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Selected Political Correspondence

July 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

7-01-01

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

> Comrades: In "The State and Revolution", Lenin observed:
>
> "
What is now happening to Marx's theory has, in the course of history,
> happened repeatedly to the theories of revolutionary thinkers and leaders
> of oppressed classes fighting for emancipation. During the lifetime of great
> revolutionaries, the oppressing classes constantly hounded them, received
> their theories with the most savage malice, the most furious hatred and the
> most unscrupulous campaigns of lies and slander. After their death, attempts
> are made to convert them into harmless icons, to canonize them, so to say, and
> to hallow their names to a certain extent for the "consolation" of the oppressed
> classes and with the object of duping the latter, while at the same time robbing
> the revolutionary theory of its substance, blunting its revolutionary edge and
> vulgarizing it. Today, the bourgeoisie and the opportunists within the labor
> movement concur in this doctoring of Marxism. They omit, obscure, or distort
> the revolutionary side of this theory, its revolutionary soul. They push to the
> foreground and extol what is or seems acceptable to the bourgeoisie.
..."
>
> Is not Mr Kenneth Ellis a "case in point"?

Sometimes one has to delve a little deeper than mere first impressions. I
considered myself a Marxist-Leninist for 15 years, and used the ideology
against some anarchist revolutionaries whose ideology sorely needed to be
refuted. But, after a couple of years of writing my book of refutations, I
clued in to the inappropriateness of revolutionary expropriation to Western
democracies, and learned that revolutionary expropriation would not be the
next higher stage of society. After reeling in disbelief for nearly a year, my
broken dreams of expropriation were replaced with the dream of getting to
socialism by driving down the length of the work week. M+E always
supported that method of proletarian struggle.

> Li'l Joe wrote: It is the military power of the capitalist state, and primarily
> that which threatens the working-class against a "revolutionary expropriation"
> without compensation of society's basic means of production and distribution.
> The productive forces remain the property of capitalists,
not because the working-
> class wants that arrangement to continue
, but because the state, the government
> and its armed forces will not permit expropriations without civil war.

Nobody in my neighborhood would lift a finger to expropriate the bourgeoisie,
even if the state were to disappear tomorrow. The 5th Amendment to the
Constitution prevents expropriation without compensation, and my lower middle
class neighbors would adhere to the Constitution to ensure peaceful change.

> Kenneth Ellis "Corrected" Lil Joe, writing:
>> In democracies, the state is not the enemy. That attitude is a misconstrual
>> of the REAL enemy states of yore - intransigent feudal monarchies, which
>> could not in any way be wielded by the masses. The First International was
>> a republican club. It wanted to create democracies over the ashes of monar-
>> chies. In Marx's day, only a handful of democracies existed, so replacing
>> intransigent monarchies with democracies was the prime political task in
>> Europe. The Communist Manifesto spoke of 'winning the battle for
>> democracy' as the number one task, after which, constructive
>> political work could be done.
>>
>> The difference between bourgeois republics and red proletarian republics
>> was the difference between 'ballot access being restricted to property
>> owners' vs. universal suffrage. As the proletariat matured in the 19th
>> century, M+E witnessed workers coming out more and more for
>> themselves as a class in each successive struggle, not settling for the
>> creation of mere bourgeois democracies, causing Marx to observe
>> in the Minutes of the General Council of the First International that
>> 'middle class republics have become impossible on the continent of
>> Europe'. Universal suffrage in new republics was what the First Int'l
>> wanted, as it would have enabled the proletariat to dictate policy.
>
> Lil Joe, Response: What Marx and Engels actually wrote, and said:
>
> On the bourgeois state, Marx and Engels wrote in the Communist Manifesto:
>
> "
Each step in the development of the bourgeoisie was accompanied by a
> corresponding political advance in that class. An oppressed class under the
> sway of the feudal nobility, an armed and self-governing association of
> medieval commune(4): here independent urban republic (as in Italy and
> Germany); there taxable "third estate" of the monarchy (as in France);
> afterward, in the period of manufacturing proper, serving either the semi-
> feudal or the absolute monarchy as a counterpoise against the nobility,
> and, in fact, cornerstone of the great monarchies in general, the bourge-
> oisie has at last, since the establishment of Modern Industry and of the
> world market, conquered for itself, in the modern representative state,
> exclusive political sway. The executive of the modern state is but a
> committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.
"

There, M+E described how European monarchies well represented the interests
of various segments of the ruling classes. Li'l Joe quotes M+E, but doesn't say
how the quote supposedly detracts from my argument, and how it supposedly
supports his arguments. To show again the respect of M+E and the First Int'l
for republics, Marx was reported in Vol. 4 of the Minutes of the General
Council as having said:

p. 164: "Citizen Marx announced that the Prussian government had dropped
all other charges against our friends in Germany except that of belonging to the
International.
The International wanted to establish the Social and Democratic
Republic and therefore it was high treason to belong to it. This had been the
charge on which the men at Vienna had been convicted and sentenced to
long imprisonment though they were now released.
"

p. 165, Citizen Engels speaking: "No republican movement could go on here [in
England] without expanding into a working-class movement and if such a movement
was to take place it would be as well to know how it went on. BEFORE OUR IDEAS
COULD BE CARRIED INTO PRACTICE WE MUST HAVE THE REPUBLIC.
We must watch it and it was right for our members to take part in it and try to shape it.
If it turned into a middle-class affair it would become a clique.
... " (My emphases - K.E.)

> Years later, in "The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State", Engels wrote:
[Quotation arrows were later removed for clarity - KE]

"Further, in most historical states the rights conceded to citizens are graded
on a property basis, whereby it is directly admitted that the state is an organiza-
tion for the protection of the possessing class against the non-possessing class.
This is already the case in the Athenian and Roman property classes. Similarly
in the medieval feudal state, in which the extent of political power was by the
extent of landownership. Similarly, also, in the electoral qualifications in modern
parliamentary states. This political recognition of property differences is, however,
by no means essential. On the contrary, it marks a low stage in the development
of the state. The highest form of the state, the democratic republic, which in our
modern social conditions becomes more and more an unavoidable necessity and
is the form of state in which alone the last decisive battle between proletariat and
bourgeoisie can be fought out -- the democratic republic no longer officially
recognizes differences of property. Wealth here employs its power indirectly,
but all the more surely. It does this in two ways: by plain corruption of officials,
of which America is the classic example, and by an alliance between the government
and the stock exchange, which is effected all the more easily the higher the state debt
mounts and the more the joint-stock companies concentrate in their hands not only
transport but also production itself, and themselves have their own center in the stock
exchange. In addition to America, the latest French republic illustrates this strikingly,
and honest little Switzerland has also given a creditable performance in this field. But
that a democratic republic is not essential to this brotherly bond between government
and stock exchange is proved not only by England, but also by the new German
Empire, where it is difficult to say who scored most by the introduction of universal
suffrage, Bismarck or lastly the possessing class rules directly by means of universal
suffrage. As the Bleichroder bank. And long as the oppressed class -- in our case, not
yet ripe for its self-liberation, so long will it, in its majority, therefore, the proletariat --
is recognize the existing order of society as the only possible one and remain politically
the tail of the capitalist class, its extreme left wing. But in the measure in which it matures
towards its self -emancipation, in the same measure it constitutes itself as its own party
and votes for its own representatives, not those of the capitalists. Universal suffrage is
thus the gauge of the maturity of the working class. It cannot and never will be anything
more in the modern state; but that is enough. On the day when the thermometer of
universal suffrage shows boiling-point among the workers, they as well as the
capitalists will know where they stand.
"

Even in the freest democracies of Marx's day, the proletariat did not enjoy
universal suffrage. In the USA, women couldn't vote until 1920. Again, Li'l
Joe gave us a long quote, but didn't explain how it supposedly detracted from
my argument, or supposedly supported his argument.

Engels wrote above that "The highest form of the state, the democratic
republic, which in our modern social conditions becomes more and more an
unavoidable necessity and is the form of state in which alone the last decisive
battle between proletariat and bourgeoisie can be fought out -
..."

Notice how well that statement complemented his previous statement from above:
"Before our ideas could be carried into practice we must have the republic."
What many revolutionaries doggedly refuse to accept is the fact that M+E were
republicans, but red republicans, and not just ordinary bourgeois republicans.
Combine that with Engels 1891 Erfurt statement about 'the democratic republic
being the specific form of the dictatorship of the proletariat', as well as the CM's
'winning the battle of democracy as the number one task', and we end up with a
closed case for the desirability of democratic republics with universal suffrage
as the transitional state dissolving itself on the way to classless and stateless
society. Given all of that, I can't understand why any revolutionary living in
a democracy would want to remain a revolutionary.

> Interviewed by a correspondent for the Chicago Tribune,
> on January 6, 1879 Marx said:
>
> "
I am very careful what I do write. That was put in Le Figaro, over my
> signature, about that time. There were hundreds of the same kind of letters
> flying about them. I wrote to the London Times and declared they were
> forgeries; but if I denied everything that has been said and written of me,
> I would require a score of secretaries."
>
> "But you have written in sympathy with the Paris Communists?"
>
> "Certainly I have, in consideration of what was written of them in leading
> articles; but the correspondence from Paris in English papers is quite
> sufficient to refute the blunders propagated in editorials. The Commune
> killed only about sixty people; Marshal MacMahon and his slaughtering
> army killed over 60,000. There has never been a movement so slandered
> as that of the Commune."
>
> "Well, then, to carry out the principles of socialism do its believers
> advocate assassination and bloodshed?"
>
> "No great movement," Karl answered, "has ever been inaugurated
> Without Bloodshed.
>
> "The independence of America was won by bloodshed, Napoleon captured
> France through a bloody process, and he was overthrown by the same means.
> Italy, England, Germany, and every other country gives proof of this, and as
> for assassination," he went on to say, "it is not a new thing, I need scarcely
> say. Orsini tried to kill Napoleon; kings have killed more than anybody
> else; the Jesuits have killed; the Puritans killed at the time of Cromwell.
> These deeds were all done or attempted before socialism was born. Every
> attempt, however, now made upon a royal or state individual is attributed to
> socialism. The socialists would regret very much the death of the German
> Emperor at the present time. He is very useful where he is; and bismarck has
> done more for the cause than any other statesman, by driving things to extremes.
"

Little Joe didn't show how M+E contradicted what I had written. When I
was working at the National Office of my old party, a writer criticized me
for 'reasoning with quotes'. It was a lesson never to be forgotten. A bunch
of quotes strung together does not in itself make a good argument.

> Li'l Joe wrote: Part of the political problem is also ideological, as for instance
> agents defending bourgeois ownership are prevalent in the working-class
> movement itself -
such as Kenneth whose primary function in the list-serves
> is to argue against the revolutionary overthrow of the bourgeois state; against
> the dictatorship of the proletariat that by means of organized proletarian politico-
> armed power that would expropriate bourgeois property - thus to argue against
> making the productive forces public property.

Everyone in touch with reality understands that the institution of private
property is as solid today as the Rock of Gibraltar. Back in Marx's day,
and if the revolution had gone according to plan, the expropriation of the
bourgeoisie would have been a tremendous leap toward the ABOLITION
OF CLASS DISTINCTIONS, the prerequisite to the abolition of the state.
If activists would like to do something VERY Marxist, but at the same time
very feasible, they would work towards the abolition of class distinctions,
instead of the abolition of private property. The latter victory was possible
only after overthrowing feudal monarchies like Russia, or after liberating
colonies like Cuba, but was never possible after socialists and communists
won mere elections in France and Italy. Expropriation of the bourgeoisie
won't happen in the USA, because the USA is neither a feudal monarchy
worthy of overthrow, nor a colony worthy of liberation, but rather is the
form of state in which the final battles between worker and boss will be
fought to a finish - politically, civilly, and perfectly peacefully.

Property socialists are barking up the wrong tree. Instead of learning how
to wield democracies, they only heap abuse on them in a futile attempt to sway
public opinion against them. No democracy is democratic enough, no reform is
suitable enough, and no civil liberty is liberating enough for them. They want us
to start from scratch, but the revolutionaries are so divided among themselves
with petty squabbles that they won't be able to decide whether to create a
communist workers' state, or an anarchist classless and stateless administration
of things. Property socialists have been totally defeated before they even start
by POPULAR accommodation to democracy and capitalism, but, misplaced
revolutionaries may be the last to recognize that fact.

>> Kenneth Ellis Replies: All of that 19th century stuff was little better than
>> a dream, which was demolished forever when Europeans failed to support
>> the Russian revolution with long lasting revolutions of their own. Marx was
>> very close to being 100% right, but the fizzling of the revolutions in Europe
>> marked the end of the possibility of Marx's scenario, for nevermore would
>> enough monarchies be overthrown, and enough new republics created, to
>> endow workers' parties with the kind of power with which to expropriate
>> without compensation. It was just a little too ambitious of M+E to expect
>> workers to create a massive workers' state in Europe, and to use workers'
>> state power to take away the property of the rich.
>
> Lil Joe, Response:
Rather than dealing with my arguments, Kenneth Ellis,
> like so many "contemporary" opponents of revolutionary Marxism today,
> merely asserts that because this analysis was made by Marx in the 19th
> century - and now is the 21st century that it is no longer valid.

Who doesn't deal with who's arguments? Maybe the readers could opine on that issue.

As far as the differences go between the 19th and 21st centuries, where today on the
continent of Europe is the mass of rotten-ripe feudal monarchies to overthrow? Where
are the colonies to liberate? A few may still exist, but most of today's countries are inde-
pendent democracies, as compared to the 19th century, when the number of democracies
could be counted on the fingers of one hand. These factors make all of the difference
to the possibility of realization of Marx's scenario, which absolutely 100% depended
upon building on existing DEMOCRATIC revolutionary movements, without which,
Marx's proletarian revolution could go NOWHERE. In his era, the USA or England
were relatively quiet, politically. Everything revolutionary was on the Continent, where
democracy barely existed. Is it any wonder why so many Europeans migrated to Am-
erica, or that England was the safest place for M+E to do their writing and research?

> However, unlike the bourgeois ideologists who know how to make arguments
> as if they know what they are talking about, Mr. Ellis does not.
He merely
> asserts, without a shred of documentation, that in opposition to the state
> Marx was opposed to the feudal state, not the bourgeois state.

I make no such assertion. It is a matter of HISTORICAL record that revolutions
occur where democracies do not exist, and that Marx was dependent upon POLITICAL
instability to provide the mass sentiment and enthusiasm for an anti-capitalist revolution
to follow on the heels of existing popular anti-monarchist and pro-democratic revolution-
ary initiatives. It is therefore overly optimistic to think that a revolution could happen in a
stable democracy like the USA, or in the Social-Democracies of Europe. If Marx or Li'l
Joe look (or looked) forward to an anti-capitalist revolution in the USA, then such looking
forward has hardly been realistic, for we have no political issues like independence or
slavery to revolt over, and we certainly aren't going to revolt over the poverty of the lower
40% of the population. If people were willing to fight and die to preserve and extend as
immoral a form of ownership as slavery (remembering that the South fired first, on Fort
Sumter), then how much more willingly would ordinary people fight to prevent rambunc
tious property socialists from socializing ownership of non-human forms of property?

After the North crushed the South, and when it had the military strength with
which to provide freed slaves with '40 acres and a mule', not enough political
will existed to break up the Southern plantations to enact that program, because
such an enactment would have grated too harshly on the bourgeois property
values the USA was founded on. So, if we couldn't even bend the property rules
to give freed slaves their 40 acres and a mule, what earthly chances can property
socialists expect for THEIR program? That impossibility is why property socialism
is so marginalized today, and is why, when the machines really become smart, people
will support a shorter work week in droves. Property socialists who retain the dream
of getting to classless and stateless society, and who enjoy a greater commitment to
social justice than in merely wanting to get control over all of that property, will be in-
spired to quit the discredited camp of property socialism, and join labor-time socialists.

> In the "Communist Manifesto", Marx and Engels wrote, on the contrary:

"
The weapons with which the bourgeoisie felled feudalism to the ground
are now turned against the bourgeoisie itself.

But not only has the bourgeoisie forged the weapons that bring death
to itself; it has also called into existence the men who are to wield those
weapons ó the modern working class ó the proletarians.

In proportion as the bourgeoisie, i.e., capital, is developed, in the same
proportion is the proletariat, the modern working class, developed -- a class
of laborers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only
so long as their labor increases capital. These laborers, who must sell them-
selves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and
are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the
fluctuations of the market.

Owing to the extensive use of machinery, and to the division of labor, the
work of the proletarians has lost all individual character, and, consequently,
all charm for the workman. He becomes an appendage of the machine, and
it is only the most simple, most monotonous, and most easily acquired knack,
that is required of him. Hence, the cost of production of a workman is restricted,
almost entirely, to the means of subsistence that he requires for maintenance,
and for the propagation of his race...

Modern Industry has converted the little workshop of the patriarchal
master into the great factory of the industrial capitalist. Masses of laborers,
crowded into the factory, are organized like soldiers. As privates of the
industrial army, they are placed under the command of a perfect hierarchy
of officers and sergeants. Not only are they slaves of the bourgeois class,
and of the bourgeois state; they are daily and hourly enslaved by the machine,
by the overlooker, and, above all, in the individual bourgeois manufacturer
himself. The more openly this despotism proclaims gain to be its end and
aim, the more petty, the more hateful and the more embittering it is....

The proletariat goes through various stages of development. With its birth
begins its struggle with the bourgeoisie. At first, the contest is carried on
by individual laborers, then by the work of people of a factory, then by the
operative of one trade, in one locality, against the individual bourgeois who
directly exploits them. They direct their attacks not against the bourgeois
condition of production, but against the instruments of production them-
selves; they destroy imported wares that compete with their labor, they
smash to pieces machinery, they set factories ablaze, they seek to restore
by force the vanished status of the workman of the Middle Ages.

At this stage, the laborers still form an incoherent mass scattered over the
whole country, and broken up by their mutual competition. If anywhere they
unite to form more compact bodies, this is not yet the consequence of their
own active union, but of the union of the bourgeoisie, which class, in order to
attain its own political ends, is compelled to set the whole proletariat in motion,
and is moreover yet, for a time, able to do so. At this stage, therefore, the prole-
tarians do not fight their enemies, but the enemies of their enemies, the remnants
of absolute monarchy, the landowners, the non-industrial bourgeois, the petty
bourgeois. Thus, the whole historical movement is concentrated in the hands
of the bourgeoisie; every victory so obtained is a victory for the bourgeoisie.

But with the development of industry, the proletariat not only increases in
number; it becomes concentrated in greater masses, its strength grows, and
it feels that strength more. The various interests and conditions of life within
the ranks of the proletariat are more and more equalized, in proportion as
machinery obliterates all distinctions of labor, and nearly everywhere reduces
wages to the same low level. The growing competition among the bourgeois,
and the resulting commercial crises, make the wages of the workers ever more
fluctuating. The increasing improvement of machinery, ever more rapidly
developing, makes their livelihood more and more precarious; the collisions
between individual workmen and individual bourgeois take more and more
the character of collisions between two classes. Thereupon, the workers begin
to form combinations (trade unions) against the bourgeois; they club together
in order to keep up the rate of wages they found permanent associations in
order to make provision beforehand for these occasional revolts. Here and
there, the contest breaks out into riots.

Now and then the workers are victorious, but only for a time. The real
fruit of their battles lie not in the immediate result, but in the ever expanding
union of the workers. This union is helped on by the improved means of com-
munication that are created by Modern Industry, and that place the workers of
different localities in contact with one another. It was just this contact that was
needed to centralize the numerous local struggles, all of the same character, into
one national struggle between classes. But every class struggle is a political
struggle. And that union, to attain which the burghers of the Middle Ages, with
their miserable highways, required centuries, the modern proletarian, thanks to
railways, achieve in a few years.

This organization of the proletarians into a class, and, consequently,
into a political party, is continually being upset again by the competition
between the workers themselves. But it ever rises up again, stronger, firmer,
mightier. It compels legislative recognition of particular interests of the
workers, by taking advantage of the divisions among the bourgeoisie
itself. Thus, the Ten-Hours Bill in England was carried.
"

So far, the CM shows that the biggest manifestations of the proletarian
revolution are the formation of the working class into unions, parties, and
the passage of the 10 Hours Bill. That tells us what's important to fight for.

"Altogether, collisions between the classes of the old society further in
many ways the course of development of the proletariat. The bourgeoisie
finds itself involved in a constant battle. At first with the aristocracy; later
on, with those portions of the bourgeoisie itself, whose interests have bec-
ome antagonistic to the progress of industry; at all time with the bourgeoisie
of foreign countries. In all these battles, it sees itself compelled to appeal to
the proletariat, to ask for help, and thus to drag it into the political arena. The
bourgeoisie itself, therefore, supplies the proletariat with its own elements of
political and general education, in other words, it furnishes the proletariat
with weapons for fighting the bourgeoisie. ...

Finally, in times when the class struggle nears the decisive hour, the
progress of dissolution going on within the ruling class, in fact within
the whole range of old society, assumes such a violent, glaring character,
that a small section of the ruling class cuts itself adrift, and joins the revo-
lutionary class, the class that holds the future in its hands. Just as, therefore,
at an earlier period, a section of the nobility went over to the bourgeoisie, so
now a portion of the bourgeoisie goes over to the proletariat, and in particular,
a portion of the bourgeois ideologists, who have raised themselves to the level
of comprehending theoretically the historical movement as a whole.
"

Where's the 'violent, glaring character' of today's struggle? Not in my
neighborhood. If Marx could be wrong about 'simultaneous revolutions
in the most developed countries', then his characterization of the struggle
between worker and boss could easily be outdated, especially in today's
'most bourgeois country in the world', as Engels dubbed the USA.

"Of all the classes that stand face to face with the bourgeoisie today,
the proletariat alone is a genuinely revolutionary class. The other
classes decay and finally disappear in the face of Modern Industry;
the proletariat is its special and essential product.
"
>
> ((((((((((((((((((((

The proletariat is a genuinely revolutionary class? Not in my neighborhood.
They just want to drive around with their stereos blaring. Not very revolutionary.

> Kenneth Ellis next goes on to dismiss the years of violent class war,
> and the brutal state repressions of working-class uprisings e.g. in
> France in 1848, and 1871, in Russia in 1905, &c.

Where's the evidence of my alleged dismissal of those struggles?
We were given not a clue.

> Every attempt by the proletariat to seize state power, and to expropriate
> capital has thus far failed to only reorganize and arise anew. But, as if
> by the gift of mind reading in hindsight, both
ignoring the stubborn facts
> of history, Kenneth Ellis
asserts what the proletarians, IN HIS OPINION
> AND
WITHOUT A SHRED of evidence or documentation, asserts what
> the working-class was "willing to do", and not "willing to do"!

If enough proletarians had WANTED to create the universal proletarian
dictatorship with the power to take away the property of the rich, and with
the unity with which to avoid counter-revolution, then MAYBE THEY WOULD
HAVE DONE IT. When it comes to mass movements, enough people have to
WANT to do something before it can be accomplished. That's why we have
universal suffrage today. People WANTED universal suffrage, and for good
reason - it put them in the drivers' seat.

> He, by ignoring history assert that the working-class never wanted state power -

A la contraire. The fact that we have universal suffrage proves that the
working class wanted state power.

> One is reminded of the old myth that Southern Negro slaves were happy
> in their slavery, that they were stirred up against slavery by "Northern
> Abolitionists". Marxists are the modern abolitionists;

I share 'abolitionism' with Marxists in the sense of wanting to abolish class
distinctions. In 'Principles of Communism', Engels wrote that "The proletarian frees
himself by doing away with competition, private property and all class distinctions.
"

In "The Communist Manifesto", M+E wrote: "When, in the course of development, class
distinctions have disappeared, and all production has been concentrated in the hands of
a vast association of the whole nation, the public power will lose its political character.
"

In "Class Struggles in France" Marx wrote: "This Socialism is the declaration
of the permanence of the revolution, the class dictatorship of the proletariat as the
necessary transit point to the abolition of class distinctions generally, to the abolition
of all the relations of production on which they rest, to the abolition of all the social
relations that correspond to these relations of production, to the revolutionising of
all the ideas that result from these social relations.
"

In "The Nationalisation of the Land", Marx wrote: "The nationalisation of land
will work a complete change in the relations between labour and capital, and
finally, do away with the capitalist form of production, whether industrial or
rural. Then class distinctions and privileges will disappear together with the
economical basis upon which they rest. To live on other people's labour will
become a thing of the past. There will be no longer any government or state
power, distinct from society itself!
"

In "Refugee Literature", Engels wrote: "The revolution that modern socialism
strives to achieve is, briefly, the victory of the proletariat over the bourgeoisie
and the establishment of a new organisation of society by the destruction of all
class distinctions. This requires not only a proletariat to carry out this revolution,
but also a bourgeoisie in whose hands the social productive forces have developed
so far that they permit the final destruction of class distinctions. Among savages and
semi-savages there likewise often exist no class distinctions, and every people has
passed through such a state. It could not occur to us to re-establish this state, for the
simple reason that class distinctions necessarily emerge from it as the social productive
forces develop. Only at a certain level of development of these social productive forces,
even a very high level for our modern conditions, does it become possible to raise
production to such an extent that the abolition of class distinctions can constitute real
progress, can be lasting without bringing about stagnation or even decline in the mode
of social production. But the productive forces have reached this level of development
only in the hands of the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie, therefore, in this respect also is
just as necessary a precondition for the socialist revolution as is the proletariat itself.
Hence a man who says that this revolution can be more easily carried out in a
country where, although there is no proletariat, there is no bourgeoisie either,
only proves that he has still to learn the ABC of socialism.
"

In "Anti-Duhring", Engels wrote: "The steam-engine will never bring about such
a mighty leap forward in human development, however important it may seem in
our eyes as representing all those immense productive forces dependent on it -
forces which alone make possible a state of society in which there are no longer
class distinctions or anxiety over the means of subsistence for the individual, and
in which for the first time there can be talk of real human freedom, of an existence
in harmony with the laws of nature that have become known.
"

In "Anti-Duhring", Engels also wrote: "The mystics of the Middle Ages who
dreamed of the coming millennium were already conscious of the injustice of
class antagonisms. On the threshold of modern history, three hundred and fifty
years ago, Thomas Münzer proclaimed it to the world. In the English and the
French bourgeois revolutions the same call resounded - and died away. And if
today the same call for the abolition of class antagonisms and class distinctions,
which up to 1830 had left the working and suffering classes cold, if today this
call is re-echoed a millionfold, if it takes hold of one country after another in the
same order and in the same degree of intensity that modern industry develops in
each country, if in one generation it has gained a strength that enables it to defy
all the forces combined against it and to be confident of victory in the near future -
what is the reason for this? The reason is that modern large-scale industry has
called into being on the one hand a proletariat,
... . On the other hand this same
large-scale industry has brought into being, in the bourgeoisie, a class which has
the monopoly of all the instruments of production and means of subsistence, but
which in each speculative boom period and in each crash that follows it proves
that it has become incapable of any longer controlling the productive forces,
which have grown beyond its power; a class under whose leadership society is
racing to ruin like a locomotive whose jammed safety-valve the driver is too weak
to open. In other words, the reason is that both the productive forces created by
the modern capitalist mode of production and the system of distribution of goods
established by it have come into crying contradiction with that mode of production
itself, and in fact to such a degree that, if the whole of modern society is not to
perish, a revolution in the mode of production and distribution must take place,
a revolution which will put an end to all class distinctions. On this tangible,
material fact, which is impressing itself in a more or less clear form, but with
insuperable necessity, on the minds of the exploited proletarians - on this fact,
and not on the conceptions of justice and injustice held by any armchair
philosopher, is modern socialism's confidence in victory founded.
"

In the 1888 Preface to "The Communist Manifesto", Engels wrote: "The
Manifesto being our joint production, I consider myself bound to state that
the fundamental proposition which forms its nucleus, belongs to Marx. That
proposition is: that in every historical epoch, the prevailing mode of economic
production and exchange, and the social organisation necessarily following from
it, form the basis upon which is built up, and from which alone can be explained,
the political and intellectual history of that epoch; that consequently the whole
history of mankind (since the dissolution of primitive tribal society, holding land
in common ownership) has been a history of class struggles, contests between
exploiting and exploited, ruling and oppressed classes; that the history of these
class struggles form a series of evolution in which, nowadays, a stage has been
reached where the exploited and oppressed class - the proletariat - cannot attain
its emancipation from the sway of the exploiting and ruling class - the bourge-
oisie - without, at the same time, and once and for all emancipating society at
large from all exploitation, oppression, class-distinctions and class-struggles.
"

In "Lawyer's Socialism", Engels wrote: "On the one hand, the development
of large-scale machine-based enterprises in industry and agriculture makes
production increasingly social, and the productivity of labour enormous; this
necessitates the abolition of class distinctions and the transfer of commodity
production in private enterprises into direct production for and by society.
On the other hand, the modern mode of production gives rise to the class
which increasingly gains the power for, and interest in, actually carrying
through this development: a free, working proletariat.
"

Obviously, the abolition of class distinctions describes the upper stage
of communism, or, classless and stateless society. In our own era, we can
reduce the intensity of class distinctions by driving down the length of the
work week, thereby freeing workers from toil, enabling them step by step
to approach the level of freedom enjoyed by the idle rich.

> so the representatives of the capitalist masters, assert that the exploited
> workers want it this way, and "are not willing to" have it any other way -
> that
only the capitalists are capable of running the economy and governing.

I'm content to allow the market to determine a lot of production, but I
wouldn't object if the utilities most of depend upon became public property.
That's up to the majority to decide. I wouldn't be surprised if the recent
energy price hikes didn't result in the formation of such a movement.

>> Kenneth Ellis wrote: Expropriation wasn't something that people were
>> willing to do, even though many of the political conditions for such action
>> were in place in 1917 and shortly afterwards. It was unrealistic for Lenin
>> to expect workers to replace their Social-Democracies with communist
>> workers' states, and unrealistic to expect the CPUSA to overthrow the
>> American democracy. But, no one had ever tried anything like that on such
>> a massive scale before, so no one can blame them for trying. The failure of
>> history to conform to M+E's scenario should have given activists cause to
>> reflect on its future possibility, but not enough of them were willing to do
>> much more than keep the dream alive in various little sects who will stub-
>> bornly keep the revolutionary dream alive for as long as party bureaucrats
>> can be kept in power. After 1917, making various small businesses out of
>> the proletarian revolution in Europe and America was all that was possible,
>> even though the dream still lingers on in less developed countries.
>
> Lil Joe, Response: How does one respond to Mr Ellis mumbo jumbo
> analysis which is based on his clairvoyant mind reading of what workers
> were or weren't "willing to do", while he
ignores the facts of history that
> the proletariat has been in constant rebellion, and as a consequence were
> repeatedly bloodily suppressed?

I don't see much 'repeated bloody suppression' on the street where I live.
European workers in 1871 and 1917 didn't do what M+E thought they would
do, and for one good reason - not enough were willing to do it. They were
becoming too bourgeois to want to do anything drastic about private property.

> Not only does he declare himself on workers mental state but also sets
> himself up as an "interpreter of dreams", declaring what is "realistic" and
> "unrealistic". He, on the other hand says that what he himself thinks is
> "realistic" is to
base "socialism" on capitalist ownership of the productive
> forces!
That, my friend IS a dream - and a conservative utopian dream at that.

The labor-time socialist scenario calls for driving down the length of the
work week until volunteers step in to perform the remaining work, after which
the private ownership of the means of production will no longer accrue to the
benefit of owners, leaving the institution of private property to wither away,
along with the state and the nuclear family. Property antedates capitalism, so
it will linger uselessly and harmlessly after the abolition of work and class
distinctions. During the evolution of the next few decades, instead of us pun-
itively bringing down the capitalists to our low level, we will raise ourselves
to THEIR standard of wealth and freedom. The days of bringing down
oppressive classes ended when the monarchies of olde came tumbling down.

>>>> Kenneth Ellis wrote: The only times in history in which expropriation
>>>> without compensation was possible was after overthrowing feudal
>>>> monarchies, or after liberating colonies, which never happened
>>>> 'simultaneously in the most developed countries', as Marx had wanted.
>>>
>>> Lil Joe, Response: We need not engage in imaginary hypothetical
>>> about what Kenneth Ellis thinks about what "Marx had wanted."
>>>
>> Kenneth Ellis Replied: There are lots of references to the scenario of
>> 'simultaneous revolutions in the most developed countries', as the only
>> way by which to avoid bourgeois counter-revolution. Otherwise, neigh-
>> boring countries could be used as bases of counter-revolution, as in the
>> Paris Commune, and later in Russia. Engels did an interview in 1847
>> entitled 'Principles of Communism':
>
> Lil Joe, Response:
This is ridiculous. Of course Marx, Engels, Lenin,
> Luxemburg, Trotsky and every other Scientific Socialist recognize that
> the proletariat is a cosmopolitan class and that socialist revolution is
> world revolution. But, what Mr Ellis is saying is that sense it has not
> yet occurred in the advanced industrial democracies that "Marxism"
> is therefore "out-dated"; instead he advocates that the working- class
> cease to struggle for proletarian communism.

Instead of the Marxist revolution happening first in the most developed
countries, as indicated in Engels' quote, Marxist revolutions happened one at
a time in less developed countries. History marched in a direction OPPOSITE
to what M+E expected and wanted. If the revolutions had gone according to the
way M+E had wanted, then we would all be living in communist countries today.
M+E's proletarian revolution is obsolete because it was 100% dependent upon
simultaneously overthrowing a mass of monarchies on the Continent, which no
longer exist, ending the possibility of M+E's communist revolutionary scenario.

The notion of 'the revolution beginning in the most developed countries, and
spreading to the rest of the world' best describes BOURGEOIS democratic
revolutions, which proceeded in somewhat of a wave - starting in Holland,
marching westward to England in the following century, and westward to the
USA in the century after that, and shortly thereafter eastward to France, and
then south and east to Russia, China and India in the 20th century. Democratic
capitalism will cover the whole world eventually. With no more masses of mon-
archies to provide the spark for simultaneous proletarian revolutions, arriving
at classless and stateless socialism will require means other than through
expropriation. Too vast a proportion of the population hankers over property,
rendering property socialism obsolete. Individual ownership barely existed
outside of Europe in the days of Marx, which made it relatively easy for
Lenin, on the very first day of the Russian revolution, to abolish what
little private ownership of land existed. Try THAT in the USA today.

> He is the ideological agent of the bourgeoisie who advocates
> an end to class struggle by the proletarian submitting to
> bourgeois ownership of the means of production.

As mentioned, ownership is in our bones, like democracy. Activists won't
get anywhere by attacking either institution. The abolition of property will
arrive only after the abolition of work. When people work, they create for
themselves a big stake in the property and wages they earn, so they prize it
highly, and demand its protection. If human labor is gradually phased out,
while commodities and services flow freely from the means of production,
then the benefits of ownership, as well as property values, will decline to zero.

>> snip remainder

Ken Ellis

 

7-02-01

Hi, Michael,

It looks like the 'On revolution' forum has died. Darn it.

I was approved for the ysa forum, but don't see much activity on it.

Li'l Joe has been keeping me very busy on the RBG forum.

> Hey Ken,
>
> This week I met a group of left leaning people who follow the man,
> Lyndon LaRouche, and work in the democratic party. They pretty much
> feel that the current system is bankrupt and is heading for a huge depression
> and are against the world bank and IMF that loot 3rd world countries. They
> wish to basically do a Roosevlt New deal plan over again and something called
> "Bretton-Woods" to revive the economy by putting money into the real economy,
> not the stock market financial part. They also want to build a land bridge in
> Eurasia to generate money and set up a national bank which could lend
> money at 1% interest to 3rd world countries to develop them.
>
> Have you heard of these people before?

Yes. They've been around in one form or another since at least the early 70's,
when I debated some of them on the streets of NY City in 1974. They were
very anti-Rockefeller and anti-CFR, and very vociferous, unwilling to listen
to opposing viewpoints.

> If so, do u think they can get anything done by working
> within the democratic party which is heavily controlled?

I don't know about THEM getting anywhere (cuz they have such a checkered, far-
out history), but working within the Democratic Party isn't a bad idea in general.

> One thing I noticed that was scary about them is that they follow
> Lyndon's weird philosophical approach to science by something
> called the "intent" principle. They say the planets have an intent
> to orbit the sun, and atoms have an intent to stick together; they
> were trying to imply a super natural force (not that i have anything
> against religion) Also in a book room there, I found a book called
> "Christian Economics".
>
> Hope to hear from you,
> Michael

I haven't really kept up with their efforts or philosophy. If they do get
anywhere, I'm sure that we will hear more from them.

Nice to hear from you.

Best wishes,
Ken Ellis

 

7-02-01

Mike wrote:

> Ken Ellis wrote:
>
>> The 5th Amendment to the Constitution prevents expropriation without
>> compensation, and my lower middle class neighbors would adhere to the
>> Constitution to ensure peaceful change.
>
> Mike Morin responds:
>
> I agree. I also do not advocate unlawful expropriation. However, Ken Ellis
> rejects resource allocation and property socialism, categorically.
Here he
> is wrong
, and I agree with Li'l Joe's assessment that he is at best a
> bourgeois socialist.

What's allegedly wrong about rejecting property socialism in favor of
labor-time socialism?

> I had presented four options that I thought the disadvantaged people of the
> world may have...These were:
>
> In RBG-Alliance@y..., "Mike Morin" <mmorin@e...> wrote: There needs to be
> an alternative to expropriation.
>
>>> If you think you can get away with it and carry on, then good luck to you?
>>>
>>> Yet, market rates for property especially real property are ridiculously
>>> out of sight for those who don't already have equity holdings in such.
>>>
>>> We are looking at at least the following options:
>>>
>>> 1.) wholesale or widespread expropriation
>>>
>>> 2.) Charity donations of real property and access to productive resources
>>> by those who now hold such.
>>>
>>> 3.) Collective bargaining by a socialist business entity representing the
>>> poor, working class and people with small accumulations of wealth to bring
>>> property values back to earth.
>>>
>>> 4.) Substantial writing off of bad loans made on property at inflated
>>> values in the last ten to twenty years or so...
>
> Mike continues:
>
> Li'l Joe and Ken concurred with each other that small expropriations were
> justifiable upon the basis of need. Would it follow with Ken that if there is
> great need in the world then large scale expropriations would be justifiable?

In less-developed countries, large-scale expropriations might be justifiable.
But, I prefer to speculate about the country I know best, the USA, where
large-scale expropriations would be out of character, except as done
by the government.

> The Fifth Amendment is concerned with compulsory self-incrimination.
> It was
somewhere else in the US Constitution, that protected property
> owners from expropriation.

Everyone should keep a copy of the Constitution and Declaration of
Independence close at hand for such occasions. The second half of the
5th Amendment reads: ".. nor shall any person be subject for the same
offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb, nor shall be compelled
in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of
life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private
property be taken for public use without just compensation.
"

> However, if Keness Ellis truly believes that this concept
> should be honored, and we would like the truth from Ken Ellis,
> what does he think of the other options that I have put forth?

#1 would only work if the government carried out the expropriation.

#2 is OK

#3 needs clarification, because I'm not sure what a 'socialist business'
is supposed to be.

#4 needs clarification. Who made the loans, and why?

> Is Ken Ellis a snake or a man?
>
> Please clarify for us, Kennell?
>
> Mike

Last time I looked in the mirror and saw those 2 beady little eyes and the
forked tongue, I knew that the metamorphosis was nearing completion.

Ken Ellis

 

7-02-01

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

> The point is that Kenneth's "arguments" are based upon, and reducible to
> "dreams",
alleged opinions of his neighbors, the misreading of the "5th
> Amendment",
without recognizing that it is a class document written by
> bankers, proto-industrialists, and slave owners to protect their property
> from expropriations, and finally that he
merely asserts what "M+E" wanted.

Does it really matter if a bunch of rich white men wrote the Constitution?
If so awful, then maybe other countries wouldn't have modeled their
Constitutions on ours.

Doesn't every Marxist think they know what Marx wanted? Many modern
Marxists model themselves after him because they know that Marx was a
revolutionary, and that he wanted an anti-capitalist revolution to follow
on the heels of democratic revolutions.

> The point is that standing on their own Kenneth's premises are
> unscientific, subjective, anecdotal.

As Engels once quoted an old saying: 'They sin inside and outside of the Trojan walls.'

Ken Ellis

 

7-03-01

Li'l Joe wrote:

> The discussion of this concept of so-called
> "social justice", has nothing to do with Marx
> and Engels and the polemics of the 19th century.

While in the 19th century, people talked like they were in the 19th century.
While in the 21st, people use 21st century terminology.

> This is between me and you - what do YOU
> mean by "social justice" today, in the context
> of how it is presently understood.

A job for everyone who wants one; strict regulation of industries, especially
polluters; a living stipend for those too young, old, or disabled to earn a living;
phase-out of non-renewable energy resources; and maybe some other things.

> I didn't ask for another word e.g. "fairness",
> but for a definition, what does the terms
> "fairness" and "justice" have in common?

According to my dictionary, FAIRNESS implies 'treating both or all sides
alike
', while JUST implies 'adherence to a standard of rightness or lawfulness
without reference to one's own inclinations
'.

> What is the definition of "social justice",
> which is the
cornerstone of your concept
> of "labor-time socialism".

Social justice is not the cornerstone of labor-time socialism. Driving down
the length of the work week is the cornerstone of labor-time socialism, which
is a MEANS of arriving at social justice, as well as a means of arriving at
workless, classless, propertyless, and stateless society.

> Also, I await your response to my criticism of the same, where "labor-time
> socialism" is denounced as nothing but the resurrection of the old notion
> of "bourgeois socialism", which I contrasted proletarian socialism.

The response will hopefully be on its way in another day or 2. My apologies
again for the delay, but I always have to carefully edit what my own words,
lest I make too many mistakes.

Ken Ellis

 

7-04-01

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

> There is an antiquated notion of "bourgeois socialism", which Marx and
> Engels on behalf of the Communist League dismissed more that a century
> ago, which
again presented by Kenneth Ellis is old wine in new bottles.
> Manufactured in the mind of Kenneth Ellis as something "new", and
> "contemporary", he rejects Marxism as a "
painful" 19th century ideology,
> but
is trying to resurrect this old dead vampire idea of bourgeois socialism
> as a "new" - a 21st century concept!

No bourgeois socialist of olde wanted to get to classless and stateless
society by driving down the length of the work week, leaving property and
state to decline on their own. My proposal to 'abandon old and impossible
property socialism in favor of new and feasible labor-time socialism' is NEW,
no older than 1995, and it took a lot of intellectual WORK to arrive at it, in
the form of writing a book, which is free for anyone to read at my web site. I
wrote it to refute some purely commercial interests who refuse to recall their
faulty property-socialism ideology, which many leaders themselves understand
to be 'unsafe at any speed' for its irreconcilable internal contradictions, but which
nevertheless sustains its leaders, keeping them from having to find real jobs in a
glutted labor market, but which continual propagation distracts sincere activists
from a sensible and unifying program for 2001 and beyond. It is past time to
'rethink socialism', and to reject its property expropriation aspects as unfeasible.

> But, as you can see from the quote from Marx and Engels at the bottom of
> this polemic, there is nothing "new" about bourgeois socialism. Mr Ellis is
> offering
nothing but an attack on proletarian communism, and Marxism, the
>
same way every other "new" bourgeois ideology has done - Keynesian
> economic theory, Existentialism, Structuralism, Black Nationalism, Feminism
> "post-Structuralism", "Modernism", "Post Modernism", "Deconstructionism",
> "Post- Industrialism", and so on. But, in Ellis' case, "labor-time socialism"
>
is nothing but a 21st century version of bourgeois utopian socialism,
> one that
was long ago rejected by the European working-class.

If labor-time socialism were as old as Li'l Joe says, then he should be able
to find a critique of 'trying to get to classless and stateless society by driving
down the length of the work week' in the works of M+E, Lenin, Mao, or any
other well-known socialist or communist. As in France, the European working
class remains very interested in a shorter work week, even if few may regard
it as a way to get to classless and stateless society. Engels, in his 1881 article
entitled "Trades Unions", certainly regarded trade union struggles for labor
time reductions and higher wages as legitimate paths toward the abolition of
class distinctions, though by no means the only paths. M+E certainly regarded
expropriation as a legitimate path, and, if enough people had been willing to go
along with expropriation, then it certainly would have been made legitimate by
mass approval. But, since it wasn't OK'd by the majority, and since very few are
interested in it today, activists have to learn to let go of that old method, and to go
instead with what workers are actually willing to struggle for, as in France, especially.

> Kenneth Ellis, in response to Mike's post below, refers to proletarian
> socialism as "property socialism". Proletarian socialism is rejected by
> bourgeois partisans as "painful", "out-moded", "sectarian", &c.

If 'proletarian socialism' were truly 'proletarian', then the American
proletariat would support it, but socialists don't get many votes at election
time, often picking up less than 1%. Socialism is dead, precisely because of
its traditional and outmoded campaign against property, and socialists often
further discredit socialism by campaigning even against democracy, having
learned nothing from the history of the last 2 centuries of struggle FOR
democracy and universal suffrage.

> Kenneth rejects the dictatorship of the proletariat i.e. the working-class
> organized as the ruling class for wanting to expropriate capital.

If the form of the proletarian dictatorship is a democratic republic, and
if its purpose is to enact policy leading to the abolition of classes, then no
obstacles prevent us from using our existing democracies to diminish class
distinctions. One barrier to using democracy more effectively is the failure
to think of democracy as a proletarian dictatorship, and a tendency to
denigrate democracy as 'bourgeois democracy', not knowing that the
latter indicates 'democracy without universal suffrage', and with ballot
use encumbered with property ownership requirements.

> Proletarian socialism wants to make the productive forces public property.

If by 'proletarian socialism' we are given to understand 'property socialism',
then it's little wonder that few proletarians become socialists, because most
workers want property for themselves.

> Kenneth Ellis denounces proletarian socialism as "property socialism",
> he proposed instead a
bourgeois socialism based on capitalist ownership
> of the basic means of social production on the one side,

If as much of a property socialist as Engels could tolerate and promote trade
union struggles for shorter work time as a legitimate path to the abolition of
class distinctions, then one can only wonder why as much of a Marxist as Li'l
Joe can't advocate the same, instead feeling compelled to calumniate and abuse
labor-time socialism. Maybe Li'l Joe isn't as dedicated to the abolition of class
distinctions as he could be.

Capitalist ownership and control will be nullified as soon as all wage labor
is replaced by volunteers. Thereafter, property ownership will cease to accrue
to the benefit of owners, and the institution of private property will decline
- along with the state, money, and the nuclear family.

> and a proletarianized work force of workers
> selling their labour power - time-wages- on the other.

Workers are accustomed to the wages system. It's all they know, and it's
practically all that exists. Would Li'l Joe take that away from them, along
with democracy?

> This he thinks is a new theory appropriate to the needs
> of the
bourgeois in the 21st century.

If labor-time socialism were not in the interests of the working class,
I wouldn't take part in this RBG forum. I wouldn't try to sell a
BOURGEOIS program to blue collar workers.

> Yet, he tries to sneak it by with quasi Marxist language as "labour-time" socialism.

Who's being sneaky? What do I have to hide? Property is very material stuff,
and people keep property in their pockets, in the bank, etc., and people fight
over property all of the time. A piece of property can be yours, or it can be
mine, but people can be so selfish about property that they often would rather
destroy it than let it fall into someone else's hands. At least people can't be so
anal about seconds, hours and minutes. People can still argue about time, but the
nature of those arguments are quite different, owing to the intangibility of time.

> He focuses on the hours of the working day without addressing the
> problem of the continued exploitation of wage-labour by capital on
> the basis of appropriated "labour-time".

OK, Li'l Joe, here's your chance. How DOES one address the exploitation of
wage-labor, EXCEPT by means of a movement for a shorter work week? WE
know that low wages and poverty are caused by competition for scarce jobs,
and WE know that M+E were against competition between workers, and
WE know that they favored shorter work hours for those reasons.

Perhaps your answer to exploitation is for us to abolish the wages system.
Good. A lot of us like to do the same thing. In the only place in the works of
M+E discussing METHODS of abolishing the wages system, what do you
think Engels spoke of (in his 1881 article entitled '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 rep-
resentation 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.
"

In our common efforts to abolish exploitation by abolishing the wages system,
let us not fail to struggle for higher wages and shorter work hours.

> With proletarian Communism the capitalist ownership of the means of
> production, and with it the buying and selling of labour-power would have
> ceased to exist. As there would be no bourgeois property it follows there
> would be no capital. The buying and selling of labour power will cease;
> finally there will be no bourgeois nor proletariat, only associated producers.

Expropriation was a nice old dream, but that old dream is obsolete. Marx
thought that work would be contemporary with at least proletarian
dictatorship, but the masses have other plans, and will abolish work before
they will even think about abolishing property, the state, or money.

> The abolition of wage-labour and capital would mean the end to exploitation;

Engels wrote that the trade union struggle for higher wages and shorter hours
is a legitimate means of abolishing the wages system. Only someone with an
obsession with expropriating property would ignore the trade union method.

> with the end of exploitation and therefore of classes and class struggles
> the state as a state would whither away. As wage-labour and capital would
> have become a thing of the past, with Communism there would therefore be
> no "labour-time" determination, as this determination has significance only
> in an economy based in money-wages, which would no longer exist.

That was the old Marxist-Leninist dream, but we saw the lethal blows dealt
to that dream in 1917, and again in 1989. It's time for intelligent activists to
understand that billions of people are rarely wrong, and that it is not wrong
for billions to reject property socialism.

> Public ownership of the productive forces is in its realization as social
> property elimination of the wages system of exploitation.

It's not all going to happen on 'one fine day'. The abolition of all of those
admittedly nasty things is a long process, and will take at least 4 more
decades in the USA, and maybe 4 and a half in some other countries.
At least the labor-time socialist scenario for ending the nastiness
is feasible, as opposed to 'the anti-capitalist revolution'.

> Kenneth Ellis rejected this in typical bourgeois hostility - see previous posts.

Using wit to demolish bad arguments is bourgeois? At least I don't call people names.

> On behalf of bourgeois property, Kenneth Ellis is in opposition to expropriations -

I oppose expropriations on behalf of the labor movement, which needs a more
feasible program than mere expropriation.

> he will have none of the "18th century 'pain'" of the constructing
> proletarian based socialism on the basis of social ownership of
> the means of social production.- Painful, that is, to the bourgeoisie!
> Yet he advocates to the working-class
a dose of "pain" in giving-up
> on very the "idea" of public ownership.

To revolutionaries, reformers like myself will always appear to be in bed
with the forces of reaction. In reality, revolutionaries assist the reaction by
proposing revolutionary plans which have NO CHANCE of getting anywhere,
thus cementing the grip of the status quo, by distracting people away from
feasible and effective programs for social change.

> Kenneth Ellis wants to create a "socialist" society in which the capitalist
> ownership of the means of production
is intact,

If property ownership in itself were evil, or if it ever hurt anyone, then so
many billions of people wouldn't be so crazy about getting a little of it for
themselves. Ownership by a few is not as much of a problem as its CONTROL
by a few, which is why workers' control would be such a plus for society.

> but the exploitation of wage-labour is now, in his fantasy world becomes a
>
metaphysical category, rather than a material economic reality of exploitation.
> In Mr Ellis' world of "labour-time socialism", the
selling of labour-power is
> not a material economic activity but is something "immaterial and ethereal".

The purchase and sale of labor power is a bit more down to earth than
time itself, but time is truly intangible. We can't keep minutes in our
pockets, store hours in our checking accounts, or salt away months
in our IRAs. People are paid for their time, but the time has to be
spent the way the boss wants it to be spent.

> He therefore also rejects what he concocts as "resource socialism".

I didn't 'concoct' it. Mike did.

> As Mr Ellis states it:
>
>> "Because resource-allocation socialism deals with the material world,
>> instead of with immaterial and ethereal labor-time, then it should be
>> categorized as a branch of property socialism, not to be pursued."
>
> Kenneth Ellis wants a "socialism" to become a practical reality in which, in
> his
bourgeois utopia, bourgeois ownership of the productive forces, on the
> one hand, and hence the buying and selling of labour-power on the other -
> and hence the exploitation of wage-labour by capital on the other would
> come to an end - but, "AFTER the abolition of work and class distinctions."

Except for the 'bourgeois utopia' description, Li'l Joe is finally beginning
to verbalize the labor-time socialist scenario fairly accurately.

> But, from his bourgeois point of view, how is this "abolition of work and
> class" to come about? Certainly not by workers organizing socialist trade
> unions, nor socialist parties directed at the fight against capital, and the
> expropriation of capital. On the contrary, in his
bourgeois fantasy, in his
> own words, classless and stateless society will come about after "volunteers
> replace all wage labor, ending capitalism as we've suffered from it."

Again, except for the 'bourgeois' descriptors, Li'l Joe is verbalizing the
scenario quite accurately. That's a good sign that it isn't too complicated
for people to understand.

> So, the way that the working-class is to achieve bourgeois "socialism"
> in Kenneth Ellis'
utopian scheme is to renounce the "painful" struggle for
> power, but by instead having workers, based on shorter hours in the working
> day to
"volunteer" to the capitalist to work for free! That is his bourgeois
> vision of how to "replace wage-labour"!

Now the accuracy of Li'l Joe's description is beginning to deteriorate, so a
few more words might be appropriate here. Machine smarts are increasing at
an exponential rate, and even the exponential rate is increasing exponentially,
according to Ray Kurzweil. The first break with the 60-year-old 40-hour week
in the USA might be difficult, but, once accomplished, the first break will make
the second break considerably easier to withstand, and on to the 3rd, the 4th, etc.,
until future reductions in labor time become a matter of course. Labor time reduc-
tions are essential if people are to share what little work that remains for humans
to do. Once we become accustomed to reducing labor time in order to share the
remaining work, we will simultaneously prepare ourselves to share the product
of the entity which creates the means of life after there's no way for people to
go out and earn a living.

Only then will we be mentally prepared for workless and classless society,
but the first step towards preparing us for that future stage will be in learning
to share the remaining work. The old habit of thinking that 'the meaning of
life is wrapped up in our work, so the most meaning from life is obtained
by doing the most work' will be a difficult habit for workaholics to break.

At some end point in the process of reducing the length of the work week,
further official labor time reductions will become ridiculous. The end of work
will be declared, and volunteers will step in to accomplish what little work that
remains, which will not be physical in any way, because physical labor would
long before have been abolished. The volunteer work will merely consist in
taking care of some loose ends and administrative tasks, which tasks will
require a little more thought before the machinery takes over completely,
providing everyone with the garden of Eden that will be socialism.

Labor-time socialism prepares us mentally for classless and stateless socialism
by teaching us to share the remaining work, but what higher virtue is expressed by
'expropriating the expropriators'? Ordinary people can easily see that expropriation
is little better than the old 'smash and grab' mentality. Smash the state and grab the
property. Rob Peter to pay Paul. Rearrange the chairs on the deck of the sinking
Titanic. The world IS going to hell in a handbasket, but property socialists merely
want us to engage in more of the same obsessions with material stuff. According to
them, this smashing and grabbing is supposed to liberate society, and is supposed
to prepare us for classless, stateless, workless, moneyless and propertyless society.
Ha. All it will do is propel a new class of bureaucrats to supremacy in the state,
which will reproduce the status quo, complete with new personalities to adore.
People aren't dumb enough to do that, however.

> Here is the choice between proletarian socialism and bourgeois socialism:
>
> Proletarian socialism is predicated upon (1) the organization of the proletariat
> into a class, and
subsequently a political party; (2) to by means of that class party,
> in opposition to the bourgeois parties, to "
win the battle of democracy"; (3) elevate
> the working class to ruling class, and (4) seize the productive forces by nationaliza-
> tion without compensation all the basic means of production and distribution - i.e.
> making the proletarian property, which evolves into public property. With the transition
> of the productive forces from private capital to public property the buying and selling
> of labour power will end, and with it will end the wages system of exploitation.

As for #1, the proletariat doesn't recognize itself as a class UNTIL it
organizes itself into a party.

As for #2, everybody knows that we already have a democracy.

As for #3, universal suffrage transformed the masses into a ruling mob
even before they had a party to express their class interests. Strange
how it worked out that way.

As for #4, that was the old dream, which ended when Europeans failed to make
the revolution permanent by sufficiently supporting the Russian revolution with
long-lasting revolutions of their own.

> The other choice, offered by bourgeois socialism, or at any rate Mr Ellis' version
> of it,
will (1) leave the productive forces in the hands of the capitalist class,

Private ownership never hurt anyone. The exclusive CONTROL of the means
of production by the bosses needs to be converted to 'workers control', which
is impossible for as long as workers compete for scarce jobs.

> (2) reduce the hours of the working day so that everyone can work,

That's fine.

> and (3) have the working-class to "volunteer" labour- power to the
> capitalists
-i.e. work for FREE!

A word of further explanation is due. Wage labor will be abolished only
because certain preconditions will have been met: people will already have
become accustomed to sharing work and wealth, class distinctions will have
to be practically extinguished, and those who smilingly can still claim to own
this or that means of production will have already ceded control of it.

Incidentally, the socialists of the WSM mistakenly think that people will
'work for free' after their anarchist revolution. They think that 'work' and
'socialism' is compatible because M+E also thought so. Well, certain
groups of people will always think that some strange things will be in
store for us, just because some early great thinkers told us it would be so,
which may also explain why some people still think that the earth is flat.

snip remainder, repeated in other messages.

Ken Ellis

 

7-04-01

Li'l Joe wrote:

> This polemic is not about "M+E", to whom you continue to make lying
> attributions to
deceive those ignorant of what "M+E" actually wrote,
> forcing me to spend space showing what they actually wrote.

I try not to misrepresent M+E, but such activities are not above the ethics of
property socialists. The anarchists I critiqued in my book have been telling
some real whoppers for over a century. They portrayed the proletarian
dictatorship as a dictatorship over the peasantry, and used that lie, plus the
fact that the USA doesn't have much of a peasantry, to conclude that the USA
doesn't need a proletarian dictatorship (which it doesn't, but not for the reasons
the anarchists gave). They also falsely claimed that M+E didn't give the world
much better of a theory than 'state capitalism'
, and then 'one-upped' M+E by
suggesting replacing the 'bourgeois' state with an anarchist classless and
stateless administration of things on the day of the revolution. They made
plenty of 'lying attributions to deceive those ignorant of what M+E wrote',
forcing me to spend a lot of time digging up what M+E actually did write.
If Li'l Joe and I have really done pretty much the same thing in our day,
then I wonder why that similarity in our backgrounds doesn't facilitate
some kind of camaraderie.

> This about me and you. If you disagree with me state your disagreement
> in your own authority, rather than asserting without ever providing proof/
> documentation of what you think Marx and Engels "wanted", or "believed".

You think that a communist revolution is required to get to classless and
stateless society, while I think that driving down the length of the work
week is the only feasible way to get there.

>> M+E long advocated expropriation, which can never be achieved without
>> workers achieving full state power. In the ultra bourgeois USA, parties
>> advocating expropriation are a dime a dozen. They adhere to that program
>> because M+E advocated it, so they think it is scientific. But, science is
>> based on observation, not on wishful thinking, and we can easily observe
>> that workers today have little interest in becoming anything but as
>> bourgeois as their bosses.
>
> Lil Joe, Response:
>
> "Disgruntled" American workers "today" are killing their
> bosses, and fellow employees; and their children are killing
> each other in high schools and in gang wars.

Those isolated incidents are symptoms of the malaise gripping the country. When
they happen, they are BIG news, but, like school shootings, they don't happen every day.

> Is that where you want to set the premise for your analysis,
> supporting what the more backward American workers are doing?

This question doesn't provide sufficient information on which
to base an answer. Be specific about the premise, and describe
what backward American workers are supposedly doing.

> For me, as a Marxist: "It is not a question of what this
> or that, or even the proletariat as a whole thinks of itself.
> It is a question of what the proletariat is, and of what
> historically they will be compelled to do." *****
> The expropriation of capital, the transition of the means
> of production from private ownership to public property is
> advocated by proletarian socialists as the only rational solution
> to the economic crisis and social madness in America today.

That surely sounds like the traditional communist solution, but the failure of
Europeans to support the Russian revolution with long lasting revolutions of
their own proves that people in the Western hemisphere aren't interested in
expropriation. Neither do the events of 1989 and beyond bode well for
property communism. Now the Chinese are admitting capitalists into
their Communist party. What's next?

> That is the only way to solve the economic crisis engendered by overproduction,
> and the tendency of average rates of profits to decline.

Why would any worker worry about the tendency of average rates of profits to decline?

In the Collected Works of M+E, the words 'overproduction' and 'expropriation'
appear together in only a single paragraph, but not in a context relevant to this
discussion. Nowhere except in the indexes do the words 'crisis' or 'crises' and
'expropriation' appear together. Thus, I find it difficult to believe that M+E
could have written about expropriation as a solution to overproduction.

> The capitalist solution, which based on your endorsement
> of capitalist property
is what you must support, is export
> capital to maximize the exploitation of Third World Workers -
> i.e. "globalization", together with the feeding frenzy of the
> "military industrial complex", and war.

Who says that I endorse capitalist property, when I have already gone on
record several times in favor of the abolition of work, class distinctions, the
state, property, and money? Out of those 5, the bourgeoisie is only helping
us to abolish one of them - work. Don't you think we should HELP them
abolish the one evil thing they are willing to help us to abolish? It would be
smart of us to thank them for trying to abolish at least one of the 5, and to
help them to accomplish their goal. It would be dumb of us to try to buck such
a strong current, and to think that we could abolish private property before
abolishing work. But, then again, property socialists have never been famous
for thinking very well, which is why they play such an insignificant societal role.

> If your premise, upon which you want to base your program,
> is what the most reactionary "American" workers think -
> i.e. to displace their bosses to become bosses - not
> to end exploitation but become exploiters,

Rich and successful people unfortunately garner most of the respect in our
society and world. They are the models which many try to emulate, but which
most ordinary people fail to approach. This phenomena has to be regarded as
a given, but the race for wealth and success is not for the more thoughtful
elements of society to regard as the solution to everyone's problems, knowing
as we do that work is on its way out, along with class distinctions, property,
the state, money, and the nuclear family. It is up to us to posit feasible
solutions to the problems we see approaching.

> then I suggest that the conclusion of your analysis would also be
> to
support an American policy pogroms of war, racism, military
> block-aides of nations such as Iraq, Cuba, Libya. ... as the
> "American workers" also support these reactionary U.S. policies.

If my alleged premises are as dastardly as what Li'l Joe suggests, then his
conclusion might very well accurately fit those alleged premises. The only
trouble is that: his ideas about my premises are far from accurate, so his
conclusion is equally faulty.

> If you want to talk about "observations", I suggest
> that you watch the 6 o'clock news - the "disgruntled"
> American workers are not trying to "be" the "bosses",
> they are KILLING their bosses! Do you support this?

No, because their individual expressions of rage are not a unified response.
So, their expressions of rage and frustration will never address and correct
the roots of their problems.

> This is happening every day - so if what American
> workers DO is the basis of your analysis then
you
> must support
their gungho support for the bombings
> of Iraq, Libya, Serbia, and support for Israeli
> aggressions against the Palestinian people on the
> one hand, and "disgruntle" workers killing their
> bosses and fellow employees on the other.

The context of my observations of 'what American workers do' was in the
context of what millions of workers have been willing to do for themselves,
such as - join trade unions and struggle politically and economically. If
individuals think they can get somewhere by performing some individual acts
of terrorism or kamikaze stunts, then they and we have to pay the consequences.

snip

Ken Ellis

 

7-05-01

Hi, Michael,

> Hey Ken,
>
> Well these Larouche people have hit my mind
> harder than Ellisite reformism did.

That's all right. We are all entitled to make mistakes.
It won't rain any harder in your neighborhood.

> As I have (according to LaRouchites) said, they want to solve the problems of the
> upcoming crisis by investing in the REAL economy; production, infrastructure.
> Today most of the investment is in speculation like the stock market, the majority
> of capitalists like GM can make money by financing stuff rather than actually
> producing cars so they continue to do that and that's
why the infrastructure of the
> economy is going down hill. For example, in the 60s, 90% of investment was in
> real economy, 10%in speculation, by 1990, the 90% was in speculation, complete
> reversal. This was
the same reason for the crash of 1929 and Roosevelt challenged
> the 'oligarchy' and limited what they could do and built up the economy with the
> New Deal. According to LaRouchites he didn't live long enough to complete his
> mission, so that's
why things got messed up again. So The LaRouchites want to
> have a new Brenton-Woods plan which would build up everything and place strict
> laws on speculation to prevent it. 30 years ago there were already laws and a lot
> of what goes on in the market was illegal then.
>
> One of the people I spoke to tried to explain how Marx's theory of class
> struggle was too rigid. Like in the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, many capitalists
> actually supported them because the Bolsheviks wanted to end the war. They
> also said that Roosevelt went against a lot of capitalists, I think. Anyways,
> do you think this puts Marx's theory in jeopardy ?

Marx's theory was weak enough already, so it didn't need Larouche
to jeopardize it. People are just not interested in changing property
relations as a means of achieving social justice. It is passee.

> Here is a more complicated question which I might discuss with my
> friends later. If a crisis like LaRouche predicts comes, and
revolutionary
> conditions (if it actually were to happen) were produced.

Bad economic conditions do not produce revolutionary situations.
Non-democratic politics do.

> What would be the correct thing to do ?

Fight for a shorter work week.

> Would we help build a revolution; advocate workers to take
> power, or install LaRouches methods to save capitalism,

Nope.

> (and of course shorter work hours) ?
>
> You should really try to start a debate on the YSA list. If you really don't
> want to I might, but would have more trouble defending myself than you would.
>
> Sorry for the length, Michael

Thanks for the note. Li'l Joe is keeping me so busy on the RBG forum
that I scarcely have time for much else, unfortunately. I'm sure he will tire
out eventually, but it may take a few more weeks before he tires out. In the
meantime, Li'l Joe is all I can think about.

Best wishes for now,
Ken Ellis

 

7-06-01

Li'l Joe wrote:

> I will await your response to "proletarian socialism vs. bourgeois
> socialism" to respond to "labor-time socialism". I will, however
> make a few comments on a couple of errors you made below -
> more "assertions" than "errors".
>
>>> Before you read my response to Kenneth Ellis below, take a look at the
>>> antiquated notion of "bourgeois socialism", which Marx and Engels on
>>> behalf of the Communist League dismissed more that a century ago!
>>> Kenneth Ellis is trying to
resurrect this old idea as something "new",
>>> a 21st century concept!
>>
>> What may be new, never before proffered by any socialist I know of, is to
>> claim that driving down the length of the work week is a legitimate way to
>> get to workless, classless and stateless society.
>
> Lil Joe, Response: The whole of the 3 volumes of "Capital" were written
> to disclose the nature of exploitation of wage labour by capital, focusing
> on the technological basis for increased labour productivity which enables
> the proletariat to continually fight for (1) higher wages, and (2) shorter
> labour-time, the reduction of the hours of the working day as seen as an
> instrument of class struggle. These struggles come into conflict with the
> average tendency for profits to decline, which will force the capitalist as
> a class to use its political power -i.e. the state - to combat the gains won
> by the working class.

The century of rapidly increasing productivity from 1820-1920 enabled the
length of the work day and week to decline quite steadily, causing many pundits
by WW1 to wonder if WORK had any future at all. After WW1, bosses got
greedier than usual and refused to allow further reductions in the length of the
work day and week, which refusal, according to the AFL (whose members saw
unused surpluses pile up in warehouses), was the cause of the great Depression
of the 1930's. During the Depression, the Black-Connery 30 hour bill actually
passed the Senate, and looked like a shoe-in for the House before FDR's brain
trust recommended killing it. A few years later, the Fair Labor Standard Act
phased in the 40 hour law, too little, too late.

Whether or not 'the tendency for the average rate of profits to decline' will
force capitalists to 'use the state to combat struggles for higher wages and
shorter work hours', bosses have always profited most when as few workers
as possible work for as many hours per day and week as possible. On the
other hand, it is in the interests of the working class for as many workers as
possible to work for as few hours as possible. Such is the true opposition of
class interests between bourgeoisie and proletariat. No matter how, why or
if the bourgeoisie may threaten us, it is essential for workers to continue to
struggle on behalf of their own interests. It is not in our sphere of interests
to worry about the average rate of profit, nor profits. The most important
things to worry about is that everyone who wants a job should have one,
and that we don't wastefully 'tax and spend' our way to fuller employment.

> Thus, the struggle to reduce the working day was called by Marx in Capital
> "the Magna Carta" of the working class, and said that the struggle to achieve
> it has required a "veritable civil war". It was on this ground that Leon Trotsky,
> in "The Death Agony of Capitalism and the Task of the Fourth International"
> declared for a sliding scale of wages and hours" adjustable to inflation by
> escalator clauses and to increased productivity based on technology changes
> that would other wise be used by the capitalist to maximise exploitation and
> profits. This, Trotsky called "transitional demands".

Looking up all 12 refs to Magna Carta, I didn't see Marx use it in the context
of labor time reductions. 'Veritable civil war' was used as a phrase in only
one work - 'The Poverty of Philosophy':

Page me6.210
"Large-scale industry concentrates in one place a crowd of people unknown to
one another. Competition divides their interests. But the maintenance of wages,
a common interest which they have against their boss, unites them in this common
thought of resistance - combination [union]. Thus combination always has a double
aim, that of stopping competition among the workers, so that they can carry on general
competition with the capitalist. If the first aim of resistance was merely the maintenance
of wages, combinations, at first isolated, constitute themselves into groups as the capitalists
in their turn unite for the purpose of repression, and in face of always united capital, the
maintenance of the association becomes more necessary to them than that of wages.
This is so true that English economists are amazed to see the workers sacrifice a
good part of their wages in favour of associations, which, in the eyes of these
economists, are established solely in favour of wages. In this struggle - a
veritable civil war - all the elements necessary for a coming battle unite and
develop. Once it has reached this point, association takes on a political character.
"

> What Marx and Trotsky advocated were demands that would lead the
> working class into class consciousness: "
but, every class struggle is a
> political struggle
". Thus, this struggle against the bourgeois STATE
> will force the working class to form its own political party to struggle
> for power - "
the dictatorship of the proletariat".

The working class should learn to use existing democracies as though
they are proletarian dictatorships. The correct form of state is already
there, the universal suffrage is there, all that's missing is the party, but
I can assure everyone that the big working class party will not be
organized for the purpose of taking away the property of the rich.

> This worker's state will be compelled to overcome the inner contradictions
> of capitalism
by making the productive forces state - i.e. public - property.

The masses have no interest in property socialism.
That should be obvious to everyone by now.

> Only after this, will both the hours of the working-day decline by a
> conscious plan to the lowest minimus- as profits and the tendency
> of average profits to decline will be eliminated
once the productive
> forces have been made public property
.

In V3 of Capital, and in a letter to Kugelmann, Marx indicated that his
proletarian dictatorship would be the most appropriate epoch for winning
shorter work hours, which corresponds to Li'l Joe's statement. Universal
suffrage barely existed in Marx's era, disabling the working class agenda in
the bourgeois republics of the day. Today, however, we can use our existing
democracies (with universal suffrage) as though they are part of Marx's
universal proletarian dictatorship, and we can use democracy to fight for
the supremacy of proletarian policy. A shorter work week merely requires a
workers' organization which is clear concerning what's feasible and effective
in the world of today, and which doesn't run around half-cocked with
ridiculously obsolete notions about expropriation.

> The "dictatorship of the proletariat" will force every
> able bodied member of society to work -

The proposed use of 'force' is another strike against the outright replacement
of existing democracies with communist workers' states. Advocating the use
of force is no way to work our way to the ABOLITION of the state.

In his 'Poverty of Philosophy', Marx wrote a gem about what
workers in power would (and would not) do:

"Does this mean that after the fall of the old society there will be a new
class domination culminating in a new political power? No.

"The condition for the emancipation of the working class is the abolition
of all classes, just as the condition for the emancipation of the third estate,
of the bourgeois order, was the abolition of all estates and all orders.

"The working class, in the course of its development, will substitute for the
old civil society an association which will exclude classes and their antagonism,
and there will be no more political power properly so-called, since political power
is precisely the official expression of antagonism in civil society.
"

While Li'l Joe would create a new political power to punish capitalists by
putting them to work, Marx was against that notion. Labor-time socialism is
thus aligned with Marx in not wanting to create a new state of oppression, no
matter what the followers of Marx may have written in favor of a repressive
proletarian dictatorship. Labor-time socialist advocacy of equitable sharing
of the remaining work is purely humanitarian, and it eschews pogroms against
anyone. Room in the economy will be made for everyone, even for those who
might mis-guidedly oppose sharing the remaining work. Instead us punitively
driving capitalists down to our low level, everyone will be brought up to the
level of freedom of the bourgeoisie.

> in the first instance displacing "wages" with "labour certificates" - which
> in contradiction to money, or congealed "abstract value" used to circulate
> commodities the labour-certificates "won't circulate" - thus capital will not
> not only not accumulate but will eventually cease to exist altogether.
THIS
> IS THE MATERIAL BASIS OF AN EVOLVING CLASSLESS SOCIETY,
> which as you see presupposed the nationalization of capital by a worker's
> state, the transition of the means of production from private capital to
> public property.
This is the way capitalist commodity production will
> cease to exist, class society eliminated and the state "withers away".

The new society won't evolve into a socialist paradise on the bases of force
and property rearrangements. The working class is not going to abolish 'the
capitalist state' the same way the bourgeoisie abolished feudal monarchies.
Political issues have changed completely in the past 200 years.

>> The method is not only legitimate, but it's also the ONLY feasible way,
>> since the people of the Western Hemisphere have no interest in altering
>> property relations,
>
> Lil Joe, Response: The working-class in Western European countries have
>
always, fought to "alter property relations", and today are in socialist and
> communist parties in government
to bring this about.

Then documents should be introduced indicating such.

> It is only the party leaders - in bed with capital - that "have no interest in altering
> property relations" - the agenda of Marxist, Leninists, and Trotskyists in the
> Socialist, Labour, Social-Democratic and Communist Parties to
overthrow the
> class collaborationist bureaucracies and provide the kind of revolutionary
> leadership
the workers want.

If the workers didn't like their union leaders, then they wouldn't continually
elect them. Why did workers fight so hard to make their democracies socially
controlled (by means of universal suffrage), if, on the other hand, they would
wimpishly allow the capitalists select their trade union leaders?

> It is only the capitalists and their collaborators in the working class,
> and capitalist advocates
such as Kenneth Ellis that ASSERT,

Calling people names won't win arguments in a forum of mature individuals.

> as if their assertions constitute facts, that the workers "in the Western
> Hemisphere have no interest in altering property relations.
" In reality, if
> the workers had no interest in altering property relations the overwhelming
> majority of the European working class would
not be in socialist and communist
> parties. The fact that they are in socialist and communist parties speaks
for itself.

The name of many of those parties has a long tradition, and goes back to the
First International, which fought, not only for the establishment of republics to
replace feudal monarchies, but fought to make control of those new republics
SOCIAL, by means of universal suffrage. Hence the very name - Social-Democ-
racy, which is short for 'socially-controlled democracies', the primary aim of the
First International on the Continent of Europe. Social-Democratic parties once
were the most militant in Europe, but when the parties of the Western-most
countries failed to follow through with Marxist anti-capitalist programs,
communist parties sprang up. But, today's Western European Communist
parties are little more militant about revolutionary property communism
than were the Social-Democratic parties of the Second International.

>> and the half billion in the old Eastern block who went over to capitalism
>> after 1989 demonstrated that their old system was working so badly that
>> switching systems was worth the risk.
>
> Lil Joe, Response: The Soviet Union and the Stalinist regimes in Eastern
> Europe
were never "socialist", but for historical reasons never got past
> state-monopoly
capitalism. What has occurred "since 1989" was not a
> new economy but the privatization of state property. The managers and
> planners became outright owners. The result of this is wide spread poverty,
> ethnic and gender conflicts. Is this what you are proud of?

When a snap-shot of a country is taken on a particular date, the economic
conditions of the country on the day BEFORE the photo, and the conditions
of the country on the day AFTER the photo, are not going to appear very
much different. Real economic change takes TIME to accomplish, even
though POLITICAL changes can be quite drastic from one day to the next,
some countries going from monarchy to republic overnight, or from Stalinist
bureaucracy to democracy overnight. If poverty and ethnic conflicts occurred
the day before the change, then a continuation of such conflicts should not be
unexpected on the day after. Such difficulties are no more for anyone to be
'proud of' than anyone should be proud of Milosevic's ethnic cleansing.

>> Capitalism and democracy are increasingly popular, while actually existing
>> communist states appear little more purposeful than a mid stage between
>> feudal monarchies and capitalist democracies.
>
> Lil Joe, Response: Spoken like
a true capitalist propagandist representing the
> interests of capitalist "globalization"
. In reality throughout Eastern Europe, and
> the former Soviet Union, the workers having had a taste of privatized capitalism
> are once more voting communist and socialist parties into governments.

After a big change, many people wish to return to what they enjoyed
beforehand. But, there's no way in which people will go back to state ownership.

Ken Ellis

 

7-07-01

Mike quoted me:

>> What's allegedly wrong about rejecting property socialism
>> in favor of labor-time socialism?
>
> First of all, I hope it has been clear that I support Ken's efforts
> regarding labor-time and living wage concerns.
>
> However, to refer to Marx, which I try not to do, there has been a history
> of worker exploitation that was essentially expropriation. This continues,
> both left and right. I have tried to make peace by offering explanations
> about how Capitalists think (and are?) "entitled" to the property that they
> hold, because some of them may have started as workers and earned the money
> to invest in capital. I think David Ellerman calls this the labor theory of property.
>
> Now, it should be clear to honest objective observers of the world that
> there is great inequity. It should also be quite obvious that the inflation
> that we have suffered starting in the Reagan years makes it almost
> impossible to start from scratch and become a property owner.
>
> Property socialism and labor socialism and sustainability need not be
> exclusive. Quite honestly, the whole world needs all three. I believe that
> resource allocation socialism (i.e. resource planning) is necessary to
> accomplish the best of all possible worlds.

If 'resource allocation socialism' equals 'resource planning', then the latter
doesn't sound nearly as bad as what 'resource allocation socialism' conjures
up - 'nationalization of resources'. I regard resource PLANNING as legitimate.

But, I think that property has no future and is bound to decline, not long after the
abolition of work and class distinctions. To plan for socialism and propertyLESSness
by PROMOTING property ownership for the propertyless, to me is too self-contradictory
to have socially redeeming value. On the other hand, the bourgeoisie is helping us to abolish
work by introducing labor-saving technology. Instead of us being Luddites and fighting
progress, we should HELP them to abolish work, while protecting the interests of the
working class in the process.

> Mike had asked Ken (and others) to respond to the four options of
> "property socialism" that Mike had previously put forth. These were:
>
> 1.) wholesale or widespread expropriation
>
> Ken responded:
>
>> In less-developed countries, large-scale expropriations might be justifiable.
>> But, I prefer to speculate about the country I know best, the USA, where large-
>> scale expropriations would be out of character, except as done by the government.
>
> Mike responds:
>
> I have no comment.
>
> 2.) Charity donations of real property and access to productive resources
> by those who now hold such.
>
> Ken responded:
>
>> #2 is OK
>
> Mike's reply: I agree. So, you are saying that you do favor
> this form of "property socialism".

What I have in mind is not really another form of property socialism. I merely
approve of voluntary divestiture of assets, not the forcible appropriation of such.
If someone volunteers to be philanthropical, then that is a good thing, but to use
force to get stuff is not very civil.

> We need to set up organizations to carry out such a program. Do you agree?

If not redundant, then I would favor the creation of an agency for receiving donations.

> Environmental groups have been doing it for wildlife
> and to a lesser extent farmland.

That kind of civil activity is fine with me. They do very good work
rescuing lands from rampant speculation.

> I think this idea should be extended into the anthropocentric realm.
> There has been some work done to sell shares of companies to workers
> through payroll deductions and tax incentives. However, in many cases,
> the Capitalists were unloading or trying to unload obsolete property,
> plant, and equipment on workers. In other cases, they were inviting
> them to share in the full-scale destruction of the earth.

In that case, let the workers beware.

> 3.) Collective bargaining by a socialist business entity representing the
> poor, working class and people with small accumulations of wealth to
> bring property values back to earth.
>
> Ken responded:
>
>> #3 needs clarification, because I'm not sure what a 'socialist business'
>> is supposed to be.
>
> Mike answers:
>
> First let me clarify that I should have written socialist business entities,
> because the scale of organization would be most manageable on the local
> and regional levels. However, such a plan would probably only work
> if we had a united perspective.

I still don't understand a 'socialist business', unless by that you mean a
GOVERNMENT-owned business, like the old Post Office, though now it looks
as though you intend for the 'socialist businesses' to be on a smaller scale.

> Here's something I am trying to organize in the Eugene/Springfield
> (Oregon) Metropolitan area:
>
> People,
>
> I am trying to get together all interested persons to form a not-for-profit
> economic entity in the Eugene-Springfield metropolitan region. I would be
> interested to hear from people who are interested in such. I would also like
> to get together a core of interested people who could serve as a preliminary
> Board of Directors.
>
> I have tentatively named the concept the Metropolitan United Neighborhoods
> Sustainable Cooperative Community Development Organization (Vert Hues
> Cooperative Society).
>
> Such an organization may foster, facilitate, coordinate, and support an
> amalgamation of worker-owned, not-for-profit businesses based on the
> following principles:
>
> -ecology
>
> -sustainability
>
> -cooperation (economic democracy)
>
> -equity
>
> -community stewardship
>
> -conservation
>
> -peace and tranquility
>
> -sufficiency
>
> -production and access to essential goods and services
>
> -primacy of the pedestrian
>
> -economy and humanity of scale
>
> -risk diversification
>
> -life long education
>
> Another way to look at it, would be as a regional community development
> corporation (easy now, green reactionaries) to implement an alternative to
> the status quo and work in concert with the political efforts of the green
> and socialist "parties" and any others who may embrace the values and
> principles embodied in such.

I would guess that's what you mean by 'socialist business'.

>>> 4.) Substantial writing off of bad loans made on property at inflated
>>> values in the last ten to twenty years or so...
>
> Ken responded:
>
>> #4 needs clarification. Who made the loans, and why?
>
> Mike answers:
>
> Banks, mortgage companies, insurance companies, ...
>
> Why? Perhaps it was the mentality summarized by Ronald Reagan in the
> statement "America's business is the business of America" or something like
> that...This is just the modus operandi of the Capitalists. They think it has
> worked so far, so why not continue...They continue to expand such operations
> in my neighborhood, like a giant raping machine... They may have limited
> success at continued expansion, especi(axis) {Japan, United States, Germany
> and others autocentric "culture"} if Bush and Cheney et al maximize the
> production of energy resources at the final cost to the sustenance of the planet.

They sure are meanies. How to render them harmless is the question of the day.

snip old messages

Ken Ellis

 

7-07-01

Li'l Joe wrote:

> First a note To Kenneth Ellis:
>
> Stop thinking like a race conscious American sociologist, and making
> arguments in the interest of capitalism by attributing your assertions to
> Marx, as though you were an an ideological "Trojan horse" in the RBG
> alliance - on this list to denounce Marxism as "outdated" while promoting
> capitalism as "smart", and "bourgeois socialism" as a "new" idea discovered
> by yourself in 1995.

What is this, an advice column?

> In my statement below I didn't say that the U.S. Constitution was written
> by "rich white men". We were discussing the desirability of "expropriating
> bourgeois property" - i.e. the transition of private capital to public property,
> in the hands of a workers state, which you opposed. You brought in the "5th
> Amendment" opposition to "expropriation without compensation", justifying
> your support of this "5th Amendment" by attributing that your neighbors
> support it, and would oppose the transition of private capital to public property.
>
> I know nothing about your neighbors, nor whether they actually think the way
> you claim they think, and want, nor that they oppose expropriation as you claim
> they do. If a poll in your neighborhood has been taken to substantiate your claims,
> please post it.

I'm sure that if my neighbors were interested enough to expropriate property,
then we would hold neighborhood meetings on that topic, but we have so few
common issues that we don't meet to discuss anything at all.

> On the Constitution, here you are attributing to me what I did not say -
> i.e. that I rejected it because it was written by "rich white men".

You wrote about the Constitution: "it is a class document written by bankers,
proto-industrialists, and slave owners to protect their property from expropriations
.."

Certainly not all "bankers, proto-industrialists, and slave owners" were rich
white men, so I apologize for attributing "rich white men" to you. I didn't edit
that message carefully enough. The error was mine, and I appreciate the correction.

> That's an example of your straw man attributions to Marx as well.

Which ones?

> What I pointed out re the Constitution on "expropriation" was that it was
> authored by capitalist bankers, proto-industrialists and slave owners. They
> wrote it to define and protect their property rights, and enshrine their class
> interests as "inalienable rights of man". It only follows that they would
> make "expropriation" of THEIR property illegal and unconstitutional!

Of course! Very smart of them to protect their property from communists
like what I used to be.

> Have you read Charles Beards "Economic Interpretation
> of the Constitution of the United States"? -

No, but a lot of activists recommend it.

> If so, please state your case for or against its arguments. But, please spare
> us your assertions about what Beard "wanted", or was "thinking" when he
> wrote it - unless you can back those assertions with objective documentation.

Sorry not to have an opinion on this one. I guess that I would have to read Beard first.

> Do you ever tire of making false assertions,
> which you
assert as if "self-evident" truth?

Name one, except for the very few for which I've already apologized.

> The only country that I know of that "modeled their Constitutions" on the
> United States is its neo-colonial regime in the Phillipines. There may have
> be others cases I'm not aware of, please enlighten the list with documentation.

How about Liberia? Also, France was very interested after 1789, which might
have been one of the reasons Jefferson went over there. Wasn't Ho Chi Minh
interested as well (before the hot war)?

> What I do know is that "most countries", in Europe and elsewhere, have
> Parliamentary Democracies resulting from class struggles and bourgeois
> democratic revolutions, or from national liberation movements in cases in
> Asia and Africa. These countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa are NOT
> "modeled" on the U.S.'s "Constitutional Republic", because of its class
> biased Electoral Colleges, Senate and Supreme Judiciary, but are
> Parliamentary Democracies in the manner of Britain and France.

Well, a lot of that is true, but one of the most important things that the best
of them share is universal suffrage, enabling the rule of the people. If the
people don't like private property, they could change it any time. The fact
that such a movement BARELY exists, and that socialists in the USA receive
less than 1% of the votes, shows that private property as an institution does
just fine for itself. How many people go on national talk shows to rally people
to abolish private property? I used to engineer at a progressive Pacifica FM
outlet, and the number of such calls were very few, and none of those isolated
calls ever touched off a crescendo of calls in support.

>>> The point is that Kenneth's "arguments" are based upon, and reducible
>>> to "dreams"
, alleged opinions of his neighbors, the misreading of the "5th
>>> Amendment",
without recognizing that it is a class document written by
>>> bankers, proto-industrialists, and slave owners to protect their property from
>>> expropriations, and finally that he merely
asserts what "M+E" wanted.
>>>
>>> Kenneth Ellis Reply:
>> Does it really matter if a bunch of rich white men wrote the
>> Constitution? If so awful, then maybe other countries wouldn't
>> have modeled their Constitutions on ours.
>>
>> Doesn't every Marxist think they know what Marx wanted? Many modern
>> Marxists model themselves after him because they know that Marx was a
>> revolutionary, and that he wanted an anti-capitalist revolution to follow
>> on the heels of democratic revolutions.
>
> Lil Joe, Response:
>
> (1) The Constitution was written by the political representatives of the
> economically dominant class, and in its interests.

Did that make the Constitution wrong in 1776? Who, at that time, could have
advanced the case for a proletarian dictatorship, or a communist workers' state?

> (2) Not content to assert absurd false positions to Marx, Kenneth Ellis now
>
asserts as by ESP what "every Marxist thinks"! Where is his documentation?
> Has a poll been taken?

Debaters are supposed to patiently unearth specific examples of such alleged
crimes, lest they suffer the indignity of readers judging the ACCUSER of
being guilty of those very crimes. 'Il t'accuse, s'accuse.'

> (3) Kenneth Ellis assertion notwithstanding, Marx never wrote that he
> "wanted" an "anti-capitalist revolution to follow on the 'heels'(sic!) of
> democratic revolution".

The communist movement in Marx's day was so infinitesimal that they could
never in a million years have initiated a communist revolution on their own. The
Paris commune followed on the heels of a bourgeois democratic replacement of
the Napoleon 3 monarchy with the French 3rd Republic, and the Russian revolution
followed on the heels of the replacement of the Romanov dynasty with the Kerensky
republic. Communism has always been SO WEAK that its only hope was ALWAYS
to try to capitalize on the successes of bourgeois-democratic revolutions. That is why
today, with all of the successes of democracy and universal suffrage, communists have
absolutely NO HOPE of ever seeing their communist revolution occur, because TOO
FEW REVOLUTIONARY POLITICAL ISSUES REMAIN, and no one revolts over
purely economic issues.

If it were not for the fact that the communists could make businesses out of
'revolution in democracies', they would have used their own moral uprightness
and gray matter to wisely fold up shop and find something better to do with
their time. But they use neither morality nor gray matter, for all that it takes
to keep themselves in business is to merely repeat what communists have
repeated ad infinitum since 1848. If I didn't have time on my hands, and if I
wanted to 'get a life', I would stop fishing around for an 'honest communist'
in this and other forums, and I would simply allow people to learn from their
own mistakes. I should know better than to think that anyone could possibly
be interested in learning from MY mistakes, but, heck. This is just a little
experiment in communications. If a thinker converts, then labor-time
socialism wins. If none convert, it loses. No big deal. At least I tried.

> What Marx WROTE was that the "democratic revolution" is a BOURGEOIS
> DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION, which concentrates political power in the hands
> of representatives of the capitalist class. As Karl Kautsky wrote "classes rule;
> parties govern" (See KK's "Labour Revolution").

If Marx ever implied that NOTHING BETTER than a bourgeois republic
could result from a democratic revolutionary struggle, then why should the
proletariat give a fig for 'winning the battle for democracy', as advocated in
the Communist Manifesto? Why would M+E and the First International fight
so hard for the social and democratic republic if the battle for democracy is
allegedly simply a bourgeois concern? For that matter, why did the First
International fight so hard to get England to recognize the French 3rd
Republic founded on September 4, 1870, if even a bourgeois republic
could never be better than an intransigent monarchy? One has to wonder
if any democracy at all could ever be democratic enough for Li'l Joe.

> What Marx actually wrote was that he did not discover the function of class
> struggle in history, but he did discover (1) the mechanism of exploitation in the
> appropriation surplus value; (2) that class struggle under capitalism must lead the
> working class to fight for and of necessity establish "the dictatorship of the proletariat".

Those are Marxist points to remember, but communism is a little more
complex than that, and the devil is in the details (which communists would
like to bury for the rest of time, because the devilish details detract so
devastatingly from 'the merits' of property communism).

> Lil Joe wrote: The point is that standing on their own Kenneth's premises
> are unscientific, subjective, anecdotal.
>
>> As Engels once quoted an old saying: 'They sin inside and outside of the Trojan walls.'
>
> Lil Joe, Response: What?

In his letter to Sorge of Jan. 6, 1892, Engels made that observation regarding a
certain conflict between Gompers of the AFL with the American SLP, not wishing
to take either side, suspecting that neither side was perfectly innocent and pure.

Ken Ellis

 

7-07-01

Li'l Joe wrote:

> There is an antiquated notion of "bourgeois socialism", which Marx and
> Engels on behalf of the Communist League dismissed more that a century
> ago, which
again presented by Kenneth Ellis is old wine in new bottles.
> Manufactured in the mind of Kenneth Ellis as something "new", and
> "contemporary", he rejects Marxism as a "
painful" 19th century ideology,
> but is
trying to resurrect this old dead vampire idea of bourgeois socialism
> as a "new" - a 21st century concept!

It sounds as though Li'l Joe would gladly burn me at the stake for having an
original thought, and for breaking with communist orthodoxy.

>> Kenneth Ellis Reply: No bourgeois socialist of olde wanted to get to
>> classless and stateless society by driving down the length of the work
>> week, leaving property and state to decline on their own. My proposal
>> to 'abandon old and impossible property socialism in favor of new and
>> feasible labor-time socialism' is NEW, no older than 1995, and it took
>> a lot of intellectual WORK to arrive at it, in the form of writing a book,
>> which is free for anyone to read at my web site.
>
> Lil Joe, Response:
>
> What's "NEW"? What Kenneth Ellis is
avoiding is the question of "class
> interests" - in which
his "bourgeois socialism" is presented, on this list, in
> opposition to Proletarian Socialism which he does
not refute but merely
>
declare to be "obsolete Marxism". Mr Ellis in this sense is objectively
>
a representative of bourgeois property interests.

Avoid the issue of class interests? I don't know how many times I've stated on
this and other forums: "Bosses want as few workers as possible to work for as
many hours as possible, while it is in our interests for as many workers as
possible to work for as few hours as possible."

> The essence of Bourgeois Socialism is that it is for the continuation of
> capitalist ownership of the means of production and thus the exploitation
> of the proletariat, on the one hand,

Exploitation is common to ALL forms of ownership. Ownership is merely
the social device invented to help determine how the product of labor is divided
up. Thems what owns - gets, and thems what don't own - get mere wages.
Exploitation will end when work ends, which could arrive in a mere 4 decades.
Until then, be prepared to be exploited. It's as simple and inescapable as that,
no matter who is in charge - bourgeoisie OR proletariat.

> and is presented in opposition to "Marxism" on the other.

Marx was amazingly close to being totally correct. Labor-time socialism is
only opposed to SOME of the revolutionary aspects of Marxism simply because
Marxism was proven by history to contain a grave miscalculation of what people
would be willing to do in order to create a more socially just society. People are
not willing to overthrow their democracies in order to put all of the property in the
hands of people who would rather fight among themselves than decide whether
to create an anarchist classless and stateless administration of things, or to create a
communist workers' state. Li'l Joe has yet to comment on the effect of the anarchist-
communist split on his plans for expropriation. He knows that the split exists, but
sufficiently respects the rights of anarchists and communists to continue to run their
revolutionary businesses to not admit that the split demolishes all chances of making a
revolution. For him, it is better to allow the business of revolution to continue unimpeded
by heaping abuse upon the messenger. KILL THE MESSENGER is the order of the day.
Anything to get the minds of the readers off of the obvious death-blow that has been dealt
to obsolete property socialism. Because property socialism is as impossible as any of us
mere mortals taking a mighty leap and jumping over the moon, promoting impossible
property socialism, while denigrating feasible labor-time socialism, serves little other
purpose than to merely preserve the status quo.

> There is nothing unique or "new" in this -- the same motivated
> "socialism" was presented - in opposition to Marxism - back in the
> 19th century by Bismark in his campaign to unify German provinces
> under Prussia and to make it at once a single, bourgeois nation - state.

Bad example. In a footnote to Anti-Duhring, Engels demolished the concept
that 'the state means socialism':

"But of late, since Bismarck went in for State-ownership of industrial
establishments, a kind of spurious Socialism has arisen, degenerating, now
and again, into something of flunkeyism, that without more ado declares all
State-ownership, even of the Bismarckian sort, to be socialistic. Certainly, if the
taking over by the State of the tobacco industry is socialistic, then Napoleon and
Metternich must be numbered among the founders of Socialism. If the Belgian
State, for quite ordinary political and financial reasons, itself constructed its chief
railway lines; if Bismarck, not under any economic compulsion, took over for the
State the chief Prussian lines, simply to be the better able to have them in hand in
case of war, to bring up the railway employees as voting cattle for the Government,
and especially to create for himself a new source of income independent of parlia-
mentary votes - this was, in no sense, a socialistic measure, directly or indirectly,
consciously or unconsciously. Otherwise, the Royal Maritime Company, the Royal
porcelain manufacture, and even the regimental tailor of the army would also be
socialistic institutions, or even, as was seriously proposed by a sly dog in
Frederick William III's reign, the taking over by the State of the brothels.
"

> In the post re "social justice", Kenneth Ellis spelled out his "program"
> of "labor-time socialism" i.e.
bourgeois socialism, in some detail - which
> details, as well as motive of maintaining capitalist property relations by
> reformism is the
same as Otto von Bismark - in the 19th century at that!

As patiently explained many times, 21st century labor-time socialism has
nothing to do with 19th century bourgeois socialism. Surely I do not advocate
an assault on property relations, for I know better than to try to do the
impossible in a country and world which so prizes the institution of private
property. To advocate the impossible merely preserves the status quo.

>>> Lil Joe is quoted: This is between me and you - what do YOU mean by
>>> "social justice" today, in the context of how it is presently understood.
>>
>> Kenneth Ellis Reply: A job for everyone who wants one; strict regulation
>> of industries, especially polluters; a living stipend for those too young,
>> old, or disabled to earn a living; phase-out of non-renewable energy
>> resources; and maybe some other things.
>
> Lil Joe, Response: Thus, in context of his opposition to 19th century
> Marxism, Mr Ellis
but conjures up the proto-fascist equally of the 19th
> century
, I mean Otto von Bismark -- Adolf Hitler's hero and model. It was
> also in opposition to "property socialism" that von Bismark advocated:
>
> "
Give the working-man the right to work as long as he is healthy; assure him
> care when he is sick; assure him maintenance when he is old. If you do that,
> and do not fear the sacrifice, or cry out at State Socialism directly the words
> "Providence for old age are uttered, -- if the State will show a little more
> Christian solicitude for the working-man, then I believe that the gentlemen
> of the Wyden (Social-Democratic) programme will sound their birdcall in vain,
> and that the thronging to them will cease as soon as working-men see that the
> Government and legislative bodies are earnestly concerned for their welfare.
"
>
> And Mr Ellis, whose programme is
identical to the "19th century" German
> feudal dictator marching toward the unification of the "fatherland" under
> capitalism has the gall to dismiss Marxism and the transfer of capital from
> private to public ownership, as "obsolete"!

Private property will fade away, I'm sure, but at its own speed,
and not at the hand of any mere mortal.

Ken Ellis

 

7-07-01

Hi, Magda,

snip irrelevancies

> Are you ok now, I noticed you don't write to the WSM Forum for a while
> (I subscribed again few weeks ago) and I started to worry about you. How
> are you, Ken?

I'm surprised to hear that you returned to that particular forum. If you post
a message, I fear that some of the old wolves might try to chew you to pieces.
I'd hate to see you get bitten again. But, then again, maybe you are strong
enough to withstand their abuse. I wish you luck.

I don't use that forum very much anymore. Only Ben Malcolm is willing to
dialogue with me. He's a very nice 25 year old chap, just about the only one
there willing to use the gray matter between his ears, or to use his head for
more than a mere hat rack. Usually, I can be found at
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RBG-Alliance/

snip irrelevancies

Have a nice summer :-)
Bro'Ken

 

7-07-01

Joan returned from her lonnnnnnngggggg (and hopefully happy) vacation, and wrote:

>> Nothing forced the South to shoot first. They could have acceded to the
>> prevailing mood by phasing out slavery. England had abolished slavery
>> earlier in the century without a civil war, so the South could have followed
>> that good example. Perhaps the South even could have asked for financial
>> compensation for the loss of their slave capital, and perhaps they would
>> have gotten it. - Ken
>
> They were placed in a situation politically in which
that was the only way out.

If war was the only way out for the USA, then why wasn't war the only way out
of slavery for England as well?

> Believing that they would have given up the basis of the economy is ridiculous.

England gave it up peacefully. Isn't a peaceful solution more admirable than
going to war motivated by less than admirable intentions?

> Though the planter class was very small, they still controlled
> things politically and economically, and the question of what
> to do with freed slaves was unresolved. - Joan

Were any of those 'obstacles' unsurpassable?

It would seem to me that people back then wouldn't have to wonder 'what to do
with freed slaves', unless the freed slaves remained someone's property.

>> Ahhh, government regulation, perhaps that is the bugaboo.
>> Are any regulations worth keeping? - Ken
>
> Sure. Ones that show success at a specific, direct, positive purpose. - Joan

Agreed.

>> The example provided for us contains some rather arbitrary figures. In
>> order to perform those particular government misdeeds, it would seem that
>> the agents would have to be bent on destroying the strawberry industry.
>> That would be rather spiteful and counter-productive, and for what reason?
>> Are all gov't agencies that poorly motivated? - Ken
>
> It is just a hypothetical example. In real life it might not be strawberries,
> but some other business.
Much of the public is under the impression
> that big business has endless money, which can be taxed to support
> an increasing habit of dependence on government. But it can only be
> taxed so far before it stops producing, and all the wealth dries up. - Joan

The question "Are all gov't agencies that poorly motivated?" went unanswered.

It's true that people's tolerance for taxes is only finite, after which
they join tax rebellions, but people start and maintain businesses
for as long as they yield a profit, and the gov't doesn't ban them.

>>> forcing companies to pay more for fewer hours has the theory
>>> of
redistributing wealth to workers.
>>
>> Shorter work hours would mean less wealth to distribute. In what way would
>> a reduction in wealth production represent a redistribution of wealth to workers?
>> Let me first try answering my own question. A shorter work week would mean
>> less production, but wages represent necessities of life, which mustn't be curtailed
>> without introducing more suffering for the masses, so that level of production
>> would have to be maintained, and only non-essential surplus values would be
>> cut back. In that manner, the rich and the government would get fewer goodies
>> to play around with. Percentage-wise, workers would get more wealth, while
>> in ABSOLUTE terms, the rich would get less, while workers would get the
>> same. 'Tragic', perhaps, but only for the bourgeoisie, who can bear the brunt
>> of 'tragedy' easier than workers. - Ken
>
> As long as the population increases, overall production must also increase in order
> to keep up with increasing demand. Who decides what is "non-essential"? You?

The market takes care of what's produced, unless banned by law. I hope you
don't think I'm a property socialist who is obsessed with all of that power,
property, money and taxes, and that I intend to redistribute or otherwise play
around with them. As a labor-time socialist, my only program is to amend
'hours of labor' laws. I wish people in this forum would remember that for
the rest of time. My program does not deal with the tangible world at all.
Only with intangible labor time. It's a totally different plane of struggle.

> Though we may have a love-hate relationship with them, large businesses
> have a significant part in keeping the economy
running, and a system that
> goes to the point of destroying them would be bad for all of us. A shorter
> work week might be good for workers, but if it is decreased too much too
> fast, it will result in more workers
losing their jobs because companies
> cannot afford to employ them. - Joan

I'm in substantial agreement with most of that. I might only want to quibble
(if I were a quibbler). :-)

>>> it doesn't work that way though; if production costs are higher, prices are
>>> higher. a kid makes 40 cents a quart to pick strawberries. if the minimum
>>> pay for strawberries was 50 cents a quart, then they'd be sold for 3.35 instead
>>> of 3.25. they may get more money, but
it won't buy any more. - Joan
>>
>> Closer to real life, and IF the labor of the pickers were the only cost of
>> production, then the dime more per quart (a rise of 20%) for the kids would
>> make the retail price increase by 20% (to $3.90), so that the boss could
>> make the same percentage profit. - Ken
>
> Point being, even if in pennies the kid is making more money, the money
> wouldn't buy any more
because it would lead to inflation. Thank you for
> agreeing with and stressing my point. - Joan

It's a common mistake to believe that higher wages lead to inflation. Suppose
the kid's wages double. Can the boss automatically raise the price accordingly?
Not if he wants to stay in business. If the price of production of foreign or other
producers remained the same, then they could undersell the first guy's product.

>>> 1. nothing can "get us to classless and stateless society." - Joan
>>
>> Evolution gets us closer to that socialist goal every day. At some point in
>> our slow economic evolution, people will recognize that economic progress
>> will have to be steered politically to prevent the working class from starving,
>> and then we will see some progress in social cooperation, and a leap towards
>> classless and stateless socialism. - Ken
>
> Classes will exist as long as some people are stronger and smarter than others. - Joan

It's true that some people will always be stronger and smarter than others,
but the end of work, and the arrival of classless society, will remove any
motivation which the stronger might have for lording it over the weaker ones.
Someday soon, stronger people will have to content themselves to express
their superiority in sports and quiz shows.

>>> 2. technology can't pick strawberries.
>>
>> In the old days, people used to say things like: 'People will never fly',
>> or 'People will never go into space and come back alive.' Instead, 'we
>> ain't seen nothing yet.' Machine vision and smarts have a long way to go,
>> but they are making progress. YOU may not have to look ahead, because
>> others will do it for you. WE feel the need to cooperate to get to classless
>> and stateless society with as little pain as possible. - Ken
>
> There are some things that technology cannot substitute for. Unless
> you realize that, you are believing in
a course of action that would lead
> to humanity's downfall.
- Joan

Don't worry, there are lots of neo-Luddite organizations to join in order to prevent
society from reaching worklessness. In the meantime, it might be silly for us to carry
this argument any further than simply agreeing to disagree with one another's vision
of the future. Neither of us has a crystal ball, and society might destroy itself, the
infrastructure, or the environment, before reaching workless society.

>>> 3. I work 10-hour days because i need the money, not because anyone
>>> is forcing me to. i make significantly more than minimum wage.
>>
>> I hope that you will still remember us when you become a philanthropist. - Ken
>
> What's that supposed to mean?

I was merely casting harmless fun at your ambitious attitude. Don't let the
'fun' put you off. I actually admire people driven by passion, while I prod
them to think about the future of such ambitions. You are lucky to live in a
world in which such ambitions can propel you quite far, in comparison with
others. Enjoy, and nilis illegitimi carborundum.

> What if I do become rich someday? Will you want to punish me
> for seeing an opportunity and working my tail off to take advantage
> of it, benefiting me and other people at the same time? - Joan

Not me, because I'm not a property socialist with fingers ready to place in
all kinds of pies, and with designs on everyone else's power and property. As
a labor-time socialist, I'm only interested in distributing work to all who could
use a little work to get by. I could give a hoot about property, which is destined
to last at least until AFTER the abolitions of work and class distinctions.

>>>> snip >
>>>
>>> What about the fact that there are always new high school students and
>>> immigrants who need jobs?
>>
>> Those who retire, or become disabled, make room for new people all of the
>> time. If employee turnover were something for the left to worry about, then
>> the left would be worrying about it, but we leave such purely bourgeois
>> concerns to the bourgeoisie to worry about. It is enough for us to worry
>> about our own class, if only we would begin to do even that. -Ken
>
> In your opinion, what class do the young people and immigrants belong to? - Joan

Youth doesn't prevent some young people from being or becoming very rich,
but immigrants are more often regarded as belonging to the working class, or
as people who have little to lose by risking what little they have by moving.

Ken Ellis

 

7-09-01

--- In utopia-eng@y..., "Roger Johansson" <roger.jo@S...> quoted me:

>> I saw an interesting post at the WSM forum about Bob Black's
>> proposal to abolish work. In a nutshell, what's his method?
>
> He used his brain.
>
> Roger J. http://utopianow.cjb.net

I went to the http://utopianow.cjb.net website, and a hypertext link to
"Abolition of MONEY" by Bob Black threw me off guard, because I
wasn't interested in the abolition of MONEY.

http://www.subdimension.com/community/underground/utopianow/bobblack.htm

But, I clicked on it anyway, and wouldn't you know - the link was all about
the abolition of WORK! Just what I wanted. I enjoyed the essay very much,
especially the following bit of information:

> "Twenty years ago, Paul and Percival Goodman estimated that just five
> percent of the work then being done -- presumably the figure, if accurate, is
> lower now -- would satisfy our minimal needs for food, clothing, and shelter."

I wonder if a better argument for driving down the length of the work week is
conceivable. Thanks for the information. :-)

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
").

 

7-09-01

At the following web site, one can find:

> "Twenty years ago, Paul and Percival Goodman estimated that just five
> percent of the work then being done -- presumably the figure, if accurate, is
> lower now -- would satisfy our minimal needs for food, clothing, and shelter."

http://www.subdimension.com/community/underground/utopianow/bobblack.htm

I'll gradually follow up on the efforts of the Goodmans. It will be
interesting to see what else their sources might have to say about this
subject. Maybe a graph of necessary labor time vs. the decades from
1800-2000 does exist somewhere.

Ken Ellis

 

7-11-01

Hi, Phil,

Thanks for the additional data point. Much appreciated. I only wish that you
had posted your message to the swt list to liven things up a little more over
there. Other contributors might have appreciated it as well.

This might be a good point of departure to me to list these 2 data points, and
then let everyone else chip in with whatever they can dig up, sort of like we
did with the list of 15 benefits of swt. I'll work on it.

I've been kept awfully busy on the Yahoo RBG (red, blue collar, green party)
forum lately, explaining the differences between labor-time socialism and
property socialism, as 2 very different theoretical ways to get to classless
and stateless society. Some of the reds don't like being called 'property
socialists', and attack labor-time socialism as 'bourgeois socialism'. Some fun.

Ken Ellis

> Ken -
>
> Another data point for your graph of necessary labor time across the
> decades from 1800-2000:
>
> Canada's Mark Twain, Stephen Leacock wrote in 1920, "
Not more than
> one adult worker in ten - so a leading American economist has declared -
> is employed on necessary things. The other nine perform superfluous
> services.
" That's from Leacock's book, "The Unsolved Riddle of Social
> Justice
" (NY, London: John Lane), p. 31.
>
> In other words, the figure was 10% in 1920, based on economic experience
> during the Great War (WWI) contrasted with experience before and after.

 

7-11-01

I worry about these steering committee elections, and wonder, in this year
2001 (when a good-enough proportion of the listeners are Internet-savvy),
why we can't just have direct democracy, i.e., every question that appears
should appear before EVERYONE in a listener area, and let the mob rule.
Every steering committee I have ever seen operate has merely turned into
yet another anarchist bureaucracy, using its powers to concentrate more
power in its own hands, censoring the mob, stifling the flow of information, etc.

In fact, this so called movement to elect steering committees hasn't yet asked
OUR permission to create steering committees, and instead seems to proceed
merrily along with some plans. Well, I, for one, DENY PERMISSION, preferring
mob rule instead.

All we would have to do is work out a code of rules as to how the mob would
decide questions. This would hopefully prevent LITTLE factions from hi-jacking
the process. Even if a big faction were to gain supremacy in the mob, it wouldn't
be anywhere near as bad as a LITTLE faction doing the same.

Ken Ellis

 

7-11-01

Mike Morin quoted me:

>> If 'resource allocation socialism' equals 'resource planning', then the latter
>> doesn't sound nearly as bad as what 'resource allocation socialism' conjures
>> up - 'nationalization of resources'. I regard resource PLANNING as legitimate.
>
> Mike responds:
>
> Resource Planning should begin on a local/regional level and be consistent
> with principles and strategies of localization and regionalization of production
> and commerce (i.e. moving towards self-sufficiency). To the extent that nation-
> states are legitimately recognized then the various regions would be united in
> principles that guide inter-regional commerce. Also, a world body may perhaps
> serve to guide and encourage that the principles of equity and sustainability
> (among others) are being embodied in the activities of the diverse nation-states
> that may be legitimately recognized by the people of those nations.

That's reasonable.

>> But, I think that property has no future and is bound to decline, not long
>> after the abolition of work and class distinctions. To plan for socialism
>> and propertyLESSness by PROMOTING property ownership for the
>> propertyless, to me is too self-contradictory to have socially redeeming value.
>
> Mike responds:
>
> People like to own things. It gives them a feeling of security with respect
> to the access and use of those things.

That's true, but it's unfortunate that our sense of security has to be so
wrapped up with the physical world, and we can't build more of a sense
of community based on a spiritual readiness to share. In the meantime,
we witness a growing explosion of wealth and ownership of things
at the same time people are troubled by many social issues.

> I think people should share more with others, but this is perhaps
>
contradictory to human nature and certainly contradictory to the prevailing
> commercial culture which incessantly and aggressively bombards the people
> with a notion that acquisitiveness is the primary reason to be.

Property is like a double-edged sword. It can be an angel, and can also be the
devil, which is why I tend to be neutral about it, and don't regard it as the end-all
and be-all of life. I know a lot of people who pursued a property career a lot more
vigorously than I ever did, and did very well for themselves in that regard. For
property obsessed socialists to make property acquisition the sine qua non of the
socialist movement is a mistake, for all socialists know that, in the end, property
will be phased out, and we will have a lot fewer earthly concerns on our minds.
To prepare ourselves for propertyless socialism by making its acquisition the
cat's meow is to venture too close to oxymoronic behavior. Paying more
attention to full participation by means of a shorter work week is just
what every worker and would-be worker will need in the 21st century.

> It could be worthwhile to make a distinction between real property (i.e.
> land) and personal property (i.e. that other than land). With respect to
> the latter, I have, for many years, been a supporter of the concept of the
> community land trust. However, in the United States, this concept has
> been slow to catch on and is still relatively tiny. With regard to other
> assets, I favor cooperative ownership structures and organizations.

Nothing wrong with those objectives.

snip old messages

Ken Ellis

 

7-12-01

Joan wrote:

> What makes you believe that machines can do all work? Try picking
> strawberries sometime -- and tell me if you think a machine could do it
> faster than a 5-year-old. Frankly I don't see it as positive for the world
> to be overrun by robotic slaves.

snip old messages

Think how many eons it took humans to evolve to the point where we could plant
and harvest strawberries, and then consider how few millennia humans have used
anything resembling a complex machine. Would you begrudge computers and
machines a few more decades to evolve to the point of picking strawberries
without damage?

Ken Ellis

 

7-12-01

Joan wrote:

> you keep speaking of the loss of unskilled labor jobs and how they will be taken
> over by machines and all that. Here's a crazy idea -- why not educate people so
> they will have skills to fill skilled job openings? There are a lot of those.

People will seek education, for sure, but even a lot of skilled jobs will start to
disappear as computers become really smart. There simply will be no way to save
the 40 hour week for much longer. Be prepared to kiss it good-bye in a few more years.

Ken Ellis

 

7-12-01

Joan wrote:

> I do think that your theory on a shorter work week can only really apply in
> developed countries like the US and Europe, which already produce enough
> to provide a good standard of living for all.

That's very true. What makes the shorter work week most relevant to the
industrialized world are the occasional crises of overproduction, known to
most people as 'depressions' and 'recessions'.

> In underdeveloped countries, however, there is not enough of anything --
> work, wealth, whatever -- to divide up and feed everyone.

Few countries fit that category. Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea come to mind.
A lot more countries are in the middle, but the myriad differences often
make the various countries unique in their own way.

> The countries have to develop first -- the wealth, or the need
> to produce goods, has to be created before it can be divided up.

'The Development of Underdevelopment' comes to mind, as I recall that many of
the previous colonies were really ripped off. Independence serves them better,
but a lot of damage has already been done, and continues to be done by
overdependence on the world economy, the IMF, World Bank, etc.

> You know all that stuff about the stages of history and capitalism
> being needed to create wealth? Just thought I'd point that out.

Thanks for the reminder. I also heard, and agree, that the succession of stages
applied mainly to Europe, and that many other countries have been able to avoid
one or more stages altogether. The USA was never a feudal monarchy, for instance.

> But you make a good point about democracy where everyone can vote --
> we have achieved that in the US, and need to use it.

Agreed. Thanks also for your kind words that pop up occasionally in various messages.

Ken Ellis

 

7-12-01

Li'l Joe replied:

> Kenneth Ellis, who is an opponent of the working-
> class engaging in class war
- i.e. against a militant,
> revolutionary response to by workers to the economic
> and political assaults waged on us by the capitalist
> class to maintain their property and high profit margins -

What could I have said to lead Li'l Joe to those conclusions?

> is also opposed to the proletariat getting involved in learning
> economic theory and Marxist economic analysis in particular.
> Its
like the old patronizing "man of the wife" instructing the
> "little woman"" to not "worry her pretty little head about
> economic problems", or the boss telling the workers in
> his employ to "keep their nose to the grindstone".

When did I ever tell people not to study?

> Class war on the part of the working-class to defend itself
> from the economic encroachment, and inevitable fascistic type
> capitalist suppression and state repression of the working-class,
> requires knowledge of economic theory and an understanding of
> economic behavior. I am on this list urging workers to study the
> works of Marx as a clear critique of bourgeois economic theory
> and an explication of the workings of capitalist production, of
> how and why workers are exploited.

A little knowledge of Marxist economics never hurt workers.
The more we know, the better off we are.

> Mr Ellis, on the other side is bad mouthing "Marxism"
> - telling workers to stay away from it by denouncing
> it as "
ridiculous", "obsolete", "olde", &c.

Not ALL of Marxism can be described that way; only the EXPROPRIATION
part of Marx's revolutionary program. But, I never ridiculed it as a revolutionary
idea for the 19th century, because expropriation was a lot more plausible in Marx's
day, when a mass of intransigent monarchies still remained to be overthrown, which
would have played right into the hands of Marxists, enabling them to establish their
universal proletarian dictatorship, giving them the power to expropriate, and the unity
with which to avoid counter-revolution. Because it didn't happen that way then, nor
even after the successful Russian revolution, and because proletarian revolutions
have only occurred in less-developed countries (instead of the most developed),
then it is time for people to understand that the proletarian socialist revolution
was merely a dream that evaporated, so we should put away our revolutionary
toys and think about other ways to make ourselves useful.

> Yet he plagiarizes from it the very cornerstone of his denunciation of
> Marxism - "labour time" and the need for workers to shorten the working
> day. This
plagiarization from Marxism acts as if the plagiarizer has discovered
> this theory on his on in 1995 - whereas it was stated - as you will see in the
> quotes from "Capital" below, it was presented by Marx in 18
57.

In what way have I ever plagiarized Marx? In the 2 most industrialized
countries of the 19th century, labor time reductions were a more applicable
form of struggle than proletarian socialist revolution ever could have been,
as is proven by the labor history of England and America. If activists could
learn from Marx and the labor movement, they too might turn their efforts
toward reducing the length of the work week, raising overtime premiums,
fighting for longer vacations, earlier retirement, paid sabbaticals, etc. But,
I can't do these things by myself, so I try to redirect activist energy that
is presently merely being uselessly dissipated in useless revolutionary
movements. It took me a long time to discover that Marx's socialist
proletarian revolution was little better than a broken dream, and that the
dream had been broken forever after Europeans failed to overthrow their
Social-Democracies in sympathy with the Russian revolution, was broken
again after Khruschev's speech criticizing Stalinism, and was broken again
in 1989 when the Eastern bloc turned against state ownership.

> Perhaps one reason Mr Ellis is hell bent on
> keeping workers from reading Marx

In what way have I ever discouraged workers from reading Marx? In order
to refute the anarchist lies of my old opponents of the 1970's, I had to delve
deeply into Marxism, which gave me a much better appreciation of the times
in which Marx lived, enabling me to detect that we no longer live in a world
in which the Marxist revolutionary scenario is relevant. The monarchies of
Europe have long since been democratized.

> is because he doesn't want them to discover that he has
>
plagiarized the concept of "socially necessary labour-time"
> from Marx written in 18
57 because he doesn't want to be exposed.

This is news to me. Where have I said anything about 'socially necessary
labor time
'? That phrase isn't part of the labor time reduction program.

> But, more importantly, than his plagiarism of concepts from Marx "Capital", is
> that he
uses this as his "new discovery" in order to COUNTERPOSE IT to Marx.

Again, this is news to me. What I discovered that was new was that property
socialism has been dead for a long time, and that people will have to convert
to labor-time socialism before socialism will ever become relevant again. An
intellectual struggle will have to occur within the minds of activists. Property
socialism will have to be smashed to smithereens, and hopefully replaced with
the only form of socialism which is relevant to the West - labor-time socialism.
To attack property and democracy is political suicide, and perhaps the constant
failure of the property socialist agenda will eventually teach that lesson to socialists.

> But, again of more importance, and why I am spending this time
>
polemicizing with him is because he uses the "labour-time"
> concept by in denouncing Marx's "Capital" as "
obsolete", &c.,

If anything is relevant and valuable in Marxism, it is Marx's economic
analysis and theory of surplus values. I have no issue with the economic
aspects of Marxism. Even a lot of his political lessons are still valid.

> he goes on to denounce -- as "obsolete because it was articulated by Marx --

In all of my writings, nowhere have I ever come close to saying "obsolete
BECAUSE it was articulated by Marx
". Marx was not alone in his beliefs;
he attracted millions of followers, if not billions, between 1917 and 1989.
That kind of following represents POWER to shape politics.

> the struggle on the part of workers to fight for the reduction of hours
> of the working day+wage increases along with these reduction.

Me? Denounce the struggle of workers for the reduction of work hours? Or,
denounce their struggle for higher wages? In case Li'l Joe hasn't been paying
attention, labor time reductions are what I advocate, which I regard as the
most effective means of winning higher wages. The charges against me
are getting more ridiculous by the moment.

> What he finally objects to is Marx explication that the collapse
> of capitalism
, and engendered in this collapse the consciousness
> on the part of the working class of the necessity to transfer private
> capital to public ownership, the
precondition for the elimination
> of the market economy.

It's true that I disagree with Marx's revolutionary scenario, which includes
the collapse of capitalism and the conversion of means of production to public
property
. Capitalism simply won't disappear in that manner. Capitalism will
instead die a natural slow death as work week reductions gradually abolish
class distinctions. No matter how bad things may get in the West, we are
immunized against ever wanting to socialize ownership of property as
a solution, because of what happened in Russia and other places.

> History has shown that the overthrow of capitalism
> can
only be won with the complete expropriation of
> the capitalist class
by military campaigns.

Does 'history' mean 'state ownership in the old Soviet Union and China'? If
'military campaigns against capitalism' were so successful in those countries,
then perhaps capitalist relations would not have been restored.

> Marx has documented how this struggle has progressed over the centuries -
> long, long, long before it was "discovered" by Kenneth Ellis' in 1995!

In that case, I'm sure Li'l Joe will oblige us by providing a document from
Marx describing the expropriation of the capitalist class by military campaigns.

> Will Mr Ellis join me in urging the readers on this list to join with a group
> studying "Capital" on e-mails this summer, or read it independently - so as
> to determine whether or not it is "obsolete" for themselves?

There's your invitation, folks. The experience won't hurt you, and may even
help. Marx's analysis of the inner workings of capitalism is as relevant today
as when it was written.

> Is this not the objective way to proceed. Shouldn't they themselves
> decide whether it's a waste of time rather than reading us go back
> and forth about things they perhaps may not yet read?

A familiarization with Capital is very important, given the proclivity of so many
people, intentional or not, to misrepresent what Marx stood for. I heartily endorse
organized study and discussion of Capital (and everything else M+E wrote).

> There will be war in any case.

Then, gird thy loins! Prepare for glory! ;-)

> The Marxian economic economic categories and analysis of laws of motions,
> contradictions and conflicts in the capitalist mode of production has revealed
> patterns of waves of expansions, contractions, booms and busts, and deep
> crisis of overproduction, recession, underconsumption, depressions - the
> way that the capitalists have gotten themselves of these economic crisis was
> welfare state policies and when they fail - as rates of profits continue to fall,
> overproduction and underconsumption continue to mutually engender one
> another, &c., is by turning its state into a military machine
against workers
> at home
and competition nations abroad - i.e. fascism and war.

This description makes me wonder why the TV doesn't cover the alleged war.

Secondly, I would like to know why the alleged decline in the rates of profits
are supposedly important to the working class, or might be something for us to
worry about. On the other hand, we can already surmise that the rates of surplus
values must be increasing due to the fact that every decade sees a reduction in the
percentage of the population creating the necessities of life. 80% of the population
was required 200 years ago, 10% in 1920, and 5% in 1980, according to established
figures. Those figures alone are a wonderful testimony to the appropriateness of
surplus value reductions by means of a shorter work week, etc.

> It is only by understanding economic theory and being
> able to analyse the "signs of the time" and prepare itself
> for all all economic and political war that the working-
> class can survive intact,
throwing the capitalist in
> prison or to the capital punishment if necessary.

This sounds like a self-nomination for Minister of Justice in the post-capitalist regime.

> The most consistent analysis of capitalism from the working-class perspective is
> Marxism. The past 150 years on class struggles in the world have be participated in,
> often led, but always critically assessed by Marxists - Marx, Luxemberg, Lenin, Trotsky,
> Mao, C.L.R. James, Gramsci, Nkrumah, Cabral, many others. Any serious proletarian
> partisan would urge workers to engage in a critical study of these revolutionary leaders
> and thinkers, although the bourgeois "scholars", college professors, newspaper
> columnists, &c., insist that "Marxism is obsolete": if it's obsolete don't they
> think the workers are smart enough to come to that conclusion on their own?

Surely everyone on this forum is smart enough to figure this out the
obsolescence of Marx's revolutionary program on their own, but only if they
take the trouble to think about it carefully enough. When I discovered that my
old De Leonist program was based upon lies, and was therefore invalid, I wrote
a little about that in the 1970's, and thereafter considered myself to be a Leninist
for the next 17 years. Not until 1994 did I figure out that the Marxist-Leninist
revolution had been invalidated by the passage of history. Figuring that out
required me to write a 500 page book, and I rewrote it several times in order to
make it logically consistent from beginning to end. I rewrote it again last August,
just before making the book available on the Internet. How many people reading
this message can afford to take the time to write a book in order to get clear about
the revolution they espouse? Not very many, which is why so many leftists remain
revolutionaries, and remain ineffective precisely because they remain revolutionaries.
My book is but one more addition to the great marketplace of ideas. I can't force
people to read it, nor can I force anyone to learn from it. I can only hope that they
care enough to think and learn, so that they can become more effective in their
quests for social justice.

> Why is it that on every Left e-mail list there is a self-described scholar, usually a "former
> 'Marxist -Leninist" that urge workers to not "waste their time reading Marx", saying in
> chorus: "Marxism is obsolete" - ask them, they know all about it, it is "a god that failed".

Though I've often claimed that the Marxist revolutionary scenario is obsolete, I
have never advocated people to ignore Marx. I was real lucky. My Marxist party
of the 1970's lied about the nature of Marx's revolutionary scenario, taking Marx's
quotes out of context, turning Marx into an anarchist, and the only way I could
refute their lies was for me to learn what Marx's revolutionary scenario was really
about, forcing me to read a lot of M+E, and then to write down my refutations in
written polemics. That is a great way for people to learn about Marx, much better
than by simply sitting and reading, disengaged from the intellectual world around
them. Li'l Joe's proposed forum could be a valuable experience for many, because
it would give people the opportunity to engage others in the significance of Marx's
writings. What would also be valuable would be to create a forum about the Marxist
theory of the state and revolution, which is far more controversial than Marx's
Capital and economic writings. Then the fur might really fly.

> Marxist economic analysis and predictions have been
> both validated and enriched over the past 150 years of
> capitalist crisis, class struggles, and wars between capitalist
> states. The economic crisis that is gripping the world by
> the last thirty years to today is comprehensible by Marxist
> methodology. Yet, although since 1974 there was global
> "stagflation" - - "liquidity crisis" engendered by declining
> rates of profits that led to Thatcherism in Europe and
> "Reaganomics" in Europe and the U.S., "down sizing",
> and now neo-liberal globalism as parts of a single econ-
> omic process, including the collapse of state-monopoly
> capitalist regimes in Eastern Europe and "structural
> adjustments" in the third world, yet it is the anti-Marxists
> that preach class collaboration and encourages workers
> "not to worry" about such economic problems as "average
> rates of profit to decline" - to just keep your nose to the
> grindstone" and "look for a job".

Don't lump me in with those guys. Instead of telling people to get a job,
I say: "We already produce more than enough surplus values, so learn
to share the remaining work, and struggle for a shorter work week."

> Kenneth Ellis wrote:
>
>> Whether or not 'the tendency for the average rate of profits to decline'
>> will force capitalists to 'use the state to combat struggles for higher wages
>> and shorter work hours', bosses have always profited most when as few
>> workers as possible work for as many hours per day and week as possible.
>> On the other hand, it is in the interests of the working class for as many
>> workers as possible to work for as few hours as possible. Such is the true
>> opposition of class interests between bourgeoisie and proletariat. No matter
>> how, why or if the bourgeoisie may threaten us, it is essential for workers to
>> continue to struggle on behalf of their own interests. It is not in our sphere
>> of interests to worry about the average rate of profit, nor profits.
>
> Lil Joe, Response:
> Kenneth wants the workers to
avoid developing an
> understanding of economic theory and processes.

What did I say to merit that charge against me?

> If it is not in "our own interests" for workers to understand the
> operations of the economic system under which we exist, the operations
> in the mode of production by which we are exploited and politically
> repressed, then why has he studied it? If he studied it.
Kenneth wants
> us to ignore "how, why, of if the bourgeoisie may threaten us".

What I SHOULD HAVE SAID was that the tendency for the rates of surplus
values to RISE explains a lot more about the rising income gap, unemployment,
and poverty issues, than the tendency of the average rates of profits to fall. I
would like Li'l Joe to opine whether 'the decline in the rates of profits' or 'the
rise in the rates of surplus values' is more relevant to working class interests.

> Kenneth Ellis wrote:
>> The most important things to worry about is that everyone
>> who wants a job should have one, and that we don't wastefully
>> 'tax and spend' our way to fuller employment.
>
> Lil Joe, Response:
> Note the sophistry - Kenneth Ellis, while
telling workers that they
> have no interest in understanding the mechanisms of the capitalist
> market economy, and to
pay no attention to its collapse because of
> overproduction, underconsumption, and declining rates of profits,

Sophistry? Do workers think that 'overproduction, underconsumption,
and declining rates of profits' are more important or relevant to their lives
than 'taxing and spending our way to fuller employment'?

> he says instead that workers should worry about "fuller employment". Get it!@
> He did not say FULL employment but fullER employment". Got the trick? If
> literally 5 more workers are employed today than were employed yesterday
> THAT in itself would constitute "fuller" employment.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Fuller employment
is but a step towards full employment, unless Li'l Joe thinks that all we have to
do is revolt tomorrow, and then we will have full employment. I can't promise
anything more than step by step GOING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION.
Merely going in the right direction would be a wonderful change. Politics
is the art of the possible, but here's what Li'l Joe would have workers do:

> The ONLY way that we can have COMPLETE FULL EMPLOYMENT
> is by
snatching the productive forces from the greezely greedy hands
> of the capitalists,
transferring them from private to public ownership
> and management in a
workers state.

OK, workers, there's your task - try doing the impossible. If Marx and Lenin
couldn't do it, and if the world increasingly rejects workers' states, then workers
can always waste more of their time trying to realize that obsolete program.

> But that is not all. Just as Reagan- Bush- Clinton- Bush II
> are anti- "big government" so-called "welfare" i.e. Keynesian
> "demand side" government spending in jobs creation,
SO IS
> KENNETH ELLIS
. He even uses the same language as does
> those reactionary politicians, saying above that "
we don't
> wastefully 'tax and spend' our way to fuller employment
".

There's a limit to taxing and spending. Tax and spend too much, and the
country votes increasingly Republican or Libertarian. If anyone thinks that
a revolution is a good way to avoid taxing and spending, fewer people will
go for that than for wasteful taxing and spending. Both revolution and 'tax
and spend' are obsolete programs of the past.

> Kenneth Ellis Quotes Lil Joe:
>>> Thus, the struggle to reduce the working day was called
>>> by Marx in Capital "the Magna Carta" of the working class,
>>> and said that the struggle to achieve it has required a "veritable
>>> civil war". It was on this ground that Leon Trotsky, in "The Death
>>> Agony of Capitalism and the Task of the Fourth International"
>>> declared for a sliding scale of wages and hours" adjustable
>>> to inflation by escalator clauses and to increased productivity
>>> based on technology changes that would other wise be used
>>> by the capitalist to maximize exploitation and profits. This,
>>> Trotsky called "transitional demands".
>
> Kenneth Ellis Reply
>> Looking up all 12 refs to Magna Carta, I didn't see Marx
>> use it in the context of labor time reductions.
>
> Lil Joe, Response:
> It was the 10 hour bill in England that Marx referred to as
> the "Magna Charta" in England - obviously in reference to the
> Chartist Movement (People Party) among English workers.

Thanks to Li'l Joe for the reference. Apparently, the little difference
between Carta and Charta hung up my computer. Here is just one
of 3 relevant excerpts from Capital:

Page me35.306
"It must be acknowledged that our labourer comes out of the process of
production other than he entered. In the market he stood as owner of the
commodity "labour power" face to face with other owners of commodities,
dealer against dealer. The contract by which he sold to the capitalist his labour
power proved, so to say, in black and white that he disposed of himself freely.
The bargain concluded, it is discovered that he was no "free agent", that the
time for which he is free to sell his labour power is the time for which he is
forced to sell it, that in fact the vampire will not lose its hold on him "so long
as there is a muscle, a nerve, a drop of blood to be exploited". For "protection"
against "the serpent of their agonies", the labourers must put their heads together,
and, as a class, compel the passing of a law, an all-powerful social barrier that
shall prevent the very workers from selling, by voluntary contract with capital,
themselves and their families into slavery and death." In place of the pompous
catalogue of the "inalienable rights of man" comes the modest Magna Charta"
of a legally limited working day, which shall make clear "when the time which
the worker sells is ended, and when his own begins." Quantum mutatus ab illo!
"

> Kenneth Ellis Continues:
>> 'Veritable civil war' was used as a phrase
>> in only one work - 'The Poverty of Philosophy':
>>
>> Page me6.210
>> "Large-scale industry concentrates in one place a crowd of people unknown
>> to one another. Competition divides their interests. But the maintenance of
>> wages, this common interest which they have against their boss, unites them
>> in a common thought of resistance - combination [union]. Thus combination
>> always has a double aim, that of stopping competition among the workers,
>> so that they can carry on general competition with the capitalist. If the first
>> aim of resistance was merely the maintenance of wages, combinations, at first
>> isolated, constitute themselves into groups as the capitalists in their turn unite
>> for the purpose of repression, and in face of always united capital, the mainten-
>> ance of the association becomes more necessary to them than that of wages.
>> This is so true that English economists are amazed to see the workers sacrifice
>> a good part of their wages in favor of associations, which, in the eyes of these
>> economists, are established solely in favor of wages. In this struggle - a veritable
>> civil war - all the elements necessary for a coming battle unite and develop.
>> Once it has reached this point, association takes on a political character.
"
>
> Lil Joe, Response:
> Thanks for the reference. But, reading that quote it
> would appear that if he mentioned it "only" in this
> work that once would have been enough. After all -
> "Working men of all countries, unite!" was "used in
> a phrase
in only one work" - The Communist Manifesto".

According to my CD, M+E thereafter used that slogan at least another 8 times.

> But, in fact the exact same concept, with slightly
> different words was used in capital at least twice:
>
> "
The capitalist maintains his rights as a purchaser when
> he tries to make the working-day as long as possible, and
> to make, whenever possible, two working-days out of one.
> On the other hand, the peculiar nature of the commodity
> sold implies a limit to its consumption by the purchaser,
> and the laborer maintains his right as seller when he
> wishes to reduce the working-day to one of definite normal
> duration. There is here, therefore, an antinomy, right against
> right, both equally bearing the seal of the law of exchanges.
> Between equal rights force decides. Hence is it that in the
> history of capitalist production, the determination of what
> is a working-day, presents itself as the result of a struggle,
> a struggle between collective capital, i.e., the class of
> capitalists, and collective labour, i.e., the working-class.
"
>
> (((((((((((((((
>
> "
We have hitherto considered the tendency to the extension
> of the working-day, the were-wolf's hunger for surplus-labour
> in a department where the monstrous exactions, not surpassed,
> says an English bourgeois economist, by the cruelties of the
> Spaniards to the American red-skins, [31] caused capital at
> last to be bound by the chains of legal regulations. Now,
> let us cast a glance at certain branches of production in
> which the exploitation of labour is either free from
> fetters to this day, or was so yesterday.
>
> ((((((((((((((((((((
>
> "
What is a working-day? What is the length of time during which capital
> may consume the labour-power whose daily value it buys? How far may
> the working-day be extended beyond the working-time necessary for the
> reproduction of labour-power itself?" It has been seen that to these
> questions capital replies: the working-day contains the full 24 hours,
> with the deduction of the few hours of repose without which labour-
> power absolutely refuses its services again. Hence it is self-evident
> that the labourer is nothing else, his whole life through, than labour-
> power, that therefore all his disposable time is by nature and law labour-
> time, to be devoted to the self-expansion of capital. Time for education,
> for intellectual development, for the fulfilling of social functions and for
> social intercourse, for the free-play of his bodily and mental activity,
> even the rest time of Sunday (and that in a country of Sabbatarians!) [72]
> " moonshine! But in its blind unrestrainable passion, its were-wolf hunger
> for surplus-labour, capital oversteps not only the moral, but even the
> merely physical maximum bounds of the working-day. It usurps the
> time for growth, development, and healthy maintenance of the body.
> It steals the time required for the consumption of fresh air and sunlight.
> It higgles over a meal-time, incorporating it where possible with the
> process of production itself, so that food is given to the labourer as to
> a mere means of production, as coal is supplied to the boiler, grease and
> oil to the machinery. It reduces the sound sleep needed for the restoration,
> reparation, refreshment of the bodily powers to just so many hours of
> torpor as the revival of an organism, absolutely exhausted, renders
> essential. It is not the normal maintenance of the labour-power which is
> to determine the limits of the working-day; it is the greatest possible daily
> expenditure of labour-power no matter how diseased, compulsory, and
> painful it may be, which is to determine the limits of the labourers' period
> of repose. Capital cares nothing for the length of life of labour-power. All
> that concerns it is simply and solely the maximum of labour-power, that
> can be rendered fluent in a working-day. It attains this end by shortening
> the extent of the labourer's life, as a greedy farmer snatches increased
> produce from the soil by robbing it of its fertility.
>
> "
The capitalistic mode of production (essentially the production of surplus-
> value, the absorption of surplus-labour), produces thus, with the extension
> of the working-day, not only the deterioration of human labour-power by
> robbing it of its normal, moral and physical, conditions of development and
> function. It produces also the premature exhaustion and death of this labour-
> power itself. [73] It extends the labourer's time of production during a given
> period by shortening his actual life-time.
>
> ((((((((((((((
>
> "
The history of the regulation of the working-day in certain branches of
> production, and the struggle still going on in others in regard to this regulation,
> prove conclusively that the isolated labourer, the labourer as "free" vendor of
> his labour-power, when capitalist production has once attained a certain stage,
> succumbs without any power of resistance. The creation of a normal working-
> day is, therefore, the product of a protracted civil war, more or less dissembled,
> between the capitalist class and the working-class. As the contest takes place in
> the arena of modern industry, it first breaks out in the home of that industry
> " England. [155] The English factory workers were the champions, not only of
> the English, but of the modern working-class generally, as their theorists were
> the first to throw down the gauntlet to the theory of capital. [156] Hence, the
> philosopher of the Factory, Ure, denounces as an ineffable disgrace to the
> English working-class that they inscribed "the slavery of the Factory Acts"
> on the banner which they bore against capital, manfully striving for "perfect
> freedom of labour." [157]
>
> "
France limps slowly behind England. The February revolution was necessary
> to bring into the world the 12 hours' law, [158] which is much more deficient
> than its English original. For all that, the French revolutionary method has its
> special advantages. It once for all commands the same limit to the working-
> day in all shops and factories without distinction, whilst English legislation
> reluctantly yields to the pressure of circumstances, now on this point, now
> on that, and is getting lost in a hopelessly bewildering tangle of contradictory
> enactments. [159] On the other hand, the French law proclaims as a principle
> that which in England was only won in the name of children, minors, and women,
> and has been only recently for the first time claimed as a general right. [160]
>
> "
In the United States of North America, every independent movement of the
> workers was paralysed so long as slavery disfigured a part of the Republic.
> Labour cannot emancipate itself in the white skin where in the black it is
> branded. But out of the death of slavery a new life at once arose. The first
> fruit of the Civil War was the eight hours' agitation, that ran with the seven-
> leagued boots of the locomotive from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from New
> England to California. The General Congress of labour at Baltimore
> (August 16th, 1866) declared: "The first and great necessity of the present,
> to free the labour of this country from capitalistic slavery, is the passing of
> a law by which eight hours shall be the normal working-day in all States of
> the American Union. We are resolved to put forth all our strength until this
> glorious result is attained." [161] At the same time, the Congress of the
> International Working Men's Association at Geneva, on the proposition of
> the London General Council, resolved that "the limitation of the working-day
> is a preliminary condition without which all further attempts at improvement
> and emancipation must prove abortive... the Congress proposes eight hours
> as the legal limit of the working-day.
"
>
> Kenneth Ellis quotes Lil Joe:
>>> What Marx and Trotsky advocated were demands that would lead the
>>> working class into class consciousness: "
but, every class struggle is a
>>> political struggle
". Thus, this struggle against the bourgeois STATE
>>>
will force the working class to form its own political party to struggle
>>> for power - "the dictatorship of the proletariat".
>
> Kenneth Reply:
>> The working class should learn to use existing democracies as though they
>> are proletarian dictatorships. The correct form of state is already there, the
>> universal suffrage is there, all that's missing is the party, but I can assure
>> everyone that the big working class party will not be organized for the
>> purpose of taking away the property of the rich.
>
> Lil Joe, Response:
> I am in the Labor Party being built by American trade unions. Unless Kenneth
> is a clairvoyant prophet he is unable to "assure" anybody anything.

If history is no assurance, then the history books could be burned,
and no one would miss them.

> The labour party is not formed to take property away from the rich.
> It is however not what this or that proletarian, or even what the proletariat
> as a whole thinks of itself and desires at any given moment. It is what the
> working-class is, and what it is compelled to suffer because of capitalism
> crisis - depressions, wars, &c., that will
force the working-class to take
> the productive forces from the capitalist class.

The working class won't expropriate.

> "The rich", whose property Mr is so bent on protecting, can keep their
> swimming pools,
not their factories and agribusinesses - these will become
> public property and
managed by the workers who work it - it will be these
> workers in a workers state who will determine in each case the hours and
> days they work by democratic principles of one worker one vote.

That is the Marxist program, but workers have little to no interest
in changing property relations.

> snip unfinished thought
>
> Kenneth Ellis quotes Li'l Joe:
>>> This worker's state will be compelled to overcome the inner
>>> contradictions of capitalism by
making the productive forces
>>> state - i.e. public - property.
>
> Kenneth Ellis, as if he were a psychic mind reader reply:
>> The masses have no interest in property socialism.
>> That should be obvious to everyone by now.
>
> Lil Joe, Response:
> I didn't say that the "masses" were interested in "property socialism".
> That's a straw man. What I said was that the contradictions inherent in
> the capitalistic mode of production will compel the working class to
seize
> the productive forces, and by
transforming private capital into public
> property the working class will
abolish capitalist commodity production;

Workers, masses, none of the above are interested in abolishing capitalism.
Only some activists are, and that's because they haven't thought about it carefully
enough, or they have some kind of economic interest in promoting the impossible.
Hopefully, this forum will help activists think a little more seriously about their
belief systems. Not every one of us was born a red-diaper baby, so many of us
already went through quite a bit of personal change in order to convert to socialism.
Well, guess what? Property socialism is not the end-all and be-all of socialism,
because property socialism isn't relevant to advanced capitalist democracies.
Revolutionary socialists need to change their minds again.

> Mr Ellis does not relate how his plagiarized concept of
> the tendency for workers to engage in civil war against
> capital to shorten the working day will deal with
> commodity production and crisis without nationalization.

Everyone who can see the enormous wealth that surrounds us knows that there is
nothing intrinsically wrong with commodity production. Commodities may very
well be poorly distributed, but that's mostly because JOBS are poorly distributed.
JOB redistribution would efficiently redistribute commodities and services, and
prevent economic depressions and crises, and a shorter work week is a perfect
way to redistribute jobs to all.

>>> Only after this [nationalization], will both the hours of the working-day
>>> decline by a conscious plan to the lowest minimus- as profits and the
>>> tendency of average profits to decline will be eliminated
once the
>>> productive forces have been made public property.
>
> Kenneth Reply:
>> In V3 of Capital, and in a letter to Kugelmann, Marx indicated that his
>> proletarian dictatorship would be the most appropriate epoch for winning
>> shorter work hours, which corresponds to Li'l Joe's statement. Universal
>> suffrage barely existed in Marx's era, disabling the working class agenda
>> in the bourgeois republics of the day. Today, however, we can use our
>> existing democracies (with universal suffrage) as though they are part
>> of Marx's universal proletarian dictatorship, and we can use democracy to
>> fight for the supremacy of proletarian policy. A shorter work week merely
>> requires a workers' organization which is clear concerning what's feasible
>> and effective in the world of today, and which doesn't run around half-
>> cocked with ridiculously obsolete notions about expropriation.
>
> Lil Joe, Response:
> Here we go again. In stead of an objective refutation of the
> tendency of capital to concentrate in fewer hands on the one hand,

Why would anyone want to 'objectively refute' the obvious tendency of wealth
to concentrate into the hands of the ultra-rich? The bourgeois press regularly
gives us data about the growing gap between rich and poor.

> and socialize ownership in the form of transnational and national
> corporations that itself negates private owner- ship on the other,

How do transnationals and national corporations negate private ownership?
I don't see the state moving to take them over.

> and therefore makes its transfer from the hands
> of the capitalist class to public property
inevitable

Are we back to Bismarck's Germany? I do not witness nationalization
happening in front of my eyes.

> - and the only way to deal with its deepening crisis - Mr Ellis
> merely
assert it is "half-cocked with ridiculously obsolete notion".
> This is not analysis this on
his part is childish NAME CALLING".
> The only way I could deal with this would be to talk like a child right
> back. Re: "my idea is not 'half-cocked', yours is - mine is completely
> cocked!" and "my idea is not 'ridiculously obsolete', yours is more
> obsolete than mine because "Capital" was published in 18
57,

Try 1867.

> where Adam Smith's sanctity of capitalist property in "The
> Wealth of Nations" was published before that in 1776!" Age.\

Here was my original wording:

>> A shorter work week merely requires a workers' organization
>> which is clear concerning what's feasible and effective in the
>> world of today, and which doesn't run around half-cocked
>> with ridiculously obsolete notions about expropriation.

Notice that I spoke of a hypothetical WORKERS' ORGANIZATION possibly
running around half-cocked - not any individual, so the charge of name-calling
doesn't seem relevant. If Li'l Joe was offended, then my apologies, but my
wording showed no intent to disparage the notions of anyone in particular.

> Lil Joe is quoted:
>>> The "dictatorship of the proletariat" will force
>>> every able bodied member of society to work -
>
> Kenneth Ellis' Reply:
>> The proposed use of 'force' is another strike against the outright replacement
>> of existing democracies with communist workers' states. Advocating the use
>> of force is no way to work our way to the ABOLITION of the state.
>
> Lil Joe, Response:
> I didn't say that "the state" would force people to work.

The dictatorship of the proletariat is certainly a form of state, at least according to
Lenin, though more (in theory) along the lines of a Commune than a bourgeois state.

> The workers in each plant and work place will be in
> democratic control of their work site - there will be
> no capitalists with the power to hire and fire as Ellis
> proposes in his very support of capitalist ownership.

This is pure utopia. The program seems to be: the initial replacement of
the alleged 'bourgeois state' with a communist workers' state, and then the
workers will eliminate capitalist control of industries. Not enough workers
will ever be interested in doing that to make it happen.

> The workers in each area of work or/and community will
> democratically decide in an anarcho-syndicalist fashion
> the hours, assignments, days off, and who will work and
> where. With who or who will work democratically, those
> who lose the vote will be compelled to go along with the
> decision of the majority.
>
> The worker's state, or "dictatorship of the proletariat"
> will be comprised of workers from industries and the
> various neighborhoods without regard to race, gender
> or religion - a democratically elected government of
> workers, by workers and for workers, or rather the
> working class. This state will legislate and execute
> laws; the only military force it will use it to force
> the bourgeoisie, the capitalist class to turnover it
> businesses to the state. We will release the prisoners
> now held captive in the bourgeois state prison system,
> and imprison the bourgeoisie.

Thanks for the rest of the utopian vision. Now we can see that it can't happen
tomorrow, and we can get on with the rest of our lives.

> The capitalist state in Ellis' praises "democracy"
> is a state that oppresses the workers and the poor.

Li'l Joe writes as if the millions of government positions were all staffed by
capitalist pigs with the interests of the ruling classes in mind. That description
may have aptly described the feudal monarchies of the 19th and previous
centuries, but today's government employees are, for the most part, people
just like you and me. They don't have it in for the poor, because a lot of
them are just a paycheck or two away from poverty themselves.

> How many of Ellis' beloved "rich proprietors"
> are there among the millions of Americans that
> are locked up in prisons and jails across this country?

Perhaps Li'l Joe has yet to hear about Club Fed for the wealthier wrong-doers.
Even Michael Milken's millions couldn't keep him out of jail. Nor could Leona
Helmsley's. Why grab at straws to prove the unprovable?

> The U.S. Constitution is a class document, universal suffrage or not.

We know that it was written in an era when class warfare was barely
an issue in the USA, a place Marx likened to a state of anarchy for its
lack of a military bureaucracy standing above the people. That was
one of the reasons everyone in Europe wanted to move here.

> In his previous posts Ellis boasted how the Constitution protects the
> property rights of capitalists, and how his supposed neighbors agree with it.

Boasted? Why would I want to boast about a document that I didn't write?

> The Constitution of a workers Republic will guarantee the rights of people,
> not property. Even so, the capitalist state does not as yet force people to
> work because it doesn't have to.

Jobs open up, and people fill them. So far, that's the way it has been,
but workers may not be so lucky when the computers get really smart.

> They are compelled to work under the eye of foremen and
> over lookers, at great speed and with out rights because the
> alternative is homelessness, starvation, crime and prison.

Don't forget the underground economy alternative.

> In the capitalist society there is force based on the authority of the property
> owners, based in economic power: "give me some pussy or you are fired!"
> is a not uncommon demand made on women workers, and to keep their jobs
> they are forced to do it and pretend to like

That's one of the many injustices that abound, but it won't be enough
of a reason for millions to revolt.

Ken Ellis

"the economical emancipation of the working-class
is the great end, to which all political forms are
subordinated as means.
" - Marx

 

7-12-01

Hi, Ben, please forgive the delay. Another forum
is keeping me quite busy lately.

> Hi all!
>
> Hi Ken! Well, a few points from your last mail. Good idea for
> the new title, by the way... Also - nice Engels quote. How the
> **** did quoting Engels get you kicked off the SLP-Houston
> forum by the way?? Aren't they supposed to be socialists?!

Oh they are socialists all right, but they are property socialists
who can't tolerate their brand of socialism being critiqued from a
labor-time socialist perspective. They unfortunately got uptight
over my critiques of their ideology, and felt obligated to put up
a 'No Trespassing' sign on their forum. Now they even prevent
me from simply READING their forum messages. Talk about
running scared of a few words. They have a long history of
bureaucracy, censorship, secrecy, sectarianism, and a cult of
personality. Those elements complement one another in
protecting the sanctity of their immutable ideological property.
They represent yet one more lost cause that is bound to shrivel
and die after the masses demand better than a 19th century
answer to a 21st century problem.

>> <<If the stereos of the little people won't be ripped off, but the big
>> fish will have their factories and farms expropriated, then someone
>> is going to have to figure out where to draw the line in between.>>
>
> Right, maybe we ought actually to be talking about changing
> our *relationship* to wealth and "things", rather than talking
> about who "owns" what (a bourgeois preoccupation). Common
> ownership, as socialists have often pointed out, can also be
> described as *no ownership*.

Way back in history, (or, perhaps even before history), 'no
ownership' is where we came from, and is where we are someday
fated to return. Even though I never owned much more than a few
'beater' cars, small boats, and very little else, property has nevertheless
played too big a role in my little life for my liking, but, concerns over
property will end for everyone soon enough.

> That is, we have a system of society in which there is no antagonism
> over who"owns" what - there is just us (an egalitarian human society)
> interacting with the world around us and with socially produced wealth
> in a positive manner.

That sounded great until you got to the 'socially produced wealth' part. You
may remember that I regard the era of work to be incompatible with socialism.
Work creates wealth, giving people a sense of a stake in what they produce, and
preventing workers (whose blood, sweat and tears makes them very protective
of the wealth they produce) from abandoning the institution of private property
with reckless abandon. Activists should try to be realistic about things like
democracy and property, and not try to contradict popular beliefs.

> I'm sure you don't need me to remind you about the many tribal
> societies (whose way of life is representative of the way humans
> have lived for the vast majority of our time on Earth) which
> practice "primitive" communism, sharing tribal wealth with
> no big rucks over who "owns" which things. Many languages
> (including major modern ones) have no real verb for "to have",
> as Fromm points out in his book "To Have Or To Be".

The reminder is appreciated. Additionally, I recall that some
cultures have no words for 'mine' or 'yours'.

> So, common ownership, "no" ownership - the antithesis of private property
> society and capitalism, and thus the only basis for a new world society.

If merely work could be eliminated (along with class distinctions),
then that could be the basis of a truly NEW society, though not yet
true socialism. If those 2 milestones could be reached, then the
abolition of money, property ownership, and the state, would not
be far behind. Marx's abolition of private property BEFORE the
abolition of work and class distinctions should be re-thought by
sincere socialists. Work is the only thing the bourgeoisie is
HELPING us to abolish, so we should help them help us in that
regard. Truth is, we have little more choice in the matter than Marx
and his fellow communists could have initiated a revolution out of
thin air. Marx's revolution was 100% dependent upon bourgeois-
democratic revolutions to get the ball rolling, and the communists
of the day could do little more than HOPE to further develop fledg-
ling democracies in enough countries into a universal proletarian
dictatorship. No simultaneous democratic revolutions? Then, no
communist revolution could possibly ensue. The failure of Europeans
to support the Russian revolution with long-lasting revolutions of
their own is the only reason we are living in a bourgeois world today.

> You could hardly have socialism and the abolition
> of work if a small elite group claimed "ownership" of
> wealth and monopolised it at the expense of the majority.

Private ownership is nowhere near as bad a situation as private
CONTROL. Workers' control is impossible for as long as workers
compete for scarce jobs. For as many workers who refuse to do
certain tasks out of moral compunction, a dozen more will be eager
and willing to do the dirty work, preventing workers' control.

The other issue is the difference between socialism and the
abolition of work. In the labor-time socialist scenario - work,
class distinctions, and private control of industries will disappear
together, but those abolitions alone will not mark the beginning
of complete socialism, because private ownership, the state, money,
and the nuclear family could easily linger on rather innocuously
for an indeterminate amount of time, and wither away due to lack
of interest and use-value.

> Common ownership is the only guarantee against the
>
economic dictatorship of capital (and wage slavery)

Economic dictatorship? Have you been reading Arnold Petersen?
How is this economic dictatorship manifested? So far, the only
dictatorships I know about are POLITICAL dictatorships.

> and involves the expropriation of the expropriators (they stole
> the land in the first place) - that is denying minorities' "rights" to
> exploit their fellows. This is no different from denying a mugger's
> "right" to rob others in the street, "anarcho" capitalists please note!

How can you be so optimistic about the possibility of
expropriation, given the lack of exciting causes for revolution?

>>> But, of course, nobody is being asked to hand over their stereos
>>> or their cars. Hand them over to whom? For what purpose?
>>
>> << Right about that. Confiscation of property would be unreasonable.>>
>
> And, in the sense we were talking about, nothing to do with
> establishing socialism. Please see Adam Buick's excellent
> mail with the title "
Are People Inherently Greedy?".

I especially liked Adam's statement:

> "Socialism doesn't require people to be any more altruistic
> than they are today (which is greater than biological determinists
> like to admit and which presents them with the insoluble theoretical
> problem of how a gene for such behavior, which they have obliged
> themselves to believe in, could have evolved).
"

If it's all in the genes, then anyone can be altruistic, even
capitalists, unless capitalists aren't really people. :-)

At the end, Adam quoted George Jackson's prison letter about
how lovely socialism will be, but George wrote his description
of socialism in the context of FULL AUTOMATION, which
to me signifies 'workless and classless society', which is not
consistent with the WSM program of 'work under socialism',
so I was distressed by the way George Jackson's letter was
unapologetically used to lend weight to WSM socialism.

>> <<The problem with expropriation today is that winning
>> mere elections doesn't confer the kind of absolute power
>> required to expropriate without compensation.>>
>
> Maybe not winning mere elections. But a majority working
> class movement capturing political power and the capitalist
> state, while at the same time revolutionising society through
> mass self activity, workers' and community councils etc. could
> certainly do this. How could a tiny capitalist rump hope to stop
> us - other than through violence, which we have discussed?

Your description of the change-over to socialism certainly goes
beyond 'winning a mere election'. If workers did all of the things
indicated, then sure, they could expropriate. But, workers probably
won't see any more need to be organized tomorrow than they do today.
Labor-time socialism takes that into account. All that will be required
will be a MOVEMENT for a shorter work week, higher overtime
premiums, longer vacations, etc.

>> <<workers often figure that they have a considerable
>> personal stake in what little they own.>>
>
> And they won't lose it. All we have to lose are the wonderful
> opportunities we are "offered" to waste our lives away trying
> to make ends meet and "amass" all of our working class "wealth"
> (stereos, computers, washing machines, cars (shite!) (if these aren't
> on rental) and, if we're lucky, a house - hooray! - which is probably a
> pile of crap anyway. Honestly, 30+ years of insecure mortgage slavery
> for a dwelling the "captains of industry" often as not wouldn't board
> their dogs in!). End of rant...

Whether under present capitalism, or under WSM socialism,
work would still be required. As long as people have to work for
a living, I don't think that it's possible to speak of true freedom.
That doesn't mean that we have to give up the struggle for socialism,
because every reduction in the length of the work week, or increase
in length of vacations, or rise of the rate of overtime premiums, is a
step closer toward the total freedom of socialism. To think that the
government or private ownership has a lot to do with freedom is
somewhat of a stretch of imagination. To the extent to which we
fail to fight for shorter work hours is the extent to which we are
willing to delay the arrival of socialism.

> As Adam pointed out in his "selfishness" mail (see
> above), all of this seems so important because of the
> *insecurity* of capitalism and life in and around the
> wages system. "
We have nothing to lose but our chains -
> we have a WORLD to win
", as our old mate Karl put it.
> We might be in the gutter, but that doesn't mean workers
> like you and me aren't able to see beyond the banal cack
> of capitalism and look at the stars (to paraphrase our
> other old mate Oscar Wilde).

The best things in life are free, like 'philoso-free'. :-) (Use a pun, go to jail)

> "Nah, I don't want a communist utopia 'cos someone might nick
> me screwdrivers
". I hardly think this will be the considered
> opinion of many overworked, underpaid proletarians. As I've
> referred to before, a
surprising number of people have said
> "yes" they
would "vote" for abolition of the private property/
> money system (*if* the casting vote was their's!), when
> asked by members of the Socialist Party. Hmmm...

Surprising number? Surprise me with a number. I wonder why overtly
socialist parties in the USA often get less than 1% at election times.

>> <<If the working class didn't already feel that they own
>> valuable stuff, then they wouldn't be willing to work very
>> hard to earn more, so as to provide economic and physical
>> security for themselves and their families.>>
>
> Because they *have* to.

I think that it's cultural, cuz no one holds a gun to our heads.
In his 1888 visit, Engels was amazed at the energetic nature of
Americans. People have energy, and often like to expend it in
cooperative and productive labor, for at least part of the day.

> Sure, some people are well into working longer hours to get more
> money to buy the latest sports car. But many people just can't, and
> many others just aren't interested in this type of thing. And most people
> are really just living from month to month, or a year or so ahead anyway...
> Right, agree to disagree as it's probably as well not to get overly hung up
> on what is probably a matter of perception on our parts.

I think that agreeing to disagree on that might be best, so, let's
add it to the list. For many socialists, democracy is never democratic
enough, unions are never sufficiently working class, the old Soviet Union
was too capitalist to be communist, and now we can add: 'the call to amass
property is never attractive enough for workers to want to compete for it.'
You haven't met my neighbors. :-)

> However:
>
>> <<I don't hear much protest over massive ownership.>>
>
> The wild-fire spread of anti-capitalist protests????!

:-)

>> <<In my youth, I sometimes amazed myself at
>> how little work I could get away with>>
>
> Right on brother! : ) We DO agree on the important things in life after all! ; > )

Let's hear it for laziness. Hip hip ...

>> << I hope that we don't get stuck on 'property ownership'.
>> We certainly agree about the desirability of a shorter work week>>
>
> Yes, indeed. Would it be a good idea for us to analyse
> working class struggle around the world for shorter hours
> (for the same wages) and discuss ideas, tactics etc.? I am sure
> you have more interesting facts, figures and stories than me...

Sounds too much like work, doesn't it? ;-) More seriously,
though, I followed up on a recent message to this forum and
found an interesting web site with an interesting quote:

> "Twenty years ago, Paul and Percival Goodman estimated that
> just five percent of the work then being done -- presumably the
> figure, if accurate, is lower now -- would satisfy our minimal
> needs for food, clothing, and shelter."

http://www.subdimension.com/community/underground/utopianow/bobblack.htm

That 5% supposedly was for the year 1980. Also, the Canadian
economist Steven Leacock wrote that only one out of 10 workers
in 1920 were involved in the production of necessities. So, there's
at least 2 points on a curve pointing downward.

> For instance, what led to the recent 35 hour week
> in France when working time in the UK is still soaring?

Gee, I don't know. Must be some kind of culture clash. Perhaps
the militance of the Continentals can be explained by the fact that
their pro-democratic struggles were more recent than the British
struggles. Maybe their militance about what's important is more
up front. Dunno.

>> <<compare the human social relation of 'obeying the
>> command of a clock to go to work at 9am and go home
>> at 5pm' to the traditional socialist program of establishing
>> common property.>>
>
> Common (or NO) ownership goes hand in hand with the end
> of the tyranny of the working day and the tyranny of bosses
> and management.

Making property common wouldn't solve any lower class problems.
Think about it - just that one thing happens, and what happens to workers?
They have to work the day before the revolution, and they have to work the
day after. What else is new? Making property common is no prerequisite
to shorter work hours. That can be done anytime.

> On our discussion on Romania:
>
>> << Same scenario? We know that the Romanians
>> wanted to get rid of their dictator, but what exactly
>> in the democratic West would precipitate a 'social
>> and political revolution'? Why will people revolt? >>
>
> What then led to a situation like the events in 1968 in
> "democratic" France? Or to civil upheavals in "democratic"
> USA? Or "democratic" Britain's street-level anti-Poll Tax
> movement of the early 90s? I will though correct myself
> by saying the Romanian uprising aimed explicitly only at
> toppling the existing government. It didn't aim to capture
> political power and the state for the workers. In this sense
> comparisons with socialist revolution can only be taken so far.

That seems to correspond with what little I know about it. :-)

> On my reference to the working class as the
> "largest standing army in the world":
>
>> << The works of M+E indicate that the
>> working class is opposed to standing armies >>
>
> Yeah, what I meant was that the working class, if it were
> a class *for itself* would be too large and powerful for
> *any* army to defeat militarily. We are the most powerful
> class in the history of humanity (and the *last*) - we only
> need to become aware of this to liberate ourselves!

I can't think of anything that could plunge Westerners into civil
war. Slavery has been abolished, we have universal suffrage, and
property avails to anyone with sufficient money. What could drive
us into civil war? Nothing I know of.

> I'll sign off for now. Let's talk action over working time, among the rest.
> This does mean the *class struggle* and on this I think we agree.

It seems to be past time for both sides of the pond to fight for
a shorter work week. I doubt that the fight over property can do
much more than distract people from what really needs to be done.
If, as Engels says, the fight for shorter work hours is a legitimate
means of abolishing the wages system, and if that can be done
without picking up the gun, then we should try the easy things
before we try the more difficult ones.

> Yours for the end of wage slavery,
>
> Ben.

Ditto, bro'.

Ken Ellis

 

7-13-01

Li'l Joe quoted me from a dialogue with Mike:

>> What's allegedly wrong about rejecting property socialism
>> in favor of labor-time socialism?
>
> Mike responded:
>
> First of all, I hope it has been clear that I support Ken's efforts
> regarding labor-time and living wage concerns.
>
> Lil Joe, Comment: I think that the way that Kenneth Ellis promotes so-
> called"labor-time socialism" as it were in contrast to "property socialism"
> is a clever
False Dichotomization.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that 2 very different ways to
get to classless and stateless socialism have been proposed: 1) the unfeasible
way - pursue state power so as to expropriate the means of production, and 2)
the feasible way - pursue labor time reductions so as to provide places for
everyone in the economy, for as long as wage labor continues.

> That is: there has not been a single post on RBG-Alliance
> that has been in opposition to the reduction of the hours
> of the work-day or/and the hours of the work-week.

The difference between opposing labor time reductions vs. opposing labor-time
socialism is insignificant, because the methodology of labor-time socialism is one
thing, and one thing only: labor time reductions. So, if labor-time socialism is
opposed for whatever reason, then labor time reductions are automatically opposed.

> What is different in what Mike Morin, in my opinion has correctly stated was a
> unity of reduction of the hours of a work day/week with wage increases. Kenneth
> Ellis, on the contrary has in general spoke to the reduction of the hours of the work
> day/week separate and apart from the mention of wages. So long as the issue of work
> hours is not combined with wages per hour
the capitalist can reduce hours by
> decreasing wages
, and thus maintain the same rate of its exploitation of wage labour.

For nearly 2 centuries, activists have understood the close connection between
hours of labor and wages. According to a 19th century doggerel: "Whether you
work by the piece or work by the day, decreasing the hours increases the pay.
"

Unions have often sought higher wages, and occasionally won them because
they are organized. For as long as other workers remain unorganized, and for
as long as they compete for scarce jobs, then bosses will offer them lousy wages,
and desperate workers will accept them, while the ones who don't accept them
may be forced into the hit-or-miss underground economy.

Unorganized workers have only minimum-wage and living-wage laws to protect
them, and, though better than nothing, they are often inadequate. Reforms are
needed. Higher minimum wages can be advocated, or the more radical (i.e.,
getting to the root) creation of an artificial shortage of labor to put everyone
to work, which OPEC-like shortage would put bosses in competition with
one another for scarce labor, instead of workers competing for scarce jobs.

> What Connie White and I have argued - long before Kenneth entered the
> discussion on work-time, was a unitary reduction of hours of the working-day
> with increased wages calculated on the basis of the annual median income. We
> have argued that this ought to be advocated by the Black Radical Congress, the
> practical program of the Labor Party in the United States - and based on what Mike
> Morin has written it ought to be taken into, and adopted by the Green Party as well.

Sounds pretty good.

> To take this to the working-class as a proposal would be "an offer they no refuse".
> But, if the Labor Party and the Green Party run candidates to WIN seats in the House
> of Representatives in an alliance based on this program we could win the support of
> workers in working-class districts. To put this into proposed legislation, that is joint
> drafted and sponsored by the Labor Party members of the House of Representatives,
> along with the Green House of Representatives caucus, it, more than any Presidential
> campaign that is not expected to win will force the Congressional members of the
> Democratic Party to choose. The combined hours reduction/living wage package
> that Mike Morin alluded to, and which Connie White and I worked out and argued
> for in the Black Radical Congress,
would not - or rather could not - be supported
> by the Democratic Party.

If Dems and Reps had no record of supporting labor-time reductions, then how
on earth did the Black-Connery 30 hour Bill of 1933 PASS THE SENATE?

> So, the ideological struggle between antagonistic class interests would be fought
> out in the House of Representatives - ON C-SPAN - placing the Labor-Green parties
> alliance on one side and
in opposition the Republican-Democratic parties on the other.

We shouldn't count our chickens before they hatch.

> The first step of course is to win support for this "hours reduction/living
> wage increase" in the Labor and Green parties. The struggle to bring this
> about, must be tied to a struggle to force the Labor Party to run candidates
> to the House of Representatives; and, similarly to get the Green Party to
> cease wasting money in running candidates for offices they have no
> expectation of winning, to run candidates for the House in stead.

Those are reasonable objectives.

snip unrelated dialogue

> Mike had asked Ken (and others) to respond to the four options of
> "property socialism" that Mike had previously put forth. These were:
>
> 1.) wholesale or widespread expropriation
>
> Ken responded:
>
>> In less-developed countries, large-scale expropriations might be
>> justifiable. But, I prefer to speculate about the country I know best,
>> the USA, where large-scale expropriations would be out of character,
>> except as done by the government.
>
> When it is proposed by proletarian revolutionary socialists, that we
> "
expropriate the expropriators" - i.e. the capitalist as a class, by the
> working-class as a class for the transformation of private capital into
> public property managed by workers, Mr Ellis is in staunch opposition to it.

I oppose expropriation on the grounds of impossibility. Lenin used to talk
about communists having to be in touch with the mood of the masses, so one
has to wonder with whom would-be expropriators might be in touch.

> But, when it comes to "the" (existing -i.e. bourgeois) "government"
> engaging in "large-scale expropriations", he is willing to support it!

That's because, in democracies with universal suffrage, the government
represents the interests of the people, by and large. Politicians who want
the support of the electorate, and who want to be re-elected, cater to the
interests of voters. If the government were interested in a large-scale
expropriation, such as land and utilities, then I wouldn't oppose it.

> When it is a question of revolutionary expropriations carried out by
> the working class, Ellis denounces
even talking about it, as "a dream",
> arguing that his neighbors don't want it to happen.

When did I ever 'denounce EVEN TALKING about it'? As far as I know, I'm
the only one who ever learned enough about the subject to put expropriation
in a proper perspective, and cared enough about the future of the working class
movement to bring up my concerns to my fellow activists. If I am wrong, then
I am ready to be corrected, but, in my 6 years of experience with labor-time
socialism, no one has yet to come up with a decent critique of it.

> Yet, from what he wrote above, it is clear that he, and his
> neighbors
are not opposed to "large-scale expropriations"
> per se, but expropriations carried out by a workers state.

We have a democracy with universal suffrage, so we have no need to replace
what we have with an old-fashioned expropriatory communist workers' state.
It's six of one, or half a dozen of the other.

> "Large-scale expropriations" by the bourgeois government, for the collective
> benefit of the capitalist class, as had occurred under Bismark and then the Nazi's
> in Germany is consistent with the bourgeois concept of "national socialism". From
> what he has written above it is evident that Kenneth Ellis' advocacy of so-called
> "labor-time socialism" is not just "bourgeois socialism", as in general it was
> advocated in the 19th century, and dispensed with by Marx and Engels in the
> "Communist Manifesto", but
a specific variety of "bourgeois socialism" as
> it was practiced in Germany in the 20th century, called "National Socialism".

>
> snip irrelevancy >
>
> I have no further comments.
> Everyone should be clear on what by now is obvious.

If Li'l Joe can make his charges of my alleged association with Nazi ideology stick,
then he has to be doing a pretty darn good job at what he does. But, people should
keep in mind a couple of things. The quest to share work by means of shorter days
and weeks antedates Marxism, Nazism and a lot of other 'isms. I'm not advocating
workers do ANY MORE than what they've proven to be willing to do for the past 2
centuries. If seeking shorter work hours is Nazism, then let me be guilty of that form
of Nazism. Engels has already opined that the quest for shorter work hours is a viable
means to abolish class distinctions. What I do that is NEW is to say that the old socialist
expropriation scenario was feasible only as a part of Marx's revolution, whose chances
ended forever after Europeans failed to support the Russian revolution with long-lasting
revolutions of their own. Take your pick.

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 under-
stood 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.
"

 

7-13-01

Brother Phil!

> Ken -
>
>> << I've been kept awfully busy on the Yahoo RBG (red, blue collar, green
>> party) forum lately, explaining the differences between labor-time socialism
>> and property socialism, as 2 very different theoretical ways to get to classless
>> and stateless society. Some of the reds don't like being called 'property socialists',
>> and attack labor-time socialism as 'bourgeois socialism'. Some fun. >>
>
> Interesting paradigm: labor-time vs. property socialism. Did you lift it
> from somewhere or is it your own?

No, it's my very own little distinction. It arose very recently as the product
of intellectual struggles in various forums. Practically every socialist in the
world today thinks that the way to socialist paradise is to go for power and
property, so 'property socialism' may be considered a short version of 'power
and property socialism'. But, labor-time socialists (like myself, and too bad no
one else is interested in joining 'the club' so far) think that the way to workless
and classless society is to drive down the length of the work week as made
possible by the march of technology. Not only that, but, unless we blow
ourselves up before we get there, I am 100% convinced that this is what will
happen in about 40-50 years from now. One has to wonder how short the
work week will have to become before property socialists will stop resisting
the inevitable intellectual victory of labor-time socialism, and switch ideologies
to join the fun, but it's all a matter of time.

While I was writing my book in 1994, I discovered that 'taking away the
property of the rich was feasible after communists and socialists overthrew
feudal monarchies and liberated colonies, but was never feasible after they
won mere elections in Western European Social-Democracies.' After that
discovery, I knew that property socialism was obsolete, never to be adopted
in the very countries where it was supposed to happen first. It also meant that
something new was fated to replace the old broken socialist dreams. It took me
a few months afterward to figure what the replacement would be, but the answer
was right there in the works of Marx and Engels, who cheered on shorter work
days for England and America.

> How about we bat back the 'bourgeois socialism' attack with
> an escalation from 'property socialism' to 'popery socialism'
> or even 'pot pourri socialism'? "Sticks and stones..." so hey...
>
> Phil Hyde
> economic design
> http://www.doomdujour.com

Harnessing the energy of the left, and putting it to good purpose, is a labor
of Sisyphus. There is so much negative energy. If the left could be taught
to turn that negative energy on its own ideologies, then we would see 'the
negation of the negation.' :-)

Bro'Ken

 

7-13-01

--- In utopia-eng@y..., Adam.BUICK@c... wrote:
> Bob Black is an anarchist who adopts a provocative style. What he was
> proposing in his short pamphlet was that what we now called work (forced
> working for wages, employment) should be replaced by playful, creative
> activity (ie "work" done for the pleasure of it). Thus he advocates "full
> unemployment". I agree. The work of producing and distributing the things
> we need should not be done for money, should not be the employment it has
> to be for most in the context of a money-wages-profits system, but on the
> principle of "
from each according to their abilities, to each according to
> their needs
". In other words, we all cooperate to produce what we need
> and we then all have free access (without needing to pay either in money
> or ration-tickets) to what we need (as defined by us). Adam

Such a pleasant state of affairs might very well be possible, even with today's
relatively low level of production (low compared to what will soon be possible). A
trouble with realizing the utopia is probably a lot less technical than psychological.
In this dog-eat-dog world, our minds are trained to take advantage of one another
and exploit one another - not to co-operate or share. The upcoming displacement
of a far greater percentage of workers by far more advanced technologies will soon
teach us to share the remaining work, which will also prepare us mentally to share
the products of whatever entities create the means of life after there will be no way
for people to go out and earn them.

Ken Ellis

 

7-13-01

Joan quoted me:

>> Labor-time socialism is for everyone who is interested in complete
>> participation, total inclusion, and a feasible and simple method of
>> getting to classless and stateless society. No strain, no pain, except
>> for the heartbreak of dispensing with the inappropriate and obsolete
>> dream of using the state to take away the property of the rich.
>
> Have you ever heard the saying, "no pain, no gain"?
There is no simple,
> easy, no-hang-ups solution to any problem
-- let alone to all the social
> problems of America.

No easy solutions to ANY problem? What if I had a thorn in my foot, and the
doctors only wanted to fill me with morphine to dull the pain, whereas, if I had
first gone to a naturopath, the thorn would have been eliminated as the exciting
cause of the discomfort. Our social problems are the same way. Many people
want to make mountains out of molehills, and use them as excuses to revolt,
while a shorter work week would do a great deal of what the progressive com-
munity wishes for, but they have yet to do the intellectual work to figure that out,
nor is there much motivation for them to do so. In this bourgeois world, in which
social problems are so few that nothing compels people to think seriously about
them, those who feel compelled to 'do good work in the world' are often so ham-
pered by obsolete ideologies that their ultimate solutions bear no relation to the
world in which they live, while their day-to-day work bears more of a resemblance
to 'shoveling shit against the tide' than to a plan based upon a solid analysis of all
of today's problems. So, people sit in trees to prevent them from being cut down,
they fight against welfare cuts, they march against racism, and they fight among
themselves. Do they think about the common element to their struggles? Most
of the ones who think that deeply are so hampered by obsolete programs that
all they can think about for an ultimate solution is some form of property
socialism. Activists have yet to begin to think how mediocre their activities
and thoughts really are, and in this age of off-the-shelf commodified rigid
ideologies, many unfortunately think that 'all of the really good thinking
about the social question has already been done, so all that is possible is to
find an existing ideology that appears half-way decent, and then adopt it'.

> Though it is certainly better than what some others on this list
> propose -- left over from the 19th century -- you have to be sure
> not to see it as a panacea.

To sinfully repeat myself from a few months ago, reducing intangible
labor time would:

1) Put everyone to work who wants to.

2) Create the kind of shortage of labor that would force wages up.

3) Provide real economic security to workers, enabling them to do the
right things for both people and the planet, enabling workers to boycott
occupations lacking redeeming social values, and without fear of suffering
unemployment as a result of following their conscience. Such security
would also eliminate fear of getting locked into any one job, and would
enable them to pick and choose the occupation that best suits them.

4) Improve productivity by eliminating worker fatigue.

5) Encourage technological innovation, enabling further work reductions.

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

7) Enhance domestic harmony and bliss.

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

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

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

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

12) Enable reductions in unemployment insurance premiums.

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

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

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

If labor time reductions can do all of that,
then it comes as close to a panacea that I can think of.

Ken Ellis

 

7-15-01

Li'l Joe quoted me:

>> There is a split between 'property socialism' (as extolled by Mike and many
>> others) and 'labor-time socialism'. Property socialists would: 1) try to take away
>> the property of the rich in countries that have a high regard for private property,
>> and take state power in order to expropriate the rich.
>
> Lil Joe, Response:
> This is as usual a
propagandistic oriented distortion of what
> is called proletarian socialism (I never heard of so-called
> "property socialism", which in any case is a straw man).

I invented the term 'labor-time socialism' to distinguish ITS method from
other methods used by traditional forms of socialism, which are based upon
property, wealth and income redistributions.

> What proletarian socialism would expropriate from the grip of the
> CAPITALIST are the products of labour - the means of labour,
> the productive forces, and transfer them to public property.

Expropriating capital was plausible for Marx's era, but today, labor-time
socialism is the only valid method for getting to socialism.

> (See post on Engels and Einstein on Capitalism and Socialism).
>
> What Kenneth Ellis is doing by talking about "taking property from the rich"
> is to make it appear that the motive of expropriation is hate and envy rather than
> one of economic necessity - again as explained by Einstein and Engels.

When it comes to society evolving into classless and stateless paradise, one
can harbor the illusion that it is possible to get there by means of class warfare
and driving the capitalist class down to our low level, or one can imagine that it is
better to learn to get to paradise by practicing the care and humanitarianism which
is COMPATIBLE with paradise, in the hopes of bringing everyone up to the same
high standards of living, freedom and well-being. Labor-time socialism is VERY
different from punitive property socialism.

> What Kenneth Ellis is doing, furthermore, by talking about
> "taking property from the rich" is
diverting the discussion from
> class struggle based on class interests, to one of Yankee sociology,
> "the rich". What does "taking property from the rich" indicate? Taking
> some "rich" persons swimming pool? Why would we want to do that?

OK, maybe I should change my terminology. By 'the property of the rich', I
intended 'the means of production'. Property socialists often talk about making the
means of production public property. In order to do that, the means of production
must first be 'liberated' away from the rich, or expropriated, which is the domain
of the proletarian dictatorship. But, the only time during which the proletarian
dictatorship was plausible was when a mass of rotten-ripe European monarchies
were waiting to be overthrown, and it was hoped that their simultaneous replacement
with democracies with universal suffrage would have given workers the power with
which to expropriate the means of production, and the unity with which to prevent
counter-revolution. Because no mass of monarchies are waiting to be overthrown,
and because Europeans failed to support the Russian revolution with long lasting
revolutions of their own, and because no other political problems burden us so much
that we are likely to see a simultaneous victory of workers' parties, then Marx's
revolutionary scenario ought to be retired to the museum where it belongs, forcing
us in the 21st century to find a different method of liberating SOME workers from
having too much work on their hands, and OTHER workers from not having
enough work with which to get by.

> Kenneth's clever distortions continue, i.e. that "property
> socialism" wants to: 2) establish common property.

>
> Lil Joe, Response:
> Isn't this
distortion by now out moded, stale?
> It
conjures up the myth of the grey "communist" totalitarian
> state, where PERSONAL property will be abolished: every one,
> in this world, would have to share a communal tooth brush, and
> women and men will have to share a communal commode, &c.

I can't think of anyone who would suggest such a totalitarian state as the only alternative
to what the Western Hemisphere enjoys. Now that this straw man is dead, what next?

> I think it best if Marx and Engels speak for themselves
> regarding Communism FROM the "Communist Manifesto":
>
> "
The immediate aim of the Communists is the same as that of all other
> proletarian parties: Formation of the proletariat into a class, overthrow of
> the bourgeois supremacy, conquest of political power by the proletariat.
>
> "
The theoretical conclusions of the Communists are in no way
> based on ideas or principles that have been invented, or discovered,
> by this or that would-be universal reformer.
>
> "
They merely express, in general terms, actual relations springing from
> an existing class struggle, from a historical movement going on under
> our very eyes. The abolition of existing property relations is not at all
> a distinctive feature of communism.
>
> "
All property relations in the past have continually been subject to
> historical change consequent upon the change in historical conditions.
>
> "
The French Revolution, for example, abolished feudal
> property in favor of bourgeois property.
>
> "
The distinguishing feature of communism is not the abolition of property
> generally, but the abolition of bourgeois property. But modern bourgeois
> private property is the final and most complete expression of the system of
> producing and appropriating products that is based on class antagonisms,
> on the exploitation of the many by the few.
>
> "
In this sense, the theory of the Communists may be summed
> up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.
>
> "
We Communists have been reproached with the desire of abolishing
> the right of personally acquiring property as the fruit of a man's own
> labor, which property is alleged to be the groundwork of all personal
> freedom, activity and independence.
>
> "
Hard-won, self-acquired, self-earned property! Do you mean the property
> of petty artisan and of the small peasant, a form of property that preceded the
> bourgeois form? There is no need to abolish that; the development of industry
> has to a great extent already destroyed it, and is still destroying it daily.
>
> "
Or do you mean the modern bourgeois private property?
>
> "
But does wage labor create any property for the laborer? Not a bit. It
> creates capital, i.e., that kind of property which exploits wage labor, and
> which cannot increase except upon conditions of begetting a new supply
> of wage labor for fresh exploitation. Property, in its present form, is
> based on the antagonism of capital and wage labor. Let us examine
> both sides of this antagonism.
>
> "
To be a capitalist, is to have not only a purely personal,
> but a social status in production. Capital is a collective
> product, and only by the united action of many members,
> nay, in the last resort, only by the united action of all
> members of society, can it be set in motion.
>
> "
Capital is therefore not only personal; it is a social power.
>
> "
When, therefore, capital is converted into common property,
> into the property of all members of society, personal property is
> not thereby transformed into social property. It is only the social
> character of the property that is changed. It loses its class character.
"
> - Marx, Engels
>
> Kenneth Ellis wrote that our goal includes to:
>> 3) fight among themselves over whether to create a communist workers'
>> state, an anarchist classless and stateless administration of things, or
>> reform their way to the nationalization of industries.
>
> Lil Joe, Response:
> Under the existing bourgeois democracy, which Kenneth Ellis
> is a supporter of - especially the US Constitution
because it
> enshrines bourgeois property - don't the various capitalist
> parties - e.g. the Democratic Party, the Republican Party,
> the Reform Party, the American Independent Party, &c. all
> "fight amongst themselves", because each represent competing
> factions of the bourgeoisie over how to best manage the affairs
> of the bourgeoisie with regard to public policy?

I never said or implied that anyone's GOAL was to fight among themselves.
What better way to ensure self-defeat? They already fight among themselves,
though I doubt very much that such in-fighting is the result of anyone's goal.

The rich fight among themselves, but bourgeois groups and parties are ALREADY
IN CHARGE of the property, whereas socialists, communists and anarchists are
NOT in charge, and would require UNITY of purpose in order to threaten existing
property relations. Where's the unity? In the past, M+E wrote of alliances between
workers and peasants and middle class elements in order to overthrow the existing
orders. It was definitely in the interests of the majority of the people to create
democracies over the ashes of monarchies, but today, no such great revolutionary
issue unites the majority of the people. Knowing this, revolutionary and radical
parties COMPETE among themselves, trying to attract gullibles to revolutionary
causes which even the leading bureaucrats recognize as lost. I was a gullible
member of a party at one time, and managed to work at a national office for a few
years, where I learned all about the sordid nature of trying to foment revolutions
in democracies. I supported a program which I later discovered was based upon
lies and quotes out of context. Because a revolution in a democracy with universal
suffrage is recognized by revolutionary leaders themselves as a joke, then all that
can be done is for revolutionary bureaucrats to find suckers who will support the
bureaucrats. I was there. It took me years before I smartened up. I could have
kept my mouth shut about the dirty laundry, but the masses deserve to know
just what kind of terrible betrayal occurs at the top. My whole tragi-comedy
can be read at my web site.

> Similarly, a healthy workers republic will have to accommodate the
> fact that all people are not the same, and NOT all sectors of workers
> will have the same immediate interests, though they share the long term
> goal of socialism. Thus, inevitably, there will be competing factions in
> parties and the different sectors of the working class represented must
> be represented in government by whatever form of organization they
> choose, including different, and therefore competing parties. The
> workers republic must be a democratic republic with an inclusive
> legislature, executive, and judiciary comprised of working class
> parties, associations, intellectual professions, consumer advocates,
> environmentalists, representives of minorities, gender organizations,
> and so all must participate in this workers' state.
>
> The legislatures, a single national body, without an upper chamber,
> must be democratic and inclusive. There may very well be political
> factions representing the interests of agricultural workers, a farmers
> party, industrial blue collar workers may in this case have their own
> party in government, representing their special needs. The environ-
> mentalist Green type political faction will also have a place at the seat
> of power representing the needs of Nature, and keeping in focus the
> common interests of all humanity as homo sapiens who must share
> the planet with all life forms, savoring life in its various manifestations,
> respecting and nurturing life for itself. Significant social, economic,
> and political policies will be freely debated in the legislatures, in public,
> and major decisions put before the public in the forms of plebiscites
> and referendums.
>
> There very well may be in this worker's republic the need for
> consumer advocate groups, with a place in the government, and
> as every other group having free access to the press, television, &c,
> representing the needs of the health and the safety of all human
> beings, and their contributions to be factored into production plans,
> and tested constantly. So, too, if they choose to, the anarchists will
> be welcome to organize themselves into organizations to participate
> in unions, local government bodies, &c.
>
> All parties and factions will have free access to the
> publicly owned and operated press, television, and
> other means of communication and propaganda.

Workers will not smash one democracy in order to replace it with another.
We simply elect new leaders if incumbents don't give us what we want. If
revolutionary and radical parties were credible, they would put up candidates
and get elected. But, their programs don't have enough credibility, so they
are ignored. Many say dumb things like 'the USA isn't a real democracy',
or 'private property is to blame for our problems'. When they contradict
common knowledge, they place themselves out of the sphere of viability.

> Once the capitalist class is expropriated, the passing of the
> productive forces from private to public property will make
> production and planning the business of society.
>
> This can only be done through democracy in the
workers'
> state
that will manage production, and worker participation
> at the grass roots require freedom of assembly and placing
> the means of communication, the press, at the disposal of
> labour, ecological, ethnic minority, and gender organizations.
> Socialism is not based on trust, but on open participation.

We could use our present democracy to do that tomorrow if we wanted to,
but too few are interested enough to make it happen.

> Kenneth Ellis Wrote:
> Labor-time socialists would:
>
>> 1) leave property as is, knowing that it would disappear (along with the state)
>> AFTER the abolition of work and class distinctions.
>
> Lil Joe, Question:
> If "property" is to remain in the hands of the rich -

If, in the example, we are speaking 'AFTER the abolition of work and class
distinctions', then how could there still be 'rich' people and 'poor' people? The
end of class distinctions means that we would all be EQUALLY rich, poor, or
powerful. In the middle of the dizzying pace of evolution which might occur
in a few more decades, some 'rich people' might still nominally 'own' their
old property for awhile, but CONTROL of that property would long before
have passed out of their hands.

> by which is meant the means of production in the hands of capitalists,
> represented, as currently in America, by the Democratic and Republican
> parties - what will give capitalists an incentive to "
abolish work and class
> distinctions
"? By arguments? Altruism?

Capitalists already have all of the incentives they need to abolish expensive
and balky human labor, and replace as much of it as possible with computers
and machinery. The abolition of work through automation is in their class
interests, while it is entirely the interests of the working classes to see to
it that the remaining human labor gets shared, by means of legislation to
reduce the length of the work week, raise overtime premiums, lengthen
vacation time, etc. To advocate such legislation, workers need a 'class
abolitionist' party or movement.

> If Kenneth Ellis thinks this will be the case, then he
> should be writing to capitalists, in Forbes, or Weekly
> Business, to "eliminate work and class distinctions",
> rather than to workers to reject socialism.

By abolishing work, the bosses are helping us lay the foundation for the
abolition of class distinctions. It's up to us to recognize it as such, and take
advantage of the situation handed to us by mounting a political campaign
for a shorter work week, etc. On our way to adopting labor-time socialism,
which will move us along in harmony, we will be shedding anachronistic
property socialism.

> Or, did he invent this pipe dream of "labor-time socialism", with no intention
> of ever really presenting it to the rich. Rather, its a way to
save their property
> to use as a
ploy to turn the workers against socialism.

Why should I present anything to the rich? They are already doing their part
in abolishing work, and need only continue to automate. It's up to us to follow
through with our work-sharing program. We have only to stop fantasizing
about 19th century solutions, and rally our humanitarianism. That the left
should continue to live in dreamland is because no MAJOR tasks present
themselves to cause us to apply our gray matter. If we do not really think,
then we remain stuck in old modes of thought and struggle. That's fine for
most activists. I was merely hoping to find more people like myself who had
grown disgusted with what passes for leftist politics in the USA, and who
might have been willing to get out on the cutting edge of a new movement
based upon an old method of obtaining fuller employment, but which is
also completely divorced from the property socialism of the past.

> How can any sane person believe that the same
> capitalists, represented by the Democratic and
> Republican party, who has just got a trillion
> dollar tax break at the expense of the working
> class and poor, in an economy where the economic
> divide of "rich and poor" is accelerating, be expected
> to eliminate wealth and poverty, to reduce hours and
> ultimately eliminate work - which is the basis of their
> wealth - and then eliminate classes.

We can't expect THEM to do ANY of those things. It is up to US to build
on the workless foundation which they provide. If I were actually a bourgeois
socialist, then maybe I WOULD appeal to the rich. But, the rich are doing what
they are doing, and it's up to activists to think about that, and prepare an appropriate
response. It would do us well to remember that we compete with one another to
provide them with the massive surplus values which they convert into various
forms to use against us, such as repressive legislation.

> If it is only AFTER the capitalist is to altruistically eliminate
> work and class distinction that they are then expected to
> voluntarily hand the productive forces over to society.
> Wait we tell dooms day tell the capitalist turn a new leaf,
> and accommodate Mr Ellis dream of "labour time socialism".

In the process of abolishing class distinctions, and of workers assuming
more and more control of productive forces and politics, the means of
production will become less profitable, causing the upper classes to lose
interest in control and ownership. It's entirely conceivable that such a turn
of events could cause one of Marx's predictions to come true, and the
means of production MIGHT become state property. But, it would
do so without any kind of overt revolution.

> Capitalist wealth and power is based on their ownership of
> the means of production, with which they accumulate wealth
> by exploiting labour-power only when and through the workers
> work. The capitalist, as a consequence of this reality has no
> interests in an "abolition of work and class distinction". On the
> contrary, his interest is work and class distinction continuing.

Capitalists want to eliminate expensive and balky human labor wherever
possible in order to achieve higher profits, and thus gain an advantage over
competing capitalists. The downsizing made possible by technology is what
will get us to think, especially if someday the economy can no longer absorb
any more downsized workers, and lots of people simply get thrown out on the
streets, with nothing better than government hand-outs to help them survive.
People will then ache to do what they've done before in American history,
and will ache to share work, but will not ache for as mysterious or as foreign
a concept as property socialism. Americans have a rich history of sharing
work. They don't smash their democracies for the sake of putting property
in the hands of squabbling revolutionaries.

> Kenneth Ellis Wrote:
>> 2) reform labor laws to make labor scarce enough
>> to put everyone to work who wants to.
>
> Lil Joe, Response:
> Okay, but at what wage?

The old 19th century doggerel is still as applicable today as the law of
supply and demand: "Whether you work by the piece or work by the day,
decreasing the hours increases the pay.
" In other words, create the artificial,
OPEC-like shortage of labor to put everyone to work, and we won't have to
worry about wages, no more than oil producers had to worry about their
oil being ripped off after they created OPEC. On the other hand, if we FAIL
to organize to share work, then we will continue to have to worry about wages.
Learning to share work will be the key to our success.

> Kenneth Ellis:
>> 3) reduce hours of labor in proportion to technological progress.
>
> Lil Joe, Response:
> Yes. There is nothing new in this formulation, except it is
> one sided. Marx, Engels, and Trotsky in the "Transitional
> Program" argued for this - but only in connection with wages
> remaining the same - i.e. "Thirty hours work; Forty hours pay"
> - in the slogan: "Thirty for Forty"!

Those who would abolish the market, and thereby abolish supply and demand
as well, have as little faith in a labor market with WORKERS in control as they
presently have faith in a labor market with BOSSES in control. As I once explained
to Joan, the pay check at the end of the week will have to remain the same, regardless
if workers show up to work for 5 days per week, or only one day per week. The boss
has to pay enough to get workers to show up at all, and the costs to get workers to
show up for 5 days per week is barely more than to get workers to show up for one
day per week, because all of the workers' living expenses hardly change, no matter
how many days per week they work. They pay the same rent, and they eat the same
amount of food, and their transportation costs for pleasant trips to the countryside
may end up being the same as the costs to commute, etc.

> Kenneth Ellis:
>> 4) arrive at classless society after it becomes ridiculous to bother
>> lowering the length of the work week any further, and volunteers
>> replace all wage labor, ending capitalism as we've suffered from it.
>
> Lil Joe, Response:
> This is possible; but, only AFTER the basic means of production
> have been made public property, and production is managed by a
> workers state since only the workers themselves have an interest
> in reducing labour-time and eliminating class.

Old, inadequate, off-point answer:
That may very well approximate Marx's program, but workers today have
little interest in juggling property relations. Juggling property relations will
not be relevant to the wholesale lay-offs beginning in a few more years.

2002 answer:
Once wage-labor has been abolished, it's hard to predict what the actual status
of property will be. 'Who owns what property' will NEVER mean as much to
ordinary people as 'full civic participation', which can be achieved regardless
of the status of ownership.

Ken Ellis

 

7-17-01

Joan wrote:

1.
> most of the world is suffering from underproduction.

True, but the part of the world we know best, and have a snowball's chance
in hell of affecting, is the part of the world that suffers from periodic crises
of OVERproduction, otherwise known as depressions and recessions.

2.
>> It's been a few hundred years since Westerners have had the opportunity
>> to really take it easy, like they did in the middle ages, when people only
>> worked half the year or so. Still, they managed to build the Renaissance,
>> and the Industrial revolution followed that epoch, so all of the slacking
>> in the old days couldn't have hurt people very much. - Ken
>
> and what kind of living standard do you think they had in the middle ages?

Back when technology barely existed, even the rich couldn't do a tenth of the
things the average worker can do today.

3.
>> It wouldn't have to be bad if we kept the interests of the majority in mind
>> at all times, but we go wrong when we pay more attention to the interests
>> of the rich (as in the latest tax cut, the benefits of which I'll never see). - Ken
>
> The majority isn't always right you know. Sometimes the minority needs some
> attention, too. The interests of the majority in 1935 seemed to be jim-crowism.

You make a valid point, even if 'discrimination against ethnic minorities'
wasn't the original subject.

4.
>> 'That's America, the land of untapped opportunities, whose people are so
>> rich that opportunities to work go unfulfilled.' Puhleeze.
>
> 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 pseud-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.

> 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.

5.
>> Perhaps you never heard the statistic that one out of every six California
>> kids goes hungry. Will more money for farmers solve that? All of the money
>> in the world could be dumped on their doorsteps, and they still wouldn't give
>> the food away to the kids and people who need it. I'm not the one to propose
>> just giving money away, but YOU want to give the money to GROWERS,
>> even though such a give-away wouldn't result in a single full belly.
>
> Did I say I wanted to give them money? No. I might have said that it would
> be good for someone to supply a plane to fly surplus (wasted) grain to be
> sent to the hungry overseas. That doesn't mean giving random people money.

Here was our old conversation:

>>>> 'Inability to sell crops at a profit' causes hunger in America? Never
>>>> heard of it. I thought hunger resulted when some consumers didn't
>>>> make enough money to put food in their bellies. - Ken
>>>
>>> If the farmer can't make any money by growing crops, then he won't grow
>>> any. If he doesn't grow any, no one can eat them. - Joan

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.

6.
>> No one has a crystal ball. The only way to avoid future disaster will be to
>> take care of the interests of the majority while we can, and we will. In spite
>> of all of the doom-sayers, we humans are quite humanitarian way down deep,
>> and we will take care of our own, dumb as we sometimes can seem. - Ken
>
> The only way to avoid future disaster will be to put our faith in our own
> abilities, not in the possibilities of machines. Despite all the techno-hype-
> sayers, machines will
never replace humans. And we do take care of our
> own -- rather than the whims of a mob-like majority. - Joan

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.

7.
>>> Good luck doesn't find you a job. Good work does. People whine that they
>>> don't have jobs -- but they don't have jobs because
they're too good to do
>>> any of the jobs that are available. - Joan
>>
>> That's a slanderous accusation against the blue-collared people of this red-
>> blue-green forum - blame the victim. People are not unemployed because they
>> don't want to work. If people didn't want to work, then the unemployment rate
>> would be zero, for the BLS's often-quoted U-3 number reflects only those who
>> actively LOOK FOR WORK. Our 5% unemployment rate is NATIONAL POLICY.
>> The Federal Reserve System goes into contortions to keep the unemployment rate
>> from going very much above or below 5%. Go below 5%, and bosses compete
>> for scarce labor, raising wages, and thereby lowering profits. Go significantly
>> above 5%, and the whole country goes crazy with social instability. So, it's a
>> narrow fence they walk along. - Ken
>
> I have 2 friends who have been talking for months about getting jobs. but
> they're too good to work at a grocery store or a fast food restaurant -- oh, no.
> they'd rather sit around on their bums doing nothing than at least make them-
> selves somewhat productive. because they're too good to take a job that only
> pays $6.50 an hour. I work for that, and the place I work has trouble finding
> people who will. If it weren't for the Mexicans who knows where they'd be.

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.

> Then people go complaining that there aren't any jobs -- they mean no jobs
> they don't think they're above doing. Granted, the people I am speaking of
> are young and single -- but being lazy now leads to laziness later. I got my
> first real job when I was 16, even then some of my classmates in school
> went job-hunting for months because they wanted to earn $7.50 and
> meanwhile all the other opportunities they had slipped by.

The early bird gets the worm.

> Plenty of them didn't have to work because their parents could and did buy
> whatever they wanted, and some stole and gambled to get money to support
> their drug habit. Those potheads are probably some of the ones complaining
> now that they can't find good jobs. The years stack up, but nothing has
> changed. I don't know why you expect me to believe that "the system"
> has cheated these people out of jobs.

I never blamed destitution on the present system, because 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.

2002 answer: I should have reminded Joan that 5% unemployment is
national policy, thereby condemning many people to unemployment,
no matter what their attitude to work.

8.
>>> A government that has full control of the economy can interfere with
>>> anyone they want to -- and they would probably attack the amish in
>>> some way, if not totally destroying their way of life, "for the good
>>> of society". - Joan
>>
>> The government often reflects the will of society as a whole, just the
>> way the bulk of the people acquiesced to the post-WW2 red scare, until
>> McCarthy's witch hunt began to appear like the craziness it really was.
>> When we finally decide to share the remaining work equitably, and we cut
>> down on the wealth and waste we produce, we will simultaneously cut down
>> on government excesses, which will mean taking away government powers
>> somewhat in the beginning. Further reductions in class distinctions will
>> enable further reductions in government power. - Ken
>
> Messing with the economy in such a way implies
a great increase of goverment
> power -- not only over our personal alives, but economic activities as well. and
> power, once obtained, is not ceded willingly. McCarthy's witch-hunt is an example
> of how democracy becomes mob-rule and mob-hysteria, not of government. - Joan

I don't understand how you could conclude that labor-time reductions would
result in a bloated power-hungry bureaucracy. 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
reductions 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.

9.
>> The greater the difference between the rich and the poor, the stronger must
>> be the government. As shorter work weeks liberate workers from unnecessary
>> toil, and the difference in freedom between worker and boss diminishes, then
>> the need for a strong and oppressive government will decline in proportion,
>> and the government's initiative to do damage will fade away. - Ken
>
> Rich and poor, capitalist and worker, lord and serf, slave and master, king
> and subject, chief and tribesman, smart and stupid, tall and short, black and
> white, big and small, male and female, warlord and conquered peasant --
> there will always be someone who is dominant, someone who wants to be
> in control for his own interest.

Overcoming the tendency for small factions to rule for their own advantage 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 not merely economic but a trend that shows itself in wolf
> packs and henhouses. To believe you can change it is to believe
> you can change human nature. If you do change it through
> DNA meddling, you will not create a human. - Joan

To think that humans are incapable of setting up rules by which to create an
orderly and cooperative society is to reduce us to sub-humans who are total
slaves to the 'struggle to survive' elements of our DNA, like the big cats of Africa
who are destined to fight among themselves and with hyenas for the rest of time.
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.

10.
>> The theoretical goal of socialism has never been to create strong states
>> like Stalinist bureaucracies, but rather to build as full a mass participation
>> as conceivable. Remarkably enough, even that full POLITICAL participation
>> would diminish to zero as class distinctions decline to zero, and the state itself
>> diminishes to zero. Today, it should be becoming increasingly clear that the
>> abolition of class distinctions will have to be proportional to technological
>> progress, enabling work, class distinctions, reliance on property and the state,
>> to all diminish proportionally, and to facilitate entrance to the realm of freedom.
>> Even formal 'equality', which invokes the notions of political and legal equality,
>> will also fade away in proportion to the fading away of work, class distinctions,
>> government, and property. If it can't be that way, then the alternative could
>> easily be a hell on earth. We in this forum could be voices in support of
>> such a rational slow abolition of capitalism and the state.
>
> The goal of socialism is
mediocrity.
> You forget that I am not a disciple of marx, or lenin, or whoever came
> up with this theory about the withering state. I am not such an idealist.

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.

> 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.

> I believe that a goal of providing for all can co-exist with the economic
> system that creates the means to provide for all a possibility. There is
> no other way. It is one thing to attack billionaires -- another entirely
> to attack small businessmen. It is one thing to use productive forces
> to provide for all by government manipulation -- it is another entirely
> to attempt to destroy those forces so that no one is provided for.

Under the old socialist punitive paradigm, your concerns are perfectly valid.
Under the labor-time socialist paradigm, the only people who would be
monitored and/or punished will be the handful of 'cheaters' who will try to
make people work harder or longer than what the laws will specify, which
is no different from the situation as it exists today, except that the future
replacement of many more people by machines will sensitize society much
more to the 'hours of labor' issues. But, like I say, this will be but a passing
phase we will go through, and someday all wage-labor will be replaced by
volunteers, and all of the old rules will be left to gather dust on library shelves,
fit only for scholars to examine and wonder at the complexity of it all.

11.
>>> Why do you put so much value/trust in "technology"? - Joan
>>
>> I'm not the only one. Humankind is rushing headlong into increasing trust
>> of machines and technology. Maybe we do it because 'it works', and because
>> the technology has yet to turn against us with a will of its own. - Ken
>
> That is only a matter of time.

All the more reason for the Luddites to organize to smash the machines now,
before they outsmart us.

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.

13.
>>> There is a difference between smashing machines, and recognizing their
>>> problems and choosing to not become too dependent on them. speaking
>>> of shorter work weeks, i don't mind working 10-hour days at my job.
>>> and if the standard work week was shorter, good because i would
>>> make more money for my 10-hour days. - Joan
>>
>> If the disincentive against overtime were great enough, your boss wouldn't
>> work you for 10 hours per day, unless you were REALLY good, like super-
>> human. The whole point of a shorter work week/higher overtime premium is
>> to humanitarianly share what little work that remains to be done by humans,
>> and which has yet to be taken over by machines and technology. You don't
>> seem to have picked up on that point, and instead seem to be more interested
>> in using a shorter work week and higher overtime premium to your personal
>> advantage over others. It calls into question the purpose of your involvement
>> in a rbg alliance. You certainly don't represent b, because you don't seem to
>> want to protect the interests of the working class as a whole. You certainly
>> can't be a red, either, so that leaves 'green', perhaps.
>
> Perhaps. I am very much involved in helping the environment. However, as
> I said before, I am not really a part of any party. I came to this list because
> many of the ideas that many of you have are in agreement with my own, and
> because I believe that discussion on these ideas can perhaps expand and improve
> them, both from my perspective and yours. And that perhaps at some point it can
> lead to some substance or action. I may be seeing things from a slightly different
> perspective, but I am here because this list provides intelligent discussion and
> exchange of ideas.

On behalf of all of the intelligent discussers, thanks for the compliment.

14.
>>> I don't believe in freezing it at 40, but i also don't believe that continual
>>> work week reductions are the answer either. the goal should
not be no
>>> work, but having everyone employed in jobs they don't mind doing or
>>> even like doing. I think it is better to have more jobs created than to
>>> try and "share" existing jobs at a level of production that does not
>>> provide for all as it is. - Joan
>>
>> New machines and technology are going to continue to raise the productivity
>> of labor, and will continue to force workers out on the street to try to find new
>> jobs or otherwise rely on their own devices. If you don't want the length of the
>> work week to be continuously shortened proportional to technological progress,
>> then surely you must have some other program in mind to take care of all of the
>> unskilled people when they are thrown out on the streets.
>
> There will
always be many jobs that cannot be replaced by machines.
> If you recall, too, there are unemployed people while jobs are available,
> just not just they want to take.

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?

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?

15.
>>> We're talking about a theoretical world here, right? You think there
>>> should be no work. I say that no work ever would make everyone bored.
>>> Rather, in an ideal world everyone would be employed in a job they enjoy.
>>> - Joan
>>
>> Be prepared to be bored. We are heading for a very different world, no matter
>> how little some of us may want our world to change. My Stop and Shop has
>> just installed new 'self-check-out' booths, enabling a single check-out person
>> to supervise 2 or 3 self-check-out stations. Stop and Shop doesn't care about
>> the people they were able to lay off, because they figure that the government
>> will do that for them.
>
> Actually, one person can supervise 4 of those booths. And I'll tell you since
> i used to work at Giant -- they didn't lay anyone off. It just means they're less
> desperate now. No one wants to work there, and they had trouble finding people
> to run the registers before they had those booths. In fact they are still shorthanded.
> I would get a machine too instead of relying on unreliable help. But not every job
> can be replaced that simply with a machine.

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 to. 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.

16.
>>>> Like so many other important decisions, not enough people were involved,
>>>> and the ones who made the decision were the power elites. I'm not calling
>>>> for a witchhunt, or burning anyone in effigy. The fact that the decision
>>>> was made by a very few is no news to leftists, who constantly decry the
>>>> incomplete political participation of the masses. - Ken
>>>
>>> The masses choose to buy the cheap crap... - Joan
>>
>> The cheap crap will be phased out of production even before the workers
>> become as completely free as their theretofore bosses. - Ken
>
> Right. And I'm cleopatra.

The same cleopatra I see in the movies?

17.
>>> How would reducing the work week make people want less stuff? - Joan
>>
>> The shorter work week reform is on a much more spiritual plane than reforms
>> directly affecting money and the material world, so, by the time people are ready
>> for labor time reductions, they will have begun to understand that legislating
>> doles and dollars is not the end-all and be-all of social progress. The human
>> race will learn to cooperate and hang together like never before, because no
>> other viable choice will exist. - Ken
>
> Ah. So "by that time"
human nature will have changed.
> Always the catch, isn't it? - Joan

Well, I guess that waiting for that kind of evolution is better than
waiting for the workers to expropriate the rich.

Ken Ellis

One for all, and all for one!

 

7-18-01

Li'l Joe wrote:

> In the first place, neither Kenneth Ellis, nor I are not able to know what
> advocates of "bourgeois socialism" "wanted" in the 19th century, nor for
> that matter, today, what motivates them today.

That's not correct. We know very well what German socialists wanted, for we
have Marx's Critique of the Gotha Programme, Engels' Critique of the 1891
Erfurt Program, and zillions of other critiques of many other thinkers, like
Proudhon, Bakunin, Becker, Lassalle, etc. If labor-time socialism had been
a mistake, and if such an idea had enjoyed any popularity during the heyday
of M+E, then M+E would have mentioned it in a letter or an article; but, no
such critique exists, limiting such an idea, at most, to isolated individuals.

> What I "wanted" to do was show how, whatever their respective motives
> were or are, that fighting in the interest of the preservation of bourgeois
> property interests the bourgeois socialists
and the "labor-time socialists"
> arrive at the same conclusions, by making the same arguments.

Few would believe that statement. Bourgeois socialists would hardly advocate
that 'bosses should compete for scarce labor'. Instead they prefer that 'workers
should compete for scarce jobs'. Remember Engels' 1845 statement that: "the
supremacy of the bourgeoisie is based wholly upon the competition of the
workers among themselves; i.e., upon their want of cohesion.
"

> Logic, on the basis of materialism and thus the scientific method can only
> analyze what is objective and verifiable in the objective material world, including
> what is written or/and said - on the basis of documentation. Unless an historical
> difference of circumstances can be documented as the basis for an analysis, or/and
> critique, if mathematically proven or empirically demonstrated to be different, on the
> basis of changed circumstances or new information, it matters
not whether something
> is said in 1801 or 2001.


2002 answer: In that case, maybe the phlogiston theory shouldn't have been abandoned.

> Newton, for instance, did not, nor could he had simply dismiss the principles
> of Euclidian geometry simply on the grounds that Euclid had articulated his
> theories two thousand years prior. Nor, similarly did Einstein simply dismiss
> Newton's theories merely by asserting that they were written in an earlier century.
> Similarly Marx nor Engels didn't dismiss out of hand the discoveries by Hegel in
> Logic, nor the scientific discoveries of Adam Smith in the new science of Economics
> simply on the basis that Smith or/and Hegel made their discoveries, and articulated
> the new sciences prior to the 1840s. The discoveries of Marx or/and Engels, must be
> accorded the same respect. Similarly Gregor Mendel vis-a-vis Jean-Baptiste Lamarck.

History gave M+E all of the respect they were due. Russia's communism was
based upon force, and the failure of enough Europeans to revolt in sympathy
with the Russian revolution proved that too few Europeans were interested in
forceful solutions to their problems.

> Yet, every decade or so there is in the Western world, specifically in the
> United States, there is agreement in favor of the continuation of capitalistic
> relations of production, articulated in the name of modernity, as an academic
> rejection of "Marxism" as "olde", "obsolete" ... They get paid to say that on
> college campuses as professors in sociology, history, economics, philosophy, &c.

I wish that I could be on campus, and be paid to say anything at all.
Not one dime yet.

> There is nothing in the mature writings of Marx or/and Engels that argue
> that the goal of proletarian revolution is to expand democracy - separate and
> apart from the final cause of transferring the basic means of production and
> distribution from the hands of a few capitalists into public property.
>
> Understand?

M+E weren't interested in expanding democracy? The records show that they were
interested in democracy, WHETHER OR NOT associated with expropriation.

1848, M+E: "Page me6.449
"With a lucidity which cannot escape even the most obtuse mind, O'Connor shows
that the Irish people must fight with all their might and in close association with the
English working classes and the Chartists in order to win the six points of the
People's Charter - annual parliaments, universal suffrage, vote by ballot, abolition
of the property qualification for members of Parliament, payment of M.P.s and
the establishment of equal electoral districts.
"

1852, K.M.: "Universal Suffrage is the equivalent for political power for the working class
of England, where the proletariat forms the large majority of the population, where, in a long,
though underground civil war, it has gained a clear consciousness of its position as a class,
and where even the rural districts know no longer any peasants, but only landlords, industrial
capitalists (farmers) and hired laborers. The carrying of Universal Suffrage in England would,
therefore, be a far more socialistic measure than anything which has been honored with that
name on the Continent. Its inevitable result, here, is the political supremacy of the working class.
"

1880, K.M.: "That this collective appropriation can only spring from the revolutionary
action of the producing class - or proletariat - organised into an independent political
party; That such an organisation must be striven for, using all the means at the disposal
of the proletariat, including universal suffrage, thus transformed from the instrument
of deception which it has been hitherto into an instrument of emancipation
" ...

> Nor do I disregard the importance of contemporary contributions to economic
> analysis; but, these analyses, whether advanced by Lenin or Friedman, Shumpeter
> or C.L.R. James, Elliot Janeway or John Kenneth Galbraith, or J.M. Keynes, or
> Robert Brenner, &c. in each case he or she also, based on the class interests they
> represent and those they opposed advance public policies. It does
not matter
> whether the ideas articulated were articulated in the 19th century or the twentieth.

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. 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. Some activists think
that they are perfectly conscious of what they believe in, but have yet to
figure many things correctly.

> Matter of fact, those who in representing the class interests of capitalists
> today while denouncing Marxism as "obsolete", "dated", "Eurocentric", &c.
> are themselves "neo-liberals" basing their ideas in Adam Smith's "The Wealth
> of Nations" that was published in 1776 -- almost a century prior to the
> publication of "Capital". Mr Ellis' own advocacy on this list, after denouncing
> Marx as "obsolete" are policies identical to those of Otto on Bismark from
> vthe same 19th century as were the writings of M+E.

Identical, eh? Then evidence of such identity should have been presented.

> But, if one is serious and interested in reading contemporary economic
> writings there are the writings of C.L.R. James, Paul Sweezy, Ernest Mandel,
> Kweme Nkrumah, Robert Brenner, and Samuel Bowles, and magazines such
> as "Monthly Review", "Review of Radical Political Economy", "Science and
> Society", &c. I submit that it isn't because Marx's "Capital" was published
> in 1867 that Mr Ellis is
dismissing it but because "Capital" demonstrates
> the necessity for the working class to expropriate the means of production -
> products of labour themselves - from the hands of the capitalist class.

I never dismissed Capital. It is a fine testimony to the positive effects of
struggles for shorter work hours. In such a fine work, Marx was entitled to
make a 'little' mistake and think that the class struggle would lead to a universal
proletarian dictatorship, bent on expropriation. 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 work-
house. 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.
"

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. 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.

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. 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, or on making labor laws more inclusive. In a world which is sick and
tired of leftist dogma, does property socialism stand a chance? People will soon
demand something better than endless masses of property and wealth legislation
to endlessly bicker over.

> Kenneth Ellis wrote:
>> My proposal to 'abandon old and impossible property
>> socialism in favor of new and feasible labor-time socialism' is NEW, no
>> older than 1995, and it took a lot of intellectual WORK to arrive at it, in
>> the form of writing a book, which is free for anyone to read at my web site.
>
> Lil Joe, Response: See what I mean? Rather than refuting Marx "Capital", while
>
plagiarizing the single most important concept in it -- "socially necessary labour-time",
> which Marx discovered in the 1850s which explains value, prices and profits --

Why refute Capital? It's a very useful tool, especially the parts about surplus values.
"Socially necessary labour time" is the basis of the value of commodities, but I hardly
need to mention it with regard to labor-time socialism. 'Socially necessary labour time'
often comes in handy to explain why one capitalist may undersell another. If one capit-
alist takes less time to produce a commodity than another capitalist, then the first may
simultaneously offer a lower price while realizing higher profits than the second, unless
the second invests in enough labor-saving machinery to successfully compete with the
first. By competing, the "socially necessary labour time" for producing that particular
commodity is driven down, and the price of that commodity may also decline alongside
its declining value, such as we regularly witness in the computer chip industry, especially
with memory chips during the past year.

> Ellis merely dismisses it as "old and impossible". He, furthermore goes on
> to "substantiate" his discovery
that Marx's "Capital" is "old and impossible"
> by the fact that it took him "
a lot of intellectual WORK to arrive at" his
> rediscovery of Marx theory of socially necessary labour-time and the class
> interests of the proletariat
to continue to reduce the hours of the working day
> in proportion to which technology reduces socially necessary labour-time.

Now, there's a muddled sentence. Nowhere have I ever claimed to rediscover
Marx's theory of 'socially necessary labour time'.

Regarding the economics involved: It is true that the socially necessary labour
time required for the production of commodities has diminished over time, which
certainly has enabled hours of labor to be diminished accordingly, IF people had
cared to do so, which Americans apparently did not. We have the stamina to work
8 hours per day, and we seem bent upon preserving the 8 hour day for as long as
possible. That will change when the electronic revolution soon makes the machines
much smarter than before, and humans soon become far more redundant to the
processes of production, and so many other tasks as well, probably forcing us
to learn to share work rather quickly, over a short period of time.

> Kenneth Ellis wrote:
>> I wrote it to refute some purely commercial interests who refuse
>> to recall their faulty property-socialism ideology, which many leaders
>> themselves understand to be 'unsafe at any speed' for its irreconcilable
>> internal contradictions, but which nevertheless sustains its leaders,
>> keeping them from having to find real jobs in a glutted labor market,
>> but which continual propagation distracts sincere activists from a
>> sensible and unifying program for 2001 and beyond.
>
> Lil Joe, Response: This is
nothing but ad hominem attacks on individuals who
> don't have "real jobs" - by which I assume he means that they don't work for
> the capitalist class in the "private sector". But, to refer to "
their faulty property-
> socialist ideology" as "unsafe at any speed" for its "internal contradictions",
>
without demonstrating what is "faulty" in it, except to say that it's "olde", is
>
nothing but gibberish on his part. This demagogic method of attack, instead
> of rational critique, will get him
nowhere on this list of thinking people.

That message was merely a summary, but the details can be read at my web site,
which can be reached by clicking on the link below my signature. My book of
refutations is over 500 pages long, so I will merely offer in the next few
paragraphs 3 samples of that party's fraudulent ideology:

They falsely claimed that Marx's proletarian dictatorship was a dictatorship
over the PEASANTS and middle classes (instead of over the uppermost classes).
How's that for a fraudulent twist on Marxism? (Here, I hope that people can
recognize that I am DEFENDING Marxism against unprincipled liars without
ENDORSING Marxism.) The party combined their falsehood with the FACT
that the USA doesn't have much of a peasantry, and concluded that 'the USA
doesn't need a proletarian dictatorship over a practically non-existent peasantry'.
Even though the USA DOESN'T need a proletarian dictatorship (in the form of
a new communist workers' state), the reason the USA doesn't need it is not the
same as the fraudulent reason given by the party.

Secondly, the party falsely claimed that 'Engels, in his Socialism: Utopian and
Scientific
, didn't give the proletariat any better a theory of revolution than state
capitalism, which would nullify any workers' victory', even though Engels criticized
'state capitalism' in the very body of that same pamphlet. How's that for fraud? Ac-
cording to this party which prefers to remain in a state of blissful ignorance about
the concept of state-smashing revolutionism, concentrating means of production
into the hands of the state (after an electoral victory) would merely concentrate
the means of production into the hands of the CAPITALIST state, thus nullifying
the deeds of the well-intentioned, but not-too-bright proletariat. This old anarchist
party was so pacifist that it refused to allow members to think about any kind of a
revolution other than 'the abolition of the state AT THE BALLOT BOX', by supposedly
'voting the state out of existence', by 'electing party members to take over the machinery
of state, and dissolving the state on the spot
'. The Marxist-Leninist forceful smashing
of the state was TOTALLY IGNORED, and was NEVER mentioned in the pacifist-
anarchist party's literature, as befits sectarian nonsensical propaganda.

As for an internal contradiction: in one pamphlet, a theorist proposed a '3-fold
obstacle
to proletarian success after its victory (at the ballot box, of course) in
a backward country'. He wrote:

"First, a powerful and potent, though temporarily beaten, capitalist class;
second, a numerically strong petty bourgeois and peasant element, with the
actual proletariat everywhere in the minority; and third, an insufficient
industrial development. Throughout all the writings of Marx and Engels on this
subject (and the same holds true of the writings of Lenin, who in industrially
backward Russia largely faced the same situation generally prevailing at the
time of the Paris Commune), Marx and Engels reverted to that three-fold
obstacle to immediate and complete proletarian success."

And yet, in another of their 'educational' pamphlets, what do we find?

"He [Engels] assumed, however, that, once the proletariat had "seized
political power," the transformation into Socialism would follow as a
matter of course. We know better today."

Where was the alleged 3-fold obstacle in the second case? The consistency between
the two scenarios was that, in both cases, the victory of the proletariat was supposedly
spoiled as the result of having been obtained POLITICALLY (instead of attaining
'victory' by using Socialist Industrial Unionism to expropriate industries). How's that
for replacing Marxism with Bakuninism? By using the state, elections, and political
methods, the proletariat allegedly would only meet with danger or defeat.

Their anarchist absurdities were the reason I claimed that my old party's ideology
was 'unsafe at any speed', and worthy only of recall by responsible purveyors of
ideology. But, because they are responsible only to the hopes of gathering followers
to their particular brand of anarcho-syndicalism, so as to maintain the little business
which they have going for themselves, they refuse to recall their ideology for inspec-
tion, doing little better for the working lass than recalling the questionable pamphlets
without giving a good reason. Now, students of party ideology have few pieces of
literature with which compare their ideology to Marxism, Leninism or anarchism,
whether or not the comparisons might be valid. Knowing their record of distortions,
and the tenacity with which they defend their program, anything they would write
about other ideologies would have to be suspect.

It's funny how a pattern developed: this party was determined to turn people
off to 'Marxism', but never described Marxism correctly. The same party was
determined to turn people off to 'Leninism', but never described Leninism
correctly. They were determined to turn people off to 'anarchism' (preferring
instead, like many anarchists, to call themselves socialists), but never described
anarchism correctly. Li'l Joe seems determined to assassinate 'labor-time socialism',
but cannot correctly describe labor-time socialism. Does everyone see the pattern?
The pattern is repeated endlessly among property socialists. A sincere activist
cannot figure out what goes on in the sordid world of property socialism without
wanting to get away from it, and towards an ideology which enjoys negating
negativity in order to ascend to a higher place, the activity's own reward.

>> Kenneth wrote: It is past time to 'rethink socialism', and to reject
>> its property expropriation aspects as unfeasible.
>
> Lil Joe, Response: Again, rather than a clear refutation of "property
> socialism", Kenneth does not "rethink" it, but
merely invites us to
> "reject" it, because of its property expropriation aspects.

A lot of what I have written for the past few months exemplifies 'rethinking
socialism' as well as 'refuting property socialism'. Anyone in this forum
ought to be able to figure that out.

> I am sure that John Kenneth Galbraith, Milton Friedman,
> and other bourgeois economists will agree with Mr Ellis
> "new discovery", of the need to "rethink socialism" and to
> "reject its property expropriation aspects as unfeasible", since
> that is what they have been saying for the past 50 years!

If the above-mentioned economists have been saying anything approximate to what
I write about, then it would have been appropriate to present a shred of evidence.

One need not start a civil war by trying to abolish the institutions of
private property and capitalism before the conditions for their abolitions
have arrived. Out of 5 ugly things in the world - work, class distinctions,
the state, money and property - the capitalist class is helping us to abolish
merely ONE of them: work. If we had heads on our shoulders, and if we
could use them to think with, don't you think that it might be wise to HELP
the capitalist class to abolish the one ugly thing it is willing to help us to
abolish? No, because too many socialists are too obsessed with the
notion of gaining control over all of that property.

> Lil Joe, Response: Kenneth Ellis is demagogic true to form. Here he makes
> up a word by
plagiarizing a concept from Marx - "labour-time", then adds
> "socialism" to it and
thus claims that it must be a new concept because Marx
> et al never critiqued it before. They did in fact critique the advocacy,
which
> is at the heart of Ellis' advocacy
, of somehow having "socialism" while the
> capitalist relations of production continue to exist, with the ownership of the
> means of production in the hands of the capitalist class as an instrument of
> exploitation of the working class. They did not critique it as "labour-time
> socialism" because it does not exist anywhere but in the mind of Kenneth
> Ellis. Rather they called it by its right name: "bourgeois socialism"!

I never advocated socialism 'while capitalist relations and exploitation
continue to exist
'. The essence of labor-time socialism is driving down the
length of the work week. If I supposedly advocated what Li'l Joe suggests
that I advocate, then I, too, would regard that as an example of bourgeois
socialism, but Li'l Joe can't seem to stop misrepresenting what labor-time
socialism is. Maybe his attacks are motivated by jealousy over an original
thought that has a chance, finally, of superannuating the obsolete and
impossible dream of expropriating the means of production.

>> Kenneth Ellis wrote: As in France, the European working class remains
>> very interested in a shorter work week, even if few may regard it as a
>> way to get to classless and stateless society.
>
> Lil Joe, Response: In France and Europe the working class has always
> been "interested in a short work week", but they are in labour, socialist,
> and communist parties. They also know that the reduction of the hours
> of the work week does not in any way constitute socialism.

Work week reductions, by themselves, certainly do not constitute socialism.
They are merely a way of GETTING us to the happy day when it becomes
ridiculous to speak of further work-week reductions, and volunteers replace
the remaining wage-labor. Only then will it be possible to speak of the
abolition of capitalism, perhaps placing us in a lower phase of socialism.
Perhaps a subsequent upper phase will see the abolition of the state,
property, money, and the nuclear family.

> The "few" who Kenneth asserts "may regard it as a way to get to classless
> and stateless society" are very few indeed. Who are they?

A few members of different forums are not above seriously considering my ideas.

> Or is this just another of Mr Ellis' unsubstantiated assertions. The
> overwhelming majority of workers in Europe, and especially France, know
> that the only road to socialism and communism is the transfer of the means
> of production and distribution from private hands to public property.

If Europeans KNOW today that 'expropriation is the only way to socialism', then they
will hopefully soon learn that expropriation is unfeasible in the Western Hemisphere,
and become aware of the feasible method of reaching workless and classless society.

> NOW - consider Kenneth Ellis essential method of argument
> by making his point by the authority of Engels:
>
>> Kenneth Ellis wrote: Engels, in his 1881 article entitled "Trades Unions",
>> certainly regarded trade union struggles for labor time reductions and
>> higher wages as legitimate paths toward the abolition of class
>> distinctions, though by no means the only paths.
>
> Lil Joe, Response: If this is not a
bold faced lie on Mr Ellis' part, it is
> at best a would be
clever distortion. The following quote is the 1881
> article to which Kenneth referred:
>
> TRADES UNIONS by FREDERICK ENGELS Written: May 20, 1881
> Published: No. 4, May 28, 1881, as a leading article Reproduced from
> the newspaper Transcribed: Labor Day 1996
>
> "
Part I In our last issue we considered the action of Trades Unions as far
> as they enforce the economical law of wages against employers. We return
> to this subject, as it is of the highest importance that the working classes
> generally should thoroughly understand it. We suppose no English working
> man of the present day needs to be taught that it is the interest of the individual
> capitalist, as well as of the capitalist class generally, to reduce wages as much as
> possible. The produce of labour, after deducting all expenses, is divided, as David
> Ricardo has irrefutably proved, into two shares: the one forms the laborer's wages,
> the other the capitalist's profits. Now, this net produce of labour being, in every
> individual case, a given quantity, it is clear that the share called profits cannot
> increase without the share called wages decreasing. To deny that it is the
> interest of the capitalist to reduce wages, would be tantamount to say that
> it is not his interest to increase his profits.

>
> "
We know very well that there are other means of temporarily increasing profits,
> but they do not alter the general law, and therefore need not trouble us here.

>
> "
Now, how can the capitalists reduce wages when the rate of wages is
> governed by a distinct and well-defined law of social economy? The
> economical law of wages is there, and is irrefutable. But, as we have
> seen, it is elastic, and it is so in two ways. The rate of wages can be
> lowered, in a particular trade, either directly, by gradually accustoming
> the workpeople of that trade to a lower standard of life, or, indirectly,
> by increasing the number of working hours per day (or the intensity
> of work during the same working hours) without increasing the pay.

>
> "
And the interest of every individual capitalist to increase his profits by
> reducing the wages of his workpeople receives a fresh stimulus from the
> competition of capitalists of the same trade amongst each other. Each one
> of them tries to undersell his competitors, and unless he is to sacrifice his
> profits he must try and reduce wages. Thus, the pressure upon the rate
> of wages brought about by the interest of every individual capitalist is
> increased tenfold by the competition amongst them. What was before
> a matter of more or less profit, now becomes a matter of necessity.

>
> "
Against this constant, unceasing pressure unorganised labour has no
> effective means of resistance. Therefore, in trades without organisation of
> the workpeople, wages tend constantly to fall and the working hours tend
> constantly to increase. Slowly, but surely, this process goes on. Times of
> prosperity may now and then interrupt it, but times of bad trade hasten it
> on all the more afterwards. The workpeople gradually get accustomed to a
> lower and lower standard of life. While the length of working day more and
> more approaches the possible maximum, the wages come nearer and nearer
> to their absolute minimum -- the sum below which it becomes absolutely
> impossible for the workman to live and to reproduce his race.
>

> "
There was a temporary exception to this about the beginning of this century.
> The rapid extension of steam and machinery was not sufficient for the still
> faster increasing demand for their produce. Wages in these trades, except
> those of children sold from the workhouse [1] to the manufacturer, were as a
> rule high; those of such skilled manual labour as could not be done without
> were very high; what a dyer, a mechanic, a velvet-cutter, a hand-mule spinner,
> used to receive now sounds fabulous. At the same time the trades superseded
> by machinery were slowly starved to death. But newly-invented machinery by-
> and-by superseded these well-paid workmen; machinery was invented which
> made machinery, and that at such a rate that the supply of machine-made goods
> not only equalled, but exceeded, the demand. When the general peace, in 1815,
> [2] re-established regularity of trade, the decennial fluctuations between prosperity,
> over-production, and commercial panic began. Whatever advantages the workpeople
> had preserved from old prosperous times, and perhaps even increased during the
> period of frantic over-production, were now taken from them during the period of
> bad trade and panic; and soon the manufacturing population of England submitted
> to the general law that the wages of unorganised labour constantly tend towards
> the absolute minimum.

>
> "
But in the meantime the Trades Unions, legalised in 1824 had also stepped in,
> and high time it was. Capitalists are always organised. They need in most cases
> no formal union, no rules, officers, etc. Their small number, as compared with
> that of the workmen, the fact of their forming a separate class, their constant social
> and commercial intercourse stand them in lieu of that; it is only later on, when a
> branch of manufactures has taken possession of a district, such as the cotton trade
> has of Lancashire, that a formal capitalists' Trades Union becomes necessary. On
> the other hand, the workpeople from the very beginning cannot do without a strong
> organisation, well-defined by rules and delegating its authority to officers and com-
> mittees. The Act of 1824 rendered these organisations legal. From that day Labour
> became a power in England. The formerly helpless mass, divided against itself, was
> no longer so. To the strength given by union and common action soon was added
> the force of a well-filled exchequer -- "resistance money", as our French brethren
> expressively call it. The entire position of things now changed. For the capitalist it
> became a risky thing to indulge in a reduction of wages or an increase of working hours.

>
> "
Hence the violent outbursts of the capitalist class of those times against
> Trades Unions. That class had always considered its long-established
> practice of grinding down the working class as a vested right and lawful
> privilege. That was now to be put a stop to. No wonder they cried out
> lustily and held themselves at least as much injured in their rights and
> property as Irish landlords do nowadays. [3]

>
> "
Sixty years' experience of struggle have brought them round to some extent.
> Trades Unions have now become acknowledged institutions, and their action
> as one of the regulators of wages is recognised quite as much as the action of
> the Factories and Workshops Acts as regulators of the hours of work. Nay,
> the cotton masters in Lancashire have lately even taken a leaf out of the
> workpeople's book, and now know how to organise a strike, when it
> suits them, as well or better than any Trades Union.

>
> "
Thus it is through the action of Trades Unions that the law of wages is
> enforced as against the employers, and that the workpeople of any well-
> organised trade are enabled to obtain, at least approximately, the full value
> of the working power which they hire to their employer; and that, with the
> help of State laws, the hours of labour are made at least not to exceed too
> much that maximum length beyond which the working power is prematurely
> exhausted. This, however, is the utmost Trades Unions, as at present organised,
> can hope to obtain, and that by constant struggle only, by an immense waste of
> strength and money; and then the fluctuations of trade, once every ten years at
> least, break down for the moment what has been conquered, and the fight has
> to be fought over again. It is a vicious circle from which there is no issue. The
> working class remains what it was, and what our Chartist forefathers were not
> afraid to call it, a class of wages slaves. Is this to be the final result of all this
> labour, self-sacrifice, and suffering? Is this to remain for ever the highest aim
> of British workmen? Or is the working class of this country at last to attempt
> breaking through this vicious circle, and to find an issue out of it in a movement
> for the ABOLITION OF THE WAGES SYSTEM ALTOGETHER?
>

> "
Next week we shall examine the part played by Trades Unions as
> organisers of the working class
".
>
> Marx and Engels have been consistent on the point that the
only way
> that capitalism can be phased out is through (1) Winning the battle of
> democracy i.e. the elevation of the working class to ruling class; (2) The
> expropriation of the expropriators - that is the transfer the basic means
> of production and distribution from capitalist private property to public
> ownership; (3) Eliminate commodity production by phasing out the use
> of money, displacing in the first instance the wages, by use of labour
> certificates; and, thus (4) The abolition of capital.

Just because M+E said that something was so, it doesn't necessarily
mean that it still is. After all, they thought that the revolution would begin
simultaneously in the most developed countries, whereas history teaches us
that the revolutions happened one at a time in less-developed countries. I no
longer consider myself to be a Marxist, because West Europeans didn't revolt
in sufficient numbers to support the Russian revolution of 1917, which was the
last time a socialist world-wide revolution was plausible. That was the last time
a mass of monarchies were anywhere near ripe for overthrow, which overthrow
would have given victorious socialists the power with which to expropriate, and
the unity with which to avoid counter-revolution. Considering today's lack of a
sufficient number of monarchies to overthrow, or a sufficient mass of colonies to
liberate, modern socialists have not been afforded the multitude of state-smashing
opportunities that existed before 1917, which dearth will force modern socialists to
seek a DIFFERENT method of trying to arrive at classless and stateless society
than by trying to expropriate the means of production, a historical impossibility
EXCEPT after overthrowing monarchies or liberating colonies. When will
socialists ever learn this historical lesson? Their failure to learn it indicates
that 1) their obsession with property is so compelling that it blinds their
social vision, and/or 2) they don't have the time or interest to understand
the true roots of their own socialist ideologies. Hopefully, readers will
write in to say exactly why they remain interested in expropriation.

> There is nothing in any of the writings of Marx and Engels that is so stupid
> as to propose that socialism can be derived on the basis of capitalist relations
> of production, with the means of production firmly in the hands of the capitalist
> class with the armed might of the state at its political and military disposal.

What neophyte would suppose socialism might be compatible with capitalist
relations? Socialism and capitalism cannot co-exist in the same country.

> In "Part Two" of this 1881 article on Trade Unions Engels is
> quite clear and definite:
>
> "
Part II So far we have considered the functions of Trades Unions as far
> only as they contribute to the regulation of the rate of wages and ensure to
> the laborer, in his struggle against capital, at least some means of resistance.
> But that aspect does not exhaust our subject. The struggle of the laborer
> against capital, we said. That struggle does exist, whatever the apologists
> of capital may say to the contrary. It will exist so long as a reduction of
> wages remains the safest and readiest means of raising profits; nay, so
> long as the wages system itself shall exist. The very existence of Trades
> Unions is proof sufficient of the fact; if they are not made to fight against
> the encroachments of capital what are they made for? There is no use in
> mincing matters. No milksop words can hide the ugly fact that present
> society is mainly divided into two great antagonistic classes -- into
> capitalists, the owners of all the means for the employment of labour, on
> one side; and working men, the owners of nothing but their own working
> power, on the other. The produce of the labour of the latter class has to be
> divided between both classes, and it is this division about which the
> struggle is constantly going on. Each class tries to get as large a share as
> possible; and it is the most curious aspect of this struggle that the working
> class, while fighting to obtain a share only of its own produce, is often
> enough accused of actually robbing the capitalist!

>
> "
But a struggle between two great classes of society necessarily becomes
> a political struggle. So did the long battle between the middle or capitalist
> class and the landed aristocracy; so also does the fight between the working
> class and these same capitalists. In every struggle of class against class, the
> next end fought for is political power; the ruling class defends its political
> supremacy, that is to say its safe majority in the Legislature; the inferior class
> fights for, first a share, then the whole of that power, in order to become enabled
> to change existing laws in conformity with their own interests and requirements.
> Thus the working class of Great Britain for years fought ardently and even
> violently for the People's Charter, [4] which was to give it that political power;
> it was defeated, but the struggle had made such an impression upon the victorious
> middle class that this class, since then, was only too glad to buy a prolonged
> armistice at the price of ever-repeated concessions to the working people.

>
> "
Now, in a political struggle of class against class, organisation is the most
> important weapon. And in the same measure as the merely political or Chartist
> Organisation fell to pieces, in the same measure the Trades Unions Organisation
> grew stronger and stronger, until at present it has reached a degree of strength
> unequalled by any working-class organisation abroad. A few large Trades
> Unions, comprising between one and two millions o£ working men, and
> backed by the smaller or local Unions, represent a power which has to be
> taken into account by any Government of the ruling class, be it Whig or Tory.

>
> "
According to the traditions of their origin and development in this country,
> these powerful organisations have hitherto limited themselves almost strictly
> to their function of sharing in the regulation of wages and working hours, and
> of enforcing the repeal of laws openly hostile to the workmen. As stated before,
> they have done so with quite as much effect as they had a right to expect. But
> they have attained more than that -- the ruling class, which knows their strength
> better than they themselves do, has volunteered to them concessions beyond
> that. Disraeli's Household Suffrage [5] gave the vote to at least the greater
> portion of the organised working class. Would he have proposed it unless he
> supposed that these new voters would show a will of their own -- would cease
> to be led by middle-class Liberal politicians? Would he have been able to carry
> it if the working people, in the management of their colossal Trade Societies,
> had not proved themselves fit for administrative and political work?
>

> "
That very measure opened out a new prospect to the working class. It gave
> them the majority in London and in all manufacturing towns, and thus enabled
> them to enter into the struggle against capital with new weapons, by sending men
> of their own class to Parliament. And here, we are sorry to say, the Trades Unions
> forgot their duty as the advanced guard of the working class. The new weapon has
> been in their hands for more than ten years, but they scarcely ever unsheathed it.
> They ought not to forget that they cannot continue to hold the position they now
> occupy unless they really march in the van of the working class. It is not in the
> nature of things that the working class of England should possess the power of
> sending forty or fifty working men to Parliament and yet be satisfied for ever to
> be represented by capitalists or their clerks, such as lawyers, editors, etc.

>
> "
More than this, there are plenty of symptoms that the working class of
> this country is awakening to the consciousness that it has for some time been
> moving in the wrong groove [6]; that the present movements for higher wages
> and shorter hours exclusively, keep it in a vicious circle out of which there is
> no issue; that it is not the lowness of wages which forms the fundamental evil,
> but the wages system itself. This knowledge once generally spread amongst the
> working class, the position of Trades Unions must change considerably. They
> will no longer enjoy the privilege of being the only organisations of the working
> class. At the side of, or above, the Unions of special trades there must spring up
> a general Union, a political organisation of the working class as a whole.

>
> "
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.

>
> "
For the full representation of labour in Parliament, as well as for the
> preparation of the abolition of the wages system organisations will become
> necessary, not of separate Trades, but of the working class as a body. And
> the sooner this is done the better. There is no power in the world which
> could for a day resist the British working class organised as a body.
"
>
> Engels is quite clear and definite. The working-class can read his
> writings for themselves and have no need of Kenneth Ellis, nor any
> other representative of the property interests of the capitalist class to
> explain to them what he "wanted", nor what he "meant".

Isn't is interesting how Li'l Joe can quote Engels until the cows come home,
allow Engels to do ALL of his talking for him, and then completely fail to
show how Engels supposedly supports his arguments? Just exactly WHAT
were people supposed to get out of all of that?

>> Kenneth Ellis wrote: M+E certainly regarded expropriation as a legitimate
>> path, and, if enough people had been willing to go along with expropriation,
>> then it certainly would have been made legitimate by mass approval. But,
>> since it wasn't OK'd by the majority, and since very few are interested in it
>> today, activists have to learn to let go of that old method, and to go instead
>> with what workers are actually willing to struggle for, as in France, especially.
>
> Lil Joe, Response: First Mr Ellis
lies on Engels, then on the premise of that lie
> goes on to explain what the majority of European workers wanted or don't want.

It's one thing to charge someone with lying, and another thing to back up
the charge. How exactly did I lie about Engels? Did he not write 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.
"

Does this not mean that 'the struggle for shorter hours is one of several
methods for abolishing the wages system'? Secondly, what does it say
about European interest in expropriation if they failed to support the
Russian revolution with long lasting revolutions of their own?

> He keeps bringing up the fact that the French workers are struggling to
> reduce the work week
as though that is something new. The working class
> has always struggled to reduce the working day and increase
hours. They
> did not wait around to have it
"discovered" for them by Mr Ellis in 1995!

I never represented the French struggle for a 35 hour week as 'something new'.
As for the last sentence, people will regard it as nothing more substantive than
another unprincipled attack. Those who favor the expropriation route to socialism
should feel happy to have attackers as leaders, indicating the punitive nature of
property socialism. Property socialists want to deprive anyone they suspect of
bourgeois sentiments from life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, while the
people say again and again: 'Live and let live'.

> What Mr Ellis is omitting is that the trade unions in France have created socialist
> and communist parties to struggle for state power just as Engels predicted.

They've been in control of government, but they could never use it to concentrate
the means of production in the hands of a workers' state, because winning mere
elections doesn't confer the kind of absolute power required for expropriation
without compensation. Any party in power can nationalize as much as the
voters will support, as long as they nationalize WITH compensation.

> The Socialist Party, together with the Communist Party are the
> government in France that is legislating the reduction of hours of the
> work-week. I will not deal any more with his assertions, presuppositions
> and
lies. How do you answer a polemicist who asserts that "socialism is
> dead"
because the American working class is so politically backward and
> ideologically brainwashed with "American exceptionalism" that they don't
> even have a class party based on trade unions?

Socialism isn't dead, because labor-time socialism isn't dead. Only property
socialism is dead. American workers haven't gone for property socialism
because it doesn't have much to recommend it. Its proponents can't argue
very well for an ideology that expired 80 years ago.

Ken Ellis

 

7-21-01

Joan quoted me:

>> The question "Are all gov't agencies that poorly motivated?" went unanswered.
>> It's true that people's tolerance for taxes is only finite, after which they join tax
>> rebellions, but people start and maintain businesses for as long as they yield
>> a profit, and the gov't doesn't ban them.
>
> I didn't say they were "poorly motivated" -- they were motivated to help
> the poor and use the money from those who could afford it.

I thought that most gov't agencies were designed to regulate businesses in the
interests of consumers and other innocent bystanders. We seem to flip and flop
from one subject to another without rhyme or reason.

> The problem was, they didn't realize that "those who could afford it"
> couldn't really afford it, especially if their ability to create wealth was destroyed.

In spite of all of the alleged 'destruction', the economy seems to burble
along a lot better today than it did back during the GHWBush regime
of 9 years ago. This dialogue is beginning to disintegrate.

>> It's a common mistake to believe that higher wages lead to inflation.
>> Suppose the kid's wages double. Can the boss automatically raise the
>> price accordingly? Not if he wants to stay in business. If the price of
>> production of foreign or other producers remained the same, then
>> they could undersell the first guy's product.
>
> And if the guy can't sell as low as their competitor with the double wages
> and still make a profit, then he'll go out of business. So of course he'll raise
> the price. If everyone had to pay more in wages, the price would go up all over.

'Everyone' is the key word. If 'everyone' paid higher wages, then prices WOULD go
up. But, as with rising gasoline and cable TV prices, people merely put out the extra
cash, or else drive less, or go back to the old 'rabbit ears' antenna on the back of the TV.

>> Someday soon, stronger people will have to content themselves to express
>> their superiority in sports and quiz shows.
>
> That would be a terrible world -- but I know it is not coming.

Your crystal ball gives a different prediction than mine,
so we may have to agree to disagree.

> All right. we can agree to disagree about the value of technology.
> but the fact is that there is some work that machines cannot do.

For the time being, you are right about the stupidity of machines, but they evolve
at an exponential rate, and are on a knee of explosive growth in smarts and
capability. Unless, perhaps, the neo-Luddites take control of the levers of power.

>> I was merely casting harmless fun at your ambitious attitude. Don't let the
>> 'fun' put you off. I actually admire people driven by passion, while I prod
>> them to think about the future of such ambitions. You are lucky to live in
>> a world in which such ambitions can propel you quite far, in comparison
>> with others. Enjoy, and nilis illegitimi carborundum.
>
> hey, you're talking to a fieldhand here. you'll have to translate the latin.

Nilis illegitimi carborundum means: 'Don't let the bastards grind you down.' :-)

>>> What if I do become rich someday? Will you want to punish me
>>> for seeing an opportunity and working my tail off to take advantage
>>> of it, benefiting me and other people at the same time? - Joan
>>
>> Not me, because I'm not a property socialist with fingers ready to place in all
>> kinds of pies, and with designs on everyone else's power and property. As a
>> labor-time socialist, I'm only interested in distributing work to all who could
>> use a little work to get by. I could give a hoot about property, which is destined
>> to last at least until AFTER the abolitions of work and class distinctions.
>
> I have some advice for you. Read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. Though I'm not
> in complete agreement with her philosophy, I think that book makes some good
> points about "sharing" work and diffusing responsibility.

Some good points, eh? If only I had the time. Perhaps you could post a pertinent sentence or 2.

Ken Ellis

 

7-23-01

Mike Morin wrote:

>>> First of all, I hope it has been clear that I support Ken's efforts
>>> regarding labor-time and living wage concerns.
>>
>> Lil Joe, Comment: I think that the way that Kenneth Ellis promotes
>> so-called "labor-time socialism" as it were in contrast to "property
>> socialism" is a clever False Dichotomization.
>
> Mike adds:
>
> I would refer to it as an
unnecessary dichotomization. Ken has spent a
> lot of time working out a
very elaborate scheme, the general objectives of
> reducing labor hours and raising wages, which I understand and support,
> the modus operandi for achieving whatever large objective of "socialism"
> is
convoluted and confusing, and probably only understandable and
> logical within the mind of Ken Ellis.

In this forum, many plans dealing with property, wealth, and resources have
been presented. The myriad of programs is very complex. On the other hand,
practically all that we really have to do to get to workless and classless society
is to drive down the length of the work week. That's simple. How I arrived at
that simple and feasible social justice scenario isn't brief, but Einstein didn't
arrive at E=mc^2 without a lot of very complicated preparatory work. Labor-
time reductions will eventually come to be regarded as the E=mc^2 of socialism.

> Ken's delineation or dichotomization is unnecessary. "Labor-time socialism"
> does not preclude "property socialism", and it does not preclude "resource
> allocation socialism".
All three are necessary.

Labor-time socialism is not compatible with property and resource forms of
socialism, which will never be more effective than mere stop-gaps. People are
bound to slowly drift over to a form of socialism which is perfectly appropriate
to Western institutions and rates of development.

> While I agree with Ken on the issue of expropriation, there are other
> methods of property socialism that I have outlined previously. Ken
> and I have discussed them in this forum. We also had perhaps a
> beginning of consensus on the issue of resource allocation socialism.

Resource PLANNING is always smart. I wish that the term 'resource planning'
would not be associated with the word 'socialism'.

> Ken Ellis, however refuses to support and promote anything
> outside of his own personal agenda.

If someone can come up with a sweeter plan than labor-time socialism,
then I would be on board in an instant, so it isn't accurate to say REFUSES
"to support and promote anything outside of his own personal agenda",
which would be a symptom of blind stubbornness. I am always willing
to listen to other arguments, even if I don't often agree with them.

> I fear that Ken Ellis is primarily motivated by a delusional notion of self-
> aggrandizement. I'm sorry, if this sounds like too personal an attack, but to
> put it another way, Ken
does not seek to build a coalition of complementary
> points of views and pro-active programs, Ken
wants only to promote HIS programs.

Labor-time socialism would not benefit by being WATERED DOWN by
association with programs dealing with tangibles like property, wealth and
resources. People who advocate various forms of property socialism are so
used to preaching to the choir that they often don't perceive how TURNED
OFF average voters are towards property programs.

I think that at least some people are ready to break with the infinity of
complex ways by which to take away the property of the rich, and the
infinity of ways by which the left can argue over tangibles, many of
which methods irreconcilably conflict with other methods.

Contrarywise, a mere half-dozen easy devices would suffice to withdraw labor
out of the labor market, and those few methods would complement one another,
because they could all be implemented simultaneously without conflict. They
deal with overtime premium rates, labor laws, or intangible labor time.

> Ken wrote:
>
>> decreasing the hours increases the pay...
>
> Mike responds:
>
> Not if there is an increasing number of people in the work force, which there is...

snip old messages

If I asked how and why 'increasing the number of people in the work force'
negated 'shorter work hours increasing the pay', what would be the answer?

Ken Ellis

Dealing with tangibles creates conflicts, whereas dealing with labor time
creates social harmony.

 

7-23-01

Li'l Joe wrote:

--- Kenneth Ellis ASSERTS:
>> It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that 2 very different ways
>> to get to classless and stateless socialism have been proposed: 1) the
>> unfeasible way - pursue state power so as to expropriate the means of
>> production, and 2) the feasible way - pursue labor time reductions so
>> as to provide places for everyone in the economy, for as long as wage
>> labor continues.
>
> Lil Joe, Response:
> I guess the reason that Kenneth Ellis keeps reposting this post
> is because he wants me to respond. But, there is no response at
> all possible.
>
> Mr Ellis has come up with a formulation that is
no more than an
> assertion. One is "
feasible", the other "unfeasible". Lets have a little
> fun with it. I assert that "public ownership of the means of social
> production" is feasible, and the dream of the end of work, asserted
> but never proved, is "
unfeasible". Silly, huh?

Making mere assertions would be rather silly, but, using a little history
and logic, my 'assertions' are easily provable to objective bystanders.

Marx's revolutionary scenario was plausible in his era, when a mass of European
feudal monarchies awaited to be replaced with democracies. If enough monarchies
had been simultaneously replaced with democracies with universal suffrage, and/or
in conjunction with the Russian revolution, then workers would have had the power
with which to expropriate the means of production, and the unity with which to pre-
vent counter-revolution. Because not enough Europeans revolted in sympathy with
Russia, and because no more masses of monarchies remain to be overthrown, no
similar means of elevating socialists to the requisite full state power for expropriation
is conceivable, so Marx's communist revolution is therefore unthinkable for the 21st
century. On the other hand, driving down the length of the work week is quite
compatible with laws already on the books of every advanced capitalist country.
Laws need only to be amended, which is very feasible.

> The Encyclopaedia says:
> "
The terms Communism and socialism are frequently confused. Communists
> usually refer to their beliefs and goals as "socialist." But socialists do not consider
> themselves Communists. Communists and socialists both seek public ownership or
> regulation of the principal means of production. But most socialists favor peaceful
> and legal methods to achieve their goals, while Communists have often used force
> without regard to law. Socialism may or may not be based on the teachings of
> Marx. Communism is based on the teachings of both Marx and Lenin.
"

That's often the way I use the words 'communism and socialism', especially in
dialogue with communists and socialists. With anarchists (in shameful denial
of their own anarchist ideology), terminology can get a lot trickier.

>>> That is: there has not been a single post on RBG-Alliance
>>> that has been in opposition to the reduction of the hours
>>> of the work-day or/and the hours of the work-week.
>
> Kenneth Ellis asserts:
>> The difference between opposing labor time reductions vs. opposing
>> labor-time socialism is insignificant, because the methodology of labor-
>> time socialism is one thing, and one thing only: labor time reductions.
>> So, if labor-time socialism is opposed for whatever reason, then labor
>> time reductions are automatically opposed.
>
> SO: Every socialist that rejects the fantasy of "the end of work" is
> opposed to reductions in the working day! hahahahahahah!
>
> =====
>
> Li'l Joe

What's so 'fantastic' about the end of work? Property socialism requires that
the development of the means of production remains static: If technological
development was not dynamic, and if no one could promise complete liberation
from work in the near future, then redistribution of wealth and property would
be a fair thing to do. But, labor-time socialists look at the problems surrounding
the fight over property, we look at the continual developments in the means of
production (in no other era has the media done so many stories about increasingly
smart robots) and we conclude that our complete emancipation from work will not
be long in coming, if we can unite to protect our political and economic interests
in the meantime. If the capitalists are willing to abolish work (which is the source
of their wealth), then we should help them put an end to work and exploitation.

Ken Ellis

From the Works of Marx and Engels:
Page me8.279
"From the very first day that the counter-revolution swooped down on us,
we said that from now on there are only two parties: "revolutionaries" and
"counter-revolutionaries"; only two slogans: "the democratic republic" or
"the absolute monarchy". Everything in between is no longer a party but
only a faction. The counter-revolution has done everything to make our
statement come true. The elections are the most brilliant confirmation of that.
"

".. the counter-revolution, for its part, pushed the bourgeoisie aside and
made inevitable a direct struggle between the relics of feudal society and the
extreme pole of modern society, between the monarchy and the republic!
"

"The cry "Long live the Social-Democratic Republic!" was declared unconstitutional;
the cry "Long live the Republic!" was persecuted as social-democratic.
"

 

7-23-01

In 4038, Joan wrote:

>>> you keep speaking of the loss of unskilled labor jobs and how they will
>>> be taken over by machines and all that. Here's a crazy idea -- why not
>>> educate people so they will have skills to fill skilled job openings?
>>> There are a lot of those.
>>
>> People will seek education, for sure, but even a lot of skilled jobs will
>> start to disappear as computers become really smart. There simply will
>> be no way to save the 40 hour week for much longer. Be prepared to kiss
>> it good-bye in a few more years.
>
> i'm not talking about preserving the 40-hour week. it doesn't help me anyway
> since ive been working 50-60 hours a week. i'm just saying that there is some
> work that cannot be done by machines, and therefore the total elimination of
> work
will not occur.

Don't forget that machines are evolving much faster than anything that lives.
Machines may perfect their evolution within a century, but they will be smart and
agile enough to replace all human physical labor as soon as 40 years from now.

In 4039, I was quoted:

>> Think how many eons it took humans to evolve to the point where we could
>> plant and harvest strawberries, and then consider how few millennia humans
>> have used anything resembling a complex machine. 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.

Ken Ellis

 

7-23-01

Jean-Paul wrote:

> Hello Everyone:
>
> Ken Ellis has once again
issued one of his 'Left-Wing Lies' about the SLP.
>
> To echo what BdDanel posted here, Ken was not kicked off for quoting
> Engels, nor was he removed by a decision of the SLP's recent National
> Convention held in early June (although his ego might like to think he
> was). He was removed by the moderator of the SLP-Houston site after
> a lengthy discussion with active posters on the site, and much personal
> fretting on our moderator's part.

Well might the moderator FRET. Some of the lies of the American SLP
about the nature of the proletarian dictatorship (over the uppermost classes,
or over the peasantry?) have been refuted at my web site. A party of honor
might think about publicly apologizing for the lies of its discredited theor-
eticians of the past, but all they could do was withdraw the questionable
pamphlets, and hope that the stink would slowly dissipate. It would be
appropriate if a public outcry eventually forced the ASLP to recycle its
ideology, but I sometimes wonder if the socialist movement isn't already so
bourgeois (as indicated by its preoccupation with property) that it doesn't
care if a competitor (instead of co-operator) spreads damaged goods.

At a 1976 meeting of my old Section, it was agreed that the dictatorship
was not supposed to be over the peasantry, as ASLP National Secretary
Arnold Petersen tried to 'prove' in one of his pamphlets, using a quote
from Lenin easily proven to have been taken completely out of context.
No one today in the ASLP has the guts to publicly admit that Petersen
was a liar, and that the lie was a pillar supporting the Party's SIU program.
All of the other pillars of Socialist Industrial Unionism are just as 'solid'.
But, if people can still be 'sold' on the SIU, then why tamper with a suc-
cessful product? No more than Chevy was willing to pull the plug on its
tipsy 'unsafe at any speed' Corvairs. It's funny how consumers of tangible
products can be indignant over faulty products, while remaining blase over
faulty ideologies. It's acceptable to publicly admit to having been completely
fooled by false ads for tangible products (because then they can sue), while
it's taboo to admit to having swallowed political propaganda - hook, line and
sinker. It's past time for indignant consumers of false propaganda to think
about class action suits against propaganda artists who KNOW that their
ideologies are false, just the way the tobacco firms have long known about
the carcinogenic qualities of their products. Maybe a few successful class
action lawsuits would change people's minds about keeping quiet about being
suckered by one propaganda outfit after another. Is there a lawyer in this group?

> The only thing which was decided at the National Convention was that Internet
> Discussion sites would be treated under the same rules as real world Discussion Groups.

Rules, rules, rules. And over something as 'dangerous' as discussion.
In the RBG forum, no one has yet had to even THINK about censorship,
and we get along rather well over there, in spite of some extreme differences
in perspectives. For whatever reason, I got kicked off the SLP-Houston forum
after trying to post the quote from Engels, and after the SLP Convention.

> As to the Engels affair, it is quite amusing to note that
> Ken has only started using the quote from the 1881 article
> on Trades Unions after I used it in a post entitled "Engels
> on the One Big Union of the Working Class?"

Maybe the quote was posted before I joined the SLP forum, I don't know.
It was good that it was posted, in any case. Regardless, I discovered the
quote on my own, while searching on my new CD of Collected Works of
M+E for whichever paragraphs might have contained the three words -
'abolition', 'class', and 'distinctions'.

> Ken of course has not quoted the paragraph that precedes it, or the paragraph
> which follows it and closes the article, he has instead reproduced it in the hopes
> that
everyone will take his word for it.

Seeing as what I posted was an exact copy of what was on the CD,
people can feel confident to use that paragraph without fear of it having
been butchered, or a quote out of context, or a bogus translation.

> The easiest way I've found to combat Ken is to actually re-read the Marx
> and Engels works he is so fond of quoting and
misrepresenting.
>
> The Engels quote including the preceding and ending
> paragraphs is as follows:
>
> "
More than this, there are plenty of symptoms that the
> working class of this country [England] is awakening to
> the consciousness that it has for some time been moving in
> the wrong groove; that the present movements for higher
> wages and shorter hours exclusively, keep it in a vicious
> circle out of which there is no issue; that it is not the
> lowness of wages which forms the fundamental evil, but the
> wages system itself. This knowledge once generally spread
> amongst the working class, the position of Trades Unions
> must change considerably. They will no longer enjoy the
> privilege of being the only organizations of the working
> class. At the side of, or above, the Unions of special
> trades there must spring up a general Union, a political
> organization of the working class as a whole.

In this paragraph, Engels worried that unions were too often
losing their battles for higher wages and shorter work hours, so
he recommended that they organize into a political party as well.

> "Thus there are two points which the organized 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.

In this paragraph, Engels believed that 'the political struggle for higher wages
and shorter work hours is one of several valid methods for abolishing the
wages system'. Engels' statement VALIDATES labor-time socialism, which
throws property socialists of all variations into a tizzy, all for the 'crime' of
advocating a path to socialism that doesn't involve redistributing tangibles
like property, wealth, and income. Heresy! Property socialists recognize
Engels' paragraph as part of the sacred texts, so feel free to reprint it, but
are loath to draw any conclusions from it, treating it as 'an odd anomaly',
allowing each member to stew in silence over it, and hope that no one
will ever bring any part of it up for discussion.

> "For the full representation of labour in Parliament as well as for
> the preparation of the abolition of the wages system, organizations
> will become necessary, not of separate Trades, but of the working
> class as a body. And the sooner this is done the better. There is no
> power in the world which could for a day resist the British working
> class organized as a body.
"
>
> From:
THE LABOR STANDARD, June 4th 1881. From the pamphlet
>
THE WAGES SYSTEM by Frederick Engels
> published by
Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1975.

The ASLP will never be caught dead advocating a workers' party
do anything except dissolve the state after an electoral victory, but
their insistence doesn't faze Europeans, who have created socialist
and communist parties to fight for political power and influence.

> Why we would ban Ken for attempting to post a quote which
> I had already posted more than a month before, and in a much
> fuller version than he has been using it, is beyond me.
>
> The original post is at:
>
> http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SLP-Houston/message/368
>
> ----------------------------------------------------------
>
> The members of this site are probably well aware of Ken's long-
> standing
misrepresentation of Engel's feelings towards revolutions
> in Bourgeois Republics. He tried to pass the same stuff over onto
> the members of the SLP-Houston site but it didn't wash.

Now there's an empty assertion, perhaps even contradicting a
later paragraph stating: "occasionally people buy into his lies".

> On 3/03/01 I posted a file on the SLP-Houston site entitled
> "Engels on the Democratic Republic" consisting of: Engels'
> INRODUCTION TO MARX'S 'THE CIVIL WAR IN FRANCE'.
> [Taken from pages 298-299 of 'Marx and Engels on the United
> States', published by Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1979.]
>
> Eleven days after that on this (WSM) site Ken left a post
> entitled "Correction" where he admitted to having 'made a
> mistake' in regards to Engels positions on revolutions in
> Bourgeois Republics:
>
> http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WSM_Socialism_Forum/message/6000
>
> Despite the fact that Ken had made similar statements
> misrepresenting Engels on the SLP-Houston site he did
> not post a "Correction" message on our site, allowing his
> bias against the SLP to get in the way of the 'truth, democracy,
> and openness' he so often claims as his principles.

Every once in a while, new evidence arises prompting self correction.
Rereading my self correction of March 14, 2001, it appears that I erred
a little too far on the repentance side. Marx regarded the post-Commune
French 3rd Republic as a monarchy without a monarch for its repressive
and undemocratic features. Bourgeois republics imposed property own-
ership requirements on the use of the ballot, so they were as useless to the
proletariat as any absolute monarchy. Europeans struggled for universal
suffrage in Marx's era, but few achieved it on a permanent basis. So far,
I have seen no evidence in the works of M+E for a need to overthrow a
democracy WITH UNIVERSAL SUFFRAGE. After all, Social-Democracy
(or a socially-controlled republic) was what the First International wanted, as
Marx indicated in Volume 4 of the Minutes of the General Council: "The
International wanted to establish the Social and Democratic Republic and
therefore it was high treason to belong to it.
" The simultaneous establishment
of a sufficient number of revolutionary republics with universal suffrage in
Europe and England was hoped to result in the universal proletarian dictatorship
with the power with which to expropriate, and the unity with which to prevent
counter-revolution. As Engels stated in his Critique of the 1891 Erfurt Pro-
gramme: "First. If one thing is certain it is that our party and the working
class can only come to power under the form of a democratic republic. This
is even the specific form for the dictatorship of the proletariat, as the Great
French Revolution has already shown.
" Notice that the SPECIFIC FORM
was to be a democratic republic, and not the ASLP's stateless Socialist
Industrial Union. It's funny that no member of the ASLP dares to publicly
comment upon that glaring difference between Marxism and De Leonism.

> Ken also accused us on the SLP-Houston site of being
> 'classists' because as workers we have a natural animosity
> towards the capitalist class, and he linked us SLP
> classists, with racists and sexists.

Classism means to ascribe detestable features to one class,
but not to another, as in: 'Bosses are greedy slave-drivers.' Or,
'Workers are lazy time-bandits.' In order to goad workers into
smashing a 'capitalist state', propagandists demonize capitalists,
along with 'their state'. M+E were not above rallying class hatred,
which assisted the overthrow of feudal monarchies. To rally hatred
towards republics with universal suffrage, on the other hand, departs
from Social-Democracy, the First International, the Paris Commune,
and from Marxism.


2002 answer: I may have gone a little far with that last sentence. M+E
had long records of wanting to rally hatred. Let's just say that liberation
capitalism eschews hatred for anything but lies, and instead intends to
rally brotherly love for the purpose of providing jobs for all, by means
of sharing the remaining work.

> Ken went to great pains on our site to disprove the class-
> struggle while at the same time proclaiming himself a Socialist.

Is the need to discredit me that enormous that it requires a lie
of that magnitude? Not one shred of evidence will support that
assertion. I have often said that: "It is in the interests of the
capitalist class for as few workers as possible to work for as
many hours as possible, while it is in the interests of the working
class for as many workers as possible to work for as few hours
as possible." On no other issue in the class struggle are workers
and bosses at such polar extremes.

> One of his favorite arguments was giving us a handful of examples
> on how nice some individual capitalist are to their workers.

A few examples from current events proves to reasonable people that
not all capitalists are worthy of demonization, but, the ASLP persists.

> Despite repeated requests by our moderator, myself, and other
> working-class members to shorten his posts he
simply made
> them longer, from 7-10 pages to 10-20. Ken may have nothing
> better to do than to play with his computer but the rest of us work
> for a living, sometimes 6 or 7 days a week 45-50 hours, not counting
> commuting time (in my case at least). When we asked for a break
> from new posts in order to dedicate time to responding to some
> old ones he
simply increased their frequency and length again.

In as many weeks, about 26 of my posts were published in their
forum, so once a week shouldn't have been an undue burden. I also
corresponded with the moderator privately a handful of times. I will
admit that some of our posts were longish, but no longer than this
forum is accustomed to.

> We all of course knew that nothing we wrote in response
> to Ken would in anyway affect his position,

I modify my positions more often than what I'd like, as in this message's
modification of views about M+E's willingness to overthrow republics. The
presence of UNIVERSAL SUFFRAGE was crucial to the issue of overthrow.
Universal suffrage played a large part in their writings, appearing some 500
times or so in their texts.

2002 answer: Engels suggested that a country with universal suffrage that was
also repressive enough to prevent workers' parties from peacefully coming to power
would also be subject to overthrow.

> we also knew we were dealing with a guy who had ordained himself
> with the mission of destroying all things revolutionary, especially the SLP.

Why anyone would want to do the difficult thing and abolish the state
in order to abolish the wages system is beyond me, when Engels has
already stated that 'struggles for shorter work hours and higher wages
are valid ways to abolish the wages system', and he didn't specify any
other methods in that article, nor anywhere else. The SLP may not
advocate that particular method of abolishing the wages system,
because they are 'power and property socialists' bent upon
expropriating property instead of reducing hours of labor.

> All of those things contributed towards our decision to ban
> Ken from the site.

Summing up Jean-Paul's charges against me: a party wrecker,
intransigent, non-revolutionary, long-winded, pro-capitalist,
non-socialist, a denier of the class struggle, inaccurate in my
portrayal of them as classists, inaccurate portrayer of the views
of M+E [and what's 'worse', apparently, is that I ADMIT that I
make mistakes, and sometimes correct myself], plagiarist of
other people's posts, a selective quoter, a tyrannical dominator
of forums, hypocritical, promoter of ignorance, an occasional
negative influence, and who knows what else.

What really got me kicked off their forum was my insistent
references to the lies perpetrated by former Nat'l Sec'y Arnold
Petersen, and the present party's failure to address those lies. A.P.
lied about the 'dictatorship of the proletariat over the peasantry', as
well as whether Engels gave the world any better a program than 'state
capitalism', among many other lies. A party without the guts to face up
to those lies compounds their crimes against consciousness by banning
anyone who wishes to discuss them, without which discussion, idiotic
mistakes can only be endlessly repeated, leading the proletariat nowhere.
Though their ideology is 'unsafe at any speed', they maintain the same
attitude to fixing their faulty products that Chevy maintained towards
their tipsy Corvairs, Ford did to their exploding Pintos, and Firestone
did to their treadless tires. Funny how the ASLP exhibits the same state
of denial about their faulty ideology that major manufacturers exhibit
about their faulty products, another indication that property socialism
is little better than the same old commercialism. The world has
measured the results of rearranging the deckchairs on the
sinking Titanic, so they won't be fooled into doing it again.

> Of supreme importance to that decision was the response
> our moderator got when the membership of the site
> was asked their opinion on what to do with Ken.

The willingness of their forum to ban a participant who set out to
speak exclusively on matters of principle demonstrates that they
are collectively obsessed with promoting property socialism to
the exclusion of sane and feasible programs, establishing their
forum as their own private property, and De Leonism is their own
private ideological niche. Critics and corrections are not welcome.

> Ken of course has a commitment to 'Democracy' and knowing
> his record I also know that Ken defines Democracy
not as rule
> by the people, or abiding by the democratic decisions of the
> majority as expressed through the vote.

Many of today's activists fear that the freedom of speech clause
of First Amendment would not be passed if voted on today. The
ASLP does not respect undiluted freedom of speech, and instead
believes that freedom of speech is something that should be granted
BY THE MAJORITY, AT THEIR PLEASURE, and ONE OCCASION
AT A TIME. In 1977, the majority of my ASLP Section voted to PREVENT
me from airing my concerns about Arnold Petersen's claim that Engels
didn't give the world any better a revolutionary theory than 'state capit-
alism'. The ASLP remains frightened about what a few words could
do to their brand of property socialism, and how a few words could
threaten the livelihood of their paid staff, but it is past time for the
rest of the proletarian movement to shame the ASLP into confess-
ing its lying crimes against Marxism and the working class. A big
movement toward that end would mean a lot to the working class,
and could turn the tide against the dominance of commercial
interests in working class ideology.

> Ken believes that Democracy gives him the right to dominate,

In the alleged 'Ellis version of democracy', would I take hold of
their rostrum, and not cede it to anyone else? I happen to believe
in the value of DIALOGUE, whereas banning me from their forum
has proven what SLP-Houston thinks about dialogue and freedom
to communicate important issues. Did my record of sending one
message per week to their forum constitute 'domination'? Puhleeze.

> and any place where his ideas do not take prominence or are not
> allowed to rise above all others unfettered is an undemocratic one.

In the RBG forum, as well as in this one, my philosophy has never
overshadowed prevailing philosophies. Labor-time socialism has a
long way to go before achieving wider acceptance, but its victory over
property socialism is as inevitable as the future replacement of all human
labor with computers, technology and robots. Like so many other things
in life, it's just a matter of time. I am very patient and confident in that respect.

> In other words Ken's definition of 'Democracy' is a capitalist inspired one,
> and any time he tries to test it in Socialist waters he either
runs out, or gets
> thrown out, screaming "undemocratic, authoritarians," and so on.
>
> Anyone who wants to can examine the records on the SLP-Houston site:
>
>
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SLP-Houston

I tried to do so, but here's what I got:

> Oops...
>
> You have been banned from the group SLP-Houston.

I wonder, how many others get the same message when they try
to link to that site? Not very many, I'll bet, as long as they aren't
perceived as a threat to the ASLP's right to propagandize undiluted
De Leonism. Their site is a De Leonist billboard, and they chop down
any tree that might grow in the way of the view of passersby. Such is
the crass commercial code of conduct of property socialism.

> No one should ever take anyone's words for gospel (mine either),
> you should always do your own investigating. Ken Ellis' power
> rests in his belief that the people reading his posts
won't.

Where did I ever say that? My record is that of urging people
to always do their own research. People learn much better by
applying their gray matter to problems.

> My personal policy is to ignore Ken Ellis, but occasionally
> people buy into his
lies,

I'm glad to hear that my efforts have occasionally influenced
some people in a positive direction.

> and a little clarity on events is demanded.
>
> In Solidarity,
> John-Paul Catusco
> Section NYC, SLP
>
>
http://www.slp.org.

snip Jack London

Here's to clarity, and to absolute freedom of speech, undiluted
by any voting for or against it.

Ken Ellis

From the Works of Marx and Engels:
Page me8.279
"From the very first day that the counter-revolution swooped
down on us, we said that from now on there are only two parties:
"revolutionaries" and "counter-revolutionaries"; only two slogans:
"the democratic republic" or "the absolute monarchy". Everything
in between is no longer a party but only a faction. The counter-
revolution has done everything to make our statement come true.
The elections are the most brilliant confirmation of that.
"

".. the counter-revolution, for its part, pushed the bourgeoisie
aside and made inevitable a direct struggle between the relics of
feudal society and the extreme pole of modern society, between
the monarchy and the republic!
"

"The cry "Long live the Social-Democratic Republic!" was
declared unconstitutional; the cry "Long live the Republic!"
was persecuted as social-democratic.
"

 

7-24-01

Mike advised:

> Dear Ken Ellis,
>
> Try to get relevant.
>
> You and Li'l Joe would waste our time with your intellectual gibberish.

Pshaw. Li'l Joe and I are merely trying to have some good clean fun.

> Li'l Joe makes honest attempts to push the agenda forward,
> no matter how harsh of realities he presents us.

Honest attempts? Labor-time socialism consists of little more than a shorter
work week, higher overtime premiums, longer vacations, etc., but Li'l Joe is
doing his best to misunderstand it. The sandbags are piling up.

> I support your single issue and I'd rather discuss
> your lack of support for the ones I present.

That's fine. Bring up an issue and we can discuss it. 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.

> As far as which one of you knows Marx better, I'm gravitatin' more to what
> Gangbox said about who gives a sweet shit about two dead German guys
> (that were exiled in Angleterre). You may as well ask me if I've ever seen
> Tito Jaxson in Dollax.

Li'l Joe cares, and I obviously care. It's a free forum, and Li'l Joe and I
are free to fight out our differences to a finish. Neither of us is yelling
for a referee yet. Vinnie and others are as free as anyone else to ignore
and/or delete messages regarded as irrelevant.

> Now, Ken Ellis, I suspect that you are capable of intelligent relevant
> conversation. So why don't you focus more on that goal.
>
> Would be appreciated.
>
> Thanx,
>
> Mike Morin

Which part of my dialogue was unintelligent and irrelevant?

Ken Ellis

 

7-27-01

Hi, Bro',

> So Bro',
>
> I finally got around to reading what I asked for and it was fun.

Glad to hear that you enjoyed it. Now that you have the web address,
you can tune in for new messages.

> I had to concentrate mightily (which is getting harder these days) at times
> to distinguish when you were expounding-responding or comrade Lil Joe.

Maybe I should put little name tags on the paragraphs, like more and more
people in various forums seem to be doing. Perhaps that would help, but then
I find myself concentrating more on the name tags than on the arguments.

> Not that you where not distinguished in your differences but that the references
> and documentations were so arcane for a working class boob such as I.

It can get pretty technical sometimes.

> I have to say that Lil Joe has more trouble thinking 'outside the box' than
> you do and that your arguments seemed somehow more sensible in contrast
> to strict Marxist ideology than to my own common sense.

Li'l Joe is so orthodox with his Marxism that he really has problems with
unorthodox perspectives.

> You know that my philosophy promotes the value of labor and in the ideal,
> street sweepers would be compensated for their contributions as much as lawyers.
> I can't see ahead to a society where we will not need street sweepers or lawyers.

Paris, or another of those big European cities, recently replaced human street
sweepers with smart machines. Machine evolution is happening, and I doubt if
Bill Joy will be able to stop it.

> The shortening of the work week seems harmless enough to me
> so I will not attempt to resist it if and when it comes.

Wonderful!

> However, your model is based on factories cranking out products
> and alienated labor with the ridiculous notion that one day robots
> will take care of all our commodity and service needs. There is no
> incentive for anyone to work harder than the next guy or get the job
> done. Robots will
never get the job done. We may use robots to get
> the job done, but it will
always be a person who decides a job needs
> to be done and manages it's execution and that is a job in itself.

Today's robots certainly can't do the job, but who says they won't evolve
and take over more and more of the tasks? We've come quite a long way
from Robby the Robot of the 1950's. I love reading about new developments
at various technology sites. Technological evolution is truly alive with new
events and breakthroughs. It's exciting, and promises to liberate us all.

> Incentives to contribute, research, solve, create and work are necessary
> and compensation must be provided in some form. We live in a society
> of alienated individuals and subcultures as it is. There can be no solution
> to a cohesive society and it's problems without respecting everyone's
> contribution and rewarding socially positive work and behavior appropriately.

The work you describe will continue for quite a few more years to come.

> A shorter work week will contribute nothing to this cause.

It could be that the 40 hour week will continue until some very last day in
some decade of the future, when suddenly there will be nothing left for us to
do one fine day except enjoy life. Who knows? One thing for sure is that we
will all be in the same boat together.

> To view work as exploitation instead of contribution and cooperation
> is alienating and counter productive.

Hatred of work was never the motivation for the shorter work week
movement. The movement is TOTALLY motivated by the need to fairly
share the diminishing amount of work, and to prevent environmental degradation.

> More important issues:
>
> -zero population growth and how do we maintain economies
> without the constant growth syndrome of capitalism

I favor negative population growth. Without a movement for a shorter work
week, all of the incentives to grow, grow, grow the economy and the population
continue unabated. Creating an artificial shortage of labor takes away growth
incentives, and teaches us how to live without growth of economy or population.

> -zero population growth and how to create social equilibrium
>
> -zero population growth and preservation of what remains of our unspoilt natural world

Without growth incentives, open spaces and the environment could be preserved.

snip remaining irrelevancies

 

7-28-01

Li'l Joe replied:

>>> In the first place, neither Kenneth Ellis, nor I are not able to know what
>>> advocates of "bourgeois socialism" "wanted" in the 19th century, nor for
>>> that matter, today, what motivates them today.
>
> Kenneth Reply:
>> That's not correct. We know very well what German socialists wanted, for we
>> have Marx's Critique of the Gotha Programme, Engels' Critique of the 1891
>> Erfurt Program, and zillions of other critiques of many other thinkers, like
>> Proudhon, Bakunin, Becker, Lassalle, etc. If labor-time socialism had been
>> a mistake, and if such an idea had enjoyed any popularity during the heyday
>> of M+E, then M+E would have mentioned it in a letter or an article; but, no
>> such critique exists, limiting such an idea, at most, to isolated individuals.
>
> Lil Joe, Response:
> This is deception. Everyone who has been reading Kenneth Ellis's pro-
> capitalist relations of production posts know that he always claimed
> what Marx and Engels "wanted", as distinct from what they said:

What is the alleged deception? Unless M+E were very devious characters,
then what they wrote had to reflect what they wanted, at least part of the time.
Sometimes they even SAID what they wanted, as in the Minutes of the General
Council of the First International, where: "Citizen Marx announced that the
Prussian government had dropped all other charges against our friends in
Germany except that of belonging to the International. The International
WANTED to establish the Social and Democratic Republic and therefore
it was high treason to belong to it. This had been the charge on which the
men at Vienna had been convicted and sentenced to long imprisonment
though they were now released.
" (My emphasis - K.E.)

It's even obvious from their choice of self-descriptors that the Social-Democrats
of the 19th century wanted SOCIALLY-CONTROLLED DEMOCRATIC REPUBLICS.
Social-Democracy was a MASS movement, which M+E wanted to further develop
into a communist workers' state, or proletarian dictatorship. The only way possible
to arrive at that lower stage of communism was by building upon a framework of
several new republics with universal suffrage in Europe and Russia. That some
communists today can conceive of communism WITHOUT universal suffrage
demonstrates unfamiliarity with important lessons from history. The vain, futile
quest to control power and property leads to some awful distortions and betrayals.
'Fortunately' for my learning process, the first party I joined had a long history of
lying about 19th century issues, and the years I put to good use refuting their lies
taught me some real history.

> Such bs as what they "wanted" was "universal democracy" -

What, then, is the significance of the term 'Social-Democracy', if not
expressing people's desires for socially-controlled democratic republics?
A socialist party wants socialism, a communist party wants communism. A
Democratic party upholds democracy, a Republican party upholds republicanism.

> whereas, as I pointed out what they SAID was that
>
"democracy" in the capitalist world is "bourgeois
> democracy" and an instrument of their class rule.

Marxism shouldn't be confused with Leninism. Lenin, Stalin and the CPUSA
would have replaced the American democracy with a communist workers' state,
supposedly because the USA was an example of a 'bourgeois democracy', sup-
posedly representing only the interests of the rich, and therefore useless to the
proletariat. But, M+E would not have replaced democracies with universal suffrage
with anything else, because democracies with universal suffrage were what M+E
and the First International WERE STRUGGLING FOR. What made a democracy
'bourgeois' in their day was its lack of universal suffrage, or the way in which even
universal suffrage became a bourgeois sham for the lack of a real workers' party.

France had universal suffrage in the early days of their Second Republic, but
lost it soon afterwards, and Marx wrote a lot about that in his Class Struggles
in France, and in his 18th Brumaire. Purely bourgeois republics with property
ownership requirements on the use of the ballot can certainly be described as
instruments of class rule, but today's democracies with universal suffrage com-
bined with mass communications represent the will of the people, because voters
know well enough not to vote for candidates who don't represent their interests. 'What
we have' works well enough that few people are willing to replace it with anything else.

> The most powerful, economically dominant class is the
> most powerful, politically dominant class. Thus, as classes
> rule but parties govern, the state as a military-bureaucratic
> machine for the domination of the oppressed class by the
> ruling class, bourgeois democracy is nothing but an
> instrument of bourgeois class rule.

Whatever truth there is in that doesn't stop life from continuing on. It
doesn't stop people from going to the beach in the summertime, or keep
them from shopping at the malls, or from having birthday parties and
celebrations, or from going on vacations, or watching TV, etc. If we are
as oppressed as we are made out to be in that paragraph, then we certainly
don't BEHAVE like we are in Uruguay in a 'State of Siege'. Instead, most
of us behave as though we are free to do what we want, if we can afford to.

> It has been pointed out repeatedly that Kenneth Ellis,
> when not
trashing Marxism as "obsolete", &c., on the
>
basis of his ASSERTION that one day there will be a
> breed of "smart machines" able to pick strawberries
> - like Data in Star Treck Next Generation - he was on
> the contrary conjuring up "M+E" to argue AGAINST the
> expropriation of capitalist property, asserting what they
> really "wanted" was Universal Suffrage
as an end in itself.

You won't be able to quote me saying that M+E 'preferred' universal suffrage
over expropriation. They criticized people who regarded universal suffrage as an
end in itself. It is clear that M+E wanted BOTH. In 1852, Marx wrote (me11.606):

"I recollect very well the attempts once made to persuade the people of England
likewise, that Universal Suffrage alone was in itself the cure of all the social
iniquities under which they are suffering, and that, at a certain time, it was held
almost a sacrilege or a blasphemy to talk of Social Rights, or the Labour Ques-
tion. Happily they have learnt that, far from being the definitive end of political
development, it is only the first decisive step in the revolutionary direction, the
piece of ground necessary for the organisation of their army, the open field in
which the hitherto disguised war of classes can at last be fairly fought out, the
means in a word, and not the end, of the people's emancipation.
"

As Marx said, universal suffrage is the means, and not the final end, of the
people's emancipation. Only with universal suffrage could the proletarian
agenda be pursued in the state. Without universal suffrage, the proletariat
agenda is as good as paralyzed. Universal suffrage in a mass of new
democracies in Europe and Russia was regarded by M+E as the
precondition to expropriation. Expropriation couldn't be accomplished
in only ONE country because the neighboring countries would be used
as bases of bourgeois counter-revolution.

> If they ever advocated that, which they never did, that would be the thing which 20th
> century fascism proved is "obsolete". But, "M+E" have never promoted any such illusion.

As shown above, M+E didn't regard universal suffrage as an end in itself, and neither
do I. But, it is essential, and people will soon use it to express their desire to share work
by means of a shorter work week, higher overtime premiums, longer vacations, etc.

> Contrary to Mr Ellis' assertions that all Marx and Engels
> ever really "wanted" was to surpass feudal monarchy with
> "democracy" (without regard to its class composition!),

Democracy, even with universal suffrage, was not ALL that M+E wanted,
for they were more ambitious than that. They advocated winning the battles
for democracy and universal suffrage simultaneously in several new Social-
Democracies, with expropriation to follow that political victory. Expropriation
WITHOUT universal suffrage was inconceivable to M+E, because the MASSES
wanted socially controlled democracies. Communists also wanted Social-
Democracy, which they regarded as the PRECONDITION to expropriation.
Social-Democracy would absolutely have to be won, IF the democratic republic
was to be the form of proletarian dictatorship (which it was, as Engels stated
in his 1891 Critique of the Erfurt Programme). But, Social-Democracy in
itself was good enough a political victory for European workers, preventing
communist revolutions in support of the Russian revolution from succeeding.
That failure marked the end of the property communist dream.

> it was repeated pointed out in text after text that "M+E"
> wrote of Democracy as a product of class struggles, and in
> every instance had a class composition - whether the "obsolete"
> democratic republics of ancient Athens and Rome based on
> slavery, or the city-states of the medieval Italy.

M+E occasionally spoke of overthrowing bourgeois republics in the same breath
that they spoke of overthrowing monarchies, because none of the few democracies
on the Continent enjoyed universal suffrage, or whatever ones might have had it
had also driven workers' parties underground, disabling proletarian influence in the
state. So, democracies in their day didn't represent the interests of the working class.
As mechanization and agricultural productivity gradually advanced, and the proletariat
grew proportionally larger compared to the peasantry, one country after another
achieved universal suffrage, and workers' parties were able to emerge.

> These analysis were in fact made by them with the
> expressed purpose, because they "wanted" to show
> bourgeois democracy, whether in the slave-owning United
> States or Britain and France were bourgeois democracies.

That's essentially correct. Early America had property ownership restrictions
on the use of the ballot, which is what qualified it as a bourgeois democracy.

> "Universal suffrage" was never advocated as an end in itself,
> but NOTHING BUT A GAUGE, at best, which demonstrated
> the political maturity of the proletariat in its struggle for power.

That also is essentially correct. The working class evolved from nothing
to becoming the largest class, growing in proportion to capitalism and the
bourgeoisie, as permitted by increased agricultural productivity. It was
inevitable that the working class would demand that property ownership
restrictions be removed from the use of the ballot, and that universal
suffrage would become the law of the land. If the working class of the USA
today thought of itself as a distinct class with its own class interests, then
maybe it would think about organizing itself into a party. But, the problem
is: the working class barely thinks of itself as a class with interests separate
and distinct from the interests of property owners, and the working class
doesn't regard ownership to be a 'them-us' kind of a problem, given the truly
mass spread of ownership of homes (and even stock ownership), so we are
unlikely to organize to do anything about the institution of private property.
Mass acquiescence to private property poses a real theoretical problem for
today's communists, who should think more carefully about modern
American realities, and put away their dream of getting to classless and
stateless society by taking state power, and using it to expropriate the means
of production. If communists could someday put away their old dreams of
commanding all of that power and property, then maybe they could think of
better ways to become useful to the working class. But, as long as some of
them can remain viable as little businesses selling revolutionary notions,
then they are unlikely to change and become useful.

> The proletarian revolution itself will be the culmination of class war,
> culminating in the "dictatorship of the proletariat"!

Smashing one democracy with universal suffrage to replace it with a twin
is about as superfluous a redundancy as I can think of. If people had any
interest in expropriation, then the SWP would get more than .2% of the
votes in Monroe County, New York, and people would vote more often
for redistributions of property and wealth. But, people have little interest
in socialism or communism, those reputations having been sullied by
political repression in Russia, China, Cuba, North Korea, etc. So much
damage may have been done that it may be impossible to salvage those
names. By negating the negativity of 'power and property socialism',
a new socialism of a higher order could emerge.

> The worker's republic may very well come into being
> as a result of "universal suffrage", but, as we learned from
> the tragedy in Chile the capitalist class will not hand over
> the productive forces to society just because the capitalist
> parties had been out-voted in democratic elections.

I thought that Allende was a mere Social-Democrat, and that he was not a
communist, although the press was always calling him a Marxist for some
reason. What was his actual program? Did he advocate nationalization?
Did he nationalize anything before being overthrown?

> What happened in Chile will be repeated.

Repeated? Where? I doubt it. 1973 was a long time ago, and the old Soviet Empire
has collapsed, along with a lot of dreams of doing things the old communist way.

> The dictatorship of the proletariat may or may not be democratic,
>
depending upon the requirements of the revolution.

If Marx's proletarian dictatorship was advanced enough to be based upon
universal suffrage, which they barely fleetingly enjoyed back then, then I
don't see any need to backtrack to incomplete suffrage, or to the incomplete
suffrage of the dictatorship of a mere workers' PARTY.

> But, even if it is democratic, with universal suffrage as the mechanism
> for selecting which party/parties will govern -
only the parties based in
> and representative of workers and minorities oppressed under capitalism
> will be allowed to compete,

I can't imagine a real democracy without complete freedom to compete for
supremacy in the state, regardless of class background. Americans wouldn't
abide by anything less, because we are accustomed to greater freedom and
well-being as time progresses, not shrinking freedom. Name one good reason
we would have to retreat from complete freedom. Such a retreat into political
repression would probably necessitate some kind of police state to enforce.
While Stalin would have conscienced such a state, M+E lived under more
enlightened and democratic circumstances, and what little they spoke of
the proletarian dictatorship said nothing about having to abandon the high
standards of freedom they advocated. Socialism is supposed to be better
than capitalism in every respect, and a population does not move from
a lower to a higher stage by sinking lower.

> as the purpose of this workers state will be to expropriate
> capitalist property and organize production in the interests
> of the proletariat as ruling class, on one hand and to
beat back
> and
destroy the capitalist class as a class on the other.

Expropriation is little more than a communist FANTASY. If people wanted
expropriation, then the SWP would be getting more than .2% of the vote in
Monroe County, New York.

> One thing Kenneth Ellis says is true.

That's a pleasant surprise.

> The socialists and communists from the 19th century to this day
> have never criticized "labour-time socialism",

That's because it's a brand new movement.

> nor exposed it as bourgeois socialism.

Well, if they didn't 'criticize' it, then they weren't about to 'expose' it,
either. Labor-time socialism has heretofore never existed as a polished
philosophy, because socialists have long labored under the delusion
of the inevitability of receiving power and property.

> This is because no bourgeois propagandist then, nor until now,
> would be so
foolish as to oppose community property

Since when would it be FOOLISH for an alleged bourgeois propagandist
to oppose community property? Being bourgeois means 'to promote private
ownership, not community property.'

> by suggesting to the working class that it leave the products
> of his/her labour in the hands of the bourgeois,

Nor would THAT be 'foolish' for an alleged bourgeois propagandist to advocate. Just
because labor-time socialism doesn't advocate expropriation, Li'l Joe concludes that
'labor-time socialism must be bourgeois', but there is more to socialism than mere
expropriation. M+E apparently thought that expropriation was subservient to a
higher goal of full participation in the economy, as indicated in Engels' 1877
biography entitled "Karl Marx" (MESW 3, pp. 85-6):

"... that historical leadership has passed to the proletariat, a class which,
owing to its whole position in society, can only free itself by abolishing all
class rule, all servitude and all exploitation; and that the social productive
forces, which have outgrown the control of the bourgeoisie, are only waiting
for the associated proletariat to TAKE POSSESSION OF THEM IN ORDER
TO BRING ABOUT A STATE OF THINGS IN WHICH EVERY MEMBER
OF SOCIETY WILL BE ENABLED TO PARTICIPATE not only in production
but also in the distribution and administration of social wealth, and which so
increases the social productive forces and their yield by planned operation of
the whole of production that the satisfaction of all reasonable needs will be
assured to everyone in an ever-increasing measure.
" (Emphases mine - K.E.)

As indicated, expropriation was intended to serve a higher cause - full
participation in the economy. Expropriation was plausible in Marx's era, as
part of his revolutionary scenario of replacing a mass of feudal monarchies
with Social-Democracies, but no similar set of political circumstances makes
expropriation plausible in the USA of today. Instead, full participation can
be had for the mere price of an amendment or two to the Fair Labor Standards
Act. EVERYTHING that is carefully thought out militates against expropriation.

> while they themselves focus on reducing the hours
>
they are exploited as a "path to socialism"!

Why would an alleged BOURGEOIS propagandist advocate reduced work hours?
That would be strange indeed, because the bourgeoisie wants as few workers as
possible to work for as many hours as possible, so as to maximize profits by
minimizing wages and workers' control, and by maximizing desperate
competition for scarce jobs.

> How could socialists and communists advocates of community property
> polemist against "labour-time socialism", with its out-right
pro-capitalist
> ideas in the working class, when such is a
silly idea that no one was silly
> enough to advocate?

Labor-time socialism follows in the footsteps of Engels, who wrote that the
struggles for higher wages and shorter hours were legitimate paths toward the
abolition of wage labor. So, does that mean that Engels was just being 'silly'?

> Lil Joe is Quoted:
>>> What I "wanted" to do was show how, whatever their respective motives
>>> were or are, that fighting in the interest of the preservation of bourgeois
>>> property interests the bourgeois socialists
and the "labor-time socialists"
>>> arrive at the
same conclusions, by making the same arguments.
>
> Kenneth Ellis Reply:
>> Few would believe that statement. Bourgeois socialists would hardly
>> advocate that 'bosses should compete for scarce labor'. Instead they
>> prefer that 'workers should compete for scarce jobs'.
>
> Lil Joe, Response:
> If everyone had a job there would be no competition for jobs.
> But there would still be, and perhaps
exacerbated with every
> advance in technology,
exploitation of wage-labour by capital.

'Exploitation of wage-labour .. exacerbated with every advance in technology'?
That sounds contemporary with the early days of the Industrial revolution, but
our standards of living have been going UP for the past century, not down. The
working class has a lot more toys to play with than what previous generations
could imagine. Even the poorest elements have poverty programs that were
unimaginable in previous generations. This is all made possible by the fact
that technology has evolved, has made a lot of commodities and services much
cheaper than before, making it illogical or cruel to withhold it from anyone.
With less than 2% of American workers producing all of the food, the only
excuse for hunger is bad politics.

With no competition for jobs, and with jobs for all at good wages, I wonder
why anyone would argue AGAINST those good things by implying that
'the continued exploitation of the capitalist system outweighs the benefits of
maintaining it.
' Just getting ourselves organized for full employment would
be a positive step, and would be a prerequisite for further successes. Advising
people against working within the system would amount to advocating
NOTHING AT ALL, because no viable alternative to capitalism exists.

> The capitalist system is an economical mode of production is a mode
> of appropriation based private, corporate private/and state ownership
> of the productive forces on the buying and selling of labour power,
> the result being
of necessity the exploitation of wage-labour by capital.

No big argument with that.

2002: Lord, what a weak answer I gave, even contradicted by Engels' 1845
statement: "If the competition of the workers among themselves is destroyed,
if all determine not to be further exploited by the bourgeoisie, the rule of
property is at an end.
"

> Whether or not there is full employment is irrelevant
> to the economical process of exploitation, with society
> organized by or/and in the interests of the owners of capital.

But, full employment makes a VERY BIG difference. In his Inaugural Address
to the First International, Marx gave high praise to the 10 Hours' Bill in England:

"Hence the Ten Hours' Bill was not only a great practical success; it was the victory
of a principle; it was the first time that in broad daylight the political economy of the
middle class succumbed to the political economy of the working class.
"

A perfect end to exploitation or not, replacing the political economy of one
class with that of another has to be regarded as a solid victory, the kind of
victory Marx did not dismiss. Even Li'l Joe wants to amend the 40 hour
law down to 25, making me wonder what the problem could be.

> The relative abundance or scarcity of
> labour-power is not what defines capitalism;

No one asserted that capitalism was defined by anything
but private ownership of means of production.

> in fact, there was full employment in Nazi Germany,
> is
this the kind of so-called "socialism" that Kenneth Ellis wants?

Ordinarily, I reject Nazism, but if Nazism equals 'capitalism plus full
employment', then maybe I would have to embrace it. But, what kind of
foolish corner is Li'l Joe trying to paint me into? Trying to cope with this
false definition of Nazism is a counter-productive waste of time, but
property socialists can afford to enjoy setting up straw men.

> So long as the capitalist as a class own the basic conditions
> of labour, the productive forces, they
are the ruling class.

Well, I wonder about that. Right now, the rich are generally unopposed in
the way they run things. But, money can't always buy everything. California
billionaire Huffington lost his bid for a Senate seat precisely because people
regarded him as rather empty-headed, and as merely determined to BUY himself
a seat. When working class people are elected to office, and a lot of them are,
then no one can rightfully assert that an oligarchy has exclusive political power.

> In the Communist Manifesto Marx and Engels argues that what the
> "bourgeois socialists" advocated was capitalism minus its negative side -
> i.e. unemployment, crisis, &c. Like Kenneth Ellis the "
bourgeois socialists"
> saw they shorter work- day, full employment, full housing &c., for the working
> class as the means by which they could throw the dogs bones and keep the beef
> for themselves - i.e. maintain ownership of the means of production, together with
> the profits and wealth that Mr Ellis is
so committed to them keeping.

Li'l Joe seems to want a shorter work week PLUS an anti-capitalist revolution,
while I would be satisfied with a shorter work week, simply because the means
of production are evolving, enabling things to improve with proper political
guidance, and undermining what little support exists for property communism.

With regard to 'bourgeois socialism', Engels wrote in the Housing Question (me23.340):

"It is the essence of bourgeois socialism to want to maintain the basis of all the evils
of present-day society and at same time to want to abolish the evils themselves.
As already pointed out in the Communist Manifesto, the bourgeois socialists
are desirous of "redressing social grievances, in order to secure the continued
existence of bourgeois society;" they want "a bourgeoisie without a proletariat.
"

Back in Engels' day, when proletarian communist revolution was plausible
(after replacing a mass of feudal monarchies with Social-Democracies), M+E
would naturally critique bourgeois socialists unwilling to advocate a proletarian
socialist revolution. But, today, with the collapse of communism around the
world, further anti-capitalist revolutions are hopeless.

> Mr Ellis is doing NOTHING about the working day reduction on
> a national level. All he is doing is throwing it out as an idea -

As an elected delegate to the founding convention of the Labor Party in 1996,
I promoted a shorter work week. At present, I can't do much except argue its
merits on various Internet forums. If not so tied down to my present locale, I
would probably get around more.

> not to force it on capitalists but as a method
> of OPPOSING MARXISM and AGAINST
> the public expropriation means of production.

The loyalty of activists to property socialism is what really holds back
social progress in this country. I try to prove with logic and history that
the dream of expropriation belongs to the past, and that activists should
learn to reject it, and instead advocate more practical measures.

> Has anyone read in any of his posts HOW he plans to bring about
> reductions in the work-day today, in terms of a practical program?

With sufficient popular support, amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act
will be proposed and introduced to Congress.

> No, all he ever suggest is that it will happen in the by and by - his
> immediate concern, and all he argues is to oppose "taking the property
> of the rich". That and that alone is the essence of his arguments.

Li'l Joe and I suffer from the same problem - lack of support for our
programs. Not enough people want to expropriate the means of production,
and not enough people want a shorter work week, higher overtime premiums,
longer vacations, etc., to make any of these things happen. By logically proving
that expropriation will never be anything better than a broken dream, and that
sharing work will someday become a necessity, activists will someday be
convinced to support the feasible program.

>> Remember Engels' 1845 statement that:
>> "the supremacy of the bourgeoisie is based wholly upon the competition
>> of the workers among themselves; i.e., upon their want of cohesion."
>
> Lil Joe, Response:
> Mr Ellis is again
deceptive in that he quotes a sentence out its conceptual context.

What if I gave more context? Here's some more from 'The Condition of the
Working Class in England in 1844
':

"The active resistance of the English working-men has its effect in holding
the money-greed of the bourgeoisie within certain limits, and keeping alive
the opposition of the workers to the social and political omnipotence of the
bourgeoisie, while it compels the admission that something more is needed
than Trades Unions and strikes to break the power of the ruling class. But
what gives these Unions and the strikes arising from them their real import-
ance is this, that they are the first attempt of the workers to abolish competition.
They imply the recognition of the fact that THE SUPREMACY OF THE BOURGEOISIE
IS BASED WHOLLY UPON THE COMPETITION OF THE WORKERS AMONG
THEMSELVES; I.E., UPON THEIR WANT OF COHESION. And precisely
because the Unions direct themselves against the vital nerve of the present social
order, however one-sidedly, in however narrow a way, are they so dangerous to
this social order. The working-men cannot attack the bourgeoisie, and with it the
whole existing order of society, at any sorer point than this. IF THE COMPETITION OF
THE WORKERS AMONG THEMSELVES IS DESTROYED, IF ALL DETERMINE
NOT TO BE FURTHER EXPLOITED BY THE BOURGEOISIE, THE RULE OF
PROPERTY IS AT AN END. Wages depend upon the relation of demand
to supply, upon the accidental state of the labour market, simply because the
workers have hitherto been content to be treated as chattels, to be bought and
sold. The moment the workers resolve to be bought and sold no longer, when,
in the determination of the value of labour, they take the part of men possessed
of a will as well as of working-power, at that moment the whole Political Economy
of today is at an end.
" (Emphases mine - K.E.)

Did everyone see the connection Engels made between competition and
exploitation? Apparently, the more competition, the worse the exploitation,
which is a logical connection. Li'l Joe, on the other hand, chided me for not
wanting to expropriate the means of production for fear of extending the
exploitation of capitalism, whereas Engels said that the exploitation is
diminished along with diminished competition. Shorter work hours
are looking better and better.

> Everyone from Quesnay to Adam Smith, David Ricardo, James
> Owen, Saint Simon, &c., knew and demonstrated that the supremacy
> of the bourgeoisie in the economic arena is based on the competition
> in the working class. What Marx and Engels proposed in opposition
> to the economic AND POLITICAL supremacy of the bourgeois was
> (1) the formation of ever expanding trade unions;
> (2) the organization of the proletariat into a class - and consequently a political party;
> (3) the elevation of the working class to ruling class by
> (a) "winning the battle of democracy"
> (b) establishing the "dictatorship of the proletariat".

Oh, so I take it that Engels didn't write the paragraph I just quoted, because
Engels only wrote what Li'l Joe says Engels wrote? Should we FORGET
about eliminating competition between workers, and instead concentrate
upon implementing points 1, 2, 3a and 3b?

> Competition in the working class will end, in the interests of
> the working-class rather than the capitalist class only when the
> conditions of labour are determined by the workers themselves.
> This
requires not only the political supremacy of the working-
> class, with or without universal suffrage, but is possible only
> if, and to the degree that the dictatorship of the proletariat is
> economically based on having transferred the means of labour
> from capitalist ownership to public property.

The working class of England didn't achieve the Chartist goal of a 10 hour day
because they had previously achieved political supremacy. Americans didn't
achieve the 40 hour week because they had achieved political supremacy.
Workers won't need the political supremacy of a workers' party, nor a
proletarian dictatorship, nor a communist workers' state, in order to win
double time after 35, and a month-long annual paid vacation. In 1933,
American workers didn't need political supremacy for the Black-
Connery 30 hour bill to pass the American Senate.

> Lil Joe is Quoted: > snip for brevity >
>
> Kenneth Reply:
>> History gave M+E all of the respect they were due. Russia's communism was
>> based upon force, and the failure of enough Europeans to revolt in sympathy
>> with the Russian revolution proved that too few Europeans were interested
>> in forceful solutions to their problems.
>
> Lil Joe, Response:
> Now you see the problem? Instead of dealing with the challenge of
> PROVING, or in any case disclosing what has been disproved in the
> Marxian critique of the capitalist mode of production, Mr Ellis
ignores it.

M+E has already given us all of the tools we need in order to create a
better world. The problem is that: Marx gave us the EXTRA tool known
as 'expropriation' that was plausible in his era, but which is not plausible in
2001. I don't have to prove or disprove anything in the Marxist critique of
capitalism in order to figure out which political tools are valid in 2001, the
ones that are appropriate to technologically advanced Social-Democracies.
I would only have to prove certain things if Marx's analysis of capitalism
were so erroneous as to 'prove' that a shorter work week would be contrary
to the interests of the working class. Instead, Marx proved that shorter work
hours are very much indeed in the interests of the working class; they would
diminish or eliminate competition between workers, as well as diminish the
surplus values which make the rich as rich and powerful as they are.

> I don't give a damn about whether or not "history gave "M+E"
> all of the respect they were due." We are not talking about
> whether or not these individuals were given respect by "History".

If the above-mentioned economists hadn't made extraordinary contributions
to the debates of their era, then their names would have been forgotten.

> What is demanded of Mr Ellis, if his "discovery" of so-called
> "labour-time socialism" corrects "M+E", is to demonstrate the
> correction by explicating
the errors in the critique of the laws
> of motions of capitalist production disclosed by them
.

It's very 'difficult to impossible' to correct theorists who no longer are
around to receive a correction, to consider the correction, and to correct
their errant ways. So, it is up to the living to figure out which parts of a
theorists' contributions remain applicable to present conditions. Shorter
work days and weeks flowed logically from their analyses of capitalism,
but their revolutionary program was no better than a dream founded upon
the fleeting political conditions of their little era.

> Yet, again and again Kenneth makes assertions rather than an analysis.
>
> The e-mail list is
due his explanation of the relevancy
> of the of the Soviet experiment based on an analysis
> of the commodity production in the economy itself.

What would an analysis of an obsolete economy prove?
No country is interested in reliving past failures.

> Merely asserting that "Russia's communism was based on force"
> explains nothing. How can "communism" be based on "force"?

Lenin wrote: 'On the very first day of the Russian revolution, private ownership
of land was abolished.
' Why were the Bolsheviks able to abolish private ownership
of land? For one reason, and for one reason only: Lenin and the Bolsheviks were
communists, and Lenin and the Bolsheviks enjoyed FULL STATE POWER, along
with the support of enough of the population to do what they wanted with the institu-
tion of private ownership. Because of their power, nationalization of land could be
(and was) FORCED upon the upper classes, who naturally didn't want nationalization
to happen. Who would deny that the implementation of at least SOME communist
policies was based upon the use of force? Marx was not against a new state wielding
force, as he wrote in Capital: "Force is the midwife of every old society pregnant with
a new one. It is itself an economic power.
" Engels wrote pretty much the same thing
in a letter to Schmidt: 'Force is an economic power'. Using the force of the state, parties
in power can play a large part in determining the course of their countries' economies.
Marx wanted such power to be used to shorten work hours, as well as to expropriate
means of production into the hands of a universal proletarian dictatorship.

> This is idealism of a Lemarchian theory of socioeconomic
> evolution and has nothing at all in common with Marx
> materialist analysis that modes of production arise and
> pass away, revolutions made in consequence of techno-economic
> environmental determinism, not by will power or political "force".

I'm sure that such knowledge would have been a great comfort to the kulaks
whose farms were collectivized by Stalin.

> What the collapse of the Soviet Union demonstrates, as the
> privatization of state-monopoly capitalism, is that Marx is right.

How did the Russian experience prove that Marx was right?

> This is the refutation as outcome of Trotsky's theory of
> "permanent revolution" and Stalin's "socialism in one country".

How?

> Marxist materialist economic theory of 1867 is validated by
> the collapse of state-monopoly capitalism in Russia in 1989.

How?

> Kenneth articulates his motives for trashing community property,
> and defending capitalist ownership of the means of production.

Ownership will decline as an institution after the abolition of work and class
distinctions. As a consequence, no one will be able to profit off the labor of
others, and no benefits will accrue to property ownership. Private property
will not be abolished before the conditions for its abolition arrive. It is a
waste of time to cast aspersion on an institution which is destined to last
at least another 4 decades. Property will wither away along with the state.

> Mr Ellis turns Marxism on its ear. The reality is that Marx and
> Engels were advocates of community property in a WORKERS
> STATE -
whether or not - that state was "democratic".

M+E were for expropriation, 'whether or not' the proletarian dictatorship was
democratic? Did M+E have a choice? No, because their revolutionary program
was not a mere isolated idea. Their idea of expropriation was 100% dependent
upon a mass of Social-Democratic revolutions. Social-Democracy was what the
masses wanted, and that was what they were willing to struggle for. Only a handful
were willing to push for expropriation, which would have to wait until AFTER
several simultaneous Social-Democratic revolutions.

How could an activist be so bold today as to suggest that a successful European
proletarian socialist movement could have opted ONE WAY OR THE OTHER
on the question of democracy? Such an activist would have to be unaware of the
central idea of the Commune. Can anyone imagine a proletarian dictatorship
and democratic republic like the Commune WITHOUT universal suffrage?

> The Marxian KEY is to take state power and use it "as
> an instrument of emancipation" - that is an instrument
> of coercion by means of which to expropriate capitalist
> property, to make the productive forces public property.

'Take state power' - sure, wonderful idea, but taking state power can only be
done under certain circumstances, and workers need strong parties before they
can take state power. In Europe of Marx's era, many monarchical countries
didn't have strong workers' parties, that's how weak the class struggle has often
been. Think about the weakness of the class struggle in the USA, where a strong
workers' party has NEVER existed. If capitalists were all anti-labor demons,
then just think of how strong a workers' movement would have to be.

2002 answer: Li'l Joe quoted Marx's "instrument of emancipation", but Marx
used it in reference to universal suffrage, not 'state power', in his Preamble to
the Programme of the French Workers Party
:

Page me24.340
"That such an organisation [independent political party] must be striven for,
using all the means at the disposal of the proletariat, including universal
suffrage, thus transformed from the instrument of deception which it has
been hitherto into an instrument of emancipation;
" ...

Similarly, Engels used "instrument of emancipation" in reference to universal
suffrage in his 1895 Introduction to Marx's "Class Struggles in France":

Page me27.515
"There had long been universal suffrage in France, but it had fallen into disrepute through
the way it had been abused by the Bonapartist government. After the Commune there was no workers' party to make use of it. It had also existed in Spain since the republic, but in Spain
election boycotts had been the rule for all serious opposition parties from time immemorial.
The experience of the Swiss with universal suffrage was also anything but encouraging for a
workers' party. The revolutionary workers of the Latin countries had been wont to regard the
suffrage as a snare, as an instrument of government trickery. It was different in Germany. The
Communist Manifesto had already proclaimed THE WINNING OF UNIVERSAL SUFFRAGE,
OF DEMOCRACY, as one of the first and most important tasks of the militant proletariat, and
Lassalle had again taken up this point. Now that Bismarck found himself compelled to introduce
this franchise as the only means of interesting the mass of the people in his plans, our workers
immediately took it in earnest and sent August Bebel to the first, constituent Reichstag. And from
that day on they have used the franchise in a way which has paid them a thousandfold and has
served as a model to the workers of all countries. The franchise has been, in the words of the
French Marxist programme, transformé de moyen de duperie qu'il a été jusqu'ici en instrument
d'émancipation - transformed by them from a means of deception, which it was before, into an
INSTRUMENT OF EMANCIPATION. And if universal suffrage had offered no other advantage than that it allowed us to count our numbers every three years; that by the regularly established,
unexpectedly rapid rise in our vote it increased in equal measure the workers' certainty of victory
and the dismay of their opponents, and so became our best means of propaganda; that it accurately
informed us our own strength and that of all opposing parties, and thereby provided us with a
measure of of proportion second to none for our actions, safeguarding us from untimely timidity as much as from untimely foolhardiness - if this had been the only advantage we gained from the
suffrage, it would still have been much more than enough. But it did more than this by far. In
election propaganda it provided us with a means, second to none, of getting in touch with the mass
of the people where they still stand aloof from us; of forcing all parties to defend their views and
actions against our attacks before all the people; and, further, it provided our representatives in the
Reichstag with a platform from which they could speak to their opponents in parliament, and to the
masses outside, with quite different authority and freedom than in the press or at meetings. Of what avail was their Anti-Socialist Law to the government and the bourgeoisie when election campaign-
ing and socialist speeches in the Reichstag continually broke through it?
(Emphases mine - K.E.)

"With this successful utilisation of universal suffrage, however, an entirely new method of
proletarian struggle came into operation, and this method quickly took on a more tangible form.
It was found that the state institutions, in which the rule of the bourgeoisie is organised, offer the
working class still further levers to fight these very state institutions. The workers took part in
elections to particular diets, to municipal councils and to trades courts; they contested with the
bourgeoisie every post in the occupation of which a sufficient part of the proletariat had a say. And
so it happened that the bourgeoisie and the government came to be much more afraid of the legal
than of the illegal action of the workers' party, of the results of elections than of those of rebellion.
"

If Li'l Joe had admitted that 'universal suffrage' was the instrument of emancipation, instead
of his 'state power', he would have had to admit that universal suffrage was the same as the
workers having state power. But then, all of his rantings for a proletarian dictatorship would
have come to nothing, because we already have universal suffrage, and its results often can
be mighty disappointing. Dishonest ideologues have to twist quotes completely out of
context in order to justify their ideologies.

> In the International Working Men's Association Marx wrote in the
> Rules that "the economical emancipation of the proletariat is the great
> end, to which all political activities ought to be subordinated as means".
>
> Democracy, universal suffrage, &c., were always referred
> to as means to achieve proletarian power. Only bourgeois
> ideologists, such as Kenneth Ellis, regard "democracy",
> and "universal suffrage",
as ends in themselves.

I never regarded democracy and universal suffrage as ends in themselves.
Formal democracy is as doomed as work, class distinctions, the state, private
property, money, etc. Democracy and universal suffrage are the political con-
ditions we enjoy today, and these relatively new conditions (only occasionally
present in Marx's day) obsolesce all talk of expropriation of means of production,
unless the voters go crazy and vote for it. Workers in the most developed countries
will never again have to fight in order to win democracies with universal suffrage, so
workers will never elevate themselves into a fighting force opposed to the bourgeoisie
with the power with which to expropriate. Because private property is doomed anyway,
why do anything against it before the conditions for its abolition have arrived? Because
attacking the institution of private property never made much sense in the first place,
communist revolutions all over the world are being reversed by privatization today.

> This is because "democracy" hides the economic power of the
> capitalist class, the Constitutional guarantee of capitalist property rights,

If democracy is so EVIL that it 'hides the economic power of the capitalist class',
then maybe enough people will be convinced to do something about it. Good luck.

Ken Ellis

From the Works of Marx and Engels: Page me8.279

"From the very first day that the counter-revolution swooped down on us,
we said that from now on there are only two parties: "revolutionaries" and
"counter-revolutionaries"; only two slogans: "the democratic republic" or
"the absolute monarchy". Everything in between is no longer a party but
only a faction. The counter-revolution has done everything to make our
statement come true. The elections are the most brilliant confirmation of that.
"

".. the counter-revolution, for its part, pushed the bourgeoisie aside and
made inevitable a direct struggle between the relics of feudal society and the
extreme pole of modern society, between the monarchy and the republic!
"

"The cry "Long live the Social-Democratic Republic!" was declared
unconstitutional; the cry "Long live the Republic!" was persecuted as
social-democratic.
"

 

7-30-01

Hi, Mateu,

Thanks for the note and kind words. You are correct about many things.
Did you link to my e-mail address through my web page?

> You may no longer call yourself a socialist, or even a social democrat, but
> reading your "Replacing Broken Socialist Dreams" was one of the most
> convincing justifications of the socialist ideal I have read yet. You could
> have titled the segment "Replacing Broken Socialist Dreams with New
> Socialist Dreams" for all that you actually said.

You are right about that, demonstrating a great capacity to understand, and to
be free of sectarian prejudice. A socialist at the WSM forum with whom I've
been corresponding back and forth for a few months made me very aware that,
yes indeed, I am still a socialist, because I still adhere to the common socialist
vision of society someday getting to classless and stateless society. I need to
correct my web page accordingly, and I would, if not so busy on a few forums.

> My upbringing was politically conservative, and as such I had no idea what
> socialism was, or might be, other than that tired, tired definition: State ownership
> of property. But my experiences in trying to find work, dealing with my needs in a
> new city with no income, finally securing employment, and the actual conditions of
> working made me think long and hard about my political beliefs. And though I did
> not read Marx, Engels, Kautsky, Lenin or any of the others, I came to an awareness
> of what the labor movement and socialism were all about.
>
> First, I thought about better pay and the struggle for better pay through the
> action of unions and such, and then it occurred to me: Pay raises only cause
> inflation. My reasoning goes that if there is an increase in productivity, then a
> hike in wages is justified, but the market soon adjusts, prices and rents increase,
> and one finds himself in the same situation as before. There was no gain at all!
> Therefore it became clear to me that if productivity increases the only real gain
> a worker can see is that of more free-time! But to suggest this and actually
> have it implemented would be a REVOLUTION in and of itself!

I like your reasoning, and you take a longer view than what most people are
willing to. More free time is really the cat's meow. Some punitive activists
want to bring the capitalist class down to our 40 hour level of enslavement,
but I want to bring the working class up to the capitalist level of freedom.

> You stated that work-sharing would also increase worker control--genuine
> industrial democracy, I'm thinking--and this would be a very clear threat to
> the political elite, whether they be State politicians or managers of private
> enterprise, that is, private government. The idea here, that the workers
> would actually have a say in the management of political-economy
> is RADICALLY SOCIALIST!

Radical, in that it gets to the root, for sure. Socialist? The way people
think of socialism as wrapped up with changing property relations, ...
I am unsettled about applying 'socialist' for the moment.

One goal of mine is to rescue the word socialism by divorcing it from the
old goal of changing property relations, or from having anything directly
to do with tangibles like property, wealth, income, resources, etc. Today's
socialists should only deal with overtime premium RATES, hours of labor,
the inclusiveness of labor laws, etc., in other words, changes that would not
have to go through a Ways and Means committee, nor cost the taxpayer any
money. In fact, in terms of social savings, one could point to the ways in
which the taxpayer would save a lot by implementing this legislation.

The change in the way socialism is regarded may come about by logically
demonstrating the futility of trying to change property relations in modern
democracies. Expropriation of means of production was plausible only in
conjunction with Marx's revolutionary scenario, which dealt with the political
circumstances existing in Europe back then, but which hardly exist today. If
more socialists can begin to appreciate that, then more socialists can become
allies in the effort to shorten the length of the work week, etc.

Last month, I began to call the new socialist movement 'labor-time socialism',
and the old socialism as 'power and property socialism', or, most often, merely
'property socialism' for short. Many activists object to it, but the new terminology
clarifies the difference.

> What is the point of owning property if one does not control it? And if, on
> top of having diminished political power, there is also little surplus value,
> then those who own property would also be deprived of earning a living
> from the labor of others. And finally, being that there is little surplus value,
> then each worker would then be able to BUY property to a greater extent
> than has ever occurred before. The private property of the few would soon
> become the private property of the many.

I think that's a trend already. In the USA, home ownership has always been
wide-spread, and half the country now owns a piece of the stock market.

> What then of the large corporations? Because these ventures are of a social
> nature, requiring the labors of hundreds, thousands, and even, on rare occasion,
> millions of workers, then they too must become the property of those who have
> the most to gain and lose from the ventures' successes and/or failures--that is,
> the workers themselves, from the shop floor and on to management.

That's true as well, and we have seen a certain movement toward worker
ownership of some big companies, like United Airlines.

> I dare say your proposal is the embodiment of Utopian Socialism,
> and I was glad to read it.
>
> Sincerely,
> Matthew Thomas
>
> P.S. If you would like to write back, please do. I would further
> like to discuss democracy, socialism, and economics.

Glad to hear from you. Our thoughts are similar. I am presently active in the
WSM forum, and on the RBG forum, both Yahoo. My worthy opponents have
helped me to get a lot clearer about a lot of things over the past year, and I hope
someday to incorporate what I've learned into my web site. Your presence in
either forum would be a good place for us to work out our ideas in public,
where it would count a lot more.

Ken Ellis

From the work we did at the 'Shorter Work Time' discussion forum,
here is a list of benefits of labor time reductions:

1) Put everyone to work who wants to.

2) Create the kind of shortage of labor that would force wages up.

3) Provide real economic security to workers, enabling them to do the
right things for both people and the planet, enabling workers to boycott
occupations lacking redeeming social values, and without fear of suffering
unemployment as a result of following their conscience. Such security
would also eliminate fear of getting locked into any one job, and would
enable them to pick and choose the occupation that best suits them.

4) Improve productivity by eliminating worker fatigue.

5) Encourage technological innovation, enabling further work reductions.

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

7) Enhance domestic harmony and bliss.

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

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

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

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

12) Enable reductions in unemployment insurance premiums.

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

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

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

For those who might be interested in where technology may someday take
society, check out this website:

http://www.KurzweilAI.net/index.html?flash=1

Another brilliant site is: http://www.Timesizing.com

 

7-30-01

Yo, Bro' Ben,

> snip us > Quoting Bro' Ken:
>> I regard the era of work to be incompatible with socialism. Work
>> creates wealth, giving people a sense of a stake in what they produce,
>> and preventing workers (whose blood, sweat and tears makes them very
>> protective of the wealth they produce) from abandoning the institution of
>> private property with reckless abandon. Activists should try to be realistic
>> about things like democracy and property, and not try to contradict
>> popular beliefs.>>
>
> But how will wealth be produced unless it is
> socially produced? It won't happen by magic.

Sorry about our misinterpretation. As we know, socially produced
wealth is part and parcel of capitalism, and all previous systems of
production as well. I was merely taking issue with Marx's idea of
'work under socialism' because I think that the precondition for
socialism is the abolition of work, but I may be alone in that
belief among modern socialists. But, M+E sometimes hinted
at the same things I advocate:

In 1875, Engels wrote: "The revolution that modern socialism
strives to achieve is, briefly, the victory of the proletariat over
the bourgeoisie and the establishment of a new organisation
of society by the destruction of all class distinctions.
"

In his 1875 letter to Bebel, Engels wrote: "The German workers'
party strives to abolish wage labour and hence class distinctions by
introducing co-operative production into industry and agriculture,
and on a national scale; it is in favour of any measure calculated
to attain that end!
"

From those 2 statements, the abolition of wage labor is the
precondition to the abolition of class distinctions, and the abolition
of class distinctions is the precondition to socialism, or Engels' 'new
organisation of society
'. Plus, we already know from our previous
messages that the struggle for higher wages and shorter work hours
are valid means of abolishing wage labor. Putting it all together, THE
ABOLITION OF WAGE LABOR BECOMES THE PRECONDITION
FOR SOCIALISM. So, Bro', does it add up the same way for you?

> Yes, full automation of unpleasant or boring tasks is one factor that will lead to
> less work needing to be done in a socialist society (alongside the disappearance
> of socially useless or destructive jobs which will be rendered obsolete by the
> abolition of capitalism). But food will still need to be grown, housing built,
> medical services provided, books printed etc. etc.. So how can the social
> production of wealth be "abolished" by any system of society?

A time will come when no more human labor will be required, wage-
labor and class distinctions abolished, and even the stop-gap volunteers
of a lower stage of socialism will be replaced by the smarter machines
of a higher stage. Necessities will be entirely machine-made, and 'social
production' will cease, because society will no longer produce, except
maybe to democratically express their will as to the general direction
of production, if the machines don't do that for us as well.

> I agree with talk about the "end of work", because I understand this
> to mean the end of: exploitation and surplus value, the wages system,
> the tyranny of the working week, being trapped in a narrow range of
> jobs for your whole working life, management and hierarchy and the
> poverty that forces us to sell ourselves to an exploiter.

OK up to here.

> Nobody will be forced to do work they don't want to in a socialist
> society. The work we do will be decided on by *ourselves*.

If the WSM revolution happened tomorrow, then someone would
still have to do things like plumbing, heating, and electrical work.
What if so many people said 'I am free' and refused to work that
not enough work got done? If robots didn't step in to take over all
of the chores we refused to do, then the infrastructure would
crumble. Today, a living wage is all of the incentive we need to
keep on working until the robots finally evolve to do it all for us.

> Common ownership and free access also means the end
> of artificial scarcity and poverty,

Common ownership can no longer be imposed upon society,
as demonstrated by recent rejections of 'too much, too soon'
approaches to socialism in less-developed countries. Common
ownership is something we will have to grow into.

Free access will guarantee that slackers will slack off and watch others
work, demoralizing those who choose to work, and who will have to work
harder and longer in order to make up for those who choose not to.

"Artificial scarcity and poverty" won't disappear until no human
labor is required to create necessities.

> ... so where will be the attachment to the "things" we socially produce?
> All will be able to avail themselves of everything from humanity's common store.

For as long as production remains social, and requires direct
human input and constant attention, then people will be attached
to the product of their labor, as surely as parents are attached to
their kids. Remove the physical connection between wealth and
work, and the emotional attachment is removed as well.

The willingness of some people to take advantage of the lack of
coercion by slacking will quickly create resentment that 'I bloody
well feel socially pressured to work, but you don't feel compelled
to do anything but goof off.' Pretty soon, people would be wanting
to bring back 'no work, no food' policies, with enforcement options.
Pretty soon, society would be back to where it was. A change in con-
sciousness BEFORE the abolition of authority is what's needed. The
abolition of labor plus the abolition of class distinctions will provide
precisely the requisite change in consciousness conducive to the gradual
abolition of the state and property in a higher stage of socialism.

> Also, workers are *not* "protective of the wealth they produce".
> They never own any of it anyway. It belongs to their employer.
> A car worker will
not feel personally protective of cars s/he works
> on in producing because they know full well that they *don't* own
> them. It comes off the production line to be sent to a showroom or
> whatever and *sold*. That same car worker might well buy one of
> these cars at some point and feel protective of it then, but that is a
> different matter (of personal property - something we've been
> discussing for some time).

Not every worker's relationship to the product of their labor is as
impersonal as production line work. While true that some workers
could give a fat fig for the product with which they barely have a
relationship, other workers in smaller industries often feel a fondness
for the fruits of their labors. 99% of the people I worked with regarded
the subjects of their labor as 'their babies'. Mistreat the products, and die. :-)

Just think of what life would be like if no one took pride in their
work and accomplishments. Refineries would blow up, planes
would fall from the sky, wheels would fall off our cars while going
down the street, half the food would be poisoned or rotten, etc.
The economy ticks along smoothly because most workers care.

Workers are encouraged to regard everything they do with respect
and care, and positive attitudes are rewarded with advancement and
tenure. People with negative attitudes often do not last long at some
jobs. Just because socially produced wealth accrues mainly to the rich,
we shouldn't forget the incentives of wages, especially the incentives
of HIGH wages. With long hours, wages can often be high, raising
the standard of living far above the Lassallean minimum. The wealth
that surrounds us convinces me that wages must always have been high
enough in the USA that no workers' party ever became essential. M+E
long ago remarked on the relative lack of class struggle in the USA. No
struggle, no party. Present-day sects espousing property socialism are
so divorced from reality that they barely count for anything.

>> <<KE: Private ownership is nowhere near as bad a situation
>> as private CONTROL. Workers' control is impossible for as
>> long as workers compete for scarce jobs. For as many workers
>> who refuse to do certain tasks out of moral compunction, a dozen
>> more will be eager and willing to do the dirty work, preventing
>> workers' control.>>
>
> Agreed. Solidarity can bring about workers' control, or at least
> an effective counter-weight to the power of the bourgeoisie. But
> the ruling class have got control because they have got ownership.
> We haven't, so we have to work for them and produce surplus
> value in return for a wage with which to support ourselves.

I used to work near a few refineries, and this one union shop was
running scared that reports of some health and safety violations
might become public. Bosses had a record of mercilessly tracking
down sources of news leaks, and then firing and blacklisting workers.
Just the ability to report such violations would have improved workers'
control immensely, but workers' control was prevented by the terror
that's part of competition for scarce jobs. Thus, in at least that instance,
the dynamic that prevented workers' control was the competition for
scarce jobs, and not the private ownership.

>> KE: 'Economic dictatorship'? Have you been reading Arnold
>> Petersen? How is this economic dictatorship manifested? So far,
>> the only dictatorships I know about are POLITICAL dictatorships.
>
> No. Who's Petersen?

See my recent reply to Jean-Paul of the American SLP, or my web site
for a more complete description of the lies of that early ASLP theoretician.

> There is economic dictatorship because a tiny minority
> exercise private and state ownership over the means of
> producing and distributing wealth. Thus everything in
> society is geared towards sale on a market with a view
> to profit. Everything is thus run according to the *dictates*
> of capital. No profit? No production. No money? No food.

Marx and Engels never used the term 'economic dictatorship',
but A.P. did, putting you in dubious company. Dictatorship
implies authority and coercion, whereas economy is 'civil trade
of money for commodities and services, and vice-versa', which
is mostly quite removed from force and coercion, which usually
slows economies down. Private ownership of means of production
is also a civil, socially respected relationship, and so are production
and distribution. Rules apply to all economic activity, enabling court
remedies, but rules can mostly be ignored for as long as everyone
abides by them. Most people are willing to abide, which is why
the economy usually ticks along so smoothly.

>> <<KE: How can you be so optimistic about the possibility of
>> expropriation, given the lack of exciting causes for revolution?>>
>
> There's plenty of exciting "causes", but none more important
> than our own *lives* and what we want to do with them.
> Personally I find this much more exciting than abstract "causes".

Despite the excitement and enthusiasm, a handful of revolutionaries
doth not a revolution make. Revolutionaries need the company of lots
of other revolutionaries. Oh, to live in the days of M, E + L, when so
many people were interested. Why they were interested back then is
the reason they are not interested today. The political prerequisites
for revolution no longer exist in the Western Hemisphere.

> And our interests as workers are at odds completely
> with the interests of the capitalist class.

The polar opposition is quite a bit truer with regard
to hours of labor than to many other issues.

> Socialism will be the outcome of this antagonism and its
> resolution (the classless society). The class war is not going away...

Socialism will be the outcome, whether or not we try to MAKE it
the outcome, but it's more exciting and personally rewarding for
conscious people to play at least a little role in pushing society
along the route it is fated to travel.

>> <<snip > George wrote his description
>> of socialism in the context of FULL AUTOMATION,
>> which to me signifies 'workless and classless society',
>> which is not consistent with the WSM program of
>> 'work under socialism', so I was distressed by the
>> way George Jackson's letter was unapologetically
>> used to lend weight to WSM socialism.>>
>
> Totally disagree with you. What sort of "work under socialism"
> programme puts the WSM in a different political camp from George
> Jackson, a fellow communist, albeit from a different tradition?

George's 'full automation' implies a WORKLESS society,
whereas the WSM suggests that people will WORK during
classless, stateless, moneyless, propertyless society. Isn't there
a bit of a difference between 'work' and 'workless'? Therefore,
wasn't the stage George described DIFFERENT from the WSM's
description of socialism?

> We're also talking about maximum automation where people *want* that
> (they might not want automation or might want to de-automate some processes).

But, the text of the Jackson letter said 'full automation', meaning workless society.
What's the difference between 'full' automation and 'maximum' automation?

De-automation? To preserve work? We might as well all hang ourselves.
Society is supposed to evolve, not degenerate into work when it doesn't
have to (excluding arts and crafts and matters of personal choice).

> Anyhow, the late 60s/early 70s were much more utopian
> times in terms of what people thought could be achieved
> with the "white heat of technology", hence more emphasis
> on technical solutions maybe.

In the infancy of electronics 30-40 years back, people were a
lot less sure of the dates for the achievement of certain changes.
Today, it is easier to predict a vastly different world in 2040. With
computers having the brains of a human by 2010, and with those
smarts fitting into a teacup by 2020, and with another few more
years of subsequent progress, we are talking mega-changes very
soon, which Bro' Ben will probably live to see with his own 2 eyes.

>> <<KE: workers probably won't see any more need to be organized
>> tomorrow than they do today. Labor-time socialism takes that into
>> account. All that will be required will be a MOVEMENT for a
>> shorter work week, higher overtime premiums, longer vacations, etc.>>
>
> So workers never need to actually consciously reject
> capitalism in order to abolish it?

If the abolition of capitalism absolutely 100% depended on
expropriation (instead of on the abolition of wage labor), then
consciousness would be required, for sure. Because capitalist
exploitation will instead be abolished when volunteers replace
the remaining wage labor, most people will sleep through that
change. We are due for a little evolution, but no more revolutions.

> And will the ruling class just accept
> such improvements in wages and conditions?

All that is essential is get on the track of labor time reductions,
higher overtime premiums, longer vacations, etc., and victory is
ours. In democracies with universal suffrage, success will be as
unaggressive as a few amendments to existing laws.

> What's to stop such gains being attacked and destroyed
> in the future? "People won't stand for it", maybe?

If people become convinced that labor time reductions are in
their interests, then their politicians had better feel the same
way, or they will not be re-elected.

> No doubt the same was said about the National Health Service
> here in the UK - another supposed "stepping stone to socialism"
> and as hugely popular as short hours, long holidays and triple-
> time pay would be. But it has been savaged and set on the path
> to privatisation without too much blood on the streets...

Funny thing what's going on in the U.K. - seems all around pretty
opposite to the Continent. Yin and yang? Social evolution never
seems to go in a straight line. Some countries lead, while others
lag behind. Engels noted that some backward-leaning countries
can play first fiddle in philosophy.

>> snip repetition >

>>> <<BM: > snip > a surprising number of people
>>> have said "yes" they would "vote" for abolition
>>> of the private property/money system > snip >
>>
>> KE: Surprising number? Surprise me with a number.
>> I wonder why overtly socialist parties in the USA often
>> get less than 1% at election times.>>
>
> There are no figures. It's just an example that
more people
> than you think - when push comes to shove - say "yes" to
> the abolition of private property.

Example? My dictionary says "single part or unit used as a
sample; typical instance
" .. I wonder how 'typical' your example is.

> But which of these "socialist" parties are actually standing on this platform?
> They are not asking this question, they are presenting ever
more pathetic
> reform packages and the rejigging of the private property, profit system.

If the WSM were as popular as the party that got .2% of the vote, then
the people of Monroe County of New York State could have chosen
between 2 different parties of expropriation, and the results compared.

>> <<KE: People have energy, and often like to expend it in
>> cooperative and productive labor, for at least part of the day.>>
>
> Yes indeed! So how does this square with a "world without work"?
> Work in this sense, or rather *the enjoyable release of energy in tasks
> that may or may not be materially "productive"* will continue as long
> as humanity does.
>
> Cheers for now.
>
> Yours, as ever, for the end of wage slavery,
>
> Ben.

A 'world without work' may not be the most desirable evolution
imaginable for workaholics and others who enjoy economic
activity and struggle, but capitalist competition is driving us
towards a 'world without work', which few people are fighting
against, so a way to adapt to it will probably be figured out.

Ken Ellis

http://www.libcap.net

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


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