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Selected Political Correspondence

September to December 2001

Text coloring decodes as follows:

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

9-01-01

Mike Morin wrote:

> I've repeatedly endorsed Ken's objectives. The devil is in the details.
> When he gets into specific proposals I see many faults in the logic of his
> arguments particularly in the way that he understands (or misunderstands)
> the relationships between and among governments, employers and workers...

Faults? Misunderstandings? When? Where?

Creating a reasonable list of legislative proposals is a good step for the
working class movement. If the shorter work time forum can generally
agree on a few proposals, then this forum ought to be able to agree on
a few reasonable proposals as well.

Ken Ellis

 

9-01-01

R. Paul Martin may very well have an interesting point here:

> Kenneth Ellis wrote:
>>
>> .... The issue may never die until we agree and ensure that
>> everyone who wants some air time can get some. ....
>
> LOL! Well, I guess this is a permanent issue then. Immortal, even.
>
> There are 168 hours in a week, that's 10,080 minutes. Your idea of
> everyone who wants some air time getting some will definitely not
> allow "everyone" an hour a week. And if word got out that this was
> the criterion for getting air time at WBAI I wonder if we'd be able to
> accommodate "everyone" by giving each person a minute per week.
>
> At one minute per month I think that your idea may become possible. The
> radio station would reach equilibrium because there would be as many people
> walking away from their one minute programs as would be applying for new
> ones. The transitions between shows would really be something!
> --
> http://www.glib.com/

It's hard to say how valid this critique really is until the requests for
program time actually come dribbling in. It's one thing to scream from
the sidelines against exclusion, and it's another thing entirely to put together
a valid program proposal. In my previous post, I implied COMMUNITIES of
common interest putting together proposals, not a million scattered individuals.
(It would be one heck of a news 'department' whose members insisted on
working alone to broadcast a news program.)

Ken Ellis, ex-KaPooFA engineer

 

9-02-01

Mike wrote the other day (and Li'l Joe reiterated the sentiment):

> Ken,
>
> Put together a "draft legislative proposal".

I lack the legislative or legal training to provide precise language,
but here are 12 planks the shorter work time forum worked on:

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

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

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

4: Replace fixed salaries with hourly rates of pay.

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

6: A shorter work week with no reduction in pay, such as '35 instead of 40'.

7: Portal to portal pay.

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

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

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

11: Universal health care.

12: Proportional representation

Your opinions and ruminations will be most welcome.

Ken Ellis

 

9-03-01

> --- In RBG-Alliance@y..., dddddd0814@a... wrote: Ken and Joan,
>
> Is it any wonder that this kind of violence is occurring among the
> 'pet demographic' of the white bourgeoisie? Think about the violence of
> colonialism, sanctioning acts by 'common white folks' against indigenous
> people in what is now the U.S., by migrants, using the excuse of 'manifest
> destiny' to spread across the continent.
>
> We look at the sanctioned scalping rape and body mutilation committed
> by 'common white' people on the North American Indians, and then
> wonder why it is white people who are the school shooters, road ragers,
> serial killers, child molesters, etc.
>
> Think about the ruling elite which is the only nation-state in the world to
> have purposely, and with no attempt to be at all secretive, used atomic
> bombs on innocent civilians.
>
> I think it was someone here who posted how the same day that Clinton
> spoke out in Colorado about the incidents there, he ordered more
> bombing of women and children in Iraq.
>
> We live in a culture of violence, which must be completely overturned.

I agree that 'we live in a culture of violence', but 'overturning' it doesn't
conjure up much of a solution. Perhaps dddddd could be more specific
about how to 'overturn' the culture of violence. We are looking for
concrete solutions, but please, no more 'cement factory' jokes. :-)

> In a message dated 8/26/01 10:52:33 AM, kennethellis@e... writes:
>
>> Joan inquired:
>>
>>> School violence on the news is usually committed by white,
>>> middle-class kids... -- how is this caused by poverty?
>>
>> Rereading message 4120, 'poverty causes school violence' wasn't stated.
>>
>> But, using the massacre at Littleton, CO, as an example, the two protagonists,
>> Harris and Kinkel, could hardly be described as poor. But, their odd behaviors
>> indicated alienation. Many people were somewhat concerned with the tell-tale
>> signs of something amiss, but not enough to prevent the tragedy.
>>
>> Poverty in the midst of splendor is one manifestation of our society going
>> awry, and alienation and violent outbursts are others. All the more reasons
>> for the politically active to promote feasible solutions befitting this era of
>> rapid technological change.
>>
>> Ken Ellis

 

9-03-01

Mike Morin wrote about the 12 program suggestions:

> It's beyond me...
>
> Good luck, I guess...
>
> Sincerely,
>
> Mike

When a few dozen people spend a couple of months hammering out and
agreeing on 12 items they'd like to see legislated, "It's beyond me" hardly
qualifies as a compelling critique of those efforts. A bourgeois monitoring
this forum could smile contentedly, knowing that we will never get anywhere,
and that status quo exploitation is assured.

Come on, Mike, can you please do a better job validating or invalidating
their program? Bringing about progress takes effort.

> -----Original Message----- snip repetition

Ken Ellis

9-03-01

--- In RBG-Alliance@y..., TgRhiannon@a... wrote:

> But I am now officially leaving the list ...
>
> Joan
>
> "The only thing that is certain in this world is that things will change.
> Whether they change for the better or for the worse is up to us."

Bye, Joan,

Thanks for the intellectual stimulation. I enjoyed it. Bon voyage
in your cyberspace travels.

Bro'Ken :-)

 

9-05-01

I wonder about the strategy around elections:

Surely the listeners are not desperately screaming for them.

Lawsuits are not yet settled, and it's a mystery as to what a court might
order if Pacifica were to fall under a limited receivership.

If activists have only limited means of reaching listeners, then it's
doubtful if a judge would regard what's done in the meantime as
representing listeners' interests.

Because listeners would not have much of an idea about what was voted for
while Pacifica withholds critical information from them, a court might want
to ignore any elections held outside of court supervision. If I were a judge,
I certainly would ignore election results under present conditions.

Holding elections now may be like Americans trying to intelligently decide
between Bush, Gore, or Nader in the middle of a total press blackout.

Perhaps someone could give a compelling short argument FOR elections.

Ken Ellis

 

9-06-01

Here's a little tidbit you might find interesting, but I can't remember where I found it:

> John R. Commons, the well known USA labor historian, wrote that "the
> earliest evidence of [labor] unrest" was a pamphlet circulated by workers
> that demanded daily working hours be reduced from "12 to 10, to 8, to 6,
> and so on" until, in the workers' words, "the development and progress of
> science have reduced human labor to its lowest terms."

If labor demanded and won work-week reductions, longer vacations,
more days off, higher overtime premiums, earlier retirement, etc.,
the world would become a lot nicer to live in.

Ken Ellis

 

9-08-01

If activists have already won access to listener-subscriber lists,
then I stand chastened and rebuked for the following:

Jim DeMaegt wrote:

> I am worried that if we do not have elections now we will be significantly
> weakened in our chance to win. Or to put it more positively we will gain a
> great deal of strength in our fight to democratize Pacifica if we have elections
> in all of the signal areas now.

Bob Feldman wrote:

> Having some individual legal Establishment judge use a judicial process that
> doesn't involve listener-sponsor participation to impose a resolution of the
> Pacificagate Censorship/NPRization/Listener Disenfranchisement Crisis
> seems like a more anti-democratic strategy than the strategic approach
> of organizing listener elections.
>
> bob

If activists do not have access to lists of listener-subscribers, and thus
have inadequate means to inform them of the issues, then I wonder
what an election would accomplish.

Without first eliminating gag rules and establishing democratic structures, I
wonder if elections would be as inconsequential for listeners as national politics
would be affected if Ralph Nader replaced Bob Avakian as head of the RCP.

Not too many years ago in Europe, democracy could not be practiced
on a national level until intransigent feudal monarchies were replaced
with democracies. In the same manner, Pacifica will have to be
democratized BEFORE elections will have any significance.

Access to subscribers lists is essential if activists want subscribers
to elect new Local Boards, because only then would listeners become
adequately aware of the issues, and use their awareness to make good
decisions, and choose better candidates.

If subscriber lists are inaccessible, then fair elections remain impossible,
and only a sham election would result. Are sham elections better than no
elections at all?

Ken Ellis

 

9-09-01

Mike Morin presented a pretty good 14 point plan, but a couple of points
might need more work:

> 7.) Department of Defense funding would be substantially reduced and reassigned.

That proposal might be so general as to frighten a lot of people. One could be more
specific about existing unpopular projects, and put the Pentagon on a leaner diet by
proposing, for example: "eliminate all funding for Star Wars type projects".

> 10.) Stockholder corporations would be phased out in favor of cooperative
> communitarian socialist business entities (as introduced in item #'s 3. and 5.)

Because of the sanctity of the institution of private property, #10 would be
rejected by most Americans.

Combining the better of the 14 points with those of the Shorter Work Time
group could result in a quite decent program.

Ken Ellis

 

9-10-01

Hi, Joan,

> it seems you and i have very different visions of the future based on
> different values. you praise increased dependence on computers and
> a possibility of eliminating work altogether.

I regard total unemployment as inevitable (unless the wheels of innovation
can be halted at some point, but no one can prevent innovation, because most
people want ALL problems of production solved permanently). Millions of
people dedicate their careers trying to eliminate drudgery of all sorts, and
their numbers swell at a rate that spells doom for drudgery.

> and i suppose i am more of a traditionalist, with my vegetable garden and old
> well pump, my love for the outdoors and satisfaction in a day's work...

I too manage a small garden. I have strawberries, raspberries, asparagus,
onions, rhubarb and broccoli, and I nurture a lot of little trees which I hope
will someday grow into big ones. My neighborhood was quite barren when
the family got here in 1954, so I want to make up for lost time by planting
lots of trees now. I also have a lot of grass to mow, and dirt to move around.
Doing projects my own way results in a bit of satisfaction (when things go right).

> i have no doubt the future will bring more computers and more
> leisure time, and i hope you enjoy your chosen entertainment.
> but i also hope you would-be technological prophets intend
> to leave the rest of us room to make our choices as well.

Enslaving machines (instead of people) to do our bidding will mean that we
will someday create a new and WHOLESOME basis for human relationships.
The myriad ways in which people now fight one another is a sad spectacle.

> as for ayn rand, i don't have time now to search out the best quotes, but
> remind me. i'll find some good ones when i get the chance. or you could
> just read atlas shrugged for yourself :-)

If I can ever get off of this damned computer, I would, but I'm stuck on a new
project. A fan suggested that I make my correspondence available at my web
site, so I am preparing some 'Selected Correspondence', but it means spending
more time at my computer than what I want. Then I am supposed to gather all
of the thoughts in the correspondence into a giant essay (or yet another book).
Misericorde. I'll die from this work.

> i'm not on the mailing list anymore, but i thought a few of these emails you
> sent me deserved a response.
> Joan

Always glad to be able to do a little creative writing and let my imagination
run free. (Why has 'creative writing' taken on the meaning of 'telling tall tales'
in recent times? Or, is 'telling tall tales' what 'creative writing' always meant?)

Best wishes,
Ken Ellis

 

9-11-01

Hi, Alan,

Just a little note to let you know that I haven't dropped the ball. I gathered
up all of my year 2000 and 2001 selected correspondence into 3 ordinary
word processing documents, and they totaled exactly 1400 pages, which is
almost 3 times as long as my book at my web site. Wow!

Now I am doing a little more formatting and clean-up before exporting it to my
Page Mill HTML program. I'll let you know how that comes out.

I also plan to gather the original thoughts from the correspondence
into a very long essay (or another book), as well as into shorter essays.

It's looking like a lot of work. One step at a time, I guess. Be good.

Best wishes,
Ken Ellis

 

9-11-01

Hi, Alan, Thanks for the enthusiasm expressed. I do occasionally need a little
boost for my often flagging spirits.

snip

PS: American complicity in Israel's denial of equal rights to Palestinians has
never been right. It looks like some terrorists are going to make the USA pay
for it. Maybe these events will elevate the level of national debate. It may
be time for Americans to notify politicians to stop supporting Israel.

 

9-12-01

Many months after applying, I received in this morning's e-mail:

> Hello,
>
> The moderator of the FPIOC group has denied
> your request for membership.
>
> The moderator of each Yahoo! Groups group chooses whether
> to restrict membership in his or her group. Moderators who
> choose to restrict membership also choose whom to admit.
>
> Please note that this decision is final and that Yahoo! Groups
> does not control group membership.

These fine upholders of the principles of free speech can obviously
afford to practice the bourgeois politics of exclusion.

Ken Ellis

 

9-12-01

> Mike Morin had written:
>
>>> 10.) Stockholder corporations would be phased out in favor of cooperative
>>> communitarian socialist business entities (as introduced in item #'s 3. and 5.)
>
> Ken Ellis responded:
>
>> Because of the sanctity of the institution of private property,
>> #10 would be rejected by most Americans.
>
> Mike Morin replies:
>
> I think sanctity of private property is more of a myth than a reality upheld by
> the propertied minority that control the majority of wealth in the USA, notably
> through their involvement with the Republican and Democratic parties.

Myth? When so many Americans own their own homes, cars, TVs, boats, etc.?
In a country where half of the population owns a piece of the stock market?

> Besides, my proposal does not preclude the notion of private property, it
> focuses on mutualization and equitization of the way that property is held...

Well, if private property is not the cause of our problems,
then why redistribute ownership?

If, as socialists believe, the institution of private property is doomed to eventually
die out, then I wonder why anyone should worry about redistributing property when
it will all disappear anyway. The rich may very well depend on their property for their
livelihoods, but the poor are more dependent on jobs. So, what NEEDS redistributing
and sharing is the remaining productive labor. A million American manufacturing
jobs were lost over the past year, and accelerating productivity gains will hasten
the total loss of every manufacturing job before long.

> -----Original Message----- snip

Ken Ellis

 

9-12-01

Dear Editor,

In the Sept. 12 edition, Gary Ackerman of the Monterey Institute disconnected
the terrorist acts from American policy, and instead described them as an attack
on America's democracy. He didn't convince me.

It's like saying that the CIA-ITT-Kissinger overthrow of Chile's Social-
Democratic government in 1973 was unrelated to Chile's intent to nationalize
the copper industry, which ITT had a stake in keeping private.

The USA sends billions of dollars to help Israel maintain a system of political
inequality between Jews and Arabs, similar to how it would be if some New
Bedfordites were denied the right to vote, based simply on their Portuguese heritage.

Our complicity in the injustices perpetrated on foreign soil makes us
vulnerable to terrorist acts. Americans should tell their politicians to
withhold foreign aid to Israel, which would force Israel to the
bargaining table, and to treat Palestinians like equals.

Ken Ellis

 

9-12-01

Edwin Johnston suggested:

> Denied membership to listserve, not to FPIOC.
> Strange thing is you don't have to be a member to post or read messages
> on the listserve.
> So what's your problem?
> Do you want to be part of FPIOC? I don't get it.

I didn't get it either until Slasher explained what happened.

Thanks, Slasher. Much appreciated. It's no longer an issue with me.

Ken Ellis

 

9-12-01

Dear Bro' Ben,

I've been lurking at the site since I was suspended over a month ago,
and haven't noticed any or many postings from you.

I considered asking Lew for re-instatement, but really don't have much to say
there anymore. It irks me so much not be able to say what I want that it may
not be worth trying again on that forum. When I first got into the WSM forum
over a year ago, I openly speculated that I would be censored, and it really did
come to pass a few times, but this time permanently.

I'm never censored on the RBG forum, and I had quite a conversation with a
hard-core Leninist. Moderation there is invisible, and we were able to fight
out our differences to an (unsatisfactory) finish (because of my worthy
opponent's state of denial).

An admirer from RBG suggested that I do something with my wealth of
correspondence, so I gathered it up into some word processing files, and
they total 1400 pages since 1-1-2000, almost 3 times longer than my book
of SLP lies. Wow. I hope to make it all available at my web site in another
month or so, and then write a long essay (or book) based on all of the ideas
in the correspondence. I have much more time to do this, now that forum life
is presently so dead.

It was real nice to correspond with as thoughtful an individual as you.

Best wishes,
Bro'Ken

 

9-13-01

Rafael Renteria wrote:

> Ken;
>
> There is no activity on the list you refer to. If you want to attack lists
> for exclusivism, you might start with the Alliance list.
>
> Rafael

Thanks for the information, but the Slasher and Edwin
already informed me yesterday.

What is the Alliance list? Not the RBG Alliance list, I don't think.
They treat me fine, but I was expelled from the SLP-Houston forum,
and suspended from the WSM Socialism forum a month ago.

Ken Ellis

 

9-14-01

Hi, Michael,

> Hey Ken,
>
> Would you please tell me your sources for these quotes in the last chapter
> of your book. I need to know them so i can argue with some people:
>
> In 1891, Engels stated as a certainty that 'the working class and its party
> can only come to power in the form of a democratic republic', which he
> regarded as 'the specific form of the dictatorship of the proletariat'.

"Critique of the Draft Social-Democratic Programme of 1891"
(Marx-Engels Selected Works, Volume III, p. 435):

"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."

Or, if the 50 volumes of the ME Collected Works are available,
it's also on page 227 of Volume 27.

> also Engels also wrote to the effect that 'Workers in England have a
> good-enough democracy to get what they want'.

That's a bit more difficult to pin down. I remember finding it in Berkeley's
Niebyl-Proctor Library for social sciences, somewhere in the rare 3 volume set
of Engels-Lafargue Correspondence, and I would have to find some unfindable
notes in order to pin down its exact location, or else go across country to see
if I can find it again in that library.

If not findable now in the Marx-Engels Collected Works, it will be in the next
year or so. The last 2 volumes have yet to be published, and it's probably in those
last 2 volumes. I haven't yet finished reading volume 48, volume 49 will probably
be published in a few more months, and volume 50 in 2002, depending on how
close the offices of International Publishers were to the recently demolished
WTC buildings in New Yawk.

> Also check out the Larouche sites some time www.larouchepub.com
> www.larouchein2004.com
>
> Michael

Will do.

In other news, I gathered my political correspondence (since going on the Internet
a year and a half ago) into some word processing documents, and they total nearly
1400 pages. I plan to make the correspondence available at my web site, and then
'the activist guide to ideology' will be based upon what's in the correspondence.

Best wishes,
Ken Ellis

 

9-16-01

Mike Morin quoted me:

>> Well, if private property is not the cause of our problems,
>> then why redistribute ownership?
>
> Mike Morin responds:
>
> Because property, wealth, and income are very inequitably distributed
> (in America and the world) and have become increasingly so in the
> past twenty years...

The distribution is undeniably inequitable, but why inequitable? The REASON
is the KEY to our solution. If property, wealth and income are little more than
checkers to be moved around on the checkerboard, then some might think
nothing is left but to USE FORCE to move some checkers to where they
can be better used. But economics is more complex than that.

Economics, that 'dismal science', answers the questions: Why do some people
always end up with more property than other people? Why do some people have
good jobs at high wages, more people have so-so jobs at mediocre wages, and
many have lousy jobs at low wages?

The more income people have, the more property they can buy. The more
income-yielding property they buy, the more income they have, and so on.

The rich and the government conspire to maintain low wages (and consequent
high profits) by setting the length of the work week unnecessarily high, forcing
workers to compete in a crowded labor market, driving wages down and social
misery up, thereby inspiring a certain amount of income redistribution,
preventing mass suffering from becoming too great an outrage.

Before the present era of big government, and while Americans were migrating
Westward, wealth and income was hardly redistributed by the force of government,
but today government redistributes it on a mass scale. Has government redistribution
solved our poverty problems? Ha. The paucity of the solution is why a lot of people
campaign for MORE redistributions.

Wealth, income and property can be redistributed until the cows come home,
but, until the maldistribution of JOBS is addressed, wealth will have to be
redistributed again and again and again, ad infinitum, ad nauseam, and there
are zillions of ways to redistribute it, keeping bureaucrats well occupied.

In the long view, capitalism is a very dynamic system, and is heading
for its own self-destruction. It will self-destruct as soon as the last wage-
paying job disappears forever, which could happen within 40 years.

Just the way the nation thinks it can afford to turn a blind eye to the
foreign policies that make a terrorists' target out of the USA, the left
thinks it can afford to ignore the obvious ongoing replacement of human
labor with machines, and the consequences that process has for leftist
strategy, which adopted wealth, income, and property redistribution
before Marx was born, so inertia is a big factor in leftist ineffectiveness.

If FDR's New Deal couldn't bring lasting prosperity and permanent solutions,
then a rehash of those policies won't do much better. What will make today's
progressive community more aware of the inadequacy of wealth redistribution?

> Ken had also written:
>
>> Myth? When so many Americans own their own homes, cars, TVs, boats, etc.?
>> In a country where half of the population owns a piece of the stock market?
>
> Mike replies:
>
> Consumerism will prove to be the bane of the American civilization as we
> come harder and harder up against the limits of the natural world and the
> intense competition that functions under those limits.

Consumerism outclasses spiritualism in today's world, because, with record
levels of productivity, more tangibles than ever are produced. Productivity is
so high that people can barely find jobs creating tangibles anymore. A million
manufacturing jobs were lost over the past year, demonstrating that what needs
redistributing is productive work, far more than tangible property. Create an
artificial shortage of labor to put as many people to work as possible, and all
American poverty problems would be solved. If the progressive community
would concentrate on doing just that one thing, then it would gain the credibility
that it has sought for so long, but which forever remains out of reach because of
their mis-guided emphasis on socialist wealth, income, and property redistribution,
which accomplishes little more than 'upping the ante' on the fight over tangibles.

> As far as half the country holding a piece of the stock market:
>
> 1.) I don't necessarily believe that to be a fact.

Maybe I should have said 'Half of American FAMILIES own stocks.' Behold:

http://www.iht.com/IHT/SR/120399/sr120399l.html

The Rise of the Investor Class: How Far Can It Go?

By James K. Glassman, International Herald Tribune, Friday, December 3, 1999

"In their book ''Myths of Rich and Poor,'' Michael Cox and Richard Alm point
out that, for most of human history, just meeting basic needs consumed all the
income that people could earn. As recently as the beginning of the 20th century,
a typical American ''spent $76 out of every $100 for food, clothing and shelter,''
they write. ''By the 1990s, it had fallen to $37 out of every $100.'' As the
economic problem is solved, remember that prosperity is not an end in
itself. Income is just fuel. The question is where we want to go."

"Today, 48 percent of American families own stocks - up from 10 percent in
1965 and 20 percent in 1990. The number of households owning mutual funds
has risen from 4.6 million in 1980 to 48.4 million today. And the number of
self-directed 401(k) retirement accounts has quintupled since 1984."

> 2.) That which is held is held very unequally.

True. But, many are familiar with the old saw: 'Redistribute all of the
money to everyone equally, and it wouldn't take long before it once again
concentrates in a few hands.
' Getting control of the labor market is the key
to all of our poverty problems, but the left is content to leave the labor market
under the control of the bosses. The left blissfully and ignorantly blames the
rich for all social problems, thereby relieving themselves of all responsibility,
freeing their fingers to point at others. The bourgeois left can afford to allow
its belief system to remain intact and impermeable, while the working class
left will have to re-examine its beliefs, if it wants to make any lasting progress.

> 3.) Money invested in paper stock certificates will become increasingly valueless.

Is that because the market is in decline today, or is there another reason?

Here is Mike's fourteen point plan (with quote marks removed):

Tuesday, October 17, 2000 - 06:12 pm

1.) Comprehensive Regional Land Use Planning - Planning Areas to be de-
fined. Large states (in terms of land area) may have more than one regional
commission. Small states, such as in the Northeast and New England may be
combined. The primary focus would be on metropolitan areas, and bioregions
would be a consideration. Of course, there would be a need for many rural
planning districts. Planning districts would often cross state lines (for
example the New York City Metro District would probably extend
into parts of Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York State).

2.) Metropolitan Tax Base Revenue Sharing would be enabled (perhaps
required), supported, and subsidized with Federal incentives and monies.

3.) Tax Increment Funding would be enabled (perhaps required), but
the definition of blighted areas would be strictly defined and substantial
penalties for using TIF for sprawl development strongly enforced. Only
quasi-public, not-for-profit regional community development corporations
would be allowed to employ TIF programs. (See item #5 for a discussion
of RCDCs). RCDCs would be allowed to joint venture with private
enterprise as a transitional strategy (see item # 10.).

4.) Preservation of ALL prime farmlands would be required. Federal
policy would require and provide incentives and financial support for the
full implementation of agricultural zoning, UGBs, PDRs, TDRs, right to
farm provisions, and property tax abatement programs. Furthermore,
Federal programs would directly and indirectly support community
activities to subsidize local agricultural business operations. Special
advantages, educational, organizational, and research and development
funding would be given to cooperative business organizations that would
support sustainable, ecological, and humane agricultural operations.

5.) The Federal government would enable, facilitate, foster, and support the
creation of regional business organizations (regional community development
corporations {RCDCs} based on the principles of cooperative economics,
community stewardship, equity, eco-villages, "new urbanism", sustainability,
and conservation; to implement regional ecological economic plans.

6.) EPA, DOT, HEW, Urban Development and Housing, DOE, and
Department of Agriculture and other programs would be coordinated
subject to unified policy and program objectives.

7.) Department of Defense funding would be substantially
reduced and reassigned.

8.) Progressive gas guzzler and gasoline taxes would be established and
raised. Exceptions or possibly tax credits for essential commerce and high
mileage (i.e. mpg) vehicles would be considered.

9.) A more progressive income tax structure would be re-introduced.

10.) Stockholder corporations would be phased out in favor of cooperative
communitarian socialist business entities (as introduced in item #'s 3. and 5.)

11.) A national energy plan would be designed and implemented based on
the principles of conservation, sustainable use levels, and renewable energy.

12.) Dependence upon the automobile and airplane would be actively
phased out (see my document(s) in the Transportation in Historical
Perspective on this website).

13.) A comprehensive waste management system would be designed and
implemented based on the priorities of waste reduction, reuse, and recycling.

14.) A national health plan would be implemented based on the
five principles as outlined previously. (see Health Care under the
Planning Forum section of this website).

 

9-17-01

Hi, Michael,

> Hey Ken,
>
> Sounds like a good idea to save your correspondence. I should of done
> that with debates i had with people a long time ago. I still have one more
> question for you. In that site you said that ,
".., nowhere in their writings
> did Marx and Engels advocate overthrowing democracies.."

It is true that M+E never came out with a general statement to that effect.
On the other hand, they never put existing democracies on pedestals, and some
circumstances even ALLOWED for smashing democracies (even with universal
suffrage, but which democracies nonetheless were repressive enough to prevent
workers' parties from running for office unmolested). Only under THAT repressive
circumstance have I witnessed an indication that such a democracy with universal
suffrage would be fit for overthrow. At the same time, the country in question -
France - had such a WEAK workers' movement (that had become infected with
Bonapartism) that the question of a communist overthrow of government was
MILES away from mass consciousness. In Germany, with its several little
kingdoms, overthrow was always under consideration, but Germany
managed to democratize gradually enough to prevent violent overthrow.

> But in the Communist Manifesto they said 'smash the state',

Certainly there was a lot of abuse hurled upon monarchies in the Manifesto,
but you may be thinking of the passage in 'The Civil War in France', where Marx
wrote: "Thus, this new Commune, which BREAKS the modern State power .."

Use of capital letters in all of these quotes is mine, not M+E's,
just to call attention to the pertinent words.

In a speech commemorating a Polish victory, M+E wrote: "In 1794, when
the French Revolution was resisting the coalition forces with difficulty, the
glorious Polish revolt deflected danger away from it. Poland lost its inde-
pendence, but the Revolution survived. The defeated Poles joined the army
of the sans-culottes and helped to SMASH feudal Europe.
"

M+E used the word 'smash' 34 times in my present (not quite complete) edition
of their Collected Works. The last 3 volumes have yet to be published on CD.
'Smash feudal Europe' is about the closest they ever came to 'smash the state'.

In regard to the weakness of the Draft Social-Democratic Party Programme
of 1891 (Erfurt Programme), Engels wrote:

"These are attempts to convince oneself and the party that "present-day
society is developing towards socialism" without asking oneself whether it
does not thereby just as necessarily outgrow the old social order and whether
it will not have to BURST this old shell by force, as a crab breaks its shell, and
also whether in Germany, in addition, it will not have to SMASH the fetters of
the still semi-absolutist, and moreover indescribably confused political order.
One can conceive that the old society may develop peacefully into the new one
in countries where the representatives of the people concentrate all power in
their hands, where, if one has the support of the majority of the people, one
can do as one sees fit in a constitutional way: in democratic republics such
as France and the U.S.A., in monarchies such as Britain, where the imminent
abdication of the dynasty in return for financial compensation is discussed in
the press daily and where this dynasty is powerless against the people. But in
Germany where the government is almost omnipotent and the Reichstag and all
other representative bodies have no real power, to advocate such a thing
[peaceful
development]
in Germany, when, moreover, there is no need to do so, means remov-
ing the fig-leaf from absolutism and becoming oneself a screen for its nakedness.
"

In his article about Refugee Literature, Engels wrote with regard
to the Russian monarchy:

Page me24.35
"This seems clear enough to me. So I asked Karlchen Missnick: If nothing
else will do, if the people are ready for revolution, and you are too; if you are
simply unwilling and unable to wait any longer, and have no right to wait; if
you claim the right to choose the moment to strike, and if it is, at last, "now or
never!" - well, dear Karlchen, do what you cannot refrain from doing, make
revolution today and SMASH the Russian state into a thousand pieces,
otherwise you will end up by bringing about an even greater misfortune!
"

Pay attention to the power of UNIVERSAL SUFFRAGE in this letter
from Engels to August Bebel in Germany:

Page me47.341
"What is really essential here is for the official labour leaders to GET INTO
PARLIAMENT EN MASSE. That would speed things up all right; they'd
quickly show themselves for what they were. The elections in November
should prove a great help since 10 or 12 of them are sure to get in, provided
their Liberal friends don't play some trick on them at the last moment. The first
elections under a new system are always a kind of lottery and reveal only the least
part of the revolution they usher in. But UNIVERSAL SUFFRAGE - and its recent
introduction here will, in view of Britain's industrial lead and the absence of a peasant
class, lend the workers as much power as it did in Germany - IS TODAY THE BEST
LEVER A PROLETARIAN MOVEMENT CAN HAVE, and so it will prove in this
country also. That's why it is so important to SMASH the Social Democratic
Federation at the earliest opportunity, for its leaders are nothing but
adventurers, literati and political careerists.
"

Hyndman's English S.D.F. was always a thorn in Engels' side,
which is why Engels wanted to smash that socialist party, just the
way he wanted the American SLP to be smashed.

> did they specifically say that to feudal regimes ?

Certainly 'smash' applied to many states, including the French Empire under
Napoleon 3, which the 3rd French republic and Paris Commune did away with
in 1870-1. From all of the contexts in which M+E used 'smash', they never
applied it to democracies.

> Also as late as 1894 in 'on social relations in Russia' Engels said,
> "
the russian revolution will also give a fresh impulse to the labor movement
> in the West, creating for it new and better conditions of struggle and therby
> advancing victory of the modern industrial prolitariat..
" So He is saying that a
> revolution in Russia would spread to the west, there was strong private property
> foundations and democracy I believe. What do you think ?
>
> Michael.

I agree. In his writings, Engels spoke of 2 scenarios for Russia. First, 'a
Russian revolution would spark revolutions in Europe' (which it did in 1917);
and the second possibility was that M+E's long-hoped-for European revolutions
would spark a revolution in Russia, but that second possibility didn't happen.

The further West one traveled in Europe, the stronger the institutions of
private property and democracy. That was why it was so easy for Lenin (in
the East) to abolish private ownership of land on the first day of the socialist
revolution, because the feudal monarchy had previously owned practically all
of the private property, and the Bolsheviks totally defeated the old monarchy.
Stamping out private ownership in the West, however, is a horse of a different
color, as the lack of popularity of communism in the West demonstrates,
because individuals are traditionally so much more attached to property.

In spite of the unpopularity of communism in the West, as long as communists
can make a buck selling communism, they will. Because of mass disinterest,
communism in the West degenerated into commercial enterprise. The amount
of dishonesty in politics is as bad on the left as it is on the right, which is why
people don't flock to the left.

Best wishes,
Ken Ellis

 

9-18-01

Mike Morin wrote:

> Ken Ellis likes to "hear himself talk" and often misrepresents
> the positions of those he is conversing with.
>
> I have inserted my responses to his most recent post, below.
>
> MM
> -----Original Message-----
>
>> Mike Morin quoted me:
>>
>>>> Well, if private property is not the cause of our problems,
>>>> then why redistribute ownership?
>>>
>>> Mike Morin responds:
>>>
>>> Because property, wealth, and income are very inequitably distributed (in
>>> America and the world) and have become increasingly so in the past twenty years...
>>
>> The distribution is undeniably inequitable, but why inequitable? The REASON
>> is the KEY to our solution. If property, wealth and income are little more than
>> checkers to be moved around on the checkerboard, then some might think
>> nothing is left but to USE FORCE to move some checkers to where
>> they can be better used. But economics is more complex than that.
>
> Mike Morin interjects:
>
> Yes, some do advocate the use of force, I do not. Yet my non-violent
> solutions fall on deaf ears, including Ken's.

This is merely a misunderstanding. I wasn't accusing Mike of advocating using the
force of a workers' state to redistribute wealth and property. Both Mike and I advocate
using existing government machinery to get things done, and it is only in that sense did
I use the word 'force', for we know that whatever measures are passed by the Legislature,
and become law, can be, and sometimes are, enforced with the coercion of the state.
I apologize for the confusion brought on by my unfortunate use of terminology.

>> snip uncontested text
>>
>>> Ken had also written:
>>>
>>>> Myth? When so many Americans own their own homes, cars, TVs, boats, etc.?
>>>> In a country where half of the population owns a piece of the stock market?
>>> Mike replies:
>>>
>>> Consumerism will prove to be the bane of the American civilization as we
>>> come harder and harder up against the limits of the natural world and the
>>> intense competition that functions under those limits.
>>
>> Consumerism outclasses spiritualism in today's world, because, with record
>> levels of productivity, more tangibles than ever are produced. Productivity
>> is so high that people can barely find jobs creating tangibles anymore. A
>> million manufacturing jobs were lost over the past year, demonstrating that
>> what needs redistributing is productive work, far more than tangible property.
>> Create an artificial shortage of labor to put as many people to work as possible,
>> and all American poverty problems would be solved. If the progressive community
>> would concentrate on doing just that one thing, then it would gain the credibility
>> that it has sought for so long, but which forever remains out of reach because of
>> their mis-guided emphasis on socialist wealth, income, and property redistribution,
>> which accomplishes little more than 'upping the ante' on the fight over tangibles.
>
> Mike interjects:
>
> Blah, blah, blah, blah...

Please, no more blah-blahs. Unwillingness to give a serious answer indicates
a bad attitude toward orchestrating human progress.

> I repeat:
>
> Consumerism will prove to be the bane of the American civilization as we
> come harder and harder up against the limits of the natural world and the
> intense competition that functions under those limits.

One antidote to consumerism is: less work, less production, and less
overproduction, all of which can be achieved by means of legislating
a shorter work week. Mike doesn't like consumerism any more than
I do, but, what is Mike's SOLUTION to consumerism?

>>> As far as half the country holding a piece of the stock market:
>>>
>>> 1.) I don't necessarily believe that to be a fact.
>>
>> Maybe I should have said 'Half of American FAMILIES own stocks.' Behold:
>>
>> http://www.iht.com/IHT/SR/120399/sr120399l.html
>>
>> The Rise of the Investor Class: How Far Can It Go?
>>
>> By James K. Glassman, International Herald Tribune, Friday, December 3,
>> 1999. "In their book ''Myths of Rich and Poor,'' Michael Cox and Richard
>> Alm point out that, for most of human history, just meeting basic needs
>> consumed all the income that people could earn. As recently as the beginning
>> of the 20th century, a typical American ''spent $76 out of every $100 for food,
>> clothing and shelter,'' they write. ''By the 1990s, it had fallen to $37 out of every
>> $100.'' As the economic problem is solved, remember that prosperity is not an
>> end in itself. Income is just fuel. The question is where we want to go."
>
> Mike interjects:
>
> Yes and tell us about the industrial enslavement of modern agriculture, the
> trend towards an impossible inhuman agricultural system (e.g. the trend in
> farm sizes over these years), the impoverishment of millions of "families"
> brought about by this agricultural revolution, the inhumanity to workers and
> animals under the "new agriculture", the fossil fuel enegy intensive aspects
> of such and the prognosis for maintaining that economic (e.g. lower prices)
> gain given the finitude of fossil fuels and the intensifying competition for
> them, and the pollution problems associated with modern agriculture.

The problems mentioned here are admirably covered by the 14 point plan, most
of which I endorse. But, Mike seems to have a problem accepting a shorter work
week to solve the problems which the 14 point plan doesn't solve. Why?

>> "Today, 48 percent of American families own stocks - up from 10 percent in
>> 1965 and 20 percent in 1990. The number of households owning mutual funds
>> has risen from 4.6 million in 1980 to 48.4 million today. And the number of
>> self-directed 401(k) retirement accounts has quintupled since 1984.
"
>>
>>> 2.) That which is held is held very unequally.
>>
>> True. But, many are familiar with the old saw: 'Redistribute all of the
>> money to everyone equally, and it wouldn't take long before it once again
>> concentrates in a few hands.
' Getting control of the labor market is the
>> key to all of our poverty problems, but the left is content to leave the
>> labor market under the control of the bosses. The left blissfully and
>> ignorantly blames the rich for all social problems, thereby relieving
>> themselves of all responsibility, freeing their fingers to point at others.
>> The bourgeois left can afford to allow its belief system to remain intact
>> and impermeable, while the working class left will have to re-examine its
>> beliefs, if it wants to make any lasting progress.
>>
>>> 3.) Money invested in paper stock certificates will become increasingly
>>> valueless.
>>
>> Is that because the market is in decline today, or is there another reason?
>
> Mike replies:
>
> Yes, but the reason it became so value less is because stock prices were
> only a surrogate of value created by a bidding process of another surrogate
> for value, money.
>
> People getting out now, if they can find a sucker to buy, are smart.

Like you say, investing in the stock market today can be very risky. I know a
few who held on to their investments, thinking the slump was only temporary,
but who now wish they had gotten out while the getting was still good.

>>> -----Original Messages----- snip

Ken Ellis

 

9-18-01

Thanks to Phil for the new schedule for the program. I was wondering
why it didn't show this past Sunday, as advertised.

Phil wrote:

> Thanks to Robert Bernstein for reminding us of what we thought would be a
> shorter worktime documentary, "
Juggling Work and Family," right before its
> showing on PBS.
>
> In the Boston, Mass. area, it was not shown 9-11 pm but showed up on
> both Channels 2 and 44, at both 1 am and 4 am during the following night.
> Talk about gratuitous and wasted overcompensation for refusal to bump
> trivia (Marx Bros. movies) from prime time.
>
> It is scheduled to be shown again four times this week in the Boston area
> on PBS Channel 44:
>
> Tues, 9/18 at 9pm
> Wed, 9/19 at 2pm (could be bumped by proceedings of state legislature)
> Thu, 9/20 at 3AM
> Sat, 9/22 at 10AM

On another note, the stock market surely has been struggling lately. Not long
ago, I speculated that the Federal Reserve's interest rate might have to go below
zero (to negative numbers) in order to salvage the 40 hour week, and the interest
rate looks like it's heading that way. Greenspan can't cut the rate fast enough!

In response to the recent wave of layoffs, the old government and business
shorter work hours policies of the Depression era ought to be resurrected.
I wonder if we could issue an official SWT statement to every elected
representative in the country. With e-mail, it would be a snap. A statement
would also give us some visibility. We know what to say. I just wonder why
we don't make a more concerted effort to say it. Any thoughts out there?

Ken Ellis

http://www.geocities.com/kenellis202

 

9-19-01

Hi, Hedrick,

> Subject: Re: Work, Family, Time issues
>
> Dear Ken Ellis,
> thanks for sharing the pithy quote.
> Hope you got a chance to see our program, "
Juggling Work and Family,"
> on PBS. It was supposed to run 9/16 at 9 pm but the terrorism news pushed
> it off some stations and they'll run it later.
>
> Did it run on the PBS station near you? And where do you live? If it didn't
> run, you might want to give the PBS program manger at that station a nudge
> to run it. They listen to viewers - and then the world will move toward the
> ideal that you stated.
> Cheers,
> Hedrick Smith

I live in New Bedford, and receive WGBH-Boston PBS outlets Channels 2 and 44
on ATT Broadband Cable. My mentor in Boston, Phil Hyde, posted the latest
schedule on our 'Shorter Work Time' listserve the other day:

> Tues, 9/18 at 9pm
> Wed, 9/19 at 2pm (could be bumped by proceedings of state legislature)
> Thu, 9/20 at 3AM
> Sat, 9/22 at 10AM

I think that I'll watch it this Saturday morning. I appreciate the reminder.

Best wishes,
Ken Ellis

FYI, Phil Hyde also wrote his own little critique:

> I caught the last half or third of the 4am screening and based solely on
> that section I have two major criticisms:
>
> (1) The problem of the 60-year frozen American workweek only showed
> up, in the part I saw, at the end. It had the character of "another problem
> is..." or "also, there's the problem of..." So I suspect worktime is still
> just being seen as only one more item on a progressive's or reformer's
> list rather than the ink and paper of the list itself. The focus was on the
> family (I.e., on reproduction on an overpopulated planet and on growth/
> expansion) rather than on shorter worktime, or sharing worktime whether
> it expands or contracts, and thereby gaining freedom from compulsive
> growth and expansion. So we still urgently need a documentary that stays
> "on issue" and doesn't get distracted and blunted by a host of secondary
> labor issues such as child care, health care, affordable housing, and the
> whole endless list whose premature unprioritized blanket insertion has
> been self-defeatingly holding up non-slip progress on every single
> item for the last two generations.
>
> (2) At one point, the documentary fell for the simplistic "labor
> shortage" diagnosis, without qualifying the phrase to "qualified-labor
> shortage," thereby introducing the whole chain of insights that employers
> for the last 30 years have been so spoiled by gross labor *surplus* that they
> have ceased to do any appropriate-level training, have sluffed off training costs
> onto governments and job candidates, and have then had the nerve to turn around
> and complain about "labor shortage." So we still urgently need a documentary
> that carves through to that level of the economic deep structure.
>
> On the positive side, near the end a male employer-oriented commentator made
> a statement about shorter hours being a problem and a female commentator
> immediately put him in his place and his statement in perspective by saying
> "Only for employers. For employees it's an urgent need" or something to that effect.
>
> Also the documentary did come off as a strong argument for shorter (or at
> least more "flexible") working hours for the less-than-futuristic sake of the
> reproductive family, especially the single-parent family, and for the misleading
> sake of providing employers with steady reliable employees (focus distracted
> from generally good pay and how to design a system that automatically gets it,
> onto specific benefits like child care and transportation - the assumption being,
> I suppose, that we're going to do ANYthing but centrifuge income out of its
> unspendable black holes throughout the economy, let alone design a system
> that harnesses market forces to take care of that - without war).
>
> Still looking for a really powerful and focused video/documentary,
>
> Phil Hyde
> economic design & debugging
> http://www.Timesizing.com

 

9-20-01

Jim DeMaegt wrote:

> The working class is now oppressed without a viable alternative among the
> governments of the world. I shudder to think what the future will bring
> unless a viable alternative to world global capitalism is constructed.

The rich are rich because they have won the battle over property, so why even
try to compete on that cluttered battleground? (Unless materialism would be
paraded around disguised as humanitarianism.) In the meantime, a million
manufacturing jobs were lost over the past year, indicating that productive
work is what really needs redistributing.

As more and more jobs are lost to automation, the viable alternative to
'politics as usual' will be a movement to share the remaining human labor.
Distributing work more evenly will become a critical issue, far more than
distributing tangibles like wealth, property or income. The world awaits the
new movement to take shape, which will employ the politics of inclusion to
the highest degree imaginable, and will exclude only the politics of exclusion.

In the meantime, we have to figure out how to keep from blowing one another
up, which won't be easy, considering who's in the White House.

Ken Ellis

 

9-20-01

I looked into ways of notifying elected reps, and ran through dozens of
promising-looking web pages, but all they did was provide addresses of
reps local to my own zip code. Some had good media links. Then I found:

http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Senate/1026/house.html

It contains the following caveat:

> E-mail Everyone In The House of Representatives.
>
> Please use common sense when using this option! Due to the large number of
> mail about to go out, doing this at a peak time would probably be a very good way
> to get your server VERY mad at you. Please use it when users are at a minimum.
> I hereby declare that I am NOT responsible for mishaps due to your bad timing.

Clicking on a link there provided me with a blank page addressed to 210
representatives. (Is that all there are? Didn't we once have 400 or so?) But
then I realized that we need to send an OFFICIAL swt message with an
OFFICIAL swt return address - not MY return address, because an
e-mail from an individual would likely be rejected as spam.

If that hurdle can be overcome, we would then need some content. Let's do some
brainstorming. I suggest we keep the message very short, but maybe include some
links to appropriately focused web pages. Here goes:

> - SWT organizational letterhead - (if we have one, or could make one up, but
> I don't have the facilities to deal with anything better than text)
>
> Dear Honorable representative (or some other appropriate language),
>
> In regard to the layoffs resulting from our mounting economic difficulties,
> we urge representatives to restore the Depression-Era NIRA policies which
> encouraged businesses to cut back hours of labor as a humanitarian
> alternative to outright layoffs.
>
> The present downturn is no doubt of a temporary nature, so keeping
> employees on the job at reduced hours is doubtlessly much more
> humanitarian, efficient, less disruptive, and with fewer negative
> social repercussions than laying workers off.
>
> We urge Representatives to issue a Resolution urging voluntary compliance
> with the shorter work time alternative. We also urge Representatives to consider
> enacting financial and tax benefits to encourage keeping people on the job.
>
> For the Shorter Work Time Group,
>
> (alphabetical order might be appropriate)
>
> list of names, etc.

Once we hammer something out to our mutual satisfaction, then everyone who
concurs with the message would have the option of adding their names to the
signature list.

What I wrote is very rough, and I'm not even sure about the NIRA Act provisos
at the moment, but I'll hit Ben's WWE book tonight. I'm sending this message
to the group now to get our collective creative juices flowing. Let's polish it
so that we can maybe send it off no later than the 27th.

Ken Ellis

 

9-21-01

Jim DeMaegt wrote:

> And do you believe that Capitalism has proven itself in its great benefit
> to mankind? If so I must dissent. Listeners of Pacifica arise!
>
> Jim "The final chapter in the Communist vs. Capitalist conflict has not yet
> been written" DeMaegt

Capitalism is proving its benefit to mankind by creating the conditions for
its own abolition. Capitalism destroys jobs like no other system of production
could ever do, but, with no more jobs, there will be no more exploitation, and
capitalism as we've suffered from it will be no more. We should recognize the
system's weakness and attack where it will most benefit the good guys: We
should insist that what little work that remains for people to do should be
equitably shared by all who could use a little work to get by.

Also, perhaps before Jim joined the fray on this listserv, "The final chapter
in the Communist vs. Capitalist conflict
" was written here. Expropriatory
communism died because it was based upon rebels having the requisite
FORCE with which to expropriate property, but history shows that
ordinary people would rather not be dominated by strong states.

Expropriatory communism has been replaced by labor-time communism,
which uses a LITTLE government interference to see that workers get to
keep reasonable work hours and are paid a premium for working overtime.
It also advocates longer paid vacations and more time off, earlier retirement,
paid sabbaticals, and whatever else gets labor off the labor market, and
creates enough of a labor shortage to put everyone to work at decent wages.
Even Engels recognized these struggles as a means to abolish wage labor.

Instead of redistributing tangible wealth, income and property, labor-time
communism deals with intangibles like legislation and time. Labor-time
communism is compatible with Western Hemisphere traditions of democracy
and freedom, and is an extrapolation of what workers living in democracies
have been willing to do to achieve measures of social justice for the past 2
centuries. France is presently leading the way with its 35 hour week. If
Americans are not smart enough to follow them and make it a world-
wide movement, then it's our loss, and the bosses' gain.

Ken Ellis

 

9-22-01

Hi, Bruce,

> Ken, I am fairly certain that working out our present dilemmas is going to
> take more significant change than snagging a shorter work week and a few
> more crumbs from the table.

On this issue, we may unfortunately have to agree to disagree. :-(

> I believe we are all going to have to understand the _whole_ situation in
> much more detail and dimension, to the point that information is no longer
> used as a tool of control. This has radical implications. Comments below.
>
> Bruce

I'm all in favor of deeper understanding, which is why I started volunteering
at KPFA 24 years ago, and later got a 'real' job there. The Internet, free radio,
and other alternative media also antidote exclusive upper-class control over
information. Long live the alternatives.

> Kenneth Ellis wrote:
>
>> Capitalism is proving its benefit to mankind by creating the conditions
>> for its own abolition. Capitalism destroys jobs like no other system of
>> production could ever do, but, with no more jobs, there will be no more
>> exploitation, and capitalism as we've suffered from it will be no more.
>
> Yeah, and people who aren't working will be cut off from the common weal.
> Homelessness has become a bearable annoyance at worst. "Let them die,
> and decrease the surplus population (we'll take the surplus wealth)."

You may have jumped the gun a little bit, because my full context includes a
militant work-sharing program to keep pace with the layoffs, which are hitting
quite hard right now, but where is the chorus to urge sharing the remaining work?

>> We should recognize the system's weakness and attack where it will most
>> benefit the good guys: We should insist
>
> With what leverage? or do you think "they" will cave in to our moral indignation?

The leverage will be the force of NUMBERS who will be adversely affected
if the economic crisis deepens much more. "They" will cave again as they caved
during the Depression, and gave us tax and spend programs, encouraged voluntary
cutbacks in hours (in lieu of mass layoffs), and granted time and a half after 40.
Now it's up to us smart people to DEMAND even more.

>> that what little work that remains for people to do should be equitably
>> shared by all who could use a little work to get by.
>>
>> Also, perhaps before Jim joined the fray on this listserv, "The final
>> chapter in the Communist vs. Capitalist conflict" was written here.
>> Expropriatory communism died
>
> Ideas don't die. And perhaps "expropriation" can take other forms than
> force. Of course, it would need to hinge on a free flow of information.

Expropriation by means of force, as an idea, died for me in 1994, while writing
a book about my 'socialist' experiences. Expropriation by means of force may have
died for Bill Mandel even before it died for me. The idea died for many Americans
when the CPUSA abandoned the dictatorship of the proletariat many long years ago.
Beginning in 1989, the idea died for half a billion people in Russia and Eastern
Europe. As China increasingly encourages capitalism and private home ownership,
the idea is dying in the far East as well. If today's activists are to have much influence,
FORCIBLE communism will hopefully come to be regarded as a MISTAKE,
so that they can graduate to something more constructive.

That doesn't mean that we won't get to communism, for I am sure that we will.
It just won't happen by means of force. Capitalism will die a natural death as
the last job finally disappears, and class distinctions are extinguished with
a little help from a government of, by, and for the people.

>> because it was based upon rebels having the requisite FORCE with which
>> to expropriate property, but history shows that ordinary people would rather
>> not be dominated by strong states.
>>
>> Expropriatory communism has been replaced by labor-time communism,
>> which uses a LITTLE government interference to see that workers get to keep
>> reasonable work hours and are paid a premium for working overtime. It also
>> advocates longer paid vacations and more time off, earlier retirement, paid
>> sabbaticals, and whatever else gets labor off the labor market, and creates
>> enough of a labor shortage to put everyone to work at decent wages. Even
>> Engels recognized these struggles as a means to abolish wage labor.
>>
>> Instead of redistributing tangible wealth, income and property, labor-time
>> communism deals with intangibles like legislation and time. Labor-time
>> communism is compatible with Western Hemisphere traditions of democracy
>> and freedom, and is an extrapolation of what workers living in democracies have
>> been willing to do to achieve measures of social justice for the past 2 centuries.
>> France is presently leading the way with its 35 hour week. If Americans are not
>> smart enough to follow them and make it a world-wide movement, then it's our
>> loss, and the bosses' gain.
>
> Phrases like "the bosses' gain" would seem to indicate a polarity between classes.

People would have some kind of evil axe to grind in order to DENY the class
struggle. It is in the economic interest of bosses for as few workers as possible
to work for as many hours as possible; while it is in the economic, political, social
and environmental interests of the working class if as many workers as possible
share the remaining work more equitably. A shorter work week, higher overtime
premiums, longer paid vacations, more holidays, paid sabbaticals, and earlier
retirement with full benefits, are all viable means to full participation in the
economy. This is the Evolutionary path to communism, fully consistent
with Western Hemisphere values, traditions, and history.

Private property and the state will not disappear until AFTER the abolitions
of work and class distinctions. Let's take control of the labor market, and do
it NOW. The solution to our problems is as easy as that.

Ken Ellis

 

9-22-01

Hi, Hedrick,

I got to see your program on WGBH this morning. I thought that your program
was wonderful, ESPECIALLY the last few minutes, when you and other
commentators questioned the present validity of the 40 hour week.

What needs to be done soon is to question the need for so much work in spite
of the tremendous advances in productivity that have reduced the amount of time
to create the bare necessities of life down to a small fraction of what it once was.

Keep up the good work. :-)

Best wishes,
Ken Ellis

-------------------------------
"Live working or die fighting."
-------------------------------

"The watchword of the modern proletariat" that the silk winders of Lyons
inscribed upon their banner during their strike (From Marx's 1869 "
Report
on the Basle Congress
" of the First International).

 

9-22-01

Paul King quoted me quoting Jim DeMaegt:

>>> And do you believe that Capitalism has proven itself in its great benefit
>>> to mankind? If so I must dissent. Listeners of Pacifica arise!
>>>
>>> Jim "The final chapter in the Communist vs. Capitalist conflict has not
>>> yet been written" DeMaegt
>>
>> Capitalism is proving its benefit to mankind by creating the conditions
>> for its own abolition. Capitalism destroys jobs like no other system of
>> production could ever do, but, with no more jobs, there will be no more
>> exploitation, and capitalism as we've suffered from it will be no more.
>
> I think that what is happening to the unemployed is that they are being
> jailed at every excuse, and they are still slaves to the system, since many
> of them still have to "pay their own way" through their jail sentence in
> what is increasingly becoming a source of low-paid slave labour.

As long as wage-labor is a fact of life, workers are slaves to the system.
Freedom is inversely proportional to hours of labor. The fewer the hours of
labor, the freer the working class becomes, which should compel activists to
drive down the length of the work week (unless workers have so little class
consciousness that they figure that working their fingers to the bone will
enhance their social status).

> So, I think that the bug of "no more jobs" has been ironed out.

I don't know what's going to happen to millions of low-wage jobs like
hamburg-flipping and grocery clerking. I always use the robot cashier
the few times I go to Stop and Shop, because there's no waiting - yet.

People are really not very proud of the number of imprisoned. Public opinion
may be going the other way, because some officials are bragging about recent
REDUCTIONS in the number of incarcerated in some districts.

> God forbid if Capitalism ever allowed you any ability to take
> meaningful control of your own life after the boss fires you.

I'm not so sure about that. There's the above ground economy, and then there's
the underground economy. Tell the rich dope growers of Mendocino County
that they don't have control over their own lives. Or, tell the countless numbers
of people who lost a job and then pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and
started little businesses of their own. We have hardly reached the stage of
'industrial feudalism' in the West.

> You may have had that power 25-35 years ago,

The world still has a lot of room for individual initiative.

> but that ability is fading fast.

You may very well be correct about THAT, especially when computers
as smart as humans will be on the market in another 10 years, and that
degree of smarts will fit in a tea cup within 20 years. Human labor, and
entrepreneurial initiative, may truly then become a thing of the past.

Ken Ellis

 

9-24-01

Attecus wrote:

> ken must mean state capitalism communism is dead: so much for
> the view that syndicalism is dead too, according to ken

Any kind of communism, socialism, anarchism or syndicalism that promotes a
redistribution of TANGIBLES like property, wealth, or income, is dead. What
happened in Russia and Eastern Europe from 1989 onward should make that
statement unassailable, as well as the fact that Marx's hoped-for world-wide
revolution did not follow on the heels of Russia's revolution. Marx was wrong
about the way in which socialist revolutions would spread around the world
BECAUSE he incorrectly gauged the mass appeal of expropriation, not
because of excuses Marx's followers made up.

The rich have already won the battle over property, and few in the Western
Hemisphere question their control because the West is the cradle of private
property. Nearly everyone I have ever known has taken a material path, and
that path provided many of them with plenty of goodies. Materialism doesn't
stop there. Even within the left, some people claim certain movements and
parties as their own private property, as evidenced by their domination by
means of bureaucracy, internal secrecy, and censorship of dissenting voices,
which is everything a leftist organization should NOT be. Just this past
August I was expelled from two left-wing Internet forums for putting forth
ideas no more inflammatory than the ones I use in this forum, and for trying
to prove that some past leftist leaders lied, and that their successors continue
to propagate lies, abusing the works of Marx, Engels, and Lenin in order to
justify their sectarianism.

No success will result from beating one's head against the iron wall
of private property, which is why attention should instead be turned to
redistributing JOBS to everyone who could use a little work to get by.
Obviously, this does not mean a return to New Deal policies of creating
40-hour jobs by taxing and spending. Instead, the benefits of increased
productivity should be taken in the form of a shorter work week, if waste
and environmental degradation are to be avoided.

Redistributing tangibles has gotten us to the stew we are in today. Increased
productivity, combined with unnecessarily long hours of labor, funnels cash
into the hands of the rich, enabling them to bribe politicians, and to bombard
us with repetitive and nauseating advertising. What Marx wrote about surplus
values is mostly lost on today's activists. The only lesson they seem to take from
Capital is the (19th century plausible) political suggestion to 'expropriate the rich',
and to what end? Activists ignore the fact that Marx's expropriation served a higher
end - fuller participation in the economy. Today's activists pay a high price for their
inability or unwillingness to do their own research and think for themselves. It's a
lot easier to follow 19th century socialist leadership, but Marx's was the only era in
which it was plausible for communism to ride the coat-tails of European Social-
Democratic revolutions to victory.

Activists waste great leadership opportunities by promoting wealth and
property redistribution, which attracts a diminishing following. Ordinary
people would far more likely support a benign, civil, and equitable redistribu-
tion of work by means of a shorter work week, higher overtime premiums, etc. -
laws which are already on the books and need only to be amended in order to
bring as much economic justice as any sensible activist could hope for.

Ken Ellis

 

9-25-01

Dear Mr. Peace,

Thank you for the many kind words, and the vote of confidence.

> I just came across your book on the WWW. I have not as yet delved deeply
> into the text but am pleased to find someone intimately familiar with the SLP
> has written about the party. I think the SLP is both under appreciated in terms
> of its historical importance and poorly understood.

It was a real joy to go through the early editions of the Workman's Advocate
to dig up info on De Leon's early involvement. So much more could be done
in so many other areas if only I had the time to continue my irreverent
investigation, especially in the Wisconsin State Historical Society Archives.

> I think the little of what I have read indicates the strengths and
> weaknesses of the party -- a very difficult thing to accomplish.

Difficult to be strong and weak at the same time?

> For many years I have been working on a biography of Leslie A. White
> (1900-1975) who was a member of the SLP for many years. He also wrote
> for them under the pseudonym John Steel. Perhaps you knew he was a
> member or heard that he was a member of the party.

No, I don't think I ever ran across the chap, though my Boston area study
class instructor of the early 1970's - Henning Blomen - spoke with reverence
of the old timers he had met during the Depression who had worked with
De Leon before 1914. I don't know if Henning is still alive, but he was a
real inspiration for me in my impressionable years.

> Regardless, I would like to refer to your text in my work--
> what is the best way to do this?

It would probably be easy enough to refer to LWL in a forward or a preface to
your work. That would be satisfactory to me. Thank you for asking.

> Are you seeking a publisher for your work? I would guess this
> might prove difficult as publishers are printing short texts these
> days and your book might be considered too long. Such a shame,
> for detailed scholarship should be rewarded.

My sentiments as well, but, after trying unsuccessfully to market the book
several years ago, it sat on the shelf until I bought a computer with real
Internet capacities a couple of years ago. I'm quite happy with the number
of hits the web site has received, and that the number seems to be on the
increase. Pretty soon the site will also feature my political correspondence
during the past couple of years. Talk about volume: it's 3 times as long as
the book, and has to be broken up into a dozen or so separate sections for
easier Internet access.

> I look forward to hearing from you.
>
> William J. Peace

snip irrelevancy

Very pleased to hear from you. Good luck with your venture,
and let me know how I can obtain a copy some day.

Cordial regards,
Ken Ellis

 

9-25-01

Attecus wrote:

> I'm not ready to call "tod" on anything. indeed, the integral of all permutations
> has never seemed as open ended as in the present. an adequate prognosis of
> a marxian inoculation preceded marxian infiltration of the social ferment that
> was early twentieth century russia, that such a remedy would be unsuccessful,
> and it is true that the mechanisms which made the soviet and other twentieth
> century efforts possible no longer exist, but other equally powerful potentials
> exist now and these potentials seem to be gaining energy daily.

Now that there are no more intransigent feudal monarchies to overthrow in the
most developed countries, what are these 'other equally powerful potentials'?

> remember that energy is the potential to do work and its operation is often a
> function of polarity. i think we are beyond the point of demanding "better hours."

How do you figure that we are beyond that point? Computers and technology
have a lot of evolving to do before getting anywhere close to a wholesale
replacement of human labor, which is when sharing work by means of a
shorter work week will become a far more pressing necessity than at present.

> to achieve social justice such a linear demand
> will be exploited by dominating influences.

Exploited in what way?

> i don't think we are yet past the point where demanding "no more bosses"
> might become a popular slogan. I think your analysis leaves out too many
> variables in the calculus of mass social evolutionary potentials.

Which variables were left out?

> i think it is possible to spark huge change, with perhaps a very little
> application of propaganda, or information into the social organism. my
> own experience with "rumors" have elicited very evocative results. lastly,
> yes, "shorter hours" will be part of successful inculcated discourse of
> change, but it must not stop there in order to be successful.
>
> y livered

If something in addition to a shorter work week will be necessary, please tell us exactly what.

Ken Ellis

 

9-26-01

Jim DeMaegt quoted me:

>> Any kind of communism, socialism, anarchism or syndicalism
>> that promotes a redistribution of TANGIBLES like property,
>> wealth, or income, is dead."
>
> Nope very alive.
> The means of production (i.e. the factories and other methods of creating
> "wealth" must be owned by the workers who create that wealth.)

Who says 'must be owned by workers'? Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, De
Leon? Maybe so, but what do ordinary people have to say about it today? Do
people care about collective ownership of means of production? Not in my
neighborhood, in spite of the ongoing disappearance of local jobs.

> And the listener-workers must own and control the radio stations as well.
> Listeners of the world arise! All power to the Pacifica soviets! Pacifica cannot
> be allowed to become (or remain) just one more media outlet that provides
> propaganda for the capitalist exploitive economic system. Take back Pacifica!
>
> Jim "Communism can be democratic" DeMaegt ----- Original Message ----- snip:

"Communism CAN be democratic"? Communism was INTENDED to be
democratic because it was too weak to do much more than ride the coat-tails
of Social-Democratic movements. Communists WERE aligned with mass
sentiment in that important regard: They not only wanted democracy, but also
wanted their democracies to be socially-controlled, through universal suffrage.
Now that the West is democratic, and because most Westerners could give a
fig for expropriation, communists no longer have any REVOLUTIONARY
issues with which to connect with the masses.

However, because expropriatory communists misjudged popular support for
expropriation, and because communist revolutions didn't happen in the most
highly developed countries (where they were supposed to happen first), actually
existing communism required a massive state apparatus to prevent capitalism
from being restored, which required all kinds of terror and repression, and that
level of repression was incompatible with democracy, rights, and freedoms.

Expropriatory communism was a not-so-lovely episode people had to experience
in order to teach the world how NOT to get to communism, but many refuse to learn.
Communists would have more credibility if they didn't advocate expropriation or rev-
olution, and instead patiently awaited property to rot away from its own dead weight
AFTER the peaceful and gradual abolition of work and class distinctions. What could
motivate anyone in a Western democracy to promote something as inappropriate and
virtually impossible as expropriation, even after reading and absorbing good arguments
against it? Is it plain stubbornness? To gain the effectiveness it desires, the left is
someday going to have to take the lessons of history to heart.

Ken Ellis

 

9-26-01

Jim DeMaegt informed us of some recent election results:

> Solidarity was not forever in Poland and the death of communism there was
> apparently prematurely reported.
>
> Jim 'The Twentieth (or the 100th or the 100,000th) International
> may get it right" DeMaegt
> --------------------------------------------
> Solidarity Is Out as Poles Go to Polls
>
> Europe: Ex-Communists win a majority in parliamentary election. Their
> success is seen as a result of the failure of the ruling coalition.
>
> By ALISSA J. RUBIN and ELA KASPRZYCKA
> SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
>
> September 24 2001
>
> WARSAW -- Poles voted Sunday to return the country's former Communists
> to power in hopes they will stop the economic slide threatening the nation's
> previously bright financial future.
>
snip
>
> The former Communists no longer bring to mind Soviet-style politics but have
> cast themselves successfully in the image of the social democratic parties that
> are powerful players in many Western European countries. The Polish version
> of social democratic politics includes strong support for fiscal discipline and
> for accession to the European Union, as well as a pro-Western foreign policy.
>
snip
>
> In order for the country to join the EU, it would have to allow imported food
> to compete on the same basis as the produce from thousands of Polish family
> farms, and it would have to change the laws to allow land to be owned by
> foreigners. Both issues are deeply controversial.

With a reform program like this, does Jim seriously want to represent the
winners as 'communists' of the Lenin-Mao-Castro variety? Like I say, the
expropriatory communism of the proletarian dictatorship variety is truly dead,
except in the minds of a diminishing number of sentimentalists. If sentimentalists
would THINK about why expropriatory communism is dead, then maybe they
could apply some energy to constructive and socially relevant projects, but some
people will always stubbornly refuse to be swayed by logic and lessons of history.
Perhaps it doesn't matter to them if expropriation was possible ONLY after over-
throwing monarchies in backward countries, or after liberating colonies, but NEVER
after communists won mere elections in Social-Democracies, which proves that ex-
propriation is based upon communists having full state power, guns at hand, enabling
them to do what they want with property. Are today's workers desperate enough for
communism to overthrow their democracies for the sake of putting the means of
production into the hands of sectarian revolutionaries who won't be able to decide
whether to replace democracies with an anarchist classless and stateless administra-
tion of things, or with a communist workers' state? Yes, today's expropriators also
ignore the fact that expropriation has been defeated by sectarianism, even before
it starts. But, forget or ignore enough important details, and 'anything is possible'.

Ken Ellis

 

9-27-01

Hi, Tina,

> Language for shorter worktime legislation must go through the Labor
> committees of congress; we could see who is currently on those committees.
> Also, the Dept. of Labor would be good to lay out the formula especially at this
> time. A simple statement which notes: As large scale layoffs occur, the fundamental
> right to earned income opportunity is threatened, creating economic panic in our society.
> "SHORTER HOURS WILL SAVE JOBS AND CREATE JOBS" We ask the Congress
> and the Bush administration to consider providing earned-income-relief by amending the
> Fair Labor and Standards act to permit in a sector-by-sector employment category relief
> instead of layoffs. Reduce the hours of work to 35 hours. For every 6 million 40 hour a
> week jobs going to 35 hours, One million jobs can be saved from layoffs; and when the
> economy improves again, the one million jobs saved will translate into an opportunity to
> add one million jobs for every six million at 35 hours.

Good work. Thanks for the tip. I wonder why you didn't post these good words
to the whole SWT group. I sometimes get discouraged by the lack of interest in
activism shown by the bulk of the forum. But, as I approach 60, I also get to be
more of a talker than a doer. When computers and robots get really smart and
useful, then the people of energy will take up our struggle.

Thanks and best wishes,
Ken Ellis

 

9-27-01

Hi, Bruce,

> Ken,
>
> The bleakness of your perspective almost transcends response.

I wondered for a whole day about what you meant by that, and I'm still not
perfectly sure; but, leftist prospects for basic changes in property relations
are very bleak indeed. On the other hand, prospects for labor-time socialism
are rosier, for it doesn't contradict what people are willing to do to bring justice.

> The present distribution of "property" in our world is a matter of belief.

All it takes is for ENOUGH people to believe in something for that something
to become very real. I believed in Santa Claus until I was 5 or so. Compare the
influence of Santa believers to the influence of those who respect private property,
lack of respect for which could spell trouble. That's because property, for millions
and even billions of people, is the end result of work - often after a lifetime of boring,
arduous, painstaking labor. After property is in someone's hands, just try and take it
away. The same respect is extended to Donald Trump's rights to keep his real estate
holdings. After all, when it comes to property, big or small, where can the line be drawn
over 'who gets to keep their property vs. who should surrender it?' That line would be
subject to debate, arguments over which might go on forever. On the other hand, the
work week would only have to be shortened enough to enable everyone to find work.

> If we accept that the present order of ownership is a done deal,
> then we are at the end of history, indeed as many in the think tanks
> and the "free" press would urge us is the case.

By no means do I think that private property is a done deal. Like so many
other good Marxists, I do not believe that 'a property career' is in the cards for
all time. To me, private property is as doomed as capitalism and the 8 hour day.
I just don't think that the way to abolish property is to attack it directly. Better to
attack the FOUNDATION of property, which is human labor. Further develop
the means of production, and ensure that the remaining work is shared equitably
AS human labor is abolished, and then class distinctions will disappear without
a bang, and hardly a whimper.

Human labor is inconceivable without a DIVISION of labor, and the division of
labor creates class distinctions, unless everyone would be a brain surgeon one day,
a refuse collector another, a politician the next, and so on. People tend to specialize,
and it's a good thing that they do, or few tasks would get done correctly. But, special-
ization is a double-edged sword, because it creates class divisions. Some jobs require
years of training, while refuse collecting requires little more than a little OJT. Some
jobs pay better than others, enabling division into classes.

Abolish work, and class distinctions will disappear. Abolish class distinctions,
and the state and private property will also disappear. Work, class distinctions,
and the state and property will disappear, and in that order. There's no use in
trying to abolish private property while people still work to acquire it. The
work-property commitment is too big to dismiss lightly.

> However, an (un)common-sense, "scientific," intuitive analysis of the
> current state of things might inform us that 1) "real" property ownership
> is based on the declaration by armed institutions that they own it,

But, there is no mass opposition to private property, because everyone sees
what private property can do for personal wealth and financial security, so
ambitious people want private property for themselves, and a lot of people are
ambitious. Because so many want private property, and because enough would
rob, cheat, or kill to get some for themselves, the state or government becomes the
mediator in the disputes that arise when some people refuse to, or cannot, play by
the rules. The rules can often be unfair, such as: setting the length of the work week
unfairly high, and then forcing labor to compete for scarce opportunities to make the
rich richer than their wildest dreams. ~5% unemployment is national policy, as we
watch Greenspan fiddle with interest rates to keep unemployment close to that
figure. If unemployment climbs too high, crime and unrest become unacceptable.
If unemployment dips too low, wages rise, and profits dip too low for the rich.

Take away the enforcement of rules around property ownership, and what would happen?
Are ordinary citizens so interested in communist expropriation that they would socialize
ownership of the means of production? Not in a world in which so much property is the
result of work, and in a world in which so many people like things just the way they are
now. If people really wanted communism to be contemporaneous with the era of work,
all of Europe and the USA would have revolted in support of the Russian revolution,
or all of Europe would have revolted in support of the Paris Commune.

> 2) almost all of the highly articulated intellectual property of human kind
> is the product of inspired altruists, artists, visionaries and so forth, and has
> been co-opted by totalitarian financial organizations through clever, "hard-
> nosed" contractual warfare and legal manipulation constained by fear and
> by force, and is ethically the property of the commonwealth, 3) the present
> social contract under which there is a rapidly accelerating concentration of
> "ownership" of options and resources in the hands of an elite few is the
> artifact of the beneficiaries and doesn't exist by anything approaching
> consent of the great mass of the disenfranchised and dispossessed.

Sad but true. We work like the devil to make the rich richer than their
wildest dreams, and they reward us by privatizing as much as they possibly
can, including genes. Ordinary people think that they best serve their own
interests by serving their bosses to the best of their abilities. Caught up in
that cruel game, workers are often more than willing to cut one another's
throats. Do we change the basis of Western civ, or do we learn not to do
so much damage by not working so hard for so many hours?

> In a nutshell, the current state of affairs is a manipulated hallucination
> and a human artifact which exists not because it is right, or fair, or works
> to alleviate the problems we all face, but specifically because it benefits its
> principal architects. The increasingly artificial nature of the huge overhang
> of electronically multiplied fiat "money" that we are forced to accept as mak-
> ing legitimate demands on our time and the material resources of the earth is
> just one glaring example. As it is our artifact, it is subject to revision at such
> time as the mass of humanity sees the realities involved - "awakens from the
> nightmare." Much has been written by members of the elites themselves about
> their fear of the masses they dominate, and the necessities to keep them under
> control and in ignorance. The enormous effort to concentrate control of the
> media in safe hands is obvious and significant in this light.

Amen. All that remains is to do something real (and reasonably feasible)
about the nightmare.

> This awakening, which from my perspective is inevitable and imminent, does not,
> as I said before, need to be by force as it is understood historically, and in fact,
> will suffer enormously in proportion to the amount of violence involved. To
> the extent we are wise, we simply won't go there.

That's the beauty of the shorter work week. There's nothing directly tangible
to shed any blood over, and it's as simple as amending already existing laws.
Thus, it is 100% compatible with Western Hemisphere values. But, try to do
something direct about private property? Whew. Where does one begin? What
is the program? What is the first step? Where is the proposed legislation?

> But we must awaken, and will need all our creativity, good humor,
> determination and courage to do it. In my view, the hypnotic set of
> beliefs you are articulating in this thread is not serving this process.

Could you be a little more specific about what it is in my set of beliefs you
find hypnotic? You surely couldn't be AGAINST a shorter work week (unless
in the camp of the bourgeoisie). At the same time, I would be glad to consider
specific proposals for abolishing private property. Surely 'there must be a way'.
I have already outlined the 'driving down the length of the work week' way to
communism, so it's time to hear about your path to communism.

> Despite your good heart, empathy and compassion, you are
> but reiterating the party line set forth by the "commissars"
> Noam Chomsky has described so eloquently elsewhere.

This is news to me. In which of Chomsky's books or essays can I find more
information about this commissar party line to which I allegedly adhere?

> In being "sensible activists" as you characterize it, we will
> only constrain ourselves to the channels of what the hegemons
> want us to accept as legitimate political activity, in which the
> outcomes are all foregone conclusions.

Struggles for justice have taken many forms over the years. Factories were
abandoned during the Paris Commune of 1871, and Marx noted that the
Communards wanted to compensate owners for the use of the factories
during the 9 week Commune, proving that, even in the middle of a revolution,
expropriation without compensation was not on the agenda in France. If it had
been on the agenda in the West, the Russian revolution would have triggered
long-lasting revolutions all over Europe and North America, and Marx would
have been correct about socialist revolutions beginning in the most developed
countries. Expropriatory communism had its chance, and it's time to move on.

Engels regarded traditional trade union quests for higher wages and shorter work
hours as appropriate means for abolishing wage-labor, but the boys from Wall Street
never held such efforts in high regard, as demonstrated by the amount of repression
meted out. When such struggles were intended to apply to the whole working class,
Marx regarded those struggles as political, and certainly supported them.

Thus, I don't understand how anyone on the left could argue against such 'legitimate
political activities', and I wonder which forgone conclusions could be drawn from them.

> We must use the economy to serve our hearts,
> rather than our hearts to serve the economy.
>
> "You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one."
>
> Bruce

I really question the extent to which I serve the economy. If I were to urge people
to work harder, then I would be guilty of that; but, a shorter work week, and all of
the other reforms I advocate, can hardly be interpreted as serving the rich.

Ken Ellis

 

10-02-01

Jim DeMaegt quoted me and exuberated:

>> NOTICE
>>
>> Somehow or other I became unsubscribed to freepac on the 28th of
>> September, and am just rejoining the list. If anyone had anything to
>> say about the demise of communism since then, I would have missed
>> it, so I would appreciate if whatever was posted publicly on that topic
>> were re-posted privately to my e-mail address. Thank you.
>>
>> Ken Ellis
>
> Actually Mr. Ellis
> there was rather an extensive discussion of the subject. Everyone the
> listserv decided (I think there was a poll) that not only is communism not
> dead but that a new, more vital and totally democratic form of communism
> will be taking over the entire world within the year. We thought you supported
> that result since you did not object. Too late to object now though. So sorry.
>
> Jim "It has already been decided" DeMaegt

Congratulations! I knew that communism was good enough to be
salvaged. As a result of your good work, I'll look forward to new
communist cells springing up all over my neighborhood. ;-)

Ken Ellis

 

10-08-01

I often squander lots of time while crafting half-way readable responses,
but whoever inspired them might sometimes go on vacation by the time
I get around to posting a response. Bon voyage, Dana!

He wrote:

> Suffice it to say it [wage slavery] is not a term I feel comfortable
> using any more than I'd feel comfortable using terms like proletariat.
> I suspect its use would raise red flags if you get my meaning guv. I
> think it's too closely associated, rightly or wrongly, by the public, with
> outdated political systems like Communism; Amd I don't want anyone
> mistakenly associating me with failed systems like Communism.
>
> Don't want to give anyone the opportunity to hastily and prejudicially
> file my work under "kook."

And later:

> Since capitalism is the dominant economic system, I want to work
> within that system to get more slack - sure is a lot easier than smashing
> it. Capitalism seems to work much better in practice, where Communism
> seems to provide commonality of misery. Egalitarian misery.

Amen to Dana's comments. Though most people won't touch communism
with a ten foot pole (and who can blame them?), communism is precisely
where society is headed. How can that be?

Here is why:

People perform labor within capitalism, but people won't perform labor within
future communism. Though some of their writings pointed in this direction,
Marx and Engels didn't conclude that communism and work are incompatible.

Future replacements of human labor will soon become so conspicuous and
prevalent that a crisis of unemployment will someday affect the West like never
before. Technology has been evolving at a logarithmic rate, and even the logarith-
mic rate of change has been increasing logarithmically, according to Ray Kurzweil.
Considering how much technological change has occurred over the past 200 years
compared to the previous millennia, Ray just might have something there. But, the
persistence and prevalence of the '8 hour per day' mentality proves just how
extensively technology still needs to evolve and improve before it can REALLY
replace human labor. A study showed that electronic computers have only helped
to increase productivity since 1995. Their previous decades of evolution absorbed
more human labor than what what the computers saved. But, because productivity
in the 1950's was already so much greater than before, society could afford to
spend lots of people-power and inventive genius developing computers
without having to return to the 12 hour day of the 1800's.

Westerners have a history of sharing work during unemployment crises, and
sharing work is as natural for people to do as helping during any other crisis,
such as fire, flood, famine, hurricane, you name it. So, work will be shared in
the future, and the length of the work week will soon decline another notch,
as it has inched downward over the past 200 years, AFTER all other social
devices failed to put enough people to work.

I say 'after', because this is where the class struggle rears its ugly head.
It is in the bosses' profit interests for as few people to work for as many
hours as possible, while full employment is in society's general interests.
The nub of the class conflict is between people who live off profits, and
those who live off wages and salaries.

There's nothing like full employment to raise general social optimism.
Crime and misery rates follow the unemployment rate, but bosses will
continue to use their power to prevent work from being shared equitably,
and people will continue to struggle against the bosses' policy.

People united will win the battle, because there is no other choice. Over the
next few decades, the work week will become shorter and shorter. Decades
down the road, it will become so absurdly short that volunteers will step in
to replace the negligible remaining wage labor, and the necessities of life will
become free. When wage labor disappears, society will become classless, and
Marx's dream of abolishing class distinctions will be realized, though not by
means of the envisioned physical conflicts, because we will be smart enough
to skirmish over intangible labor time instead of kill one another over tangible
property. In democracies, class distinctions will disappear peacefully and
legally, and new legislation to reduce the length of the work week will become
law, because no other device will succeed in putting enough people to work.

Communists who think that the path to communism will be paved by following
Marx and expropriating the means of production will someday learn otherwise.
The path to communism will not be paved by fighting over tangibles like wealth,
property and income, but instead by reducing intangible labor time. When class
distinctions are abolished, heart's desires are fulfilled instantly, and property
ownership no longer redounds to anyone's financial benefit, property will lose
its grip on people's minds, and it will fall into disuse, along with money, taxes,
government, prisons, and everything else our materialist society can't seem to
get enough of today.

Is any other kind of peaceful societal evolution likely, or will
class struggle, along with the 40 hour week, last forever?

Ken Ellis

 

10-11-01

--- In RBG-Alliance@y..., dddddd0814@a... wrote:

> My other question, to you or anyone else out there, is a little bit more
> self-conscious. What risk does one with a revolutionary argument ...

Having a revolutionary argument indicates that the subject has been 'studied',
and it is believed that the USA might someday become subject to revolution.
What could lead anyone to think that? I have a hard time getting any answer
AT ALL to this question, never mind a good answer.

> What risk does one with a revolutionary argument run with people such as
> McCain, who are without doubt close to the FBI and COINTELPRO-style
> entities? (My assumption is that most in the mainstream press have these
> connections.) Is there a risk here of being singled out for treatment by the
> authorities, especially in this hyper-nationalist phase we've now entered?

When I was a revolutionary, and as the result my revolutionary gibberish
in a letter to the editor of a local paper, an FBI agent stuck his calling card
in my door while I was out. I didn't reply to his invitation to get in touch
with him, and he never followed up, either. But, his visit had the effect of
putting me on notice, and it increased my paranoia.

> Perhaps the question is somewhat naive, arrogant or paranoid since
> I as an individual do not pose much of a threat (though I do have a
> small amount of organization affiliation). But it is a concern of mine
> since I feel unable at this moment to take any potential risk. I also
> understand that risk can be a relative thing, and some have more
> to lose than others.
>
> Best, David

The biggest reason for wanting a revolution would be to divorce the rich from
their source of power, which is their property. But, if capable of taking lessons
from history, people would learn that revolutionary expropriation was possible
only after overthrowing feudal monarchies in backward countries, or after
liberating colonies. Expropriation didn't happen in democracies except WITH
compensation, which is too hollow a victory for ambitious revolutionaries to bother
with. Rearranging those deck chairs on the sinking Titanic is quite superfluous.

In democratic and independent countries, revolution has long been out of the
question for ordinary people, so 'the revolution' in the Western Hemisphere
has become the exclusive territory of small business people who eke out a
living by selling it to naive individuals (like myself many years ago) who
think that the revolution is the Holy Grail. Because so few people will ever
support revolution in democracies, revolutionaries might as well admit total
defeat and resign themselves to working on some kind of reform, and allow
all of their revolutionary paranoia to melt away, which would help them to
feel a lot better about life in general.

Activists have very legitimate complaints about the undue influence of the
rich in determining the policies that affect us, but their solutions are quite
varied, and many solutions are incompatible with others. The bureaucracy,
cults of personality, secrecy, censorship, sectarianism, states of denial of
obvious facts, which revolutionary organizations can't help but suffer from,
result from commercialization of the revolution, its only possible fate after
the Russian revolution failed to spark sufficient revolutionary interest in
the Western Hemisphere.

To take that lesson to heart would be to subvert one's own revolutionary
organization. Rather than learn to think for themselves and thereby risk
ostracism from their revolutionary comrades, most revolutionaries garner
security and standing by toeing the party line. The urge to 'belong' to some-
thing, even anything, is very strong in the human psyche. If some beliefs
are unscientific (no matter how radical, progressive or revolutionary), then
the urge to belong to a group of like-minded individuals can have little more
social effect than very powerfully maintain the general status quo, and retard
social progress. Adherence to a party's program and platform is often a
requirement for membership, but adherence to a revolutionary program
is the result of personal ignorance, and ignorance retards social progress.

If an anarchist party wants to replace the existing state with a classless and
stateless administration of things, and if a communist party wants to replace
the existing state with a workers' state, could the two types of revolutionaries
get together to smash the existing state? The communist-anarchist ideological
split is so divisive, and the blood so bad between them, that they could never
unite to do anything substantial about their state-smashing goal. The division
dooms them to fight more among themselves than against existing governments.
They also will never admit the verity of this critique, for its admission would
undermine their revolutionary efforts and reason for existence. So, they are
forced to uneasily co-exist with festering old wounds.

Gloomy though this may sound, not all is lost. Technological evolution will
soon plunge the West into an unprecedentedly enormous unemployment crisis,
and the West will face it by sharing the remaining work. As usual, revolution
will not enter the mind of hardly anyone. Out-of-work revolutionaries will re-
examine their belief systems, and the best of them will support sharing the
remaining work, and driving down the length of the work week as a valid means
of abolishing class distinctions, as taught by Engels. Marxism will be reborn,
and the most flexible Marxists will become class abolitionists of a new type.

My revolutionary triumphs and failures can be browsed at my web site. Coming
soon will be a compilation of all of my political correspondence over the past
2 years, and I will later add more correspondence from previous years.

Ken Ellis

"There's a sucker born every minute, but none of them ever die" -
Joseph Bessimer, a notorious confidence trickster of the early
1880s, known to the police as "Paper Collar Joe".

 

10-16-01

Hi, Alan,

> UnorganizedMilitia? .... a libertarian-type Constitutionalist
> crowd.... some interesting characters (e.g. Mike Kemp, with
> whom I've struck up correspondence)

Yes, that very group. I've monitored over a hundred messages over the past
week. It's a very busy site! Probably twice as much traffic as RBG. I can't
say as I've ever heard of Mike Kemp, but I'll tune my antenna.

In spite of my longer association with the left, a radio friend took me in hand
in the 1980's to help me spend a little time with some Constitutional tax protest
groups. I occasionally shivered in my shoes while I got to know them a little
better. Many of the anti-tax leaders were viciously anti-communist, while I was
still a communist revolutionary at the time, so I figured: 'God, if they only knew.'
Gradually I discovered that the rank and file were just plain folks, so I began to
feel more at ease, in spite of the incongruity of ideologies. Some protestors, like
some revolutionaries, were out-and-out crazies, and one casual acquaintance died
on the side of the road after shooting it out with the Highway Patrol. He knew
all there was to know about guns, but now ...

You know what? Some leaders make just as much of a business out of tax-
protesting as revolutionary leaders make a business out of the revolution.
Everywhere you go, the economical struggle to survive is the same. Beating
the tax man isn't much easier than beating the rich out of their property.
Caveat emptor.

How to make labor-time communism different from all of that commercial
shlock should be naturally easy, I like to think. But, I also wonder if someone
will step in to try to make a business out of it. If so, then I hope that they are
successful, but only if they stick to the principles and politics of inclusion at
every step of the way. We as a race are so adept at ruining things with our med-
dling that I sometimes despair at the prospect that nothing better than plain old
corrupt revolutionism or tax protestism will ever come of my idea. Stay tuned.

As for my project, my new web pages are in their final polishing stages. In a few
days, I may float some trial balloons to see if my hypertext links work or don't work.

Did you check out Oogle's long RBG message today about expanding rights of
private property and Nafta? Positively chilling opening about an MTBE case.

Keep smilin',
Ken Ellis



10-21-01

Mike Morin wrote, a long, long time ago:

> Welcome back, Ken.
>
> Have you been on a cruz?

I've been scaling back my little experiment in Internet communications.
Constant dismay over frequent denials of obvious facts causes forum
fatigue. Allow me to philosophize a little:

When I was hangin' with some (white) Black Panthers 30 years ago, one of the
biggest lessons was to 'honor the commitment to the cause.' For some Panthers,
the commitment was THE WHOLE THING. Nowadays, some activists proclaim
their commitment, but don't back it up with personal change, despite some debates
proving their arguments weak. Flaccidity of commitment causes laziness of thought,
so the same dishonesty - conscious or unconscious - that guided them in the past,
continues to guide them in the present.

Some enjoy as big a state of denial over the ineffectiveness of their traditional
styles of activism as the American government enjoys over the cause of the recent
terrorist incidents. When some authorities say that terrorism is caused by foreign
jealousy over the American way of life, democracy, and freedoms, some authorities
know that it's a big lie, but the lies are believed by the zillions who are too overworked
to pay much attention to what's going on, so zillions wave the flag in chorus. When
some leftists say that the USA is going to have a socialist revolution, a few people
believe them, not understanding that the alleged inevitability of a revolution is
based on left-wing denials over historical facts and trends. As activists, WE
know that American policy causes terrorism on US soil, but damned if we
can effectively get that valid point across. Left-wing ineffectiveness is the
result of inability to put across a coherent and unified critique and plan of
action. The left needs education about feasible social change, but it's more
remunerative to remain scattered in sectarian notions and programs.

> Thank you for voicing suppport for my fourteen point plan.

It's a good plan for the most part.

> So far it's me and you. We're outnumbered, but that just makes it a larger challenge?

If our plans are good, people will hopefully come around to see their merits.

> KE wrote:
>
>> Expropriation didn't happen in democracies except WITH compensation...
>
> MM responds:
>
> Come on Ken, "democracies" is a sham front for Capitalist
> military hegemonies. We all should know that the same folks
> who fund the dictatorships fund the charade elections.

Our 'democracies' can be criticized until the cows come home, but, in the end,
ordinary people will still regard what we have as a democracy, and will be willing
to die to protect it. One has to wonder when activists will ever get this straight, and
stop discrediting themselves trying to assert the inevitability of a revolution which
will never be needed. It's all a matter of mass perception, which holds us helplessly
captive. Billions of people 'know' that the old Soviet Union, Cuba, etc., were or are
communist, while anarchist elements try in vain to convince people that they never
were. Some activists can 'afford' to believe in what they believe in, and to propagate
unpopular notions that result in little more than an occasional convert. Enough
people are susceptible to esoteric propaganda to keep sectarian groups in
business, so predators are always willing to take advantage of that fact.

At some point, people will have to stop slapping themselves on the back over
the brilliance of their critiques of Western democracies, and accept the fact
that they will be around for a long time. So, if social progress would be
made, activists should learn to use democracy, just as Dr. Helen Caldicott
urges, because democracy will be the very best tool that we will ever have.

In one letter to Bebel, Engels exulted over a million+ popular vote (20%!) for
German Social-Democrats in 1890, in spite of being hobbled by the draconian
Anti-Socialist law. Engels regarded their fine showing as the beginning of the
long-awaited German REVOLUTION, while today's American socialists of
whatever party are lucky to get .2 percent of the vote in any election. There
has to be a reason for socialists' present failure to garner support, and that
reason is their anachronistic plan to get control over all of that property out
there. Socialism today is under the control of a petty-bourgeoisie which
refuses to think its way out of its doldrums, so it's little wonder the
masses run away from socialism.

> However, I would be interested in examples of where you had in mind
> when you spoke of expropriation with compensation.

All over the world, property flip-flops between government and private hands.
Expropriation with compensation frequently occurs in order to acquire land on
which to build new highways, for instance. Expropriation in history has been so
common and widespread that the 5th Amendment to our Constitution includes the
clause: "nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation."
As long as the property isn't just plainly ripped off, people are generally content with
expropriation.

On the other hand, Lenin expropriated and nationalized all of the land in
Russia on the very first day of the October revolution, and did it without
compensating the landowners. How's that for kicking butt? Having full
state power enabled the Bolsheviks to do what they wanted with property.
Expropriation without compensation unfortunately had a few undesirable
after-effects, such as civil war, hunger, and Stalinism.

> KE wrote:
>
>> Rearranging those deck chairs on the sinking Titantic is quite superfluous.
>
> MM responds:
>
> This would also be true for Menshevikian scenarios such
> that I am proposing. It is necessary to sink the Titanic first
> (i.e. write off or down the inflated costs of the assets and
> property in the Capitalist world, before a socialist culture
> could rebuild based on the principles of cooperation,
> sustainability, and equity).
>
> Don't wake me up I like to dream (Hugh Morris(t))!

As good and thoughtful as your analysis and plans might be, maybe we will
have to agree to disagree about the subject of 'messing about with private property'.
The rich are rich because they won the battle over property, and people compete
over scarce opportunities to make the rich richer than their wildest dreams. That
expropriation of wealth (from the producers, and into the hands of the rich) is by
and large performed in a very civil fashion, because wages and salaries are paid.
Consequently, little more can be done about the disparity of ownership except to
fantasize. Everyone wants lots of property for themselves, but only a handful of
Americans are willing to deceive themselves to the point of thinking they can rally
people to take up arms to win all of that property in a revolutionary battle. Others
fantasize about legislating a redistribution of property and wealth, at the same time
capitalists plot, scheme and contribute only to politicians who are willing to help
fulfill the capitalist agenda of privatizing EVEN MORE property. Little wonder
why 'single-payer' and other sensible plans seem so elusive.

The left is in somewhat of a quandary: If they adopt the point of view that
'the crux of the problem in the Western Hemisphere is unequal participation
in the economy' (as well as our mad dash to make the rich richer), then the left
would also have to temporarily SHELVE their classic dream of equalizing
wealth, property and income. But, they won't let that dream fade away, because
they don't understand that THE PATH TO EQUALIZATION OF WEALTH
IS PAVED BY ENSURING FULL PARTICIPATION IN THE ECONOMY.
They instead choose to DIRECTLY fight over property, which unfortunately is
tantamount to choosing to lose the battle. Yet, fighting over property is just
about the only game in town, so who can blame everyone for trying?
The blind lead the blind round and round in circles.

If some activists are dishonest enough to refuse to admit that they ever made
a mistake, then that denial also makes it impossible for them to learn from
their mistakes. Blaming the rich for every problem relieves the left of any
responsibility for its own failures.

Now to try to finish my response to dddddd. Better late than never?

Ken Ellis

 

10-21-01

Hi, Alan,

> Kenneth Ellis wrote:
>> I took some time this morning to read your eye-opening contribution.
>
> Thanks. Your comments, at any level of detail, would be
> interesting, if you feel like taking the time; post to RGB?

It's a bit far afield for me, but I see that David has taken to task that whole
message, and from a leftist perspective. Your reply to his charges ought
to be engaging. I hope you will give it a go. I still owe him a reply from
a couple of weeks back.

> The phenomenon described in that article is very real and significant.
>
>> I would guess that Pravda has changed a lot since 1989.
>
> :-)
>
>>> The left's ethical and humanitarian core is too valuable to be
>>> lost at this critical, epochal moment. At no time has it been
>>> more important to preserve it, and at no time has it been at
>>> greater risk of being flushed down the toilet entirely.
>>>
>>> -- AEL
>>
>> We think very much in parallel here. I delve into it a little in my
>> long-delayed reply to Mike Morin.
>
> Would be curious sometime to hear your view of what I said in the
> sentence previous -- re the left's "foolish fetishes" (methinks) of
> radical feminism, america-hatred, etc., etc.

The left is scattered in sectarian tangents, no single one of which can bring
about BROAD social justice. For the left, it's merely 'one little issue at a
time', because the flow of history has smashed their grand socialist vision,
and they haven't found anything big and unifying with which to replace it.

> It really is time to open up the dialogue, I think, before the left
> really DOES get flushed down the toilet. Any civil war scenario
> is likely to result in drastically reactionary/retrogressive effects
> along with beneficial effects, unless the left gets its act together
> and GETS REAL. Or so I think.

I agree. Time to weld the humanitarianism of the left with the unified
thinking of the right. You are on the high road to the real nitty-gritty.
Stick with it, answer David's replies, and that will be very entertaining
and educational at the same time. Give it lots of thought, if you have
the time, and don't forget to admit mistakes (if any were made).

>> I was getting heavy into an ultra-fine polish of my web site, but I think
>> I will put some of it off until later so that the new home page et al can be
>> published sooner rather than later.
>
> Good plan. Don't sweat trivial details.

You're right. Launch date should definitely be this week.

>> Also, even though I check the militia site 3 times per day, sometimes I find
>> myself 50 messages behind, which I can't possibly spare the time for, so I
>> jump ahead to the last 5 or so. The place must be TEN times as busy as
>> RBG, not merely the twice I mentioned earlier.
>
> I am thinking of dumping it. The volume IS oppressive and the
> signal:noise ratio pretty low. Though I sub to the "digest" form,
> and I can run through 25 messages in fewer minutes, sometimes.
> Still, it is getting pretty bad...
>
> Alan

A lot of it is pretty infantile stuff, but infantile is hard to avoid, unless lucky
enough to find a moderated site that doesn't censor. I get a lot of consistently
good information out of 'portside', which is also part of yahoo, and they don't
let just anyone post long articles. They do 5 posts per day, max, except on the
odd occasion they make up for a long weekend by posting 10.

Cordially,
Ken Ellis

 

10-21-01

Hi, Michael,

Is this really you? I was looking for the 'trotsky' in your e-mail address, but I can't find it.

> Hey Ken,
>
> Whats Up ? I am lookin for old books to purchase. Do you by any chance have
> old copies of collected works by JV Stalin, Mao, or Marx's Capital Volumes,
> that you are willing to sell ?

Sorry, nothing for sale at this time.

> P.S. One of my friends was kicked out of his communist group that i once
> belonged to. I also learned that Trotsky was a liar and misrepresented Stalin
> who was despite all his short coming dedicated to world revolution.
>
> Comradely,
> Michael

It's for sure that Stalin worked for world revolution. As for Trotsky, I was at an
opening party for this new Trot Library in Berkeley, CA, near where I used to
live a decade ago, and I happened to browse some of his collected works, and
became a little disappointed, for everything I was reading seemed to be about
'controlling the minds of revolutionary cadre'. But, his little volume of history
of the Russian Revolution with 'Brest-Litovsk' in the title was quite inspiring.

In a few days, my revamped home page and new section of correspondence
should be at my web site. Spread the word. Thanks.

Are you still with the LaRouche campaign?

Best wishes,
Ken Ellis

 

10-21-01

Hi, Mike,

> Very dull response, Kenne___
>
> You seem to contradict yourself, MIGHT MAKES RIGHT. Are you saying
> "go ahead boys and girls "have it out", but leave me out of it?
>
> and Sorry Mike, we will never consider a peaceful solution?
>
> Do you mind if I post this to RBG, Li'l Joe, and other groups?
>
> Mike

Gee whiz, I thought I had posted my message to RBG as well as to you. My
mistake, which I will rectify by posting the original to RBG. Mistakes like
this are what I get for not posting often enough to stay in shape.

I'm not able to understand much of your critique. Please explain why my
response was dull, + explain what I said that inspired you to respond with
'Might makes right'. I also don't understand WHO you mean by 'we' in
'we will never consider a peaceful solution'.

Thanks in advance, and I'll look forward to reading your critiques in the RBG forum.

Bro'Ken

 

10-22-01

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

> Very dull response, Kenne___
>
> Ken Ellis wrote:
>
>> The rich are rich because they won the battle over property, and
>
> Mike Morin responds:
>
> You seem to contradict yourself, MIGHT MAKES RIGHT. Are you saying
> "go ahead boys and girls "have it out", but leave me out of it?
>
> and Sorry Mike, we will never consider a peaceful solution?

snip old messages

Yesterday, Mike, you sent your critique to me privately, which woke me up and
made me realize that my message had yet to be published in the forum, so I
corrected my error and posted it. I appreciate the wake-up call. I then sent a
private acknowledgement to you, along with a little complaint:

> Gee whiz, I thought I had posted my message to RBG as well as to you. My
> mistake, which I will rectify by posting the original to RBG. Mistakes like
> this are what I get for not posting often enough to stay in shape.
>
> I'm not able to understand much of your critique. Please explain why my
> response was dull, + explain what I said that inspired you to respond with
> 'Might makes right'. I also don't understand WHO you mean by 'we' in 'we
> will never consider a peaceful solution'.
>
> Thanks in advance, and I'll look forward to reading your critiques in the RBG forum.
>
> Bro'Ken

I pointed out the trouble I had understanding your critique, but today you
publicly repeated the same critique with which I had so much trouble.

Just before posting this, I perhaps caught on to the "MIGHT MAKES RIGHT"
part, which seems to assert that the wealth of the minority is acquired by force.
That could mean that every economic transaction takes place at the point of a
gun, and that billions of people all over the world are in a constant state of
nervous tension over having people with guns breathing down their necks
while they slave away at their tasks. But, people shouldn't forget that: before
the era of capitalist production, many earlier societies were also divided into
economic classes. People also shouldn't forget that working people gladly
give up the products of their labor to their bosses in exchange for a living
wage, and that the expropriation of their products with compensation is a
very civil relationship.

Also, no one should forget that the division of society into economic classes
is the result of a long process of evolution, and didn't just happen one fine
day as the result of a big bang.

Now, if only I could understand the rest of your critique ...

Ken Ellis

 

10-22-01

Hi, Alan,

> Kenneth Ellis wrote:
>> It's a bit far afield for me, but I see that David has taken to task that
>> whole message, and from a leftist perspective. Your reply to his charges
>> ought to be engaging. I hope you will give it a go.
>
> GONE! :-) see rgb

It looks like you are having a go at it. I unfortunately do not have the time
right now to engage therein, even though I think that I SHOULD take the time
to read it more carefully and comment. I hope to make more time after my web
pages get uploaded. In the meantime, enjoy .... :-)

Best wishes,
Ken Ellis

 

10-22-01

I was half-way listening to the news tonight on Channel 5 out of Boston, and there's
our GOVERNOR JANE SWIFT at a podium in some kind of press conference, with
about 20 unionists behind her, and there she is ADVOCATING WORK-SHARING
TO SAVE JOBS. Little more than that can I tell you. Did anyone else see it?
I'd love to know the name of the union.

A major expansion of my web site should be complete in a few more days.

Ken Ellis


10-22-01

Hi, Michael,

> Yes it is me, I use this email address so i can infiltrate
> other CP lists, like stalinist ones.

Ahh, very clever.

> How did Trotsky's work look like it was controlling cadre's minds ?

Because all of the writings I browsed briefly in that particular volume had
nothing whatsoever to do with the subject of revolution, but had everything
to do with inner-party relations, and with methods of getting cadre to obey
leaders and follow orders. If only I could go back to that Center for Socialist
History and read more, but it's clear across the country.

> What I learned was that Trotsky lied saying Stalin destroyed the
> international communist momvent through class claborationist polices
> in the comintern. But in fact he was dedicated to spreading world
> revolution and his policies even matched soemthing lenin said.

I do have a small volume of Stalin in my library, and Stalin's ideology even
matches a lot of Marx's. So does Mao, Trotsky, and Ho Chi Minh, etc. I guess
that's why they are all known as communists, and why portraits of Marx, Engels,
Lenin, Stalin and Mao hang together in many a communist meeting place.

> And Trotsky's theory of permanent revolution is ridiculous,
> Lenin spoke against it (however Trotsky said lenin's dictatorship
> of prolitariat and peasentry matched his PR by the 1917 events) and
> it sort of matches that SLP guy's dictatorship over the peasantry.

To bone up on Trotsky's permanent revolution, I'd have to seriously
hit the books. Marx's permanent revolution is much nicer:

snip long quotes from Marx about Carey

> I am very much with the Larouche movment and organize with them. As
> for Marx, is that he is wrong because he got his ideas from a bad source,
> British political economy developed by Adam Smith and Ricardo. He did
> do a good job critiquing their arguments but he did so coming from their
> standpoint; staying inside the same tea bag.

That critique of Marx isn't complete enough to enable grand conclusions.

> The idea of 'free trade' or free market has not done anything
> to develop the productive forces of a country, not even in
> Britian itself, which got rich by looting other countries.

Free trade (or no free trade) is part of the policy of a country, and such policies
can have considerable effects on a country's economic development. Marx and
Engels often enough stated that 'state power is also an economic power'. That is
why M+E wanted WORKERS to enjoy state power, so as to enable working-
class policies to direct economic development, e.g., encourage workers' coop-
eratives, regulate hours of labor, and probably many other policies.

> Development only comes through a nation state working for the common
> good of its people providing the credits and education necessary to develop
> industry. Marx believed the wrong British goons where he spent his whole
> life studying their works out of the London Museum, so he thought free
> market was good."

Free trade can help some parts of an economy, and it can hurt others. It was
mostly a bourgeois issue, but M+E, if given a choice, would have preferred
free trade over tariffs. From the Preface to Volume 6 of their Collected Works:

"In the conditions of the 1840s, Marx gave preference to the free-trade system
as the more progressive of the two. "
We are for Free Trade, because by Free
Trade all economical laws, with their most astounding contradictions, will act
upon a larger scale, upon a greater extent of territory, upon the territory of the
whole earth; and because from the uniting of all these contradictions into a
single group, where they stand face to face, will result the struggle which
will itself eventuate in the emancipation of the proletarians.
".

Here's a note by Marx while writing Capital: Page me34.258

"//FREE TRADE, leaving aside the abolition of restrictions on international trade,
means nothing but the free, unrestricted development of capitalist production and
its laws, without any regard for the agents of production, without any regard for
any [XXII-1405] considerations which fall outside the laws and conditions of the
development of capital, whether those considerations are national, humanitarian
or WHATEVER. The previous restrictions, in so far as they proceed from the
MANUFACTURERS, LANDOWNERS, etc., themselves have the purpose
of first creating the conditions in which capital can proceed from itself as its
own presupposition. It is only at a certain point in its development that it
ceases to need any EXTRANEOUS help.//
"

Here's something Engels wrote in 1892: Page me27.330

"Very well. The presidential election of November 8, 1892 has opened the
way for free trade. The protective tariff in the form devised by MacKinley had
become an unbearable fetter; the nonsensical price increase for all imported raw
materials and foodstuffs, which affected the price of many domestic products,
had largely closed world markets to American products, while the home market
suffered a glut of American industrial products. In fact, in the past few years the
protective tariff only served to ruin the small producers under the pressure of the
large producers combined in cartels and trusts, and to surrender the market and
thus the consuming nation to exploitation by the latter, that is to say the organised
monopoly. America can only escape from this permanent domestic industrial crisis
caused by the protective tariff by opening itself up to the world market, and for this
it must emancipate itself from the protective tariff, at least in its present nonsensical
form. The total turn-about of public opinion demonstrated by the election shows that
it is determined to do this. Once established on the world market, America - like, and
through England - will irresistibly be driven further along the path of free trade.
"

> Also the whole conept of wealth is flawed, real wealth comes from
> ideas that enhance the productive forces of a nation.

Productive forces certainly can and do advance, while not necessarily improving
employment figures. This will hit home hard in the next few decades, when
productive forces will improve at unprecedented rates, while only making
unemployment worse than ever before. Seems contradictory, but just wait awhile.

> Marx never took seriously American economist like Henry Carey
> who wrote about developing industry and eliminating class conflicts
> through the common good, and his ideas actualy devloped the USA,
> Japan and Germany, but longed destroyed in the history books.

snip many kilobytes of quotes from M+E about Carey, allocating to the web site:

Marx to Engels, 1869: Page me43.385
"As a harmoniser, Carey first proved there was no ANTAGONISM between
capitalist and wage labourer. The second step was to show the harmony between
landowner and capitalist, and this is done by showing land-ownership as being
normal where it has not yet developed. The fact that may, under no circumstances,
be mentioned is the great and decisive difference between a colony and an old
civilised country: that, in the latter, the mass of the population is excluded by
landed property from the soil, whether it be fertile or infertile, cultivated or
uncultivated; while in the colonies, the land can, RELATIVELY SPEAKING,
still be appropriated by the cultivator himself. This may play absolutely no part in
the rapid development of the colonies. The disgusting 'property question', and that
in its most disgusting form, would of course put a spoke in the wheel of harmony.
"

Who says that M+E didn't take Carey seriously? As you can see, M+E were
very familiar with both his weak and strong points. And this was only half of
the material available, hopefully the best half, but I did leave out a lot of what
Engels wrote, and he's generally easier to read than Marx.

Perhaps you should explore exactly why LaRouche and Co. speak so highly of Carey,
and figure out exactly which of those ways have already been criticized by M+E.

By doing so, you might be able to save yourself a little grief. It takes time
and effort to think one's way to clarity, but doing so will redound to the
good of both the thinker and everyone else.

> And Marx's depreciation of capital only realy works in a closed system,
> like the one we have unfurtunatly, but can totaly be avoided through
> government promotion of the commond good. Right now we never see
> crisis of overproduction because govenments tend to give cheap credits
> out to stop this, on the other hand this leads to inflation.
>
> later,
> Michael

Crises of overproduction will be as unavoidable in the future as they were in
the past. Why do you think Greenspan has been cutting interest rates? He does
it to spur the economy, which spurring helps to put people to work. The time will
come, though, when cutting the interest rate to zero will still not suffice to put enough
people to work, because technological improvement increases at a logarithmic rate,
and even that logarithmic rate increases logarithmically, according to Ray Kurzweil,
which will soon lead to a grand climax as a whole bunch of technologies converge.
If we don't blow ourselves up in the meantime, I guess.

Well, I hope I didn't send you TOO much information, but I know it's a lot.

My web site will hopefully be updated soon to include correspondence.

Best wishes,
Ken Ellis

 

10-25-01

Hi, Michael,

> Ken,
> I just want to respond to a few things:
> The idea of free trade was invented by the British. Infact Adam Smith was
> actualy contracted by Lord Shelburne to write his Wealth of Nation in 1776
> to counteract the republican forces of America. It was nothing mroe than a
> poor theoretical attempt to justify the 'forced backwardness' policy of the Brit-
> ish Colonial Office. Anothewords England, the most industrail developed
> country in the world wanted to retain its advantage over the world econom-
> icaly and therefore stop any development of countries as in the Navigation
> Acts here in the 16-1700s and their killing off of whole populations in India
> and China during the Opium Wars. And what the Larouche movement points
> out is that England to this day retains its colonial polices. In fact the World
> bank and IMF are centered in London and prevent devlopment of 3rd world
> countries through huge unpayable loans and looting of the little industry these
> countries have. That is why we propose the destruction of the whole financial
> system and create national banks that can lend cheap credit to 3rd world
> countries to help them develop.

So, one little group wants to re-arrange all bourgeois property and power relations?
Larouche will need lots of luck.

> I like to recall Daniel De Leon's Social reconstruction speech on this subject.
> You can't have free trade between one nation that is big and mighty like Britian
> and another which has little industry. It is like Deleon's definition of the social
> contract between boss and worker, it doesnt exist!

That's true, but to fix our problems by rearranging power and property
relations is mighty ambitious.

> I cant respond to all those Marx quotes about Carey, ill say you have it there,
> but let me give you more incite into him. Carey wrote his harmony of interests
> as a blistering polemic againt Smith and the Free trade system and Carey pointed
> out the development of our country as proof that Adam Smith was a fraud. The
> American System devloped by Alexander Hamilton and furtherd by Carey includes
> protective tarrifs, government financed infalstructure projects, national banking to
> assure a flow of credit to the private sector and universal education. Such a system
> was also proven to work in the developlement of Germany Japan and Russia dir-
> ectly by one of Carey's followers Fredrick List. If we had such a system today
> we wouldnt be in this mess that we are in and this is exackly what Roosevelt
> did during the depression to get us out.

I don't understand why any worker would want to meddle in bourgeois affairs
which don't have a direct impact on the working class. On the other hand, to
want a voice in determining the weekly hours of labor, that is more practical
and beneficial to workers.

> I also want to explain why Larouche beleives Marx's labor theory of value is
> wrong. We begin with what is wealth ? For centuries oligarchies variously
> have defined it as an excretion of nature like feudalists, profit from trade, or
> production of man's physical labor(Marx) Larouche uses an example of 'a
> worldwide cup of coffee' to refute those claims. Where does your morning
> cup of coffee coem from ? Think of the beans grown in Brazil, storage in Rio,
> transported on Ships made in Japan with crews from all over the world, its
> packagin in New York, with paper from Canada, transported on truck made
> in Detriot, on tires of Malasia, the chinese porecelin of the cup and pureto
> rican sugar. Consider also the production of all the machinery used along
> the way, and the research and development efforts that generated the ma-
> chinery. Add in to this the education and health of all those involved; than
> you'l discover that nearly everyone in the world is connected in some way
> to your cup of coffeee. How do you measure its cost and value now ?

Coffee truly is an international product. Determining its cost and value is not
something I would want to try to do. Coffee sells for a price which people are
willing to pay; coffee vendors and producers make their profits, and the
production cycle spins merrily around.

In order to achieve social justice, it doesn't matter if Marx's theory of value
is or was right or wrong. A certain amount of work needs to be done every
week, and if society can't figure out a way to spread the work around to
everyone who wants some, then social justice won't exist.

> Nature has no value in and of itself. Even the cave man knew this. When
> man first domesticated animals and began agriculture, created wealth only
> through creative powers of reason, by discovering technologies through
> which to transform nature in a way that allows for the growth of population.
> Only that way is man free of condition of beasts so that each generation
> doesnt have to live in the same way as their ancestors
>
> That is all,
> Michael

You make a good point. I certainly wouldn't want to go back to the bad old days of
being threatened with starvation if the crops got ruined during a bad growing season.

Have fun.

Ken Ellis

 

10-26-01

David Schwan inquired:

> I have a few queries that I would be interested in resloving here. I am
> mostly concerned with how it would be possible to achieve a socialist
> government. Could it really be done through the old system? I hold the
> belief (perhaps wrongly) that change is possible within the old system
> and that the capitalist system could be turned around and really used for
> the benefit of those who live within it, as opposed to those that sit at the
> top. I'm just unsure of how something like that could happen. What my
> options ( other than all out revolution?)

Check out Engels' letter to Sorge of April 19, 1890, published just this year
in Volume 48 of Marx-Engels Collected Works. There you will find Engels
opposing both the old 'economic action only' trades unionists and the English
revolutionaries, and siding with Marx's daughter Tussy, Aveling, Lessner, and
the 8 hour movement (which had the bulk of the support in the rallies and
demonstrations).

The only way to the abolition of class distinctions (and socialism) in modern
democracies will be by gradually reducing the length of the work week, but not
by fighting over power and property (the Marxist-Leninist way), which was only
briefly applicable in backward non-democracies. Since 1989, the old communist
victories are being reversed.

Ken Ellis

"John R. Commons, the well known USA labor historian, wrote that "the earliest
evidence of [labor] unrest" was a pamphlet circulated by workers that demanded
daily working hours be reduced from "12 to 10, to 8, to 6, and so on" until, in the
workers' words, "the development and progress of science have reduced human
labor to its lowest terms."
" - source unknown

 

10-27-01

Hi, David,

> Hello,
> I read the letter that you mentioned (from a good on-line resource called
> Marxists.org) and checked out the link you included in your E-mail. I found
> what I read very interesting and I shall revisit later when I have time to read a
> good part of it.

Good. Now that I've had a chance to plow even further, check out Engels'
glowing letter to Bebel of May 9, 1890, for a blow-by-blow account of the May
4 rally for the 8 hour day. The May 10 letter to Laura Marx Lafargue is also good.

By the way, would you be so kind as to send me a url for the Marxists.org
web page containing those letters to Sorge, Bebel and Lafargue?

> Before I leave you I have a question that I would be interested in getting
> your opinion on...do you ever think that the US can recover from the name
> calling and intense propoganda that has led most people to reject leftist
> thinking on the basis of it's name? (ie, socialism and all it's facets).

At the left's present stage of their game, the answer would have to be 'no', be-
cause the traditional quest for power over PROPERTY yields nothing but sects
(read: 'businesses'). The rich are rich because they have won the battle over
property, and fighting them over property won't yield any more long term
success than the Russians had. The fight over property is a sign that the
would-be fighters have property on the brain, which is a perfect field of
endeavor for petty-bourgeois elements, even though they may think of
themselves as the staunchest supporters of the proletariat.

Clearing all of the property stuff out of our heads for a moment, think about
the interests of the working class, which knows instinctively that competition for
scarce jobs leads to low wages, crime, social problems, etc. Their best interests are
best served by redistributing WORK more equitably, not the means of production.

If labor-time socialism acquires more popularity among activists, and if the
public receives a new and coherent message about what socialism could be, then
socialism will no longer be a bad word. Anarchism may always be problematical,
but communism may stand a chance of rehabilitation. But, once socialism is set
right, communism and anarchism may end up going the way of small sects. R.I.P.

> I read an article somewhere on Z net about 'participatory economics' and
> it sounds like all the basic socialist ideology, but with a name change. I
> really haven't had time to read much about it yet, but was wondering what
> you thought of the idea and just whether you think socialism will ever be
> viable in America? If you have time let me know your thoughts on this.
> Thank you. Dave

I had a little discussion with Michael Albert, head of that particular forum, for
which people have to PAY MONEY in order to participate. Well, in my little life,
I've already paid my dues many times over, so I'm not about to pay more.

His plan is right in line with the traditional quest for control over property,
and, like so many other socialists who think that's the holy grail, he didn't
listen for very long to what I had to say. So, we go our separate ways.

In the meantime, interest in my web site is growing, and I've been going crazy
with html problems in my new web pages. Today, I finally successfully uploaded
a new home page. Check it out. Filling in the new correspondence pages will
proceed over the next few days.

Ken Ellis

 

10-28-01

Hi, Michael,

snip irrelevancy

> Hi, Ken
>
>> So, one little group wants to re-arrange all bourgeois property and power
>> relations? Larouche will need lots of luck.
>
> --> Let me clear up things here. First of all we are not just some little group.
> We are a small group that actualy has many subscribers to our newspaper (2,000
> here in Houston which i think is pretty damn good) members around the world in-
> cluding government officials, and both Russia and China take Larouche's proposals
> seriously, such as the building of the 3 Gorges Damn which would bring economic
> development to China's interior inspired by Larouche and taking up the call for a
> Eurasian land bridge.

Obviously he is a man of vision who commands respect from world leaders.
I won't criticize that.

> We are heading towards an economic crisis of unhear proportions and
> Larouch's ideas are the only solution to get us out of this mess. What we
> are doing is the creation of a New Bretton Woods system like the one we had
> between 1946-1971; which would include fixed currenct exchange rates, and for
> each country to create a national bank that would lend to cheap credits to build
> up native industries. We need a government commited to the common good.

I can sympathize a certain amount with almost any plan to keep people working,
but advances in technology made the 40 hour week obsolete back in the 1930's,
so it's high time to follow the French example, and consign the 40 hour week
to the museum of antiquities.

> After Nixon destroyed the Bretton Woods system, we fell into an ongoing
> economic crisis. With the aborition of exchange rates, people were free to
> make money by derivitives, making money on how much you think money
> will be worth. All the money that was once invested in to the real economy
> (land,industry) was instead divereted into speculation. So now all the profits
> you see these giant companies making is not real profit at all and the countries
> infalstructure is being destroyed. What is supposed to be getting done is not
> getting done. So that is why we need a new Bretton Woods system.

Maybe the world does need one. I don't have a real opinion about Bretton
Woods, because all of my interests lie closer to home, to see to it that everyone
who could use some work can actually find some, and they don't have to eke out
an existence in the underground economy. That's the choice for many workers -
get by legally in the above-ground economy, or get forced underground.

If I were a sympathetic and humanitarian bourgeois, I would be inclined to
offer solutions through development, dams, projects, high finances, etc., but
I'm only a worker, so all I can think of is spreading 'what little work that
remains for people to do' among everyone who could use a little to get by.
Sorry if that appears to be a lowly, humble vision, but it's the best I can
conjure up. Go to find out, though, if put into practice, this humble vision
would suffice to take care of all of the problems of the working class.

The upper classes can do their darnedest to bring more sense and order to
THEIR affairs - not a bad idea either. It's like the way Ghandi supposedly
answered the question of 'what he thought of Western Civilization'. He said:
"I think it would be a good idea."

> With a government commited to the common good and promotion of
> unversal education we can easily elimiante any class antagonisms that
> exists in society and move towards a society where there is full equality
> between man.

How are class distinctions eliminated except by making the working class
as free of the 40 hour week as their bosses? First we have to win 35.

> We are not against private ownership; as long as thigns are getting done than its alright.

That's a plus. I'm glad to hear that Larouche doesn't attack property in the
traditional communist or socialist manner.

> If we create a national bank we would use it to provide
> credit for the private sector to build up the economy.

Why build up the economy? To ensure the permanence of the 40 hour week?
That's a waste of effort.

> The problem is that there exists an oligarchy that doesnt want a build up of the economy

I don't want to build up the economy, but I'm not an oligarch.

> and hates Bretton woods proposals for international development and
> hates the idea of a sovergine nation state dedicated to its people. The
> Laroche movement was hunted down for many years with lies in the
> media and the arrest of larouche himself for 5 years on false charges. It
> is part of a long historical battle that began with the British fight against
> the American System of goverment and preventing its spread of ideas.
> -----------------
>> I don't understand why any worker would want to meddle in bourgeois
>> affairs which don't have a direct impact on the working class. On the
>> other hand, to want a voice in determining the weekly hours of labor,
>> that is more practical and beneficial to workers.
>
> -----> Well this has a direct impact on everybody. As I have already explained
> we wont be able to solve societys problems by simply reducing the work week
> and seducing workers with single issue demands that divert them from the real
> crisis we are facing right now.

Ken Ellis, the seducer? The shorter work week is a single unifying solution to
MANY ISSUES - unemployment, environment, social, workers' control, health
care, etc. People who are fed up with getting nowhere working for single issues
like racism, single payer, etc., may someday become frustrated enough with their
lack of progress to come around to see the elegance of the shorter work week solution.

Single issues are for people who don't struggle to achieve a socialist, communist
or anarchist solution to ALL social problems. Many activists who once worked for
socialism, communism or anarchism often become so fed up with internal party
politics that working on single issues is less frustrating for them.

As for 'the real crisis we are facing right now', the biggest crisis workers
face are when they are laid off en masse and lose their paychecks.

> We need to first implement a system that Larouche proposes and implement
> huge international economic cooperation projects to save the world from the
> brink off chaos. Only after we do this can we being to focus on lowering
> working hours., when right now there is ahell of alot of work to be done.
>
> Later,
> Michael

The working class has always been told to put their agenda behind the bourgeois agenda.

Don't forget to check out my new home page.

Ken Ellis

 

10-28-01

Hi, David,

> First, before I forget, here is the address for the first letter you mentioned-
> <
http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/letters/sorge/90_04_19.htm>

Thank you. I'll take a look at that page and that site later today. In his last
years on earth, Engels had lots of troubles with people who called themselves
socialist, communist, and especially anarchist, but seems to have had nothing
but good times with those who fought for the legalization of the 8 hour day.
Makes one wonder what Marxism-Engelsism is really all about. In spite of
having their first 47 volumes on a CD, which I use quite a bit, uncovering
'what Marxism really is' remains a somewhat mysterious voyage of discovery
of little gems. If only M+E had written one clear, unambiguous, and definitive
work of what Marxism really was - good for all time, and not having one mean-
ing in 1848, another in 1871, and perhaps yet another in 1890. In modern times
of accelerating change, though, maybe that's a bit like asking me to be consistent
from 1965 to 1972 to 1977 to 1994 to 2001.

> I took a look for the other letters that you mentioned, but I haven't found
> anything yet. After I write this I'm off to read at your site and then I'll sift
> for the letters you mentioned. Good luck with the site, and thank you for
> the slant on things. I'll have a think (and a read) and get back to you if
> I have any questions. Dave

Very good; bon voyage. Later you wrote:

> no real time to yak, but I just read the introductory essay on your site
> and it really made a lot of sense. Anyway, I got to fly, but I wanted to
> find those letters you mentioned before I get off the net. Dave

Thanks for writing; it's always a pleasure to dialogue with reasonable people.

Ken Ellis

"As for myself, my dear General, you know that it's enough to be a Marxist
and Engelsist to stay young forever!
" ... From a January 2, 1893 Letter from
Laura (Marx) Lafargue to Engels.

 

10-29-01

Hi, Ben, what a pleasure to hear from you! I was beginning to give up hope.

> Hi Ken!
>
> Sorry I've taken a while to reply to your mail. Thanks for that.

For awhile, you had me scared that you had gone over to the enemy.

> I'm not on the WSM forum at present. I might go back on it, but then again
> I might not, as it's likely to be the same old stuff being endlessly chewed
> over, with plenty of "clever" drivel from the tiresome "anarcho"- capitalists!

I'll bet it's still Robin vs. DRS vs. McDonut vs. Julia vs. .... and so on and
on and on. I haven't checked up on them in over a month.

> I certainly enjoyed the discussions I had on the WSM forum with you.
> I found them pretty constructive and you made a lot of very valid points
> that are worth thinking about.
> Could you remind me of the address of your website?
>
> Best wishes bro',
>
> Ben.

Thanks for the compliment, bro'. You were the first to convince me that
I am still a socialist, and I'll always appreciate that boost in the clarity
department. For that assistance, I praised you in the SLP-Houston
forum, until they kicked me off that forum as well.

Getting kicked off those forums was a good thing, in the long run. All of my
prophecies about censorship finally were realized, but the send-offs gave me
more time to develop my web site. I just finished a major expansion, and now
it includes most of my WSM and other correspondence.

Take care, and check out my new home page.

Best wishes,
Bro'Ken

I'll leave you with a little article by Engels which I just sent off to one of my fans. Enjoy:

MAY 4 IN LONDON

snip long article

 

10-29-01

Hi, Alan,

I saw today that you were very busy on RBG. You included in one message,
but didn't credit this quote:

>> Each corporation was chartered to achieve a specific social goal
>> that a legislature decided was in the public interest. At the end of
>> the corporation's life time, its assets were distributed among the
>> shareholders and the corporation ceased to exist. The number
>> of owners was limited by the charter; the amount of capital they
>> could aggregate was also limited. The owners were personally
>> responsible for any liabilities or debts the company incurred,
>> including wages owed to workers. Often profits were specifically
>> limited in the charter. Corporations were not established merely
>> to "make a profit."

I found that very interesting, and wonder if you could tell me
(or all of us) where you got it from. Much obliged.

Lots of activists adhere to some kind of larger social vision, such as socialism,
communism, or anarchism. You recently proclaimed a certain affinity for anarchism.
Does your vision include a specific plan for social justice, and can 'the way out of the
mess we are in' be described in 25 words or less?

snip irrelevancy

Take care,
Bro'Ken

 

10-30-01

Hi, Alan,

Thanks for the info about corporations and the die-off site, which I added to my
favorites list. Rather sobering and dooms-day-like assessment, appropriate to our
present inclination to let our greed run free. I wonder if us lemmings will just follow
one another into oblivion, or if we will have the intelligence and initiative to get off
the track to acopalypse.

> Well, that was about 1000 words, not 25. Best I could do.

For me, 'the way out of the mess we are in' can be described in 4 words -
share the remaining work, which would take care of all of the problems
mentioned so far.

snip irrelevancies

Best of everything,
Bro'Ken

 

10-31-01

Hi, Michael,

I thought of you when I came across this little gem from Marx's critique
of Feuerbach, written 1845-6. It seems to be a 'one of a kind':

Page me5.80
"Thus, while the fugitive serfs only wished to have full scope to develop
and assert those conditions of existence which were already there, and hence,
in the end, only arrived at free labour, the proletarians, if they are to assert
themselves as individuals, have to abolish the hitherto prevailing condition
of their existence (which has, moreover, been that of all society up to then),
namely, labour. Thus they find themselves directly opposed to the form
in which, hitherto, the individuals, of which society consists, have given
themselves collective expression, that is, the state; in order, therefore,
to assert themselves as individuals, they must overthrow the state.
"

But, "smash the state", and variations of those words, don't seem to exist.

My new home page has been up since Saturday.

Take care.

Best wishes,
Ken Ellis

 

11-01-01

Hi, Michael,

> Hey Ken,
>
> I did not quite understand the wording of the Marx quote you gave me. In it Marx said
>
> ".... in order, therefore, to assert themselves as individuals, they must overthrow
> the state.
" So isnt marx saying that he wanted workers to overthrow the state ?

'Overthrow the state' is what he wrote, but remember that, in 1846 in Europe,
Marx was surrounded by monarchies, all of which he was eager to overthrow.
In his 1872 speech at The Hague, he repeated his warning about the probable
need to forcefully overthrow the monarchies on the continent of Europe, but also
expressed the possibility that the workers of England and the USA could peace-
fully get to their goals by using the democratic processes available to them.

> In response to your previous message there realy isnt much to discuss since
> we are coming from 2 differnt view points. I stand by the point that the biggest
> problem right now is a crisis of lack of jobs but a financial crisis of huge propor-
> tions that threaten our very existance and the fact people aren't thinking; if people
> were thinking there wouldnt be this crisis; so we have to get people thinking.

It really doesn't matter to workers how much the financiers botch things up in
their little world; there will always be SOME work for a few more decades to
come, and the working class merely has to see that every potential worker has a
chance to get a chunk of the action. That's the bottom line: to assure the economic
survival of all, no matter how badly the bosses and the government mess things up.

> Instead of going around baiting workers with slogans that might attract them

Are you sassing me?

> Instead of going around baiting workers with slogans that might attract them
> we have to change the way they think by asking them questions. We have to get
> them to question their previous beliefs given by the media and show their falacies
> there by giving them a sense to devlop their own cognitive abilities (a dialetical
> process) And no I don't consider this a purely bourgeois humanitarian mission.
> This is a program that can actualy bring everyone togather whether they own
> property or not. These building projects are the only way to get us out of a
> depression. Besides workers for years have voted for people on such things,
> infact rarely do they vote for anyone that will offer employee awards and kinds
> of compensation, they even vote against it. The problem is not that some people
> own a lot of things, the problem is that what is supposed to be getting done is
> not getting done, and that is real production.
>
> comradely,
> Michael

The 40 hour week is obsolete, and is only leading to great waste. In the
meantime, Bush wants to build up our military and security forces. Well,
that's one way to give people something to do, but it's a big waste.

If Larouche wants to build things, and thus stimulate the economy, then that
is just as much of a waste. Our world is going mad with overactivity, while
the solution is for us to merely slow down, and to deliver a message to our
politicians that we don't want to be driven into any more of a security or
building frenzy than what we are already in.

We are so much more productive than we used to be. We could probably get
by with each person putting in a mere hour per week. When are the benefits
of increased productivity going to redound to the working class in the form
of increased leisure time? We might have a philosophical difference here.

Best wishes,
Ken Ellis

 

11-01-01

Hi, Alan,

> Kenneth Ellis wrote:
>> Thanks for the info about corporations and the die-off site, which I added
>> to my favorites list. Rather sobering and dooms-day-like assessment,
>> appropriate to our present inclination to let our greed run free. I wonder
>> if us lemmings will just follow one another into oblivion, or if we will
>> have the intelligence and initiative to get off the track to acopalypse.
>
> Hanson MAY be right in his contention that all our
> intelligence and initiative may not be enough. I prefer
> not to believe that, however. (Power of denial?)

I'm with you there. I like to think of it as optimism, though I sometimes
wonder if I'm more optimistic than what the situation calls for.

>>> Well, that was about 1000 words, not 25. Best I could do.
>>
>> For me, 'the way out of the mess we are in' can be described in 4 words -
>> share the remaining work, which would take care of all of the problems
>> mentioned so far.
>
> Great idea! Though I cannot see how it addresses the problems
> I covered -- especially the oil/petrol issue.

Sharing the work by means of a shorter work week would help us conserve a lot
of resources. We also need to address some war and peace issues; stopping the 3
billion $$ aid to Israel would force Israel to the bargaining table, and force them to
treat non-Jews like political equals, which is all the un-equals really want. Think of
all of the fuel we could save by not being in a constant state of war. Oilman Bush
is getting just what he wants. :-(

snip irrelevancies

Bro'Ken

 

11-02-01

Hi, Alan,

>> Sharing the work by means of a shorter work week would help us
>> conserve a lot of resources.
>
> Off the top I fail to see how. But perhaps that is explained
> (somewhere) in the new material on your site?

I'm sure that some good arguments are buried in there somewhere, but finding
them is a big project, so I'll point out a couple of things.

Every work day, unemployed and underemployed people hop into their jalopies
and other forms of transportation and hit the road in search of work. Many
agricultural laborers in the central valley of California crowd into trucks and
vans and ride up and down I-99 for hours on end, going from one farm to
another searching for work. Plus, people use up untold resources primping
and preening to look their best for potential employers.

Then there's commuting: People often can't find work within their communities,
so drive dozens of miles to work every day, wasting gas and resources. Creating
an artificial shortage of labor would open up local opportunities, enabling zillions
of people to find work closer to home.

On the shorter work time forum, a gang of us came up with a list:

"Labor time reductions could:

1) Put everyone to work who wants to.

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

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

4) Improve productivity by reducing worker fatigue.

5) Reduce the waste of lengthy commutes.

6) Encourage technological innovation, enabling further work reductions.

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

8) Enhance domestic harmony and bliss.

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

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

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

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

13) Enable reductions in unemployment insurance premiums.

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

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

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

If you need further explanation on any of those 16, I'll be glad to fill in
more details.

snip irrelevancies

Like I always tell my nieces and nephews, 'be good, and if you can't be good, then be bad'.

Bro'Ken

 

11-06-01

Hi, Alan,

> That is a great list! I clipped and saved it.
>
> It cannot help but improve the situation, somewhat, with respect to fossil
> fuel depletion. However, it does not address that problem adequately, or
> even near-adequately. (Not to be a broken record on that score.

Like a lot of other plans, a shorter work week would only put a DENT in
fossil-fuel depletion, but a dent is a dent, and 'politics is the art of the possible'.

What other bill are you aware of which is adequate, simple, and could be put
into law tomorrow? A complex bill dealing with specific fossil fuel issues
could be legislated, and might succeed in having somewhat of an effect, but
what single thing could be legislated to address our society running amuk in
so many ways, as well as ameliorate the fossil fuel issue?

The shorter work week is so exceptionally capable of eliminating waste that it could
be argued that its effect WOULD be 'adequate' (whatever 'adequate' is) while we
collect our thoughts and gear up to replace fossil fuels with renewable resources.

> If you don't much care about fossil fuel depletion, that's fine.
> I am just pointing it out in relation to how this exchange started.

Don't care? If that's the impression my writing creates, then maybe I should
take a harder look at it. Suggestions would be welcome. Don't forget that 'where
I come from' is the very convoluted region known as 'socialist theory', and socialists
traditionally haven't paid as much attention to green issues as other types of activists.
That criticism leveled by the greens against the reds has a lot of validity. But, to the
extent to which a person's 'redness' is involved with 'taking away the property of
the rich', then I can't count myself as red AT ALL since 1994.

snip irrelevancies

Peas on earth,
Bro'Ken

 

11-06-01

Hi, Nicholas,

snip irrelevancies

Got any interesting election news out your way? The only thing exciting back
East seems to be the New York City mayoral election. Ho, hum. Will Shirley
Dean get another term?

Looks like Pacifica is undergoing negotiations with their radical enemies. I
didn't think they were weak enough to be forced to the bargaining table. Then
again, talk is one thing, and I wonder how much they will be willing to concede.
I'll bet they only offer such few crumbs that they force the suits to continue.
We shall see very soon.

Don't forget to vote for your favorite politicians today.

Bro'Ken

 

11-07-01

Jim DeMaegt wrote:

> What do people think about those terms? Should we accept those terms
> and settle the case based on those terms?

No. The terms of the settlement revealed so far are Horrible. The terms seem
to be all about bureaucrats, with not a word about democracy. Pacifica needs
democratic POLICIES a lot more than it needs bureaucrats. With the correct
policies, the need for bureaucrats would shrink to a NEGLIGIBLE amount,
and Pacifica's administration wouldn't even be an issue.

I just KNEW something awful like this was going to happen. A plethora
of people think that elections of bureaucrats (the right bureaucrats) will fix
everything, and now they can't even be a assured of a majority of (right)
bureaucrats. Back to square one.

Ken Ellis

 

11-08-01

Jim DeMaegt made a very good point:

> the "listeners" lawsuit could be run democratically if the "leaders" wanted to do so.
> But then they would lose their monopoly of power and that is all important to them.
> so they will fight democracy with all the power that they have.

Where have we seen this syndrome before? It runs rampant in the left, which is
bourgeois enough for the anarchists to demand that the state be replaced with a
classless and stateless administration of things, and for the communists to demand
that the state be replaced with a workers' state. Plus, they will never support one
another's state-smashing endeavors to ensure the smashing of the state, which
will forever remain unsmashed, just like the PNB.

Ken Ellis

 

11-08-01

Hi, Alan,

>> a shorter work week would only put a DENT
>> in fossil-fuel depletion, but a dent is a dent,
>> and 'politics is the art of the possible'.
>
> What concerns me is that "dents" may not be adequate.

Many activists won't settle for dents, and instead demand total demolition.
Does the world cater to all-or-nothing demands? Most of the time, activists
have to settle for what they can get, and push for more at a later date. A course
of action that makes all-around good sense and promises at least SOME desired
results should be as soundly endorsed as direct legislation on that issue.

> In fact they *probably* will not be adequate. At some point, very soon,
> *increasing* demand will meet *decreasing* (and unalterably-decreasing)
> supply. Absent very concerted and committed action starting roughly now
> (if not 5 years ago), this is going to get ugly.

Well, I've seen the graphs, and have no doubt things will get very ugly
unless we do something real.

>> What other bill are you aware of which is adequate, simple,
>> and could be put into law tomorrow?
>
> Increased gas tax. That's it. That is THE solution.
> Or at least very close to one.

After reading all of the material about oil, especially considering how
artificially cheap the price of oil has been set, it might be prudent to make
oil expensive enough to reflect its true social cost.

>> A complex bill dealing with specific fossil fuel issues could be legislated,
>> and might succeed in having somewhat of an effect, but
>
> Nothing complex about it. Raise the price.

More than one way to raise prices exists. Many different kinds of taxes could be enacted.

>> what single thing could be legislated to address our society running amuk
>> in so many ways, as well as ameliorate the fossil fuel issue?
>
> Raise the price. That is the single thing. It will not only solve the fossil
> fuel problem, it will solve MANY MANY other problems as well. In
> fact it will lead to most of the benefits on the list you sent me.

Hmmm, very intriguing claims. But, let's not overlook the fact that raising
the price of oil would have a depressing effect on the economy. A greater
percentage of each paycheck would be spent on fuel. Therefore, less money
would be spent on OTHER commodities, leading to lower market demand,
slumping sales, and recession. If national policy determines that today's oil
prices should be low, then you can bet that policy was designed to boost the
economy by filling the streets with private autos, keeps people running to malls
to spend their extra bucks, etc.; so raising the price of oil would be VERY UN-
POPULAR. It might be better to educate people to the notion that: artificially
low fuel costs are designed to keep the economy overheated, and to keep people
'happily' busy at artificially long 40 hour work weeks. Raise the price of oil, and
a shorter work week would become mandatory in order to stave off mass layoffs.
It's one thing for the upper classes to impose artificial ruinous policies on us,
and far smarter for us to impose an articial shortage of labor on them.

If a higher fuel price would be legislated, then a shorter work week to stave
off the resulting layoffs should also be legislated.

>> The shorter work week is so exceptionally capable of eliminating waste that
>> it could be argued that its effect WOULD be 'adequate' (whatever 'adequate' is)
>> while we collect our thoughts and gear up to replace fossil fuels with renewable
>> resources.
>
> I love the idea. It may be necessary. But it is in no way sufficient.

Insufficient for whom? Radicals who demand everything now? Revolutionaries
who demand replacing democracies with communist workers' states, or with an
anarchist stateless and classless administration of things? A good activist
wouldn't reject a good reform, unless they were bourgeois and selfish
enough to be able to afford to reject any but their own pet plans.

>>> If you don't much care about fossil fuel depletion, that's fine.
>>> I am just pointing it out in relation to how this exchange started.
>>
>> Don't care? If that's the impression my writing creates, then maybe
>> I should take a harder look at it. Suggestions would be welcome.
>
> Well, I meant in the sense of being pre-occupied -- and probably
> just as well -- with the work-week/time issue. "Don't care" does not
> mean some cavalier or blinkered unconcern (though you might be
> guilty of that! ;-) ), but rather simply wrapped-up in other matters,
> without much time/attention to spare.

Whether the price of oil is high or low, participation in the legal economy
is incomplete, which is why the shorter work week is very important, in order
to take care of these PURELY HUMAN concerns. Socialism was originally
designed to address such human concerns, except that it got hi-jacked by petty
bourgeois elements who can't think of much besides getting control of all of
that property. Raising the price of oil, by itself, without doing anything else,
would only make the population suffer more. So, a human element needs to
be added to the proposed price-raising legislation, lest the price-raising
agenda be regarded by 'the man on the street' as inhumane.

> Likewise, there are a lot of problems that I admit are
> important, but that I don't care about, in that sense:
> that I don't have the time and energy to care about
> everything that should be cared about.

You and I are not alone in that lapse. A certain amount of tunnel vision goes
along with the division of labor. Not all of us can be everywhere at the same time.

>> Don't forget that 'where I come from' is the very convoluted region
>> known as 'socialist theory', and socialists traditionally haven't paid
>> as much attention to green issues as other types of activists.
>
> Right. I suspect this fuel thing will blindside everyone. NO ONE
> wants to believe it. But it is true.
>
>> That criticism leveled by the greens against the reds has a
>> lot of validity. But, to the extent to which a person's 'redness'
>> is involved with 'taking away the property of the rich', then I
>> can't count myself as red AT ALL since 1994.
>
> I KNEW you were a reactionary and a fascist! I just KNEW it!
>
> ;-)

No wonder socialist forums censor me. The count now is 2, but I'm presently
in private correspondence to find out if the total might soon be 3.

snip irrelevancies

If I don't hear to the contrary within a day, I'll post most of the first part
of this dialogue to RBG, which is a little dead lately.

Like I always tell my nieces and nephews - Be good, and if you can't be good, be bad.

Bro'Ken

 

11-11-01

Hi, Don,

> But unlike some other mailing lists, on sociaLIST the
> Reply-To header isn't pointed back at the list. Your reply
> went to the sender of the post you were replying to.
>
> That seems like a bug, but it's actually a feature. Lots of folks
> accidentally send to a mailing list, what they really intended for
> just one person. Saves embarrassment this way.

Ahh, very interesting. Nice feature. I'll try to learn to use the system
a little better if I want my stuff to be published. Very good.

Thanks for the info.

Ken Ellis

 

11-13-01

Hi, Alan,

>>> What concerns me is that "dents" may not be adequate.
>
>> Many activists won't settle for dents, and instead demand
>> total demolition.
>
> If the (oil) peak is coming up as soon as it probably is, then
> dents will not do the job. It is not a matter of unrealistically
> holding out for some Grand Transformation. It is a matter
> of REAListically insisting on accounting for the real. The
> alternative is to wait for the crash, which might slide to
> crash-and-burn very quickly.

The fundamental motivation for the price hike sounds to me like 'conservation', which
is a good thing in itself. But, as a Blue member of the RBG forum, my highest priority
is HUMAN conservation, which is why I stress replacing the bourgeois exclusivism
of the 40 hour rat race with a saner job market. The benefits of treating one another
more humanely would spill over into many areas of conservation and ecology.

snip agreement

>>> In fact they *probably* will not be adequate. At some point,
>>> very soon, *increasing* demand will meet *decreasing*
>>> (and unalterably-decreasing) supply. Absent very concerted
>>> and committed action starting roughly now (if not 5 years ago),
>>> this is going to get ugly.
>>
>> Well, I've seen the graphs, and have no doubt things will get very
>> ugly unless we do something real.
>
> Actually there IS room for disagreement about it. Some of the debates
> on energyresources and elsewhere become very contentious, and it is
> clear that the subject is NOT entirely clear. However, on balance......
>
> see:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/EnergyResources

Agreement is difficult for activists to achieve, for there are zillions of ways to
conserve, and zillions of ways to prioritize this or that conservation measure.

>>> Increased gas tax. That's it. That is THE solution.
>>> Or at least very close to one.
>>
>> After reading all of the material about oil, especially considering
>> how artificially cheap the price of oil has been set, it might be
>> prudent to make oil expensive enough to reflect its true social cost.
>
> PRECISELY. A mass of perverse subsidies, both direct and indirect,
> maintain the gas price at absurdly-low levels. And the result is a
> perversion of society.

Is there a concise, clinical list of the ways in which fuel prices have been
artificially driven down?

BTW, to ordinary working class people driving cars and paying bills for
home heating gas and oil, fuel prices surely don't seem so awfully low,
as they usually eat up sizable chunks of paychecks.

>> More than one way to raise prices exists. Many different kinds
>> of taxes could be enacted.
>
> Right.

On the other hand, I can only think of a quick half-dozen ways in which work
could be better shared: A higher overtime premium, shorter work week, earlier
retirement with full benefits, more paid holidays, longer vacations, and greater
inclusivity of the FLSA. The beauty part is that this isn't an either-or list. All
of these methods COMPLEMENT the others. The left wouldn't necessarily
fight to the death to see that, e.g., a double time overtime premium took prec-
edence over the shorter work week, unlike the way communists EXECUTED
anarchists over little other than their competing ideologies during the Spanish
Civil War of the 1930's. People in favor of sharing work cooperate instead of
compete. That in itself is a huge relief from the same old same old.

>>> Raise the price. That is the single thing. It will not only solve the fossil
>>> fuel problem, it will solve MANY MANY other problems as well. In
>>> fact it will lead to most of the benefits on the list you sent me.
>>
>> Hmmm, very intriguing claims. But, let's not overlook the fact that
>> raising the price of oil would have a depressing effect on the economy.
>
> In the short term, yes, no question about it. It has to be accompanied
> by other things, including abolition of the income tax.

Abolishing the income tax wouldn't help workers for very long. Abolition would
mean an IMMEDIATE raise, but, it wouldn't take long before the labor market
adjusted, and real take-home pay shrank to previous levels. Such is the evil
of workers' competition for scarce jobs, which should be converted into
bosses' competition for scarce labor.

>> A greater percentage of each paycheck would be spent on fuel.
>> Therefore, less money would be spent on OTHER commodities,
>> leading to lower market demand, slumping sales, and recession.
>> If national policy determines that today's oil prices should be low,
>> then you can bet that policy was designed to boost the economy
>> by filling the streets with private autos, keeps people running to
>> malls to spend their extra bucks, etc.; so raising the price of oil
>> would be VERY UNPOPULAR.
>
> Yep. Very unpopular. Tough as nails to sell. It would require
> politicians of true character to take the lead. True LEADERS,
> that is. Yes, I know, we have none.

Sounds like an unpopular plan, with no one to lead us there. Signing on
to a bill to raise fuel prices and taxes could become a 'political suicide'
mission. Not many politicians I know are that brave.

snip agreement on work sharing

>>> I love the idea. It may be necessary. But it is in no way sufficient.
>>
>> Insufficient for whom? Radicals who demand everything now?
>
> Insufficient to deal with pressing resource-shortage problems, that's
> all. "Insufficient" was not a way of saying "no good", or "not worth
> doing". Not at all!

With 6+ billion people on the planet nowadays, all demanding their piece
of the pie, and with a forecast peak of about 12 billion, the Malthusian policy
makers are likely to perpetuate reckless dog-eat-dog policies, and drain the
wells dry. They care about little other than short term profits, so it's up to us
to impose our policies on them, instead of them imposing their policies on us.
But, present campaign financing realities force most politicians to listen to the
rich. Enacting a shorter work week would REDUCE the surplus values and
mega-profits that enable bosses to bribe politicians to impose environmentally
reckless policies.

Also, an artificially long work week PROMOTES population growth. Productivity
is higher than ever before, the work week is a dozen times longer than what it needs
to be (and that number is growing). A growing population absorbs surpluses, so the
overproduction associated with long work weeks is at least partially compensated by
high rates of population growth. This is why it's also political suicide to advocate
ZPG. The 40 hour week will hold us captive until we attack it front and center.

snip agreement

>> Socialism was originally designed to address such human concerns,
>> except that it got hi-jacked by petty bourgeois elements who can't
>> think of much besides getting control of all of that property
>
> The socialists and communists are "petty bourgeois elements"?!
> That's was good for a giggle!

In this most bourgeois country on earth, people in general have very bourgeois
consciousness, and can't get ahold of enough property and things for themselves,
which blinds people to WORKING CLASS interests. The left is so bourgeois that
it thinks that salvation lies in getting control and possession of all of that PROPERTY
out there. At some level of semi-consciousness, workers are concerned that the labor
market not be so crowded that work becomes impossible to find. In recognition of
that very problem, Mass. Governor Jane Swift was recently in a TV press conference
with a coterie of supportive unionists in her background, all advocating work-sharing
and shorter work hours. What a pleasant surprise!

>> Raising the price of oil, by itself, without doing anything else, would
>> only make the population suffer more. So, a human element needs to
>> be added to the proposed price-raising legislation, lest the price-raising
>> agenda be regarded by 'the man on the street' as inhumane.
>
> Raising the price of oil, by itself, without doing anything else,
> would make some of the population suffer more, initially. But it
> sets in motion a process by which everyone will suffer less, and
> eventually much less. It is a zero-sum game; losses in one place
> will be gains in others, even if it takes some imagination to see them.

My imagination often fails me, so, a detailed illumination of the exact
process would be appreciated.

> Actually it is NOT a zero-sum game; losses in one place will be,
> at first, small gains in others, and eventually big gains, and finally
> TITANIC gains, for everyone, only it will take a while to get there.

This seems to be more of a CLAIM than an outline of concrete steps from here
to 'Titanic gains'. On the other hand, a shorter work week would put many more
people to work, enable people to find work in their communities, and eliminate
the tremendous wastes of energy associated with commuting and job-hunting
over long distances. Shorter work hours would be a lot more acceptable to the
working class than would raising their costs of living, no matter how
environmentally friendly the fuel price hikes might be.

'Economic survival of WHICH entity' is a big issue. Higher taxes help the
government survive, higher retail prices help the upper classes thrive, while
a shorter work week helps the working class survive. The working class is the
majority, while the other 2 entities are minorities. Bosses and government can
conspire to obfuscate fuel price issues, and they also have the power to raise
prices, while all that the public can do is scream and protest. Advocating
higher fuel prices may also be interpreted by some people as a sign of
having joined up with the enemy of the people, so I don't think I'd find
that position very comfortable.

> The real payoff will be when society begins to re-organize itself
> in a way that reduces the need for automobiles.

Payoff for the environment, yes. For the people, on the other hand,
a viable transportation alternative is needed.

> We forget that the current auto-eroticism only goes back 60 years or so.

60 years? Horseless carriages have been around for over a century. If horseless
carriages weren't erotic a century ago, we wouldn't be where we are today. The
audience goes crazy when 'The Price is Right' gives away yet another cheap car.

> Autos are a NEW THING, and in no way are they necessary
> to anywhere near the extent that they currently exist.

I can agree that cars wouldn't be as necessary if alternative means
of transportation step in to fill the gap.

> The vast expenditures for highways, parking, fuel stations, parts
> and repair facilities, oil transport and refining, international defense
> and intelligence operations (to maintain cheap oil), air pollution and
> health problems attributable to it, ETCETERA, ETCETERA, were all
> "externalized-out" of the gas price (and other commodity prices), and
> that is what allowed the insanity to take place.

We may have to agree to disagree about the cause of our collective insanity,
which began well before the era of automobiles.

> (Externalized-out, but hardly lost; we all pay for these things,
> in a hundred ways.) It is such a gross distortion that it is invisible
> to most people; the auto has achieved what Ivan Illich called a "radical
> monopoly"; most people cannot even *conceive* of alternatives.
>
> It will be tough to reverse this, but it must be done. Actually it
> WILL be done. The only question is whether or not it will be done
> voluntarily, cooperatively, and prospectively (as with modestly and
> incrementally higher fuel prices, and orderly conversion of society
> resulting from them) or involuntarily and in panic and fear, as the
> price jerkily begins to reflect the passing peak of production (i.e.
> with suddenly *dramatically* higher prices, with no chance for
> orderly adjustment and conversion).

Those seem like plausible 'benign' and 'malignant' scenarios.
We certainly can't go on in the old way for much longer.

> Of course it should be done in context, as part of a larger
> program for reconstructing society along saner lines, and with
> compensatory perks along the way, such as abolition of income tax.

'Compensatory perks', as in stimuli? Do you want the economy to be stimulated
any more than what it already is? MORE growth stimuli may put a FEW more people
to work, but at what ecological cost? Growth stimuli have one main benefit - higher profits,
which redound to the benefit of the upper classes. I certainly don't need that, so I don't want
to perk or stimulate the economy. All that the WORKING CLASS really needs is to more
equitably share the remaining work.

> "True cost pricing" of gas is actually a kind of shorthand for
> the conversion to sustainable technologies -- with all that that
> implies -- that is imperative.
>
> The current insanity is the result of the lack of geolibertarian/georgist

If I may interrupt: Georgist? As in 'Henry George', the single taxer?
How do his thoughts enter the picture?

> The current insanity is the result of the lack of geolibertarian/georgist
> understanding of public ownership of raw resources, and of the need to
> front-load (INternalize) costs in the prices of commodities, notably but not
> exclusively gas. Without this critical price information, it is not possible for
> people to make sane choices; instead, they make INsane choices, dozens of
> them, every day. We have a collossal mess to clean up as a result of this.
> Higher fuel prices (and other commodity prices) are the key to the whole
> thing, but surely the effort will involve more than that, along the way.

Well, it appears as though you regard 'price policy' as our downfall, while
I think the downfall of the working class is their 'unreasonably long work
hours', which has marketers going nuts trying to figure out how to get us
mortals to consume excess production. Increasingly, we seem to be pouring
our surplus resources into security personnel and devices, including 'the war
on terrorism'. I'm sure that it makes us all feel cozy and safe. ;-)

> If you contemplate the truly vast expenditures on autos and the
> whole auto-culture and auto-based infrastructure that comes with
> them, you will begin to see the vast implications of this idea. As
> prices go up to reflect true costs, society will begin to re-organize
> itself to use (expensive) cars less and less, which will eventually (a
> decade or two) result in an environment in which one truly does not
> need to own a car at all. On the personal level, that means big savings
> of money, as well as much saved time. Further, the total social savings
> would be almost incalculably huge, and everyone would benefit --

I have yet to hear you mention a transportation alternative, such as mass
transit, teleporting, or whatever. Surely you wouldn't want the carpet to be
pulled out from under everyone's feet all at once.

> -- much like everyone would benefit from a shorter work week.
> Everyone would be much richer for the conversion.
>
> If I had to guess, off the top, I would say that the costs of the auto,
> both direct and indirect, all tolled, probably eat up as much as a third
> of all human energy or labor product in the U.S. In other words, freed
> from the auto, your 40 hour week could go to 27 hours without any loss,
> and even with many intangible gains. For many individuals, such as the
> poor suckers who drive an hour or more each way to work, the savings
> might amount to something closer to HALF.
>
> True cost pricing of gas is thus a deceptively-simple suggestion
> for a most profound and radical -- and desirable -- social change.

It still unfortunately sounds to me like: 'People would save big by paying higher prices'.

snip irrelevancies

>> If I don't hear to the contrary within a day, I'll post most of the first
>> part of this dialogue to RBG, which is a little dead lately.
>
> Go right ahead.
<snip> I decided, on balance, not to carry on with
> the RBG "project" (and it WAS about to become a major project!).
> The guys are smart, committed, and interesting, but stuck, stuffy,
> humorless, one-tracked, and take themselves MUCH too seriously.

It's a thankless project. Some of my other forums are dying on the vine, and
RBG is one of the last ones that I occasionally respond to anymore, but I'm
swearing off 'tit for tat' responses in RBG, preferring instead to spend lots
of time on responses. My reply to Dddddavid is turning into a major project.
Maybe by the weekend it will be done.

snip irrelevancies

Bro'Ken

 

11-14-01

Gregory Wonderwheel wrote:

> To KPFA listener voters: please do NOT vote for Irwin Silber
> or Sherry Gendleman for the KPFA LAB.

Democratic principles have barely been up for debate, so what's left is for
conflicts to center on personality differences. The freepac movement often
appears unable to transcend the desire to replace a barrel of 'bad' apples with
'better' apples, but it would make a lot less difference "who's in control" if,
instead of small cabals controlling stations and programming, listeners could.

If more good apples than bad can be found at public LAB meetings, then giving
the vote to EVERYONE at the meeting might prevent bad apples from dominating.
Control over programming ought to be extended to EVERYONE who shows up at
a public LAB meeting. At the old Free Radio Berkeley, the whole gang of us
entertained and voted on programming proposals.

But, Pacifica seems to want to be bourgeois, entrusting control over important
things to small cabals operating in secrecy. But, that didn't work well in the
past, and it won't work well in the future.

Ken Ellis

 

11-15-01

Hi, Michael,

> hey Ken,
>
> Sorry for the lateness of my reply. There is nothing realy left to say
> because as you said we do have a philosophical differnce here. We are
> coming from 2 different stand points.

Well, if we can't see eye to eye, then we shouldn't worry about being late
with a reply. I always take my sweet time.

> First it is true that we are more productive than we used to be in the sense
> that we can achieve greater output than we did before. However as I said
> nothing much is getting produced in this country anymore and that is why
> we are going into the economic collapse we are in.

For centuries, economies were built and based upon supplying the 3 necessities
of life. Humans will be active in those pursuits for at least a few more decades,
after which the machines may take over their production unattended, and the
need for an economy may thereafter dwindle into insignificance. Then we
may all be able to celebrate the complete collapse of the economy, class
divisions, the state, money, etc. That's what I'd like to see happen, as long
as everyone is taken care of in the process, and that's easily enough done
by sharing the remaining work. No mystery at all.

> By making the solutions I have already stated and in effect having a
> system that encourages production, we won't have to work 2 or 3 jobs to
> sustain ourselves. But acourse this can be fixed in a short period of time.

Why do some workers need 2 or 3 jobs? Because competition for scarce jobs
forces wages down, forcing workers to overwork. Eliminate the competition for
scarce jobs, and we will have eliminated the need for overwork. Simple as that.

200 years ago, 80% of the population fed everyone, but less than 2% feed
everyone today. Therefore, production does not need 'encouragement'. Rather,
the remaining work needs to be more equitably shared, which would solve all
working class problems. Easy as pie. One doesn't even need to put dollar values
on anything, because the labor-time analysis is above dollars and tangibles, and
only deals with hours, minutes, years, etc. All it will take for the economy to work
is for the HUMAN element to be paid attention to. If all that activists can think
about is tangibles like money, property, building dams and public works, then we
have failed to appreciate the human sharing input that's really needed to create social
justice. We can love our way to equality, instead of trying to finagle and manipulate
our way to 'success'. The solution is really quite simple, and flows from the heart.

> I dont see the world in terms of thermodynamics, in fact our whole universe
> is anti-entropy. The only sure way we can avoid crisis in economics and
> society is to promote real education in the classical form which would not
> only make ourselves smarter but advancement in science. With an attitude
> like this we will soon discover more and more things that can be done.
>
> comradely,
> Michael

What is an economic crisis except for a crisis of overproduction, such as what's
been happening since 1825? Labor has traditionally struggled to share work ever
since that date, and when labor wins that battle, society is stabilized. Prof. Ben
Hunnicutt's book "Work Without End" teaches all of these important lessons.

Cheers,

Bro'Ken

 

11-15-01

Carl Gunther wrote:

> the Bill of Rights recognizes the need to protect the rights
> of individuals from the unrestrained will of the majority.

In our case, the listener majority needs a Bill of Rights to protect us from the PNB.

> * First, we identify a set of activist organizations in each signal area

Why should WE identify them? If interested in Pacifica, they can identify
themselves, though it shouldn't stop US from inviting whomever we might want.
But, let's not limit the list to whomever WE invite, lest we squabble interminably
over that. If people are interested enough to come to us, then the politics of inclusion
DEMAND that they be included. We just make sure that those who SAY they uphold
our visions and principles actually DO so. If they don't adhere, a multi-step discipline
process leading to ejection could be applied.

> * Second, we invite each of these groups to apply for a single seat
> on the local station's LAB.

That's not bad, though proportional representation should not be excluded without
a good reason. For example, to keep meetings manageable, I can imagine such a flood
of applicants that would force limiting representation to a single person from each group.

> Part of the application process would be to present a plan for
> election and recall of the group's single LAB member, and this plan
> must conform to certain democratic guidelines in order to be accepted.

That unfortunately smacks too much of meddling in other groups' internal
affairs, so nix this one.

> * Third, we accept satisfactory applications and reject others.

No. That's an unacceptable breach of the politics of inclusion. A mere expression of
interest and pledge to adhere to Pacifica principles ought to be sufficient to guarantee
every group at least one seat. Liars and violators could be gotten rid of later.

> * Fifth, from this point forward new organizations (with their LAB member
> "delegates") may be admitted by a unanimous vote of all LAB delegates

No. Any 'new' group that comes along and expresses interest and adherence to
our statement of purpose should be admitted automatically. Otherwise, we could
be charged with being overly fearful of outsiders.

> existing organizations (with their LAB "delegate") can be removed by a
> unanimous vote of all LAB delegates. Or some such procedure, perhaps
> less than unanimous, to be discussed.

The only criteria for expulsion that should be considered would be a display
of disruptive behavior of such proportions as to render meetings inoperable.
Mere disagreement (of an orderly nature) should never be punished.

> Who chooses the initial set of organizations in this plan? The people who have
> or can get the power to do so. Who else could possibly choose them? These are
> the same people who would choose any other system of electing LAB members.

Squabbling is all we will get if we allow PEOPLE to do the choosing, instead
of the PRINCIPLE of inclusion.

The old Pacifica is dying because it is built upon the power of INDIVIDUALS
to rule. A new Pacifica should be built upon principles which any individual
interested in social justice would be proud to uphold.

Ken Ellis

 

11-18-01

Hi, Alan,

>> The benefits of treating one another more humanely would
>> spill over into many areas of conservation and ecology.
>
> If your "highest priority is HUMAN conservation", then you'd better
> get very serious very fast about the petrol problem. Several billions
> of lives hang in the balance.

I wonder about the feasibility of rallying many people to do something real
about oil conservation, even though it would be very desirable. The average
citizen is well fitted to do the right thing about issues of day-to-day human
survival, but is poorly fitted to intervene in issues as far removed from their
hands-on involvement as oil price policies. It requires a level of expertise
which I know I will never acquire in order to navigate all of the smokescreens,
so I don't know how many people could be expected to rally behind one or
another fuel price policy. Plus, getting Joe Six-pack to agree to raising fuel
prices probably won't happen in the USA. Joe might have only 2 opinions
about raising prices - bitter medicine, or ripoff.

>> Is there a concise, clinical list of the ways in which fuel prices
>> have been artificially driven down?
>
> It might be reduceable to such a list, but I don't have one handy.
> I sent you the materials describing the numerous direct and indirect
> subsidies -- the ways in which the true costs are externalized out of
> the price. Of course it depends on *how much* you want to make
> external vs internal; good people can disagree about that. But by
> *any* reasonable accounting, gas should cost upwards of $5 per gal.

That's plausible.

>> Signing on to a bill to raise fuel prices and taxes could become a
>> 'political suicide' mission. Not many politicians I know are that brave.
>
> Indeed. I didn't say that doing things the right way is *likely*.

On the other hand, sharing work is not only likely, but it's pretty much inevitable,
barring some kind of catastrophe that sets productive capacity back many years.

> What I am saying is that much higher prices are *inevitable*, and
> we can go there in a gradual, ordered way that actually transforms
> society in beneficial ways, or we can go there in a jerky, abrupt way
> that causes megadeaths and massive suffering. Make your choice.

Let's hope that our problems will be worked out painlessly.

>> With 6+ billion people on the planet nowadays, all demanding their piece of
>> the pie, and with a forecast peak of about 12 billion, the Malthusian policy
>> makers are likely to perpetuate reckless dog-eat-dog policies, and drain
>> the wells dry.
>
> Yes, with the complicity of all of us.

It is sad to say that we are complicit in lots and lots of crimes against
humanity and the environment. A lot of the crimes are 'part of the job', and
if one person can't stand the inhumanity of a job, then a dozen others will
gladly jump in to do the dirty work. Such is the evil of competition for
scarce jobs, which turns so many workers into loyal company thugs.

>> They care about little other than short term profits, so it's up to us to
>> impose our policies on them, instead of them imposing their policies
>> on us. But, present campaign financing realities force most politicians
>> to listen to the rich.
>
> Agreed. If possible. Success is unlikely.

But, listening to the rich is sometimes balanced by the fact that politicians
also like to be re-elected, which forces them to keep an ear to the ground, to
figure out what the electorate is thinking. If the masses are in favor of one
or another policy, then the politicians have to go along, just as they did in
the 1930's, when the Black-Connery 30 hour Bill passed the Senate(!), and
looked like a shoe-in for the House, before the AFL was successfully bribed
with the Wagner Act and other goodies, and the New Deal 'tax and spend'
measures won the day for greed, long hours and wage-slavery.

>> Enacting a shorter work week would REDUCE the surplus values
>> and mega-profits that enable bosses to bribe politicians to impose
>> environmentally reckless policies.
>
> Sounds like your plan might encounter political resistance stronger than mine!

Surplus values and mega-profits will probably NEVER become a public issue.
But sharing work will, so all it will take will be for the public to become
determined to share the remaining work, and then society will stabilize.

>> Advocating higher fuel prices may also be interpreted by some
>> people as a sign of having joined up with the enemy of the people,
>> so I don't think I'd find that position very comfortable.
>
> Then don't take it. It will happen, whether you get behind it now or not.

Like death and taxes, higher fuel prices may be inevitable. But most people
will fight that strong medicine kicking and screaming.

>>> The real payoff will be when society begins to re-organize itself
>>> in a way that reduces the need for automobiles.
>>
>> Payoff for the environment, yes. For the people, on the other hand,
>> a viable transportation alternative is needed.
>
> For "transportation" to where? Malls?

Malls, doctors, dentists, jobs, recreational touring, etc.

>>> We forget that the current auto-eroticism only goes back 60 years or so.
>>
>> 60 years? Horseless carriages have been around for over a century.
>
> Totally different ballgame. Not even remotely comparable.
> Autos now dominate the society, at fantastic cost on all levels
> (economic, environmental, resource-instensity, civic capital, legal,
> etc., etc.). This was never true of older technologies. Not even close.

There's quite a bit of truth to what you say there, in that Henry Ford's assembly
line enabled a quantitative and qualitative leap into the modern auto culture.

> Of course there are plenty of alternatives for truly essential
> transportation, starting with your own legs, and continuing with
> bicycles (think China), and on thru small mopeds/motorcycles
> and other modest contrivances. No one will be stuck at home.

Joe Sixpack would probably regard imposition of such a regimen as a step backwards.

> But then, "home", and its immediate environs, will also be
> a different kind of place, with a lot more of both attractions,
> and duties, than it has at present; i.e. less desire AND less
> opportunity for "cruising", frivolous shopping, etc.

No more cruising and shopping? Boo hoo, there goes the great American way of life!

Just as I was again putting off cleaning up the house and wondering how
long it would take for the nanobots to march in and relieve me of all of my
household chores, you mentioned 'more duties at home'. Boo hoo again.

> Plus I am not suggesting that cars be banned; only reduced
> to (say) 5-10% of their current prevalence/utilization.

Replacing the old admittedly wasteful paradigm would definitely help the
environment. Eliminating waste (by imposing higher prices) would eliminate
a lot of need for long hours. But, then again, eliminating the long hours FIRST
would definitely and benignly enable us to stop wasting so much.

>>> The vast expenditures for highways, parking, fuel stations, parts
>>> and repair facilities, oil transport and refining, international defense
>>> and intelligence operations (to maintain cheap oil), air pollution and
>>> health problems attributable to it, ETCETERA, ETCETERA, were all
>>> "externalized-out" of the gas price (and other commodity prices),
>>> and that is what allowed the insanity to take place.
>>
>> We may have to agree to disagree about the cause of our collective
>> insanity, which began well before the era of automobiles.
>
> ?
>
> This was (part of the) "detailed illumination of the exact process"
> for which you asked.

Ooops. In that case, I see what you mean. I was thrown off track when you
seemed to attribute the cause of the insanity to the subsidiary effects of the
wasteful auto culture.

>> Those seem like plausible 'benign' and 'malignant' scenarios.
>> We certainly can't go on in the old way for much longer.
>
> Well then, what would you suggest?

Nothing could be quite as benign as a shorter work week.

> I cannot see how the shorter work week would have
> a substantial impact on these things (though it would
> be a wonderful innovation in many other respects).

I thought we already agreed that people would be able to find work in their
communities, so therefore wouldn't waste so many resources commuting long
distances to their jobs, or in the process of job hunting. The Bureau of Labor
Statistics U-3 figures say that 5 million unemployed people 'actively look for
work', so you can imagine the waste involved with five or more million people
driving themselves crazy looking for work every day, while our official policy
is to maintain unemployment at around 5%. What a @#$%^& waste. Someday
I hope not to be the only person concerned with environmental affairs to protest
the waste associated with 'looking for work' in a country with a national 5% un-
employment POLICY, severely impairing conservation efforts, dooming millions
to zoom around for miles in every direction looking for WORK THAT JUST
ISN'T THERE. Talk about WASTE! 5% of the fuel could be saved right there.

> If we "certainly can't go on in the old way for much longer",
> then what is to be done?

Share the remaining work more equitably. It's a true working class solution
to zillions of working class and social problems. See how fast petty crime
disappears as well. Only the rich benefit from unemployment.

>> Do you want the economy to be stimulated any more than what it already is?
>
> OK. Then how would YOU do it?

I would do it the way the AFL wanted to do it during the Depression of the 1930's.
The AFL supported the Black-Connery 30 Hour Bill as the solution to the crisis of
overproduction that caused the unemployment problems of the Depression era.

>> MORE growth stimuli may put a FEW more people to work,
>> but at what ecological cost? Growth stimuli have one main
>> benefit - higher profits, which redound to the benefit of the
>> upper classes. I certainly don't need that, so I don't want to
>> perk or stimulate the economy. All that the WORKING CLASS
>> really needs is to more equitably share the remaining work.
>
> Great idea. It won't solve the fuel problem, but it is a great idea.

I thought that we already agreed that the shorter work week would be at least
a PARTIAL solution to the fuel problem by reducing a considerable amount of
demand for gasoline and diesel, probably 5%. Enacting a few PARTIAL solutions
would at least move us TOWARD success.

> Yes. The basic concept is that the earth, as we find it (the land,
> water, air, *raw* materials) are the property of everyone. That
> includes the oil. It is the property of everyone, and should be
> priced in a manner that reflects true societal costs (i.e. costs
> TO EVERYONE) and depletion realities; the proceeds from that
> pricing to be used for everyone's benefit -- such as (say) to fund
> the development of alternative energy technologies directly (that
> is in addition to the massive stimulation of alternative energy
> technology development resulting from the *indirect* stimulation
> of much higher fuel prices). The current perverse situation, in
> which the worst and most profligate behavior is subsidized, is
> a result of this pricing insanity.

In a certain agreeable philosophical sense (which could very well be realized
in a few more generations), the wealth of the world DOES belong to everyone
(or to NO individual or definable group). But, as we all know, claims of common
ownership would be dismissed in today's courts. There's no way to abolish private
ownership without previously abolishing the conditions that CREATE private
ownership, viz., private labor. At some point in the development of the tools of
production, surpluses became increasingly common, and the people who created
the surpluses laid claim to them for their own reserves, and were willing to fight
to protect them, which led to the notion and institutionalization of private property.
With the abolition of human labor in a few more decades, private property will
also decline and fall, and, if we don't blow ourselves up in the meantime, we will
arrive at Marx's final goal of classless, stateless, propertyless and moneyless
society, much to the chagrin of rabid anti-Marxists and anti-communists.

>> Well, it appears as though you regard 'price policy' as our downfall,
>
> It is our downfall in one important respect, yes. Unlike you (?),
> I don't think that my idea is the answer to all of the world's
> problems. Most of them, perhaps, but not all.

If I didn't have a cure-all, or if I didn't think that my cure-all were better
than traditional socialist, communist or anarchist cure-alls, then I probably
would spare people the effort of slogging through my long messages.

The working class will soon decide whether the labor time cure-all is
more feasible and appropriate than the run-of-the-mill cure-alls dealing with
property, wealth and income. Workers will eventually go for a shorter work
week like a bee goes to nectar, and they'll do it without referring to the fine
words we gods and goddesses of the forums spill upon these pages.

>> I have yet to hear you mention a transportation alternative,
>> such as mass transit, teleporting, or whatever.
>
> Of course mass transit would be developed, to a level equal to and
> finally surpassing, say, Europe, as the price of fuel increased to
> levels that (e.g.) Europe has been paying all along. That is one
> natural outcome of the process I suggest. It does not have to be
> planned in advance; the need and pressure for it will develop
> spontaneously, naturally; and it will happen.

European models are something for us lowly Americans to look up to.

> Of course the real goal is to start designing life and urban areas
> sanely, so that people live 30 YARDS (or blocks) from work,
> instead of 30 MILES from it.

A shorter work week, and a consequent shortage of labor, would open up
opportunities precisely in people's communities, thereby eliminating a lot
of wasteful commuting and job hunting.

> Also, part of the picture is incentivizing direct production
> of necessities, particularly food, as will happen as fuel prices
> rise. (Food prices are artificially low in part because of huge
> petrol subsidies.) People can grow most of their own food.

I inherited a garden in the back yard, but it consumes FAR more time than what
it's worth. But, it is 100% chemical free, and it does have a few amusement and
educational values.

> Food production need not (and ought not) be a massively petrol-intensive
> affair. And indeed it WILL NOT be in a few decades, because current
> petrol-intensive ag practices will no longer be possible. The changes
> I am talking about are inevitable. I would just like to see them
> come about without terrible bloodshed and suffering.

Solar powered robots will soon superannuate all human cultivation and
harvesting. Speed that day.

>> snip irrelevancies

I sent most of this message to the RBG forum as well. Soon,
Dddddavid's reply will be finished. Plodding along at a snail's pace ....

Cheerio,

Bro'Ken

 

11-19-01

On 60 Minutes Sunday night, it was reported that the Kuwaitis are down to a 3
hour day, from 10am to 1pm. They know what's good for them. But, most of the
real work in that country is done by guest laborers, who probably work a lot
longer than 3 hours per day, but nothing was said about that.

Ken Ellis

 

11-20-01

Dear Brad,

I've been looking for a particular quote from Marx, but was frustrated not to
find it on the CD, so I went back to the books, and there it was on page 164 of
Volume 4 of Lawrence and Wishart's 'Documents of The First International'.
This particular 5 volume Progress Publishers reprint of the L+W original was
purchased new from a book store in San Francisco in 1976. If the CD had
included Marx's missing paragraph, then the CD text would have appeared
similar to the following, with the missing text beginning with "Citizen Marx":

[RECORD OF MARX'S AND ENGELS' SPEECHES
ON THE REPUBLICAN MOVEMENT IN ENGLAND]
[FROM THE MINUTES OF THE GENERAL COUNCIL
MEETING OF MARCH 28, 1871] Page me22.587

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. Liebknecht's
Counsel believed that they would be acquitted. It was made high treason to
correspond with Marx, he* [footnote] -- *a gap in the MS. - Ed.

Cit. Engels said the question was not whether we support a republican movement
but whether under present circumstances it would drive into our path. There were
men like Peter Taylor and others who were simply for the Republic but it must be
considered that the abolition of monarchy would involve the abolition of the State
Church, the House of Lords and many other things. No republican movement could
go on here 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. The working [class] could not but break with all established forms.

The paragraph from Engels appears fine on the CD. In the book, the quote from Engels
appears on page 165, while the missing text from Marx is at the top of page 164.

Not having the printed volume 22 of MECW, I don't know if this oversight
originated with International Publishers, or with L+W, or with your company.
Either way, I certainly hope that this oversight can be corrected before the final
edition of the CD is produced. The reason for that is that the missing text
contains one of the very few indications anywhere of what Marx and the
First International actually WANTED.

snip irrelevancy

Have a happy turkey day,

Ken Ellis

 

11-21-01

Hi, Brad,

> Dear Mr. Ellis,
>
> First, let me thank you for letting us know about any potential issues with the database.
>
> I have the print edition in front of me and on Page me22.587 the text begins with:
>
> Cit. Engels said the question was not whether we support a republican movement....
>
> There is no indication of the Cit. Marx paragraph in the book. We will contact
> the publisher to see what they think should be done about the omission.

Very good. Now we know that the oversight was on THEIR part, which doesn't
surprise me at all, given the number of glitches in the newly printed volume 48
which I received hot off the press a few months ago.

As for the software problem, I'm in correspondence with your associate Mark,
who I'm sure will be able to fix me up.

Thanks for the attention to detail.

Sincerely,
Ken Ellis

 

11-21-01

Hi, Mark,

> Hi Ken,
>
> As Brad already wrote to you the paragraph in question did not appear in the print
> edition. I did a search and found a reference to the same event in a footnote in volume 44.

Thanks for checking it out. What was the footnote number? I'd like to see what it says.

I guess for now that the only place Marx's paragraph appears in actual print
is on page 164 of Volume 4 of the Minutes of the General Council of the First
International. (Getting all 5 volumes for a mere $13.50 was one of the best
investments I made in the 1970's.)

> I'm writing to Betty Smith at International Publishers
> to see what she would like for us to do.

I hope that she'll send you an authorized version that you can paste into your
master copy. The only problem is that it might mess up all of the page numbering,
footnote numbering, note numbering, etc. My mind boggles at the thought of the
details involved. My sympathies.

> One great thing about electronic databases:
> they are dynamic rather than static entities, so no big deal to simply
> change it. Almost all of our customers (who are libraries) access Marx
> via the web so everything is easily fixed there. (Checking the notes, I see
> that you found the levels problem in volume 4 which we have corrected
> (which was our fault).) I'm glad you're giving the database a workout.

My pleasure.

snip irrelevancy about computers

> Best,
> Mark Rooks (InteLex)

snip long irrelevant answer about computers

Thanks for your help,

Sincerely,
Ken Ellis

 

11-23-01

Hi, Michael,

> I thought u might be interested in this. Me and my communist friend put
> togather a website devoted to hatred of Trotsky. You might like it cause it
> reminds me of how you had fun criticing that SLP guys dictatorship over
> peasentry thing, just as bad as Trotskys' Permanent Revolution' The site
> will be updated more in a few weeks.
>
> http://fender.freeyellow.com
>
> Michael

Thanks for the tip. I checked it out briefly. Have fun with the new site.

Best wishes,
Ken Ellis

 

11-27-01

Li'l Joe inquired:

> Lil Joe, Question:
> If this is Kenneth's "real opinion" about the inability of the
> masses to see through lies and bourgeois propaganda when
> it comes to practical solutions to practical problems, then his
> earlier attacks on "property socialism" [as being dictatoral and
> anti-democratic and therefore impractical because the American
> workers believe in democracy] were disingenuous, because
> democracy requires an informed electorate!

It's true that people are deceived and immobilized by bourgeois propaganda.
In a republic, according to M+E, the bourgeoisie rules by deception, and, in
a monarchy, rules by force.

Property socialism is not impractical BECAUSE 'American workers believe in
democracy'. Property socialism is impractical because very few people would
change property relations to achieve social justice.

If democracy required an informed electorate, then my attacks on property
socialism might be interpreted as disingenuous, but I don't believe that democracy
requires an informed electorate. We daily observe big business and politicians lying
shamelessly about all kinds of issues, while not enough critics take them to task for the
lies. So, uninformed people vote the wrong way on all kinds of candidates and issues.

> Does Kenneth see democracy as an ideology to be advanced
> against communist "vanguardism", or as a reality to be defended?

What a lone individual advocates often carries little to no water with respect
to what millions of people are willing to do. Lenin often advised communists
to tune their senses to the mood of the masses, which, in the USA, is definitely
patriotic enough to align them with democracy, with private property, and with
the war against terrorism, which inspires people to fly the flag everywhere. In
a climate like today's, communist vangurdism definitely takes a seat far to the
rear of a lot of other ideas, but mostly because it's an anachronism.

> If the latter, [democracy as a reality to be defended] it is
> fallacious to dismiss the masses in the way that he does,
> and in opposition to the "dictatorship of the proletariat",

Why shouldn't activists defend democracy? Which respectable authority told us to
ABOLISH democracy? In history, monarchies were abolished and replaced with
democratic republics with universal suffrage because millions of people wanted
democracy that much. Marx intended for his universal proletarian dictatorship to
be the most democratic state imaginable for the time, what with its foundation of
universal suffrage, which was a rare commodity during his lifetime. Marx never
counterposed proletarian dictatorship to democracy with universal suffrage.
Proletarian dictatorship signified little more extraordinary than the supremacy
of workers' parties in many democracies, ensuring world dominance of working
class policies. But, in the past couple of centuries, the world didn't get everything
that Marx wanted, but we will probably get it in the 21st.

These are not the last dying days of the Romanov Dynasty in 1916. The USA
is driving Al Qaeda and the Taliban out of Afghanistan with a quite tolerable
level of American casualties. The USA is feeling its oats, and is wondering
who and what to attack next, and GWB enjoys the highest confidence rating
of any President since FDR, and might even surpass the latter. Recounting
this reality is not to praise it, as this particular application of force against
force could easily backfire someday, and lead to more terrorism. Activists
are presently a captive audience. Opposition to war-madness is drowned
out by a tidal wave of middle-American patriotism. It's a reality that none
of us are comfortable with, but if activists can't hammer out a reasonable
unifying program, then continued ineffectiveness can be expected.

> in this instance what Kenneth is advocating is leaving the policies
> that effect the planet in the hands of the existing government -- i.e. the
> "dictatorship of the capitalist class" by their existing political representatives -
> the Democrats and Republicans! Because workers -- so-called Joe 6 pack --
> according to him, cannot be trusted to think on a planetary scale!

What I advocate is abolishing class distinctions by making workers as free of
toil as their bosses, which is NOT a policy shared by the bosses, who enjoy
the high profits derived from our long hours of toil. If the working class can
achieve greater freedom by reducing its hours of labor, then the demonization
of one class vs. another will have less justification than ever, a greater sense of
SHARED responsibility for every social problem will result, and the old blame
game can fade away. In the USA, the worker-boss dichotomy is weaker than a
lot of other countries -- so weak, in fact, that the USA doesn't even enjoy a real
workers' party of any significant influence. Our general lack of class struggle is
one good reason why so many Americans feel as though 'we are all in the same
boat', and is why so few people draw upon class struggle to illuminate the problems
of the day. Building a working class party on a firm and unshakeable foundation is
not a job for the few who want to create a proletarian dictatorship (whose definition
can be fought over forever), no more than it's a job for those who want to 'give the
human race a fresh start by colonizing a nearby earth-like planet'.

Merely freeing the working class from competition for scarce jobs would give
them more time in which to better inform themselves of the issues, enabling
them to vote more intelligently.

> But, Kenneth is right in his assumption that Joe 6 pack would oppose
> the bourgeois state levying new - in fact regressive sales taxes on the
> working class to manipulate their behaviors. Lil Joe 40 oz. is also
> opposed to the government raising taxes on gasoline that would
> ultimately feed the military-industrial complex, which is the real
> impending threat to our planet.
>
> Li'l Joe

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Li'l Joe.

Ken Ellis

Engels in Anti-Duhring: "The separation of property from labour has become the
necessary consequence of a law that apparently originated in their IDENTITY. In
other words, even if we exclude all possibility of robbery, force and fraud, even if
we assume that all private property was originally based on the owner's own labour,
and that throughout the whole subsequent process there was only exchange of equal
values for equal values, the progressive development of production and exchange
nevertheless brings us of necessity to the present capitalist mode of production, to
the monopolisation of the means of production and the means of subsistence in the
hands of the one, numerically small, class, to the degradation into propertyless prole-
tarians of the other class, constituting the immense majority, to the periodic alternation
of speculative production booms and commercial crises and to the whole of the present
anarchy of production. THE WHOLE PROCESS CAN BE EXPLAINED BY PURELY
ECONOMIC CAUSES; at no point whatever are robbery, force, the state or political
interference of any kind necessary. "Property founded on force" [D.C. 4] proves here
also to be nothing but the phrase of a braggart intended to cover up his lack of
understanding of the real course of things.
" [Emphases mine - K.E.]

 

11-28-01

Li'l Joe replied:

> Yet, he advocates sneaking a tax on gasoline, as it
> were behind workers backs because according
> to his elitist perspective workers are to duh
> to understand ecological/economic issues.

I can't be quoted as saying any of that.

> My point was that in arguing that the workers
> are to ignorant to understand issues and participate
> in the electoral process is ANTI-DEMOCRATIC.

Workers are not ignorant of EVERY subject. A lot depends upon which issue we
might be talking about. I profess ignorance on a lot of topics, and my ignorance
sometimes prevents me from voting the right way on some issues, simply because
I don't have the time or interest to learn everything I should to make me a model
citizen. The problems we face are compounded by the amount of disinformation
that floats around on every topic, preventing us from getting everything right.

One topic on which people will be guaranteed to vote correctly will be the
unemployment crisis of the future. Machines will soon become so smart that
there won't be much for people to do. If politicians don't rush to be first to
advocate work-sharing and shorter work hours like my Governor Jane Swift
recently did in a news conference earlier this month, then you can bet that the
people will soon enough educate their politicians as to what's important, for
people will not hog the last of the 40 hour jobs, leaving zillions of others
with no jobs at all. People are capable of thinking correctly on some
issues, but are not so capable of thinking correctly on others, like the
War On Terrorism, and the lousy foreign policies that led to this War.

> Instead of answering my questions, he gets into a diversionary clap trap
> argument about what Marx and Engels believed. I had nothing to say
> about Marx and Engels. They are not the issue and I didn't bring their
> names into this discussion.

Well, hopefully this message contains more of the type of answers Li'l Joe is looking for.

> The issue in this discussion is not "M-E" but your contempt
> for the American workers, which is more fascistic than democratic.

How is that alleged fascist contempt manifested?

Ken Ellis

 

11-28-01

Mike Morin inquired:

> HayZeus, it's been so long since we bantied about the concept of property
> socialism that I ain't clear on what's bein' asked. Do you mean expropriation
> by force (violence and squatting) or do you mean writing off the cost of assets
> so that they may be affordable to all?

Property socialism means all of that, and includes many other radical or leftist plans,
such as redistributing property, income and wealth, all of which are TANGIBLE.
Labor-time socialism only deals with intangibles such as hours of labor, and the
politics of inclusion.

> KE answered JJ:
>
>> It's true that people are deceived and immobilized by bourgeois propaganda.
>> In a republic, according to M+E, the bourgeoisie rules by deception, and,
>> in a monarchy, rules by force.
>>
>> Property socialism is not impractical BECAUSE 'American workers believe in
>> democracy'. Property socialism is impractical because very few people would
>> change property relations to achieve social justice.
>>
>> If democracy required an informed electorate, then my attacks on property
>> socialism might be interpreted as disingenuous, but I don't believe that
>> democracy requires an informed electorate.
>
> MM responds:
> That's where you are wrong bro'Ken. The sham American political "democracy"
> thrives on an uninformed electorate, but real democracy, economic democracy, would
> seek to maximize the knowledge and intelligence of all citizens (rurazens, as well)

Rurazens, hey, I like that. I wish my digs were a lot more 'rura'. I recently planted
a dozen trees to reforest a naked lot, and one of my bozo neighbors (I assume)
yanked one out by the roots.

I'm unsure why or where Mike disagrees with me. He said that I am 'wrong',
and that: 'The sham American political "democracy" thrives on an uninformed
electorate
', but I agree with that statement, so, in what way am I 'wrong'?

snip a point not in contention

>> What a lone individual advocates often carries little to no water
>
> MM intervenes:
> Well, act as if it did...

I appreciate the fraternal advice.

snip another couple of points not in contention

>> Why shouldn't activists defend democracy? Which respectable authority told us
>> to ABOLISH democracy? In history, monarchies were abolished and replaced with
>> democratic republics with universal suffrage because millions of people wanted dem-
>> ocracy that much. Marx intended for his universal proletarian dictatorship to be the
>> most democratic state imaginable for the time, what with its foundation of universal
>> suffrage, which was a rare commodity during his lifetime. Marx never counterposed
>> proletarian dictatorship to democracy with universal suffrage. Proletarian dictatorship
>> signified little more extraordinary than the supremacy of workers' parties in many
>> democracies, ensuring world dominance of working class policies. But, in the past
>> couple of centuries, the world didn't get everything that Marx wanted, but we will
>> probably get it in the 21st.
>
> MM interjects:
> Then he didn't really mean Dictatorship then, did he?

True, not the way we usually think of it. Dictatorship in Marx's day, according
to the late Hal Draper, signified a TEMPORARY reign of extraordinary rule,
but 21st century people no longer consider dictatorships to be temporary.

Because Marx had no provision for what happened in Russia and in other 20th
century communist revolutions -- viz., lone revolutions in backward countries
vs. Marx's simultaneous revolutions in the most advanced -- 20th century
proletarian dictatorships consequently became unconscionably harsh and
unforgiving as the communists tried mightily, and by any means necessary,
to prevent counter-revolution. In the brief civil war imagined by Marx, on the
other hand, resistance was to have been totally and quickly subdued, leading
to a world of freedom and democracy, except for the freedom to own property,
on which sticking point Marxism collapses as an impossible utopia.

>> These are not the last dying days of the Romanov Dynasty in 1916.
>> The USA is driving Al Qaeda and the Taliban out of Afghanistan
>> with a quite tolerable level of American casualties.
>
> MM responds:
> Boo... the only lives that matter are American ones?

Not to me, certainly, but to the people in power ... well, we know what they
are like. They have a war to win so that the old policies that led to the war
can continue, and probably lead to new wars.

Like I say in the next paragraph, tho, I came not to praise Ceasar ...

> KE continued:
>> The USA is feeling its oats, and is wondering who and what to attack next,
>> and GWB enjoys the highest confidence rating of any President since FDR,
>> and might even surpass the latter. Recounting this reality is not to praise it, as
>> this particular application of force against force could easily backfire someday,
>
> MM responds:
> Without a doubt, it will come back to them.

snip another point not in contention, plus most of another

>> Merely freeing the working class from competition for scarce jobs would
>> give them more time in which to better inform themselves of the issues,
>> enabling them to vote more intelligently.
>
> MM responds:
> That is exactly why I favor a guaranteed income, However, something has to
> be done about the cost of living and doing business, because business has to
> be done or we will have nothing to eat, our housing will fall to or remain in
> shambles, etc.

Ah, business, schmizzness; I like to look at the problems from a different angle.
Our economy is supposed to provide for all, but our economy is not all-inclusive,
so a lot of people fall through the cracks, and suffer NEEDLESSLY. The economy
is based upon people. Billions of people slowly do one task after another, creating
the necessities of life, and making the rich richer than their wildest dreams. Problems
of production were largely solved decades ago, so today's hunger and poverty are
inexcusable. My solution to the problem is very humanitarian and simple. Merely
make the economy more inclusive to fit everyone into it, and nearly all other problems
will go away, or will be handled by people who will feel far more equal to one another
than they do now. Majority rule would thereafter not have the kind of 'mob rule'
stigma that it has now, because everyone would be part of 'the mob', so the
incentives to lie and deceive would diminish.

> It is of the utmost importance that we redefine our mission as people
> on the earth. Is it to enrich Capitalists or to work for the sustenance of life?

Good rhetorical questions. Obviously to us, it's to work for the sustenance of
life, but even that will come to an end in a few more decades, and we will be
free to play instead of toil.

snip remainder

Ken Ellis

 

12-03-01

Carl Gunther wrote:

> I have so far not gotten into which specific organizations might be good
> choices (have not even created my own private list, although I have a general
> profile in mind) because we seem so far to be in a discussion about the more
> general differences between the listener-based and organization-based models.

This is all who, who, who, instead of what.

There is a tendency to pour lots of effort into deciding 'who',
and in the meantime the 'what' gets 99% ignored.

Some participants are so desperate to get a little power so that THEY can
begin to take over from the PNB and start playing the bourgeois politics of
exclusion, and decide who will not be welcome in Pacifica. Where can this
principle be found in the writings of Pacifica's founders?

Steamed at the nearly exclusively bourgeois nature of this discussion,

Ken Ellis, ex-KPFA engineer

 

12-06-01

Sorry that this 'hidden history' was so long delayed. Part B will follow anon.
Months ago, David replied:

> It's interesting that he seems to find "revolutionary" words to be "gibberish,"
> making the implication that his non-revolutionary stance is somehow more
> "principled" or "reasoned."

Communist revolutions in the West became practically inconceivable a few
generations ago. Why the change from the old days, when the specter of
communism haunted Europe?

Before the 20th century flurry of communist revolutions, the classical purpose
of revolution was to bring democracy and independence to where they didn't
previously exist. For instance, during European bourgeois democratic
revolutions of previous centuries, political power was stripped from feudal
monarchies, and was placed in the hands of elected representatives. In its
struggle for independence, the USA defeated British rule and later adopted
a democratic Constitution.

Proportional to the accelerating development of the means of production, the
bourgeoisie and proletariat rose rapidly during Marx's era. The bourgeoisie
wanted BOURGEOIS democracy to result from revolutions, and the use of
the ballot was often restricted to property owners, as in the early USA. But,
workers increasingly demanded universal suffrage -- the right to vote unfet-
tered by property considerations. Marx, Engels, and their First International
championed democratic revolutions in Europe in the hopes that both democracy
and universal suffrage would result. The extension of voting rights to the working
class was the chief aim of social democrats, and Marx even initiated a REFORM
movement for universal suffrage in England. As Engels wrote in his review of
Marx's Capital, "universal suffrage compels the ruling classes to court the favour
of the workers.
" In the Minutes of the General Council of the First International,
Marx reportedly stated (Vol. 4, p. 164): "The International wanted to establish the
Social and Democratic Republic and therefore it was high treason to belong to it.
"

During the French revolutions of 1789-3, 1848 and 1871, workers grew
increasingly discontent with creating purely bourgeois republics, and showed
increasing willingness to stick to their guns until they had won universal suffrage.
Marx reportedly stated for the Minutes of the General Council of the First Interna-
tional in 1871, 10 days after the founding of the Paris Commune: "The third point
that has come out is that middle-class republics have become impossible in Europe.
... Republicanism and middle-class government can no longer go together.
"

Universal suffrage had already been enjoyed during the revolutions of 1793 and
1848, but counter-revolutions ended those brief victories. Paris and a few other
towns won universal suffrage during their republican struggles of 1870-1, but
not enough other towns joined to make that revolution permanent, and the
isolation of the scattered communes facilitated counter-revolution.

During that same general era, M+E often complained about the cowardice of the
German bourgeoisie, who observed French events over the years, and feared that
rallying people behind democratic demands would result in a SOCIALLY controlled
democracy, instead of a bourgeois democracy controlled by the propertied classes. But,
over the decades, growing popular demand for mass political participation forced the
German nobility to compromise with the bourgeoisie by first creating a constitutional
monarchy, and later acceding to universal suffrage.

Marx's revolutionary theories built upon European desires for social democracy, but
his universal proletarian dictatorship went much further: Communist-led workers were
to create MANY new democracies with universal suffrage at the same time. Working
class numerical supremacy in the new states was to secure universal political dominance
of workers' parties, who would then enact communist policies. In his Critique of his
German party's 1891 Erfurt Programme, Engels wrote: "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.
"

Marx's communist revolutionism contained another very important element:
Expropriation of the means of production. Simultaneous social democratic
revolutions, along with their further development into the universal proletarian
dictatorship, was the ESSENTIAL PRECONDITION to nationalization of
the means of production. As M+E wrote in the Communist Manifesto: "The
proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degrees, all capital from
the bourgeoisie, to centralise all instruments of production in the hands of the
State, i.e., of the proletariat organised as the ruling class; and to increase the
total of productive forces as rapidly as possible.
" Marx's foundation of
social democracy was a far cry from the Blanquist plan for 'a small
group of professional revolutionaries to take power in a coup'.

The struggle for social democracy (universal suffrage) was very popular in Europe
in the 1800's, while the struggle for communism took a seat to the rear. When many
European countries achieved universal suffrage without violent revolution, democratic
tasks were then largely satisfied, leaving communists with little more than their burning
desire to capture political power and socialize property ownership. Democratic demands
having been largely satisfied, not much occurred on the revolutionary scale of the Commune
until the 1905 'dress rehearsal' for the Russian revolutions of 1917, but Russia lay relatively
far to the East of central Europe.

As democracy and universal suffrage gradually materialized in Western Europe
over a century ago, but without communist expropriation, hopes for creating the
universal proletarian dictatorship diminished, Marxism became increasingly ir-
relevant to European politics, communism in the West suffered ideological splits,
and the splitters turned against themselves: Orthodox communists scorned Social-
Democratic reformism as opportunism, anarchists were scorned as spoilers, and
the 3 way split intensified. Communists and anarchists remained intent on getting
control over power and property, but mass satisfaction with social democracy left
communists with no real 'hook' on which to pin their ambitions. Revolutions don't
materialize out of thin air, and people don't revolt over poor economic conditions
by themselves.

The rift in revolutionism in America and Western Europe didn't mean that it had also
died out all over the world. In the many countries still needing democratic change,
dedicated communists remained hopeful of realizing Marx's dreams. They knew
that M+E (in their mature years) had speculated that a successful democratic
revolution in Russia might trigger latent revolutions in Europe, so the source for
the big revolutionary spark shifted to the East, and decades later to the South.

Parallels can be drawn between Russia's revolution of 1917 and the French
republican struggles of 1870-1. Russia's February revolution is comparable to
France's bourgeois democratic revolution of September, 1870. Second revolutions
occurred several months later in both countries: The Paris Commune won universal
suffrage and expropriated church property in March and April of 1871, while the
Soviets won political supremacy and nationalized the land in October of 1917.

Russian Bolshevik revolutionaries gained mass support while helping rid Russia
of its ruling Romanov Dynasty, whose war-making propensities in World War One
made Romanov rule even less popular. Mass confidence in the Bolsheviks was sus-
tained beyond the creation of the Kerensky republic of February of 1917, and facilit-
ated replacing that unstable republic with the Soviet socialist government in October.

20th century communist revolutions terminated private ownership of land and
industries, and brought the means of production under the control of communist
governments, as inspired by the writings of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and
others. Communists believed that expropriation would forcefully and abruptly abolish
the vast bulk of class distinctions, which abolition M+E regarded as communism's
ultimate aim (but the belief that class distinctions could be abolished BY FORCE
proved to be a mistake.) In a critique of Kautsky, Lenin wrote that 'private ownership
of land was abolished on the very first day of the Bolshevik Revolution'. In the 1930's,
Stalin proclaimed the USSR to be 'a classless society', but that proclamation was
strictly for propaganda purposes, because Stalin could order killings and get away
with it, while ordinary citizens could not.

Despite their similarities, the communist revolutions envisaged by M+E were
quite different from the ones that actually occurred in the 20th century. Lenin
and Stalin tried their best to make revolutions occur all over Europe and the USA,
because M+E had long before suspected that a revolution in one country would
not survive for long unless supported by simultaneous revolutions in enough other
countries to assure their mutual success. Expropriated and disempowered upper
classes in a lone revolutionary country were expected to fight back with every means
available, including rallying the aid of non-revolutionary countries: During the Paris
Commune, France had been AT WAR with Prussia, but received their cooperation
to help crush the Commune, whose radical republicanism threatened monarchical
and bourgeois rule everywhere in Europe.

Similarly, after the Russian revolution, previous enemies in Western countries
combined efforts to topple the Bolsheviks. Though unsuccessful in that goal,
they inflicted enough damage to sidetrack the USSR's efforts to build socialism.
Scarce resources which otherwise might have prevented their economic and agri-
cultural downturns were diverted toward combatting the counter-revolution. If, on
the other hand, enough European countries had supported the Russian revolution
with long lasting revolutions of their own, a universal proletarian dictatorship across
Europe would have obviated all of Russia's post-revolutionary woes and travails. But,
with so much interest in private property in Western Europe in 1917, communist
revolutions barely stood a chance. In the USA, communists could only dream about
a revolution, because so few people wanted it. Supportive revolutions in Germany
and Slovakia didn't last very long, forcing the USSR to go it alone.

Contrary to Marx's plan, most 20th century communist revolutions occurred in
less-developed countries, and usually one at a time; a notable exception occurring
when Portugal suffered an internal crisis in the 1970's, and withdrew from several
African colonies at the same time, leaving insurgent anti-colonial movements to set
up independent communist states. The most memorable communist revolutions and
take-overs never had the desired synchronicity and unity with which to threaten the
rest of the world with communist hegemony, which is NOT to say that the revolutions
which DID occur were not so successful that a lot of people didn't shiver in their boots
in breathless anticipation, but I suspect that at least part of the trepidation was staged for
propaganda purposes, and to ensure mass support for Cold War policies to counter the
alleged 'Red threat', which turned into an ill-fated 'paper tiger' after all.

It was only because the communist revolution was not SIMULTANEOUS in many
countries in 1871 or 1917 that the anticipated communist revolutionary millennia did
not arise, and communists in lone countries had to settle for a lot less than what they
had hoped for. They got little more than social ownership, a planned economy, and
poverty for all, although the new poverty was better for a lot of citizens than the old
poverty. The inability of communist countries to draw upon mutual support condemned
20th century revolutionary countries to a constant fear of counter-revolution, a massive
shift of resources into war-readiness, economic stagnation, strong states, and reigns of
political terror. The Vietnam War was a recent American counter-revolutionary effort,
as well as our involvement in Grenada and Central America in the 1980's.

Marx's communist program included expropriation of the means of production,
with or without compensation. But, that proviso betrayed a FATAL FLAW in
Marxist theory, a flaw which rendered Marxism unpopular in the very Western
countries where the communist revolution was supposed to have begun. Marx's
communist revolution would have forcefully eliminated what developed into an
essential Western Hemisphere civil freedom -- the freedom of individuals to own
means of production, which freedom undoubtedly gave rise to a tremendous burst
of productive capacity, as compared to feudalism, slavery and actually existing
communism. No matter how good or bad a particular system may be for the
health of its citizens, the most productive system wins the battle for survival.

Because of that flaw in Marxism, that inability to advocate COMPLETE
individual freedom, 20th century socialist revolutions didn't happen the way
M+E wanted them to happen. They didn't happen all at once, and they didn't
happen in the most developed countries, who used and enjoyed the institution
of private property more than any other countries. (Engels once observed that
the institution of private property barely existed East or South of the Mediter-
ranean in his day.) That difference between communist theory and history
inspired Stalin to propose an alternative theory known as 'socialism in one
country'. It tried to reconcile M+E's theory of 'socialism everywhere, and all at
once' with the USSR's unanticipated loneliness. As Marx warned in his 1872
speech at The Hague, individual countries daring to be revolutionary would be
subject to counter-revolution from neighboring non-revolutionary countries IF
the workers of many countries did not express class solidarity by overthrowing
all of their governments at the same time, which theoretically would have been
relatively easy on the Continent in Marx's day, where so many monarchies
seemed rotten-ripe for replacement with social democracies, and even felt
ripe for a universal proletarian dictatorship.

History demonstrates why Europe failed to go communist. The abolition of
communism in many countries after 1989, and their drift toward democratic
capitalism, have proven that the policy of expropriation was not as socially
valuable as had been hoped for. But, that history doesn't prevent Western
Hemisphere revolutionaries from ignoring the down side of expropriation,
nor from ignoring the fierce resistance against it. As a past member of a
party that still wants to take power in order to expropriate, and still does
its best to muddle real history, I finally figured out that many activists
don't really understand history, which is why rank and file activists
cling to unrealistic hopes that should have been dashed long ago.

Revolutionaries upholding the principle of 'wanting to be correct in word and
deed', and 'wanting a correct program for the times in which they live', might
want to know exactly what M+E thought about revolution in democracies, and
might want to know how hard M+E and their fellow communists fought FOR
social democracy, and why so many revolutionary and workers' parties of their
day called themselves Social-Democratic, and why Engels regarded his German
party's stellar performance in the ELECTIONS of 1890 as the beginning of the
revolution in Germany. Socially controlled democracies are still increasing in
popularity, and will probably become universal within a few more years.

One can certainly be a 'principled' revolutionary today, but principled
revolutionism can end up going nowhere if its guiding principles don't
correspond to current realities. In the mature works of Marx and Engels,
many passages indicate that 'workers in democracies can achieve their goal
without overt force and violence', as in Marx's 1872 speech at The Hague,
where the peaceful change scenario was painted for the USA and England,
and the forceful change scenario was painted for the monarchies lingering
on the Continent of Europe. But, after the 1871 Paris Commune, Europe
became increasingly democratic without the expected democratic revolutions.
Marx misjudged the extent of political and economic alignment of the workers
with their bosses, both of whom grew far more intolerant of monarchical intran-
sigence than they did of each other. As time went by, and as peasants became
wage workers, the power base of the monarchies eroded, and more and more
democratic concessions were extracted. With the help of reforms and universal
suffrage, Western working classes shared in the benefits of technological evo-
lution to a degree which is often denied by activists who still subscribe to the
Lassallean iron law of wages, viz., that 'workers only receive the minimum wage',
which certainly isn't valid for the many Microsoft and other high-tech workers
who started with nothing, but whose talents made them millions, nor has it been
valid for the many millions of workers who own their own homes, cars, boats,
etc. But, all of this does not deny the poverty which certainly DOES exist
among the lowest classes.

Unlike Europe and elsewhere, class struggle in the USA has always been so
WEAK that mass interest in either a workers' or a revolutionary party never
crystalized. The inability of modern Western revolutionary parties to generate
the requisite numbers to accomplish revolutions should indicate that something
might be wrong with revolutionary programs in democracies, and yet, small
groups continue to market revolution as viable, while few people ever buy into
it. In democratic countries with no immediate pressing democratic tasks to
accomplish, people do not overthrow stable democracies for the sake of putting
property in the hands of revolutionaries who seemingly would rather fight one
another (over whether to have a communist or an anarchist revolution) than unite
to overthrow their democracies. That's how silly the revolution has become in the
West. Anarchist and communist revolutions exclude one another: It is impossible
to replace the existing state with both a communist workers' state AND the
anarchists' 'classless and stateless administration of things' at the very same time.
So, revolutionaries will never cooperate with one another on a specific type of
revolution, and they will never get any closer to their goal than they are today.
Revolutionaries may deny that their ideologies are in such ridiculous conflict
with themselves, and some may laugh at their folly, but I regard 'revolutionism
in the West' to be less of a comedy and more like 'a tragedy of lost opportunity
and wasted effort'. If more activists understood history, and if a campaign of
educating revolutionaries were initiated, then maybe they would correct their
errors and make themselves useful.

If the flawed revolutionary theories of M+E were not above 'correction' by Stalin,
then they surely should not be above criticism by people today, so why can't today's
activists enjoy a full discussion of all the old theories? It's because theories of expro-
priation by means of force were never valid for the West, thus rendering them fit for
little better than mystification and obfuscation, the work of inner cliques of sectarian
groups whose only real purpose has degenerated into the exploitation of their own
rank and file members. Because marketing revolutionary theories and programs can
still make a buck for the high priests, who alone are empowered to judge whether their
theories are correct and appropriate, revolutionary theories have become sacrosanct
and deified, and placed somewhat out of the reach of ordinary mortals. The lack
of theoretical openness is a perfect breeding ground for static sectarianism.

The communist revolution has been irrelevant to the West for a long time, but
it doesn't mean that M+E were totally wrong for the times in which THEY lived,
which were REVOLUTIONARY times IN THE WEST. Many European countries
needed to be democratized back then, and the communist revolutionary scenario can
not be divorced from the simultaneous overthrow of several rotten-ripe monarchies. The
new republics that would have emerged were intended to enjoy universal suffrage, which
would have led to the election of workers' parties, and to the dominance of working class
policies, which M+E were certain would include expropriation. But, events since 1989
prove that M+E were mistaken. The communist revolution remained somewhat prom-
ising until a few years after 1917, when it became absolutely certain that Europe
would not join with the Soviets to make the communist revolution permanent.

Maybe David thinks that all of this persuasion against revolution is just a
bourgeois counter-revolutionary pack of lies, and that he has the real scoop on
what's going on. I can sympathize with that sentiment, because I've been there,
and thought the same way in my early revolutionary days, when no one could
convince me that my old party's revolution was hopeless. When a person is all
fired up for revolution, not even a freight train going the other way can divert
the true revolutionary off his track. Revolutionaries also have their pride. They
like to think that a revolution is THE BEST PLAN, but a common inability to
argue adequately in favor of revolution often inspires substitution of venom
and vitriol for logic. Let's hope that David does lots better than that, and that
he truly tries to teach me the errors of my ways, if he finds me wrong.

As sincere as any revolutionary might be, being a revolutionary is NOT GOOD
ENOUGH for today's problems, because ordinary people SUFFER AS A RESULT
of revolutionaries putting their good energy into a hopeless cause, which is why
I try never to tire of the struggle to bring the revolution into proper perspective.
I've changed my mind about the revolution 3 times, in 1972, 1976, and 1994, but
changing one's mind about the revolution is nowhere nearly as easy as falling off
a log. It takes time, interest, and cool reflection, and it helps most of all if an activist
is independently minded enough to be intolerant of lies, and intolerant of any idea
that doesn't smell just right. Revolutionism in democracies has enough internal
contradictions to hopefully inspire more people to give their belief systems a
closer look. Activists who are sensitive to capitalist lies would hopefully become
more sensitive to the impossible contradictions within their own ideologies.

But, unwillingness for introspection is commonplace, and it's a sad commentary
on the human condition. People even abide by exclusive sectarian practices in order
to enjoy their impossible ideologies with like-minded people. On the other hand, the
First International became influential because 'the course of history had smashed
sectarianism', as Marx wrote to Bolte in 1871. Will sectarianism be smashed again?
Without doubt. Activists will someday work within their own ranks and within the
ranks of common people -- not to propagate programs dealing with bourgeois
wealth and power, but rather to get ordinary people to reduce the competition
within their own ranks, and to get them to think about sharing what little work
that has yet to be taken over by ever-smartening computers and machines.

Soon to be continued in 'Why communism? 3B'

Ken Ellis

"Refute all lies!" - Pablo Neruda

 

12-07-01

Here is Part B of my long reply to David, who months ago also wrote:

> He asked why anyone might think that revolution might occur in the United
> States. I offer him the negation: What makes him think that the status quo
> here will be eternally maintained?

The status quo contains more than one element. The capitalist economy may
be a chronic pain, but it really is in a constant state of change due to changing
technologies, while democracy and private property have not changed in basic
principle for centuries, and will not change much for decades to come, not until
technology becomes much more intelligent, labor is displaced at an unprecedented
rate, and people learn to share the remaining work. When ALL Western countries
adopt a 35 hour week, workers will have made the first progressive step out of
capitalism, statism and oppression in a long time. According to Ray Kurzweil,
productivity accelerates not at a linear rate, but rather at a logarithmic rate. So,
future productivity gains will put past gains to shame, forcing new labor-time
reductions within shorter time spans. That civil process will continue until the
work week becomes so ridiculously short that a new generation of energetic
volunteers will step in to replace the remaining wage labor, the necessities
of life will thereafter become free, realizing Marx's vision: "From each
according to his abilities, to each according to his needs!
"

The tremendous success of capitalism in the productive sphere is the greatest
threat to its longevity. When employment and class distinctions are abolished in
a few more decades, people will become politically and economically equal. Only
then will consigning capitalism and the lumber of the state to the ashbin of history
be conceivable. A few subseqent generations of technological evolution will perm-
anently seal off the era of concern over human survival and deprivation. When it
comes to science and technology, 'We ain't seen NOTHING yet.'

> Based on what I know, the FBI et al. are more concerned with
> "insurgency." They don't care whether it's a revolution or not.

Revolution, insurgency: are those words different enough to matter much?
Either way, taking up arms against a democracy with universal suffrage is a
tactical faux pas. Hence the total defeat of the Weather Underground, SLA,
Panthers, etc., all of whom, even if they combined their efforts, could not
generate a tenth of the popular support needed to effect forceful change. Nor
COULD any such movement receive enough popular support for as long as
people regard their political system as fair enough to want to preserve it.

To enjoy electoral success, candidates and movements have to be 'right for
the times', which is why people in the USA vote en masse for Democrats
and Republicans, but not for socialists, communists (and anarchists cleverly
disguised as socialists, like my old party). 'Politics is the art of the possible',
so, impossible politics are as good as 'no politics at all'. Militia movements
can grow to the point of making the government nervous, because militias
don't stray away from fundamental values like republicanism and private
property. Joining the camp of those who attack the institution of private
property is, on the other hand, like resigning oneself to the frustration
of a religious missionary in a country populated by sworn heathens,
agnostics, and atheists. That's how frustrated I occasionally felt years
ago, but we revolutionaries enjoyed each other's company, which some-
times made the constant frustration of dealing with the outside world
worth the effort. If a large community of interests was impossible for
us to realize, a tiny community was better than nothing.

> History, particularly the military defeat of the worldwide
> African revolution in the '60s, tells me that the United States
> fears any threats to its interests. I'm certain of that.

I'll bet that lots of people are certain of that. Even I'm certain of that.
But, fear of threats to one's interests is a rather universal phenomenon.

> I also don't make much of Ken's notion of "democratic" and "independent"
> countries, and their lack of revolutionary potential. What is this supposed to
> mean? Whose "democratic rights" and "independence" is he talking about?
> Bush's or Clinton's? Or Bill Gates?

Revolutions occurred time again in various countries until independence and
democracy were achieved. Only a handful democracies existed in Marx's day,
while a hundred flourish today. Movements for independence and democracy
STILL occur, Serbia being a recent convert after deposing Milosevic. As long as
class divisions exist, democratic states will be needed to mediate class struggle,
which will not end in 'one revolutionary blow'. In the future, WORKING CLASS
policies exerted over years of technological evolution will abolish labor, the
division of labor, class distinctions, class struggle, and all of the deception
that accompany them. Until then, the whole 'thing' in life has been to entice
other people to do one's work, whether by hook or by crook. Wages are a
hook, and deception is a crook. That game could end in another few decades.

Revolutionaries bear a certain responsibility to inform themselves of the
issues over which people NEED to revolt, or SHOULD revolt. Because the
revolution is such a serious (life and death) subject, revolutionaries need to
INDEPENDENTLY study that issue to be certain that what they believe in
is valid. I'm certain that America won't revolt just because one Green Party
official was detained at an airport, and yet one otherwise reasonable member
of a different forum regarded that detention as PROOF that the USA was no
longer a free country, thereby justifying a revolution. But, such detentions
don't mean that we can no longer shop at the mall of our choice, or vote for
our favorite candidates. Neither will a mass replacement of postal carriers
with Kamen's new Segway scooter justify a revolution. Laid-off postal
carriers will just have to find work elsewhere, or convince the rest of the
working class to share the remaining work by winning a shorter work week.

Engels hypothesized overthrowing a democracy with universal suffrage, but only
because the French government was simultaneously so tyrannical that it could "find
no way of countering any strike other than with infantry salvoes, and thus manages to
bring about a situation where in a republic with universal suffrage the workers are left
with hardly any other means of victory than violent revolution.
" But, if people in the
USA have universal suffrage, and if their parties are free to win hearts and minds, and
if violent suppression of strikes is mainly a thing of the past, then it remains a mystery
as to why anyone should consider overthrowing the American government. Give us one
good reason WHY we should revolt. As in the past, people will not revolt simply because
the government steps on parties advocating terrorism or violent revolution.

> If it was me, I would have pointed out the hegemony
> in these countries which dupes us into thinking that the
> government is working in the interest of all people.

It's true that the government works in the interests of the rich in many ways.
I especially resent them setting the hours of labor so unreasonably long that
many people slave away for far too many hours, much of it creating waste,
while it is in the interests of the working class for the hours of labor to be set
low enough to enable as many workers as possible to share what little work
that has yet to be taken over by computers and machines. I regard the failure
of the working class to equitably share work to be the cause of most of our
evils. Politicians brag about the number of jobs their administrations bring
to communities, and they talk about how many jobs would be created and
maintained if people agreed to sacrifice so many acres of woodlands or
wetlands to this or that developer. If jobs are an issue, arguing for sharing
work would be so much wiser. Open space could then be preserved, and the
pressure to grow the population to fill up all of the new developments could
diminish, but activists don't advocate work-sharing often enough. Why not?

Some activists gloat over the alleged declining rate of profit, which supposedly
spells doom for capitalism; but, very few pay proper attention to the historically
ACCELERATING rate of surplus values. In a civil society such as ours, it should
be fairly obvious that the rich are as rich as they are because WE WORK SO HARD
TO MAKE THEM SO RICH, but, can activists say in chorus that WE SHOULDN'T
WORK SO HARD? Not often, because they unfortunately have been convinced that
getting control over property and wealth is the only true path to social justice, so they
lazily refuse to consider a more direct means of addressing the power and inflence
of the rich -- don't work so hard to make them so rich and powerful.

Some people have to go to work, while others can afford not to. One good way
to diminish class distinctions is to make it so that people who have to work don't
have to work anywhere nearly as long as what they used to, and to gradually inch
their level of personal freedom up to the totality of freedom of the independently
wealthy. But, no. Facts and figures often have no effect on minds mesmerized by
the thought of getting control over all of that property, so, to some activists, it mat-
ters little if 80% of the population had to work the land 200 years ago, but only 2%
do now, demonstrating a 40-fold increase in productivity between then and now,
indicating that we could probably scrape by on a mere hour's worth of work per
week. It also doesn't matter to some if the 3 necessities of life once consumed
MOST of the people's energies, but that less than 10% of the workers produce
those items today. Some activists can hardly spare the time to think about
FUTURE productivity increases. It doesn't matter to them if computers as
smart as humans will arrive by 2010, and that the same level of computing
power will fit into a teacup by 2020, and that people will find themselves
without any real employment after then. Workers will have stopped listening
to property, power and wealth schemes long before that point, simply because
the need to share work will have become so much more pressing than the call
to arms, or the calls to redistribute wealth, income and property. Many activists
don't understand that the best way to redistribute wealth and income is by equitably
redistributing WORK to all who could use a little to get by. I sometimes get the
feeling that some want to forcibly distribute wealth and property so as to satisfy
their inner cravings 'to be benevolent to the people, and cruel to the upper classes'.

Some well-convinced revolutionaries oppose the shorter work week ON PRINCIPLE,
and speak of the revolution as the ONLY VIABLE SOLUTION. They deny that their
ideology is inhumane due to its opposition to ameliorative reforms, and they deny that
their ideology is sometimes rotten enough to demand that working class conditions
become unbearable enough to drive workers to revolt. My old party made that immoral
choice a century ago, and I was dumb enough to fall for their propaganda, but thankfully
not forever. Much of the left is bourgeois and independent enough to be able to make such
immoral choices. In the richest country in the world, anything goes, including massive states
of denial, to which the deniers alone are blind. And then they ask why so few people join their
revolution. They don't understand the proper context of revolutions, and they often don't even
WANT to understand, because an understanding of a higher order might jeopardize their
belonging to a group or movement that satisfies their primal need to belong to a
community of interests, unpopular or odd as those interests might sometimes be.

SUPPOSE revolutionaries were fortunate enough to win hearts and minds and get
control over all of that power and property. People would still have to WORK the
following day, wouldn't they? Certainly policies would change, and many activists
in the forums I've participated in have voiced a considerable interest in a shorter work
day and week as a POST-revolutionary measure, just the way Marx encouraged it in
a letter to Kugelmann, and in the 3rd Volume of Capital. But, revolutionaries are lazy
enough to fail to recall that their democracies ALREADY allow for limiting work
hours without having to revolt; they forget that the limits on work time are arbitrary,
and are always subject to amendment, depending on popular demand. What would
happen if activists saw the potential and advocated a shorter work week? Can anyone
imagine activists advocating LONGER hours? I recently corresponded with some
anarchists disguised as socialists who could afford to argue exactly that, but the hours
issue is nowhere nearly as divisive as asking people to choose between communism
or anarchism, or between Judaism and Islam. But, revolutionaries who can afford to
veto reforms of any type probably can't be expected to help the working class on this
important issue. The worst of them will probably continue to live in a fantasy world
long after the working class learns to share work.

> The same hegemony makes us think that those who talk
> revolution are laughable gibberish-speakers.

A good reason would have to be given for a revolutionary change. One couldn't
say, for instance, that a revolution is needed because we don't have a real democracy,
because too many people would be willing to die to protect what democracy we have.
It's a matter of perception. Compare our contemporary mass patriotism to the loyalty
of the few who were willing to die to protect the rule of the Romanovs in Russia.
Many more Russians in 1917 were willing to fight for democratic change.

Once a country acquires a long-lasting democracy with universal suffrage,
people feel as though they have sufficient control over their political affairs,
so political change after that democratic victory becomes little more noteworthy
than incremental reform. People who argue for a BIGGER change than reform
become revolutionaries, and then become politically isolated. Revolutionaries
don't keep up with the times, and instead repeat propaganda more appropriate
to Europe in 1848. Aww, one might say, activists couldn't possibly be that dumb.
Well, I was that dumb, and it took a lot of reading, study, thinking and research
to get myself out of the blind alley of revolutionism. Now, when I tell people that
their revolution is an anachronism, they regard what I say as pure gibberish. It all
depends upon one's vantage point. Changing one's vantage point is not easily done.
At any given point in time, it's hard to say how many people are open to personal
change -- certainly not everyone. It's rarely worth anyone's effort to try to see the
world from a different perspective, especially in a country which muddles along
well enough, and no pressing necessity for great change exists, except, as may
be commonly thought, to better protect the country against terrorism.

> He points to the naivety of those who are sold revolution as a "Holy
> Grail." I think he's correct in terms of sectarian socialist formations
> in the U.S. which are nothing more than fancy white-rights groups.

Charging 'sectarian socialist groups' with being 'fancy white-rights groups' is an
interesting concept. How is the racism manifested, and, can an example be named?

> But there are also those in the United States, for example, who truly have
> "nothing to lose but their chains." Perhaps they don't have a mass revolutionary
> consciousness. But Ken seems to think the answer for them is cynicism. I disagree.

I'd like to know how my 'answer' could be interpreted as 'cynical'. If I
didn't truly believe that people are capable of change for the better, my
writing would be negative, vituperative and sarcastic. Instead, I strive to be
logical and gently persuasive, and illustrate arguments with examples from
history and personal experience. On the other hand, I know from personal
experience how my old party's leaders suspected that their brand of Marxism
was worthless, and yet were afraid to do anything but continue to sell their
program, and to keep the membership in the dark about their suspicions. They
also did their best to keep me from communicating MY growing suspicions to
the rest of the party. They simply could not give up on something that still made
them a living. What else could they be expected to do? Go out and find an honest
job? Ha. Not when those masters of deception had it so 'easy'. (A fuller treatment
of my party experiences can be found in the on-line book at my web site.) The expe-
rience of working at the national office of a revolutionary party is nothing to sneeze
at. It was an education that every revolutionary should 'enjoy'. Many are willing to
prostitute themselves to the fleshpots of immoral games, while some are not.

> He criticizes socialists for their "inevitable" propagation of
> "cults of personality" and bureaucracy.

Those ugly outcomes are the inevitable result of advocating rearranging
property relations, abolishing capitalism or private property, or otherwise
redistributing tangibles like wealth and income. The rich are rich because
THEY WON THE BATTLE over property, and are guaranteed to keep on
winning for a while longer, so it's of little use to argue in favor of expropriation,
which would require a civil war. The influence of the American South in the
legislature was declining in the mid-1800's, and they increasingly feared that
slavery would soon be outlawed, so they initiated the Civil War in order to
permanently secure slavery. After the South lost the War, the 13th, 14th and
15th Constitutional Amendments were adopted to prevent slavery from ever
happening again. Even though the North had the requisite physical force with
which to provide freed slaves with their 40 acres and a mule, not enough
political will existed to partition the plantations. Can activists understand
that harsh lesson about American values, and reconfigure their programs
accordingly? Instead, some activists feel compelled to re-invent history. Look
at how many foolishly argue that the Civil War wasn't fought over slavery!
But, if the War hadn't been fought over slavery, Amendments as memorable
as the 13th, 14th and 15th, but addressing other supposed causes of the war,
ought to immediately spring to mind. In spite of their inability to dredge up
a single piece of memorable legislation that wasn't related to slavery, some
activists insist upon believing in absurdities, perhaps because they can more
afford to be fashionably in line with the teachings of their peer groups than
they can afford the time to carefully reassess their beliefs. But, if activists
would like to get SOMEWHERE with their activism, they can't afford to
be anything EXCEPT correct, which correctness isn't purchased with a
membership in a group or party.

> It's funny he neglects the current cult around Dub-jah Bush, who,
> the week after the attacks, had a 90% approval rating, the most of
> any president, ever, in the history of the U.S. And what about the
> bureaucracy which has lost the working class victims of the 9/11
> attack, and condemns them to a life of poverty and uncertainty?
>
> Oh well.
>
> -- David

If activists would like to be more effective in dealing the crimes of Dubyah
and Co., more time should be spent figuring out what they are doing wrong,
but many would rather pour more effort into self-defense and denial. It is
past time to determine exactly what is so wrong with activism that enables
the upper classes to run their policies roughshod over us.

Ken Ellis

"Refute all lies!" - Pablo Neruda

 

12-13-01

Our economy consists of socially useful civil activity, with intermingling
legal and underground components. The more inclusive the legal economy,
the healthier the society, because fewer people get forced underground to eke
out a living robbing, dealing, etc. Excluding too many people from the legal
economy also results in high taxes, as many are driven to seek refuge in
government programs. Regardless, a high unemployment rate is our national
policy, and the Federal Reserve Board trims interest rates to make unemploy-
ment hover at around 5%. But, the time may be nigh when cutting the interest
rate to zero still won't put enough people to work, and then what will happen?

Why can't unemployment be 1%? Politics. Companies profit more when jobs
are scarce. Competition for scarce jobs forces desperate workers to accept low
wages, low wages reduce operating costs, and those savings redound to profits,
so companies lobby for a level of unemployment that benefits them, but which
also penalizes workers. Millions of low-paid workers have difficulty surviving
with only one job, resulting in alienation, bitterness and stress.

On the other hand, a low unemployment rate and high demand for workers in
one country favors its working class with high wages. Because of the world
market, a country which favors its working class is a less profitable place to
do business, so capital flees to where jobs are more scarce, and wages soon
become low for everyone.

Over time, machinery and computers get smarter, and productivity increases.
Adopting a shorter work week would make the economy more inclusive and
healthier without forcing people into a lower standard of living, because higher
productivity allows more leisure time without negative consequences. People work
less today than they did a century ago, but yet have many more toys to play with.

Gov. Jane Swift recently appeared at a press conference, along with several
unionists, all of whom advocated work-sharing by means of reducing work
hours to help weather the recent economic slowdown. Nothing much came of
that announcement, so it's up to the little people to apply pressure if they want a
saner economy. I don't know how much more crime, bank robberies, homicides,
school kid alienation, and other social problems we should put up with before
creating a strong movement for a more inclusive economy. Now that France has
adopted a 35 hour week, all industrialized countries should follow their lead and
make that movement international, which would prevent France from being
penalized for taking the first big step away from the 40 hour week since
it became the standard during the Depression era.

Ken Ellis

 

12-13-01

Emmeline quoted me:

>> a new paradigm will begin that will hopefully be more benign.
>
> That would be very nice indeed except you see in my area houses start at
> around $200,000. The older the house the cheaper it is. I think we need
> to start a movement for HOUSING for all citizens. That is WHY people
> work for the most part to supply the roof over their heads.

Such a movement is not a bad plan for the interim. Sign me up. But, reality
sucks so badly that I often prefer to look BEYOND the present, toward the
not-too-distant future when no one will have to work at all, and the necessities
of life become free. Future generations will have it so much better than we do
today, and it will all happen so quickly because of the exponential rate of
productivity increases. It would help average people to survive economically
today if we could sooner, rather than later, decide on the correct policies to
get us to a world without want.

> I don't think that all of the people being bounced out of corporations are
> going to stop & say "I'm so glad I don't have to work anymore" we may
> see more Andrea Yeates types of situations. The husband or wife just can't
> see themselves or their children starve so they end it. If people truly didn't
> have to worry about where their next meal was coming from or whether
> they'd be able to live indoors THEN and only then will we have change.

Andrea may not be the best example of poverty-inspired difficulties. In the
recent 60 Minutes segment, it was revealed that her husband has a rather nice
job. It is quite Christian of him to stick by Andrea through thick and thin, even
a situation as traumatic as theirs. Religion wasn't mentioned, but it might have been
a factor in their choice not to prevent the many births. Andrea experienced depression
well before her 5th child, and she had been pre-warned by specialists that having more
kids would aggravate her depression, but no one heeded the warning.

The TV program gave no indication if Andrea had any close friends to help
her share the burden of child-rearing. It seemed like she tried to go it alone
during the day. None of the couple's parents were mentioned, perhaps (?)
because they lived too far away. Other people in similar situations usually
fare better than Andrea. Mothers raising families at home is not a unique
situation, so her misery appears to have been more personal than social.
Ability to communicate her misery seems to have been minimal, even to
her husband. Her personal isolation must have been extreme. With better
communications, the tragedy may never have happened.

To return to the other point, the Western world will VERY SOON suffer an
unprecedented crisis of unemployment, as machines and computers become
VERY much smarter within a couple of decades. 1825 was the year of the first
big employment bust, and lots more crises have occurred since. WHOLESALE
displacement of people by machines will happen sooner than what a lot of people
care to think about. The Post Office loses more and more traffic to e-mail, and
Kamen's new Segway scooter promises to retire half of today's postal carriers.
Our only hope to prevent total societal madness and chaos will be to reduce
the length of the work week in proportion to labor's replacement by machinery.
That measure is nowhere nearly as divisive as advocating the kinds of yukky
socialism that deal with wealth, property and other tangibles we already fight
over enough to make us sick, but some radicals would have us fight over that
stuff again and again, until 'we' win. :-) If anything should be fought over,
let it be over hours of labor, and the right of everyone to enjoy a place in
the above-ground economy.

Just think if Andrea's husband had only worked a 30 hour week, and had been
free to spend a couple of more hours per day with his family. Maybe then he would
have had the stamina to properly observe the developing situation, and maybe a lot
of previously stressed-out people would have had more time to lend a hand to her
as well. Our inability to posit the shorter work time solution to our problems shows
that we are gluttons for punishment, or have elevated the 40 hour week to such a
precious icon that we don't dare change it. But, that will change soon enough,
when nothing else imaginable manages to put enough people to work.

I live in a town of about 91,000 that recently could easily have become the
seat of 'Columbine-East'. We have a very big high school and a lousy economy,
both of which breed alienation. A couple of homicides recently occurred within
a mile of where I live. People fight over trinkets and property like you wouldn't
believe, because that's the source of their security, and we don't have a very strong
sense of community, or 'pulling together'. When people WORK for their property,
or even if they are lucky enough to have other people do their work for them, they
don't like to see it ripped off, and then have to work for it all over again. But, guess
what? Our opportunities to go to work AT ALL will disappear within a few more
decades, and then where will the human race find itself? It's our choice as to what
we make of the soup we we will soon be thrown into. In the process, we will need
to shift our sense of security away from things and toward our communities, i.e.,
real live human beings of all shapes and colors.

The less we struggle over work, the less will be the struggle over the PRODUCT
of work. We have the power and means to reduce the struggle to find work, so
we should use our collective political power soon.

Ken Ellis

 

12-13-01

> News Flash!!! News Flash!!!
>
> There is a SIGNED agreement between the Pacifica Foundation and
> the litigants in the 4 lawsuits against Pacifica!!! The lawsuits have
> been settled, and will not proceed to trial next month.

Sorry to see that the settlement is all about people and power instead of
principle. It looks as though Pacifica will remain governed by people and
personalities instead of by principles.

Is there any hope that people will turn their attention to hammering out agreeable
principles so that this mess doesn't happen all over again? I'd love to be more
optimistic, but I doubt if the network has a chance of evolving out of a hotbed
of bourgeois competitive intrigues to become valuable to ordinary people.

The old method of dividing program time by rewarding friends and excluding
others should be replaced with the rough principle that: anyone who wants some
program time should get it, let listeners decide which programs have more
significance to their lives, and reward the more popular programs with more
time and/or better time slots.

An organizational structure reflecting that principle of inclusion could then
be erected, ending a lot of intrigue and division.

Silence indicates that Mr. Gunther and many others would be quite opposed to this idea.

Ken Ellis

 

12-13-01

Hi, Deb,

> Hi Ken, As the settlement doesn't address programming decisions, and the
> suits didn't directly address them in the first place, I'm not sure I understand
> what you are saying here without at least one example or specific complaint.
> However, I am quite sure that the reason Mr. Gunther has "been so silent"
> on the issue is because Carl Gunther (I assume that's to whom you refer?)
> is not a member of this list. Perhaps this was intended for one of the
> other Pacifica-related lists?
>
> Either way, please feel free to elaborate -- maybe we can
> get some discussion going on the important issue of what the
> changing of the Pacifica Guard might, or should, mean in terms
> of programming at the five stations and affiliates, including KFCF.
>
> Best, Deb

The reference to Mr. Gunther is probably more relevant to the freepacifica
list, which also received the same message. Specific examples: the many
remarks about 'whom would be included in Pacifica's post-victory governance
and programming', such as the recent:

> I have so far not gotten into which specific organizations might be good
> choices (have not even created my own private list, although I have a general
> profile in mind) because we seem so far to be in a discussion about the more
> general differences between the listener-based and organization-based models.

None of the elements who were excluded by the old regime liked the way they
were treated. So, does that mean that 'we' have just received a mandate to create a
proletarian dictatorship that will simply turn the tables and give the defeated a taste
of their own medicine? Or, do we rise above exclusionary politics and create a new
Pacifica that includes ALL points of view? We have a distinct choice, and I hope
that we will choose inclusion over mere 'exclusion and revenge'.

The course of the discussions so far makes me pessimistic, as it has been more 'who,
who, who' instead of 'what'. So, I predict that the majority in the new Pacifica will
embrace revenge, will not rise above exclusionary politics, and only an insignificant
minority will come close to advocating that "anyone who wants some program time
should get it, let listeners decide which programs have more significance to their
lives, and reward the more popular programs with more time and/or better time slots."

I also predict that:

inclusion is a dead issue

no one will offer an opinion

the subject will not be discussed further

the audience will get not much better than business as usual, but will get it
under the aegis of new faces

the victory will be celebrated loudly enough that few will notice that the
success consists mostly of a rearrangement of deck chairs

Pessimistically,

Ken Ellis

 

12-14-01

littlesnarf quoted me:

>> <<I should add that the inventor claims that 'mass production methods
>> will bring the price down considerably'.>>
>
> But do you think that it will ever get to that point? I don't see
> people leaving their cars for a long while. Maybe postal trucks
> will be replaced, but I'm pretty skeptical otherwise.

I heard that the Post Office has already ordered a substantial number of them,
so mass production will definitely happen, and the price will fall accordingly.

My shopping mall is just a little out of walking range, but not far enough to
really justify cranking up the old cement mixer, but I crank it up anyway, cuz
I can't carry the groceries that far, and my bicycle is all worn out (like my bod).
If I had a Segway with a shopping basket, then I could probably use it for 90%
of the kinds of crummy little errands I ordinarily run, and could probably justify
getting rid of either the compact car or the pickup truck, probably the car.

I also saw a demo in a large shipping warehouse: clerks used Segways to run
back and forth from the stock shelves to their packaging stations. It's definitely
good for moving small parts more efficiently. But, it's only one more little step
along the way toward phasing out work altogether. Author Arthur C. Clarke
says that the concept of 'work' will be phased out of human use by 2040. The
year and the lousy economic circumstances in which I was born practically
guaranteed a life of wage slavery. Wish I'd been born in 2020, or after.

Predictions are not the hocus pocus that they used to be. We are far enough along
today to determine when more and more things will happen. Compare weather predictions
today to a decade ago, and that leap is comparable to the progress they made in the
previous 90 years from 1900-1990. Think 'EXPONENTIAL rates of change'.

Ken Ellis

 

12-15-01

Tom Wheeler brought to us:

> But with some inspiration, critical thought, and
> collective effort, we can build the foundation of a
> future society while avoiding the pit-falls of reformism.

What are the alleged pit-falls of reformism?

In democracies, can anything other than reformism enjoy popularity?
Consider the defeats of the Panthers, the SLA, Weather underground, etc.

> And perhaps one day soon the world,s exploited and dispossessed will rise
> in a revolt that will tear down the towers of capitalist tyranny once and for all.

Revolts? Even in democracies? What for?

Ken Ellis

 

12-18-01

Hi, Bro,

snip irrelevancies

> Bro',
>
> I thought the first part of your article was great.

Gee whiz, thanks, old pal.

> The second part was the same old saw.

@#$%^&* ;-)

> I wish I could agree with you about the shorter working day.

I don't think that I mentioned the DAY specifically in that article, though
I guess that it is implied in a 35 hour week. Still, four '8 and a half hour
days' comes out to a 34 hour week.

> As an entrepreneur, I can tell you that it is difficult enough
> to get things done with an eight hour day.

I know what you mean. It sometimes seemed that as soon as we got unpacked
and ready to roll, we had to pack it all up again. A 7 hour day would only
aggravate that frustration. But, this cripple would have enjoyed it more.

> I would vote for what I would consider more practical means
> to the same end such as four day weeks and or mandated vacations.

That would fit your situation better. Four long days could end up being more efficient,
provided the worker was young and healthy enough not to be crippled by a few long
days in a row, unlike crippled me, who rather got along better with 4 hour days.

> More importantly, I think a true living wage should replace the minimum wage.

Not a bad idea for as long as everyone is still unwilling to create the kind of shortage
of labor that would put everyone to work, which would raise wages at the same time.

> The perceived value of everyone's labor and their 'contribution'
> to society should be elevated and there should be a consensus
> that this is good for everybody. People should be paid enough
> to live and consume rather that steal and consume.

Those benefits could all result from making labor scarce.

> Obviously if you are working fewer hours you need to be paid
> more per hour in order to make the same living.

That goes with the scarce labor territory, but ongoing productivity increases
make higher wages rather painless. A century ago, people worked a lot more,
but had a lot fewer toys to play with.

> Why not just push for higher wages and let the employers and exploiters
> of labor and labor itself decide how many hours it is appropriate to work.

Is that much different from what we have today? Legislating a shorter work
week and more vacations, etc., would mean that society actually intends to do
something real about incomplete participation in the legal economy.

> A shorter work schedule is going to do nothing to
> stem the flow of work off shore. And blah blah blah.
>
> -Nicholas

That's why the movement has to be international. The success of France's 35
hour week could be ensured if the USA and the rest of Europe adopts it.

Ciao,

Bro'Ken

 

12-18-01

Thank you for your web site, which does a great service.

I wonder if a new category called 'Liberation Capitalism' could someday
be included. Its methodology was practiced by unionists beginning a couple
of centuries ago, but LC was somewhat more officially founded during the
Depression era by A.O. Dahlberg, Kellogg of corn flake fame, and many
others who regarded the progressive reduction of hours of labor as a rational
way out of capitalist exploitation, as well as ameliorating so many other social
problems. Unlike a lot of other 'isms, LC abolishes capitalism without laying
a heavy hand on fundamental institutions like private property and democracy,
and can be accomplished in our era by amending our Fair Labor Standards Act.
Labor time reductions need to be consistent throughout the industrialized world,
and when the length of the work week is driven down to nil, capitalism as we've
suffered from it will disappear. LC can be listed in the reform category.

'Labor-Time Socialism' is the theoretical equivalent of LC, and they comprise
the alternative to 'Property Socialism'. PS tries to abolish capitalism by dealing
with tangibles like private property, wealth and income in a variety of ways. LTS
and LC, on the other hand, deal ONLY with intangible labor time and related laws.

Listing LTS and/or LC might be quite educational for your readers. Thanks for
considering this request.

Ken Ellis

 

12-22-01

Hi, Magda,

snip irrelevancies

For the first time in a long time the other day, I revisited the WSM forum to
see what was going on, and was surprised that Lynn W. mentioned my name in
conjunction with the recent suspension of Toby C. She was wondering what had
ever become of me. Lew H. tossed Toby off just the way he tossed me off this past
summer. Toby's suspension prompted a new round of debate about censorship, but
it seemed rather dull and unemotional. Other than those sparks, I didn't see much of
interest going on, so I plan to stay away. Have you contributed very much to it recently?

I have sharply cut back on my forum activities since September, when I confirmed
that it's been mostly a waste of time repeating the same old stuff. People have their
minds made up for the most part, don't have much real curiosity about history, so use
the forums to broadcast their perspectives without being open to learning anything
new. I guess this is why our society can allow so much suffering to continue in the
midst of splendor, and do nothing real about the suffering.

So, I revamped my web site, and added lots of past political correspondence.

snip

Best wishes,
Bro'Ken

 

12-31-01

Hi, Phil,

snip irrelevancies

Ahh, money. It has always played a big part in American politics, but let's
not forget the many winners who started off with little more than the gray stuff
between their ears. If we are the right movement for the right time, the $$ will
not be a factor. This may be a movement whose success cannot be bought.

snip irrelevancies

Freuliche Neu Jahr.

- Ken

-------------------------------
"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
").

> Yo, Ken -
>
> snip irrelevancies
>
> I always said I would go wherever it is happening fastest. I must admit,
> I'm a lot more comfortable in France knowing the script and the language
> than in Japan knowing neither. But the pattern of worldwide ignoring the
> dramatic French experiment in workweek reduction has been established -
> it simply does not exist in the world of the Germanic economists. It would
> be much MUCH harder for them to ignore if Japan implemented the
> approach, and the necessary worldwide debate may be ignited.
>
> Of course, one possible derailing outcome may be that the intrinsic
> homogeneity of approach may never be realized because of superficial
> linguistic differences, that is, "work sharing" in Japan and "workweek
> reduction" in France may be kept in totally separate and isolated mental
> compartments, and here is where my website would play a vital role - in
> melting the linguistic saranwrap around each - IF my website ever got much
> play - with the rest of my money I could experiment with some of these emails
> that promise to raise your position on search results and get you on more
> search engines in the first place. Maybe I can do a bit of that anyway.
>
> snip
>
> Phil


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