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Selected Political Correspondence

April to May 2002

   Text coloring decodes as follows:
 Black:  Ken Ellis
 Blue:  Recent correspondent
 Purple:  Unreliable Info
 Green:  Press report, third party, etc.
 Red:  Marx, Engels, Lenin, etc.
 Brown:  True to Marxist intent


04-01-02

   Hi, Karl,

> Your response to the survey was appreciated. Can you elaborate on your
> suggestion that
contributions should be made mandatory. How is this to be
> done and would it not prove
undemocratic if possible. Very interested

   I guess that it's a question of 'people taking responsibility for what they say'. If an argument would be pursued, then it behooves agonists to either triumph logically with their arguments, or openly recognize when at least some aspect of their argument falls short. A bit optimistic on my part, perhaps, but I can always hope. I have ceded small points to others in the past, and it didn't kill me, but some "pros" never give a millimeter.

   Moderation might be triggered by a complaint by a participant: Perhaps a rejoinder might have been inadequate or absent, so perhaps the moderator could then persuade antagonists to fulfill obligations to either answer on-point, or face a limited suspension. A graduated discipline process would be fair. ALL proceedings would have to be public, unless we are all such ego maniacs that criticism is unwelcome.

   So far, all of the forums in which I've participated have been free-for-alls with no recourse to moderators 'forcing' participants to argue on point. If arguments cannot be on point, then the dialogue ends up going nowhere except into repetitive quotes, assertions, or a bunch of tangents going here and there, but with no real nitty-gritty to help fix crises in left ideology.

   Lest ideologies go absolutely nowhere except into a mass of disassociated dreams, hopes, ideas, quotes, assertions, etc., then some kind of discipline should be brought into the process of dialogue, so that some ideas can be democratically determined to be better than others, some conclusions more logical than others, etc. Hopefully this real intellectual work would result in communist ideology achieving higher uniformity and value.

   Good and bad ideas would then have to be archived, and be searchable for the benefit of new people. Moderating forums and maintaining such archives might mean loads of extra work for administrators. A serious forum might need access to university students interested enough to do such work. Maybe this is asking too much of humans, and maybe computers will someday have to become really smart, and a 'truth machine' invented to automatically sort everything out for the benefit of future generations who may be curious enough to learn 'what really happened, and why'. That computer will arrive someday anyway, but I wonder if, in the meantime, something real cannot be accomplished.

   Later we received:

> The question of the animal politics is important. How communists relate to
> the
animal rights movement. Do animals, for instance, have rights. If you
> have a view on this express here/

   Animals do have innate rights that are constantly violated, and commercial interests are the worst violators of those rights. Regulate industries.

 

04-03-02

   In workersunity, Tom Siblo wrote: Dear Kenneth:

> I am reviewing the "Gestation of the CP of Great Britain." There are two
> areas of concern the need for more indepth analysis of the rise and fall of
> the Soviet Union and a concern of projecting a
minimal and maximum program.
> I view this as a problem since so much has been identified as the need to
> present a
transitional program. This is so well spelled out by both Rosa
> Luxemburg and V.I. Lenin especially in the development and construction of
> the
Third International and the struggle against reformist Social Democrats
> of the
Second International.

   I wonder why our forum should consider 'a maximum program of revolution' in modern Western democracies. Where is the monarchy to be overthrown, or the colony to liberate? In 1872 at The Hague, Marx advised 'forcible revolution for the monarchies on the Continent, and peaceful evolution in democracies like England and the USA'. Revolution is not needed in the West.

   When it became more obvious that Europe would not revolt in sympathy with the Russian revolution of 1917, doom was thereby spelled for Marx's scenario of 'simultaneous revolutions in the most developed countries', because by then the battle for democracy in Europe was being won, and the monarchies remaining to be overthrown lay mostly outside of Europe. Communism in Marx's day was so WEAK that it absolutely 100% depended upon 'building on Social-Democratic revolutionary successes'. The Preface to Volume 7 of the MECW states: M+E "saw in the successful bourgeois-democratic revolution the prologue to a proletarian revolution." Marx reportedly stated to the General Council at the time of the Commune: "The International wanted to establish the Social and Democratic Republic and therefore it was high treason to belong to it." But, by the 20th century, revolutions occurred only in less-developed countries, and in only one country at a time. This real history shows that Europeans were a lot less interested in mucking about with the institution of private property than what Marx hoped for. Post-1989 events put even more nails in the coffin of Marxist ambitions for revolutionary expropriation. Consequently, a modern Western program proposal including rearranging property relations or redistributing wealth is as doomed as feudalism. But, that doesn't leave activists with nothing to do, because expropriation (to M+E) was no better than subservient to their higher goal of 'full participation in the economy', which goal can be advanced in many ways, especially in modern democracies.

   I'm not playing a cruel reformist joke on 'unsuspecting revolutionaries'. I was in a revolutionary party for 4 years, but our failure to make headway led me to discover a near century's worth of lies that fooled few people. Quotes from Marx, Engels and Lenin were taken out of context to lend credence to their anarchist program. My 1976 mini-refutation of their lies wasn't deep enough to stop all of my revolutionary ambitions. I merely converted from an unwitting anarchist into a witting independent communist for the next 18 years, until 1994, two years into the research essential to a more thorough refutation of their lies. This is not to say that 'only anarchists lie.' Communist revolutionaries also unwittingly repeat lies they've been fed by sectarians. They mistake the alleged 'need for revolution' for the gospel truth. Revolutionaries of all stripes are VERY out of touch with the mood of the masses, and even fool themselves into hoping that 'a little revolutionary rhetoric will work wonders on ignorant masses waiting to be educated'.

> This includes the critique of Erfurt Program and much of
> what Engels was struggling against in the last years of his life.
>
> Otherwise I found the work and its development really exemplary.
> It is certainly something that one could go to the
CPUSA. There are many
> committed
Communists within the CPUSA. They should not be written off.
> Some really great organizers, thinkers and people who have struggled for
> years as
communists. They were communists in both the good and bad
> times and one must admire this important attribute.
>
> The
CPUSA is still the largest group on the left and has tremendous
> resources. When the
CPUSA really gets moving in a particular
> direction it is always a sign of a significant transformation.
>
> There are many on the left today who do not share my views. I respect
> the
CPUSA and it life long comrades. I do not agree with their politics
> but their
socialist revolutionary roots run deep.
>
> Comradly
>
> Tom Siblo

   Back in the 1920's and into the 30's, the CPUSA called for the forceful replacement of the US government with a communist workers' state. At the same time, the AFL promoted the Black-Connery 30 Hour Bill (that actually passed the US Senate in 1933!). Its passage would have made a big dent in the 25% unemployment of the Depression. Instead of supporting Labor's Bill, socialist and communist parties preferred to struggle to redistribute wealth and rearrange property relations. Passing the AFL bill would have obviated most of the alphabet soup measures of the New Deal, would have prevented government from developing into a cancerous monster, would have provided Americans with far greater leisure time to do more of what THEY wanted, and would have been a very liberatory step towards making workers as free of toil as their bosses, as well as reduce stress on the environment and the sense of need to 'grow the economy'. What was the result of the New Deal? Exactly the growing miseries we witness and suffer from today. The old radical left does not enjoy many accomplishments to be proud of.

   Does the CPUSA have a clearly defined program for dealing with today's problems? If the program could be outlined here, then we could consider it.

 

04-03-02

   Rolf Martens wrote:

> One thing in your presentation of your
>
survey I didn't like: That of asking people
> to reply *privately* to you. What the heck
> could such hide-and-seek be good for?
>
> Wasn't it always said that precisely
>
communists precisely have *no* reasons to
> hide their views from the masses of people?

   I'm in 100% agreement with this particular sentiment, which is why I will repeat here for everyone what I earlier sent to Karl {privately}:

   snip repetition of 4-01-02 message

 

04-04-02

   In RBG-Alliance, potemkin1905 wrote:

> comrades,
>
> let me first of all apologize for
posting this email in various egroups
> as some of you will get this
message up to four times. in a recent post
> (within the last week or so), someone quoted marx as basically saying
> that
government control of the economy is not socialism. problem is, i
> don't remember whose
post it was or what egroup it was posted in, so if
> you are the mysterious
poster please hook me up w/ the quote again.
>
> cg's,
>
> gil

   The most recently published Volume of Engels' correspondence contains a relevant passage from his 24 March 1891 letter to Oppenheim (me49.152): ... "so long as the propertied classes remain at the helm [of government], nationalisation never abolishes exploitation but merely changes its form - in the French, American or Swiss republics no less than in monarchist Central, and despotic Eastern, Europe. And to dislodge the propertied classes from the helm we first need a revolution in the minds of the working masses - as, indeed, is now taking place, if relatively slowly; and in order to bring this about, we need an even more rapid revolution in production methods, more machinery, more displacement of labour, the ruin of more peasants and petty bourgeois, more tangible evidence on a vaster scale of the inevitable results of modern large-scale industry.

   "The more quickly and irrevocably this economic revolution takes place, the more imperative will measures impose themselves which, apparently intended to cure evils that have suddenly assumed vast and intolerable proportions, will eventually result in undermining the foundations of the existing mode of production; and the more rapidly, too, will the working masses obtain a hearing thanks to universal suffrage. What those initial measures will be must depend on local conditions at the time, nor can anything of a general nature be said about them beforehand. But as I see it, steps of a truly liberating nature will not be possible until the economic revolution has made the great majority of the workers alive to their situation and thus paved the way for their political rule. The other classes can only patch up or palliate. And this process of clarifying the workers' minds is daily gaining momentum and in 5 or 10 years time the various parliaments will look very different from what they do today."

   I hope that this passage has been of value. Engels thought that working class influence or control of governments alone could fix social problems caused by labor-displacing technology, and that other classes in control of government can at best only ameliorate the problems. One measure that Engels seemed to approve of was the American SLP's 19th century call (unfortunately later discontinued) for laws to shrink hours of labor in proportion to technological progress. This rather obvious solution to unemployment is all too often overlooked by petty-bourgeois elements who are more interested in all-at-once gaining control of power and property than in gradually liberating workers from toil. American activists will remain in the thrall of such elements little longer, because technology advances at a double logarithmic rate, leading, within a few short decades, to the unprecedented rates of technological change Engels looked forward to. Today's activists should also welcome that economic revolution as the surest guarantee of the rise of working class consciousness. Calls to expropriate will remain as unheeded as the ravings of lunatics.

 

04-04-02

> Socialist Labor Party, and I was very impressed with how democratic
> the
organization is.

   Nice, but, can that party be really democratic with no guarantee of freedom of discussion? Why did SLP-Houston censor me off its forum last year? Why didn't the SLP allow me to call the whole membership's attention to the quotes from Lenin and Engels that their old Nat'l Secretary had taken out of context in order to justify their SIU program?

 

04-05-02

> Because you made an incessant pest of yourself. I thought they were
>
extremely patient with you for a long time.

   Apparently there are priorities, and then there are priorities. To some people, it is OK to lie in support of a party's program, because 'we all know what a good cause socialism is.'

   But, I thought it more important to clean up an ideology and base it more on science than on lies, hence my admitted pestiness, which I continue to this day.

   FREDERICK ENGELS TO LAURA LAFARGUE At LE PERREUX (ELC II, pp. 194-5) London, February 4, 1889 ... "if we are not to go against the popular current of momentary tomfoolery, what in the name of the devil is our business?"

 

04-05-02

   Chris Walker wrote:

> http://www.worldsocialism.org/usa/marketsmash.html
>
> Why haven't I heard more about this
party? It seems that much of what
> is on the
website meshes with CLAWS sentiment. Am I right?
>
> Chris

   Considering the extent of our anarchist contingent, then you are probably correct. But, the American wsp.us doesn't seem to have an internet forum. The British companion party does have a moderated forum with immoderate moderators. They censored me off their forum last year for no worse 'crimes' than what I commit on this forum. So much for undiluted freedom of speech under 'socialism'.

 

04-05-02

   Dear President Bush,

   The way I understand it, Arabs and Jews got along quite well in Palestine before creating the state of Israel, which then proceeded to deny rights to Palestinians, making Israel no more secular than a dreaded Islamic republic.

   It seems a bit contradictory for a country with real equality, like our American melting pot, to support the Israeli state so heavily, when they violate so many principles of equality America stands for. It was a big mistake to create Israel in the first place, but now that the damage is done, a new Palestinian state side-by-side might be the best that can be hoped for. 'Undoing' Israel is rather unthinkable.

   What Israel and Sharon are doing now is untenable. Perhaps they are making land grabs to use as bargaining chips for future negotiations over a possible new Palestinian state, but I wouldn't honor those chips gathered at such a high cost to the Palestinians. If Israel could be publicly informed thereof, and if their billions in foreign aid were threatened with cut-off, then they might proceed more readily to the bargaining table.

   The USA should get tougher on Israel. Giving them as much rope as we do only makes the international threat of terrorism that much more palpable.

   Thanks for your time and for considering my opinions,

   Peace,

 

04-06-02

   A. Holberg wrote:

> comrades, while the differentiation between a 'minimum' and a 'maximum'
>
programm instead of a transitional programm is fundamentally wrong in my
> opinion it should be obvious for members of a
list claiming to want to form
> a revolutionary party

   Why revolution?

> that the destruction of capitalism and the building of socialism/communism
> is not something we might like to do or not but is a
historical necessity
> (which of course does
not mean that we will be able to bring it about).

   Must the 'destruction' be 'forcible'? Capitalism contains the seeds of its own destruction, and will not last forever. I give it a mere 4 more decades at most, provided technology is allowed to continue to evolve at its double logarithmic rate towards what is popularly discussed as 'the singularity', a confluence of merging technologies that will relegate past achievements to the museum of primitive artifacts.

> This necessity has nothing to do with the question of monarchies or formal
>
colonies still being around but with the working of the capitalist system of
>
exploitation in its imperialist epoch (which Marx did not witness of course).

   In Marx's era, proletarian exploitation resulted in little more than trades unionism and emigration. The only excuse to arm workers occurred during bourgeois-democratic revolutions - the only kind of revolution of any social importance back then. MILLIONS of Europeans wanted to replace intransigent monarchies with socially controlled democratic republics. Even Lenin wrote that communists wanted to 'make the (19th century) revolutions permanent by pushing bourgeois democratic revolutions through to the dictatorship of the proletariat'.

> The question is: Do we think that we live in the epoch
> of
capitalist decay or not.

   Yes. The decay and decadence have been obvious for quite a while. The question is not 'WHETHER something should be done', but 'WHAT to do'.

> If not times may be too early to say that socialism is a necessity right
> now
. In this case there is no real need to build the revolutionary party.

   Revolution is just a word. What's the nature of your revolution? Overthrow the government? And replace it with - what?

> If however we say that the future has only two
> feasible alternatives - socialism or barbarism
-

   The narrowness of that choice nudges us toward socialism, whatever that means, which we have yet to agree on. Certainly we are sick and tired of the status quo, and would gladly jump on the chance to do SOMETHING now, but we need a plan that makes sense for current political and economic conditions, a choice which gets to the root of the problem, which is what? That which promotes revolutionary sentiment has yet to be precisely determined. Unless the revolution is defined, we wouldn't know exactly what to do on the great day. So, please define it, unless each of our revolutionary tasks should remain a secret to the other revolutionaries until we try to accomplish them on the day of the revolution. See how silly this can become while our tasks remain to be exactly defined?

> then we acknowledge that the objective situation is ripe for the socialist
> revolution world wide
and that what is lacking is merely the subjective
> factor
(or as L.D.Trotzky would have said: The crisis of mankind is the
> crisis of the revolutionary leadership).

   So far, a common revolutionary task has yet to be stated, so where is the need for leaders at this point? If a revolutionary leader already is among us, then what is his or her revolutionary program? I refuse to be led until the leader tells me his or her plan, which we will then discuss. Otherwise we might get stuck with one particular individual's version of 'a party', and possibly without a way to change its program.

> The revolutionary party is there for influencing this subjective factor.
> It is
not the present day 'mood of the masses' which decides the content
> of the
political programm of a Marxist organization but the analysis
> of what is regarded to be the
reality.

   Just because a few revolutionaries might want to expropriate property, does that mean that 'therefore property MUST be expropriated', regardless of what ordinary people might have to say about it? What is the historical precedent for that plan? Blanquism?

> The 'mood of the masses' is of course a part of the reality but not the
>
determinating factor. If we make our political thinking dependent on
> what we think the masses (or even the
working class) think today we
> will be
lost, we will not be the potential vanguard but the actual
>
rearguard. cdly A.Holberg

   People in Marx's day wanted socially-controlled democratic republics, which was the revolutionary content of Marx's First International. Many workers wanted the work day to be legally limited to 8 hours, so that demand was incorporated into the program of the First International. If mass interests cannot be taken into account, then a party's popularity or influence might be negligible.

   There is plenty of room for intellectual leadership. The task is to sniff out social, political and economic trends, see where they lead, and then tailor a program accordingly. If the question of 'whether or not it needs to be revolutionary' can't be figured out to everyone's satisfaction, then heaven help us.

 

04-06-02

   Lee Hall quoted me:

>> [Ken Ellis]: "Animals do have innate rights that are constantly violated,
>> and commercial interests are the worst violators of those
rights. Regulate
>> industries."
>
> I agree with the
first sentence in its totality.
>
> I would ask, however, if it can ever work to
regulate industries in this context.

   Why not? They already are pretty heavily regulated, starting not long after Sinclair wrote "The Jungle", uncovering abuses in the meat packing industry.

> I have become convinced that the animals would have to be taken out
> of
the property scheme entirely if their innate rights are to be respected.
> Their
interests will be meaningless unless and until that is done, because
> they will be balanced against the
interests of the class which owns them
> as
property (see Francione, INTRODUCTION TO ANIMAL RIGHTS, Temple
> University, 2000
). I think the evidence is clear that no significant
> changes of any kind will come about without revolution
. This is
> indicated by the current
unwavering course of the regime,
> as well as by
capitalism's inherent growth needs.
>
> Therefore, I believe
it is disempowering for the movement to think in terms
> of
incremental reforms, in this area as in others. First, those are not achievable
> objectives; second, they do
not present us with an inspiring platform.
>
> Cheers,
>
> Lee.

   Thanks for the opinion on the anti-property revolution, but expropriation without compensation was feasible, in history, only after communists overthrew monarchies, or after liberating colonies. In a country like the USA, where Southerners fought and died to preserve and extend (to the whole country by means of dictatorship) as immoral a form of ownership as slavery, and whose victorious Northerners didn't have the political will to partition the plantations to provide freed slaves with 40 acres and a mule, people here would be 10 times more willing to fight and die to preserve ownership of means of production. Only a relative handful will ever have moral reservations about it. Unless willing to fight a brutal civil war, property relations won't be modified during the era of human labor. The West developed far differently from what Marx and Engels hoped and expected.

   Labor creates property, because people have historically been quite willing to fight and die over the products of their blood, sweat and tears. The privilege of ownership is extended to all kinds of things, and few upper limits are placed on its extent. Ownership of media is the only area I can think of. The dividing line for 'too much' or 'the wrong kind' is very fuzzy, EXCEPT for 'owning other humans', though some greediness knows no bounds, and some people are still treated like property. Other than those exceptions, property by itself doesn't hurt anyone. Lots of people think that 'the more a person owns, the better off they are.'

   Property as an institution will fade away only after ownership ceases to confer benefits to owners. That happy day will arrive only after no more human labor is required to satisfy human desires. That happy day could arrive as early as 2030, because productivity rises at a double logarithmic rate, spelling doom for human labor. Many people now living will see that day arrive, which will certainly be something to celebrate. As human labor becomes increasingly irrelevant and superfluous, all that's really needed is to see that the remaining labor gets equitably shared. Learning to share the remaining work will mean a vast improvement in our sense of right and wrong, which will hopefully translate into vastly improved conditions for animals.

 

04-16-02

   Sorry for the long delay. A few snags kept me off the keyboard.

   In workersunity, A. Wosni answered my inquiry: "why revolution/forcible destruction?"

> The answer is twofold: 1. contrary to precapitalist modes of production like
>
feudalism which allowed for the ruling classes of the next higher mode of
> production to
empower themselves economically within the frames of the old
> mode (e.g. the bourgeoisie in
late feudalism) capitalism is totally different.
> The
class which alone can replace capitalism by a mode of production not
> based on
exploitation, i.e. the working class, has no means of coming to
> power
gradually.

   I don't recall Marx and Engels claiming that 'the working class cannot come to political power gradually.' Just the opposite seems to be the case: In a June 12, 1883, letter to Bernstein, Engels wrote (me47.35): "A revolution is a lengthy process, cf. 1642-46 and 1789-93; and in order that circumstances should be ready for us and we for them, all the intermediate parties must come to power in turn and destroy themselves."

   His August 27, 1883, letter to Bernstein added (me47.51): "The great mistake made by the Germans is to imagine the revolution as something that can be achieved overnight. In fact it is a process of development on the part of the masses which takes several years even under conditions that tend to accelerate it. Every revolution that has been achieved overnight has merely ousted a reactionary regime doomed from the outset (1830) or has led directly to the exact opposite of what was aspired to (1848, France)."

   In "Principles of Communism", Engels answered (me6.350):

   "Question 17: Will it be possible to abolish private property at one stroke?

   "Answer: No, such a thing would be just as impossible as at one stroke to increase the existing productive forces to the degree necessary for instituting community of property. Hence, the proletarian revolution, which in all probability is impending, will transform existing society only gradually, and be able to abolish private property only when the necessary quantity of the means of production has been created."

   I hope no one here will prefer to argue that "the necessary quantity of the means of production ... for instituting community of property" exists today, even though many of today's revolutionaries seem to want to believe so.

> It has to overthrow the bourgeois ruling class (which will not sit
> idle and watch itself being
depossessed, but will use its state - i.e.
> its
military power to stop the working class from trying to do so)
> in order to become a
ruling class itself as the first step to do
> away with the
class society as a whole.

   {May 2002 note: Maybe the best argument that I should have used here is the fact that the workers show no indication of wanting to
dispossess owners from their property. EVERYBODY seems to want property for themselves.}

   Military oppression didn't prevent M+E in the Communist Manifesto from believing in the inevitable victory of the proletariat and the fall of the bourgeoisie (me6.496): "Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable."

   Engels to Sorge, March 15, 1883 (me46.463): "Ultimate victory remains assured, but the digressions, the temporary and local aberrations - already so inevitable - will now proliferate as never before. Well, we have got to see it through - what else are we here for? But we're not going to lose heart, for all that - not by a long chalk."

   Military oppression can't prevent capitalism from abolishing itself. Guards would have to be stationed at every factory to prevent means of production from being improved, all for the absurdity of 'maintaining the proletariat in the condition of wage-slavery'. What a laughable waste that would be.

> 2. Capitalism contains the seeds of its destruction, but destruction
> does
not mean that it's gonna get bust just by itself.

   Why not {break by itself}? Engels' March 30, 1881 letter to Bebel was quite passive (me46.79): "Even if we all sat with our hands in our laps, events would forcibly propel us to the fore and pave the way for victory. It is a real pleasure to see a revolutionary world situation we have long predicted mature into a general crisis, blinkered opponents do our work for us, and the inexorability of a development that is heading for universal collapse prevail in, and as a result of, the general confusion."

   Abolishing capitalism includes abolishing class distinctions, which also depends upon further developing productive forces (me24.39): "The revolution that modern socialism strives to achieve is, briefly, the victory of the proletariat over the bourgeoisie and the establishment of a new organisation of society by the destruction of all class distinctions. This requires not only a proletariat to carry out this revolution, but also a bourgeoisie in whose hands the social productive forces have developed so far that they permit the final destruction of class distinctions."

   "a bourgeoisie IN WHOSE HANDS the social productive forces have developed so far" ... Now there's a thought to weigh against 'instant expropriation'. In Eastern Europe, entrusting the means of production to bureaucrats yielded economic failure, which paved the way for overthrowing several communist regimes since 1989.

> If it isn't overcome by the proletariat the growing crisis of capitalism
> (
economical, ecological, cultural, psychological etc.) will result in barbarism.

   I don't recall M+E anywhere claiming that 'the proletariat should revolt in order to prevent sliding into barbarism.' It's too reminiscent of the old sectarian plea to 'revolt the way we say you should, or suffer catastrophe.' Most people are smart enough not to be hooked with such party lines.

> However the working class will not be a class fit to take its life in its
> own hands unless it becomes conscious and on that basis organized
> enough to
topple its class enemy.

   Far better than any party could ever revolutionize the proletariat, "It is the revolutionising of all established conditions by industry as it develops that also revolutionises people's minds." ... Engels to Sorge, December 31, 1892.

> It will not be redeemed by any well meaning saviour or 'history',
> but has to
liberate itself.

   Agreed. If not the working class, then who else can abolish work, labor, the division of labor, class distinctions, etc.?

> The question of violence in revolution isn't posed because the revolutionary
> class
is bloodthirsty, but because the ruling classes are bloodthirsty.

   But, such statements are taboo, because it looks too much like classism: 'Workers are saints, bosses are demons; so workers had better overthrow bosses before things get much worse.' Who buys classism?

> However the amount of violence depends on the
> capability of the ruling bourgeoisie to strike back.

   Bosses have as little reason to strike us as we have to strike them.

> Therefore it is necessary not to try to make a coup but a real revolution
> based on the active consent of broadest masses under the leadership of the
>
working class, the neutrality of other layers and as much as possible the
>
neutrality and partial consent of the bourgeoisies armed forces. However all
> this is only possible if the
revolutionary forces show their willingness and
> capability to
smash the enemy by all means necessary, including armed force.

   Why should anyone think about using force? Republics provide all of the tools needed for emancipation, according to Engels in 1866 (me20.77): "With freedom of the press and the right of assembly and association it will win universal suffrage, and with universal, direct suffrage, in conjunction with the above tools of agitation, it {the proletariat} will win everything else."

> The middle classes and various layers not actively revolutionary
> will not join the
revolution unless the revolutionary class proves
> to be resolute on the matter.

   Nothing except 'business as usual' will happen until people lose jobs like never before conceivable. But, even then, a revolution will always remain the furthest thing from anyone's mind as they unite to implement newer and better ways to share work.

> As for monarchies etc. the October Revolution is t h e example of a
>
proletarian revolution based on consciousness first, organization secondly
> and the willingness and capability to
employ force in the third place. While
> it is true that the
Bolsheviki thought that the coming revolution would be
>
bourgeois democratic and therefore supported the transitional government
> which had come out of the
democratic february revolution Lenin returning
> to Russia changed the
party's strategy in April and - now joined by Trotzky
> who had advocated '
permanent revolution' long ago - opted for a proletarian
> (socialist) revolution
even in backward Russia on the basis of the
> possibility to make this the beginning of
world revolution.

   That version of history seems basically OK. Certainly force was used. Revolutionary force was the only possible basis for re-arranging property relations in Russia, and for abolishing private ownership of land on the very first day of the socialist revolution, as Lenin recalled. Certainly he hoped that Europe would revolt in sympathy, thus ensuring mutual support and success. But, Bolsheviks miscalculated European support, and many a communist expropriation has since been reversed. No one will rush to repeat those old mistakes.

   Expropriation is unthinkable without FULL state power. In history, communists enjoyed full state power only after overthrowing monarchies, or after liberating colonies. Only full state power enabled communists to expropriate without compensation. Merely winning elections in Social-Democracies did not confer that requisite degree of power. So, in today's democracies, expropriation without compensation is perfectly hopeless. And, democracies will not be abolished for the dubious pleasure of elevating revolutionaries to power who can't decide whether to replace the state with a communist workers' state, or with an anarchist classless and stateless administration of things.

> For the rest I will try to answer below
>
>>>> snip unanswered portions for brevity
>
> we will certainly not be able to define
socialism in all details because we
> are no
utopists developing such a notion out of ourselves. Socialism as
> Marx understands it is the result of the activity of the
working class
> in history on the basis of the development of the old
class society.

   I was unable to verify that thought in the Collected Works, using various combinations of those particular words. Perhaps a more specific reference would be of assistance.

> However I think as Marxists we have something to say on a number of
> questions.
> 1. As I said above,
revolution and socialism is not to be brought by any
> saviours outside (and above) the
working class (the immense majority of
> the population in almost all strategically important countries today). The
>
socialist revolution is the process of the working class taking their own
> lives back into their own hands. One
crucial factor is the destruction of
> private ownership of the means of production
. However state ownership
> while
being a necessary precondition is not the essence of working class power.

   'Abolishing private ownership' is 'crucial' to little better than bravado posturing. A handful of communists will never be able to do anything about property. The more effusive the expropriation propaganda, the greater the seeming quackery. Expropriation for M+E, on the other hand, seemed like a good way to abolish competition between workers, and to advance the cause of full participation in the economy. Expropriation repels practically everyone because of the many methods of rearranging property relations that EXCLUDE other methods, with no more noble a result than bitter squabbling. Better to be useful by advancing full participation, and opposing competition, which would abolish class distinctions better than anything else. Abolishing class distinctions should be today's most important communist goal. Unless it is feasible, a goal is worthless.

> The essence lies in the class' actual control of the means of production.
> This
control can be local where possible but must be central in order to
> make sure that it is not this or that individual group of workers who are
> the
owners (even in competition with other groups of workers) but the
>
class as a whole.

   Competition for scarce jobs destroys workers' control. Many workers desperate for any work at all are usually all too willing to do the bosses' evil bidding. For example, behold the many who were willing to lie and shred for Arthur Andersen. If workers could organize to eliminate competition between themselves, then morality could play a bigger role in the productive process, and workers would not be so afraid to do the right things for themselves and for the planet, would be in less of a rush to clear-cut the last of the old-growth redwoods, manufacture land-mines, etc.

> Since the revolution presupposes proletarian consciousness ...

   M+E defined proletarian consciousness long ago (me4.529): "the sharper the opposition between working-men and capitalists, the clearer the proletarian consciousness in the working-men."

   With so many people bought off with material abundance in today's bourgeois world, proletarian consciousness is largely absent, but increasing rates of replacement of human labor with machines will soon enhance consciousness.

> Since the revolution presupposes proletarian consciousness it should
> be clear that the
working class under real socialism shows abilities to
>
rationally plan and think through all the major problems of society
> which are hitherto unknown to us. If this sounds
utopian then all
> ideas of
ending exploitation and class society are utopian.

   Well, rational planning was certainly part of the old theory, but the failure of Europe to revolt in sympathy with Russia in 1917, combined with post-1989 reversals of Eastern Bloc rational planning, had dire consequences for expropriatory communism. For generations, communists have been saddled with the notion that 'proletarian progress is inextricably linked with expropriation'. I also vaguely accepted that idea for 22 years, but was constantly troubled by the notion of having to overthrow democracies in order to expropriate. With such popular acceptance of private property and Social-Democracy, advocating expropriation in the West has been tantamount to political suicide. If expropriation for Marx was never more than a mere method to reduce competition and provide full participation in the economy, and if expropriation today has been logically proven to be unfeasible, then expropriation should be dropped from consideration.

>>>> snip unanswered portion for brevity
>>>
>>> The
revolutionary party is there for influencing this subjective factor.
>>> It is
not the present day 'mood of the masses' which decides the content
>>> of the
political programm of a Marxist organization but the analysis of
>>> what is regarded to be the reality.
>>
>> Just because a few
revolutionaries might want to expropriate property, does
>> that mean that '
therefore property MUST be expropriated', regardless of
>> what ordinary people might have to say about it? What is the historical
>> precedent for that plan?
Blanquism?
>
> Your question sounds very tricky at first sight, but the answer is
obvious:
> As James Conolly put it in '
Labour, Nationality and Religion' in 1910
> "
How can a person or class be free, when its means of life is in the grasp
> of another?
" Expropriation of the bourgeoisie is a must. But this cannot
> and should not be done by "
a few revolutionaries".

   If it ever comes down to having to deal with property, then no more than "a few revolutionaries" will ever make themselves available to deal with it. In the West, no one will ever become interested in abolishing what everyone wants for the enhancement of their own sense of security. Because we don't seek security in loving cooperation with other people, security is sought on the material plane: More houses, more land, more cars, more boats, more lovers, etc. Attacking popular institutions like democracy and property only further discredits modern communism, which badly needs to be rescued from would-be expropriators, including M+E.

   Expropriation cannot possibly occur in a country whose Southerners once fought and died to preserve (and extend to the whole country by means of dictatorship) a form of ownership as immoral as slavery, nor in a country whose victorious Northerners didn't have the political will to partition the plantations to provide freed slaves with 40 acres and a mule. If ownership of humans was (and is) immoral, then ownership of practically everything else remains just fine with most people, most of whom would be willing to fight 10 times harder to preserve private property than Southerners fought to preserve slavery. Expropriation today is absolutely hopeless. Communists simply cannot get elected on such a platform, nor will enough people be attracted to expropriation to make it happen under ANY circumstances. American Civil War history should make this fact obvious to anyone capable of graduating from junior high school.

> When I wrote that it is not the present day mood of the masses which decides
> the program
I do not of course mean, that a few revolutionaries should ride
> over the mood of the masses.
Their primary duty is to work for it that this
> mood changes
radically. If they don't succeed (and this means among others
> if the present day
Marxist propaganda groups don't turn into real working
> class parties
) there will be no revolution and no socialism, that's all.

   Only one future phenomena has a chance of reducing today's avid interest in property, and that phenomena will be the abolition of labor. M+E believed that labor creates property, so property cannot be abolished except by first abolishing labor (me4.279):

   ""Labour" is the living basis of private property, it is private property as the creative source of itself. Private property is nothing but objectified labour. If it is desired to strike a mortal blow at private property, one must attack it not only as a material state of affairs, but also as activity, as labour. It is one of the greatest misapprehensions to speak of free, human, social labour, of labour without private property. "Labour" by its very nature is unfree, unhuman, unsocial activity, determined by private property and creating private property. Hence the abolition of private property will become a reality only when it is conceived as the abolition of "labour"" ...

>>> The 'mood of the masses' is of course a part of the reality but not the
>>> determinating factor. If we make our political thinking dependent on what
>>> we think the masses (or even the
working class) think today we will be
>>> lost
, we will not be the potential vanguard but the actual rearguard.
>>> cdly A.Holberg
>>
>> People in Marx's day wanted
socially-controlled democratic republics, which
>> was the
revolutionary content of Marx's First International. Many workers
>> wanted the
work day to be legally limited to 8 hours, so that demand was
>> incorporated into the
program of the First International. If mass interests
>> cannot be taken into account, then a party's popularity or influence might
>> be negligible.
>
> sure, but who says that we don't need to have demands for the struggles
> of today? On the contrary. However the difference between
reformists
> and
revolutionaries is not that revolutionaries don't fight for reforms (i.e.
> demands which don't transcend the limits of
capitalism). Revolutionaries
> however continually point to the fact that
under capitalism reforms in the
> interests of the
working class and the broad masses of toilers are never
> a secure achievement.

   Not much in life is guaranteed forever. The Russian revolution and the whole Eastern Bloc were certainly turned upside down after 1989, China is re-establishing private property, so what's permanent? As long as we don't blow ourselves up beforehand, the abolition of capitalism is inevitable, as the very system destroys the (labor) basis of its own profits and viability. But, self-destruction is slow, so the only possible 'socialist revolution' will be a SLOW revolution, whose victories will be achieved only by means of incremental reforms. When legal hours of labor decline to such a pittance that a further legal reduction would appear superfluous, and hearty people volunteer to perform what little extra work that will remain for humans to do, then, from THAT day on, capitalism will plague us no more, though it will be some time thereafter before all of its vestiges will have vanished in toto. But then they will be regarded no worse than quaint artifacts, and no more malignant than antique horse-drawn carriages.

> The programme of a revolutionary party should therefore be one which
> contains
reform demands but of the kind that they build a bridge which
> leads by
logical consequence to revolutionary consciousness. This is what
> Trotzky's '
Transitional program' was all about. The only way to have the
>
working classes' interests rule is to take the power to decide on the lives
> of the toilers away from the bourgeoisie (and of course the
working class
> bureaucracy which is a petty bourgeois intruder within the
working class

   Greater consciousness is certainly needed. A party should certainly help people become more aware of the fleeting nature of labor, and of its eventual demise. Arthur C. Clarke predicts the phase-out of the very concept of labor by 2040. Many people regard 2030 as a year when the world will thereafter be very much different from the present. Of all of the things we love to hate, such as work, government, property, money, etc., the only thing capitalism is helping us to abolish is labor, so we should assist with its abolition to the best of our ability. Communists have a major humanitarian obligation to see to it that the remaining work gets equitably shared, right down to the last ounce of it, thus assisting with the truly MARXist task of abolishing class distinctions, which is far higher, nobler, and more social a goal than mere expropriation, which is no more useful in today's world than shuffling the deck chairs on a sinking Titanic. Property is doomed for extinction anyway, but communists will not be able to rush it to the museum. Marx wrote in the Judenfrage (me3.153): "man declares by political means that private property is abolished as soon as the property qualification for the right to elect or be elected is abolished, as has occurred in many states of North America." Private property in democracies should be considered as having been abolished long ago, enabling communists to proceed to more practical tasks.

   me4.507 "If the competition of the workers among themselves is destroyed, if all determine not to be further exploited by the bourgeoisie, the rule of property is at an end."

   It is unfortunate for the world that M+E didn't continue to write as clearly about private property after 1845. Present-day inability or refusal to think clearly about property only delays the onset of a fuller usefulness of communist ideology. If the abolition of private property could be openly disposed of as 'a ridiculous idea for today's world', then all the sooner could good energy be redirected toward abolishing class distinctions. Commitment toward solving social problems can move mountains, but only if energy is aimed at feasible goals.

>> There is plenty of room for intellectual leadership. The task is to sniff
>> out social, political and economic trends, see where they lead, and then
>> tailor a
program accordingly. If the question of 'whether or not it needs
>> to be
revolutionary' can't be figured out to everyone's satisfaction,
>> then heaven help us.
>
> once again: while it is important to '
sniff out trends' the program and the
>
policies can't be just a reflection of such trends of the broad masses which
> by themselves are necessarily limited. No
organization would be needed if the
> majority could come to the necessary amount of
correct ideas all by itself.

   At the low rate of communist re-education, I am sure that a couple of major reductions of hours of labor will be won before many communists catch on to the trend of 'workers abolishing class distinctions, but without the help of communists'. Winning a 30 hour law would probably wake up a few. As Engels wrote to Florence Kelley (me47.541): "There is no better road to theoretical clearness of comprehension than to learn by one's own mistakes". Admitting mistakes is impossible for some people, and those who devoted their whole lives to fighting for expropriatory communism may never come around. They can remain in their ivory towers; workers will not need them, and will emancipate themselves.

   If a party is truly derived from common people, then the party will reflect common interests, which is the way it should be. Expropriation in the age of labor is not a common interest, nor can it be. It wouldn't matter to me if a factory down the street was owned by a greedy capitalist or by the whole working class itself, if all other competitive conditions remained the same.

> The vanguard party I'm advocating is not a party which just says it is
> the
vanguard but a party which shows in practice that it has organized
> the most
class conscious parts of the potentially revolutionary class
> (the proletariat) and which is thus able to show the majority of the
>
class the way forward to its self-liberation. But such a party will never
> be founded unless the necessity is acknowledged even today (when the
>
working class seems largely to be dormant) and unless those who see the
> necessity act accordingly A.Holberg PS. You may be able to find more and
> more concrete arguments on the following website :
www.lrp-cofi.org

   Every party should heed these early words of Engels:

   me4.582 "In proportion, as the proletariat absorbs socialistic and communistic elements, will the revolution diminish in bloodshed, revenge, and savagery. Communism stands, in principle, above the breach between bourgeoisie and proletariat, recognises only its historic significance for the present, but not its justification for the future: wishes, indeed, to bridge over this chasm, to do away with all class antagonisms. Hence it recognises as justified, so long as the struggle exists, the exasperation of the proletariat towards its oppressors as a necessity, as the most important lever for a labour movement just beginning; but it goes beyond this exasperation, because Communism is a question of humanity and not of the workers alone."

 

04-19-02

   Sorry for the delay. Because of its long length, I cut this message into parts A and B.

   Li'l Joe wrote:

   snip uncontested preliminaries for brevity

> Property is not a thing -- it is a social relation,
> between people regarding things.

   {2003 note: As early as "Wage-Labour and Capital", Marx wrote (me9.212) "Capital, also, is a social relation of production. It is a bourgeois production relation, a production relation of bourgeois society." But, nowhere was he found saying that 'PROPERTY is a social relation.' The closest Marx comes is at me3.216, where he spoke of a "social relationship of private property to private property", but in the context of alienation of property, and not in the manner Li'l Joe was driving at.}

> ----In the "
Communist Manifesto" Marx and Engels,
> for instance, wrote:
>
> "
A cotton-spinning machine is a machine
> for spinning cotton. Only under certain
> conditions does it become capital. Torn
> away from these conditions, it is as
> little capital as gold is itself money,
> or sugar is the price of sugar.
"

   I couldn't find that passage in the Communist Manifesto, but it does appear in Marx's "Wage-Labour and Capital" (me9.211). Marx also paraphrased it many years later in a footnote in Capital (me35.753):

   "A negro is a negro. In certain circumstances he becomes a slave. A mule is a machine for spinning cotton. Only under certain circumstances does it become capital. Outside these circumstances, it is no more capital than gold is intrinsically money, or sugar is the price of sugar.... Capital is a social relation of production. It is a historical relation of production."

> Capital is therefore not only personal; it is a social
> power: "
To be a capitalist, is to have not only a purely
> personal, but a social status in production. Capital is a
> collective product, and only by the united action of many
> members, nay, in the last resort, only by the united action
> of all members of society, can it be set in motion. When,
> therefore, capital is converted into common property, into
> the property of all members of society, personal property
> is not thereby transformed into social property. It is only
> the social character of the property that is changed.
> It loses its class character.
" {me6.499}

   That particular quote was from the Communist Manifesto. Switching next to Volume 3 of Capital, Li'l Joe then quoted:

> "The owners merely of labour-power, owners
> of capital, and land-owners, whose respective
> sources of income are wages, profit and
> ground-rent, in other words, wage-labourers,
> capitalists and land-owners, constitute then
> three big classes of modern society based upon
> the capitalist mode of production.
" {me37.870}
>
> This is the final
chapter of the final volume of Capital,
> Marx (and Engels) are writing about
conflicting property interests.

   My search for variations of 'conflicting property interests' in the CD of MECW was fruitless. Perhaps Li'l Joe intended 'conflicting CLASS interests' (which exact words appear in 10 different paragraphs). A lot of property is dead and doesn't have interests, or doesn't express those interests in a way readily heeded.

> On The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation
> London: John Murray, Albemarle-Street,
> by David Ricardo, 1817 (third edition 1821)
> PREFACE
>
> "
The produce of the earth - all that is derived from its
> surface by the united application of labour, machinery, and
> capital, is divided among three classes of the community;
> namely, the proprietor of the land, the owner of the stock
> or capital necessary for its cultivation, and the labourers
> by whose industry it is cultivated.
"

   That passage can be found in the MECW both at me31.380 and at me39.62. Now that we have come all of this way, we still don't know the significance of Li'l Joe saying that 'capital is a social relationship.' No one asserted that "it isn't", did anyone?

> Marx throughout "Capital" criticizes Ricardo's
> theory of "
ground rent", &c.; but, that is not
> the issue of Ellis post, against "
sectarians"
>
i.e. Marxists.

   Not all Marxists can at all times be described as sectarians. After abruptly terminating 5 years of work for anarchist sectarians, I then became an independent Marxist for the next 17 years, until 1994.

> What Ellis is doing is generalizing Marx critique
> of those who "
attempt at blaming all social evils
> on private landownership wholly groundless
"
> into his own
defense of capital in particular.

   {Late May 2002 note:
Capitalism isn't under serious attack, so scarcely needs to be defended.}

   Capitalism needs no more defense than what M+E provided in their German Ideology (me5.329):

   "For example, so long as the productive forces are still insufficiently developed to make competition superfluous, and therefore would give rise to competition over and over again, for so long the classes which are ruled would be wanting the impossible if they had the "will" to abolish competition and with it the state and the law. Incidentally, too, it is only in the imagination of the ideologist that this "will" arises before relations have developed far enough to make the emergence of such a will possible. After relations have developed sufficiently to produce it, the ideologist is able to imagine this will as being purely arbitrary and therefore as conceivable at all times and under all circumstances."

   Present-day inadequate development of the means of production is all of the defense capitalism needs to ensure its survival against puny assaults from a few individuals of great will, but that fact doesn't also signify paralysis with respect to abolishing class distinctions. Capitalism may very well be unassailable for a few decades more, but class distinctions are highly susceptible. So, let's get busy, lest the bourgeoisie continue to get away with murder, at home and abroad.

> Henry George, an American economist whom I read
> two decades ago, wrote "
Progress and Poverty", was
> a bourgeois economist, earlier a sailor, gold-digger
> and printer. He was the founder of the petty-bourgeois
>
land reform movement. He advocated the nationalization
> of the land
-- separate and apart from industry. They
> want to
expropriate landed property but leave industrial
> capital in the hands of the bourgeoisie --
the same as
> Ellis argues for.

   The same? That would imply that I might favor industrial capitalists over landlords, but nothing I ever stated could be construed as indicating any such preference.

> This was opposed by Marx and Engels, as it is
> precisely
bourgeois property that they say is the
> historical task of the proletariat to
expropriate!

   {May 2002 notes: Not only did the proletariat supposedly have a '
historic mission', but capitalism also had one as well (me33.114):

   "The development of the productive forces of social labour is the historical task and justification of capital."

   In order to so fulfill the historical mission of capitalism, (me28.250):

   ... "labouring society takes a scientific attitude towards the process of its continuing reproduction, its reproduction in ever greater abundance; so that labour in which man does what he can make things do for him has ceased."

   Has
laboring society taken a scientific attitude yet? Not by enough of us. Does laboring society still have to watch over and attend to the means of production? Yes. Has the historic mission of capitalism been fulfilled? From what Marx wrote above, how could anyone so conclude? Still, some people do.}

   Regardless of whatever anyone claimed would be our 'historical task', expropriation is impossible in a country whose Southerners were willing to fight and die to preserve and extend (to the whole country by dictatorship) as immoral a form of ownership as slavery, nor will it happen in a country whose victorious Northerners were not willing to partition Southern plantations to provide freed slaves with their promised 40 acres and a mule. Everyone wants property for themselves, so are unwilling to deny property to anyone else. In this bourgeois world, lots of people want 'stuff' to show for their hard work. Work creates property, so property will not vanish before the abolition of labor (The Holy Family, Herr List, me4.279):

   ""Labour" is the living basis of private property, it is private property as the creative source of itself. Private property is nothing but objectified labour. If it is desired to strike a mortal blow at private property, one must attack it not only as a material state of affairs, but also as activity, as labour. It is one of the greatest misapprehensions to speak of free, human, social labour, of labour without private property. "Labour" by its very nature is unfree, unhuman, unsocial activity, determined by private property and creating private property. Hence the abolition of private property will become a reality only when it is conceived as the abolition of "labour"" ...

   Though slavery is no longer socially acceptable, most of everything else besides other humans seems 'up for grabs', and no line between 'too much' and 'too little' would be anything but arbitrary, because of the millions of self-employed and small business people in between. People would fight one another over how to limit AMOUNTS of property, and, in the end, it would all be a big waste of energy, because property never hurt anyone. The more property a person owns, the better off and more secure a person feels. The concentration of wealth in a few hands is NOT the cause of poverty. Poverty is caused by inadequate interconnection with the legal economy.

> This is what in June 1881 Marx wrote to Sorge
> about Henry George and that book:
{me46.99}
>
> "
Theoretically the man [Henry George*] is
> utterly
backward! He understands nothing
> about the nature of surplus value and so
> wanders about in speculations which follow the
> English model but have now been superseded
> even among the English, about the different
> portions of surplus value to which independent
> existence is attributed--about the relations
> of profit, rent, interest, etc. His fundamental
> dogma is that everything would be all right if
> ground rent were paid to the state. (You will
> find payment of this kind among the transitional
> measures included in The Communist Manifesto too.)
> This idea originally belonged to the bourgeois
> economists ; it was first put forward (apart from
> a similar demand at the end of the eighteenth
> century) by the earliest radical followers of
> Ricardo, soon after his death. I said of it in
> 1847, in my work against Proudhon: "We can
> understand that economists like Mill" (the elder,
> not his son John Stuart, who also repeats this in
> a somewhat modified form) "Cherbuliez, Hilditch
> and others have demanded that rent should be
> paid to the state in order that it may serve as a
> substitute for taxes. This is a frank expression
> of the hatred which the industrial capitalist
> dedicates to the landed proprietor, who seems
> to him a useless and superfluous element in
> the general total of bourgeois production.
>
> "
We ourselves, as I have already mentioned,
> adopted this appropriation of ground rent by
> the state among numerous other transitional
> measures, which, as we also remarked in the
> Manifesto, are and must be contradictory
> in themselves.
>
> "
But the first person to turn this
> desideratum
[requirement] of the radical
> English bourgeois economists into a socialist
> panacea, to declare this procedure to be the
> solution of the antagonisms involved in the
> present method of production, was Colins, a
> former old Hussar officer of Napoleon's, born
> in Belgium, who in the latter days of Guizot
> and the first of Napoleon the Less, favoured
> the world from Paris with some fat volumes
> about this "discovery" of his. Like another
> discovery he made, namely, that while there
> is no God there is an "immortal" human soul
> and that animals have "no feelings." For if
> they had feelings, that is souls, we should
> be cannibals and a realm of righteousness
> could never be founded upon earth. His "anti-
> landownership" theory together with his theory
> of the soul, etc., have been preached every
> month for years in the Parisian Philosophie
> de l'Avenir [Philosophy of the Future] by his
> few remaining followers, mostly Belgians.
> They call themselves "rational collectivists"
> and have praised Henry George. After them
> and besides them, among other people, the
> Prussian banker and former lottery owner
> Samten from East Prussia, a shallow-brained
> fellow, has eked out this "socialism" into
> a thick volume.
>
> "
All these "socialists" since Colins have
> this much in common that they leave wage
> labour and therefore capitalist production
> in existence and try to bamboozle themselves
> or the world into believing that if ground
> rent were transformed into a state tax all
> the evils of capitalist production would
> disappear of themselves. The whole thing
> is therefore simply an attempt, decked out
> with socialism, to save capitalist domination
> and indeed to establish it afresh on an even
> wider basis than its present one.
>
> "
This cloven hoof (at the same time ass's
> hoof) is also unmistakably revealed in the
> declamations of Henry George. And it is the
> more unpardonable in him because he ought
> to have put the question to himself in just the
> opposite way: How did it happen that in the
> United States, where, relatively, that is in
> comparison with civilised Europe, the land
> was accessible to the great mass of the people
> and to a certain degree (again relatively) still
> is, capitalist economy and the corresponding
> enslavement of the working class have
> developed more rapidly and shamelessly
> than in any other country!
" {me46.100}
>
> One must remember that Kenneth Ellis is AGAINST
> the
expropriation of capital, as was Henry George.

   Nearly a century of experience with expropriation (before all else) increasingly proved it to have been a mistake. Half a billion people after 1989 thought too little of state ownership to adequately defend it from replacement with democracy and capitalism. Western democracies will remain disinterested in repeating that mistake.

> Ellis has therefore more in common with George than
> with Marx "covering the years 1880-3"!

   Had Marx lived long enough to witness the failure of Europe to revolt in sympathy with the Soviet socialist revolution of 1917, and, had he witnessed 'communist cures' become less palatable than 'the capitalist disease', Marx might then have reconsidered the value of his program of expropriation.

> Ellis then proceeds with his usual lies:
>> In his 1881 article entitled "Trades Unions", while urging
>> workers to run for
elected office, Engels specified 2 methods
>> by which
wage-labor could be abolished: shorter work hours
>> and higher wages
. To my knowledge, no other methods of
>>
abolishing the wages system were ever specified by them.
>
> In actuality it was precisely this
reformism that
> Marx and Engels
opposed! In the Communist
> Manifesto
Marx and Engels wrote that it is the
> historic task of communists in the workers
> movement to bring the
property issue to the fore,
> the necessity to
expropriate bourgeois property.

   {2003 note: In the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels advocated the abolition of private property, not its expropriation. 'Expropriation' does not appear in the Manifesto.}

   Expropriation was certainly part of the program of M+E, but what overall good did expropriation do, since its dramatic introduction in 1917? Why does a bastion of communism like China now allow private ownership of housing? Insufficient mass interest doomed expropriation to historical failure, as well as to many reversals in various countries. Lest their wheels spin ineffectually forever more, activists simply MUST return to the early clear thinking of M+E: labor creates private property, so private property will not be abolished before labor is abolished.

> In Part VIII - chapter XXXVI of the very first
> volume
of "Capital", Marx wrote: {me35.706}
>
> "
The economic structure of capitalist society
> has grown out of the economic structure of
> feudal society. The dissolution of the latter
> set free the elements of the former.

>
> "
The immediate producer, the laborer,
> could only dispose of his own person after
> he had ceased to be attached to the soil and
> ceased to be the slaver, serf, or bondsman
> of another. To become a free seller of labor-
> power, who carries his commodity wherever
> he finds a market, he must further have escaped
> from the regime of the guilds, their rules for
> apprentices and journeymen, and the impediments
> of their labor regulations. Hence, the historical
> movement which changes the producers into wage-
> workers, appears, on the one hand, as their
> emancipation from serfdom and from the fetters
> of the guilds, and this side alone exists for our
> bourgeois historians. But, on the other hand,
> these new freedmen became sellers of themselves
> only after they had been robbed of all their own
> means of production, and of all the guarantees of
> existence afforded by the old feudal arrangements.
> And the history of this, their expropriation, is
> written in the annals of mankind in letters
> of blood and fire.
"
>
> Thus -- In
chapter XXXII of the same volume
> of "Capital", Marx wrote:
>
> "
As soon as this process of transformation
> has sufficiently decomposed the old society
> from top to bottom, as soon as the laborers are
> turned into proletarians, their means of labor
> into capital, as soon as the capitalist mode of
> production stands on its own feet, then the further
> socialization of labor and further transformation
> of the land and other means of production into
> socially exploited and, therefore, common means
> of production, as well as the further expropriation
> of private proprietors, takes a new form. That
> which is now to be expropriated is no longer the
> laborer working for himself, but the capitalist
> exploiting many laborers. This expropriation
> is accomplished by the action of the immanent
> laws of capitalistic production itself, by the
> centralization of capital. One capitalist always
> kills many. Hand in hand with this centralization,
> or this expropriation of many capitalists by few,
> develop, on an ever-extending scale, the co-
> operative form of the labor-process, the conscious
> technical application of science, the methodical
> cultivation of the soil, the transformation of the
> instruments of labor into instruments of labor only
> usable in common, the economizing of all means of
> production by their use as means of production of
> combined, socialized labor, the entanglement of all
> peoples in the net of the world-market, and with this,
> the international character of the capitalistic regime.
> Along with the constantly diminishing number of
> the magnates of capital, who usurp and monopolize
> all advantages of this process of transformation,
> grows the mass of misery, oppression, slavery,
> degradation, exploitation; but with this too grows
> the revolt of the working-class, a class always
> increasing in numbers, and disciplined, united,
> organized by the very mechanism of the process of
> capitalist production itself. The monopoly of capital
> becomes a fetter upon the mode of production, which
> has sprung up and flourished along with, and under
> it. Centralization of the means of production and
> socialization of labor at last reach a point where
> they become incompatible with their capitalist
> integument. Thus integument is burst asunder.
> The knell of capitalist private property sounds.
> The expropriators are expropriated.

>
> "
The capitalist mode of appropriation, the
> result of the capitalist mode of production,
> produces capitalist private property. This
> is the first negation of individual private
> property, as founded on the labor of the
> proprietor. But capitalist production begets,
> with the inexorability of a law of Nature, its
> own negation. It is the negation of negation.
> This does not re-establish private property
> for the producer, but gives him individual
> property based on the acquisition of the
> capitalist era: i.e., on co-operation and the
> possession in common of the land and of
> the means of production.
" {me35.751}
>
> Writing on this same subject in 1877
> in "
Anti-Duhring", Engels wrote: {me25.258}
>
> "
The number of these permanent wage workers
> was further enormously increased by the breaking-
> up of the feudal system that occurred at the same
> time, by the disbanding of the retainers of the
> feudal lords, the eviction of the peasants from
> their homesteads, etc. The separation was made
> complete between the means of production
> concentrated in the hands of the capitalists, on
> the one side, and the producers, possessing
> nothing but their labour-power, on the other.
> The contradiction between socialised production
> and capitalistic appropriation manifested itself as
> the antagonism of proletariat and bourgeoisie.

   {2003 note: Without warning, Li'l Joe skipped over 9 pages of Anti-Duhring and resumed quoting with:}

> "Whilst the capitalist mode of production
> more and more completely transforms the great
> majority of the population into proletarians, it
> creates the power which, under penalty of its
> own destruction, is forced to accomplish this
> revolution. Whilst it forces on more and more
> the transformation of the vast means of production,
> already socialised, into state property, it shows
> itself the way to accomplishing this revolution.
> The proletariat seizes political power and turns
> the means of production in the first instance into
> state property. But, in doing this, it abolishes
> itself as proletariat, abolishes all class
> distinctions and class antagonisms, abolishes
> also the state as state.
" {me25.267}
>
> Moreover, in his suggestion to the French
working-class
> -- with regard to the
programme of the worker's party,
> Marx suggested the following in its
preamble:
>
>
The Programme of the Workers Party
> "
Considering,
>
> "
That the emancipation of the productive
> class is that of all human beings without
> distinction of sex or race;

>
> "
That the producers can be free only when
> they are in possession of the means of
> production
(land, factories, ships,
> banks, credit)
;
>
> "
That there are only two forms under which
> the means of production can belong to them

>
> "
1) The individual form which has never existed
> in a general state and which is increasingly
> eliminated by industrial progress;

>
> "
2) The collective form the material and
> intellectual elements of which are constituted

> by the very development of capitalist society;

>
> "
Considering,
>
> "
That this collective appropriation can arise
> only from the revolutionary action of the
> productive class - or proletariat - organized
> in
a distinct political party;
>
> "
That a such an organization must be
>
pursued by all the means the proletariat has
> at its disposal
including universal suffrage
> which will thus be transformed from the
> instrument of deception
that it has been
> until now
into an instrument of emancipation;
>
> "
The French socialist workers, in adopting
> as the aim of their efforts the political and
> economic expropriation of the capitalist class
> and the return to community of all the means
> of production, have decided,
as a means of
> organization and struggle
, to enter the elections..

   Compare the wording of THAT last paragraph to the CD of MECW (me24.340):

   "The French socialist workers,

   "Adopting as the object of their efforts in the economic sphere the return of all the means of production to collective ownership, have decided, as a means of organisation and struggle, to take part in the elections with the following minimum programme" ...

   Compare the official version's "return of all the means of production to collective ownership" to Li'l Joe's "political and economic expropriation of the capitalist class": How could Marx's words be translated so very differently? "Political expropriation", as a concept, or as a phrase, does not appear in the Collected Works. Li'l Joe should explain the differences between the two versions.

   Footnote 384 provided the French Workers Party's programme (me24.638):
   _________________________________________________

   Further, L'Egalite printed the minimum programme:

   A. Political Programme

   1. Abolition of all laws on the press, meetings and associations, and especially the law against the International Working Men's Association. - Suppression of labour-books, this registration of the working class, and all articles of the code of law which place the workers in an unequal position vis-a-vis the employer.

   2. Suppression of the budget for the cults and the return to the nation of "property, movable and immovable, belonging to religious corporations and considered unalienable" (the decree of the Commune of April 2, 1871), including the industrial and commercial enterprises of these corporations.

   3. Universal arming of the people.

   4. The commune is the master of administration and the police.

   B. Economic Programme

   1. Weekly day of rest on Mondays, in other words, the issue of a law forbidding the employers to demand that the employees work on Mondays. - Legal reduction of the working day to 8 hours for adults. - A ban on the use of child labour under the age of 14 by private enterprises, and legal reduction of the working day to 6 hours for the ages 14 to 18.

   2. The fixing of minimum wage by law determined annually in accordance with the local prices for foodstuffs.

   3. Equal wages for workers of both sexes.

   4. Scientific and technical instruction for all children at the expense of society provided by the state and the commune.

   5. Elimination of any interference whatsoever of the employers in the management of the workers' mutual aid societies, insurance funds, etc., restoration of the exclusively workers' management in these matters.

   6. The employers' responsibility for accidents guaranteed by their paying a deposit in proportion to the number of employed workers and those dangers that the work at the given enterprise presents.

   7. Workers' participation in drawing up special rules for the various workshops. - Abolition of the employers' self-usurped right to impose fines on the workers or detract from their wages (the Commune's decree of April 27, 1871).

   8. Revision of all contracts pertaining to the alienation of public property (banks, railways, mines, etc.), and exploitation of all state enterprises by the workers employed there.

   9. Abolition of all indirect taxes and the transformation of all direct taxes into a progressive tax on incomes exceeding 3,000 francs and on legacies exceeding 20,000 francs.
   _________________________________

   Li'l Joe continued:

> Marx and Engels had to their dying day always
> argued for the proletariat to "
expropriate the
> bourgeois property
!" --

   M+E's advocacy of expropriation is NOT at issue, because no one with any credibility would try to deny the importance of expropriation to M+E. Three stated reasons for expropriation I've found so far include: to enable full participation in the economy, to eliminate competition between workers, and to (me6.304) facilitate "communal management of industry, of agriculture and of exchange". Anyone who thinks that 'private property needs to be expropriated in order to win the first two' hasn't thought about those issues carefully enough.

   What seems to be at issue, but which SHOULDN'T be, is whether or not M+E also advocated struggling for shorter work hours and higher wages as a means of abolishing the wages system. Marx placed the 8 hour day prominently in the program of the First International, regarded a shorter work day as a 'precondition to freedom' in the 3rd Volume of Capital, and Engels' advocacy of shorter work hours and higher wages has been presented, so I don't know why a sincere activist would want to play up impossible expropriation at the expense of a feasible program, unless a fixation on acquiring power over property is obstructing the viewpoint.

> In the article that Ellis cites re Engels on Trade Unions,
> Engels actually criticized the
economism of the trade
> unions
, urging them to advance beyond economic issues
> limited to
wages and hours to engage in the political
> struggle, for power
.

   The brunt of Engels' criticism was leveled at unionists who ignored the POLITICAL means at their disposal. Many unionists were content to struggle for shorter work time and higher wages at the point of production, but failed to consider making those economic gains GENERAL for the whole working class. The passage of time eventually exposed the inadequacy of failing to use political means. As Engels wrote to Cafiero in 1871 (me44.172): "outside the trade unions there exists here a huge mass of workers in London who for several years have kept quite apart from the political movement and are consequently very ignorant. But on the other hand they are also exempt from many of the traditional prejudices of trade-unionists and other old sects and thus constitute excellent material upon which to work."

   Limitations on the length of the work day and week are VERY effective. In the USA, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and subsequent minor changes have kept labor pacified for over half a century. The insufficiency of time and a half after 40 will soon become more manifest, and real social progress will ensue ONLY after breaking that long-standing psychological barrier. From that great day onward, it will be increasingly smooth sailing all of the way to the abolition of wage-slavery. Once people get accustomed to abolishing class distinctions, aspiring expropriators will be left to cry in their beer.

> This expropriation will enable them to expropriate
> capital, and thereby abolish commodity production
> generally and the
wage system -- i.e. the buying
> and selling of
labour-power -- in particular.

   Capitalist production has delivered the goods relatively so efficiently that it put actually existing communist economies to shame. The social security of previously communist countries was certainly popular, but not popular enough to prevent its replacement with capitalism and political democracy.

> Engels wrote [in "Trades Unions"]:
>
> "
But a struggle between two great classes
> of society necessarily becomes a political
> struggle. So did the long battle between the
> middle or capitalist class and the landed
> aristocracy; so also does the fight between
> the working class and these same capitalists.
> In every struggle of class against class, the
> next end fought for is political power; the
> ruling class defends its political supremacy,
> that is to say its safe majority in the Legislature;
> the inferior class fights for, first a share, then the
> whole of that power, in order to become enabled
> to change existing laws in conformity with their
> own interests and requirements.
" {me24.386}

   Workers living in democracies satisfy their class demands by means of reforms, not revolution. Reform methods have by no means been exhausted.

   To be continued in part B, hopefully sooner than later.

 

04-28-02

   Seeing as gross polluter Jan Pole has shifted operations to this forum, it's time for me to wish you all well and bid adieu. I enjoyed the dialogues, but my experience is that Jan Pole doesn't dialogue.

 

05-02-02

   Because of its length, I split this reply into parts B and C. Sorry for the long delay. Li'l Joe continued, quoting Engels' article "Trades Unions":

> "Thus the working class of Great Britain for
> years fought ardently and even violently for the
> People's Charter, which was to give it that political
> power; it was defeated, but the struggle had made such
> an impression upon the victorious middle class that
> this class, since then, was only too glad to buy a
> prolonged armistice at the price of ever-repeated
> concessions to the working people.
{me24.386}
>
> "
Now, in a political struggle of class against
> class, organisation is the most important weapon.
> And in the same measure as the merely political or
> Chartist Organisation fell to pieces, in the same
> measure the Trades Unions Organisation grew
> stronger and stronger, until at present it has reached
> a degree of strength unequalled by any working-
> class organisation abroad. A few large Trades
> Unions, comprising between one and two millions
> of working men, and backed by the smaller or local
> Unions, represent a power which has to be taken into
> account by any Government of the ruling class, be it
> Whig or Tory.

>
> "
According to the traditions of their origin and
> development in this country, these powerful
> organisations have hitherto limited themselves
> almost strictly to their function of sharing in
> the regulation of wages and working hours, and
> of enforcing the repeal of laws openly hostile
> to the workmen. As stated before, they have
> done so with quite as much effect as they had
> a right to expect. But they have attained more
> than that -- the ruling class, which knows their
> strength better than they themselves do, has
> volunteered to them concessions beyond that.
> Disraeli's Household Suffrage gave the vote
> to at least the greater portion of the organised
> working class. Would he have proposed it unless
> he supposed that these new voters would show
> a will of their own -- would cease to be led by
> middle-class Liberal politicians? Would he have
> been able to carry it if the working people, in the
> management of their colossal Trade Societies,
> had not proved themselves fit for administrative
> and political work?
{me24.387}
>
> "
That very measure opened out a new prospect
> to the working class. It gave them the majority
> in London and in all manufacturing towns, and
> thus enabled them to enter into the struggle
> against capital with new weapons, by sending
> men of their own class to Parliament. And here,
> we are sorry to say, the Trades Unions forgot
> their duty as the advanced guard of the working
> class. The new weapon has been in their hands
> for more than ten years, but they scarcely ever
> unsheathed it. They ought not to forget that
> they cannot continue to hold the position they
> now occupy unless they really march in the van
> of the working class. It is not in the nature of
> things that the working class of England should
> possess the power of sending forty or fifty
> working men to Parliament and yet be satisfied
> for ever to be represented by capitalists or
> their clerks, such as lawyers, editors, etc.

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

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

   It would have been nice to have included the very last paragraph of that article, in which Engels advises (me24.388):

   "For the full representation of labour in Parliament, as well as for the preparation of the abolition of the wages system, organisations will become necessary, not of separate Trades, but of the working class as a body. And the sooner this is done the better. There is no power in the world which could for a day resist the British working class organised as a body."

   In other words, workers should organize into a party to represent working class interests in the state, where a majority of worker representatives could win political battles, and emerge victorious over bourgeois agendas. Winning reforms in the interests of the working class could hasten the abolition of the wages system, along with class distinctions. Higher minimum wages could be legislated, and the legal economy made more inclusive and less wasteful by winning higher overtime premiums and shorter work hours, more paid holidays, longer vacations, earlier retirement with full benefits, etc. The idle rich don't have to work, but some workers get too much work, while others can't find enough to get by. Reducing hours for the overworked would reduce a very important distinction between the non-existent work schedule of the idle rich and the overloaded schedule of the overworked poor. While TOTAL freedom from work is a great ideal, every little bit that can be whittled off class distinctions is a step in the right direction.

> The abolition of the wages system can come about but
> by
the abolition of capitalist commodity production;

   Funny how the quotes of Engels still have no effect, even though Li'l Joe quoted Engels to the effect: 'winning higher wages and shorter work hours are ways of abolishing the wages system'. Also, M+E NEVER conditioned the abolition of one capitalist relation of production on the abolition of a different relation. Both the wages system and capitalist production are part and parcel of the same beast, so all of its parts have to be abolished concurrently.

   If commodity production would be abolished, consider this (me37.858):

   "Indeed, the surplus value, owing to the separation of its various portions into mutually, completely unrelated forms, appears in still more concrete form as a prerequisite for creating commodity value."

   The logic is unmistakable: surplus value lends commodity status to the products of labor, so products would LOSE their character as commodities TO THE EXTENT to which surplus labor is REDUCED. Our mission should be clearer than ever: Abolish SURPLUS labor. No other way to abolish it, EXCEPT by REDUCING it, is feasible or reasonable.

> but, the abolition of capitalist commodity
> production
can come about but by the
>
expropriation of capital -- as Marx argued
> in "
Capital" (above) and Engels in "Anti-
> Duhring
" (above).

   Here we go again, conditioning the abolition of one part of the beast on the abolition of its tail, or perhaps a horn, or a claw. Expropriation as a precondition to the abolition of capitalist commodity production is NOT to be found in the works of M+E.

   Also, Marx differentiated 'commodity production' as a stage of development PRIOR to 'capitalist production' (me34.360):

   "Commodity production necessarily leads to capitalist production"

   ... "capitalist production destroys all forms of commodity production which are based either on the self-employment of the producers, or merely on the sale of the excess product as commodities. It first makes the production of commodities general and then, by degrees, transforms all commodity production into capitalist production." (me36.42)

   Engels (me37.887): "In a word: the Marxian law of value holds generally, as far as economic laws are valid at all, for the whole period of simple commodity production, that is, up to the time when the latter suffers a modification through the appearance of the capitalist form of production. Up to that time prices gravitate towards the values fixed according to the Marxian law and oscillate around those values, so that the more fully simple commodity production develops, the more the average prices over long periods uninterrupted by external violent disturbances coincide with values within a negligible margin. Thus the Marxian law of value has general economic validity for a period lasting from the beginning of exchange, which transforms products into commodities, down to the 15th century of the present era."

> Every class struggle is a political struggle. In the
>
class struggle the proletariat enters the political
> framework in the
parliamentary arena, a means by
> which to conduct this
struggle against capital--
> as a
revolutionary struggle.

   Until American workers organize into a party, 'class struggle' will barely apply to the USA, which will remain as bourgeois as imaginable. About the capital relation, Marx wrote (me28.325):

   "If it is true that capital produces surplus labour, it is equally true that surplus labour is the prerequisite for the existence of capital."

   Again, there's that unmistakable connection: if the capital relation would be abolished, then abolish its basis - surplus value. Surplus value can be abolished by one method alone: reduce working hours down to necessary labor time, as quickly or as gradually as society allows. Workers will want to drive down hours faster, bosses more slowly; therein will lie the essence of the future class struggle.

   The abolition of capital will certainly be a revolution, but activists will have to content themselves with a rather SLOW revolution over the next few decades. The revolution will commence with none other than the first victory over the 40 hour week. An ensuing avalanche of measures to share work will then be unstoppable. The working class WILL be victorious, but not in the manner envisioned by would-be expropriators.

> As stated in the "Communist Manifesto":
> "
the first step in the revolution by the
> working class is to raise the proletariat
> to the position of ruling class, to win the
> battle of democracy.
***** The proletariat will
> use its political supremacy to wrest, by degrees,
> all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralize all
> instruments of production in the hands of the state,
> i.e., of the proletariat organized as the ruling class;
> and to increase the total productive forces as rapidly
> as possible.
***** Of course, in the beginning, this
> cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads
> on the rights of property, and on the conditions of
> bourgeois production; by means of measures, therefore,
> which appear economically insufficient and untenable,
> but which, in the course of the movement, outstrip
> themselves, necessitate further inroads upon the old
> social order, and are unavoidable as a means of
> entirely revolutionizing the mode of production.
" {me6.504}

   That's certainly a good description of the 'power and property' path to communism, but modern workers have no interest in mucking about with the institution of private property.

> At the Speech at the grave-side of Karl Marx, Engels
> was quite explicit:
>
> "
For Marx was before all else a revolutionist.
> His real mission in life was to contribute, in one
> way or another, to the overthrow of capitalist
> society and of the state institutions which it had
> brought into being, to contribute to the liberation
> of the modern proletariat, which he was the first
> to make conscious of its own position and its needs,
> conscious of the conditions of its emancipation.
> Fighting was his element. And he fought with a
> passion, a tenacity and a success such as few
> could rival.
" {me24.468}

   It's true that Marx was a revolutionary, and a would-be expropriator. Marx was nearly the right man for his own time, but post-1989 events proved that the path of expropriation was a mistake. Property will someday fade away as an institution, but no sooner than what Bakunin could abolish the state BEFORE abolishing class distinctions.

> --- Kenneth Ellis wrote:
>> snip some for brevity
>>
>> Marx wrote to Sorge, June 20, 1881 (me46.100):
>> "
As already mentioned, we ourselves adopted the appropriation of rent
>> by the State amongst many other transitional measures which, as is likewise
>> indicated in the Manifesto, are and cannot but be contradictory in themselves.
" ...
>>
>> snip more for brevity
>>
>> It's not pleasant contemplating Marx admitting to having given us self-
>> contradicting
transition measures in the Communist Manifesto! But, 1848
>> was primarily an era of
anti-monarchist revolutionary struggle. Later, Marx
>> and Engels increasingly turned their attentions to the
abolition of the wages
>> system
. In his 1881 article entitled "Trades Unions", while urging workers
>> to
run for elected office, Engels specified 2 methods by which wage-labor
>> could be
abolished: shorter work hours and higher wages. To my
>> knowledge, no other methods of
abolishing the wages system
>> were ever specified by them.
>
> Lil Joe, Response:
> Above I presented numerous and lengthy quotations,
> from the writings of Marx and Engels, where they
> argued consistently that the
precondition for the
>
abolition of the wages system -- i.e. the buying and
> selling of
labour-power as a commodity -- can be
> eliminated
but by the proletarian seizure of capital,
> i.e. the worker's
revolutionary expropriation of the
> means of production
, of capital, and thereupon the
> abolition
of commodity production and thus of the
> buying and selling of
labour-power!

   In their Collected Works, M+E most assuredly did NOT say anything like 'expropriation is the PRECONDITION to the abolition of the wages system'. The same goes for presuppose, prerequisite, and premise. If expropriation really had been a precondition, presupposition, prerequisite or premise to ANYTHING, then M+E could could have been quoted to that effect.

   Variations of the words 'expropriate' and 'precondition' appear in merely one irrelevant paragraph. Variants of 'abolish' and 'expropriate' appear in 20 paragraphs, of which only one seems SOMEWHAT relevant:

   Marx: Record of a Speech to the General Council of the First International (me21.396): "if the working class had sufficient power to abolish the right to inheritance, it would be powerful enough to proceed to expropriation which would be a much simpler and more efficient process."

   M+E certainly put a high priority on expropriation, but only AFTER acquiring political power.

   Out of a total of 23, here are 3 SOBERING occurrences of 'abolition' and 'precondition' in the same paragraph:

   me10.553 "The real emancipation of the proletariat, the complete abolition of all class distinctions and the complete concentration of all the means of production, in Germany and France presupposes the co-operation of Britain and at least a doubling of the means of production now existing in Germany and France. But precisely that is the precondition also for a new form of warfare. ... But just as in the proletarian revolution the question for industry is not one of abolishing steam machines but of multiplying them, so for warfare it is a question not of diminishing but of intensifying the mass character and mobility of armies."

   Engels, Refugee Literature (me24.40): "Only at a certain level of development of these social productive forces, even a very high level for our modern conditions, does it become possible to raise production to such an extent that the abolition of class distinctions can constitute real progress, can be lasting without bringing about stagnation or even decline in the mode of social production. But the productive forces have reached this level of development only in the hands of the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie, therefore, in this respect also is just as necessary a precondition for the socialist revolution as is the proletariat itself. Hence a man who says that this revolution can be more easily carried out in a country where, although there is no proletariat, there is no bourgeoisie either, only proves that he has still to learn the ABC of socialism."

   Engels, Anti-Duhring (me25.269): "But if, upon this showing, division into classes has a certain historical justification, it has this only for a given period, only under given social conditions. It was based upon the insufficiency of production. It will be swept away by the complete development of modern productive forces. And, in fact, the abolition of classes in society presupposes a degree of historical evolution at which the existence, not simply of this or that particular ruling class, but of any ruling class at all, and, therefore, the existence of class distinction itself has become an obsolete anachronism. It presupposes, therefore, the development of production carried out to a degree at which appropriation of the means of production and of the products, and, with this, of political domination, of the monopoly of culture, and of intellectual leadership by a particular class of society, has become not only superfluous but economically, politically, intellectually a hindrance to development. This point is now reached."

   M+E posited the socialist revolution on a high degree of development of means of production, and then mistakenly claimed that the requisite level had been reached in THEIR day. Very optimistic, but obviously premature. Their revolution also heavily depended on people's willingness to rearrange property relations, which willingness barely exists among Western workers. After 1989, only a small number of people will ever be willing to sacrifice their lives while revolting for the sake of defending M+E's mistakes.

   {2003 note: Nowhere do M+E mention abolishing commodity production. About the abolition of capitalist production, Engels wrote (me26.188): "Thus, full freedom of marriage can become generally operative only when the abolition of capitalist production, and of the property relations created by it, has removed all those secondary economic considerations which still exert so powerful an influence on the choice of a partner. Then, no other motive remains than mutual affection." Marx wrote (me32.471): "Abolition of interest and of interest-bearing capital, on the other hand, means the abolition of capital and of capitalist production itself. As long as money (commodities) can serve as capital, it can be sold as capital. It is therefore quite in keeping with the views of the petty-bourgeois Utopians that they want to keep commodities but not money, industrial capital but not interest-bearing capital, profit but not interest."}

> It is entirely false that Marx or Engels promoted the
> function/objectives of "
business trade unionism", in
> opposition to
social revolution -- the expropriation
> by the proletariat of bourgeois property. Ellis' lie
> presents Engels as an advocate of "bread and butter
>
trade unionism" of a pragmatic trade union bureaucrat
> isolated to wage/hour issues, as the model for
> socialists
! Rather the opposite!

   I never claimed any different than: M+E advocated both expropriatory communism PLUS shorter work hours and higher wages, but NOT one course of action TO THE EXCLUSION of the other.

   It is true that union leaders generally don't carry struggles for shorter work hours and higher wages into the political sphere. Struggles occurring ONLY at the point of production may very well be typical of "business trade unionism". But, their same demands - taken to the POLITICAL field, to the halls of Legislature and Parliament - comprise the essence of CLASS struggle IN DEMOCRACIES, as indicated by Engels' 1893 May Day Letter to the German Workers (me27.395):

   "The masses of the workers are awakening more and more to the realisation that their salvation lies not so much in wresting higher wages and shorter hours in the struggle against individual employers, but above all in winning political rights, parliament, through the working class organised into an independent party. This was first demonstrated in the general election of 1892."

   If shorter work hours and higher wages are desirable at the point of production, (even as a purely economic struggle, whose benefits I am sure no one will deny or attack), then it only makes sense that the whole working class should enjoy (as a class) the benefits of industrial productivity increasing at a double logarithmic rate, which enjoyment can only be won by means of political struggle in Parliaments and Legislatures. Marx wrote in opposition to Bakunin (me22.427): ... "in the militant state of the working class, its economical movement and its political action are indissolubly united." So, if activists join picket lines and carry signs, but fail to advocate shorter work hours on the POLITICAL field, their abstention from POLITICAL struggles over hours and wages demonstrates a lack of militance.

   In the next few years, sharing work will become a much bigger issue, especially with the rapid rise of unemployment in China. Many unemployment struggles and issues from all over the world are documented and updated in a timely fashion at:

   http://www.timesizing.com/

   Marx's Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy demonstrated the necessity of CLASS struggle (me34.62): ... "workers are incapable within the established conditions of capitalist production - without acting as a class upon the state, and, through the state, upon capital - of saving from the harpy's claws of capital even the free time necessary for their physical preservation."

   'Incapable' is a strong word. Its use by Marx amply demonstrates that 'a struggle cannot be a CLASS struggle WITHOUT also becoming a political struggle over legislation.' The extent to which struggles presently occur only in the economic arena (i.e., exclusively at workshops), is the extent to which workers only spin their wheels, which point was made by M+E time and again, if not in as many words. Only by taking struggles for shorter work hours and higher wages to Legislatures and Parliaments can the working class BEGIN to abolish the distinction between wealthy idleness and abject wage-slavery. Economic struggles, by themselves, fail MISERABLY to abolish distinctions between classes. Some high-tech workers may be living pretty high off the hog, but their high living does NOTHING to diminish the poverty of the poorest workers, and does NOTHING to abolish class distinctions. Much better labor-saving machinery will soon pressure high-tech workers to take a longer view.

   Regarding my alleged "opposition to social revolution": Over the years, "social revolution" meant a lot of different things to M+E. As an exact phrase, it shows up 255 times in the Collected Works.

   25) "a social revolution is the consequence of competition" {me4.258}

   26) "the centralisation of property in the hands of a few would be speeded up by such a crisis and, judging by the events in Silesia, the result of this crisis would of necessity be a social revolution." {me4.258}

   31) "If, gentlemen, these conclusions are correct, if the social revolution and practical communism are the necessary result of our existing conditions - then we will have to concern ourselves above all with the measures by which we can avoid a violent and bloody overthrow of the social conditions. And there is only one means, namely, the peaceful introduction or at least preparation of communism." {me4.263}

   41) "the industrial revolution prepares a social revolution by the proletariat." {me6.346}

   42) ... "the Free Trade system hastens the Social Revolution. In this revolutionary sense alone, gentlemen, I am in favor of Free Trade." {me6.465}

   54) "The Hungarians' first measure was to carry out a social revolution in their country, to abolish feudalism" ... {me9.463}

   91) "When a great social revolution shall have mastered the results of the bourgeois epoch, the market of the world and the modern powers of production, and subjected them to the common control of the most advanced peoples, then only will human progress cease to resemble that hideous, pagan idol, who would not drink the nectar but from the skulls of the slain." {me12.222}

   94) "The so-called revolutions of 1848 were but poor incidents - small fractures and fissures in the dry crust of European society. However, they denounced the abyss. Beneath the apparently solid surface, they betrayed oceans of liquid matter, only needing expansion to rend into fragments continents of hard rock. Noisily and confusedly they proclaimed the emancipation of the Proletarian, i.e. the secret of the 19th century, and of the revolution of that century. That social revolution, it is true, was no
novelty invented in 1848. Steam, electricity, and the self-acting mule were revolutionists of a rather more dangerous character than even citizens Barbes, Raspail and Blanqui. But, although the atmosphere in which we live, weighs upon every one with a 20,000 lb. force, do you feel it? No more than European society before 1848 felt the revolutionary atmosphere enveloping and pressing it from all sides. There is one great fact, characteristic of this our 19th century, a fact which no party dares deny. On the one hand, there have started into life industrial and scientific forces, which no epoch of the former human history had ever suspected. On the other hand, there exist symptoms of decay, far surpassing the horrors recorded of the latter times of the Roman Empire. In our days, everything seems pregnant with its contrary. Machinery, gifted with the wonderful power of shortening and fructifying human labour, we behold starving and overworking it. The new-fangled sources of wealth, by some strange weird spell, are turned into sources of want. The victories of art seem bought by the loss of character. At the same pace that mankind masters nature, man seems to become enslaved to other men or to his own infamy. Even the pure light of science seems unable to shine but on the dark background of ignorance. All our invention and progress seem to result in endowing material forces with intellectual life, and in stultifying human life into a material force. This antagonism between modern industry and science on the one hand, modern misery and dissolution on the other hand; this antagonism between the productive powers and the social relations of our epoch is a fact, palpable, overwhelming, and not to be controverted. Some parties may wail over it; others may wish to get rid of modern arts, in order to get rid of modern conflicts. Or they may imagine that so signal a progress in industry wants to be completed by as signal a regress in politics. On our part, we do not mistake the shape of the shrewd spirit that continues to mark all these contradictions. We know that to work well the newfangled forces of society, they only want to be mastered by new-fangled men - and such are the working men. They are as much the invention of modern time as machinery itself. In the signs that bewilder the middle class, the aristocracy and the poor prophets of regression, we do recognise our brave friend, Robin Goodfellow, the old mole that can work in the earth so fast, that worthy pioneer - the Revolution. The English working men are the first-born sons of modern industry. They will then, certainly, not be the last in aiding the social revolution produced by that industry, a revolution, which means the emancipation of their own class all over the world, which is as universal as capital-rule and wages-slavery. I know the heroic struggles the English working class have gone through since the middle of the last century - struggles less glorious, because they are shrouded in obscurity, and burked by the middle-class historian. To revenge the misdeeds of the ruling class, there existed in the middle ages, in Germany, a secret tribunal, called the "Vehmgericht." If a red cross was seen marked on a house, people knew that its owner was doomed by the "Vehm." All the houses of Europe are now marked with the mysterious red cross. History is the judge - its executioner, the proletarian.
" {me14.655}

   98) "the masters ... are doing everything in their power to make the already deep rift between labour and capital even wider and to produce that concentrated, conscious class hatred that is the surest guarantee of a social revolution." {me16.637}

   124) "this constitution of the working class into a political party is indispensable in order to insure the triumph of the social Revolution and its ultimate end - the abolition of classes" ... {me22.427}

   127) "The Second Empire was the final form of this State usurpation. The Commune was its definite negation, and, therefore the initiation of the social Revolution of the 19th century." {me22.486}

   142) "This exploitation is the basic evil which the social revolution wants to abolish by abolishing the capitalist mode of production." {me23.318}

   165) "the class struggle between bourgeoisie and proletariat is the great lever of modern social revolution" ... {me24.269}

   167) "in order to arrive at this and the other, far more important ends of the social revolution of the future, the proletarian class will first have to possess itself of the organised political force of the State and with its aid stamp out the resistance of the Capitalist class and re-organise society." {me47.10}

   189) "To negate this negation, to restore common property on a higher plane of development, is the task of the social revolution." {me25.606}

   198) "the only possible solution: a social revolution, freeing the social productive forces from the fetters of an antiquated social order, and the actual producers, the great mass of the people, from wage-slavery." {me26.524}

   219) "the fall in the value of precious metals in Europe gave rise to a great social revolution" ... {me29.380}

   220) "at least in Europe, England is the only country where the inevitable social revolution might be effected entirely by peaceful and legal means." {me35.36}

   233) "Thus, to hasten the social revolution in England is the most important object of the International Working Men's Association. The sole means of doing so is to make Ireland independent." {me43.475}

   238) "A people that gets nothing but kicks and blows is indeed the right one to make a social revolution" ... {me44.47}

   240) "the abolition of the state is nonsense without a social revolution beforehand; the abolition of capital is the social revolution and involves a change in the whole mode of production." {me44.307}
   ________________________________________

   "Social revolution" obviously meant quite a few different things to M+E. Only to the extent to which some revolutionaries use "social revolution" to imply 'overthrowing democracies' do I oppose the social revolution.

   From time immemorial, humans have survived by overcoming scarcity, and by ensuring reasonable abundance. Systems of political economy arose, each reflecting corresponding levels of development of productive forces. Like every other form of economy, capitalism deals with scarcity, but capitalism alone contains the seeds of final victory over scarcity. A common mistake, born of universal immersion in scarcity, is to automatically assume that capitalism can and will be replaced by a NEW economic system, a SOCIALIST economy, just because 'thinking outside of the scarcity box' is so foreign to us, and we can't imagine anything EXCEPT scarcity, and overcoming it by means of labor, under ANY AND ALL systems imaginable.

   But, starting in a few years, capitalism will be made to function for an increasing percentage of the population, simply because it CAN be made to do so, and because no other choice will avail. At the point where participation in the economy becomes as complete as desired or imaginable, capitalism will cease to be associated with oppression. At some point, neither capitalism nor economy nor scarcity will remain, and socialism will signify: no labor, no division of labor, no competition, no scarcity, no economy, no class distinctions, no state, no property, no money, no capitalism, etc. At that high level of development, everyone's needs will be gratified as quickly as desired. Until scarcity and labor vanish, and, until socialism arrives, no other economy EXCEPT capitalist economy will function, because capitalism in conjunction with the exercise of working class politics in democracies comprise a good enough team to abolish scarcity, labor, capitalism, etc.

> Far from regarding increases in wages
> and decreases in hours
as leading to
> the abolition of the wages system
;

   "FAR from regarding" ... ? The next 2 paragraphs Li'l Joe quoted reveals what Marx regarded about WAGES, but nothing about hours was included in the following:

> In "Wages, Prices and Profits", Marx wrote:
>
> "
1. Having shown that the periodical resistance
> on the part of the working men against a reduction
> of wages, and their periodical attempts at getting
> a rise of wages, are inseparable from the wages
> system, and dictated by the very fact of labour
> being assimilated to commodities, and therefore
> subject to the laws, regulating the general
> movement of prices; having furthermore, shown
> that a general rise of wages would result in a
> fall in the general rate of profit, but not affect
> the average prices of commodities, or their
> values, the question now ultimately arises,
> how far, in this incessant struggle between
> capital and labour, the latter is likely to
> prove successful.
{me20.144}
>
> "
I might answer by a generalization, and say
> that, as with all other commodities, so with
> labour, its market price will, in the long run,
> adapt itself to its value; that, therefore,
> despite all the ups and downs, and do what he
> may, the working man will, on an average, only
> receive the value of his labour, which resolves
> into the value of his labouring power, which
> is determined by the value of the necessaries
> required for its maintenance and reproduction,
> which value of necessaries finally is regulated
> by the quantity of labour wanted to produce
> them.
" {me20.144}

   Marx said that the struggle for higher wages seemed incessant, and that workers would scarcely receive more than what's required to maintain themselves as workers. Li'l Joe summarized the paragraphs thus:

> The capitalist class will adjust, in other words,
> both by increasing the prices of means of subsistence to
> correspond to a new value of
labour, and by introducing
> new technology -- "
labour-saving" technology -- that
> displaces workers while at the same time increase the
> rate of profit in the short run. Since "
variable capital"
> i.e.
labour-power in action (work) at once transferring
> the value of
constant capital--the means of production
> being used-up in the
labour-process, -- and in this act
>
labour-power's own value is also being transferred to
> the product--assimilated in the commodities produced--
> the capitalist can compensate for the loss in revenue
> by introducing new technology, reducing the numbers
> of workers, by downsizing, speed-ups,
forced overtime
> i.e. the
prolongation of the working-day because of
> higher cost of living, and so on.

   Prolongation? In general, not anymore. Due to the ongoing replacement of full time jobs with part time jobs, the AVERAGE length of the work week grows SHORTER. The key word is 'average'. For full-timers, weekly hours rose for the last several years, which is yet more evidence of the growing gap between rich and poor, and of the growing need to take POLITICAL action to reduce that gap, viz., enact reforms, or new laws.

> The actual logic (dialectical, of course) is that the
> historical tendency of
market driven capitalism is to
> cheapen commodity prices by increasing productivity
> while mass supply resulting from that will lower prices.
> Thus is to maximize profits while minimizing prices
> subsequent increased productivity men by "
labour-
> saving", "efficient" machines and techniques. Thus
> the prices of means of subsistence drop while profits
> raise, in spite of
increased wages of the workers.
> Regardless of how much
wages increase, or/and
>
socially-necessary labour-time decreases, the value
> of labour-power
, its price, will-- must --correspond
> to the prices of the means of subsistence, which
> determines the value and price of the
social-
> necessary labour time
by productivity.

   This alleged 'must-correspondence between the value of labor power with the value of means of subsistence' indicates inflexible 'laws' that, well, were never inflexible. Many participants in the labor market are just as likely to know someone in the same trade who might be making half as much, or maybe even 10 times more, maybe even in the same town.

> It is in the interest of capitalist to reduce socially
> necessary labour-time
in order to increase profits.
> This, however, short term increase at the same time
> engenders declining rates of profits as in the
organic
> composition of capital
it is variable capital, and it
> alone that produces new value
-- surplus value,
> in capital accumulation

   Granted, but what conclusion should be drawn? 'Surplus' means 'more than necessary', so only one response to OVER-production becomes logical: 'LESS production'. Expropriation, by dealing directly with property relations alone, does NOTHING to diminish surplus. Only 'LESS production' has the desired effect on 'MORE than necessary'. Less would be produced IF hours of labor were sufficiently reduced.

   Hopefully, part C should follow along before too long.

   Marx to Kugelmann, 1866 (me42.326): "The Parisian gentlemen had their heads stuffed full of the most vacuous Proudhonist cliches. They prattle incessantly about science and know nothing. They spurn all revolutionary action, i.e. arising from the class struggle itself, every concentrated social movement, and therefore also that which can be achieved by political means (e.g., such as limitation of the working day by law)."

 

05-02-02

   Mike B. wrote:

> HI Ken,
>
> Sorry for the delay.

   No problem. I'm VERY late with this reply as well. So much research, so little time. (My many recent toothaches didn't expedite things, either.)

   snip old 'appropriation of products' text

> Ok fine. I don't have the cd and therefore cannot come up with exact
> quotes. The point that Marx makes again and again is that
through wage-
> labour the capitalist class gets use and control over the wealth which
> we proles make.

   True, and it isn't a pretty situation, as demonstrated in Engels' synopsis of Volume One of Capital (me20.295):

   "In co-operation, control of the labour process becomes the function of capital, and as such it acquires specific characteristics.

   "In accordance with the aim of capitalist production (the greatest possible self-expansion of capital), this control is at the same time the function of the greatest possible exploitation of a social labour process, and hence involves the inevitable antagonism between exploiter and exploited. Moreover, control of proper utilisation of the instruments of labour. Finally, the connection between the various workers' functions lies outside them, in capital, so that their own unity confronts them as the capitalist's authority, as an outside will. Capitalist control is thus twofold (1. a social labour process for producing a product; 2. a process of expansion of capital), and in its form despotic. This despotism now evolves its own peculiar forms: the capitalist, just relieved from actual labour himself, now hands over immediate supervision to an organised band of officers and non-coms, who themselves are wage-labourers of capital."

   Not a pretty situation, as I'm sure we'll all agree, which ensures a lot of interest in abolishing capitalism. We have only to agree on 'how'.

   snip old dialogue for brevity

>> I'll admit that my observation was one-sided. Bosses certainly use their
>>
political powers to their advantage OUTSIDE of the point of production,
>> but workplaces are not the proper setting for anything but production,
>> and for
civil exchange of the use of labor power for wages.
>
> The point is that the
capitalist class uses our labour for a wage in order to
> own and control the product of our
labour. WE are forced by circumstance
> --the circumstance of being a propertyless proletarian--to
sell our time and
> skills
to them. That's how they get and stay wealthy whereas we are obliged
> to live from payday to payday as
wage-slaves.

   If wage-slavery could be changed into paradise in one day, then the method should be revealed.

> Futhermore, as far as the political goes, they have more power than we
> do because they own and control our the wealth we create. Their
political
> power
extends into the workplace too e.g. it is legal for them to fire us
> for refusing a work instruction.
Labour law itself is a measure of the
>
political in the workplace.

   That's very true, and is all the more reason to abolish the wages system. We have only to agree on the method of abolition.

>> snip old dialogue for brevity
>>
>> "
Private property by no means makes its appearance in history as the result
>> of robbery or force.
... peasants simply find it to their advantage that the
>> private ownership of land should take the place of common ownership.
...
>>
Wherever private property evolved it was the result of altered relations of
>> production and exchange, in the interest of increased production and in
>> furtherance of intercourse - hence as a result of economic causes. Force
>> plays no part in this at all.
... Nor can we use either force or property
>> founded on force in explanation of the "subjugation of man to make
>> him do servile work" in its most modern form - wage-labour.
"
>>
Anti-Duhring {me25.150}
>
> We're
playing with words here. Freddy is speaking about force in the sense
> of like sending troops or something. Obviously the word can be used in a
> lot of ways. Marx and Engels were not trying to create a set of
religious
> texts
from which we proles were to accept as dogma.

   It all goes to show that, when it comes to CAPITALIST production, civility is the order of the day, as typical workers go to work, get paid, and spend their pay for survival. Such is the big status quo. No matter how civil, the exploitation is still there, which creates desire and struggle for change. The civility of the process of exploitation, however, will certainly help determine whether workers shall one day rise up and angrily smash capitalism down, or struggle against its worst aspects in a civil fashion.

>> M+E seem to have contradicted themselves by simultaneously advocating
>>
forcible expropriation of the means of production at the very same time they
>> explained that '
private property derived from civil and economic processes'.
>> Thanks to Mike for bringing up the subject and helping me to finger this
>> contradiction. I can only hope that bringing it to light can help activists
>> overcome infatuation with
expropriation, because only CIVIL AND
>>
ECONOMIC processes of the future will ever succeed in abolishing
>> labor, the division of labor, private property and the state
.
>
> I'm all for
civilized methods, Ken. But I hasten to point out, the
> fascination with
expropriation is a fact of daily life under capitalism.
> Everyday we go to work as
wage-slaves our product is appropriated
> by those who buy our
labour power. We are free to read all about it
> in the "
Wall Street Journal" and the various business news outlets.

   All of us in this forum are convinced of the daily appropriation of surplus products. Most of it occurs without the use of overt force. The question remains: What should workers DO about this civil rip-off? A plan or program might be in order, so that its relative merits can be discussed.

>> Marx and Engels wrote about the worker-boss relation, as well as the
>> manner of
appropriating the product of labor:
>>
>> me25.151 Engels:
Anti-Duhring ... "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 proletarians
>> 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.
" ...
>
> Yes, I agree. Within the bounds of history all kinds of nasty and brutish
> things were done. We progress from these unavoidable necessities towards
> greater and greater
freedom. Wage-slavery was necessary. It is no longer
> necessary.
It should be done away with, IMO.
>
> YFTSR, Mike B)

   I'm glad we agree with the need to abolish wage slavery. We have only to agree on the method. Program, please.

   Continued in Part 4B.

 

05-02-02

   Mike B. continued:

>> snip old dialogue for brevity
>
> They're not dumb. They're ignorant about their status and how the world
> works. They are treated like a herd by those who don't tell them what's
> happening. They are treated like work beasts by those who take the
> product of their
labour for less than that product is worth.

   If exploitation of labor were a REAL problem for people today, then more people might rebel against it. Exploitation is rather well obscured in ordinary transactions, and doesn't just openly reveal itself. M+E did a great service by defining it. Engels wrote in Anti-Duhring {me25.27}:

   ... "the appropriation of unpaid labour is the basis of the capitalist mode of production and of the exploitation of the worker that occurs under it" ...

   "The rate of surplus value is therefore an exact expression for the degree of exploitation of labour power by capital, or of the labourer by the capitalist." Marx, Capital {me35.227}

   "The degree of exploitation of labour, the appropriation of surplus labour and surplus value, is raised notably by lengthening the working day and intensifying labour." Marx, Capital, Volume 3 {me37.230}

   If workers are smart enough to develop the means of completely putting themselves out of work (which they will, in a few decades), then that level of intelligence also signifies ample ability for self-emancipation. Working class ability for self-emancipation isn't anywhere near as much of a concern for me as is the unwillingness of activists to shed dogma. I'd hate to see would-be expropriators refuse to catch on to what workers are willing to do only AFTER workers take up the class struggle.

>> Consumption and death have been our common fate, no matter which era.
>> Unless born rich,
economic necessity compels labor.
>
>
True. The question is: where do the rich get their wealth? Do the rich get
> their wealth because
they are smarter than the herd that they take it from?
>
> Or is it a
systemic question and do the producers really know the score?

   Good questions. I think that the rich get much of their wealth by means of the hidden process of exploitation. If exploitation were not so well obscured, then workers would more than likely fight back more effectively against it, especially with a growing dichotomy between mass deprivation and conspicuous consumption.

   In the auto repair businesses in which I labored for a good number of years, rates of exploitation were often made obvious by posting shop labor rates for the customers' benefit. My last stint in that trade goes back 25 years, so the following example uses figures from the late 1970's. Our shop rate was $22.50, while my gross pay was $7.50. Not counting the extra profits from the resale of parts, my average rate of creation of surplus value was $15.00 per hour. I got by well enough, but I hated grease and grime, so I switched to electronics.

   Many workers do quite well for themselves in good jobs or small businesses, earning much material comfort. That's nothing for THOSE workers to revolt over. Perhaps only when that great silent majority is deprived of the means to 'do well' by being displaced by the very means of production which they help to create, will any real CLASS activity be detected. In the meantime, most workers are mere appendages to bourgeois agendas.

>> Whoever doesn't like toil was born in the wrong century. Those lucky enough
>> to be born after 2000 in developed countries may never suffer a single day's
>> toil, that's how quickly productivity is exploding.
Productivity increases
>> logarithmically, and even that logarithmic rate is increasing logarithmically
,
>> which foretells great changes within 2 or 3 decades. Previous productivity
>> gains were so glacial that it was difficult to predict the future of
labor, but
>> Arthur Clarke now believes that
the concept of labor will be phased out of
>> the language by 2040.
With no labor, kiss the economy good-bye, as well
>> as the
state and private property. Freedom is coming, but impatient
>> activists can't rush it to completion prematurely.
>
> I hope you're right; but I think you're probably dreaming.

   That information is available at Ray Kurzweil's web site. Rather than make a wild claim of my own, subject to jeers, I merely pass the dreams along as I find them. I've never been involved in the basic research required to make such claims, so I'm content to leave those predictions to people who have already spent much of their lives studying future developments. I also hope that the means of production develop as they predict, and that we don't blow ourselves up before better machinery has a chance of liberating us once and for all.

> As the old Wobbly song goes:

   snip song, plus a small point of agreement, plus some older text for brevity

>> Socialism and work are incompatible. Work creates private property,
>>
surplus property gives rise to the state, and the state is incompatible
>> with
stateless socialism. Scratch socialism for now, because
>>
socialism won't arrive before the end of work.
>
> You're confusing work with
wage-slavery.

   Are you sure? Engels differentiated the two in Marx's Capital (me35.57):

   "The labour which creates Use Value, and counts qualitatively, is Work, as distinguished from Labour; that which creates Value and counts quantitatively, is Labour as distinguished from Work. - F.E."

   Many activists unfortunately believe (with M+E)* that a socialist economy will replace the capitalist economy, but the term 'economy' itself implies scarcity. Since the task of capitalism is to render human labor totally redundant, thus simultaneously eliminating scarcity, socialism will arrive only with the abolitions of scarcity, economy, social labor, the division of labor, competition, wages, profits, classes, class distinctions, private property, the state, money, etc. This development may not reflect classical Marxism, but appears increasingly likely as time passes, vide the lack of mass interest in traditional communist attacks on capitalism and property.

   * "Nor have Marx and I ever doubted that, in the course of transition to a wholly communist economy, widespread use would have to be made of cooperative management as an intermediate stage." {me47.389}

> Socialism won't come about until the wages system is done away with, until
> the production and consumption we producers do is done for our own uses
> and needs and not for the profit of some joker who owns stocks, bonds, and
> enterprises. These people are parasites on our backs. They control almost
> everything and determine the direction which production and consumption go.

   That statement reflects the view that 'work is compatible with the abolition of wage-slavery', which also indicates belief in work's compatibility with classless, stateless, propertyless and communist society. One problem with that view is that work and property go together, as the early Marx explained in The Holy Family (me4.279):

   ""Labour" is the living basis of private property, it is private property as the creative source of itself. Private property is nothing but objectified labour. If it is desired to strike a mortal blow at private property, one must attack it not only as a material state of affairs, but also as activity, as labour. It is one of the greatest misapprehensions to speak of free, human, social labour, of labour without private property. "Labour" by its very nature is unfree, unhuman, unsocial activity, determined by private property and creating private property. Hence the abolition of private property will become a reality only when it is conceived as the abolition of "labour"" ...

   "the abolition of division of labour is determined by the development of intercourse and productive forces to such a degree of universality that private property and division of labour become fetters on them. We have further shown that private property can be abolished only on condition of an all-round development of individuals, precisely because the existing form of intercourse and the existing productive forces are all-embracing and only individuals that are developing in an all-round fashion can appropriate them, i.e., can turn them into free manifestations of their lives." {me5.438}

   What Marx wrote directly after this was pure self-delusion:

   "We have shown that at the present time individuals must abolish private property, because the productive forces and forms of intercourse have developed so far that, under the domination of private property, they have become destructive forces, and because the contradiction between the classes has reached its extreme limit." {me5.439}

   If anyone thinks that the mid-1840's marked an extreme of class contradiction, there's a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell. Engels also penned some wishful thinking in his Principles of Communism (me6.349):

   "It is obvious that hitherto the productive forces had not yet been so far developed that enough could be produced for all or to make private property a fetter, a barrier, to these productive forces. Now, however, when the development of large-scale industry has, firstly, created capital and productive forces on a scale hitherto unheard of and the means are available to increase these productive forces in a short time to an infinite extent; when, secondly, these productive forces are concentrated in the hands of a few bourgeois whilst the great mass of the people are more and more becoming proletarians, and their condition more wretched and unendurable in the same measure in which the riches of the bourgeois increase; when, thirdly, these powerful productive forces that can easily be increased have so enormously outgrown private property and the bourgeois that at every moment they provoke the most violent disturbances in the social order - only now has the abolition of private property become not only possible but even absolutely necessary."

   Engels wrote that "the means are available to increase these productive forces in a short time to an infinite extent", but what a joke! M+E must have been truly dazzled by the 'magnificence' of development of the means of production in their day. Infinite expansion isn't possible even today, or it would have already been accomplished! But, a few more decades will do the trick.

   One of the favorite arguments of activists led astray by wishful thinking is: 'productive forces were not well-enough developed for socialism in the days of M+E, but are sufficiently developed in the present.' Sufficient for what? CLASS STRUGGLE hasn't occurred in the USA in many years, never mind a party capable of seriously threatening 'revolution'.

   Of all of the things we love to hate, like toil, exploitation, competition, property, the state, etc., capitalism helps us to eliminate nothing worse than toil, so toil is the only thing that stands a chance of being abolished by further developments in productivity. The rest of the abolitions will be up to the working CLASS, but those abolitions will have to wait for a corresponding political movement. First things first. Only further developments in labor-saving technology will cause workers to unite as a class, into a party.* If activists would prepare for this probable course of future events, then surplus value, exploitation, unemployment and the environment could be positively affected sooner rather than later. But, many activists are content to simply market their revolutions, which is a lot easier than thinking one's way through to clarity.

   * "It is the revolutionising of all established conditions by industry as it develops that also revolutionises people's minds." ... From a December 31, 1892 letter from Engels to Sorge.

>> me5.329 ... "division of labour and private property ... are in no way
>> created by the state power; on the contrary they are the power creating it.
"
>
> ******** True.
>
>> Capitalism is the LAST economic system before stateless and economyless
>> socialism
. Social justice in the meantime merely requires that competition
>> between workers
be replaced with association and cooperation.
>
> I essentially agree with you here. But I would add that it is a
fact that the
>
competition between ourselves, as workers, is based on the fact that our
>
labour power is and remains a commodity within capitalist social relations.

   Granted*, but that fact in itself may always remain too esoteric to motivate enough people to do anything about it. The commodity status of labor merely goes with the territory of wage-slavery, which we DO wish to abolish, but have yet to agree on 'how'.

   {* 2003 note: Competition does not seem to be based on labor's commodity status. No corroboration for that idea could be found in the Collected Works.}

>>>> snip old dialogue for brevity
>>
>> In that case, storm the
media and broadcast the eager voices of liberation.
>> Perhaps we could all be inspired by the way dissidents have finally wrested
>> the
Pacifica Radio Network away from Democratic Party operatives.
>
> Sure. Ok. As far as storming the
media goes, I'll leave that to the suicidal
> zealots who either have not heard of
SWAT teams or who figure they're
> all a gawn up to hebbin anyway, so why not just get it over with.

   Agreed. Not storming the media may avert premature termination (with prejudice). Besides, what more could anyone say today that hasn't already been said on a Liberation micro-power radio station? The revolution has yet to be inspired by those eager voices.

>>>> snip some ancient dialogue
>>>
>>> Ah yeah.
Capitalism can be reformed. Maggie Thatcher coined the term
>>> when she told people in the UK, "
There Is No Alternative"--meaning to
>>>
capitalism. Get used to it. Reform it, if you can. But get used to it.
>>> Be resigned to it. Socialism is impossible.
>>
>> I think that
socialism is precisely where society is headed, and that M+E
>> were correct about the FUTURE arrival of
classless and stateless society.
>
> Me too, if we don't allow the destruction of the planet to happen beforehand
> by
nuclear war or environmental suicide.

   Agreed. Those are exactly some of my concerns as well.

>> 'Forcible expropriation' was their most glaring mistake. I can't think of
>> much else in their
philosophy to disagree with. Private property is a BIG
>> issue within
Marxism, which is why I no longer consider myself a Marxist,
>> so as not to be confused with those who would be so foolish as to advocate
>>
abolishing private property in a country whose Southerners fought and died
>> to preserve and extend as
immoral a form of ownership as slavery, and ...
>
> Well obviously, I disagree a bit here. As a
Wobbly, I think that we workers
> ought to get together as a
class and use our organized power to abolish
> wage-slavery.

   I'm all for the abolition of wage-slavery. Engels named a couple of methods in his 1881 article "Trades Unions": higher wages and shorter work hours. In the most developed countries, workers have had far more success with those struggles than have the activists who've wanted to do something about private property, which has continued merrily along without dilution, and even shows signs of growing in influence, what with all of the recent noises made by landowners over environmental 'takings'.

   Our Civil War experience proves that Americans would be VERY willing to fight and die to preserve private ownership of everything besides other humans. Notice how many were willing to fight and die to preserve as immoral a form of ownership as slavery. In democracies, the battle over private property would first have to be fought out in the media, but basic property rights seem to be as little an issue as anyone's right to breathe. I can't figure out for the life of me why activists would like to make an issue out of property. Property doesn't hurt owners, and everyone thinks that the more property they own, the better off they are.

   Would-be expropriators may praise the Soviet experience and say, 'Well, look at the success of the philosophy of M+E in Russia! THAT proves its value.' Well, there WAS something to expropriation in countries without democracies, countries whose despotisms needed to be overthrown, after which, communists with full state power could do what they wanted with private property. In democracies, however, communist revolutionism has never been popular enough to raise it to the status of a viable option.

   As long as activists link the struggle for the abolition of wage-slavery with expropriation, their failure to reach that goal will be guaranteed. M+E NEVER conditioned the abolition of wage-slavery on the abolition of private property. During their proposed era of proletarian political supremacy, or proletarian dictatorship, MANY capitalist relations were to be abolished, far too many for any one abolition to be conditioned on the abolition of any other: private property, class distinctions, distinction between town and country, distinction between mental and manual labor, wage slavery, the state, commodity production, and competition. If any ONE thing could be said to be a precondition to the abolition of all those relations, it was the winning of democracy, universal suffrage and other political rights (like assembly and press), now held dear, but which were quite rare in the days of M+E. But, would-be expropriators sometimes find it quite easy to overlook such principles of communism.

> The superstructure of capital will fall, if that is done.

   The abolition of wage-slavery certainly is a revolution. We would all like to know how to do it faster than by gradually abolishing the difference between the work schedule of the idle rich and the work schedule of the over-worked poor.

> The structure of the society we create will be the product of our own labour
> and intellectual effort.
>
>
Communist greetings, Mike B)

   Thanks for the reply. Good dialogue is certainly needed if a concerted attack would be waged against wage slavery. Let us know exactly how to abolish capitalism more quickly than through the gradual abolition of class distinctions.

 

05-09-02

   Li'l Joe continued, quoting me:

>> A decade later, Engels and friends created the 8 Hour Committee in London.
>> After a
Committee meeting with Engels and others, Cunningham-Graham
>> reported in a newspaper article (me49.579): '
the object of our meeting was
>> to combine the attack against
surplus value, to endeavour to bring about
>> friendly relations between the sweated of all nations, and to push on the
>> general eight hours day by legislative action
' ....
>
>
Reducing hours and increasing wages do not end
>
capitalist economic exploitation of the proletariat.

   If exploitation would be ended anytime soon, then it might help if everyone understood precisely what exploitation is. Engels defined (me24.304):

   "the appropriation of unpaid labour is the basis of the capitalist mode of production and of the exploitation of the worker that occurs under it" ...

   "The rate of surplus value is therefore an exact expression for the degree of exploitation of labour power by capital, or of the labourer by the capitalist." {me35.227} Marx, Capital

   "The degree of exploitation of labour, the appropriation of surplus labour and surplus value, is raised notably by lengthening the working day and intensifying labour." {me37.230} Marx, Capital, Volume 3

   "The tendency of the rate of profit to fall is bound up with a tendency of the rate of surplus value to rise, hence with a tendency for the rate of labour exploitation to rise." {me37.238} Marx, Capital, Volume 3

   Theoretically, exploitation of labor can be abolished ONLY by abolishing SURPLUS labor, which means 'diminishing daily or weekly hours of labor down to necessary labor time', which comprises exactly how many hours? If that quantity of time cannot be pinned down with any exactitude beforehand, and if, therefore, little more is possible than to grope and feel our way down to 'necessary labor time', and if, therefore, exploitation cannot, one fine day, be abolished 'all at once, and for all time', then 'gradual reduction' of exploitation may very well be the next best thing. Mere amelioration of exploitation would be nothing to bemoan, because amelioration is quite compatible with the gradual abolition of class distinctions, which is precisely the correct direction to travel, and would be a welcome change from the present. So, let's don our Nike shoes, and 'just do it'.

   'Ending exploitation all at once' is also theoretically akin to asking production to expand at an infinite rate, using no better machinery than what's provided by today's low level of technological development. Engels was realistic when saying that the post-revolutionary abolitions of capitalist relations can only be gradual (me6.350):

   "Hence, the proletarian revolution, which in all probability is impending, will transform existing society only gradually, and be able to abolish private property only when the necessary quantity of the means of production has been created."

   Just precisely what is that "necessary quantity"? With so many people still working so hard, it's doubtful if that "necessary quantity" has arrived. With all of society's ongoing investments in means of production, and with all of the research into labor-saving machinery, who would be so foolish as to argue that 'private property is presently a fetter on production'?

> In "Wages, Price and Profits", Marx wrote:
>
> "
Having shown that the periodical resistance
> on the part of the working men against a
> reduction of wages, and their periodical
> attempts at getting a rise of wages, are
> inseparable from the wages system, and
> dictated by the very fact of labour being
> assimilated to commodities, and therefore
> subject to the laws, regulating the general
> movement of prices; having furthermore,
> shown that a general rise of wages would
> result in a fall in the general rate of profit, but
> not affect the average prices of commodities,
> or their values, the question now ultimately
> arises, how far, in this incessant struggle
> between capital and labour, the latter is
> likely to prove successful.
{me20.144}
>
> "
I might answer by a generalization, and say
> that, as with all other commodities, so with
> labour, its market price will, in the long run,
> adapt itself to its value; that, therefore, despite
> all the ups and downs, and do what he may,
> the working man will, on an average, only
> receive the value of his labour, which resolves
> into the value of his labouring power, which
> is determined by the value of the necessaries
> required for its maintenance and reproduction,
> which value of necessaries finally is regulated
> by the quantity of labour wanted to produce
> them.
" {me20.144}

   At this particular point, Li'l Joe omitted some of Marx's text about "very elastic boundaries" of the length of the work day. Its MINIMUM length is aka 'necessary labor time' (me20.144): "the working class must receive the necessaries absolutely indispensable for living and multiplying". Its MAXIMUM is determined (me20.145): "by the physical force of the labouring man." The maximum could be 'as long as what's bearable', and sometimes even MORE. Historical factors and traditions also help determine the length of the work day and week.

   Marx gave a general rule of thumb (me20.146): "the limits of the working day being given, the maximum of profit corresponds to the physical minimum of wages; and that wages being given, the maximum of profit corresponds to such a prolongation of the working day as is compatible with the physical forces of the labourer. The maximum of profit is, therefore, limited by the physical minimum of wages and the physical maximum of the working day."

   Marx then described struggles against bosses' desires to maximize profits (me20.146): "the capitalist constantly tending to reduce wages to their physical minimum, and to extend the working day to its physical maximum, while the working man constantly presses in the opposite direction. The matter resolves itself into a question of the respective powers of the combatants."

   Li'l Joe continued quoting at:

> "2. As to the limitation of the working day
> in England, as in all other countries, it has
> never been settled except by legislative
> interference. Without the working men's
> continuous pressure from without that
> interference would never have taken place.
> But at all events, the result was not to be
> attained by private settlement between the
> working men and the capitalists. This very
> necessity of general political action affords
> the proof that in its merely economical
> action capital is the stronger side.
" {me20.146}

   At this juncture, caution should be exercised before reaching conclusions about what to do about exploitation, because 2 pages of relevant text were left out. Li'l Joe instead reproduced the relevant text much further down - some 3/4 of the way through this message. Here are some highlights from it (me20.146):

   ... "In colonial countries the law of supply and demand favours the working man. Hence the relatively high standard of wages in the United States. Capital may there try its utmost. It cannot prevent the labour market from being continuously emptied by the continuous conversion of wages labourers into independent, self-sustaining peasants. The position of a wages labourer is for a very large part of the American people but a probational state, which they are sure to leave within a longer or shorter term. To mend this colonial state of things, the paternal British Government accepted for some time what is called the modern colonisation theory, which consists in putting an artificial high price upon colonial land, in order to prevent the too quick conversion of the wages labourer into the independent peasant."

   The next paragraph contrasted prosperous American agricultural laborers to their counterparts in England, where machinery (combined with large-scale production) depressed agricultural wages. Marx then described an early economic law in which (me20.147) "the accelerated accumulation of capital must turn the balance in favour of the working man, by securing a growing demand for his labour." But, subsequent improvements in the means of production finally depressed wages by making labor redundant (me20.148):

   "In the progress of industry the demand for labour keeps, therefore, no pace with accumulation of capital. It will still increase, but increase in a constantly diminishing ratio as compared with the increase of capital."

   Marx then encouraged workers to maintain struggles for higher wages, and not 'cowardly give way in their everyday conflict with capital' (me20.148):

   "I think I have shown that their struggles for the standard of wages are incidents inseparable from the whole wages system, that in 99 cases out of 100 their efforts at raising wages are only efforts at maintaining the given value of labour, and that the necessity of debating their price with the capitalist is inherent in their condition of having to sell themselves as commodities. By cowardly giving way in their everyday conflict with capital, they would certainly disqualify themselves for the initiating of any larger movement."

   By 'larger', Marx intended for 'POLITICAL movements to be of greater value than mere ECONOMIC movements'. But, without warning, Li'l Joe set aside much of this material for later, and resumed quoting Marx with (me20.148):

> "At the same time, and quite apart from the
> general servitude involved in the wages system,
> the working class ought not to exaggerate to
> themselves the ultimate working of these
> everyday struggles. They ought not to forget
> that they are fighting with effects, but not
> with the causes of those effects; that they
> are retarding the downward movement, but not
> changing its direction; that they are applying
> palliatives, not curing the malady. They ought,
> therefore, not to be exclusively absorbed in
> these unavoidable guerilla fights incessantly
> springing up from the never ceasing encroachments
> of capital or changes of the market. They ought to
> understand that, with all the miseries it imposes
> upon them, the present system simultaneously
> engenders the material conditions and the social
> forms necessary for an economical reconstruction
> of society. Instead of the conservative motto, "A
> fair day's wage for a fair day's work!" they ought
> to inscribe on their banner the revolutionary
> watchword, "Abolition of the wages system!"
" {me20.149}

   Compare the last 2 passages quoted by Li'l Joe. His first passage ENDED with Marx warning of 'the greater strength of capital in the purely economic struggle', while the second passage BEGAN with Marx warning workers 'not to exaggerate the ultimate working of those everyday struggles'.

   But, the passages (in between), had they appeared, would have called for workers to 'initiate a larger movement', viz., a political movement.

   By juxtaposing those 2 passages, and by delaying the material that could have appeared in between, the effect was that POLITICAL struggles for shorter hours and higher wages were downplayed to the low status of mere ECONOMIC struggles. It can't be denied that Marx DID downplay mere economic struggles, but, Li'l Joe's unfortunate juxtaposition of passages created the false impression that 'Marx downplayed both economic AND POLITICAL struggles for higher wages and shorter work hours, and, in their stead, greatly favored the abolition of the wages system.'

   Both economic and political struggles (for shorter work hours and higher wages), having seemingly been downplayed by a bad juxtaposition of quotes, ANOTHER false impression could develop, viz., 'the wages system should be abolished in a struggle OUTSIDE of shorter hours and higher wages'; or, 'the wages system should be abolished by means of revolution.' Some people might even go on to advocate 'a VIOLENT abolition of the wages system', even though the wages system is ordinarily a very CIVIL process of exploitation.

   Revolutionary foolishness can easily result from poorly placed quotes. My first (and last) revolutionary party was ruled for 55 years (1913-68) by a theorist who excelled in quoting similarly. Now the remnants of his old party are in such a state of denial that the whole mess is slowly sinking into the sunset. Philosophies founded on quotes out of context do not pass muster with very many workers.

> This abolition of the wages system can come about but by,
> as Engels said, that
the proletariat seizes the productive
> forces, and
thereby abolishing commodity production.

   I thought that this particular part of the polemic referred to Marx. As for whether M+E made the abolition of one bad aspect of capitalism a precondition for the abolition of another: The wages system and private property were only 2 of the many aspects of capitalism to be abolished. Not to be forgotten were the abolitions of: the distinction between town and country, the distinction between mental and manual labor, competition, class distinctions, the state, etc., all to be abolished during the indefinite era of proletarian dictatorship. Plus, the means of production were to be vastly increased, the hours of labor reduced, and all of those improvements were to facilitate the all-round development of individuals. The mutual precondition to all of those abolitions and changes was proletarian political supremacy - in our era to be obtained by democratic means already in existence: freedoms of speech, press, and assembly, and universal suffrage. These institutions are so pervasive as to be irrepressible today, but, in Marx's day, were quite scarce, even in Western countries. Many writings of M+E describe struggles for precisely the democratic freedoms now taken for granted. Some freedoms could not be won in Marx's day EXCEPT by overthrowing totalitarian regimes. But, Westerners today have no excuse for overthrowing their governments, claims to the contrary not withstanding closer scrutiny.

> Capitalist commodity production is the condition
> of
wage labour, so the elimination these conditions
> by social ownership of the means of production and
> distribution
is the precondition for the "Abolition
> of the wages system
!"

   Calls for quickly changing to social ownership generally fall on deaf ears, especially considering what didn't happen after 1917, and what did happen after 1989. Western people could never expropriate without state power, but they already HAVE state power, by means of universal suffrage, but wouldn't dream of using it to abolish private property. If expropriation were ever to became a mass interest, the press would report on it, just the way they are now forced to pay lip service to refusenik resistance in the Israeli military. Quackery-driven expropriation, on the other hand, is totally insignificant, so is universally ignored.

> Ken Ellis wrote:
>> Where is today's movement against enormous surplus value? To which subject
>> did Marx dedicate a good portion of
Capital? SV is fated to grow larger and
>> larger
if the benefits of increased productivity are not taken in the form of
>>
increased leisure time. What an opportunity for feasible activism! Instead,
>> under
sectarian leadership, many of today's activists fruitlessly promote
>>
communism, socialism, anarchism, and anti-capitalism, etc., forgetting
>> what M+E stood for in their mature years, forcing the curious to do
>> their own independent research. But, no one who is married to
>>
sectarian ideologies gives a damn.
>
> Lil Joe, Response:
>
> What Marx and Engels "
stood for in their 'mature years' "
> -- an implicit criticism by Ellis of the
revolutionary Marx
> and Engels of the
German Ideology, Poverty of Philosophy,
>
Communist Manifesto, Capital &c. were written when they
> were "
immature" hotheads. Obviously Ken Ellis needs to
> do his own research into the writings of Marx and Engels
> rather than excerpts from a Soviet interpreter!

   I'll admit that my accusations of activists "forgetting what M+E stood for in their mature years" was a faux pas on my part, because their advocacy of expropriation was maintained at least from "Principles of Communism" to the end. Apologies to all for that.

   Nevertheless, the last few years of Engels' correspondence revealed rapidly increasing mass interest and involvement in legally limiting the length of the work day, as enabled by accelerating developments in the means of production near the end of the 19th century, such as electrification of cities and factories. Due to the rapidly increasing popularity of 8 hour movement after 1886, Engels himself became increasingly involved with it, especially after 1890.

   "It is the revolutionising of all established conditions by industry as it develops that also revolutionises people's minds." ... From a December 31, 1892 letter from Engels to Sorge.

   In his final weeks in 1895, Engels repudiated projections of a QUICK social transformation (me27.512): Introduction to The Class Struggles in France:

   "History has proved us wrong, and all who thought like us. It has made it clear that the state of economic development on the Continent at that time was not, by a long way, ripe for the elimination of capitalist production; it has proved this by the economic revolution which, since 1848, has seized the whole of the Continent, and has caused big industry to take real root in France, Austria, Hungary, Poland and, recently, in Russia, while it has made Germany positively an industrial country of the first rank - all on a capitalist basis, which in the year 1848, therefore, still had a great capacity for expansion.... If even this mighty army of the proletariat has still not reached its goal, if, far from winning victory by one mighty stroke, it has slowly to press forward from position to position in a hard, tenacious struggle, this only proves, once and for all, how impossible it was in 1848 to win social transformation merely by a surprise attack."

   That same impossibility of a quick change applies to 2002. Workers have absolutely NOTHING to revolt about, and probably never will. American workers STILL don't even find it necessary to struggle over anything AS A CLASS. Otherwise, they would have their own party. In the meantime, various notions of quick revolutions continue to be sold to alienated workers. But, a very slow revolution will begin with our first victory over the 40 hour week. After that hurdle is passed, and the slow revolution begins, labor and class distinctions will be abolished within 3 or 4 decades. Too slow for some people for sure, but people have to take what they can get. If, as M+E said, labor creates property, then property will not be abolished until labor becomes superfluous to the future robotic creation of all consumables.

> Marx and Engels writings, from Marx Introduction
> to the
Critique of Hegels Philosophy of Right to his
> dying days in writing
Capital was an advocate, and
> participant in
proletarian socialist revolutionary
> politics
. The same with Engels, from his early
> articles on
Socialism and Outline Critique of
>
Political Economy to his dying days spent
>
editing and completing Marx 2nd and 3rd
> volumes of
Capital!

   True enough. I stand chastened and rebuked on that particular point.

> Engels wrote in an article on the occasion of Marx
> death, written on 12 May 1883:

   That May 12 date comes from where? What Li'l Joe quotes (next) is part of Engels' April 18, 1883, letter to Van Patten. A longer article that was serialized in the May 3 and 17 issues of Der Sozialdemokrat also contains a copy of the following paragraph:

> "Marx and I, ever since 1845, have held
> the view that one of the final results of
> the future proletarian revolution will
> be the gradual dissolution and ultimate
> disappearance of that political organisation
> called the State; an organisation the main
> object of which has ever been to secure, by
> armed force, the economical subjection of
> the working majority to the wealthy minority.
> With the disappearance of a wealthy minority
> the necessity for an armed repressive State-
> force disappears also. At the same time we have
> always held, that in order to arrive at this and
> the other, far more important ends of the social
> revolution of the future, the proletarian class
> will first have to possess itself of the organised
> political force of the State and with its aid
> stamp out the resistance of the Capitalist
> class and re-organise society.
"

   Acquiring control of democratic states never precluded peaceful elections, lest a revolutionary enthusiast jump to a wrong conclusion.

> This is consistent with what Engels wrote in 1871,
> in the article "
On Authority":
>
> "
Supposing a social revolution dethroned the
> capitalists, who now exercise their authority
> over the production and circulation of wealth.
> Supposing, to adopt entirely the point of view
> of the anti-authoritarians, that the land and
> the instruments of labour had become the
> collective property of the workers who use
> them. Will authority have disappeared, or
> will it only have changed its form?
{me23.423}
>
> "
All Socialists are agreed that the
> political state, and with it political
> authority, will disappear as a result of
> the coming social revolution, that is, that
> public functions will lose their political
> character and will be transformed into the
> simple administrative functions of watching
> over the true interests of society. But the
> anti-authoritarians demand that the political
> state be abolished at one stroke, even before
> the social conditions that gave birth to it have
> been destroyed. They demand that the first act
> of the social revolution shall be the abolition
> of authority. Have these gentlemen ever seen
> a revolution? A revolution is certainly the most
> authoritarian thing there is; it is the act whereby
> one part of the population imposes its will upon
> the other part by means of rifles, bayonets and
> cannon -- authoritarian means, if such there be
> at all; and if the victorious party does not want
> to have fought in vain, it must maintain this rule
> by means of the terror which its arms inspire in
> the reactionists.
" {me23.424}
>
> So, far from advocating that the
solution of the
> problem of
capitalist commodity production resulting
> in the
exploitation of wage-labour by capital, the
> constant
increase of the price of labour-power and
> of the cost-price of the means of subsistence always
> average out.


   {Late May note: '
Increase of the price of labour-power'? The price and cost of labor power constantly decrease with the passage of time, not increase. As productivity increases, the length of the portion of the day devoted to the production and reproduction of labor power constantly decreases, while the portion of the day that becomes surplus labor constantly increases. Here is a typical case from Marx's Capital (me35.523): "In this way it is possible with an increasing productiveness of labour, for the price of labour power to keep on falling, and yet this fall to be accompanied by a constant growth in the mass of the labourer's means of subsistence. But even in such case, the fall in the value of labour power would cause a corresponding rise of surplus value, and thus the abyss between the labourer's position and that of the capitalist would keep widening."}

> A couple century or so ago workers worked from
>
15 to 12 hours a day for a few dollars -- which at
> that time = their cost of subsistence. But, to-day,
> workers work
8 hours per day with weekends
> off, at 15 dollars a
day. Yet, their labour power --
> to-day as in the 19th century
still but equal
> the costs of subsistence!


   {Late May 2002 note:
15 dollars per HOUR would be closer to median. }

   I wonder how a 'subsistence' argument might resonate with some Microsoft, Cisco, and other high-tech workers who became millionaires by putting their noses to the grindstone, and their shoulders to the wheel.

> Continuing with "Wages, Price and Profits", Marx wrote:
>
> "
As to the limits of the value of labour, its
> actual settlement always depends upon supply
> and demand, I mean the demand for labour on the
> part of capital, and the supply of labour by the
> working men. In colonial countries the law of
> supply and demand favours the working man.
" {me20.146}

   I wonder why Li'l Joe didn't warn us of his omission of the rest of that paragraph. There Marx described how chronic labor shortages created a temporary "relatively high standard of wages in the United States." If low-wage workers could come to understand how to raise wages by creating an artificial labor shortage (enforced by hours-of-labor legislation), then perhaps shorter work hours would be demanded sooner rather than later. I get the feeling that some activists do not want people to understand how good conditions could become UNDER CAPITALISM, and that they want to fool and trick people into somehow abolishing capitalism, thus putting communists in control. If we were so brainless, we would.

   Li'l Joe continued to quote Marx, who then turned his attentions from the USA to England (me20.147):

> "But let us now come to old civilized countries,
> in which capital domineers over the whole process
> of production. Take, for example, the rise in
> England of agricultural wages from 1849 to 1859.
> What was its consequence? The farmers could not,
> as our friend Weston would have advised them,
> raise the value of wheat, nor even its market prices.
> They had, on the contrary, to submit to their fall.
> But during these eleven years they introduced
> machinery of all sorts, adopted more scientific
> methods, converted part of arable land into
> pasture, increased the size of farms, and with
> this the scale of production, and by these and
> other processes diminishing the demand for
> labour by increasing its productive power, made
> the agricultural population again relatively
> redundant. This is the general method in which
> a reaction, quicker or slower, of capital against
> a rise of wages takes place in old, settled
> countries. Ricardo has justly remarked that
> machinery is in constant competition with
> labour, and can often be only introduced when
> the price of labour has reached a certain height,
> but the appliance of machinery is but one of the
> many methods for increasing the productive powers
> of labour. The very same development which makes
> common labour relatively redundant simplifies, on
> the other hand, skilled labour, and thus depreciates
> it. The same law obtains in another form. With the
> development of the productive powers of labour the
> accumulation of capital will be accelerated, even
> despite a relatively high rate of wages.
" {me20.147}

   Without notification, Li'l Joe then omitted over 2 pages of text (some of which I included near the first quarter of this message), and he jumped ahead to the very last paragraph of Marx's article.

> "Trades Unions work well as centers of resistance
> against the encroachments of capital. They fail
> partially from an injudicious use of their power.
> The fairly generally from limiting themselves
> to a guerilla war against the effects of the
> existing system,
([ Lil Joe: i.e. wages and
>
hours]) instead of simultaneously trying to
> change it, instead of using their organized
> forces as a lever for the final emancipation of
> the working class that is to say the ultimate
> abolition of the wages system.
" {me20.149}

   Li'l Joe interjected "i.e. wages and hours", but mere "wages and hours" are NOT the 'effects of the wages system' - LOW wages and LONG hours result from a lack of resistance - political and economic - to capitalist encroachments.

> The only way the wages system -- i.e. the buying and
> selling--and therefore the
alienation--of labour-power,
> is the
negation of economic conditions that causes the
>
wage system, capitalist commodity production, but by
> the
proletarian expropriation of bourgeois property
> as the basis for the
abolition of commodity economies,
> the
end of the labour-power as a commodity.

   That same assertion - 'expropriation is a PRECONDITION to abolishing the wages system' - was insufficiently supported SEVERAL TIMES in this message.

> Socialism according to Marx and Engels can come about
>
but by the revolutionary expropriation by the proletariat
> of bourgeois property
.

   The communism of M+E did not embrace expropriation TO THE EXCLUSION of other activities. Though variations of 'expropriate' appear 216 times in various contexts (the great bulk in relation to expropriation of peasants and other producers), its communist sense was promoted only 18 times. M+E promoted 'abolishing class distinctions' 20 times.

   A communist state was not merely to expropriate. It was also to abolish class distinctions, abolish competition between workers, abolish the wages system, abolish capitalist relations of production, abolish social relations arising from capitalist production, revolutionize "all the ideas that result from these social relations", "abolishes also the State as State", abolish the distinction between town and country, abolish the distinction between mental and manual labor, "abolishes itself as proletariat", transfer "commodity production in private enterprises into direct production for and by society", and probably other tasks as well. Regarding any one of those communist tasks as a precondition for another is a MISTAKE, no matter if the year is 1848, 1871, 1917, or 2002.

   None of those changes could be accomplished in a day, and certainly not the abolition of private property, according to Engels in his "Principles of Communism". So, it is hard to say which single element of the communist revolution was intended to be regarded as the precondition for any of the others, except that 'winning the battle of democracy' appears to have been the one single essential precondition to progressing toward all other communist objectives. Without the full state power of a communist workers' state, or without a majority of votes in democracies, not much is possible.

   Full state power in communist hands certainly enabled a SPEEDY expropriation in Russia, but Marx didn't get to witness their post-revolutionary problems, and didn't suffer humiliation when many communist expropriations were reversed after 1989. If communism had proceeded as expected - simultaneous in the most developed countries (thus ending all fear of counter-revolution) - then perhaps it would have been easier to keep all of the property in the hands of several united communist states. But, it was precisely M+E's MISTAKEN emphasis on expropriation which modern communists escalated into a MUCH WORSE mistake, viz., QUICK expropriation. Theoretical mistakes gutted the relevance of communism to Western working classes, and antidoted most interest in communism's less earthly aspects, what with M+E's positive advocacy of more disposable time, free time, and leisure for workers, at least 24 times. Here's a deeply philosophical example (me30.192):

   "The whole of human development, so far as it extends beyond the development directly necessary for the natural existence of human beings, consists merely in the employment of this free time and presupposes it as its necessary basis. Thus the free time of society is produced through the production of unfree time, the labour time of workers prolonged beyond that required for their own subsistence. Free time on one side corresponds to subjugated time on the other side."

   "Wealth is therefore disposable time." (Ibid.)

   "Capital is dead labour, that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labour, and lives the more, the more labour it sucks. The time during which the labourer works, is the time during which the capitalist consumes the labour power he has purchased of him. If the labourer consumes his disposable time for himself, he robs the capitalist." (me35.241)

   It is the duty of all non-sectarians to take up the battle against expropriation as THE MISTAKE which it was. From 1845 onward, communism COULD HAVE signified 'gradual liberation from wage slavery' (which is the most that will ever be possible) IF M+E had been able to foresee the tragedies associated with expropriation. The past 157 years of history clarified what people are willing to do about private property. Private ownership of humans (slavery) became one of the few taboos, and Marx made it clear that the American Civil War was fought precisely over THAT issue. 1917 came and went without 'simultaneous world-wide revolutions in the most developed countries', again demonstrating the foolishness of expropriation. 1989 and beyond became nails in its coffin. People should unite over an understanding of the absurdity of expropriation in 2002, and BURY it once and for all.

> Property is not a "thing", but a relationship
> between people and things
.

   That relationship is immanent in 'human labor creating property', expounded in Marx's German Ideology. Machines and robots presently need a human touch, but, when machines become smart enough, and human labor becomes quite superfluous, private property will then no longer benefit some classes to the exclusion of others, so the value of property will dissipate, and it will be abandoned as an institution. M+E agreed with L.H. Morgan that 'a property career will not be a permanent human aspiration.'

   Rigid tenacity to property (due to all of the wealth that accrues to it) also rigidifies belief systems. The future gradual dissipation of private property will enable absurd belief systems to be replaced with scientific outlooks. In the meantime, people with material interests in promoting illogical points of view will be the last to abandon them, even though the light of more objective observations would ordinarily nullify bad logic, as it so often does in the scientific world. But, in sectarian communism, good logic doesn't count, and is as effective in bringing down an elephant as a flea. What counts for modern communists is that enough people can be swayed by false logic, and that a bit of an economy can be created to sustain their leaders. It worked in the past, it works at present, and it can work in the future. The important thing is to rigidly maintain the old philosophy, deny the validity of any proposed changes, do anything to try to invalidate perceived 'competitors trespassing on communist turf', and hope to maintain that all-important base of support, moral and otherwise, coming from like-minded individuals. Slow changes can do nothing to modify that status quo. Only the gargantuan changes of the near future will have an effect. The rest of the communist countries will have to go capitalist, and the 40 hour week will have to be abandoned before the kinds of changes that happened within communist parties after 1989 can hope to occur again. In the meantime, all of these words comprise little more than an experiment in communications, to see if it's possible for people to independently recognize mistakes, and then learn from them. Usually, the answer is 'no'.

> A class is nothing but the personification
> of conflicting
property formations:
> the bourgeoisie the personification of
capital, the
> proletariat that of
labour-power -- the expropriation
> of capital, making the productive forces (including
>
labour-power) public property ends commodity
> production
, thus, the abolition of the wages system.

   Lenin may very well have been able to abolish private ownership of land on the first day of the Soviet socialist revolution, but HIS victory doesn't mean that Americans will be remotely interested in putting communists in control of government. The dearth of American sentiment favoring socialism and communism is revealed at every election.

   It isn't very fruitful to argue for expropriation in a country whose Southerners fought and died to preserve (and extend to the whole country by means of dictatorship) as immoral a form of ownership as slavery, nor in a country whose victorious Northerners did not have the political will to partition plantations to provide freed slaves with their promised 40 acres and a mule. Property simply means too much to Americans to be pulled out like a rug from beneath their feet. Private property is a widely respected institution. By itself, the property relation never even HURT those who indulge in possession (with the possible exception of possessors of illegal substances who get caught). If private property in the means of production were an essential evil, then M+E would not have described ancient communal property as having been willingly given over to private owners in the interests of enhancing production. If property were malignant in itself, people would not work so hard to acquire property for themselves. In the present era of long hours, property is still relatively easy for MANY people to legally earn by means of labor. The more skilled the labor, the quicker the earnings. Everyone I know seems to be in competition with everyone else to acquire as much property as quickly as possible. Even the leaders of various philosophies regard their flocks as private property, because of the new wealth the flocks gather for leaders to control. Competition to acquire property won't disappear before work disappears, when people will no longer be able to point with pride at possessions as 'the fruits of their labor'. The anti-property revolution will not begin BEFORE the onset of the attack on surplus labor.... "the abolition of private property will become a reality only when it is conceived as the abolition of "labour"" ... (me4.278)

   If labor and toil are the only evils the capitalist class is helping us to abolish, then the capitalists should be assisted in eliminating the source of their profits. No labor = no unsatisfied wants = no class distinctions = no profit = no property = no state. Marx wrote in 'Wage Labour and Capital' (me9.226): "If the whole class of wage-workers were to be abolished owing to machinery, how dreadful that would be for capital which, without wage labour, ceases to be capital!"

   Every once in a while, the works of M+E provide a brilliant inspiration to help clarify choices of action. What really needs to be abolished is labor, especially SURPLUS labor, which is best attacked politically, by reducing its hours, thereby reducing the distinction between rich idleness and abject wage-slavery. In the age of settled and established democracies, what greater communist quest could exist? A certain chorus might still scream: "POWER AND PROPERTY!" Awright, take it all. Go right ahead. I won't stop you. If the chorus knows of a quick way to get to communism, then good luck.

   Li'l Joe continues to bring up interesting issues. Hopefully, the debates have been useful, and have helped people clarify for themselves the issues surrounding 'reform vs. revolution'.

   "And to-day, the very people who, from the "impartiality" of their superior standpoint, preach to the workers a socialism soaring high above their class interests and class struggles - these people are either neophytes, who have still to learn a great deal, or they are the worst enemies of the workers - wolves in sheep's clothing." Engels, Preface to 2nd German Edition of 'The Condition of the Working Class in England' (me27.314).

 

05-09-02

   Mike B. replied:

> Preamble to the IWW Constitution

   snip to the 3 essences of workers' action

> "These conditions can be changed and the interest
> of the working class upheld only by an organization
> formed in such a way that all its members in any one
> industry, or in all industries if necessary, cease work
> whenever a strike or lockout is on in any department
> thereof, thus making an injury to one an injury to all.

>
> "
Abolition of the wage system.
>
> "
It is the historic mission of the working class to do
> away with capitalism
. The army of production must
> be organized, not only for everyday struggle with
> capitalists, but also to carry on production when
> capitalism shall have been
overthrown. By organizing
> industrially we are forming the structure of the new
> society within the shell of the old.
"

   These 3 courses of action seem to consist of:

   1) General strike.

   Workers would need a very good reason to stop work altogether. On the other hand, a universal slow-down strike would create an artificial shortage of labor which would drive wages up, much in the way OPEC's artificial oil shortages drive up the price of oil. But, revolutionaries don't seem interested in social solutions within the context of capitalism. They prefer to think that 'capitalism can be ended one fine day', and can afford to abstain from advocating ameliorative remedies.

   2) Abolition of the wages system.

   Workers enjoying high wages don't have that much to complain about. Wages for low-skill people could be raised by creating a universal labor shortage. Wages for all American workers could be made as universally high as when labor migrated West during the 19th century, creating a chronic shortage. However, 'merely' raising wages for all is disparaged by revolutionaries as 'a social solution within the context of capitalism', and as 'a solution which does not abolish capitalist exploitation', so simply creating a labor shortage is taboo among those who can afford to think independently of labor's interests.

   3) Replace capitalist economics with 'socialist economics'.

   The task of the capitalist economic system is to abolish scarcity. That abolition, plus the creation of an effortless abundance, will also mean the abolitions of the wages system, labor, the division of labor, competition, profits, capitalism, class distinctions, the state, and everything else we love to hate in the present era. A 'socialist economy' is little more than a figment of an overactive imagination. In a few more decades, along with capitalism itself, all economy and scarcity will vanish.

   This isn't 100% Marxism, which became obsolete after Europeans refused to support the Russian revolution with long-lasting revolutions of their own, but this philosophy does contain some Marxist elements, most notably the struggle against surplus value, which struggle the 'power and property' Marxists of today seem to have abandoned altogether in favor of 'quick' solutions, like 'instant expropriation'.

 

05-10-02

   Li'l Joe wrote:

> Ellis counterposes reduction of hours of the working-day UNDER CAPITALISM
> to the
expropriation of capital by the proletariat as the basis for socialism.

   Li'l Joe counterposes some kind of 'socialist mode of production' to the capitalist mode, but no 'socialist mode of production' is slated to follow capitalism. The capitalist economy will be succeeded by 'no economy at all', because economies, every one of them, are built upon scarcity, while it is the historical task of capitalism to abolish ALL scarcity, and thereby abolish all economy. People work in order to keep the wolf away from the door, but capitalism's abolition of scarcity will send the wolf into the woods where it belongs. 'Work' (under socialism) will have no economic significance, and will be for pleasure and recreation only. This may not be a 100% Marxist perspective, but Marxist expropriation was doomed to failure after Europeans failed to support the Russian revolution with long-lasting revolutions of their own. After 1917, communist revolutions occurred only in less developed countries, and only in one country at a time, instead of 'simultaneously in the most developed countries'.

> That's okay, but he attributes the reformism of reducing labour hours under
> capitalism
in opposition to expropriation to Engels! That is not okay.

   I agree that it isn't OK, which is why I never say such things, and never will. But, as much as the prefaces to collections of writings of M+E might have disparaged reforms, M+E DID favor reforms in the interests of workers, especially for workers living in democracies. In 'The Holy Family', M+E wrote (me4.517):

   "Since the working-men do not respect the law, but simply submit to its power when they cannot change it, it is most natural that they should at least propose alterations in it, that they should wish to put a proletarian law in the place of the legal fabric of the bourgeoisie. This proposed law is the People's Charter, which in form is purely political, and demands a democratic basis for the House of Commons."

   "In America, where a democratic constitution has been introduced, the Communists must make common cause with the party that will turn this constitution against the bourgeoisie and use it in the interest of the proletariat, that is, with the national agrarian reformers." {me6.356}

   Frederick Engels - A Working Men's Party (me24.406): "We live in a world where everybody is bound to take care of himself. Yet the English working class allows the landlord, capitalist, and retail trading classes, with their tail of lawyers, newspaper writers, etc., to take care of its interests. No wonder reforms in the interest of the workman come so slow and in such miserable dribbles. The workpeople of England have but to will, and they are the masters to carry every reform, social and political, which their situation requires. Then why not make that effort?"

   Reforms suit people living in democracies, while revolution is the solution to totalitarian oppression. As democracy increasingly becomes the world-wide standard form of government, gradual reform increasingly becomes the only reasonable method of resolving grievances.

> Ellis then denounces working-class militants who have come to the class
> conscious
understanding of the necessity for expropriating capital: to
> abolish commodity production and wage slavery
, as in Ellis's words
> "
petty bourgeois" and "lunatics"!

   The abolition of wage slavery is a valid aspiration, whereas only an alienated petty bourgeois lunatic could imagine that 'expropriation is a feasible tactic in the 21st century.' If the past century of world history was worth anything, it taught (after 1989) that expropriation is a crazy, half-baked notion, fit only for reversal. When Cuba finally reverses its state ownership, and when the USA and other developed countries finally begin to attack the 40 hour law in earnest, the remaining 'power and property' communists will be driven even further into irrelevance and obscurity.

> But, Ellis is the only "petty bourgeois" and "lunatic" railing against
>
the proletariat's expropriation of the expropriators. As you will see in the
> posts forwarded below from Engels
Anti-Duhring, written in the same period
> as the correspondence that Ellis cites, Engels says that
the expropriation of
> bourgeois property by the state is the first step toward socialism, but not
> itself socialism.

   That sounds something like (me25.266): "State ownership of the productive forces is not the solution of the conflict, but concealed within it are the technical conditions that form the elements of that solution."

   Perhaps that is what Li'l Joe had in mind, but I couldn't find anything remotely connecting 'first step towards' with 'socialism' or 'communism'. Variations of 'first step towards' appear in 92 places in the Collected Works. Here's one referring to a relevant social objective (me21.387):

   "But a reduction of the hours of labour was also indispensable to give the working class more time for mental culture. Legislative restrictions were the first step towards the mental and physical elevation and the ultimate emancipation of the working classes."

   Here are a few other 'first step forwards':

   "First there are the Poles. A century of oppression has placed them in a position where they must either be revolutionary, supporting every truly revolutionary uprising in the West as a first step towards the liberation of Poland, or they must perish." {me24.103}

   "He {Proudhon} introduced as transition measures to the complete communistic organisation of society, on the one hand, co-operative societies for retail trade and production. These have since that time, at least, given practical proof that the merchant and the manufacturer are socially quite unnecessary. On the other hand, he introduced labour bazaars for the exchange of the products of labour through the medium of labour-notes, whose unit was a single hour of work; institutions necessarily doomed to failure, but completely anticipating Proudhon's bank of exchange of a much later period, and differing entirely from this in that it did not claim to be the panacea for all social ills, but only a first step towards a much more radical revolution of society." {me24.297}

   "Freedom therefore consists in the control over ourselves and over external nature, a control founded on knowledge of natural necessity; it is therefore necessarily a product of historical development. The first men who separated themselves from the animal kingdom were in all essentials as unfree as the animals themselves, but each step forward in the field of culture was a step towards freedom." {me25.106}

   "The first step made by an object of utility towards acquiring exchange value is when it forms a non-use value for its owner, and that happens when it forms a superfluous portion of some article required for his immediate wants." {me35.98}

   "But admittedly it required some courage to tell the bourgeoisie and the nobility that the first step towards gaining Italy's independence was the complete emancipation of the peasants and the transformation of their metayage system into bourgeois freeholdings." {me38.455}

   "But it is their first step towards the establishment of the petty bourgeoisie as the dominant, official element in the party, and the relegation of the proletariat to the status of one that is barely tolerated." {me47.270}

   Where can a 'first step towards socialism' be found? From the first quote, we know Marx felt that hours of labor legislation comprises a first step toward emancipation. I hope no one will regard 'expropriation' as preferable to 'emancipation'. Nawww, it couldn't happen here ...

> --- Ellis wrote:
>
>> The most recently published Volume of Engels' correspondence contains a
>> relevant passage from his
24 March 1891 letter to Oppenheim (me49.152): ...
>> "
so long as the propertied classes remain at the helm {of government},
>> nationalisation never abolishes exploitation but merely changes its form -
>> in the French, American or Swiss republics no less than in monarchist
>> Central, and despotic Eastern, Europe. And to dislodge the propertied
>> classes from the helm we first need a revolution in the minds of the
>> working masses - as, indeed, is now taking place, if relatively slowly;
>> and in order to bring this about, we need an even more rapid revolution
>> in production methods, more machinery, more displacement of labour,
>> the ruin of more peasants and petty bourgeois, more tangible evidence
>> on a vaster scale of the inevitable results of modern large-scale industry.

>>
>> "
The more quickly and irrevocably this economic revolution takes place, the
>> more imperative will measures impose themselves which, apparently intended
>> to cure evils that have suddenly assumed vast and intolerable proportions,
>> will eventually result in undermining the foundations of the existing mode
>> of production; and the more rapidly, too, will the working masses obtain a
>> hearing thanks to universal suffrage. What those initial measures will be
>> must depend on local conditions at the time, nor can anything of a general
>> nature be said about them beforehand. But as I see it, steps of a truly
>> liberating nature will not be possible until the economic revolution has
>> made the great majority of the workers alive to their situation and thus
>> paved the way for their political rule. The other classes can only patch
>> up or palliate. And this process of clarifying the workers' minds is daily
>> gaining momentum and in 5 or 10 years time the various parliaments
>> will look very different from what they do today.
"
>>
>> I hope that this passage has been of value. Engels thought that
working
>> class influence or control of
governments alone could fix social problems
>> caused by labor-displacing technology
, and that other classes in control of
>>
government can at best only ameliorate the problems. One measure that
>> Engels seemed to approve of was the
American SLP's 19th century call
>> (unfortunately later discontinued) for
laws to shrink hours of labor in
>> proportion to technological progress
. This rather obvious solution to
>>
unemployment is all too often overlooked by petty-bourgeois elements
>> who are more interested in all-at-once
gaining control of power and
>> property
than in gradually liberating workers from toil. American activists
>> will remain in the thrall of such elements little longer, because
technology
>> advances at a double logarithmic rate
, leading, within a few short decades,
>> to the unprecedented rates of technological change Engels looked forward
>> to. Today's activists should also welcome that
economic revolution as the
>> surest guarantee of the rise of
working class consciousness. Calls to
>>
expropriate will remain as unheeded as the ravings of lunatics.
>
> ========================= Now, contrast what Ellis attributes
> to Engels to what Engels himself wrote on the issue of
capitalist property
> and the
class conscious proletariat understanding the need to expropriate,
> to "
seize" that property.

   'NEED to expropriate'? Neither that phrase, nor 'MUST expropriate', nor 'HAVE TO expropriate', nor 'SHOULD expropriate', etc., appear in the Collected Works. Though M+E certainly advocated expropriation, only the petty bourgeoisie of today needs to seize property. Workers need little more than to 'seize' jobs in the legal economy, and to make themselves scarce enough to provide jobs for everyone.

> What Engels wrote about "class consciousness" of the proletariat
> is precisely the
consciousness to elevate itself to ruling class by
> winning the battle of democracy
,

   In case no one else noticed, the battle for democracy was won in the most developed countries many years ago, but workers have had little inclination to use their numerical supremacy to vote for expropriation. Property rights are little more of an issue than the right to breathe. Ownership of human beings was proven immoral by the Civil War, whereas almost every other tangible has remained 'up for grabs'. Maybe because the air we breathe appears intangible, capitalists have yet to find an way to privatize it, but I'm sure that some creative minds have spent at least a little time on that 'problem'. Look at how the electromagnetic spectrum was commodified! An FCC permit for a radio or TV station can be a highly prized commodity.

> and organized as ruling class, the proletarian state will nationalize
> the means of production and distribution
, transferring them from
> private to public property.

   'WILL nationalize'? But, every communist worth their salt knows that property will SOMEDAY fade away as an institution. Marxist emphasis on converting private property into an INTERMEDIATE stage of 'state property' (before becoming collective property, or even non-property) was misplaced - a total diversion, a total waste of time and effort. Judging from modern attitudes AGAINST state ownership, that intermediate stage could very well be skipped during private property's evolution into non-property.

   M+E did not propose expropriation and nationalization to waste anyone's time. They really thought expropriation would facilitate elimination of competition between workers, and enable full participation in the economy. Few of today's communists, however, embrace that kind of humanitarianism. Power and property are all that matter to those who refuse to advocate peaceful, gradual, and civil solutions to exploitation.

   Compare modern stubborn expropriation to the communism of M+E, who favored ordinary people replacing absolute monarchies with democracies, favored working class political and economic organizations winning higher wages and shorter work hours, favored political and economic reforms in the interests of the working class, knew that the precondition to working class freedom was a shorter work day, and joined and encouraged such efforts as good ways to abolish class distinctions.

   Compare those humanitarian goals to those of 'replacing existing democracies with communist workers states', 'rallying class hatred against democracies and private property', and 'angry workers elevating communists to political domination'. Those goals would be realized only if workers were to be so foolish. Instead, a working class well on its way to abolishing work is smarter than to elevate a new class of exploiters to power. Expropriation didn't succeed for long in Russia and the Eastern Bloc, so the few remaining communist countries will also soon convert to capitalism, and will remain capitalist until the abolition of scarcity and economy.

> Anti-Dühring by Frederick Engels 1877 Part III: Socialism {me24.306}
>
> "
Theoretical
>
> "
The materialist conception of history starts from the proposition that the
> production
{of the means to support human life} and, next to production, the
> exchange of things produced, is the basis of all social structure; that in every
> society that has appeared in history, the manner in which wealth is distributed
> and society divided into classes or estates is dependent upon what is produced,
> how it is produced, and how the products are exchanged. From this point of
> view the final causes of all social changes and political revolutions are to be
> sought, not in men's brains, not in man's better insight into eternal truth
> and justice, but in changes in the modes of production and exchange.

   Li'l Joe for some reason omitted the words within brackets {}, and then, without warning, omitted the end of Engels' paragraph {me24.306}:

   "They are to be sought, not in the philosophy, but in the economics of each particular epoch. The growing perception that existing social institutions are unreasonable and unjust, that reason has become unreason, and right wrong,Ýb is only proof that in the modes of production and exchange changes have silently taken place, with which the social order, adapted to earlier economic conditions, is no longer in keeping. From this it also follows that the means of getting rid of the incongruities that have been brought to light, must also be present, in a more or less developed condition, within the changed modes of production themselves. These means are not to be invented by deduction from fundamental principles, but are to be discovered in the stubborn facts of the existing system of production." Li'l Joe also omitted the beginning of the next paragraph, which will remain out of the picture. Li'l Joe continued {me24.307}:

> "But just as the older manufacture, in its time, and handicraft, becoming
> more developed under its influence, had come into collision with the
> feudal trammels of the guilds, so now modern industry, in its more complete
> development, comes into collision with the bounds within which the capitalistic
> mode of production holds it confined. The new productive forces have already
> outgrown the capitalistic mode of using them. And this conflict between
> productive forces and modes of production is not a conflict engendered in
> the mind of man, like that between original sin and divine justice. It exists,
> in fact, objectively, outside us, independently of the will and actions even
> of the men that have brought it on. Modern socialism is nothing but the
> reflex, in thought, of this conflict in fact; its ideal reflection in the minds,
> first, of the class directly suffering under it, the working class.

   Without warning, Li'l Joe jumped over several pages of text and resumed quoting at {me24.323}:

> "
With the seizing of the means of production by society production of
> commodities is done away with, and, simultaneously, the mastery of the
> product over the producer. Anarchy in social production is replaced by
> systematic, definite organisation. The struggle for individual existence
> disappears.
"
>
> In 1881 Engels wrote Articles for "
The Labour Standard", e.g. {me24.376}
>
> "
A Fair Day's Wages for a Fair Day's Work - This has now been the motto of
> the English working-class movement for the last fifty years. It did good service in
> the time of the rising Trades Unions after the repeal of the infamous Combination
> Laws in 1824 [1]; it did still better service in the time of the glorious Chartist
> movement, when the English workmen marched at the head of the European
> working class. But times are moving on, and a good many things which were
> desirable and necessary fifty, and even thirty years ago, are now antiquated
> and would be completely out of place. Does the old, time-honoured
> watchword too belong to them?
{me24.376}
>
> "
A fair day's wages for a fair day's work? But what is a fair day's wages,
> and what is a fair day's work? How are they determined by the laws under
> which modern society exists and develops itself? For an answer to this we
> must not apply to the science of morals or of law and equity, nor to any
> sentimental feeling of humanity, justice, or even charity. What is morally
> fair, what is even fair in law, may be far from being socially fair. Social
> fairness or unfairness is decided by one science alone - the science which
> deals with the material facts of production and exchange, the science of
> political economy.

>
> "
Now what does political economy call a fair day's wages and a fair day's
> work? Simply the rate of wages and the length and intensity of a day's work
> which are determined by competition of employer and employed in the open
> market. And what are they, when thus determined?

>
> "
A fair day's wages, under normal conditions, is the sum required to procure
> to the labourer the means of existence necessary, according to the standard
> of life of his station and country' to keep himself in working order and to
> propagate his race. The actual rate of wages, with the fluctuations of trade,
> may be sometimes above, sometimes below this rate; but, under fair
> conditions, that rate ought to be the average of all oscillations.

>
> "
A fair day's work is that length of working day and that intensity of
> actual work which expends one day's full working power of the workman
> without encroaching upon his capacity for the same amount of work for
> the next and following days.

>
> "
The transaction, then, may be thus described - the workman gives to the
> Capitalist his full day's working power; that is, so much of it as he can
> give without rendering impossible the continuous repetition of the
> transaction. In exchange he receives just as much, and no more, of the
> necessaries of life as is required to keep up the repetition of the same
> bargain every day. The workman gives as much, the Capitalist gives as
> little, as the nature of the bargain will admit. This is a very peculiar
> sort of fairness.

>
> "
But let us look a little deeper into the matter. As, according to political
> economists, wages and working days are fixed by competition, fairness
> seems to require that both sides should have the same fair start on equal
> terms. But that is not the case. The Capitalist, if he cannot agree with the
> Labourer, can afford to wait, and live upon his capital. The workman cannot.
> He has but wages to live upon, and must therefore take work when, where,
> and at what terms he can get it. The workman has no fair start. He is fearfully
> handicapped by hunger. Yet, according to the political economy of the
> Capitalist class, that is the very pink of fairness.
{me24.377}
>
> "
But this is a mere trifle. The application of mechanical power and
> machinery to new trades, and the extension and improvements of machinery
> in trades already subjected to it, keep turning out of work more and more
> "hands"; and they do so at a far quicker rate than that at which these
> superseded "hands" can be absorbed by, and find employment in, the
> manufactures of the country. These superseded "hands" form a real
> industrial army of reserve for the use of Capital. If trade is bad they may
> starve, beg, steal, or go to the workhouse [2]; if trade is good they are
> ready at hand to expand production; and until the very last man, woman,
> or child of this army of reserve shall have found work - which happens
> in times of frantic over-production alone - until then will its competition
> keep down wages, and by its existence alone strengthen the power of
> Capital in its struggle with Labour. In the race with Capital, Labour is
> not only handicapped, it has to drag a cannon-ball riveted to its foot.
> Yet that is fair according to Capitalist political economy.

>
> "
But let us inquire out of what fund does Capital pay these very fair wages?
> Out of capital, of course. But capital produces no' value. Labour is, besides
> the earth, the only source of wealth; capital itself is nothing but the stored-up
> produce of labour. So that the wages of Labour are paid out of labour, and
> the working man is paid out of his own produce. According to what we may
> call common fairness, the wages of the labourer ought to consist in the produce
> of his labour. But that would not be fair according to political economy. On the
> contrary, the produce of the workman's labour goes to the Capitalist, and the
> workman gets out of it no more than the bare necessaries of life. And thus the
> end of this uncommonly "fair" race of competition is that the produce of the
> labour of those who do work, gets unavoidably accumulated in the hands of
> those that do not work, and becomes in their hands the most powerful means
> to enslave the very men who produced it.

>
> "
A fair day's wages for a fair day's work! A good deal might be said about
> the fair day's work too, the fairness of which is perfectly on a par with that
> of the wages. But that we must leave for another occasion. From what has
> been stated it is pretty clear that the old watchword has lived its day, and
> will hardly hold water nowadays. The fairness of political economy, such
> as it truly lays down the laws which rule actual society, that fairness is
> all on one side - on that of Capital. Let, then, the old motto be buried for
> ever and replaced by another: Possession of the Means of Work - Raw
> Material, Factories, Machinery - By the Working People Themselves."

>
{me24.378}
>
> In the next article, "
The Wages System" Engels wrote:
>
> "
The Wages System - In a previous article we examined the time-honoured
> motto, "A fair day's wages for a fair day's work", and came to the conclusion
> that the fairest day's wages under present social conditions is necessarily
> tantamount to the very unfairest division of the workman's produce, the
> greater portion of that produce going into the capitalist's pocket, and the
> workman having to put up with just as much as will enable him to keep
> himself in working order and to propagate his race.
{me24.379}
>
> "
This is a law of political economy, or, in other words, a law of the present
> economical organisation of society, which is more powerful than all the
> Common and Statute Law of England put together, the Court of Chancery
> [1] included. While society is divided into two opposing classes -- on the
> one hand, the capitalists, monopolisers of the whole of the means of
> production, land, raw materials, machinery; on the other hand, labourers,
> working people deprived of all property in the means of production, owners
> of nothing but their own working power; while this social organisation
> exists the law of wages will remain all-powerful, and will every day afresh
> rivet the chains by which the working man is made the slave of his own
> produce -- monopolised by the capitalist.

>

> "The Trades Unions of this country have now for nearly sixty years fought
> against this law -- with what result? Have they succeeded in freeing the
> working class from the bondage in which capital -- the produce of its own
> hands -- holds it? Have they enabled a single section of the working class
> to rise above the situation of wages-slaves, to become owners of their own
> means of production, of the raw materials, tools, machinery required in
> their trade, and thus to become the owners of the produce of their own
> labour? It is well known that not only they have not done so but that
> they never tried.
{me24.380}
>
> "
Far be it from us to say that Trades Unions are of no use because they
> have not done that. On the contrary, Trades Unions in England, as well as
> in every other manufacturing country, are a necessity for the working classes
> in their struggle against capital. The average rate of wages is equal to the sum
> of necessaries sufficient to keep up the race of workmen in a certain country
> according to the standard of life habitual in that country. That standard of life
> may be very different for different classes of workmen. The great merit of
> Trades Unions, in their struggle to keep up the rate of wages and to reduce
> working hours, is that they tend to keep up and to raise the standard of life.
> There are many trades in the East-end of London whose labour is not more
> skilled and quite as hard as that of bricklayers and bricklayers' labourers, yet
> they hardly earn half the wages of these. Why? Simply because a powerful
> organisation enables the one set to maintain a comparatively high standard
> of life as the rule by which their wages are measured; while the other set,
> disorganised and powerless, have to submit not only to unavoidable but
> also to arbitrary encroachments of their employers: their standard of life
> is gradually reduced, they learn how to live on less and less wages, and
> their wages naturally fall to that level which they themselves have learnt
> to accept as sufficient.

>
> "
The law of wages, then, is not one which draws a hard and fast line. It is
> not inexorable with certain limits. There is at every time (great depression
> excepted) for every trade a certain latitude within which the rate of wages
> may be modified by the results of the struggle between the two contending
> parties. Wages in every case are fixed by a bargain, and in a bargain he who
> resists longest and best has the greatest chance of getting more than his due.
> If the isolated workman tries to drive his bargain with the capitalist he is easily
> beaten and has to surrender at discretion, but if a whole trade of workmen form
> a powerful organisation, collect among themselves a fund to enable them to defy
> their employers if need be, and thus become enabled to treat with these employers
> as a power, then, and then only, have they a chance to get even that pittance which,
> according to the economical constitution of present society, may be called a fair
> day's wages for a fair day's work.

>
> "
The law of wages is not upset by the struggles of Trades Unions. On
> the contrary, it is enforced by them. Without the means of resistance of the
> Trades Unions the labourer does not receive even what is his due according
> to the rules of the wages system. It is only with the fear of the Trades Union
> before his eyes that the capitalist can be made to part with the full market
> value of his labourer's working power. Do you want a proof? Look at the
> wages paid to the members of the large Trades Unions, and at the wages
> paid to the numberless small trades in that pool of stagnant misery, the
> East-end of London.
{me24.381}
>
> "
Thus the Trades Unions do not attack the wages system. But it is not the
> highness or lowness of wages which constitutes the economical degradation
> of the working class: this degradation is comprised in the fact that, instead of
> receiving for its labour the full produce of this labour, the working class has to
> be satisfied with a portion of its own produce called wages. The capitalist pockets
> the whole produce (paying the labourer out of it) because he is the owner of the
> means of labour. And, therefore, there is no real redemption for the working
> class until it becomes owner of all the means of work -- land, raw material,
> machinery, etc. -- and thereby also the owner of THE WHOLE OF THE
> PRODUCE OF ITS OWN LABOUR.
" {me24.381}
>
> Li'l Joe

   Thanks to Li'l Joe for the fine research demonstrating that Engels wanted expropriation, even within the context of abolishing the wages system. His "no real redemption for the working class until it becomes owner of all the means of work" was the strongest advocacy of 'expropriation before all else' that I've ever seen. It appears quite consistent with his (me27.496) "when we are in possession of state power we shall not even think of forcibly expropriating the small peasants (whether with or without compensation), AS WE SHALL HAVE TO DO IN THE CASE OF THE BIG LANDOWNERS." (Emphasis by K.E.)

   Obviously, Engels was very big on expropriation, perhaps even bigger than what I credited him with. 'Getting one's arguments straight' is one of the great values of good dialogue, and that benefit should be welcomed by one and all.

   But, forcible expropriation has to be taken with a grain of salt, because it isn't something that the proletariat is going to want to just go out and do, simply because Engels can be interpreted to have advocated exactly that. The world since 1917 has witnessed a few forcible expropriations, and has weighed their pros and cons, while half a billion people in Russia and the Eastern Bloc failed to defend state ownership after 1989.

   Also, the mistaken conclusions contained in 'Principles of Communism' should warn the wise against quick expropriations. Engels wrote (me6.349):

   "It is obvious that hitherto the productive forces had not yet been so far developed that enough could be produced for all or to make private property a fetter, a barrier, to these productive forces."

   With so much current investment into the further development of better computers and machinery, private property has yet to become a fetter on production.

   "Now, however, when the development of large-scale industry has, firstly, created capital and productive forces on a scale hitherto unheard of and the means are available to increase these productive forces in a short time to an infinite extent;"

   If productive forces could increase to infinite within a short time, then they would already have done so. Robotization and the nano-tech revolution have decades to go before making human labor totally superfluous, which is the main reason people still work for a living.

   ... "when, secondly, these productive forces are concentrated in the hands of a few bourgeois whilst the great mass of the people are more and more becoming proletarians, and their condition more wretched and unendurable in the same measure in which the riches of the bourgeois increase;" ...

   Though poverty is truly deplorable, MASS immiseration is far from that expected result of capitalist production. Though ups and downs have certainly occurred, living conditions for most people have generally vastly improved since 1845.

   ... "when, thirdly, these powerful productive forces that can easily be increased have so enormously outgrown private property and the bourgeois that at every moment they provoke the most violent disturbances in the social order - only now has the abolition of private property become not only possible but even absolutely necessary."

   Well, violent disturbances we have had in Western countries, but they hardly led to a concerted attack on private property, unless, by those words, Engels intended for us to understand 'the replacement of feudal monarchies with republics', as in Marx's (me3.153): "man declares by political means that private property is abolished as soon as the property qualification for the right to elect or be elected is abolished, as has occurred in many states of North America."

   With so many people counting themselves '
middle class', the few who live really wretched existences have never been numerous to develop into a significant opposition. Cheapness of commodities and basic services make their denial seem rather ridiculous. Everyone knows that, nowadays, everyone can be adequately taken care of.

   Obviously, Engels' preludes to expropriation have yet to arrive. In The German Ideology, the all around development of the individual was also regarded as preceding expropriation (me5.439):

   "We have further shown that private property can be abolished only on condition of an all-round development of individuals, precisely because the existing form of intercourse and the existing productive forces are all-embracing and only individuals that are developing in an all-round fashion can appropriate them, i.e., can turn them into free manifestations of their lives. We have shown that at the present time individuals must abolish private property, because the productive forces and forms of intercourse have developed so far that, under the domination of private property, they have become destructive forces, and because the contradiction between the classes has reached its extreme limit. Finally, we have shown that the abolition of private property and of the division of labour is itself the association of individuals on the basis created by modern productive forces and world intercourse."

   How anyone could regard class contradictions in 1845 as having reached 'its extreme limit' is beyond me. The gap between rich and poor CONTINUES to widen, but only because workers blindly compete for diminishing long-hour opportunities to make the rich richer than their wildest dreams. Someday, a lot of foolishness will be seen for what it is. These debates will hopefully make it increasingly obvious that expropriation is an absurd way to arrive at social justice.

   {Late May note: I just caught this one: Notice how, near the end, the
abolition of private property seemingly was given no bigger teeth than the association of individuals. Hmmm.}

   My web site needs updating for awhile, but 'I shall return.'

 

05-23-02

   Dorothy wrote:

> You heard it first from me: I was fascinated when I heard head of the
>
WTO make a statement that pragmatically (because of world nations'
> protests, complaints) - it wouldn't work to ignore the poor.

   That bit of news was really hard to believe. What ever happened to 'maximum exploitation of the poor'? What's with these 'capitalist pigs'? Have they gone crazy?

 

05-24-02

   Bruce wrote:

> Subject: Re: WTO to shut down, refound under new charter
>
> Well, you know, if it sounds too good to be true...
>
> Incidentally, Ken, I love your
website.

   Well, gosh, Bruce, what a nice thing to say. Thank you very much. :-)


05-24-02

   Dear Li'l Joe,

   Every time I try to access the rbg alliance forum, the return message claims that the rbg group doesn't exist. Do you get the same message? Any idea what could have happened to us?

   Your old sparring partner, KE


05-25-02

   Hi, Mike,

   For the past few days, every time I check the rbg alliance forum, I get the following message:

> Oops...
>
> There is no group called RBG-Alliance.

   Do you get the same message when you check in? From what Li'l Joe wrote, the forum may still be working OK for him. But for me, nada.

   Your verification of its existence (or not) would be appreciated.

 

End of April to May 2002 Correspondence

 

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