
> who has to do all the thinking for the people because they are
> incapable of thought and must be driven on single individualistic
> consumption oriented issues.

If guilty of that, then that would be elitism. But, I am not thinking 'for the
people'. I think WITH them. Then I dialogue with activists who have been
misled into thinking that 'property and wealth redistribution will get us out
of capitalism

> The history of the labor movement is full of Ken Ellises.
> Gather 'round boys and girls, and we'll blindly
push for
> more money for ourselves, less work, more vacation,
> health insurance, workers comp., retirement, etc.

Engels thought that many of those measures paves the path to the abolition
of wage labor, so not too many people are going to find fault with it.

> I've stated repeatedly that I do not disagree with these goals,

Then why complicate an effective and simple program by trying to mix them
with the boundless goals of property socialism?

> what I do disagree with is Ken's elitist attitude
> that the "working class" is a bunch of morons

If workers weren't so smart, then THEY WOULD BE PROPERTY SOCIALISTS.
It's the activists who need to be smartened up, not the workers. If property socialism
had much value, then it would have a lot more support than what it does.

> who would prefer and be better off to be left in the dark
> about how their interests coincide with the interests of others.

Coincide with the interests of PROPERTY SOCIALISTS?
Fat chance. Property socialists want control and ownership
of property, while workers want freedom from work.

Ken Ellis



Joan insisted:

> There is NO panacea.
>> to sinfully repeat myself from a few months ago,
>> reducing intangible labor time would:
>> 1) Put everyone to work who wants to.
> only in theory. remember that many are unemployed simply because they are
> far from jobs that need their skills -- not that those jobs don't exist

That's what transportation is for. I've known people who have broken up
families and gone across the country to find a good job. Hey! I just thought
of another benefit of shorter working hours! It also reduces the waste of long
commutes! Because of the shortage of labor, and the consequent demand for
all types of labor in every area, people wouldn't have to travel very far to get
jobs in their own fields of endeavor. Think of the savings.

>> 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.
> or if you're bad enough they'll fire you anyway

The economy ticks along smoothly because workers do their jobs so well.
(Joan thinks average workers are flunkies.)

>> 4) Improve productivity by eliminating worker fatigue.
> maybe. but what about that whole thing about a good feeling
> that comes with a day's work?

Maybe the overworked are too tired to notice how bad they really feel.

>> 5) Encourage technological innovation, enabling further work reductions.
> how's that?

If human labor were scarce, then bosses would be encouraged to invest
more heavily in labor-saving machinery, so as to meet demand for product
and service. That would redound to our benefit by enabling hours of labor
to be cut still further. Hurray for more freedom!

>> 6) Promote a higher general standard of personal health and well-being.
> i suppose that depends on your definition of "health and well-being."
> I work 60 hours a week, but i feel better than i ever have before.

Similar to my past experience. When I worked long hours and
made lots of money, the extra money more than compensated
for the exhaustion and 'not having a life'.

>> 7) Enhance domestic harmony and bliss.
> right. there's only so much time teenagers can spend with their parents
> before there is a family argument.

Maybe you are right. I think that the nuclear family is destined to disintegrate
the closer we approach the workless society. Kids won't have much use for
their nagging parents, with all of their stinking rules. Some families function
well because members hardly see one another. But, with less competition,
maybe kids wouldn't grow up being at one another's throats all of the time.

>> 9) Give people more confidence in 'the system',
>> and restore social optimism.
> right. increase optimism as conditions deteriorate...

Some things get worse, and others better. There have never been as many
programs for the poor as there are at present. Poor people didn't have a
chance 100 years ago, except for charities.

>> 10) Improve a country's economy, as in the example of France,
>> with its 35 hour week.
> I do not admire france's economy. they have frequent problems,
> high unemployment, and discouragement of business & growth.

A country which dares to go for a shorter work week on its own is asking
for trouble. The rest of the world needs to follow suit, and quickly.

>> 12) Enable reductions in unemployment insurance premiums.
> my unemployment insurance is my intelligence and my work ethic.

Not all of us are that lucky to be so smart and motivated. Maybe we inferior
types need to be shown the door to the gas chamber. Then only the best would
survive, and a race of supermen and women would be free to evolve. ;-)

>> 13) Reduce stress on the environment by eliminating the 'job creation'
>> justification for 'economic growth'.
> what about the "more free time to consume more goods" justification?

"The urge to splurge continues to surge." - John De Graaf

'I want to consume more, and instantly!' Glompf. :-)

>> 14) Pare down the enormous profits which are plowed into non-productive
>> activities such as rampant speculation, excessive advertising, and campaign finances.
> that will go on anyway...

But, not as much, which would help us to slow down and save what's left of the world.

>> 15) Alter investment priorities, enabling the economy to serve a greater
>> portion of humanity.
> right.
> and i'm cleopatra.

Are you insinuating some kind of inflexibility to capitalism, or some kind
of powerlessness of people to affect what goes on around them?

>> If labor time reductions can do all of that, then it comes as close to a
>> panacea that I can think of.
> if you really think it will do all that,
you're living in just as much of a
> dream world as all the other theorists
. Though it might be a good gain
> for workers that would benefit many people, a shorter work week
> not cure society's problems
. btw what about all those other things like
> crime and violence
that it won't cure?

Crime? In the next town over, an underpaid nurse's assistant just got busted
for stealing Oxycontin from a 90 year old patient. Whether she was going to
use it to dull her own pain, or sell the tablets for $80 apiece, she was a victim
of over-exploitation, and hers was another crime of poverty. By eliminating
the poverty of low-wage jobs, a lot of crime would be eliminated.

Ken Ellis



Li'l Joe added:

> When have I ever wrote anything about myself of such a vain thing?
> Ellis attacked Marxism and I defended Marxism. Does Ellis stand with
> the landless peasants and homeless workers in southern Africa? I do. I
> support their expropriation of lands formerly taken from them by white
> settler-colonists at gun point.

I don't know enough about the situation in southern Africa to offer much of an
opinion. I concern myself mainly with the USA, where the RBG might want to
think about putting together some elements of an alliance. It would be nice if
someone were to propose a list of program planks for us to think about. The
list could very well have an 'international' section, where we could think about
supporting various struggles around the world. For the sake of simplicity,
perhaps the main list might have no more than 10 main elements, but each
of the main elements might contain sub-elements.

> Ellis says Marx theory that capitalist expropriation of third
> world lands in colonialization, the making of these peasants
> into propertyless proletarian
gives him a "chuckle".

What gave me the chuckle was the difference between 21st century perspectives
on colonialism compared to Marx's observations that white settlers could run off
to Canada, Australia and other colonies, ditch the capitalists who sponsored their
emigration, and set up shop as independent producers, which may not be exactly
what WE might consider to be a 'modern' theory of colonization. Later, it occurred
to me that the white colonial settlers went on to exploit natives in the several colonial
countries, which hardly evokes a 'chuckle'.

> To be consistent with what he says in the US, he would have to say
> to the African peasants that they ought not be so "base materialists"
> as to concern themselves with "taking property from the rich".

Conditions in Africa may be different enough that their survival may depend
on accessing land by whatever means they find necessary, so I am not about to
advise them from my position of ignorance, and from half-way around the world.

With regard to the USA, many American socialists philosophize over the future
non-existence of property, while, at the same time, they promote property to a fetish
to be fought over even more intensely than it already is. If property will someday be
no more, then it ought to be allowed to die a natural death. Property is the product of
human labor, and people FIGHT enough over property as it is, and certain rules and
procedures over trading property and land have evolved over eons, and those rules have
to be obeyed by everyone. A handful of uninfluential revolutionaries are hardly going
to change property relations. If they bothered to look at history more objectively, instead
of regarding expropriation as hammered in stone for all time, they might change their minds.
We live in a dynamic world, and the political conditions that allowed expropriation to be
plausible in Marx's day no longer exist. A dynamic world needs a dynamic program.

> In response, they would have every right to criticize this white middle class American,

Why does Li'l Joe think that I am 'middle class'? What do I own or control to
propel me to such heights? Is everyone with a computer 'middle class'? With so
many people owning them, and with their popularity spreading, computer owner-
ship is no longer the exclusive playground of the upper classes. If I am to be
discredited because of my perceived class status, it seems like a flimsy ground.
One might as well discredit Engels for having worked in his family's business.

> living in "base material" comfort, due to capitalist exploitation
> of propertyless proletarians round the world, with criticism by weapons.

Oh, sure. Criticize little old ME to death, and see how much closer
that brings the world to socialism.

> This is not a game. If I wanted to parade my knowledge of philosophy
> it wouldn't be on an tiny list of leftists whom I neither know nor can
> expect to benefit from.

Why not? Lots of us are or were interested in similar subjects, and if we are
serious about our ambitions to change the world, then we should try to achieve
clarity about history, goals, and methods. This type of venue is as good as what
can be found, at least with today's low level of technology.

> This is ideological war. I will not let bourgeois attacks on socialism go by
> without a response in any context. This is war. Class War is ideological
> as well as political. The point is not whether one's opponent is interesting,
> or has an audience to impress. The point is to strike him.

Should I be banished so that this forum can become a billboard for various
conflicting shades of property socialism?

> The issue is not "who knows the most" about Marxism. I have written in
> defense of the peasants expropriation of the lands in Africa, for community
> property in the United States and Europe as well as Africa. I do not want
> "mediation", but defend the African peasants right to expropriate those
> Europeans that expropriated them and to kill anyone who get in their way,
> including Black capitalists and Black bourgeois politicians. Workers in the
> US I argue to follow the example of the peasants in Zimbabwe. There is no
> middle course: either we will expropriate capital and beat the capitalists to
> the death or we will you will fight on their behalf along with Kenneth Ellis.

There's a lot of hostility in those words. It's a shame for us to turn
it on ourselves. But, the American left is so frustrated with its own
ineffectiveness that mutual destruction is a common occurrence.

Ken Ellis

Page me37.231 Capital
"But notably, it is prolongation of the working day, this invention of modern
industry, which increases the mass of appropriated surplus labour without
essentially altering the proportion of the employed labour power to the
constant capital set in motion by it, and which rather tends to reduce this
capital relatively. Moreover, it has already been demonstrated - and this
constitutes the real secret of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall - that
the manipulations to produce relative surplus value amount, on the whole,
to transforming as much as possible of a certain quantity of labour into
surplus value, on the one hand, and employing as little labour as possible
in proportion to the advanced capital, on the other, so that the same reasons
which permit raising the intensity of exploitation rule out exploiting the
same quantity of labour as before by the same capital. These are the
counteracting tendencies, which, while effecting a rise in the rate of
surplus value, also tend to decrease the mass of surplus value, and
hence the rate of profit produced by a certain capital.



--- In RBG-Alliance@y..., Li'l Joe <joeradical@y...> wrote:

> Not Webster or Marx, but Mr Ellis definition of "property".
> Under what circumstances does capital come into existence
> as "the property of the rich"?

Workers create capital and wealth, which accrues mostly to the rich, but
workers receive a wage in return for their efforts. It's mostly a very civil
relationship in the most developed countries, and certainly nothing to revolt over.

> What is the "right" of capitalist ownership of the basic means of production?

Respect for private property became so thorough and widespread in the Western
hemisphere that it is presently an unassailable institution. When future human
labor becomes an insignificant factor in production, and people no longer
profit from ownership, private property will decline and fall.

> By what right do the a few hundred thousand Western
> capitalists have to own the vast productive forces of the world,
> reducing the millions to wage -labour and obedience?

If zillions of people respect that right, then there's hardly any more to be
said about it. The right to property evolved over millennia, and is much older
than capitalism. Neither can be overturned overnight, the way in which Lenin
abolished private ownership of land in Russia on the very first day of the
Russian revolution.

> How is it that Mr Ellis defends capitalists ownership
> of "tangible" property - the basic means of production
> and distribution - and consequent wealth, while denouncing
> any movement of workers to overthrow and expropriate
> capital as wrong to focus on "tangibles"?
> =====
> Li'l Joe

I don't defend private property, I merely warn of the folly of trying to
abolish it under present conditions. Wage labor will disappear BEFORE
property and the state decline, only because the capitalist class is making
this scourge known as 'human labor' disappear. The actual unfolding scen-
ario is quite different from Marx's scenario, in that human labor and class
distinctions will disappear before private property. Nothing in the flow of
history in advanced countries indicates that private ownership will disappear
before other institutions. There's nothing that you, I, or anyone else can do
to change that, because the order of the way things will disappear is written
in the genetic code of the capitalist system. The system needs close study,
so that we can learn to change what can be changed. 'Politics is the art of
the feasible', as someone once said.

Ken Ellis

Page me37.609 Capital
"Landed property is based on the monopoly by certain persons over definite
portions of the globe, as exclusive spheres of their private will to the exclusion
of all others. With this in mind, the problem is to ascertain the economic value,
that is, the realisation of this monopoly on the basis of capitalist production.
With the legal power of these persons to use or misuse certain portions of the
globe, nothing is decided. The use of this power depends wholly upon economic
conditions, which are independent of their will. The legal view itself only means
that the landowner can do with the land what every owner of commodities can do
with his commodities. And this view, this legal view of free private ownership of
land, arises in the ancient world only with the dissolution of the organic order of
society, and in the modern world only with the development of capitalist produc-
tion. It has been imported by Europeans to Asia only here and there. In the section
dealing with primitive accumulation (Buch I, Kap. XXIV), we saw that this mode of
production presupposes, on the one hand, the separation of the direct producers from
their position as mere accessories to the land (in the form of vassals, serfs, slaves, etc.),
and, on the other hand, the expropriation of the mass of the people from the land. To
this extent the monopoly of landed property is a historical premise, and continues to
remain the basis of the capitalist mode of production, just as in all previous modes of
production which are based on the exploitation of the masses in one form or another.
But the form of landed property with which the incipient capitalist mode of production
is confronted does not suit it. It first creates for itself the form required by subordinat-
ing agriculture to capital. It thus transforms feudal landed property, clan property, small-
peasant property in mark communes - no matter how divergent their juristic forms may
be - into the economic form corresponding to the requirements of this mode of production.
One of the major results of the capitalist mode of production is that, on the one hand, it
transforms agriculture from a mere empirical and mechanical self-perpetuating process
employed by the least developed part of society into the conscious scientific application
of agronomy, in so far as this is at all feasible under conditions of private property; that
it completely divorces landed property from the relations of dominion and servitude, on
the one hand, and, on the other, totally separates land as a condition of labour from lan-
ded property and landowner - for whom the land merely represents a certain money
assessment which he collects by virtue of his monopoly from the industrial capitalist,
the tenant farmer; it dissolves the connection between landownership and the land so
thoroughly that the landowner may spend his whole life in Constantinople, while his
estates lie in Scotland. Landed property thus receives its purely economic form by
discarding all its former political and social embellishments and associations, in brief
all those traditional accessories, which are denounced, as we shall see later, as useless
and absurd superfluities by the industrial capitalists themselves, as well as their theore-
tical spokesmen, in the heat of their struggle with landed property. The rationalising of
agriculture, on the one hand, which makes it for the first time capable of operating on
a social scale, and the reduction ad absurdum of property in land, on the other, are the
great achievements of the capitalist mode of production. Like all of its other historical
advances, it also attained these by first completely impoverishing the direct producers.



It appears from the dialogue that LABs might become secretive bureaucracies.

Just what we need.

LABs instead could be policy conduits between listeners and stations
for policy business which is inappropriate for broadcast.

All of the information gathered by LABs should be public, and immediately
available to both stations and listeners via the Internet, which now reaches
just about everyone who wants to communicate. LABs would set no policies
themselves, but would merely facilitate democratic control of stations AND

If listener-sponsorship is desired, then listener control should be our policy
as well, including over the LABs, whose descriptive name should be changed
to reflect its main role as a conduit of information. 'Board' could be replaced
with a less officious and authoritative sounding name, perhaps such as:
'council', Wanzala's 'working group', or 'listener association'.

A long time ago, I signed up to join the FPIOC discussion group, but my
membership has yet to be approved. What in the devil kind of credentials
does anyone need to qualify to discuss the role of the FPIOC? The
greater the delay, the less wholesome it smells.

Ken Ellis



Dear aelewis,

Thanks for paying attention to this important issue. I'd be glad to help you
look over the synopsis you are thinking about. If you could do the legwork
of gathering the raw material and tossing out redundancies, then perhaps I
could help you look over the results, and help whip it into a final product.
It could end up a helpful guide for activists.

BTW, it doesn't look like anyone in the RBG forum is interested in continuing
that discussion. The SLP-Houston forum gave me the bum's rush, and the WSM
forum moderator just sent me a nasty warning about the 'irrelevancy' of my posts.
I joined the Massachusetts Green Party early this year. Might the migreens forum
be amused for a few months? If so, then a URL would help me find their forum.

Best wishes,

Ken Ellis

> snip >
> The idea of reducing working hours has been the subject of a very
> long and interesting discussion, ongoing, on the "Red-Blue-Green
> Alliance" board (
> Main protagonist: Kenneth Ellis, about whom I posted some weeks
> back. I am saving the threads and may at some point edit them
> down to a readable/postable form.
> snip >



Dear Mr. Higgins,

Thank you for your opinion. I've been on the WSM forum for over a year,
and others have tried to 'exclude my irrelevancies' a few times in the past, but
without lasting success. Would you like to renew the debate over censorship in
the WSM forum? Few people will appreciate going through all of that messy
stuff all over again, but you are entitled to try your hand at it if you so desire.

The matter of ideologies being supported by lies and distortions is of very great
importance to the working class. Please refrain from interfering in this debate.

Ken Ellis

> Subject: Don and you
> kennethellis wrote:
>> Don: Thank you for the input. I can't seem to find your reply.
> I have written to Don and I will tell you the same thing. Please
> continue this conversation off-list.
It isn't relevant to this Forum.
> --
> Lew
> Moderator



Apologies to all for cluttering mailboxes with this 'private post', but trouble
is brewing. I just received a message from Lew, the moderator, saying:

> You are suspended for 1 month.

Then I tried going to the WSM web site to read messages,
but couldn't even do that. The web site message said:

> Oops...
> You have been banned from the group WSM_Socialism_Forum.

The issues I raise are very important, so I ask all of you who think that my
arguments are reasonable, clinical, and well-documented, to plead with the
moderator to re-instate my privileges.

I had earlier in the day tried posting the following message, which prompted
the moderator to suspend me:


Censorship is rearing its ugly head again. The question of whether a party's
ideology might be based upon lies and distortions is of great importance to the
working class, and yet the moderator threatens to prevent you from reading and
thinking about it. Why should this forum become as censorious of controversial
subjects as the SLP-Houston forum? The moderator wrote to me privately yesterday:

> I have written to Don and I will tell you the same thing. Please
> continue this conversation off-list.
It isn't relevant to this Forum.
> --
> Lew
> Moderator

To which I replied:

>> Dear Mr. Higgins,
>> Thank you for your opinion. I've been on the WSM forum for over a year, and
>> others have tried to 'exclude my irrelevancies' a few times in the past, but without
>> lasting success. Would you like to renew the debate over censorship in the WSM
>> forum? Few people will appreciate going through all of that messy stuff all over
>> again, but you are entitled to try your hand at it if you so desire.
>> The matter of ideologies being supported by lies and distortions is of very great
>> importance to the working class. Please refrain from interfering in this debate.
>> Sincerely,
>> Ken Ellis

The moderator responded privately today, Thursday:

> This is not my opinion but a warning from the moderator.
> If you continue this thread on the forum you will be suspended.
> --
> Lew
> Moderator

I tried posting this message later in the day, but it didn't appear.

Before submitting the next contribution to the thread about ASLP distortions
on Saturday, I'll give forum participants a couple of days to express their
opinions. Should a subject as important as corrupted ideology be censored
off this forum? People feel very free to complain about Lenin's corruption
of Marxism, so why aren't people allowed to see and think about a more
modern and relevant concrete example?

Ken Ellis



> From: "SteveG"
> Subject: RE: Ken Ellis, the ASLP, and Censorship
> have you seen my site?
> just wondering what your opinion is.
> - Steve

Hi, Steve,

I visited your site and looked over the plan. I think people might be more stuck
on 'one person - one vote' than what you might hope. People have no more interest
in a more equitable distribution of votes than they have in a more equitable distribution
of property. To them, it would be just a rearrangement of the deck chairs on the sinking
Titanic, because this is a dynamic world, and everything is changing so fast. Pretty soon,
people will be much more interested in a more equitable distribution of work and jobs,
which is what I look forward to as a step toward getting rid of work, class distinctions,
government repression, economic competition, property, and probably more yucky stuff.

Anyway, I appreciated hearing from you. Best wishes.

Ken Ellis



Hi, Matt,

> Hi Ken,
> We let the dialogue between you and your former comrades go on without
> intervening and without comment because we were giving you a fair go, and
> gave them the chance to respond.Frankly it doesnt interest me.I have enough
> on my plate trying to ensure that my conduct and my partys conduct is within
> the bounds of our own declaration of principles without interfering with another
> organisation.I was pleased that the moderator let it run but he is a very fair fellow,
> and I support his decision to call a halt to this thread.You are allowed to post if
> you wish, but not on this subject.You were suspended for refusing to accept
> the moderators ruling and can continue once the suspension is complete.

Yes, but you know the one track mind I have, so the suspension would end up
being permanent. :-(

> He wrote to you and to your correspondent.You are not being singled out .
> I have already indicated that I enjoy reading your postings as well as Ben's replies.

How does 'enjoy reading your postings' square
with your 'Frankly it doesn't interest me'?

> I know we two didn't hit it off initially but that's OK.I still like you.

Well, thanks, Matt. I don't recall having had much trouble with you in the
past, the way I had with Simon W., Stuart W., and Len W. (What is it with
people whose last names begin with W? Maybe it's a W syndrome.)

> I am a net newbie and don't come across as friendly as I would like
> but so it goes.I hope you will not let this present spat put you off
> continuing your dialogue with young Ben when opportunity permits.
> Yours for socialism,
> Matt Culbert
> Incidentally if you wish to drop me a line from time to time I don't mind,
> I just don't think my writing can keep up with your voluminous output.
> cheers :-)

Thanks for the kind words, Matt. I hope to rejoin the forum on my own terms
someday. But, if I can't, then I can't. No matter what, all my best to you.

Ken Ellis



Hi, Wesley,

> To answer your question Ken. The WSM is trying to do what
> the Bolsheviks did a century ago in regards to gaining power via
> indoctrination ( mind control ) / information control ( hence the
> censorship of you and black listing of me and the Scottish socialist
> who refused to submit to their leadership ). Or reality manipulation.

Wow, that's a pretty heavy indictment! Have you found any strong evidence?

> The goal , I don't think , is to actually gain political power.

I thought they wanted to be elected. Some have them have mentioned it
lots of times in the forum. It's part of their program, isn't it?

> [ They are pathetic if they think they will with their limited
> manipulation abilities that rout! ]

All sects seem rather pathetic in that regard. It's all a lot of bluster.

> But rather to add prestige, popularity,
> influence and yes money to their leadership.

What do you know about the money angle? Is it just a bunch of small
contributions from members, and sometimes what some poor fool leaves
them in their will? Do they have an impressive war chest like the half
mil that the ASLP had in their war chest in the 1970's?

> A cult never carries out what it publicly states is it's mission.
> (World peace what ever ) But rather the publicly stated mission
> ( in this case socialism ) is but a pretext to bait, lure, intrap , con,
> people into supporting the leadership of the cult!

Good point. I agree 100%.

> You , nor I , fit into those cultistic ambitions of the ruling elite of the WSM
> so they leaned against us. Wanting to have nothing to do with such a cult
> I walked out of the socialist forum and the WSM Jan. 1, 2001.

Sometimes enough is enough! I had to walk out of my cult in 1977, lest I go
nuts trying to deal with the contradiction of helping spread their lies to the
working class for very much longer.

> The June minutes of the WSP-US attacked me and my efforts to spread
> socialist ideals! A full six months after I left them. Truly a bunch of cultist.
> Consider this a blessing comrade.

It may end up being a blessing. I don't know how much success I'll have with
them, but I tend to adhere to what Engels wrote a long time ago: ".. if we are
not to go against the popular current of momentary tomfoolery, what in the
name of the devil is our business?

I guess what I do is my choice of arm-chair activism.

> Wesley
> Hasten capitalism to it's grave.

Thanks for the sympathetic note. Good luck to you too.

Best wishes,
Ken Ellis

"It is very characteristic of the Anglo-Saxon race and their peculiar mode of
development, that both here and in America the people who, more or less, have
the correct theory as to the dogmatic side of it, become a mere sect because they
cannot conceive that living theory of action, of working with the working class at
every possible stage of its development, otherwise than as a collection of dogmas
to be learnt by heart and recited like a conjurer's formula or a Catholic prayer. Thus
the real movement is going on outside the sect, and leaving it more and more.
" ...
From a January 6, 1892 letter from Engels to Sorge.



Hi, Duncan,

> In my experience a forum which routinely censors members
> is not worth participating in.

That's true, but nearly the same thing happened a year ago, and their
censorship raised such a storm of protest that they changed their minds.
I'm hoping for a repeat performance.

> Let them be and start a new list with a list of principles on
> censorship. If they don't want to talk about it that's up to them,
> so talk to people who do believe in freedom of expression.

That's not a bad idea. I think about it occasionally.

> Anyway - how the fu*k did you get my email address?
> I was on the WSM list for a short time but haven't
> been there for about a year? Please explain.
> Duncan - from New Zealand

I used to get the individual e-mails from the forum, and I always moved the messages
into my WSM folder, which now has 4000 messages in it. Each message contains an
address from the sender, so I assembled the 165 separate addresses into a WSM Group
for occasions such as this. Last year's group only contained some 90 names. But, don't
worry, I know better than to abuse this list. I only want to use it 2 more times this
weekend to send the two messages I've been working on for the past week that would
hopefully prove to people just exactly how the ASLP lied to the world. At the latest,
the inconvenience to you will stop on Sunday, but I could drop your name earlier
than that at your request.

At any rate, thanks for your ideas. I appreciate the input.

Best wishes,
Ken Ellis



Hi, Steve,

> I hate to sound preachy, but to me this proves the invalidity of the WSM
> entirely (Not that I didn't know already)

I've known that their program was invalid from our very first controversy
over a year ago. But, I have always needed the practice in arguing, and I
have learned quite a lot from the give-and-take. It's been quite a valuable
experience to me, and now they want to take it away from me.

> McDonagh is quite entitled to argue against Marxism,
> I am condemned as a Leninist/Stalinist authoritarian,
> you question censorship of your debating a minuscule
> difference, and you are excluded.

What's that 'small' difference, as you see it?

> Speaks volumes about the organisation to me.
> For an organisation that claims not to have a 'leadership'
> it's pretty bizarre, to say the least.

I've known for a long time that they are just as bad as the American SLP I
left in 1977. What I do is simply battle for hearts and minds. I can't claim
much success in debate, but, after doing this for a while, a Green wants to
put together a dialogue I had with a CP guy on the RBG forum, and use it
as a possible teaching aid. :-)

> Thankfully, I have been excluded from the forum anyway, by my hotmail account.

Sounds like a mere technical difficulty. I enjoyed some of your debates with
Len W. I had a long debate with him last year, but he is pretty professional at
maintaining the party line. He wouldn't agree for a long time that M+E wanted
to make the means of production STATE property until I provided quote after
quote for a couple of weeks straight. But, that was the only thing he budged on.

> Join a real revolutionary organisation Ken.
> Fraternally,
> Steve Bush,
> Lambeth Socialist Party.

Thanks for the invitation, but I guess you didn't hear that I gave up on
revolution in favor of Evolution. I'm going to rely upon driving down
the length of the work week to get us to the abolition of wage-labor, the
abolition of class divisions, and all of the rest of the good stuff we want.

I'm glad you agree that it's censorship I'm up against. Cheers.

Best wishes,
Ken Ellis



Hi, Papi,

> Hi Ken,
> I really don't know why you have been suspended. I unsubscribed from the Forum
> back in March and have only resubscribed in the past few days. So I am unaware as
> to the circumstances re. your suspension.
> Regards,
> JB

A couple of ASLP members or sympathizers accused my charges (that ASLP
ideology was based on lies) of being totally unsubstantiated. I was all ready
to substantiate the charges when I was suspended. I had been working on a
couple of real good replies over the past week, and now there's no way to post
them legally. So, I'll do what I was once before forced to do, and privately
post one on Saturday, and the other on Sunday.

What the WSM is doing to me seems awfully unfair. Hence, I have no more
respect for my suspension than I had for the ASLP's close monitoring of their
members' discussions, lest 'dangerous' material be propagated to immature people
who can't handle it, I presume. But, I believe that people have a right to make up
their own minds as to whether or not to delete a thread they're not interested in.
I've been in regular correspondence with one person or another in the WSM
forum for over a year, and this isn't the first time the censorship issue has
come up. If I'd been abusive or illogical or off the wall, then suspension
for spamming would seem like a good prophylactic measure, but I put
a lot of effort into my scribblings.

I've been getting compliments from people on other forums. Here's the most
recent response to my WSM suspension on the RBG forum:

> Amazing! Truly amazing!
> Sincere, thoughtful, well-reasoned and well-written contributions
> being banned... in favor of what? Cross-posted trivia? Newsy
> ephemera? Silly and tired screeds?
> Bad content crowds out good; then, the good is banned!
> I am reeling.
> Back to lurking, and shaking head in amazed disgust.
> A

Before the suspension, A had posted a comment to the migreen forum
about my dialogue with a communist:

> The idea of reducing working hours has been the subject of a very
> long and interesting discussion, ongoing, on the "Red-Blue-Green
> Alliance" board (
> Main protagonist: Kenneth Ellis, about whom I posted some weeks
> back. I am saving the threads and may at some point edit them down
> to a readable/postable form.

As a result of his interest, the two of us might collaborate on some kind of
'Activist Guide to Ideology'. If the WSM forum doesn't respect my scholarship,
then I won't try to force it on the forum forever. I'll do my 2 private posts, and
then see what happens. If the WSM can't think past punishing me for the
private posts, then .. oh, well.

Thanks for your concern, Papi. You have always seemed like one of the more
reasonable voices on the forum.

Best wishes,
Ken Ellis



Because I have been unfairly suspended from the WSM forum, the following
message could not be posted publicly, so once again I have resorted to this
guerrilla tactic to get this matter off the table. This message and tomorrow's
will conclude my use of this tactic, so I beg patience if this isn't your cup
of tea. The pain will end soon.

Jean-Paul wrote:

> Ken says he is for discussion and debate--yet most people would not find
> 10-15 page posts as being conducive to debate or discussion, considering
> that a good reply to a 10 page post might take up 15 pages. Most workers
> don't have that sort of spare time.

Not all issues of socialist theory lend themselves to snap replies.

> Three months ago Ken was telling everyone
> that the SLP was made up of anarchists,

It is an anarchist party cleverly disguised as socialist. By calling for the
abolition of the state on election day, the American SLP's Socialist Industrial
Unionism program is anarchist. Abolishing states was much more plausible
for the era of Bakunin and Marx, when feudal monarchies and republics
without universal suffrage were common. But, with no feudal monarchy
or purely bourgeois republic in the USA to abolish, but feeling the need to
'abolish the state' in defiance of Social-Democratic sentiments to the contrary,
the ASLP adapted their anarchist revolution to Social-Democracies: They
postulate that people will cast their ballots for the ASLP, whose members
will seize the machinery of state for the purpose of dismantling it.

> now he's telling everyone that we're 'property socialists'.

Revolutionaries would abolish existing states to facilitate the abolition of
private property and capitalism, which abolition is common to both anarchism
and communism. But, that Marxist theory was rendered obsolete for the rest of
time by ever-increasing democratization parallel to the growth of the bourgeoisie
and proletariat, and by the failure of enough Europeans to support the Russian
revolution by overthrowing their states, ending all hopes of overthrowing a
sufficient number of them to provide socialists with the power with which
to expropriate, and the unity with which to prevent counter-revolution.

Though originally intended for the most developed countries, Marx's
revolution ended up being more applicable to less democratic and less
developed countries, where socialists and communists enjoyed full state
power after overthrowing undemocratic states, and thereafter could do what
they wanted with property. Important as it was to M+E, expropriation was
to no more than SERVE the more important 'full participation in the
economy', and 'the abolition of class distinctions'.

'Labor-time socialism' is more compatible with highly developed existing
democracies, and takes over from where obsolete property socialism left off.
Work-sharing is far more relevant to modern industrialized democracies, where
human labor will be replaced with machines before the other parts of the world.
When the length of the work-week someday becomes ridiculously short, and vol-
unteers step in to replace the remaining wage-labor, capitalism as we've suffered
from it will disappear. After the abolition of wage-labor and class distinctions,
property owners will no longer profit from ownership, so ownership will fade
away, along with the state, money, and probably the nuclear family as well.

> Ken says that Arnold Petersen distorted the Marxist-Leninist concept
> of 'the dictatorship of the proletariat' at a 1931 speech at a De Leon
> Birthday Celebration, and that that distortion is unforgivable.

Is that as far as J-P is willing to take that issue? Where does J-P stand on
Petersen's denial of the worker-peasant ALLIANCE? How about Petersen's
'dictatorship of the proletariat over the peasantry', and his subsequent conclu-
sion that 'developed countries like the USA do not need proletarian dictatorships
over barely existing peasantries'? Where does J-P stand on Petersen's use of
those DISTORTIONS of Marxism to justify the Socialist Industrial Union
program as 'a logical replacement for the inapplicable proletarian dictatorship'?

American SLP members look in horror and indignation at the accusation of
lies, ignore the analytical details, and try to 'kill the messenger' with insults and
censorship. But, their reaction is merely the result of a misunderstanding of my
intentions. My personal weaknesses may have prevented me from fighting out
my ideological battles within the party in the 1970's, but my intent has always been
to introduce the rank and file to plausible theories about the ongoing tendency of
the ASLP to shrink with time. My book warns the Party of its errors, so that the
remaining members can fix them, and move toward a program which would make
sense to the USA in the 21st century.

> Ken also says that he has repeatedly made mistakes
> and misinterpretations of Marxism,

I try to correct my mistakes as soon as I discover them. No better than that
can a human do. Open and candid self-correction would hopefully set a good
example for everyone else who makes mistakes.

> but that is okay because he forgives himself.

Anyone recognizing their own fallibility would forgive themselves.

> snip old text >
> One day we're anarchists and the next day we're Socialists,
> I guess 'distortion' only applies in certain cases.

For generations, circumspect anarchists have called themselves socialists,
or have indicated that the 2 'isms are not exclusive. Some anarchists call
themselves 'socialists first, and anarchists second'.

Replacing the state with the ASLP's classless and stateless Socialist
Industrial Union is the essence of an anarchist (or anarcho-syndicalist)
program. It was reported that 'replacing states with unions' came from
Bakunin. Engels got wind of the plan through J.P. Becker, and critiqued it in
1869. De Leon modified Bakunin's 'union administration of society' idea with
INDUSTRIAL unionism, helping the plan to correspond to the growing
vertical monopoly ownership of industries toward the end of the 1800's.

To mollify ASLP member suspicions of a too-close relation to anarchism,
the late Arnold Petersen (Nat'l Sec'y, 1913-68) tried to distance the ASLP by
redefining anarchism to mean 'the replacement of the state with NOTHING AT
'. Those who were weak enough in socialist theory to accept Petersen's
'dictatorship of the proletariat over the peasantry' also accepted his
redefinition of anarchism (as well as many other distortions).

Member acceptance of redefinitions indicates the caliber of the material -
people who want a role in creating a better world, but who don't particularly
care if what they believe is logical and possible, and who don't have the time
or interest to square party pronouncements with reality and history. Very
unfortunate, but also quite understandable in a country where class struggle
is so weak and disorganized that no real working class party exists,
preventing working class interests from being faithfully represented.

> Ken says that the SLP-Houston site is a billboard for De Leonism--
> well it; just like that Ken Ellis website is a billboard for KEN ELLIS.
> I wouldn't join the WSM site expecting it to be a billboard for Trotskyism.

Billboardism is a principle of sectarianism. According to J-P, everyone is free
to put up their billboards and advertise their programs to passersby, and we all
politely respect one another's rights to 'do business' in the great marketplace of
ideas. So, the ASLP respects the rights of the SWP who respect the rights of
the WSM who respect the rights of the BLP ... and so on, ad infinitum.
Simultaneously, parties are free to besoot competing parties with
accusations of malfeasance and ineptitude.

J-P must think that I am playing the same tired old game, but I am not. I have
no literature to SELL, and no dues to COLLECT. My efforts are unsullied by
economic considerations. I merely wish to facilitate a logical analysis of ideol-
ogies by introducing meaty subjects like LIES and DISTORTIONS, but no one
bites. Maybe they think that: capitalists and their parties lie and distort, while
proletarian parties expose capitalist lies. If only life were that simple ...

The time has come for politically active and aware people to put aside
sectarian divisiveness and try to find a common mode of action to get us
to the promised land of classless and stateless society. If A says that the path
is paved by replacing the state with a classless and stateless administration of
things, but B says that the path is paved by replacing the state with a communist
workers' state, then it is obvious that we can't proceed down BOTH paths, and
that we should pull back and do a little thinking before we proceed anywhere.
Many will say that they HAVE thought it over, and that the path is definitely
A, while others say that it is definitely B, while still others say that it is C,
and so on to D, E, F ....

But, you see? The problem is that people SAY that they have thought it over,
while it is clear that they really haven't. If they HAD thought it over, then we
would all be on the SAME track to classless and stateless society. But, we are
not, and leaders retain vested interests in the success of paths A, B, C, and so
on, even though the conflicts between the various paths are not hard to detect.
marketing the plan they want people to market. So, activists fail to think, and
continue to market De Leonism, Trotskyism, Leninism, etc.ism, and the working
class continues to lose because activists haven't thought things through to a logically
consistent program. I know - changing ideologies isn't much easier than trying to
convert Jews into Catholics, and vice versa, etc.

> Ken says "rules, rules, rules". Ken says he wants 110% freedom to do
> whatever he wants regardless of what the majority thinks or votes.

J-P thinks that freedom of speech is not an absolute, and instead is something
that can be granted by the majority on an individual case-by-case basis. In his
Party, people who propose uncomfortable ideas can be turned off like a faucet.
Granted, some ideas can be perfectly offensive while accomplishing nothing, while
other not-so-comfortable ideas, thought about carefully enough, can help a party adopt
a program and platform to correspond with what's politically feasible in today's world.

If a party is to develop out of sectarianism, its members have to be FREE to be
brave enough to propagate material which is dangerous to the prevailing ideology.
If a membership of a party is UNTRUSTED by its leaders, then the leaders will
not promote a full and fair discussion. If leaders are honest, and if they trust their
own members, then the party will be free to either strengthen its convictions about
its own ideology, or else convert to a more sensible ideology. The power to turn
off the flow of information is the power to maintain the status quo, in more ways
than one. Some groups and organizations ridiculously still try to control flows of
information the way it was controlled in the 19th century.

> Ken says, organization, democracy, rules, discipline, compromise are
> not for him
. And here I was reading LEFT-WING LIES and thinking
> Ken Ellis sure does hate anarchism.

What I really hated was being lied to, and then being USED
while in my condition of blissful ignorance.

> Ken accused me of lying when I said he was trying to disprove the
> class struggle. This is Ken on the subject, the first three lines are
> from our moderator's previous post:
>>> " 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. --Carl Miller, SLP
>> It's true that we are just another commodity to them, but your text
>> reminds 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." --Ken Ellis
> The loving politics of inclusion between workers and capitalists?

No, the politics of inclusion between ORDINARY PEOPLE who have seen
enough of the suffering that results when some people have decent jobs at
decent wages, while many others have crummy jobs at crummy wages, while
others have no place at all in the legal economy. If enough people decide that
the existing competition for scarce jobs is too severe to enable well-being in
our communities, then perhaps people will want to make the economy more
inclusive. Universal suffrage forces politicians to listen to VOTERS.

In what respect did what I write constitute a denial of the class struggle?
Unless, perhaps, J-P's class struggle means that capitalists are always wrong,
and workers are always right, and that similar black-and-white terms aptly
describe everything else about the classes. But, if that were so, then such
harsh conditions would obviously foster a strong workers' party. I will bet,
on the other hand, that the USA makes it to workless and classless society
WITHOUT a separate workers' party vying for the power of the state.

> With workers defending capitalist property rights ...

Who defends capitalist property rights today, except for the working class? A
choice in whether or not to protect property simply doesn't exist. The haves feel
a need to be protected from the have-nots. A portion of the working class is con-
sequently put to work in security industries to protect that status quo. AFTER
we begin to practice the politics of inclusion, the state will begin to melt away.

> With workers defending capitalist property rights, and campaigning
> for shorter hours and more pay? Working together for a better future?

Engels regarded struggles for shorter work hours and higher pay as means
of abolishing wage slavery, so I wouldn't gainsay those struggles. The less
we work per week, the freer we become.

> Don't we already live in this idyllic society. Who is defending bourgeois interests now?

Class struggles to abolish wage labor do not defend bourgeois interests.
Capitalists want to keep as few workers as possible on the job for as many
hours per week as possible, just the way Marx described it in Capital.

> The SLP has always said that the 'nice' capitalists are worse than
> the 'brutal' ones because of how much they dull the class struggle.
> Whether you punch me in the stomach or pat me on the back the
> other hand is still in my wallet. It's the same game either way.

No one is to blame for poverty and the politics of exclusion, except the
people themselves. People ALLOW exclusion to continue, in spite of our
enormous productive capacities, and the lack of any societal need to exclude
anyone. No capitalist points a gun at our heads and forces us to compete
with one another for jobs.

> Some stuff I didn't touch here--but a lot of the answers are
> available on the SLP-Houston website:
> Although I think responding to Ken is good practice for a 22 year old,
> considering he's our most vocal and
well-financed critic--it's not my
> main priority--and it tends to be quite tiring especially after a day
> of work in the hot NY sun. So once again I bid you farewell Ken
> and at the same time I'd like to give a hello to the WSM.
> In Solidarity,
> John-Paul Catusco

A cheery farewell to J-P as well. BTW, what could lead anyone
to think that I'm 'well-financed'?

Ken Ellis



Hello, Karla,

> Ken,
> To be honest with you, I also find most (if not all) of your posts
> irrelevant to the WSM Discussion Forum. It seems to me you
> really don't *get* it (it being the case for socialism). So please
> don't write to me for help!
> Karla Ellenbogen (WSPUS)

So, is it OK with you if SLP-Houston expels me permanently from their forum,
and then uses the WSM forum to appeal to have me thrown off this forum as well,
so that they can continue to lie about me, and lie about socialism, unopposed in the
great marketplace of ideas?

When I hear a commercial I don't like, I mute the TV. When I see a post in a
forum from someone whose views I don't share, I don't read the whole thing.
Excluding someone whose views may not be the most popular merely enforces
sectarianism. Think about the people on the forum with whom I WAS having a
good conversation. Would you rob your own party members the experience of
conversing with whomever they would converse?

Ken Ellis



Hi, again,

>> It could end up a helpful guide for activists.
> That sounds like a plan. Now I need a free weekend or so to go through
> the (rather enormous) volume of stuff that I have squirreled-away from
> RGB. Come to think of it, perhaps this is something *you* should be
> doing. You've written a near book-length volume of text; the repartee
> with detractors is quite helpful, often; it really ought to be edited and
> buffed and republished in a better form.

You're right, it is a daunting task. If only you or I were a college professor
who could put a class of kids to work on it. My RBG file dates back to my
first conversation with Mike Morin on March 6. I have just looked at my 'sent'
file, which contains 64 messages to the RBG forum, mostly to Joan, Mike and
Li'l Joe. Lots of words. To sort out something like that would take a bit of time.
I wish I had the technology to project them onto a big wall, and then gather
similar paragraphs into their respective areas, and then cut out the redundancies.

When you speak of 'republish', do you have anything in mind? It might be good
to get something out to the people in one form or another.

> What I've done is simply sub to RGB on the "daily digest" option;
> I have a couple months worth to work through; before that, I was
> actually doing it on an as-occurs basis (i.e. going thru each digest
> as they arrived, and filtering), but I stopped that a while back. I have
> a couple hundred KB of your earlier posts, already semi-filtered, on disk.

That's a good starting point, but still a lot of work.

> It is a lot of work. I wish there were other people working as
> intellectual filters. There are only so many hours in the day, and
> the volume of these lists is so huge. I wonder if the people who
> post so much really expect everyone to actually read all this stuff.

I'm beginning to wonder if the only people who really TRY to understand it
are the ones to whom the message is addressed. But, even then ...

I've got an idea. Why don't you put together a compendium of stuff that
you think is important, and I'll work on a compendium of stuff that I think is
important. We'll each toss out as much redundancy as we can, and then send the
results to each other and compare them. That way, we would end up on the same
or overlapping playing fields, and we can figure out how to filter it down.

>> BTW, it doesn't look like anyone in the RBG forum is interested in con-
>> tinuing that discussion. The SLP-Houston forum gave me the bum's rush,
>> and the WSM forum moderator just sent me a nasty warning about the
>> 'irrelevancy' of my posts. I joined the Massachusetts Green Party early
>> this year. Might the migreens forum be amused for a few months?
>> If so, then a URL would help me find their forum.
> Maybe they would. You are welcome to come and hang out. It is
> a small local board; I think there are about 80 members. You could
> possibly develop a mail list of Green Party boards around the country,
> and communicate more efficiently -- though you would have to discipline
> yourself to keep the number and volume to a minimum, so as not to be
> perceived as spammer.
> I think it would be a good idea to get previous material edited
> and presentable first, so as not to have to re-invent the wheel.

Good advice, though the way I usually introduce myself to a forum is to take
issue with something someone has said, and then start a dialogue.

> here is migreens:
> Others of possible interest:

Thanks for all of the info and links. I'll check them out as time allows.

I saw your message to RBG. Very nice:

> Amazing! Truly amazing!
> Sincere, thoughtful, well-reasoned and well-written contributions
> being banned... in favor of what? Cross-posted trivia? Newsy
> ephemera? Silly and tired screeds?
> Bad content crowds out good; then, the good is banned!
> I am reeling.
> Back to lurking, and shaking head in amazed disgust.
> A

I think that I'll have plenty of time next week for the project.
Hopefully, by the 18th I'll have something to send to you.

Until next time,
Best wishes,

Ken Ellis



Hi, Matt,

> Hi Ken,
> I was meaning specifically this one thread with the ASLP.

Well, nothing lasts forever. Look at the patience it took to endure the 3 long
posts per day between Robin and McDonut and DRS and other anarcho-caps
that went on forever. That finally petered out naturally, while my dialogue had
to be terminated, 'with prejudice'.

> They have, or had, or support the SIU models we don't. Even Len who you
> disagree with, has more in common in respect of reducing the working week,
> as I also do, with you.

True, but Len tried to justify a revolution on top of a reduced work week,
but revolution can't be justified in democracies.

People don't really think. Instead, they defend their beliefs. People are
expected to defend party beliefs, so that's what people do. That defense
ritual is one aspect of the all-important sense of belonging to a community.

> We separate it because we don't want to get into the game
> the Left do ,of capturing factory committees and forming little
> politburos directing workers in that sense we are Anarchistic.

"Capturing factory committees and forming little politburos directing workers"
isn't part of the program for sharing work, which is all about diversifying power,
not capturing it to concentrate it. Means and ends should correspond to one another.

> The four hour day, four day week, is emblazoned in my heart, as well as Lens.
> Len will sing it as part of his folksinging repertoire.It is a Wobbly song and he's
> a Wob.I'm a former Wob.I don't know how many times I have seen you argue
> at cross purposes with us, when
we agree.

Engels didn't separate the struggle for shorter work hours and higher pay from the
abolition of wage labor. I'm glad not to be the only one to advocate shorter work
hours, but the WSM advocates revolution as well, which is where I have intervened
to try to provide a historical perspective indicating the absurdity of revolutions (and
messing with private property) in the democracies of 2001. It was plausible in Marx's
day, but not today, and yet people persist in being revolutionaries. And then they gang
up on a guy who tries to show them the absurdity of their revolutionism. Is ganging up
on a forum participant any better than capitalist competitiveness? If Ford could prevent
Chevy from advertising their cars, wouldn't they? The power to exclude has nothing in
common with proletarian internationalism. Maybe someday someone will have to
brutally censor YOU in order to sensitize you to this issue.

> It is just our Union hat and our Socialist hats are separate.

Separation of Union and Socialist hats is a symptom of schizophrenia.
Against that bit of anarchist ideology, Marx incorporated into the First
International: "That in the militant state of the working class, its
economical movement and its political action are indissolubly united.

> It has to be so, because we don't aim to capture
> Power in the way that the left do.

Not the same way, but the WSM would capture power for the purpose of
abolishing power (quite similar to the ASLP). More schizophrenia, and
separation between means and ends.

> This ends up with a Party line being imposed upon the Union activists
> even to the extent the Communist and socialist Workers Party having
> Industrial Organisers.We aim for people to eventually empower themselves
> and that is a long way down the road when they still support capitalism.

People have no choice but to 'support capitalism'. The most we can do
is abolish the competition within our own ranks. Censoring one another
is not a good way to do abolish competition.

> We, still wearing out Union hats, advocate the reduction of working week/days
> as genuine and useful objectives as a reduction in the work day week is inflation
> proof in ways that a pay rise is never so.Having said all that though,we do this as
> individual members of the Unions we are in and not as Party directed functionaries,
> realising that local conditions may render such attitudes as we have superfluous, when
> redundancies loom or whatever,the workers have a right to tell me to go to hell in a
> handbucket when I refused to work overtime ,but worked Saturday mornings and two
> nights for free on their union dues,they thought I was some kind of a Kook, instead of
> raking in the cash..Workers are richer now than they ever were,(relative though that is),
> sometimes through working those bloody long hours, and it wont be until the recession
> starts to bite, that they will become amenable once again to having another look at how
> they conduct their affairs.

Spoken like a true member of the working class. Maybe that's why you seem so
down to earth and reasonable so much of the time.

> We can wait and work towards that, meantime there is a lot of work
> we will have to do to make our theoretical models more compatible
> with 21st century conditions and despite appearances to the contrary,
> we are not, and never have been scriptural, or dogmatic marxists.

People don't have to adhere to Marx to be dogmatic. My old ASLP swears up
and down that it adheres to 'Marxism for advanced countries', while it really
adheres to Bakuninism. Self-deception and states of denial run rampant.

> I think Marx would have wanted us to keep working away at his theoretical
> models without being hidebound by them. It doesnt help you any, but I am just
> having a chat. Keep well.
> Good wishes,
> Matt Culbert

'Not being hidebound by Marxism' is a good thing to achieve, but isn't easy.
I needed to write a book and do a lot of thinking before I finally could put
Marx in a more proper perspective.

I enjoy the chat. Keep thinking.

Ken Ellis



Hi, Toke Ra,

> Hello Ken,
> Fuck me that was a big email. Can't really comment on your dispute with
> ASLP or SLP-Houston since I don't know anything about it & don't really
> have time to go archive-trawling. Being UK-based it perhaps isn't my
> concern anyway.

The SLP-Houston forum banned me, and then they took their grievances
against me to the WSM forum, and then they pulled enough strings to get
me suspended on that forum as well.

> I am concerned, however, that it has now been a few days since your
> suspension from the WSM_S_F list and there has still been not even
> an announcement of this from the moderators, to say nothing of
> debating/voting before a member is excluded...

That is confirmed by a friend of mine as well. If no one misses me,
then I'll just go away for good, after my final guerrilla post tomorrow.

> In case you didn't know, the Forum's archives are public: if you go to
> Yahoo! Groups and search for WSM_Socialism_Forum as a Guest
> (ie without signing in) you will at least be able to follow the debate.
> Or rather the lack of it.
> I shall observe developments with interest...
> Yours for Socialism
> ^g

Thanks for the tip, my friend. I'll try checking the messages
that way and see what happens.

Best wishes,
Ken Ellis



This is the final private post, and the most important. It substantiates
the charge that the late American SLP theoretician Arnold Petersen
lied in defense of ASLP ideology. Thank you for your patience.

Eric the Red wrote:

> Yes I voted to have Ken Ellis banned from the SLP site in Houston. Having
> been a former SLP member I can attest to the
inaccuracy of Ken Ellis' claim
> that Arnold Peterson believed that the dictatorship of the proletariat was to be
> over the peasantry.

Inaccuracy? In 1931, AFTER the world began to witness Stalinist oppression of
kulaks [rich peasants], Arnold Petersen (ASLP Nat'l Sec'y, 1913-1968) wrote a
pamphlet - "Proletarian Democracy vs. Dictatorships and Despotism":

Petersen: "Property interests are bound to dominate the actions of such groups
["millions of small owners"], and they must be convinced that it is in their
interest to support the proletarian revolution, or be subjected to forcible
repression in the interest of that revolution.

Stalinist repression lent weight to the perverted idea of a 'proletarian
dictatorship over the middle classes and peasants
'. To leave no doubt
in anyone's mind about Petersen's intent, he also wrote:

Petersen: "So important a factor is the presence of a peasantry considered
by Lenin, that he observes (in his refutation of
Kautsky's plea for "bourgeois
") that "if Kautsky still remembered it, he could not have denied the
need for a proletarian dictatorship in a country in which the small peasant producer
is predominant.
" ("The Proletarian Revolution.") The logic of this statement is that
in a country where this peasantry is conspicuous by its complete absence, where, in
short, the fact of complete industrialization, even of agriculture, is so obvious as to
impress itself upon the dullest intellect - that in such a country there is no need of
the Dictatorship of the Proletariat in the contemporaneous sense of continental
Europe of 1871 or Russia of 1917.

It really was a leap of logic for Petersen to deduce from Lenin's passage, whose
context was intended exclusively for the underdeveloped conditions of Russia, that
therefore a proletarian dictatorship would not be needed in a more developed economy.

Petersen 'documented' his 'proletarian dictatorship over the peasantry'
by a quote from Lenin. But, would Lenin have been as un-Marxist as
to support a BAKUNINIST theoretical construct? More than half a
century before A.P.'s pamphlet, Marx critiqued Bakunin's book:


Bakunin: "Or, if this question is considered from the national point of view,
then it must be assumed that for the Germans the Slavs will, for the same reason,
be placed in the same relationship of slavish dependency on the victorious German
proletariat as that in which the latter finds itself vis-a-vis its own bourgeoisie.

Marx: "Schoolboyish rot! A radical social revolution is bound up with definite
historical conditions of economic development; these are its premises. It is only
possible, therefore, where alongside capitalist production the industrial proletariat
accounts for at least a significant portion of the mass of the people. And for it to
have any chance of victory, it must be able mutatis mutandis [With the necessary
changes having been made] at the very least to do as much directly for the peasants
as the French bourgeoisie did in its revolution for the French peasantry at that time.
(Emphasis mine - K.E.)

In that paragraph, Marx wrote of cooperation between workers and peasants, as had
historically been the norm. Now, let's examine the quote which Petersen borrowed
from Lenin's pamphlet entitled: "The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade
". Earlier in 1918, Kautsky wrote a pamphlet entitled "The Dictatorship
of the Proletariat
", which Lenin disparaged as flawed (LCW 28, p. 296-7):

Lenin: "Secondly, my dear theoretician, have you considered the fact that
the small peasant producer inevitably vacillates between the proletariat and the
bourgeoisie? This Marxist truth, which has been confirmed by the whole modern
history of Europe, Kautsky very conveniently "forgot", for it simply demolishes
the Menshevik "theory" that he keeps repeating! Had Kautsky not "forgotten"
this he could not have denied the need for a proletarian dictatorship in a
country in which the small peasant producers predominate. Let us
examine the main content of our theoretician's "economic analysis".

Kautsky: "That Soviet power is a dictatorship cannot be disputed. But is
it a dictatorship of the proletariat? According to the Soviet Constitution, the
peasants form the majority of the population entitled to participate in legislation
and administration. What is presented to us as a dictatorship of the proletariat
would prove to be - if carried out consistently, and if, generally speaking, a
class could directly exercise a dictatorship, which in reality can only be
exercised by a party - a dictatorship of the peasants.

Lenin: "And, highly elated over so profound and clever an argument, our good
Kautsky tries to be witty and says:
"It would appear, therefore, that the most
painless achievement of socialism is best assured when it is put in the hands
of the peasants".

According to Lenin, Kautsky ignored the data on the class composition of the
soviets, and then erroneously advocated a dictatorship of the PEASANTRY over
the bourgeoisie
, rather than a dictatorship of the PROLETARIAT over the bourge-
oisie. According to Lenin, the proletariat was better suited to leading a dictatorship
than the peasantry, simply because 'the small peasant producer inevitably vacillates
between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie
', and thus would not be as good at
leading the majority of the exploited in the uncompromising, unvacillating way
that the proletariat allegedly could lead. The vacillation of the peasantry was what
Kautsky allegedly 'forgot', and that is why Lenin phrased the sentence the way
that he did, not anticipating that, 13 years later, Arnold Petersen would seize upon
Lenin's phrase: '.. he could not have denied the need for a proletarian dictatorship
in a country in which the small peasant producers predominate
..', remove it from
its context, and completely misconstrue it to signify that 'the dictatorship of the
proletariat is a dictatorship over the peasantry and middle classes.
' But, by going
back to Lenin's original text, it is easy enough to determine that Lenin's quote did
not in the least indicate that 'the dictatorship of the proletariat is a dictatorship
over the peasantry

It also didn't matter a bit if Lenin was 100% right or 100% wrong in his
assessment of Kautsky's pamphlet. Lenin was obviously arguing against
Kautsky's 'PEASANT dictatorship over the bourgeoisie', and in favor of a
'PROLETARIAN dictatorship over the bourgeoisie'. The snippet used by
Petersen, on the other hand, was inexcusably used to indicate a 'proletarian
dictatorship over the PEASANTS
' instead of over the bourgeoisie, proving
that Petersen knowingly and willingly took that quote completely out of context.
What Petersen did there was TOTALLY DISHONEST, and the SLP's program
is 'justified' by Petersen's phony concoctions in many pamphlets, some important
examples of which are documented, exposed, and refuted at my web site.

> The SLP's position was that the dictatorship of the proletariat wasn't
> appropriate in the U.S. since
we were a highly industrialized country.

First of all, and unrelated to the rest of the following arguments, I want to
make it clear that I personally don't see a need for a proletarian dictatorship
in the USA, nor a need for any kind of a workers' state. I happen to agree
with that same final conclusion arrived at by the ASLP, but FOR VERY

With that out of the way, Eric raised two issues: First, he asserted the
inappropriateness of the DOTP to the USA, and secondly gave 'highly
industrialized' as the reason for the inappropriateness.

Petersen asserted the same inappropriateness where he wrote: ".. in a country
where this peasantry is conspicuous by its complete absence, where, in short,
the fact of complete industrialization, even of agriculture, is so obvious as
to impress itself upon the dullest intellect - that in such a country there is
no need of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat in the contemporaneous
sense of continental Europe of 1871 or Russia of 1917.

Petersen's first reason for the inappropriateness of the DOTP to the USA was
'the absence of a peasantry'. His second reason for inappropriateness - 'complete
industrialization, even of agriculture' - redounds to the logic of his FIRST reason -
the absence of a peasantry. So, THE LACK OF A PEASANTRY is obviously
Petersen's MAIN REASON for rejecting the DOTP for the USA. For Petersen,
'highly industrialized' signified the replacement of the peasantry with agricultural
wage-labor. For A.P., 'no peasantry equals no need for a DOTP.'

Someone might want to assert that 'highly industrialized countries do not need
a DOTP', and then just leave it at that, and see how it flies. It surely sounds very
impressive on the face of it. But, would that assertion follow from the teachings
of Marx and Engels? Good question. I couldn't find anything in the works of
M+E anywhere close to such an idea. How can a mere economic circumstance
(highly developed) obviate a political institution (proletarian dictatorship)? It
stretches the imagination.

The nearest relation to an 'economic conditions' argument may be found in Marx's
1872 speech at The Hague, where peaceful evolution in democracies like England
and the USA was juxtaposed to anticipated violent revolutions on the Continent of
Europe. But, the violence on the Continent would not be due to its lower level of
industrialization, but rather due to its dearth of sufficiently democratic conditions for
peaceful change. History demonstrates the general correlation between high degrees of
industrialization with democracies. So, it's understandable if some people OVERSIM-
But, think of Nazi Germany as a glaring exception to that rule of thumb.

To Petersen, complete industrialization signified the replacement of peasants
with wage labor, and, because he was a hidden anarchist who wanted workers
to eschew political solutions (except for voting the state out of existence), he
used his redefinition of the dictatorship of the proletariat (over the peasantry),
combined with the factual small size of the American peasantry, to try to get
us to think that 'no proletarian dictatorship is needed in the USA'.

Why is it today that some members simplify Petersen's old 'NO PEASANTRY =
no need for a DOTP' down to today's 'HIGHLY INDUSTRIALIZED = no need
for a DOTP'? Did the communist left so severely ridicule the ASLP's 'DOTP over
the peasantry
' that the ASLP was forced to retreat from it?

Eric's assertion that:

> The SLP's position was that the dictatorship of the proletariat wasn't
> appropriate in the U.S. since we were a highly industrialized country

is consistent with ASLP ideology, but the REASONING given by Petersen
in 1931 was left out of Eric's statement. If the ASLP officially dropped the
'no peasantry' reason for the lack of a need for a DOTP, and if the ASLP now
merely asserts that 'highly industrialized obviates the DOTP', members should
demand a complete answer as to 'why'.

> The SLP always recognized Marx' position that the DOTP was to be a dictatorship
> of the workers over the capitalist class
where capitalism had NOT matured.

Marx's position? Eric will never be able to find M+E putting their ideas across
in that particular way. Marx came closest at The Hague in 1872, where he juxta-
posed peaceful development in the USA and England with forceful solutions on
the Continent of Europe. Both in that speech and in his article on the Anti-Socialist
Law (printed below), what counted were the POLITICAL conditions in the individual
countries - whether or not they were Social-Democracies (socially-controlled democ-
racies), and whether or not workers' parties were repressed out of existence in some
countries, universal suffrage or not.

Eric also said that the ASLP "always recognized Marx's position that the DOTP
was to be a dictatorship of the workers over the capitalist class". But, in 1931,
the ASLP was obviously given to believe that the DOTP was a dictatorship over
PEASANTS, not over capitalists, so Eric should acknowledge his mistake and
withdraw his assertion of 'always', and perhaps do the research to educate
people about whichever year the Party might have changed its perspective.

> Again this was not the case in the U.S! His latest post on your site includes:
>> "Socialism needs to be rescued from the ASLP, Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, De
>> Leon and Bakunin, and even from Marx and Engels, who all made the mistake
>> of thinking that expropriation would get us somewhere valuable."
> Although this is not enough to get him removed from this site, it shows that
> he is definitely using this site to promote his own bizarre anti-socialist ideas.

The tocsin for censorship is sounding again. If the battle for decency in ideology
cannot be waged at the SLP-Houston site, then the ASLP may want to ensure that
the battle cannot be waged in this forum as well. But, I am confident that Eric will
recognize his mistake, and will begin to take my critiques of ASLP ideology more
seriously as a result of recognizing his own mistakes, and his own fallibility. He
could do his Party a lot of good by trying to achieve clarity on this issue instead
of trying to get me kicked off one forum after another.

> Ken has a right to his own theories. Let him post them on his
> own site!! We can expect these notions coming from people
> who are not socialists, but not from those who claim they are.

I want society to become as workless, classless, stateless, propertyless and
moneyless as fervently as anyone else. The research I did shows that we
won't get there by trying to abolish private property.

> Add to this his deliberate misquotations from Engels
> (previously mentioned on this site by John Paul
> Catusco) and mistrust of his claims only grows.
> Eric the Red

Maybe it's time for some readers to tell the world who is more trustworthy.

Ken Ellis

Page me24.248 Karl Marx 1878:
The Parliamentary Debate on the Anti-Socialist Law

"The objective in the case under consideration is the emancipation of the
working class and the revolution (transformation) of society implicit therein.
An historical development can remain "peaceful" only for so long as its progress
is not forcibly obstructed by those wielding social power at the time. If in England,
for instance, or the United States, the working class were to gain a majority in
PARLIAMENT or CONGRESS, they could, by lawful means, rid themselves of
such laws and institutions as impeded their development, though they could only do
so insofar as society had reached a sufficiently mature development: However, the
"peaceful" movement might be transformed into a "forcible" one by resistance on
the part of those interested in restoring the former state of affairs; if (as in the
American Civil War and French Revolution) they are put down by force,
it is as rebels against "lawful" force.

"But what Eulenburg advocates is forcible reaction on the part of those in
power against development while still at the "peaceful stage", and this for
the purpose of preventing subsequent "forcible" conflicts; the war cry of
forcible counter-revolution against actually "peaceful" development; indeed,
the government is seeking to suppress by force a development it dislikes but
cannot lawfully attack. This is the necessary prelude to forcible revolutions.



Hi, Michael,

> hey Ken,
> I just wanted to remind you that im 90% Larouchite right now,
> I don't even consider myself a socialist anymore.

I'm glad to hear that you found something you like.

> While I have nothing against people struggling or shorter work hours,
> I think its much more profitable to go against something that is ''popular"
> and instead point out stuff that people don't want to hear; the economic
> crisis. Wake people up. Society can overcome the economic crisis of this
> financial system by reinstating the principal of the common good and the
> American system of popitial economy by hamilton,Franklin, and Henry
> Carey. By promoting the common good and scientific advancement society
> can move forward and in time make all of us more wealthy. Check out our
> huge article selection at
> Michael

Thanks for the tip. I'm all for the common good.

A Green who monitored my discussions on the RBG forum was really impressed
with my work, so we might collaborate on an 'Activist Guide to Ideologies', or some-
thing like that. So, I have to bust my brain tracking down a bunch of arguments, sort
them out, filter them down, etc. Got my work cut out for me. Work begets more work,
and work is another one of them 4 letter words.

I got kicked off the WSM forum the other day. Plus, SLP - Houston kicked
me off a few weeks back, so I did a couple of guerrilla 'private posts' to finish
up some unfinished business, which earned me a few blistering replies. It may
have been a mistake to rile them up, but maybe I'll learn from this 'mistake', and
I probably won't do it again. Live and learn. At least no one got killed.

Enjoy what's left of the summer,




Hi, Matt,

> Hi Ken,
> there are a number of points I have taken out of our post.
> they just leapt out of the page at me and I hope you don't
> mind if I separate the parts of interest to me in this way.
> Matt
> Ken,
>> It is an anarchist party cleverly disguised as socialist. By calling
>> for the abolition of the state on election day, the American SLP's
>> Socialist Industrial Unionism program is anarchist.
> Matt.
> Don't you accept that this is a development of Marxism.

Both anarchists and communists call for the abolition of the bourgeois state.
Anarchists and communists differ as to 'what is to replace the state'. I don't
consider anarchism to be a development - higher or lower - than communism.
As 'solutions', they compete with one another, and they exclude one another.
That is, anarchists cannot replace the state with a classless and stateless
administration of things at the same time communists would replace the state
with a communist workers' state, so the two 'solutions' exclude one another,
and compete with one another. People can't enact both 'solutions' at the same
time, so one's no better than the other, and they are both equally obsolete.

> Seizing the state is to do away with its coercive apparatus.
> To render it in other words into an administration of things
> and that society will then be run from the bottom, however
> the workers are constituted with workers groups etc.

It's a nice dream, but the communists are out there in force, and they
executed anarchists over ideological differences during the Spanish
Civil War of the 1930's. Lots of BAD blood between those 2 groups.

> Its how we see it, it isn't a State in those circumstances,
> as I would understand it, the administrative arm of capitalist
> interests. Engels saw it as the state withering away,

For Engels, that which was to wither away was the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Granted the DOTP was not to be a state in the sense of a SPECIAL oppressive
body of armed forces, but rather what Engels regarded as a Gemeinwesen, or Com-
mune, as he stated in a letter, long after the Paris Commune. With the proletariat
enjoying state power, naturally the state was not to represent bourgeois interests.
Anarchists have trouble with that concept, for they automatically equate any state
with capitalist interests. In the case of the ASLP, the equation of ANY kind of state
with capitalist interests was asserted with the help of all kinds of fraud, deceptive
tricks, and quotes out of context, which are documented at my web site. They
simply do not recognize workers' state power the way M+E did, considering
such an idea to be no better than a Leninist ploy. It's so silly that they can't even
document it. But, as a competing ideology, communism isn't any better than
anarchism, as illuminated by the 'ethics' of communists in my recent long
dialogue with a communist on the RBG forum.

Last year, I had a long discussion with Len W. about the possibility of the
WSM trying to 'build unity' between communists and anarchists by trying to
moosh-merge the 2 ideologies together. One might as well put a hyena and a
lion in the same cage and expect them to get along. Some of what you write
indicates a probable lack of clarity about the differences between the 2 'cat
and dog' ideologies. It took me a lot of research to get it clear in my head,
but the battle is as vicious as that between Bakunin and Marx. That
irreconcilable bitterness, in a better world, would hopefully get activists to
think more carefully about their ideologies. But, in today's world, few think.
Many of them would simply rather fight other revolutionaries than to unite
with them to smash the state. Such a waste of energy, and it's all built upon
misunderstandings fostered by ideologues who, like Petersen of the ASLP,
had nothing better to do than to foster sectarian nonsense. And still, people
fight over it because they don't know any better. They haven't done the
research, and consider deep debates over theory to be a waste of time,
because it's all settled in their minds, and there's nothing to do except
'act now'. I was there, and I used to feel the same way.

> I see that as being a much more speedy circumstance with the direct democracy
> apparatus such as these computers available to us,for input/ output.

The march of technology and democracy over the past 150 years has rendered both
communism and anarchism obsolete. There simply will not be a 'clean break with the
past' kind of a revolution, because there is neither enough interest, nor enough need.

> I can see us retaining local functions such as in this country community councils,
> presently mere talking shops with no power,but having them able to organise local
> distribution and as essential feedback supply and inteligence gathering mechanisms,
> when we get there, if at all, they may have changed somewhat so this is mere speculation.
> Ken:
>> the SWP who respect the rights of the WSM who respect the rights of the BLP ...
> Matt:
> Too much Ken,your rhetoric is running away from you here. We have
> hardly considered much of this, never mind respecting rights.

Maybe I didn't word it correctly, but the points that I wanted to make were
these 2: Parties compete with one another for adherents, but parties have to
respect each other's rights to do business in the great marketplace of ideas.
That is, for example, the SWP can't arm itself to the teeth one night and rout
the members of Scargill's BSLP. All that any party can do is propaganda work,
issue-oriented work, election work, and anything else that is peaceful and civil.
People in general won't stand for much else.

> We are hostile to all other Parties,
> while we may be on friendly terms with individuals in them.

That's very close to what I was trying to say.

> We don't have any leaders Ken.It was a conscious decision and a criticism
> we made of the cult like status of Deleonism.It hasn't made us any bigger
> or better, and a lot of the criticism you level we are leveling at ourselves.
> We are always addressing these points.
> Ken:
>> If a party is to develop out of sectarianism, its members have to be FREE
>> to be brave enough to propagate material which is dangerous to the prevailing
>> ideology. If a membership of a party is UNTRUSTED by its leaders, then the
>> leaders will not promote a full and fair discussion. If leaders are honest, and if
>> they trust their own members, then the party will be free to either strengthen its
>> convictions about its own ideology, or else convert to a more sensible ideology.
>> The power to turn off the flow of information is the power to maintain the status
>> quo, in more ways than one. Some groups and organizations ridiculously still
>> try to control flows of information the way it was controlled in the 19th century.
> Matt;
> We do get bits and pieces of this type of thing and we are addressing it
> more and more. I agree broadly with what you say above, and we have come
> a long way our ec does not put up proposals,it is only the Branch which can
> do this, Locals in the US.We all have the right to put out papers for our Annual
> delegate meetings where ideas are discussed and holes poked in them but not
> voted on.We get the usual debating tricks ,"I never thought I'd hear a socialist
> say this" etc.It is usually laughed down as its old hat these days.We then go
> back to musing over the stuff ,and can with the support of our branch put them
> up for Conference, about six months later.The tightened up version is either
> voted on if it isn't withdrawn after a further mauling.The voting doesnt take
> place at conference but by ballot.This allows everyone to consider all the reports
> and addendums etc.even if an idea wins.If there is a sizable minority opposed
> we have to pay heed to the feeling of that minority, respectfully. A growing
> minority is also heeded. So, it is far from perfect, but democracy ain't just
> something we pay lip service to in the WSM companion Parties. I hope
> this is of some interest to you.If not apologies and delete forthwith.
> Regards,
> Matt Culbert

No need to apologize. I appreciate frank responses. It helps me to measure my
act, and clean it up, if need be. Thanks for the description of WSM internal
democracy, which certainly is impressive for its even distribution of power
among the rank and file, which is to be commended. There's just this one
little issue. There was a certain guy on the forum who was making well-
reasoned and well-documented arguments, but whom some trigger-happy
moderator felt free to suspend, possibly as a favor to the ASLP, some of
whose members begged the moderator to throw me off, and that's all it took.

Proud as everyone can be over WSM democracy, how can real democracy
exist unless people are free to become aware of all of the options, and to hear
all of the arguments? Why should the WSM forum become as censorious of
me as SLP Houston? With my one or two posts per week, who wants to accuse
me of clogging the forum the way Robin and McDonut did, with their often 3
LONG posts per day? The moderator was being unfair and prejudiced.

Thanks for writing. I hope that we can someday agree about everything.

Ken Ellis



--- In RBG-Alliance@y..., "Mike Morin" <mmorin@e...> wrote:
"And the Millions that just ain't got the time".

> - Steve Winwood
> The Buddhist notion of choosing a livelihood that does not cause harm (or
> contribute to the cause of harm) to others may appear to be a luxury or an
> impossibility to many people. The most basic human instinct is survival. If
> you are homeless, starving, and/or have children to raise and support and
> someone offers you a $20.00 per hour job in a cigarette or machine gun
> manufacturing facility, do you, can you refuse the offer? If so, for how long?

Not for long. Competition for scarce jobs forces desperate workers to accept
lousy jobs at low pay, which are often destructive to the environment, and
don't do much to lift people out of poverty.

> But if you own the means of production, live in an affluent or exclusive
> suburb, drive a Mercedes or Infiniti or Lexus or Cadillac, send your kids to
> private schools, you may be facing an ethical dilemma.

To exploiters, the good living and luxuries obtained through exploitation
justify continuing along with the exploitation. Suppose a capitalist decides
to take the moral high road. Some capitalist peers might regard high morality
as foolish, although Clinton honored a bunch of high-roaders. When it comes
to a large corporation with a whole community of owners and controllers united
to make a killing for themselves, high morality often doesn't stand a chance.

> Most of us are somewhere between these two extremes.
> Basically there are two fundamental ethical issues that confront
> the individuals with respect to this question:
> 1.) Is their rational acquisition of wealth compatible with the interests
> of society and humanity?
> 2.) If so, how do they use that wealth?
> An individual's first obligation is to self. Despite the denial of the concept
> by Buddhists, one can not deny the material existence of self. As families
> develop so does the extension of self and self-interest. Logically self-interest
> can be extended to the local community (however this may be defined) and
> then to regional, national, and global concepts. Of course an employer expects
> and sometimes deserves loyalty. This loyalty may conflict with notions of self
> and extended self-interest. For the ethical individual it may constitute the greatest
> dilemma. Many people are fulfilling their self-interests in a manner that they may
> be aware is destructive to the interests of others. As a society, by fueling the GNP
> machine, we are caught up in the dilemma of hastening our collective decline by
> staving off our individual one. The notion of extended self-interest is essentially the
> reversal of the social atomization process. The breakdown of community and the
> geographical over-extension of the family are entropic manifestations of the tech-
> nological dominance of the automotive and air transport industries. While such has
> extended opportunity and convenience and allowed for an abundance (many, including
> myself would argue an extravagance) of products in the market place (in some or many
> but certainly not all locations), the development and growth phases of said marketplace
> were developed relative to an expanding fossil fuel resource base. As stated before, it is
> critical that we begin to reassess economic development patterns and entities relative to
> today and tomorrow's realities regarding our precious natural resources.
> The tradeoff of personal advancement versus the geographical separation of
> the extended family and the welfare of community is but one of the problems
> that the mobility culture has created. Highways and airports were built primarily
> to facilitate the transport of goods and recreational travel. The highways in particular
> have served as feeders for commercial and residential sprawl, fostering irrational
> and resource inefficient land use and trade patterns, as people chose to abandon
> the central cities. Furthermore, publicly funded infrastructure (highways, roads,
> rail, water and sewer, etc.) developments have subsidized these growth patterns.
> There is evidence (that in the last twenty years), these growth patterns have been
> financially subsidized by urban and older suburban communities to the financial
> gain of newly developing communities along the corridors of sprawl. Thus, the
> older communities have been subsidizing their own demise. An overwhelming
> resource intensive culture has grown up around air travel and tourism, hotel
> and restaurant development and operations. Among the adverse components
> of such a culture is the monstrous alcohol trade and the hideous gambling
> and casino developments that seem to want to grow like a cancer.
> The dissolution of family has seen a concurrent rise in public spending
> for social security and Medicare and Medicaid for the aged, as peoples'
> circumstances have made it inconvenient to care for their own.
> What may be worse is that industries and service businesses have grown
> up around the presumption of endless supplies of funds for these costs. The
> resource intensive technology associated with the artificial extension of life
> (as opposed to strategies promoting and sustaining environmental and public
> health and citizen health maintenance), with secondary regard for the quality
> of those lives has substantially aggravated the situation for the payers. Pension
> funds are rapidly disappearing as a worker's benefit. Medicare and Medicaid
> are primary causes for the U.S. Governments overwhelming deficit.

Primary causes? Doesn't the military budget count for anything anymore?

> "Private" health insurance premiums are becoming increasingly unbearable
> for more and more of the population.
> The system is failing financially, yet the culture continues to borrow and
> spend and drive up prices. The disenfranchised become increasingly locked
> out of the equity trading schemes and young people are put into exceptionally
> difficult work situations (i.e. working mothers and working couples that can not
> afford to buy into entrepreneurial opportunity or home ownership or even find a
> decent place to rent or to raise children). There are more single adults due to the
> stress of domestic problems brought about by financial woes.
> Yet overlaying this increasingly dismal reality is a culture of extravagance
> and hedonism. We are locked in to vestigial economic patterns and the
> incentives are to remain locked in. Everybody gets up in the morning (or the
> evening) and essentially does what or something similar to what they did the
> day (or night) before. I call this phenomenon the momentum of entropy.
> Ingrained in the culture and inculcated incessantly by the special interests
> that benefit from the status quo is the laissez faire attitude relative to the
> economy. Government sources mislead with euphoric reports on the
> strength of the economy, placed before us to assure their re-election.
> People, this is a wake up call. We need to radically reassess our economy,
> our culture, the way we do business, the way we live, the way we die. As I
> stated before, we are hastening our decline by staving it off; and we are
> doing it extravagantly and hedonistically.

Do we really need to reassess yet again? Doesn't this message itself
constitute a reassessment? If so, then how about a concrete proposal to
address our societal needs? Or, would a concrete proposal only split
the activist community - some for the proposal, and too many against?

> We need to reaffirm a sense of unity and shared destiny.

How do we do that? And why? I thought we already were united in
wanting to make a better world, and divided mostly regarding methods.

> We must extend the notion of self-interest as far as
> we can as individuals related to a larger community,
> a global world, a future for all humanity.

The wording of this sentence is troublesome, because I'll bet that many of
us here would rather see self-interests SUBORDINATED to global interests,
not simply 'extended'. Is the problem all in the choice of words?

> The environment is everything, The environment is all the world and each
> individual's relationship to that world. The environment is not an issue. It
> is the issue.
> Let's work together.

.. on a concrete proposal, and on a truce with pure and simple moaning about
problems that have been purely and simply moaned about a million times before.
Let's take our activism to a higher level and try to agree about what we find it so
hard to agree upon - a feasible and effective means of solving our mutual problems.

Having recently been banned from the WSM and SLP-Houston forums for saying
pretty much the same things I say on this forum, but having been considerably
more specific (on the other forums) with regard to the shenanigans of the SLP,
I'd like to mention how nice it is not to be threatened with being banned from
this RBG forum. Though we disagree quite strongly at times, no party line
demands our exclusive devotion, and we are free to work our way to clarity,
unhindered by concerns about the supremacy of a particular point of view.

My experience on the other forums taught me that nearly all of their
participants could give a rat's ass about the feasibility of their own programs.
They could care less if their ideologies are justified by quotes out of context or
outright lies. I was unrelenting in my efforts to get them to consider the folly of
their ways, and that's what got me kicked off. I wanted to push them to act, to do
SOMETHING, so they dumped me, which taught me a little bit about the power
of ideologies over people's minds. With a lot of people, the grip of ideology is
religious. Religions often have a code of morality attached, like the ten command-
ments, but right or wrong is a factor mostly in the ideologues' concerns about how
to MARKET their ideologies, not whether their ideologies are founded on a high
moral plane.

That's where the Marxist revolutionary program finds itself on shaky ground
from the getgo - the notion of 'underdogs' taking power in order to take property
and power away from others is not a good foundation for creating a just and equitable
society. Means and ends have to be compatible, and we do not create a better society
by raping and pillaging. Not enough underdogs are willing to follow their 'underdog'
leaders into battle against the status quo, so the leaders became more interested in
fighting other 'underdog' leaders for the biggest following.

Ken Ellis



Hi, Michael,

> What exactly is this Activist Guide about ?

Little more than what the title implies.

> Are u trying to create a history of the different ideologies out there ?

Sort of, but won't be a history of the shenanigans of every modern little
sect's shibboleths. It will instead go further back into history and examine
the roots of a lot of the problems with today's activism.

> If you are I can help you all since I know a considerable amount
> about all the different socialist sects out there.

That might come in handy. When I put together a rough draft,
I'll zip it off to you for your input.

> Well I'm leaving of to new york for about a week,
> so no rush in responding to me.
> Take care,
> Michael

Have fun in the big apple.




Sorry pal, I thought for sure I had deleted you after Saturday and before
Sunday, which I did, because I can't find you associated with a hotmail
address. Might you be the same as:

simon* ?

That would be the only way I could have reached you. If not, then it's very
mysterious. At any rate, these guerrilla tactics didn't achieve the results
they achieved last year, so I won't do it again. Fare thee well.

> From: "simon"
> I have no patience for you. I have told you twice not to send to my account.
> Do you do blanket porn messages as well? I have vanishingly little sympathy
> for your problems, a situation
you yourself have caused by your relentless
> abuse of the WSM forum
> Once again, fuck off.
> Simon



Hi, Ron,

> Hello, Ken,
> Karla and I share the same WSP mailbox, so all mail to that address
> gets forwarded to both of us.

No more guerrilla private posts, anyway. Unlike last year, it was ineffective this time.

> Your discussion of Arnold Petersen's misrepresentations strikes me
> as more the academic passion of an historian than a live polemic.
> I say this without intending any disparagement.

The SLP's rejection of proletarian dictatorship had to have SOME reasoning
behind it, but phony reasoning was all they could come up with, and was phony
enough that even I could see through it. I was hoping that maybe just ONE SLP
member might be interested in the phoniness of the reasons they rejected the
DOTP, but no one seems interested.

> It's just that the WSP(US) has always viewed Petersen's literary and political
> machinations as departures from rather than development of socialist theory,
> so proving anything one way or the other is of merely academic importance
> in his case.

This WSM perspective on Petersen is news to me. Does what you say indicate
that something in writing along those lines might exist?

> And if he was pushing a theory we don't agree with anyhow
> (Socialist Industrial Unionism), why should anyone in the
> WSM shed any tears for the sadly deceived SLPers?

Shed tears? Sympathy, at least. Unless the competition between the SLP and WSM
is so great that it negates the sympathy. But that would be another example of
competition in the ranks of the working class that should be abolished.

In spite of the lack of agreement between the SLP and WSM about a few
theories, a lot of the ideological foundation seems to be in basic agreement,
and some obvious adherents to the ASLP in the WSM forum have definitely
taken sides with the ASLP, and against me, ever since I brought up the
subject of their butchery of Marxism over a year ago.

> What you had to say about various people's views on the dictatorship
> of the proletariat rather tickled me. Socialists (in the WSM) usually take
> the position that Marx's coinage of the phrase was (a) unfortunate and
> (b) figurative -- non-operational. The huge debate over the phrase is mostly
> empty space. The dictatorship of the proletariat is not relevant to the United
> States or any other country on either economic or political grounds; it has
> not ever been relevant to the interests of the working class, except as an
> intuitive literary phrase churned out by Marx to characterize a relationship
> he speculated might exist at a given juncture of capitalism's evolution
> between a victorious working class and a defeated capitalist class.
> Had the working class lived up to Marx's optimistic expectations in
> his own lifetime, it would have had to make some short-term political
> adjustments in wresting complete control over capitalist production
> from the "master class," as he argued in his critique of the Gotha
> Program. Viewed in context and stepping back from the furious
> head-butting of the debaters, describing this situation as a "dictator-
> ship of the proletariat" is little more than some leftover Romanticism
> Marx couldn't resist putting on his plate. The working class doesn't
> need any sort of dictatorship;

I agree practically 100% with that. I used to be daunted by the thought of
achieving clarity about all of the mysteries of proletarian dictatorships and
workers' states, but Petersen made it easy for me by lying about every
important socialist concept, and then backing up his lies with quotes out
of context. All I had to do was look up the quotes to provide myself with
a pretty good education. Now that I have the Collected Works of M+E
on a CD, I can go quite a bit further in disproving sectarian concepts.

The point that I make about the DOTP is not so much its worthiness, for I
agree that it is UNWORTHY for the 21st century, but rather the dishonest
ways in which various parties have dealt with the DOTP. If the dishonesty
of the various parties in dealing with the DOTP can be exposed to rank and
file members, then the rank and filers would hopefully want to deal with
deeper issues, such as: why did parties find it necessary to lie about the
DOTP? What's in it for the parties? No one is going to fall for a revolution
based on lies. Secondly, if parties lied about the DOTP, then what else did
they find it necessary to lie about? By asking the deeper questions, maybe
the members could come around to wanting to find a program which would
be 100% honest, feasible, unifying, and appropriate.

> at this stage it [the working class] needs consciousness, not institutions.

Well, there I was, trying to spread consciousness of lies about the DOTP,
and I got suspended from 2 forums in August. So much for WSM and
ASLP respect for spreading consciousness.

> The institutional transformations required by a socialist revolution
> will have to build on this consciousness. Dealing with the capitalist
> class will be far less pressing than learning to take the first steps
> toward producing wealth for use.

If you had followed my arguments over the past year, you would have seen me try
to prove that the socialist REVOLUTION is obsolete, and that our Evolution toward
socialism will depend upon the abolition of work as the means of production evolve.

> Furthermore, the real interest of the working class lies in realizing
> the promise of democracy.

With universal suffrage, democracy today is just about as good as it will ever get.

> With production for use, access is free and automatic,
> and goods and services are produced solely for community use;

How do we get THERE from here?

> the need for money is abolished along with the capitalist marketplace.
> That in itself, however, does not confer the ability to make democracy
> deliver on its promise. The challenge of learning how will easily be the
> big headline story in post-capitalist society. Whether or not reaching this
> point occurs against an historic backdrop of greater or less violence correl-
> ating with repression and the currency of democratic values, as you say, all
> variations tend nonetheless toward the same end, given the same drive.

The problem we face is how to get from where we are now to 'production for
use', the abolition of the marketplace, the abolition of money, getting free access,
etc., which you have only spoken of in general terms, while the working class will
need a program of concrete steps that it can take to deliver all of those goods. One
cannot be fuzzy about the program without alienating an audience.

The beauty of labor-time socialism is that it merely prescribes driving down the
length of the work week as made possible by new technologies. The abolition of
human labor, combined with work-sharing politics, will ensure the abolition of
class distinctions and the end of capitalism as we've suffered from it.

> Your quotations of Marx indicate you are aware of this larger picture,
> but your coverage of the Lenin-Kautsky debate shows
you are just as
> lost in the details as they were.
Fascination with manipulating concepts
> like "strategy" and "tactics" was endemic among intellectuals in the 19th
> century, and it set some of them up (the Social Democrats) for heady dis-
> cussions on the "utility" of violence. But drawing any specific conclusions
> about the "dictatorship of the proletariat" below the level of Marx's rhetorical
> phrase is the most empty blather, and I don't think you can back up Marx's part
> in its spread. He was "no Marxist." He confined himself to general propositions,
> while the Marxists, displaying less discretion, extracted a theory from a phrase.

I hardly ever fail to indicate the lack of need for a proletarian dictatorship
in 2001. Somehow our theory of social change must evolve from what was
appropriate in 1848 to what we need in 2001, but socialist theoreticians have
made many a mis-step along the way, and SOME of them willingly and know-
ingly mis-stepped, and made such a mockery of socialism as to justly attract
ridicule. If activists could become more aware of all of the INTENTIONAL
mis-steps, then maybe they could learn not to be so religious about adhering
to them. Little more than the lies would I want activists to become more aware
of, because they could then arrive at a logical antidote to 'socialist' chicanery
on their own. The DOTP was a very plausible program for 1848, and the
acquirement of political power, combined with expropriation of the means
of production, were easily understandable steps that were nearly carried out
according to plan.

> Regarding Petersen's maladroit attempts to translate his sympathy for
> the Bolsheviks into Americanese, I would remind you that
in 1917
> *no* socialist revolution was possible in Russia to begin with

I would say that no attainment of classless and stateless society was possible
in Russia in 1917. I go further by saying that nothing approaching a new society
will arrive until AFTER we begin to abolish the competition within our own ranks.
The true freedom we hanker for will not arrive until smarter machinery replaces
all human wage labor, pushing the date of that freedom to 2040 or beyond.

> A growing but still diminutive working class, one foot on the soil
> and the other in the factory, was in no position to propose eliminating
> capital and wages, when the vast majority of Russian subjects had not yet
> even come to understand the class struggle from a capitalist perspective.

That's certainly true, but I always go further and say that: For as long as so
many of us in the USA still have to work for a living, eliminating capital and
wages in 2001 is out of the question as well. People are less interested in
mucking with capitalism today than they were during the Depression.

> Revolutions are primarily about consciousness -- only secondarily
> about institutions.
With peasant farming went an ancient and general
> lack of consciousness (from a proletarian perspective). While this was
> changing in Lenin's Russia, it could not have changed fast enough to
> meet the minimum requirements of a materialist analysis.

The Russian revolution was mostly about getting rid of feudal absolutism.
Marx and Lenin wanted to further develop existing massively popular Social-
Democratic sentiment into communist sentiment. Lenin was the first communist
to come to power, but the failure of Europeans to revolt in sympathy doomed the
Russians to fail to achieve the kind of proletarian dictatorship Marx dreamt about -
with full democratic rights, sufficient political supremacy to expropriate property in
the most advanced countries, and simultaneously, and the unity with which to avoid
counter-revolution. Russia was to be a trigger for Europe, or vice-versa. Without all
of those conditions being fulfilled, 'proletarian dictatorship' in Russia couldn't have
helped become anything but a mockery of Marx's and Lenin's dream.

> Thus, attempting to wring from the analysis of the Russian situation
> a policy of class dictatorship invalidates the dictatorship of the
> proletariat from the standpoint of historical materialism.

I hope that you don't think that I would try to do anything like that,
though it wouldn't be the first time, by any means, my intentions
were misinterpreted. No one pays attention, but I forgive them all,
for I know what it's like to be mistaken.

> Stalin's own perversions prove this. Interestingly (even ironically) enough,
> it was Stalin's destructive capitalization of peasant production
that made the
> first glimmers of a socialist revolution (theoretically) possible
-- although
> these foundations were laid by an authoritarian state-capitalist minority,
> not by a conscious socialist majority acting independently.

As long as they would have had to work for a living,
then socialist freedom was impossible.

> So your concern with Petersen's own dwindling dictatorship reflects a
> historian's backward-looking emphasis. This is appropriate where history
> is concerned. Having just -- very belatedly -- done my Master's thesis (on
> the SP of Canada and its "Controversy" in the 60s), I recognize that kind
> of material well enough. I don't think, however, most members in the WSM
> would find that a good justification for going into the subject in such detail --
> although many expelled former SLPers might.

Very few people appreciate my exposure of lies for what it really is. 99%
might have gotten bored early in the game, so fail to follow the arguments.
But, maybe people don't care if what they believe in is supported by a mass of
lies and quotes out of context. Maybe I'm different because I cared enough not
to remain permanently sucked in by the lies. As soon as I figured out that it
was all a lie, I changed my mind instantly, but I needed to really investigate
the lies much more thoroughly in the early 90's (than I did in the late 70's) in
order to do some break-through thinking, and reject expropriation altogether.

>> I want society to become as workless, classless, stateless, propertyless
>> and moneyless as fervently as anyone else. The research I did shows
>> that we won't get there by trying to abolish private property.
"Abolishing private property" is only an outcome, not a goal. Our
> Object makes no mention of it, and you cannot tease your syllogism
> out of the statement in the Declaration of Principles that "Society as
> at present constituted is based upon the ownership of the means of
> living (i.e., land, factories, railways, etc.) by the capitalist or master
> class." "Getting there" only abolishes capital (through direct
> elimination of the employment system), which historically
> has become the basis of private property.

How, then, would the employment system be eliminated?

Some conversations I had with WSM'ers last year indicated a rather intense
interest in 'establishing common property', which is the phrase that we all
settled on in terms of describing that WSM 'goal'. You say that it isn't part of
the DoP, but some of the most articulate exponents of WSM ideology adhere
to 'establishing common property' as a very important step they'd like to take.

> The existence or not of legal titles (in the means of production) is immaterial,
> their abolition redundant and reversible. They do not *matter* to socialists.
> All that matters is that people who no longer have to work for a living are
> not subject anymore to the power of private (or state) capitalists;

'Who no longer have to work'? How would people get out of work?

> what is crucial is managing a system they have all become owners of.

In other words, then, does the abolition of employment change property
relations as a byproduct? But, I have yet to hear about a concrete plan for
abolishing employment.

> You took the right train, but man, you got off at the wrong stop! (o:)
> Ron Elbert (WSP[US])
> PS. I have to pass on the "censorship" issue, not having been very
> faithful in reading or posting to the WSM Socialism Forum.

Your unfamiliarity with my arguments is probably why your synopsis of my
beliefs was not very accurate. But, you are not alone. Like I say, 99% of the
people don't try to follow my arguments. That's par for the course.

> I do share the nerd view, however, that where individual list
> members find they are the target of widespread flame attacks,
> it is probably time to rethink their assumptions.

Did I ever FLAME anyone? You should try to find an example of my doing so.
On the other hand, people in both forums engaged in some rather outrageous
bits of name-calling, while I refrained from responding in kind. The worst
that could be said about my style last year was that it was often sarcastic,
but I even gave up on that.

> Otherwise, communication on the list will suffer, and the Internet
> is after all about communication. When deficient assumptions cause
> a list member to roadblock it on the list, dealing with that situation
> is IMHO not a question of censorship (which is repressive and
> top-down) but of democracy (which is communitarian).
> Don't know if that helps.

When it comes to WSM democracy, the only one who 'voted'
for suspension was the moderator.

Best wishes,
Ken Ellis

Page me24.387 - From Engels' 1881 article "Trades Unions": "Thus there
are two points which the organised Trades would do well to consider, firstly,
that the time is rapidly approaching when the working class of this country
will claim, with a voice not to be mistaken, its full share of representation in
Parliament. Secondly, that the time also is rapidly approaching when the
working class will have understood that the struggle for high wages and
short hours, and the whole action of Trades Unions as now carried on,
is not an end in itself, but a means, a very necessary and effective
means, but only one of several means towards a higher end:
the abolition of the wages system altogether.



Hi, Alan,

> Kenneth Ellis wrote:
>> You're right, it is a daunting task. If only you or I were a college professor
>> who could put a class of kids to work on it. My RBG file dates back to my
>> first conversation with Mike M. on March 6. I have just looked at my 'sent'
>> file, which contains 64 messages to the RBG forum, mostly to Joan, Mike
>> and Li'l Joe. Lots of words. To sort out something like that would take a bit
>> of time. I wish I had the technology to project them onto a big wall, and then
>> gather similar paragraphs into their respective areas, and then cut out the
>> redundancies. When you speak of 'republish', do you have anything in mind?
>> It might be good to get something out to the people in one form or another.
> I think just web-post, in a somewhat cleaned-up form, the full dialogue. All
> the disconnected pieces buried in the Yahoo archives will never be seen again.

You know, I think that there might be a place in space and time for that. I'm
imagining 3 separate repositories - the first a giant collection of all of the
dialogues, raw and uncut, like a data mine, open to all; a second collection
of edited dialogues, not so repetitive, and a third resource, perhaps in the form
of an essay, like the RBSD at my web site, only longer. I'm wondering how
the conversion to HTML might be worked out. Could conversion of all of the
text to HTML be 'instant'? When I think of all of the work it took to convert
my book, the mind boggles.

>> I've got an idea. Why don't you put together a compendium of stuff that you
>> think is important, and I'll work on a compendium of stuff that I think is important.
>> We'll each toss out as much redundancy as we can, and then send the results to each
>> other and compare them. That way, we would end up on the same or overlapping
>> playing fields, and we can figure out how to filter it down.
> I have not gotten to quite the point of deciding what is most important.
> That would be a better job for you, as you are so familiar with the material.
> What I have is a big pile of partially-cleaned-up posts, a month or two
> worth. I will send you what I have.

I had some doubts about that idea not long after I sent it along. For the past
week, I've had a vicious toothache, and the dentist gave me some medicine that
is clouding my judgment, and giving me insomnia. If I can just get that tooth
removed, then all would be well, but this particular low-income outfit adheres
to a certain protocol which extends the suffering. They can't yank the tooth
until the 8th of September!! I simply won't last that long.

>> I think that I'll have plenty of time next week for the project.
>> Hopefully, by the 18th I'll have something to send to you.
> I suggest you not do a lot of work until I send you what I have...
> which will be right now...
> Alan

That was a fine collection you sent. It brought back memories. I am so fuzzy
with insomnia right now that I had better just sit on these ideas until my head
clears. In the meantime, many thanks for the effort.

By the way, in order to offer to help with this, I assume that you enjoy the
theories. Do you think that I'm on to something? Am I on the right track?

You seem so different from everyone else, and I'm wondering why.
Have you worked with the social sciences very much?

Best wishes and thanks,
Ken Ellis



Joan quoted me:

>>>> Would you begrudge computers and machines a few more decades
>>>> to evolve to the point of picking strawberries without damage?
>>> only if they were robotic, human-like slaves...
>>> and at that point it would still be much more profitable
>>> to just pay kids 40 cents a quart to pick them
>> Not if the robots could do it so much faster and better
>> that it also became a lot cheaper.
> Only for a large-scale operation.

Large-scale may be the rule for a while, but machine evolution proceeds so
much faster than biological evolution that it will be but a very short time before
machines become good and cheap enough to be practical for the home garden.

Ken Ellis



Li'l Joe wrote:

> I have already began to ignore Ken's posts. All he does is assert
> wild and unfounded premises
which HE ATTRIBUTES to "property
> socialism", and "Marxism". Where is it written, in any newspaper or
> book -- with the exceptions of those from old J.Edgar Hoover FBI dis-
> information centers -- that "Marxist" advocate "rape and pillage"?

How about Milosevic? For years, 'rape camps' were associated with his wars
in the Balkans. I used the word 'pillage' loosely, but its synonyms include
'ravage' and 'spoil'. With all of the newsreel footage, few will deny that
Kosovo and neighboring areas were ravaged and spoiled.

> Where, other than McCarthyite Dis information, has it been
> written that Marxist advocates address workers as "dogs".
> It is Kenneth Ellis that think of workers as "underdogs",
> for
to call them underdogs is to call them dogs.

According to my dictionary, underdog means "1 orig., the dog that is losing
in a dog fight 2 a person or group that is losing, or is expected to lose, in a
contest or struggle 3 a person who is handicapped or at a disadvantage
because of injustice, discrimination, etc."

For my use of the expression 'underdog', few would accuse me of
addressing workers as 'dogs'. I used that term because workers have
neither the economic nor political powers of the capitalist class, so
they often lose their struggles against capital and/or government.

> No "Marxist" has ever referred to workers as dogs -- not even "underdogs", but
> as living, exploited human beings, arguing that
the only way to end poverty and
> exploitation is to place the productive forces under public ownership and management.

'The only way'? If expropriation is 'the only way' to end capitalist
oppression, wouldn't Li'l Joe's 25 hour week be superfluous?
How can such a plank in his program be justified?

> This is what J. Edgar Hoover, Adolph Hitler, Joseph McCarthy, and Kenneth Ellis
share in common opposition and the reason they present lying distortions of
> "Marxist revolutionaries".

Who's going to believe that I'm aligned in any way with the other 3?

> One thing about arguing with Kenneth is to argue with a bore is to become a bore --
> as the saying goes if you lay with dogs you get up with fleas. capital".

So, where's the concrete proposal?

Ken Ellis



Hi, Mithica,

Much of what you say I can agree with, but ... hang in there,
cuz I hope you will find this interesting.

> snip >
> Dear Kenneth:
> I don't know how I ended up receiving your email.

I kept a lot of WSM messages in a file, and each message had an e-mail
address attached. My guerrilla 'private post' tactic worked in getting my
censorship canceled last year, but this year didn't work at all, so I won't
do it again. Please forgive the inconvenience.

> I left the WSM a long time ago in disgust with the level
> of mental masturbation I found there.

A lot of it is just that.

> I read your response to the original poster.
> You know, this whole debate is why people will not come
> to socialist parties in droves. I find that the members of
> the different socialist parties spend so much time defining
> boundaries between each other that they accomplish nothing.

Activists are irreconcilably divided over the zillions of ways of dealing
with power and property, many of which plans exclude other plans, ensuring
divisions. Part of my big project consists of helping people gather insight
into the sources of the divisions.

My work reduction program is non-divisive in that it deals only with
intangibles like labor laws, hours of labor, relative rates of compensation,
vacation time, etc., but nothing as tangible or divisive as wealth, property
or money. None but an exploiter would argue for more work. Those who
would argue for hours remaining the same would also want to keep their
heads buried in the sand with regard to the enormous increases of
productivity of recent years, and the even greater increases yet to come.

> Navel gazing is great to a point but all these issues
> have been debated ad nauseum for the past 50 years or more.

Debated, true, but hardly from my perspective, which is new since 1995, when
I discovered exactly why trying to redistribute tangibles like property and wealth
is a blind alley in the Western Hemisphere. Expropriation was possible only after
overthrowing monarchies in backward countries, or after liberating colonies, but
never in the most developed countries where it was supposed to happen first, sim-
ply because merely winning elections in Western democracies never conferred the
degree of absolute power required to expropriate. Therefore, the extent to which
activists in advanced democracies adhere to 'property socialism' is the extent to
which they waste their time. But, because they all play similar games in the same
ball park, they think they are on the right track, and my words fall on deaf ears.

> Instead of defining who is in and who is out,
> you should instead be finding ways of bringing people in.

Strangely enough, my arguments are just beginning to have an effect, and
my 'labor-time socialism' is starting to acquire a small intelligent following.

> You certainly won't do that for the average working class person by
> endlessly debating who is anarchist and who is a "property socialist"
> and what Marx or Engels said about this or that.

For now, I communicate only with other activists. I wouldn't know how to
connect to workers, who could give a damn about Marxism or socialism. I've
been part of the activist community for so long that they are the only people
I know. By proving that what a lot of activists believe in is based upon lies
and quotes out of context, I believe that my arguments will eventually have
an effect, and will eventually convince them to stop wasting their time, and
will forget about redistributing wealth and property. I hate to see activists
waste their time and energy chasing impossible rainbows.

> But you know something else?
> All the hearkening back to Marx and Engels, Bakunin and such
just is a waste of time.

A lot of activists hearken back, and if someone is going to argue that M, E, B,
and Lenin were wrong to go after property and power, then one must prove it.
One way to do that is to use their own words to show that expropriation isn't
the only way to arrive at social justice. The works of Marx and Engels contain
many a reference to workers' struggles for shorter work days, which M+E
supported. Much of Marx's 'Capital' is a tribute to the beneficial effects of
labor time reductions. Go to find out, struggling for labor time reductions
is perfectly appropriate for Western democracies, while the vast bulk of
activists don't yet think beyond getting control over all of that property!
Some 'activist intellectuals' are corrupt and have become knowing and
willing liars, while the bulk go along for the ride because 'everyone else
is doing it'. To think that expropriation would find support among the
working class is to suffer from self disillusionment.

> Have none of you any new ideas?
> Did all thought stop with the death of Marx and Engels?

Reading the usual offerings from socialists, communists and anarchists, one can see
that thinking really is a lost art. Not much new and original can be said in favor of
expropriation plans that only a tiny handful would be willing to follow.

> Has capitalism and the global economy not changed enough so that we have to
> arrive and new ways of thinking about social and political/economic change?

Many activists are in such a state of denial of the obvious when they speak
of 'the need for a revolution in order to cure the immiseration of the masses'.
That's right out of the 1800's, but barely applies anywhere in 2001.

> I'm sick to death with all the arguments about what Marx said and what Engels
> said and what Bakunin said and all the rest of the "great thinkers" of socialism.

People are free to bore themselves with all of the calls to overthrow their
governments in order to put property in the hands of 'the people', or the
dictatorship of the proletariat. But, like I say, the ancient works contain many
a clue as to how to share work to help life in the West become more ideal.

> Finally, I've realized that people who spend their precious spare time
> trying to label others and define themselves as pure and who can't move
> beyond Marx and Engels are at a mental and psychological level of devel-
> opment that is not conducive to rational thought anyway. My comments will
> likely fall on deaf ears because mental masturbation in forums like WSM is
> so much more pleasant than doing the hard work of community organizing.

In spite of all of the noise and static in the forums, I'm pleased that not
all of my efforts are wasted, and that a few people show signs of figuring
out the difference between the usual calls for radical action and a calm
sober plan for social justice.

> I should know, for I just spent the last three hours in a meeting of
> a social housing coalition made up of social housing tenants and
> activists, labour leaders, community activists and NGOs. Three
> and a half hours of trying to find common ground and ways we
> can work together to bring the issues to public attention, lobby
> political leaders, develop a strategy for social action and link
> with other communities to stop the destruction of social
> housing that our local government is currently engaged in.

Common ground is a good thing to try to find. You sound like a practical
individual, not about to waste time trying to redistribute wealth and property.

> I don't want to read the back and forth between people who have nothing
> better to do than wank on about what group is on this part of the political
> spectrum and just what so and so said about this group in a slanderous
> tone and just what Marx meant when he said this or that.
> Mithica

I enjoyed your input. I hope that my reply has helped you to understand that
unifying progress among activists is possible, but not around dealing with
power and property. Feel free to write again.

Yours truly,

Ken Ellis



Mike quoted me (snip many areas of agreement):

>> Do we really need to reassess yet again? Doesn't this message itself
>> constitute a reassessment? If so, then how about a concrete proposal to
>> address our societal needs? Or, would a concrete proposal only split the
>> activist community - some for the proposal, and too many against?
> Mike responds: Oh, Ken, please, I wrote that this whole thing particularly
> the reassess sentences (However, I do still believe that many if not most
> people do need to reassess) five or six years ago.

New people are always becoming conscious of the need for social change, so
reassessments are always needed on a regular basis, so, in that respect, Mike
is right. But, with our stated objective of forging unity, it would also seem
appropriate to occasionally try to hammer out a program we can all agree on.

> In case, you haven't noticed, I've been putting out a lot more pro-active
> proposals than you have. I've even voiced support for your goals,

That's true.

> although I hold them to be incredibly unrealistic

What's so unrealistic about double time after 35? Or, longer vacations?
Europe enjoys them. I hope you don't think that a proposal for a 25
hour week would be MORE realistic.

> and reminiscent of why labor movements always fall apart.

Could you amplify a little on that?

> My proposals involve little to none in the use of concrete.
> Now, that could be part of my problem...

Maybe it's time to think about opening up a cement factory. ;-)

> As far as getting a 100% consensus (English majors excuse the redundancy)
> from the "activist" "community", I think we will have to define those quoted
> terms if we are ever going to get an answer to your question.

For 'activist', how about 'everyone who is interested in reform or revolution,
and is willing to talk or act on behalf of their convictions'?

For 'community', how about 'everyone who considers themselves to
be part of an identifiable group of people with similar interests'.

The next big question is: 'Does a sense of community exist among activists?'
With all of the splits down sectarian lines, a spirit of community may be hard
to come by, so 'activist community' may be a bit of an oxymoron.

>> snip my long speech and other irrelevancies >>
> Ken,
> I'm pretty much talked out with you. I repeat, I've been
> much more cooperative with you than you have been
> with me. Your single issue ego-trip is boring.

I'm slowly getting the message. Fare thee well, I wrote,
as I ego-tripped down the lane.

Ken Ellis



Joan wrote:

>>> 1. I see even more opportunities that an innovative person could take
>>> advantage of than I have friends who don't feel like getting jobs. and
>>> I know a lot of lazy people. Opportunity doesn't mean something is
>>> handed to you on a silver platter. I'd rather have the opportunity to
>>> succeed or to fail than to have a pseudo-success guaranteed.
>> I'd rather live in a society in which everyone was guaranteed to succeed
>> than in a society in which failure for far too many people is guaranteed.
>> Such a change could be accomplished without negative consequences.
> Failure is never guaranteed.

Failure for some to find jobs is guaranteed in the USA, just as surely as 5%
unemployment is our national policy. This 5% is defined as people who are
actively seeking work. The Federal Reserve manipulates interest rates to keep
unemployment from going much above or below 5%. This policy, this POLITICAL
determination, guarantees that 5% will fail to find work, guaranteeing competition
for scarce jobs, low wages and high profits. There is method to Western Hemis-
phere madness. It is very similar to the way in which defective products that only
kill a FEW people will keep on being produced the same old way. Only when the
kill rate approaches a certain 'cost-benefit' level does anything get done. Our defective
bourgeois politics of exclusion ensures social strife, but also ensures high profits, so
THAT benefit to the rich often outweighs the suffering of the poor and consumers.
We no longer live in a Jeffersonian ideal republic of a zillion peasants with no
working class, with no large government, and where success is guaranteed to
all except the few unfortunate wrecks on the Bowery.

> The negative consequences is the destruction of
> humanity
-- pretty big if you ask me.

In the evolution from ape to man, back when work and wages were still
unthinkable, their lack of work wasn't so destructive as to prevent people
from evolving into a race of wage laborers. As surely as the rich can live
without work without destroying themselves, so surely will common
people prosper without work in the near future.

Most people in this forum want substantive change, and don't want to maintain
the status quo. Wage slavery is a double edged sword. Too much of a good thing
can wreck a lot of people people, and fighting for long-hour opportunities to make
the rich richer than their wildest dreams is no way for workers to live well.

>>> 2. If a school kid is in a class and could get an A or an F or anything in
>>> between, he'll probably try to get an A or at least a B. If he is guaranteed
>>> a C with no chance of improvement, he won't do any work unless he is
>>> really motivated by a love of learning.
>> The future inability of anyone to succeed in economic competition will soon
>> remove all stigma from academic failure. Dummies will survive with every
>> advantage enjoyed by the most brilliant scholar, and no one will begrudge
>> the dummies of their just desserts. You speak of work, but work will soon
>> be abolished - not because I will have anything to do with its abolition,
>> but because of the irresistible direction of the economy.
> lol. you don't even realize what you're saying.

Let's maintain the usual high level of discourse.

> and despite all that stuff about all men being created equal, humans are not all equal.

Physical and mental equality can never be legislated, but we can ensure
equality before the law plus equal opportunities - regardless of wealth,
race, color, creed, impairments, etc.

> some people are smarter, some run faster, some are great parents, etc. etc.
the objective should not be mediocrity. that can only lead to backwards evolution.

Mediocrity exists today, in spite of the wonders of the world of work. In a
future world of 'no work', I don't understand what mechanism would lead to
MORE mediocrity. I would think the reverse: that people would have the time
to help others achieve competency in their chosen fields of interest. People
don't adequately care for others today because they don't have the time.

> btw there are a lot of "brilliant" scholars who don't live too well.

And there I thought I was the only one. :-)

>> 3 . The logic of your statement was: 'if growing crops does not
>> economically sustain farmers, business failure and hunger results.'
>> I wrongly concluded that your solution was to give more money
>> to farmers. My apologies.
> perhaps an easier solution would be to stop taking all their money in taxes.
> the government can't distribute anything that isn't produced. if you knew
> now much produce was left out in the fields because it doesn't sell it would
> probably make you sick. all of that could be put to good use if there was a
> system there to collect it and distribute it to those who need it most. that
> would be much better than just throwing (our tax) money at someone.

Sounds good to me. I never was much of a fan of 'taxing and spending',
which can never be much better than a band-aid.

>>>> 4. snip >
>> If the people decide someday to halt the growth of new technology, I will
>> be very surprised. The whole meaning of our present suffering is to create
>> a world in which no one will have to suffer from work ever again. It's like
>> the old saying: 'we fought so that future generations won't have to.' Today
>> we work so that future generations won't have to, and we seem hell bent on
>> leather to get our work over with in a hurry. Speed that day.
> work and misery are not synonyms. i don't think the satisfaction of a day's
> work could come from a video game or other "technology." it is one thing to
> increase technology, and good. technology has eliminated much monotonous
> work and left us humans free for other things -- like brain-intensive work and
> increasing amounts of leisure. but can you honestly believe that work should
> be gotten rid of altogether?

WAGE LABOR is the rotten thing that should be abolished, not so much work
itself, because a lot of people enjoy labors of love, and they will remain free to
engage in such activity. Because so much work needs to be done in the present
era, people plot and scheme to get other people to do their work for them. We
learn this lesson early in life, as in "Take out the garbage!" or "Clean your room!"

> what will we be then but baby pigs suckling from a computer?

No more than we are today. It only means that we will be freed from the wage
labor which we'd otherwise rather not do. Just think of the total perfect freedom
to do whatever we want to do, totally divorced from duties that we would rather
not do. In such a future society, the concept of anti-social behavior will become
a thing of the past, and everyone will become like family. Life will be so much
simpler, with no property to take care of, no inheritances, no kissing ass, no
jealousy, no hate, no yucky stuff whatsoever. But, it may take another century
for our minds to evolve to that blissful stage. The complete lack of need to
slave away at alienated labor will guide us all in the right direction.

>> 5 . If your friends can find ways to sponge or eke out an existence in the
>> underground economy, then I'm not going to be the one to fault them for
>> that. A lot worse 'crimes' could be committed.
> it's not a crime. but my friend just keeps looking for "the perfect job"
> and is not taking any intermediate steps. eventually he's going to have
> to stop living off his stepfather's money and do something for himself.
> his problem is laziness, not inability to find a job.

In another 20 years, your friend may be regarded as a prophet.
The future workless world will befit him really well.

> i recognize that there are those people who lose their jobs and
> are legitimately unable to find steady work to support their family
> at their old standard of living. but there are a lot more who don't
> have jobs because of themselves and no other reason.

If some people remain unemployed by personal CHOICE, that doesn't
sound like much of a SOCIAL problem. Ann Landers might be more
willing to help with individual problems.

>> 6. snip you and some of me > people have tolerated a certain
>> percentage of destitution for a long time, even before capitalism.
>> Today's system has plenty of room for go-getters, but not as
>> many paid seats for slackers.
> if i work hard all summer and store up for winter, and you lay around all
> summer and store nothing, why should i be forced to give you anything
> when you show up at my door in january?

All of those considerations will be moot in just a few more decades, when
slackers will no longer be faulted for not contributing to the social store.
Wealth will flow so effortlessly that we could all slack off without negative
consequences. In the meantime, our humanitarianism, often with government
mediation, ensures that freeloaders will not be as threatened with starvation
as they once might have been. More and more benefits will go their way.

>> 8. snip you and some of me > Today, it takes very little effort to enforce
>> the Fair Labor Standards Act, because that law applies to the vast bulk of
>> workplaces, and voluntary compliance is very high because of the fairness
>> of its universal application. Tightening up on those laws will require very
>> little extra enforcement, but the resulting social benefits will enable reduc-
>> tions in the repressive features of government (in terms of imprisonment
>> for crimes of poverty), translating into great savings for society in general,
>> enabling further work-week reductions, and more freedom for more people.
> there is already a huge bureaucracy! every program you add makes it grow,
> along with the percentage we all pay in taxes.

No NEW program would need to be added to put everyone to work
(who wants to), and the results of our determination to share work
more equitably would enable the most repressive arms of government
to diminish. People would get into a lot less trouble if they had
something constructive to do for at least a few hours of the day.

> when i work a 70 hour week i want something to show for it besides higher taxes.
> i've already said that reducing the standard week from 40 hours to 35, or whatever,
> would probably benefit a lot of people. however, i don't think it's a cure-all of any kind.

At least some of what we are forced to pay in taxes results from the politics
of exclusion, forcing some to struggle unnecessarily hard, and then expensive
programs compensate for the unnecessary hardships. Our National policy of
5% unemployment has a lot of social costs attached, including drug abuse.
If drugs were decriminalized, and addicts treated in programs like in Holland,
a lot of people wouldn't be in prison, saving big bucks right there.

>>>> 9. snip us >
>> Overcoming the tendency for small factions to rule for their own advan-
>> tage is what democracy with universal suffrage is all about. Even the old
>> Hammurabi code of ancient times was designed to protect the weak from
>> the strong. Today, as in the past, personal accumulation of property could
>> easily mean the difference between survival and non-survival. Tomorrow,
>> when the means of life will flow effortlessly from whatever entity creates
>> it, the old struggle to amass property will fall to the wayside, along with
>> the old tendency for people to lord their power over one another.
> it is, and in government it is important that all have equal rights and
> responsibilities. but
what you seek is a change in human nature. there
> will always be the bullies on the playground and the kid who gets teased
> for being a geek. there will always be a person who succeeds with ease --
> whether in school or in business -- and always a lazy one who gets
> nowhere, and always one whose persistence pays off.

A lot of the inhumane characteristics mentioned are the result of having to
compete for survival in a scarcity economy, and having to fight for 'things'
because not enough exist to satisfy all appetites. When necessities of life
flow effortlessly and bountifully, the need to compete in the economic and
political spheres will be eliminated. People will become a lot more humane
and nurturing because the need to lord it over others in those categories of
endeavor will no longer exist. The competitive spirit enjoys a lot of encour-
agement in the economics of the past and present, but the economics of the
future will be a whole different ball game, removing much of the incentive
and justification to act nastily and selfishly.

>> 10. snip you and half of me > To be human means to have the intelligence
>> and tools with which to solve problems like no other species can. Slavery,
>> feudalism and capitalism are all on their way out, and we have a strong
>> chance of surviving that transition.
> we can solve problems -- that doesn't mean we should try and change who
> and what we are. any problem that is solved is supposed to be for the benefit
> of humanity -- not for the destruction of it

Modern life is so full of contradictions that a lot of people would welcome
some kind of positive change, in order to preserve its better aspects. Personal
internal changes by themselves cannot be counted on to solve social problems.
As wealth flows more freely in the future, and people determine to more equit-
ably share the remaining opportunities to contribute to the social store, people
will have less incentive to be predators, thereby creating a better world to live
in without fear, and without having to lock our doors so carefully.

>> 11. Where the old socialists went wrong was by advocating the attainment
>> of socialism by first attaining power and property, which modern society
>> has completely nixed. In spite of that flaw, socialists correctly envisioned
>> a higher state of classless and stateless society which is sure to arrive.
>> Smart machines will soon make wage-labor redundant, enabling our
>> ascension to a higher state of existence, free from economic and
>> political struggle. Speed that day.
> humanity is defined by struggle.

We will find other ways to struggle than 'economically and politically'.
Struggle existed before economics and politics, and struggle will exist
afterwards. The struggle will go on, but the forms will change.

>>> 12. I am a person who sees such a contrast of wealth and poverty and
>>> wishes to see everyone provided for on some basic level -- but i also am
>>> one to seize every opportunity, take risks, and exceed the expectations.
>>> I believe very strongly in every person's right to do so -- every person's
>>> right to the opportunity to succeed or to fail. And every person's right
>>> to stand out. I believe in individual liberty.
>> Such a perspective will be compatible with classless and stateless society,
>> for there will be plenty of things for people to compete and excel in. But,
>> people won't think about exceeding anyone else in terms of economic and
>> political power, because such concepts will cease to have meaning. People
>> will have to evolve from where we are NOW in order to get THERE, but
>> such evolution is what the next 40 years will be for.
> well then i guess i will be fighting against your utopia.

Tilting at windmills won't be a very productive use of time.

> btw evolution doesn't take place in 40 years,
> and it occurs in nature by inferior organisms dying out...

Biological evolution may be glacial, but I hope that you don't think
that machine evolution is that slow. Ray Kurzweil says that the rate of
technological change is logarithmic, and even THAT logarithmic rate of
change is increasing logarithmically, propelling us into a 'singularity'
within a few more decades, as a bunch of technologies merge. I'd
like to live to see it, but by then I'd almost be a hundred, darn it.

> 11. there is a difference between smashing machines
> and using technology reasonably. just like the difference
> between drinking 4 shots and drinking 21

If a matter of personal choice, then maybe technology COULD be controlled,
but capitalist competition ensures that the faint of heart will lose out, while
only innovators survive. Try capping that lid. Innovation is what got us to
where we are now, and is what will liberate us all from work.

>>>>>> 12. snip old text > Surgery still involves a bit of art work, and some
>>>>>> people are more artistic than others. It doesn't mean that the poorest
>>>>>> performer is necessarily going to hurt anyone. A lack of excellence or
>>>>>> interest may convert some of them into professional golfers. - Ken
>>>>> And how many peoples' lives do they have to ruin/end
>>>>> before they lose their job?
>>>> That's like saying that, except for the top few percent, that every other
>>>> bus driver, truck driver, grocery clerk, auto mechanic, bank teller, etc.,
>>>> are all incompetent wreckers. Where did you acquire this attitude?
>>>> If it were at all based on reality, then the whole economy would
>>>> never have come as far as it has.
>>> Or it could just mean that no one hires the worst ones...
>> Maybe that's why we have welfare programs.
> maybe those people could be earning a living doing something
> other than surgery...

A face lift a day keeps the wrinkles away. :-)

>> 13. snip as superfluous >

>> 14. When machines become as smart as humans in 20 years or less, and
>> they can also run 24/7, do you think that bosses are going to want to hire
>> humans, when the next boss will gain an economic advantage by buying
>> robots instead?
> because
humans can do the work more profitably or efficiently --
> and because small businessmen can't afford the machines.

It's hard to say what the march of technology will someday do to small
businesses. With 500 family farms going under every week, and with big
corporations playing increasing roles in everyday life, more and more small
businesses may be squeezed out. But, whatever needs to be done will get done
somehow. Whether it's done by big or little businesses will be of little importance.

>> 15. Look at what some of these new jobs entail: useless things like advertising. Who
>> wants to be bombarded with ads? Who wants to do something as useless as advertise?
> some people enjoy the creativity of advertising. my aunt actually designs
> advertisements and enjoys doing the artwork.

Advertising has mushroomed because so little labor is required to create the
necessities of life, so a lot more labor can be devoted to superfluities like
advertising. Advertising is something to do, though, like building land mines
and cutting down the last of the old-growth redwoods, it may not be the most
useful to society.

>> 16. Quite true, especially with today's low level of technology. That stupid
>> machine at Stop and Shop made so many errors that it took me 3 times as
>> long to check myself out than if I had gone to a clerk, to whom everyone
>> else had gone. But, because I was the lone brave person out of the crowd
>> wanting to check out, when others saw what I was doing, they all lined up
>> to check themselves out, and I felt a little guilty for holding up the line
>> with all of the dumb mistakes made by myself and the machine.
> and how are you going to ask that machine a question about a product?

Today's machines are pretty darned dumb compared to future machines.
Think of the difference between the Wright Bros.' first plane of a century
ago and today's space shuttles. Multiply that technological difference by a
thousand, and that's what future flying machines may be like a century from
now. That much greater technological difference will be due to the aforemen-
tioned logarithmic rates of change. Because change will be so much greater
in the future, concrete changes are as hard for us to imagine today as it would
have been for people a century ago to imagine a lunar landing.

>> 17. Well, I guess that waiting for that kind of evolution is better
>> than waiting for the workers to expropriate the rich.
> it is. but that doesn't make it the best option. perhaps the best
> "evolution" is to a world where everyone takes responsibility
> for themselves, and all interact on a truly equal level.

Sounds good to me.

Ken Ellis



Hi, Steve, thanks for writing. Here it is Thursday, and I'm just getting
around to your message. I'm late! By the time I send this, it'll be ... ?

> Ken,
> This debate about the Dictatorship of the Proletariat is very interesting.
> In point of fact, it is pretty
crucial to the revolutionary movement.

Crucial? I also used to think so, but now I think that the revolutionary move-
ment in the West is passee. Not so many years ago, revolution was needed to
bring democracy and independence to where it didn't previously exist, which was
just about everywhere, but democracy and independence now characterize most of
the developed world, so revolution isn't so much needed anymore, and certainly
NOT in Western Europe or the USA. Universal suffrage is as good as it gets.

> I agree incidentally with the analysis of the WSM position as Bakuninist in
> it's Utopian approach to the issue of Revolution. That somehow the State and
> the Bourgeoisie can be waved away with a magic wand instantly by a conscious
> working class seizing power.

Their perspective surely is non-Marxist, and they surely maintain
a massive state of denial about a lot of subjects, which is par for
the course for sectarian groups.

> In fact, revolutions, like all other Political processes are complex and
> have their own momentum, pace, and peculiarities.
> You are also correct to point out that the dictatorship of the proletariat
> is not directed against the peasantry in the Leninist model. Rather it is
> carefully crafted to attract the support of the majority of the peasantry
> against the Bourgeoisie.
> I, too, have been guilty in the past of mistakenly thinking that there
> would be no need for a dictatorship of the proletariat in advanced
> capitalist nations, due to the proletariat being sufficient in size
> compared to the residue of the peasantry.

Whew! There's more than one issue here.

Which radical or group persuaded you to once think that the relative sizes
of the proletariat and peasantry had anything to do with the need for a DOTP?
I'm wondering if more than one group peddles the same damaged goods.

The argument that: 'no DOTP is needed in the West because the peasantry was
replaced by agricultural wage labor
' never was Marxist, as we both know. My
old party, the American SLP, used that phony argument as a premise for their
conclusion that: 'no DOTP is needed in the USA'. Just because their premise
was phony doesn't mean that their conclusion was wrong, however, for no
DOTP will ever be needed in the USA for as long as democracy with
universal suffrage continues.

If universal suffrage is now enjoyed by just about everyone in the West, why
should it be replaced with anything else? To be a communist is to first of all
be a Social-Democrat, which means advocating socially-controlled democratic
republics, a la First International. We already enjoy socially-controlled demo-
cratic republics, so, if communism were to be inevitable or desirable, then the
people would express some interest in it by VOTING for Communist parties,
but Americans don't vote communist. People often struggle quite viciously to
obtain private property for themselves, so communists shouldn't think that people
would simply hand it all over to them. Because, in Marx's day, private property
didn't extend much beyond Europe and the Mediterranean, expropriation of what
little existed outside of those areas was quite a bit easier to imagine, making it
relatively easy for Lenin to abolish all private ownership of Russian land on
the first day of the Russian revolution.

Expropriation in Europe was plausible in Marx's day, as part of his scenario
of simultaneously replacing a mass of despotisms with the universal socially
controlled democratic republic, or DOTP, which would have given communists
the power with which to expropriate, and the unity with which to avoid counter-
revolution. After Europeans failed to support the Russian revolution with long-
lasting revolutions of their own, questing for communism by going after private
property should have been abandoned. The gradual democratization of Europe
should have proven to communists that opportunities for realizing Marx's
scenario (of simultaneous democratic revolutions in Europe) would never
appear again, but the Russian experience gave communists new hope, and
they started dreaming about 'socialism in one country'.

The failure of Europe to revolt in sympathy with Russia should proved that
Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, De Leon, and the rest were wrong about the
need for revolutions to abolish private property. Even for M+E, as indicated by
Engels' 1877 biography entitled "Karl Marx", expropriation was not the end-all
and be-all of communism. Expropriation was to be SUBSERVIENT to the higher
goal of 'full participation in the economy'. Full participation is destined to become
an even more dynamic issue as ever-smarter machines replace more and more human
labor. Full participation can always be ensured by continually driving down the length
of the work week. Labor laws set the hours of labor in every modern country, so all
that's needed is a few little amendments to shorten work hours, and thereby constantly
enable full participation. When the length of the work week becomes very short, and
when it will someday appear to be a ridiculous chore to reduce it any more, volunteers
will step in to replace the remaining wage labor, the necessities of life will flow bount-
ifully and effortlessly, and capitalism as we've suffered from it will be no more.

> However, this is not the case. We need to analyse carefully WHY the need for
> the Dictatorship. The dictatorship of the proletariat
is necessary in the transitional
> period, the period of the transitional socialist state, in order to prevent a regroupment
> of the bourgeoisie and the potential for their building a reactionary counter-revolution
> from the ranks of the petit bourgeois and the lumpenproletariat.

Over what issue would people consider revolting? Most people today have
democracy, Europeans are aware of the benefits of a shorter work week, etc.
What issue could possibly spark revolt? Revolution is serious stuff, and people
aren't about to smash democracies for the dubious pleasure of putting all of their
property in the hands of activists who won't be able to decide whether to replace
their states with anarchist classless and stateless administrations of things, or with
communist workers' states. The situation boils down to as foolish a choice as that,
which is why people don't and won't flock to revolutionary parties.

What you did write was certainly applicable up to 1917. But, the failure of
Europeans to support the Russian revolution by replacing their states with
communist workers' states proves that Western people are not interested in
making a communist revolution. What could possibly happen to make
Marx's scenario applicable again?

> In order for the dictatorship to ensure the victory of the proletarian revolution,
> a clear programme needs to be adopted which addresses the needs of the lump-
> enproletariat and the petit bourgeois and orientates the workers towards them.
> In point of fact; the petit bourgeois of an 'advanced' nation are inclined to swing
> between the bourgeois and the proletariat in just the same way as the peasantry
> in a 'backward' nation, because they face the same pressures.
> A correct programme binds the petit bourgeois and the lumpenproletariat
> to the workers, creating a block against the bourgeoisie.
> What is going to prove critical
in the coming revolutionary movements is precisely
> the way the dictatorship structures itself. The militaristic models adopted in successive
> revolutions through the 20th century proved to be able to defend the revolution effectively
> against the forces of the bourgeoisie, but at the expense of the continuation of the revolution
> itself. Every example, without exception, degenerated into a petit bourgeois dictatorship of
> the bureaucracy, born from the military machinery put in place, and capable of defending
> itself by the pretense of revolutionary violence, holding itself up as the continuing
> dictatorship of the proletariat.

If the revolution had been simultaneous in the most developed countries in
1917 or 1871, the way Marx wanted it, then the united workers would have
been able to expropriate without fear of counter-revolution, and society's
advance toward the upper stage of communism would have been smooth.

That not being the case, what we did get in the less developed countries was
as messy as what you described, and, since 1989, the whole world appears
headed for democratic capitalism. China is allowing capitalists into the Party,
so political democracy may not be too long in arriving there as well. The old
Marxist 'power and property' path to socialism will soon be totally dead.

> To my mind this proves several things; firstly that Marxism created
> a revolutionary movement
that was ahead of it's time, and proved
> incapable of creating a worldwide revolution.

Ahead of its time? I think, on the other hand, that Marx's scenario was perfectly
plausible for HIS day, when the overthrow of monarchies and purely bourgeois
democracies of his day would have given communists the power with which to
expropriate, and the unity with which to prevent counter-revolution, so I don't
think that the Marxist revolution could in any way be regarded as 'ahead of its
time'. It was contemporary to Marx's day, and people fought for it then. Those
good old days of anticipating smashing a mass of European monarchies are no
more. Combine that fact with the winning of democracy and universal suffrage
in proportion to the growth of the bourgeoisie and proletariat, and the Marxist
scenario became increasingly doomed to obsolescence. Expropriation without
compensation was feasible after overthrowing monarchies and liberating colonies,
when triumphant communists had full state power and could expropriate property
in their respective countries. But, expropriation without compensation was not
feasible after socialists and communists won mere elections in Western European
Social-Democracies, because merely winning elections doesn't confer the requisite
absolute power of the state. Democracies would have to be smashed in order to
replace them with expropriatory workers' states, but people are satisfied enough
with the democracies they have. The better the democracy, the less applicable the
communist revolution. The more backward a country, and expropriation becomes
more plausible, which is opposite to Marx's perspective.

> Secondly, that this time around

That's what we should figure out - whether there will in fact BE another time
around for Marx's scenario. Nothing today points in that direction. Now that
democracy with universal suffrage is so popular, the DYNAMIC features of
our society no longer lie in the political sphere, but rather lie in the economic
sphere: productivity constantly increases, and human labor is constantly being
replaced by ever-smarter machinery. Labor already knows how to deal with that
problem, for all of Europe is interested in a shorter work week. If the length of
the work week is driven down to its logical end - zero - then capitalism as we've
suffered from it will come to an end. Reducing labor time is the new and feasible
method of abolishing capitalism. The property and power route is passee because
of all of its associated problems.

> Secondly, that this time around we need to create a political power
> separate to that of the military within the dictatorship, that is capable
> of resuming democratic control after any defensive war, and clearing
> the decks of petit-bourgeois pirates.

Seems a bit premature to speculate about something like war, especially when American
communists and socialists hardly rate any votes on election days, so enjoy practically
no support. The only way to salvage socialism and communism is to disassociate
them from the 'expropriation of tangibles'. What needs liberating is TIME.

> Thirdly, that if at all possible, we need to try and avoid allowing
> the bourgeois the space in which to re-form and re-group and
> wage a counter-revolutionary attack upon the revolution.

Well, just make sure that the revolution is simultaneous in every country, and
counter-revolution won't be a factor. Pretty tall order, as Marx found out in 1871.

> These are all valuable lessons, but they certainly do not lead me
> to conclude that we should abstain from revolution altogether!
> Regards,
> Steve Bush,
> Lambeth Socialist Party.

Well, think about what I wrote, and think about how angrily the communists
and anarchists would fight over a post-revolutionary 'state', and wonder if activists
will ever be able to decide whether the state should be replaced with a classless
and stateless administration of things, or with a communist workers' state.

Let me know where my analysis falls short, if it does. If activists can't
afford to waste their lives forever dreaming about the impossible, then
hopefully they will begin to give their old theories some better thought.

Ken Ellis

"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



Bhimji wrote:

> There exists a community that is superior within "free pacifica" and
> that this is the White community, and they hold the power at this point,
> and they will decide which person of color is acceptable to them, and
> which one is not. There does not exist any kind of democratic forum,
> or group where indeed a common ground can be created.

The old paradigm of determining programming by means of a small 'program
council' clique could be maintained, and they could be allowed to figure out how
to build listenership, and allowed to arbitrarily determine that Latin music gets x
hours, Celtic gets y hours, public affairs gets z hours, and so on down the line.

Or, the politics of fairness and inclusion could be adopted, and everyone who
wants some air time could get some, and air time parceled out in equal lumps
to all requesters. If we would like programming to be fair and diverse, then
fairness and diversity will have to be practiced. This means dividing the air
time among all who would like some, and perhaps that will mean rewarding
community interest as well.

For instance, perhaps one representative from a community might be interested
in doing a program of East Indian music, while 20 others might be interested
in producing news programs. Does that mean that the news would get 20 times
as much air time as the Indian music program? It could. That rule would also
encourage community involvement in the radio station. The more community
involvement into a program, the more air time it would get. To discourage
'packing' the station, it might be necessary to annually reassess program time
allotments, and only communities who SUSTAIN their numbers would also
sustain their air time allotment.

By adhering to a simple rule like that, whatever charges that 'this or that
particular Pacifica station has become the 'property' of this or that faction,
group, racial profile, or whatever', would end.

To end all of the bickering about white, brown, black, red, etc., reasonable and
equitable plans to divide program time ought to be proposed and decided upon.

Ken Ellis



Hi, Steve,

> Ken,
> Interesting though your angle on this is, it is hardly anything new,
> in fact, it smacks of all things 'libertarian'

None of the libertarians I know show any interest in legislating hours of
labor, making that my chief dispute with them, and making it impossible
to count myself among their ranks. Otherwise, it's hard to fault a lot of
freedoms they espouse.

> You seem to feel that the current structures of 'democracy' negate the need
> for class struggle.
How bizarre.

'Democracy negates the class struggle?' This isn't the first time this charge
has been leveled at me, but I can never figure out why, because I always say
that: bosses want as few workers as possible to work for as many hours as
possible, while it is in our political, social and economic interests if as great
a proportion of the working class works for as few hours as possible. On
the issue of labor time, the interests of workers and bosses are diametrically
opposed, so I don't understand how I could possibly be in denial of the class
struggle, unless that alleged denial has something to do with my perspective
on power and property.

> In point of fact, we are closer today to Marx's experience of Capitalism
> than at any point since the first world war!

That's an extraordinary statement. In what way are we 'closer'? On my second
reading of this, however, you pretty much explain what you mean.

> This is precisely the reason that masses of youth are drawing revolutionary
> conclusions. Precisely why 300,000 people descended on Genoa last month
> to protest against global Capitalism.

The protesters bring up many a valid issue. Capitalism can be quite destructive and
alienating to the lower classes. Here's your litany of legitimate complaints:

> Has 'universal suffrage' (The ability to vote of all in society apart from
> youth, those incarcerated, those not registered due to having no fixed abode
> and those who do not vote because they see no representative to vote for;
> significant that the last General Election here in the UK had the lowest
> turnout since 'universal suffrage' began in 1918.....)
done away with the
> class contradictions in Capitalist society?

Universal suffrage could never do away with class contradictions, but it puts
the tools of democracy in the hands of average people. The percentage of the
population that votes may fluctuate, but it hasn't really changed very much in the
last hundred years, according to some Internet sources. The bourgeoisie loves to
play the politics of exclusion and prevent people from voting for one reason or
another, so it's up to ordinary folks to keep them from getting carried away.

If the Social-Democrats of Marx's era fought for republics with universal
suffrage, we should honor their labors, and use the tools they helped to win.
Otherwise we fall into the trap of saying that our democracies are no good,
and that they ought to be replaced with something else, but there is nothing
logical to replace them, EXCEPT with new democracies. But, by voting, we
renew our democracies every couple of years or so, and that's good enough
for most people. Revolutionaries really ought to think about this: If
revolutionaries can't agree on a replacement for the alleged bourgeois
state, then they also won't convince people to revolt.

I don't cast idle aspersions on revolutionism. The problems of building a
revolutionary movement are very real. Got a feudal monarchy to overthrow?
Or a colony to liberate? Fine, people will support those revolutions. Got a
democracy to overthrow? Better go back to the drawing boards. Democracies
provide all of the tools people need to achieve social justice. It's just a matter
of activists selecting the right tools.

> The major differences in society in the last 20-40 years have been the
> dismantling of the welfare state, the total abandonment of nationalised
> industries (Mostly given away to private corporations) the breaking up of
> organised labour through attacks on the Trade Union movement and break
> up of large workforces & workplaces (Subcontracting,'outsourcing' and 'self-
> employment') the EXTENSION of working hours through these methods,
> increasing the average working week to well in excess of 50 hours and the
> SHRINKING of wages through introduction of more part-time labour, mass
> employment of women at 30-40% less remuneration, re-introduction of 'piece
> work', re-introduction of casualisation, and new ideas such as 'job sharing' etc.
> On average workers work longer hours than at any time since WW2, for
> far less in real-term wages, this is as true in the USA as it is in Europe,
> though in Europe it is far worse.
> Now in Europe workers face rocketing Housing costs,
> and rocketing indirect Taxation.
> The Class divide is greater now than Karl Marx could ever have foreseen the
> richest three people in the world have the same annual income as the poorest
> 32 nations.....
> All these facts are obvious to workers, and more and more of them are moving
> into struggle, not through choice, but being FORCED into struggle through
> economic reality.
> The Class War, Ken, is alive and well.

I didn't say that the class war is dead, but no one in my neighborhood is very
interested in revolting, abolishing capitalism, or attacking private property.
Everybody wants to be rich, and have lots of property. I just had my 40th high
school reunion, and the 2 guys I remembered from my science classes have
already retired with plenty of money, and we aren't even 60 yet. I felt alone
in not having any money, property or success to my name.

> All of this makes me think one thing about your position: You must be
> removed from the reality of this objective situation in order to draw these
> conclusions.
In other words; you must be economically insulated from the
> realities of the working class.

I really wonder how this whole issue became PERSONalized. All that anyone
would ever want to know about my relation to the working class can be found
in part A at my web site. In my last message to you, I brought up real problems
of Marxist revolutionism, but you didn't address them. If you can make me into
some kind of bourgeois, would that cancel out the problems I discovered? That
would be a pretty thin argument.

Marx's original theory was for socialist revolutions to happen first and
simultaneously in the most developed countries, and yet they happened one
at a time in backward countries, which means that his revolution wasn't fit for
advanced democracies. Anarchists and communists can't unite and decide
whether to replace their democracies with communist workers' states, or
with an anarchist classless and stateless administration of things. Instead
of repeating a valid litany of complaints about the present system, please
address these problems of revolution.

> This is not an attack, it is an observation.
> The proletariat has more need now
for its dictatorship than at any time for 100
> years. Revolutionary movements are being built, right now, as we have this debate.

Dozens of scattered sectarian revolutionary movements do not a revolution
make. If they could get together into one big revolutionary movement, that
would be something to behold, and it would impress me. My own particular
revolutionary party, the American SLP, has a program that is buttressed by
lies and quotes out of context, so no one will support them. They are sectarian
enough to never support another revolutionary movement except their own.
When I was naive, I used to wonder why they hated communists so much.
The anarchist-communist split is as real as the Marx-Bakunin split.

I don't know what to say to prove that a revolution in the West is no better than a fant-
asy. Because a revolution in the West is absurd, and because some top revolutionary
leaders understand this as well as I do, the only thing left to do was to commodify
revolutionism, make little sectarian businesses out of it, and let sectarians fight it
out among themselves. Little more than that can happen in the West. People who
can AFFORD to waste their lives supporting the revolution will continue to do so.
Those who can't afford to do so will move on to something more productive.

> Incidentally, when I say that: "> I, too, have been guilty in the past of
> mistakenly thinking that there would be no need for a dictatorship of the
> proletariat in advanced capitalist nations, due to the proletariat being sufficient
> in size compared to the residue of the peasantry." that was my own mistake,
> within my own analysis, it was not something that I picked up from any 'Party
> Line' In point of fact it came to the fore in my consciousness only recently,
> during the massive movement against higher fuel taxes here in Europe last year.
> It was the way in which we aligned ourselves to this essentially petit bourgeois
> struggle that made me realise the importance of the question.

Well, "the way in which we aligned ourselves" obviously isn't the whole story.
If that's all you want to say about it, we'll have to put it away.

> I am intrigued as to where you get this impression from that Europe is some
> kind of democratic wonderland! In fact, the ruthlessness that the ruling classes
> here have shown in unleashing state forces against Anti-Capitalist protests is
> something not seen for generations. The accounts of those present in Genoa
> and Gothenburg have to be heard to be believed. You should visit the website
> of our International and see for yourself:

Like I say, though, there is nothing to revolt over. People have democracy
with universal suffrage, so are free to use those tools to acquire as much
economic and social justice as they can tolerate.

> In point of fact, 'Democracy' in Europe is these days much the same as it is in
> the USA. Two massively funded Capitalist Parties see-sawing between each other
> for Power, both with
microscopic memberships. Here the Labour Party is heading
> for its lowest membership figures since its inception at the turn of the century.

Democracy isn't much better or worse than during the days of M+E, but M+E
fought like hell for it. Full democracy is the precondition for all else.

> Bourgeois Democracy ...

In the days of M+E, the right to vote in most democracies was encumbered
with property requirements. Hardly so today.

> Bourgeois Democracy is dying on it's ass across Europe, and as a result,
> we are seeing an increase in Class Struggle, and a polarisation of political
> 'extremes' We have the rise of the far right ever increasing, and we have
> the rise of a broad Anti-Capitalist movement on the Left.
> The times they are a changin'
> Regards,
> Steve Bush,
> Lambeth Socialist Party.

Well, it's hard to argue with so much optimism. If you say that the revolution
is coming, then 'it is coming', no matter what a mere mortal like myself might
have to say about it. I surely hope that you will think about what I say so that
you won't waste your life working for a revolution that will never happen. If the
democratic republic is the specific form of the proletarian dictatorship (according
to Engels in 1891), and if we already have democratic republics with pretty near
universal suffrage, then we should learn to use what we have to get what we want.

Ken Ellis



Lucy wrote:

> I read something recently that was quite interesting about the Kellogg
> company having a 30 hour work week back in the 30s, I believe. And there
> was a strong movement to implement a national 30 hour week around that
> same time but it narrowly failed. I'll find where I got the information
> and post it here.
> Lucy

A lot of information about those subjects can be found in Prof. Ben
Hunnicutt's 2 books: "Work Without End", and another one specifically
about Kellogg's 6 Hour Day, which was phased out slowly at Kellogg
factories, and lasted until the late 1980's in some departments.

More information about those topics can be found at:

The more improvements in the means of production, and the more human labor
gets downsized as it becomes redundant to the processes of production, the more
attractive the shorter work time solution will become. In the Shorter Work Time
discussion forum, we put together a list of 16 benefits to shorter work hours,
higher overtime premiums, longer vacations, earlier retirement, etc.:

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 workers to pick and choose the occupation that best suits them.

4) Improve productivity by eliminating worker fatigue.

5) Reduce the waste of lengthy commutes.

6) Encourage technological innovation, enabling further work reductions.

7) Promote a higher general standard of personal health and well-being.

8) Enhance domestic harmony and bliss.

9) Give people more time to spend in service to their communities, hobbies,
with their families, and for unexpected family emergencies, etc.

10) Give people more confidence in 'the system', and restore social optimism.

11) Improve a country's economy, as in the example of France,
with its 35 hour week.

12) Cost no more in taxes, and would add more people to the tax base,
enabling tax reductions.

13) Enable reductions in unemployment insurance premiums.

14) Reduce stress on the environment by eliminating the 'job creation'
justification for 'economic growth'.

15) Pare down the enormous profits which are plowed into non-productive
activities such as rampant speculation, excessive advertising, and campaign finances.

16) Alter investment priorities, enabling the economy to serve a greater
portion of humanity.

Ken Ellis



Joan inquired:

> School violence on the news is usually committed by white,
> middle-class kids... -- how is this caused by poverty?

Rereading message 4120, 'poverty causes school violence' wasn't stated.

But, using the massacre at Littleton, CO, as an example, the two protagonists,
Harris and Kinkel, could hardly be described as poor. But, their odd behaviors
indicated alienation. Many people were somewhat concerned with the tell-tale
signs of something amiss, but not enough to prevent the tragedy.

Poverty in the midst of splendor is one manifestation of our society going
awry, and alienation and violent outbursts are others. All the more reasons
for the politically active to promote feasible solutions befitting this era of
rapid technological change.

Ken Ellis



Rafael wrote:

> In the PLU, the Plan of Action called for the distribution of programming
> time reflecting the ethnic makeup of the respective Pacifica cities. The result
> was an effort to overthrow this provision and replace it with a schema that paid
> attention only to class, not race or gender.

Interesting. Because of the infinitude of gradations of class and ethnicity,
metering programming time according to class and ethnicity is a great way
to start arguments. As a 'solution', it ranks as primitive as the traditional socialist
'redistribution of property, wealth and income'. Today's maldistribution of property,
wealth and income is obvious, while the traditional socialist solution of forcible,
state-driven redistribution can only be a band-aid in a dynamic world.

> It was claimed that guarantees of air time for oppressed groups violated the
> "peace and justice" mission of Pacifica, even though, the original Pacifica
> mission never formulates itself as a peace and justice mission, and although
> it puts heavy emphasis on issues pertaining to race and the ending of racism.

As a past engineer at KPFA, I can vouch for the fact that race issues were
close to the top of everyone's consciousness, and ugly incidents abounded.

> A proposal such as Ken's, which I support in broad terms, will by no means
> end the struggle over race matters - in fact,
experience has shown that, to the
> contrary, it will sharpen the debate.
> Rafael

'Experience has shown ..'? I hope that Rafael will provide a reference.

Ken Ellis



--- In RBG-Alliance@y..., Li'l Joe <joeradical@y...> wrote:

> --- TgRhiannon@a... quoted Ken Ellis:
>>> "Respect for private property became so thorough and widespread in
>>> the Western hemisphere that it is presently an unassailable institution."
>> He's right, Li'l Joe. People like owning things. Assuming otherwise goes
>> against the possibility of achieving what you hope to achieve.
> What, in your opinion is the reason that people "like owning things"?
> Is it innate in human genetics, or the result of socialization?

Some primitive tribes have no words for 'mine' or 'yours', so the institution
of private property is too recent to get into our genes.

Millennia ago, tool innovations began to enable production of surpluses. Some
producers tried to keep some extras to enhance their own chances of survival,
and a long debate over private property ensued. Society evolved into distinct
classes of haves and have-nots, and private property became a fact of life.

When wealth someday flows effortlessly, it will become absurd for a class of
people to try to hoard any of it for themselves, because more than enough for
everyone will be readily available, and scarcities will be no more. With the
abolitions of human labor, the division of labor, and the division of society
into distinct classes, private property should be expected to decline as an
institution soon after.

Ken Ellis



Joan wrote:

> think about what you just said, ken. machines for harvesting crops will
> sometime be cheap enough for the home garden? are you saying that a
> person who enjoys gardening would get a little robotic slave to pick one
> row of beans, another for several rows of corn, and a third to pull carrots,
> just to save himself half an hour's labor? aren't you one of those who
> speak for resource conservation?

The same humanoid that assists with undesirable household chores may also
do the undesirable weeding and backbreaking labor in the garden.

Resource conservation today is rather expensive because of all of the
associated human labor, but future advances in energy technology
will enable robots to reclaim more resources than what they deplete.

Ken Ellis



Chris made some excellent points, as usual.

snip "live to work" for brevity

>> 6) Encourage technological innovation, enabling further work reductions.
> (Ken Ellis)
> As I understand it, this was the whole point of technological innovation -
> that it would free humanity from toil.

Freedom can't be achieved with the present level of technology, which needs
only a few more decades of evolution to free us.

> But what actually happens is that instead of everyone gradually working less,
> innovation results in fewer people working the same hours to manufacture
> the same product. The labour displaced by innovation then has to work just
> as hard as before, but now usually selling luxuries of some sort (prostitution,
> entertainment, tourism, sport, art, literature). In fact, even the necessities of life
> are gradually becoming luxuries.

And conversely - luxuries are becoming necessities. How many can live without
cable TV? The luxuries are part of the general rise in the standard of living.

> Increasingly, basic foodstuffs are being replaced by cuisine. Eating
> isn't a necessity: it's an experience. A house isn't a shelter, but a status
> symbol, with a garden, a pool, and a stunning view of something.
> By my estimate, some 95%+ of the work we do is unnecessary. It isn't
> necessary to have professional sport, professional artists, musicians, authors.
> If all this unnecessary work stopped, it would slash environmental pollution,
> resource depletion, carbon dioxide emissions, work-related stress, industrial
> accidents, etc by 95%.
> But this society can't see that. In fact it can't even begin to consider it.
> For as long as there has been human life on this planet, it has been working
> life, and pretty well nobody can get their mind around the prospect of an end
> to it. Rather than explore the possibility of a work-free life, this society tries
> to recreate traditional work culture, even to the absurd point of "job-creation
> schemes". It's utterly demented. It's totally insane. And just about everything
> that is wrong with our society can be traced to this idiocy.
> But I'm ranting....
> Chris

Society is in a bit of a rut, for sure. Millions of people may have to be
thrown out on the street by smarter technology before we make a significant
change in our thought patterns. Let's not give up hope. Allowed to do it all
over again, I would learn robotics in order to become part of that aspect of
the solution. To make up for the technological displacement, we should
struggle politically to enable everyone who wants a little work to get some.
We should support France's 35 hour week by fighting for it in the USA,
the UK, and everywhere else.

Ken Ellis

"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
" of the First International).



--- In RBG-Alliance@y..., Li'l Joe <joeradical@y...> wrote:

> Kenneth Ellis and I are in agreement on the fact that the perpetual advances
> in the development of the productive forces, robotics, and "smart machines"
> will one day make labor superfluous. Where he and I differ is whether or
> not it can evolve under capitalism. He holds that it can, given that Man is
> a rational animal and that the capitalists will themselves see the benefits,
> and so with the end of work will come socialism.
> I, perhaps more cynically do not see capitalists as rational about anything
> but their own individual enrichment, conspicuous consumption, leisure,
> and above all else, POWER. They club together to protect their
> individual interests in context of a collective, or class interests.

Rich or poor, people can't egregiously flaunt the rules forever. If oligarchic
rule had been untouchable, then Dick Nixon would not have had to resign. The
relatively equal application of the law prevents assigning the exclusive blame for
all of our problems on the rich and powerful. When the people elect terrible
leaders, they have to accept part of the blame for the problems that result.

> Just as they were willing to engage the Soviet Union in a nuclear war that
> would destroy this Planet, as preferable to expropriation by "Soviet Com-
> munism"; so, they will destroy the productive forces, as they did in Europe
> in World Wars I&II, and now in Iraq and Yugoslavia,
before they would
> allow their evolution to make them superfluous as individuals and as a class.

If the capitalist class is as evil as that, then we are ALL evil. Property is not a genetic
trait. Otherwise, we could legitimately argue that 'workers are good, and bosses are evil'.

If capitalists are driven to do anything, they are ECONOMICALLY driven to
innovate to maintain a competitive advantage over other capitalists. Innovation
is a double-edged sword, however, because innovation will someday ensure the
total replacement of human labor, along with the source of profits, thereby
abolishing class distinctions, but ONLY IF WE PRACTICE THE POLITICS OF
INCLUSION. Social justice is never automatic, so activists will have plenty to do.

Human laborers form the bulk of society, and will not sit still for their own
annihilation as a class, to be disposed of like so many paper plates after a
picnic. The effects of redundancy will be fought against, using the same
methods as used in the past.

> They would prefer a World War III in the destruction of the
> productive forces in expectation of a new "Marshal Plan",
> which will give them an extended life as capitalists in power.

Time will tell whether Li'l Joe might be right about the evils of our fellow
humans. In the meantime, if hope is maintained that annihilation is not inevitable,
then the future storm of unemployment will hopefully inspire appropriate work-
sharing counter-measures, instead of a somber march to mass graves.

snip the 1848 expropriation solution, which more and more
people in this forum are thankfully coming to regard as obsolete

> It is ONLY on condition of revolutionary proletarian state power
> that the economical relations of production can be established for
> the free development of technology, robotics, and the reduction of
> the working day to two, or three hours of mandatory labour per
> worker per week can become what Kenneth Ellis envisions.

While Marx thought that the proletarian dictatorship would be the appropriate
era for pursuing shorter work hours, and because Marx's plan for proletarian
dictatorship was to be built on a framework of Social-Democracy (or socially
controlled democracies), and because the West presently enjoys socially
controlled democracies, then our Social-Democracies should be regarded
just as facilative of a proletarian agenda as any other proletarian dictatorship
in theory or practice. Politicians will someday be convinced to shorten the
length of the work day and week to make room for everyone in the formal
economy, until the formal economy disappears.

snip old text

Ken Ellis

"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



--- In RBG-Alliance@y..., Mark Stanford <mark@o...> quoted Joan:

>> it is simple economics -- when supply goes up and demand remains the
>> same, price goes down. labor is a commodity like any other in that sense.
> Yes, when there is a large labour force, which there globally always is,
> capital will pay everyone as little as humanly possible. For most people
> in the world this is not some fluctuating price that has to do with supply
> and demand, it's just some dirt cheap rate that doesn't change much, like
> maybe $1 or $.25 per day. In the US, it's minimum wage. This is not a
> result of some kind of supernatural law that governs employment, that
> the capitalists cannot control. This is a result of a conscious decision
> on the part of capitalists to pay as little as possible in order to make
> as much profit as possible.

The decision to maximize profits by offering lousy wages is conscious, but the
labor market sometimes acquires a life of its own. In one economic boomlet of
recent times, wages in Madison WI soared high in order for bosses to attract
any help at all. If workers would do what some activists have long wanted
workers to do, and if workers unite to abolish the competition within their
own ranks, and create an artificial scarcity of labor to put everyone to work
who wants to, wages would rise to a respectable level while achieving full
employment. Maybe activists instead prefer to work for impossible
expropriation. We should do a poll.

>> and there are people who get big jobs out of greed for more money, often
>> at the expense of family life -- both men and women can fit into this category.
> What is a "big job"? Because I assure you, most couples where both people
> work are doing it because they have no other choice if they want to survive.
> And in slightly "higher" economic classes, many people work because they
> enjoy their job and they wouldn't want to sit at home being a housewife all
> day. But still, because we still have the institution of sexism and the sexist
> institution of the nuclear family, most women are relegated to doing all
> the housework AND working a regular job.
>> about the nuclear family, there are plenty of good parents. many
>> parents make mistakes, true, but many young people end up with
>> a good relationship with their parents. attacking the family unit as
>> a social problem will not get you support anywhere in america.
> The nuclear family is a failed experiment. It is a horrible, worthless,
> sexist system that is responsible for the rape and abuse, mentally if not
> physically, of each and every one of us, whether or not we are aware of
> it. Despite media portrayal, most people do not even live in nuclear
> families in the United States,
and haven't for decades. But it is a
> system of male dominance over the whole family, and parental
> dominance over the children, that teaches children all about
> bondage, power structures, and inevitability of oppression.

I was born into a nuclear family, my older sister started her own nuclear
family, and each of her 3 kids went on to start nuclear families of their own.
The nuclear family in my neck of the woods is 'alive and well', so I wouldn't
write its obituary any too soon. I agree that it isn't the best of all possible
families, but it will probably last only as long as private property and
inheritances survive. The nuclear family may very well be part of 'the
muck of the ages' which will someday have to be overcome in order
to achieve kid lib, but it won't be abolished by the force of any state.

> Another thing, Joan. You seem to like to point out that supporting
> or attacking certain things won't get you support anywhere in America.
> I would wager that you are right. At this moment in the United States,
> supporting ANY alternative system to the current system, or suggesting
> anything other than something very close to mainstream politics, will get
> you no significant support in the United States. The point is to CHANGE that.

Change? In what way? You agreed that Joan was right about the futility
of trying to significantly change basic institutions, and yet you appear
to advocate basic institutional change. The agreement and the advocacy
appear to contradict one another.

> I would not want to live in a socialist society that is not feminist,
> and no feminist society retains the nuclear family as a primary social
> component. I do not want to work for a system that is as corrupt and
> oppressive as this one, with little changes. Do I think that most people
> are going to react positively, immediately, to an argument against the
> nuclear family, or against property, or against capitalism at all?
> Of course not, I'm not stupid. The point is to convince them.

Which argument against capitalism and property would convince people?
Perhaps you aren't aware of the futility of trying to abolish capitalism in the
West. The abolition of capitalism ceased to be plausible after Europeans
failed to support the Russian revolution with long-lasting revolutions of
their own. That event was the last chance to realize Marx's scenario of
world-wide revolution in the most developed countries. Every socialist
revolution in the 20th century fell far short of the standards of Marx's plan.

> I've read a lot of your posts and not responded to any of them. From
> what I can tell, you don't seem to be a socialist at all. You disagree with
> practically every socialist or leftist idea. So can you please tell me what
> it is that you actually would like to see happen? What are your politics?
> Mark

I'm not sure about Joan's sentiment, but I'd love to see everyone adopt the
politics of inclusion, and see to it that everyone who wants a job at good
wages can have one. Then capitalism as we've suffered from it can be happily
ridden all of the way to the end of work, as well as to the abolition of class
distinctions. Unlike in the defunct Marxist scenario, there is no way out of
capitalism except by first abolishing work.

Ken Ellis



Li'l Joe wrote:

> If others want me to abstain from providing news and information from CNN

Thanks for asking, Li'l Joe. I prefer that we use this space to discuss things
from our hearts and souls rather than merely passing along information,
except in the rare circumstance that the info might be very important to us.

Ken Ellis



--- In RBG-Alliance@y..., "Mike Morin" <mmorin@e...> wrote:

> What is the role that we on this list-serve play? Are we an elite club, having
> fun with the speculation of exactly when the wells run dry, the engine seizes?

I think that some activists are so entranced with their 'inevitable victory over
power and property
' that they don't think about testing their belief systems.
When some people are converted to one or another aspect of activism, they
sometimes think that they have arrived at some new and FINAL truth.

> To what extent are the important messages that get communicated here being
> relayed to the mass of public citizenry? Do they still believe that the energy
> crisis of '73 was nothing more than a conspiracy to raise prices? Do we as
> a group see an alternative path for the future or are we hopelessly cynical?
> Is there any (political) action we can take within or outside of this forum?

I don't think we spend enough time hammering out a mutually acceptable
political plan. Something should be done, but I don't detect a sense of unity
over exactly what. We have enough people here to make a small difference, or
to become influential in some small way (as befits our limited numbers), but
our influence will remain nil if our efforts and hopes are scattered in too
many different directions.

I personally can't figure out how to get people to pull in the same direction.
What do others think about the unity that remains to be forged? Something
should be done about our social predicaments, but we don't yet seem clear as
to what to do.

In the shorter work time forum, we hammered out a pot-luck list of desirable legislation:

1: Overtime premium - double time instead of time and a half.

2: 3 or 4 weeks paid vacation instead of 2.

3: Bring all workers under the protection of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

4: Replace fixed salaries with hourly rates of pay.

5: Freedom of choice as to salary or hourly pay.

6: Shorter work hours with no reduction in pay.

7: Portal to portal pay.

8: Decrease the financial disincentive for employing new help, and create
an incentive: a very progressive payroll tax structure, with such a low rate
on the first $10,000 as to be virtually an exemption.

9: Define the minimum needed to qualify for benefits as 16 hours per week.

10: Benefits should be prorated, regardless of how many hours are worked.

11: Universal health care.

12: Proportional representation

Ken Ellis



Hi, Wesley, thanks for the kind words.

> To sum it all up Ken. In your last post to site Peterson as the Nat.
> Secy from 1913 -1968. That says it all! The guy declared himself "
> Leader For Life " of the party and the fools went along with him.

That's true, and the members settled for the meager spoils
of being a perpetual fan club of De Leon.

> If his party would have gained state power he would also have declared himself
> "Leader For Life" of the nation stupid enough to put his party into power.

So true. Thankfully, people are nowhere near that dumb.

> In the WSP-US Karla Ellenbogen & her husband Ron Elbert are such
> leaders for life. Adam Buick may be a de facto unofficial one for the SP.

I've tried to engage all 3 in meaningful dialogue, with no success.

> It is odd that they censored you on this issue. Either it struck too
> close to home, or they are trying to forge an alliance with the SLP.

That's very possible. Both scams are similar enough to warrant mutual
protection treaties between the leaderships.

> Seeing how they have come to adapt their quasi-anarchist view of the abolition
> of the state prior to socialism establishing it's self after "the revolution".

Any brand of property socialism is bound to mire itself in a muddle of contradictions.
It is taboo to examine the contradictions. I broke that taboo, which got me in hot water.

> In any event, the working class is too dynamic to be held back by political stagnation
> of the WSM with its censorship, leaders-for-life etc. That goes for the SLP too.
> Wesley
> Hasten capitalism to it's grave.

I'll drink to that.


If socialists could wisen themselves to the many contradictions of property
socialism, they would also render themselves of far greater service to the
working class. But, in this most bourgeois of all countries, everyone can
afford to sit on their beliefs till hell freezes over. People don't understand
just how religious the whole thing is.

Best wishes,
Ken Ellis



> Thanks Emmeline. What was the name of the show?
> I'd like to get a transcript of that.
> - Dana

The CNN program was Crossfire, with Tucker Carlson on 'the right',
and with the other guy (?) on 'the left'. On the East Coast, it comes on
at 7:30 pm every weekday night.

Emmeline wrote:

> Did anyone else see the show? Tucker Carleson said something like Sunday
> is the day when most suicides occur because people are bored from having so
> much time off!!! No one countered with maybe they do that on Sunday because
> they don't want to face another day of work.

My sentiment exactly. I caught some of that part, but unfortunately
didn't get to see the whole half-hour.

> There were two gentlemen who made some excellent points.

One was Jeremy Rifkin, who wrote a recent book entitled "The End of Work".
He says that work will be all gone by 2050. My personal tragedy was to be born
in 1943 instead of 2043. Philosophically, maybe we should look at it this way:
'We worked so that others won't have to', just the way some said at the end of
a certain war: 'We fought so that others won't have to.'

> One read a quote from a "Danish" citizen that
> "
We see Americans once when they're in college and once
> when they retire and they say they're enjoying their lives.
> Hopefully this movement of working less but earning more will happen.

As citizens, we can all talk it up and lend a hand to help make it happen. In
the shorter work time forum, we cooked up a list of desirable legislation:

1: Overtime premium - double time instead of time and a half.

2: 3 or 4 weeks paid vacation instead of 2.

3: Bring all workers under the protection of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

4: Replace fixed salaries with hourly rates of pay.

5: Freedom of choice as to salary or hourly pay.

6: Shorter work hours with no reduction in pay.

7: Portal to portal pay.

8: Decrease the financial disincentive for employing new help, and create an
incentive: a very progressive payroll tax structure, with such a low rate on
the first $10,000 as to be virtually an exemption.

9: Define the minimum needed to qualify for benefits as 16 hours per week.

10: Benefits should be prorated, regardless of how many hours are worked.

11: Universal health care.

12: Proportional representation

> One fellow talked about working 6 hours but not having a lunch or breaks. I
> think that's a bit extreme in my book. I think most of the fat cat's and the elite
> are already working at jobs where they can take time off or work from home.
> It was nice to see this concept of working less in the national media.

I also noticed that a lot of what Jeremy Rifkin stated about common attitudes
about work, past and present, sounded like he was quoting Prof. Ben Hunnicutt's
book "Work Without End". That book still remains one of the best of all possible
references about common struggles for a shorter work day and week.

Ken Ellis



Jim is right to hammer on this issue of Radio White Pacifica. The issue may
never die until we agree and ensure that everyone who wants some air time can
get some. Anything less will guarantee bureaucracy and cliquishness. We should
not go back to anything resembling Pacifica's or the stations' horrible old structures,
unless we would rather fight amongst ourselves instead of doing good radio.

Ken Ellis - KPFA Engineer, 1982-1997


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