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Selected Political Correspondence

January to March 2003

   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


   Antinello wrote:

> I most certainly agree with your assertion that dialogue is the best way to
> resolve ideological differences
and, unlike most people who take a "left
> wing" position, I do not restrain my thinking to a strict inflexible narrow
> path. I would be delighted to continue an engaging conversation on your
> ideas of
liberation capitalism but first I think it would be most beneficial
> if I took the time to read more of your work. Perhaps I made some ill
> thought assumptions about your approach based on the fact that I did not
> read your work carefully enough upon the first observation. I will write
> back in the future when I feel that I understand your position more
> clearly...... I still believe that
liberation capitalism is a contradiction
> in terms
but unfortunately I have no time to elaborate at the moment.
> I will get back to you however ... until then.

   Giving my web site the benefit of the doubt is a refreshing turn of events. Withholding final judgment pending a closer exam is the correct choice of action. I look forward to hearing from you again.

   In the meantime,

   Best wishes,
   Ken Ellis



   Curtis G. wrote:

> Gregory, I appreciate your analysis, but your dismissive tone about a
> political tendency that has existed in an articulated form for the better
> part of two centuries and arguably much longer as an informal practice
> in human affairs, and further, is how many of the most progressive and
> productive activists in the present Media Democracy, Environmental and
> Anti- Globalization movements self identify is not worthy of your
> intelligence and generous heart. CG.

   CG is wrong and Gregory is correct. The anarchists of Marx's era consisted of police spies or muddleheads offering nothing of value. As in the old days, today's secretive anarchists ruin organizations by creating cults of personality and bureaucracies that censor their opponents. Anarchism (and communism and all other ideologies of expropriation) can't help but collapse under the influence of truly free speech.

   Ken Ellis, KPFA engineer 1982-97

Original message:
> Anonymous Goodvibes wrote:
>> Anarchy can succeed as an extreme form of democracy only when participants
>> already have much in common & already share similar views.
> There is no such thing as "Anarchy" as a form of anything. Anarchy
> is either a figment of the imagination like the Easter Bunny, or is the
> natural state of human interaction and freedom which at best, considering
> the history of the world, it can be said that anarchy has led us to the 21st
> Century and the current state of affairs. In other words anarchy is not a
> political reality but either a dream that keeps people from dealing with
> political reality, or the actual state of apolitical reality within which
> political realities have their manifestation. Either way, to talk of
> anarchy as if it could be realized within a form of government
> is ignorance and delusion.
> Gregory W.



   Joseph W. wrote:

> I'm with Kurt, and Kropotkin, and Bakunin and the rest of the anarchist
> gang. I can assure you that Curt is not a police agent!

   Joe's response was sufficiently off point to backfire. How can anyone 'assure' anyone else that a forum participant "is not a police agent"? Does Joe have access to police personnel files, and is Joe reporting back to us that he can't find Curt's name in those files? :-)

   Even if we were all police agents, today's social problems would still be compelling enough to warrant all of us alleged agents doing something real about our mutual problems. For that reason, some people might need to think carefully whether anarchism might be a viable program of action. Can anything purely anarchistic be done that would push society an inch closer to social justice? Please name one thing.

   The point of my previous message was to show that anarchism is one of several ideologies of expropriation, all of which now appear rather dumb, at least in hindsight. Marx thought that the socialist revolution would begin in the most developed countries, but history since 1917 has demonstrated expropriation to be feasible only after overthrowing feudal monarchies in BACKWARD countries, or after liberating COLONIES, but was never feasible after socialists and communists won mere elections in advanced democracies. DUH! If expropriation had truly been a sure thing for developed countries, then expropriation would have been EASIER to accomplish in developed countries than in the less-developed countries where expropriation DID in fact occur first. Post-1989 reversals of expropriation prove that the tactic was never any better than a MISTAKE, and that it won't be very much longer before North Korea and Cuba, etc., follow the precedent set by the Eastern Bloc. Already China allows private ownership of housing, capitalists have been invited into the Communist Party, so they are on the slippery slope of privatization and democracy. The Russian experience certainly proved that it took STATE TERROR to keep democracy and property out of the hands of individuals.

   Sincere activists should not continue to hope that failed programs will someday be adopted en masse. They should carefully scrutinize their ideologies of expropriation that accomplish little more than alienate ordinary people, set expropriators apart from the general population, and stigmatize them as bourgeois activists who can AFFORD to think differently from everyone else. Expropriation in the West was dead and buried before it had a chance to fly {i.e., limp on one leg in less-developed countries}, but many activists continue to religiously adhere to ideas that were good enough for Marx, Engels, Bakunin, Lenin, De Leon, Mao, Castro, etc., but which stand NO CHANCE of being adopted by anyone anymore.

   Here's a great mystery: Marx (in his German Ideology, way back in the 1840's) understood that labor creates ... not only value, but LABOR CREATES PROPERTY. That is why a more logical Marx of the 1840's also wrote that the abolition of private property cannot be conceived EXCEPT as the abolition of labor. It should make perfect sense that an entity cannot be abolished if so many billions of people work so hard trying to CREATE that very same entity.

   That very sensible idea unfortunately was abandoned, and Marx went whole hog in favor of expropriation, which is now dying on the vine. If today's activists would learn this important lesson, and then begin to campaign for the abolition of labor (by reducing the length of the work week), the world would be spared lots of waste in the future.

   Movements to share work (before it vanishes altogether) should be created and supported. Here's hoping that everyone will help to make TAKE BACK YOUR TIME DAY a success this coming October 24. For more info about that, see

   Ken Ellis



   Bruce T. wrote:

> My two cents: Labor doesn't create "property," labor creates "stuff."

   I hope that some more words of wisdom from the early Marx will help you reconsider (me3.280):

   ... "wages and private property are identical. ... Wages are a direct consequence of estranged labour, and estranged labour is the direct cause of private property. The downfall of the one must therefore involve the downfall of the other."

   The works of Marx strongly point towards an identification between surplus value and private property, though I have yet to pin him down saying exactly that. But, he does roughly equate 'estranged labor', 'alien labor', and 'surplus labor'. Private property can't be abolished except by abolishing surplus labor, a gradual process which totally depends upon further advances in productive capacity. The ONLY way to abolish surplus labor (i.e., surplus value, or profit) is to reduce work hours (by law), and to keep on reducing them as the need for human labor gradually disappears. Anarchists hate laws.

   "(2) From the relationship of estranged labour to private property it follows further that the emancipation of society from private property, etc., from servitude, is expressed in the political form of the emancipation of the workers; not that their emancipation alone is at stake, but because the emancipation of the workers contains universal human emancipation - and it contains this, because the whole of human servitude is involved in the relation of the worker to production, and all relations of servitude are but modifications and consequences of this relation." ...

   In the early works of Marx, political emancipation was practically equated with replacing absolute monarchies with social-democracies, i.e., winning universal suffrage. Kings could do what they wanted with their property, but democracies infringe on property rights. But, anarchists are as easily disposed to overthrowing democracies as they are to overthrowing monarchies.

   me5.439 ... "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."

   In the works of Marx, 'all-round development' was conditioned upon increased leisure time (resulting from government regulation of hours of labor, which few anarchists could ever stomach).

> Property is a concept that is part of the European lenses that facilitated
> the destruction of the native peoples of "America."
> To say the ideals of equanimity, sharing and trust are done with,
> unrealistic, failed, etc., apparently in the name of respectability and
> hard-edged realism, is to buy the assumption that radical change is
> impossible.
> Bruce

   The only kind of 'radical change' that is impossible is INSTANTANEOUS radical change. Marx believed that democracies provide the lower classes with all of the political tools they need, so democracies need not be overthrown. Rest assured that the changes of the next 30 years will put the changes of the past several millennia to shame. That's because technology is advancing at a double exponential rate, and we are only on the knee of a rapidly rising curve. With so many people hoping to get their hands on 'the very next gadget to roll off the assembly line', few people will ever be rallied to put capitalism to death in a hurry. Radical change is coming, but things won't really get moving until a little later.

   How some of the others in this forum can continue to defend as bourgeois (and monarchist) an ideology as anarchism is beyond me.

   Ken Ellis



   Dear Frank,

   I read about the coming demise of the Discussion Bulletin with sadness, as in 'the end of an era'. Like you say, new technology (Internet) sure has the old ones beat by a mile in some respects, such as speed of dialogue.

   Please retain the remainder of my subscription payment, and apply it in whatever way you see fit.

   In an upcoming issue, I'd love to see some speculation about the apparent suspension of the SLP's PEOPLE newspaper. A recent trip to their web site shockingly revealed that their last new issue was in July of last year. I wonder if the PEOPLE is truly history at this point. I also wonder the extent to which the National Office staff has had to downsize or look for outside work, and what ever happened to the hundreds of thousands of dollars they used to have in the bank.

   Best wishes for a happy retirement,
   Ken Ellis



   Joseph W. wrote:

> Ken, Would you care to elaborate on your curious remark about anarchism
> being "bourgeois and monarchist" -

   Happy to oblige: Anarchists have long promoted 'abstention from politics' (a great way for people to get what they want, eh?), but it was curious that some leading proponents of anarchism in the 1870's, Gaspard Blanc and Albert Richard of Lyons, were traveling about Europe on Napoleon III's money, promoting his restoration to the throne of France! Engels thought that 'promoting a monarchist restoration' was a curious way for anarchists to 'abstain from politics'.

   Secondly, and, as so many modern anarchists do, promoting the abolition of the state in MODERN states means abolishing DEMOCRACIES, so anarchism can barely be connected anymore with the old progressive goal of replacing monarchies with democracies. What happens if democracies are overthrown? Dictatorships (like that of Pinochet) can easily result. Such dictatorships (which are like throwbacks to the absolute monarchies of previous centuries) are certainly not viable replacements for democracies. People would rather have at least a little influence on government by VOTING for candidates.

   Thirdly, anarchists (often disguised as socialists) create organizational bureaucracies that operate in secrecy. They censor their opposition and use their advantages to maintain strangleholds on power. I witnessed those very mechanisms in operation in the American SLP in the 1970's. In the 1870's, Marx accused Bakunin of wanting to replace the General Council of the First International with his own 'personal dictatorship'. Anarchists are democrats in speech, but monarchists and dictators in substance.

   Pushing personal (and clique) agendas to a higher priority than worker emancipation is the best evidence of anarchism being a bourgeois movement.

> and, if possible, reconcile that with your lack of criticism of the
> influence of bourgeoise Elightenment humanism in (Hegelian)
> socialist thought including that of Marx himself?
> Joe W.

   Ahhh, 'if possible' ... So grateful for the escape hatch. As was correctly perceived, I do not criticize 'the influence of bourgeois Enlightenment humanism in (Hegelian) socialist thought'. Apologies if my lack of opinion on that subject might be disappointing. To the expense of so many other subjects as well, my labors have more often dwelt on the relative effectiveness of concrete programs of action. Without an effective program, where would we be? Exactly where we are now, which is not where we WANT to be.

   Ken Ellis



   Dear Editor,

   Fifty years ago, any number of lots in my South End neighborhood could have been nabbed for $300 apiece. Five contiguous lots were bought, a house and garage built on 3 of them, and 2 empty lots retained for R+R. The last tax bill for the empty lots was a shocker. Assessors DOUBLED their value to $72,400 in the space of ONE YEAR. The quarterly tax shot up from $139 to $391. One neighbor's similarly-situated empty residential lots on an adjacent street has identical tax and value figures.

   One effect of these unfair tax doublings is to force small owners to sell to real estate speculators who then proceed to pack as many people into our sardine can as possible. Open space and distance between neighbors are not valued as much as funneling exploitation opportunities to speculators, who might say: "Look at the jobs that will be created by developing these spaces!" as if rampant speculation did not bring the economy to the very spot it's in now. If the jobs issue were to be considered objectively, and the replacement of humans with smarter machines taken into account, then the remaining work would be shared more evenly, simple as that, and all of the ill-considered pressures to 'build more stuff' and 'grow the economy' would be consigned to the museum of useless artifacts.

   Ken Ellis



   Joseph W. wrote:

> Anarchists, to the extent that they employ violence ...

   Anarchist initiation of violence is indefensible. Capitalism could be abolished simply by reducing the length of the work week, as made possible by ongoing improvements in productive capacity. Work week reductions are as simply and peacefully implemented as reforming laws already on the books.

   People have to be able to AFFORD to lead suckers to think that 'initiating violence could get them somewhere'. Get them to the hospital, morgue, or jail, most likely, but not to social justice.

   Ken Ellis



   Joseph W. wrote:

> To dwell on the 'violence' associated with anarchists without acknowledging
> people like Emma Goldman is as disingenous as it would be to focus on Huey
> Newton and act as though Martin Luther King was not part of the same
> movement.

   I'm not the one who hinted at the potential use of violence as a method of solving social problems. I maintain that all of our problems can be solved WITHOUT a single drop of blood being shed, all of the way to the abolition of class distinctions, the abolition of the state, and the abolition of capitalism. All that's required is for the remaining work to be equitably shared for as long as it remains necessary for people to roll out of bed in the morning to go to work. You, on the other hand, remain fuzzy on the issue of 'the possible use of violence'. Perhaps violence cannot be disowned by any one anarchist without alienating other anarchists. I doubt if you will EVER make a forceful statement OF YOUR OWN about that subject one way or the other. I, on the other hand, can easily state for all time that 'no violence will ever be needed', and that the branch of the social movement with which I stand regards 'the potential use of violence' as a worthless distraction.

   Ken Ellis



   Dear Bruce,

   The following item may be old news to you, but I just found "Peace to the PALACES, war on the COTTAGES!" in one of Marx's diatribes against Bakunin entitled: "The Alliance of Socialist Democracy and the International Working Men's Association" (me23.526):

   "Only to the born anarchists, to the people elect, to his young people of Holy Russia does the prophet [Bakunin] dare to speak out openly. There anarchy means universal pan-destruction; the revolution, a series of assassinations, first individual and then en masse; the sole rule of action, the Jesuit morality intensified; the revolutionary type, the brigand. There, thought and learning are absolutely forbidden to the young as mundane occupations that could lead them to doubt the all-destructive orthodoxy. Those who persist in adhering to these theoretical heresies or who apply their vulgar criticism to the dogmas of universal amorphism are threatened with a holy inquisition. Before the youth of Russia the Pope [Bakunin] need feel no restraint either in the form or substance of his utterances. He gives his tongue free play and the complete absence of ideas is expressed in such grandiloquent verbiage that it cannot be reproduced in French without weakening its comic effect. His language is not even real Russian. It is Tartar, so a native Russian has stated. These small men with atrophied minds puff themselves up with horrific phrases in order to appear in their own eyes as giants of revolution. It is the fable of the frog and the ox.

   "What terrible revolutionaries! They want to annihilate and amorphise everything, "absolutely everything". They draw up lists of proscribed persons, doomed to die by their daggers, their poison, their ropes, by the bullets from their revolvers; they "will tear out the tongues" of many, but they will bow before the majesty of the tsar. Indeed, the tsar, the officials, the nobility, the bourgeoisie may sleep in peace. The Alliance does not make war on the established states, but on the revolutionaries who do not stoop to the role of supernumeraries in this tragicomedy. Peace to the palaces, war on the cottages! Chernyshevsky was libeled; the editors of The People's Cause were warned that they would be silenced "by various practical means at our disposal"; the Alliance threatened to assassinate all revolutionaries who were not with it. This is the only part of their pan-destructive program which they began to carry out."

   The 'right-side-up' use of the phrase occurred only in French: "Guerre aux palais, paix aux chaumiéres", and only in a single early article by Engels entitled "The Festival of Nations in London" (me6.4):

   "To sum up: when English people, French people and those Germans who take part in the practical movement but are not theoreticians nowadays talk about democracy and the fraternization of nations, this should not be understood simply in a political sense. Such fantasies still exist only among the German theoreticians and a few foreigners who don't count. In reality these words now have a social meaning in which the political meaning is dissolved. The Revolution itself was something quite different from a struggle for this or that form of State, as people in Germany still quite frequently imagine that it was. The connection of most insurrections of that time with famine, the significance which the provisioning of the capital and the distribution of supplies assumed already from 1789 onwards, the maximum, the laws against buying up food supplies, the battle cry of the revolutionary armies - "Guerre aux palais, paix aux chaumiéres" - the testimony of the Carmagnole according to which Republicans must have du pain as well as du fer and du coeur - and a hundred other obvious superficialities already prove, without any more detailed investigation of the facts, how greatly democracy differed at that time from a mere political organization. As it is it is well known that the Constitution of 1793 and the terror originated with the party which derived its support from the insurgent proletariat, that Robespierre's overthrow signified the victory of the bourgeoisie over the proletariat, that Babeuf's conspiracy for equality revealed the final consequences of the democracy of '93 - insofar as these were at all possible at that time. The French Revolution was a social movement from beginning to end, and after it a purely political democracy became a complete absurdity."

   In which of the works of Lenin did the phrase occur? I'd love to see it in its full context.

   BTW, the Jan. 8 issue arrived unusually late - on Tuesday the 14th, whereas it normally would have arrived on the 11th.

   Best wishes,
   Ken Ellis



   Joseph W. wrote:

> To the extent that engaging in politics and working within defined
> parameters only serves to reinforce the status quo, abstaining from
> politics may not be such a bad idea.

   Abstaining from politics amounts to capitulation to the bourgeoisie. Politically inert workers are just what the bourgeoisie prefers, for exploitation then becomes all the easier.

> Many Americans do not vote (i.e. they are dis-engaged from
> politics, and it is not because of apathy in all cases).

   The absence of a labor party in the USA indicates a classless society: No labor party means no classes, and no class struggle. This situation may or may not change, even under the pressures of exponentially increasing robotization, for as long as unemployment can be kept from going through the roof by means of work-sharing.

> I was not aware of any old progressive goal of replacing democracies
> with monarchies.

   The origin of the term 'Social-Democracy' was revealed to me while refuting various anarchist lies: Back in Marx's day, bourgeois republicans wanted to replace monarchies with democracies, but also wanted property qualifications on the right to vote. Marx's First International, on the other hand, wanted European monarchies to be replaced with democracies enjoying UNIVERSAL SUFFRAGE, which was one of the two main essences of red republicanism, 'expropriation of the expropriators' being the other. Marxists wanted democracies, but with the extra added kick of SOCIAL CONTROL over those democracies. Demonizers of ALL forms of states, on the other hand, do not distinguish between states that workers would gladly demolish vs. states that workers would gladly lay down their lives to either create or defend.

> Certainly revolutionaries have fought against oppression in all forms,
> many that are not necessarily monarchic. Monarchists have always been
> ceremonial fronts for mercantilists anyway, and are mostly irrelevant in
> modern times. To the extent that the institution of the state in modern
> times is largely deployed to subjugate people, I think the anti-statist
> anarchist tendency is a good one.

   Refusal to discriminate between forms of state (some to be smashed, some to be defended) betrays a total lack of usefulness in truly revolutionary situations, which are, by the way, fading fast in this world. The purpose of revolution was to bestow democracy and/or independence on countries that previously didn't enjoy them. Populations don't revolt over purely economic problems, which is why the USA is finished with violent revolutions for the rest of time.

> Your Chilean example is fatally flawed and conflates the interests
> of anarchists with the geopolitical interests of the 'Democratic'
> United States.

   Part of the process of refutation is to show exactly how the given example was supposedly "fatally flawed". Secondly, I didn't think I was so naïve as to 'conflate the interests of anarchists with the geopolitical interests of the 'Democratic' United States.' Please explain how my short comment: "What happens if democracies are overthrown? Dictatorships (like that of Pinochet) can easily result." ... might indicate some alleged conflation.

> Dictatorship was not an incidental result of the overthrow of a
> democratically elected government in Chile - that was the objective.

   Nothing I wrote indicated misapprehension that 'the Pinochet regime was a mere "incidental result" of the overthrow of Allende.' We know that Pinochet was part of the overthrow from the beginning, along with ITT, the CIA, etc. I intended little more than to generally warn about the bad consequences of overthrowing democracies.

> Anarchists have not been behind installing any dictatorships to
> power anywhere.

   I have yet to charge anarchists with complicity in installing dictatorships.

> Your argument distorts the position of anarchists
> vis-à-vis dictatorships.

   Anarchist position on dictatorships? Anarchists do not qualify various forms of states as good or bad, because anarchists would abolish ALL states.

> You concede, though, voting people have 'a little' influence in government.

   Some influence is better than none, and 'none' is what the workers had during the worst years of the Pinochet dictatorship, or during the olden days of absolute monarchies.

> "a little" is not enough. Democracy is hardly the best thing going, it may
> be a good idea, but it is now entirely synonymous with neo-liberalism
> and as such, is not a viable vehicle for human emancipation without
> some serious rethinking.

   What's the alternative to political democracy? None exists. Political democracy, universal suffrage, freedoms of speech and assembly, are most of the tools anyone will ever need.

   Snip long quote

> Bakunin's secret dictatorship??
> Bakunin is sometimes accused of being in favor of dictatorship. Indeed
> he often talks about secret dictatorships. However if you read what he
> actually said in detail it is quite obvious that what he was talking about
> was the classic anarchist position of a leadership of ideas. In a letter
> ending his relationship with the notorious Russian revolutionary
> Nechayev he says of his secret society;(1)
Thus the sole aim of a secret society must be, not the creation of an
> artificial power outside the people, but the rousing, uniting and organizing
> of the spontaneous power of the people; therefore, the only possible, the
> only real revolutionary army is not outside the people, it is the people
> itself.

> The secrecy aspect may be regrettable (though understandable given the
> climate of Tsarist Russia) but these are
not the words of one who sought
> to set up a dictatorship over the workers
. I would also hazard a guess that
> many of the people who
peddle the Bakunin-secret dictator line are well
> aware of this.
> Secret liberal and socialist societies were a permanent and widespread
> phenomenon in Europe and had been since the end of the Napoleonic empire
> often for good reason. Marx and Engels joined the secret German organization
> The League of the Just in 1847 and changed its name to the Communist League.
> The Communist Manifesto was published by this secret organization in 1848
> using the German Workers Education society as a sort of front. At the time
> of the major confrontation between Marx and Bakunin (1871) many sections
> of the international such as the Spanish one had again gone secret because of
> the persecution following the suppression of the Paris Commune.
> ---- 1 Letter written to Nechayev June 2 1870 and reprinted from the Herzen
> archives by the Anarchist Switchboard , NYC.

   In "Fictitious Splits in the International", Marx revealed Bakunin's plan to exercise a personal dictatorship over the First International (me23.85): "Bakunin ... proposed a makeshift program whose scientific value may be judged by this single phrase: "economic and social equalization of classes". Backed by an insignificant minority, he broke with the League in order to join the International, determined to replace the International's General Rules by his makeshift program, which had been rejected by the League, and to replace the General Council by his personal dictatorship. To this end, he created a special instrument, the International Alliance of Socialist Democracy, intended to become an International within the International."

   Snip old messages

   Ken Ellis



   Joseph W. wrote:

> You are making counterarguments to arguments I have never made.
> I never 'hinted at
violence as a method for solving social problems.'

   On the 14th, however, you wrote: "Anarchists, to the extent that they employ violence do so in opposition to what they see as manifestations of oppressive state/corporatist structures." In that sentence, you both admitted that anarchists sometimes use violence, and you offered a plausible rationale for their use of violence. You recognize that at least some anarchists counterpoise the 'oppression of state/corporatist structures' with violence, and you stated it without objecting to their use of violence, nor did you call for a peaceful solution.

   I claim that the use of violence in the USA is uncalled for. Violence even goes against what the founders of Pacifica stood for. If someone wanted to go on our airwaves advocating 'violent solutions to social questions', then opposing viewpoints from the host and audience would hopefully be forthcoming. Still, 'the application of violence to social questions' might make a good radio debate.

> The dilemma around violence/no-violence is as old as human existence
> and not exclusive to anarchism.

   True, millions condone the death penalty, and millions are ready to go to war against terrorism, Saddam, Usama, etc., so I can't help but agree with that sentence. A radio program about the use of violence is looking more and more useful.

> Unlike you, I do not smugly pretend that there is a
> simple answer to this complex dilemma.

   'Smug pretense', but no strength of conviction? The same accusation could be made against the anarchists I've debated and refuted half my life.

   Complex dilemma? What's so complex about a double exponentially increasing rate of technological progress, and what's so complex about workers wanting to share work more equitably to balance our increasing productivity? Workers fought for (and nearly won) a 30 hour week during the Depression, and a future fight for that same goal is inevitable.

> Violence (political or otherwise) is usually a reaction to or symptom of the
> ravages of capitalism. By harping on 'violence' you are blaming the victim.

   In what way was the smashing of windows in Seattle by the anarchists a reaction to anything real that was happening to them? Nothing and no one forced them to smash windows. They went there to demonstrate and raise hell. What did they expect to reap from the violence they perpetrated?

> Furthermore, the worst sort of violence is invisible state/corporate violence.
> It is easier to scapegoat anarchists for throwing stones, that to critically
> analyze the insidious forms of structural violence meted out by the corporate
> state in the form of the immiseration of the working class and chronically
> unemployed.
> Joe W.

   You have yet to eschew violence, in spite of some wonderful opportunities to do so. Worse, its possible future use appears to be excusable to you.

   Ken Ellis



   Joseph W. wrote:

> One of the oldest and most persistent prejudices about anarchism is that
anarchists are above all people of violence. You are merely perpetuating the
> stereotyped notion that the teachings of Anarchism, or certain exponents of
> these teachings, are responsible
{for} the acts of political violence.

   Though the well-established connection between anarchism and violence may embarrass some anarchists, no one can wave a magic wand to make that connection go away.

   Why adopt an ideology that could embarrass an activist? Hell, I must confess to having been embarrassed by my earliest ideologies, especially when I was unwittingly promoting 'anarchism disguised as socialism' from 1972-6. Even after refuting those old anarchist lies, and after becoming a Leninist, my new communist ideology STILL embarrassed me. But, my liberation capitalism ideology adopted in 1994 contains absolutely nothing to embarrass me. It's as American as apple pie, it can deliver social justice, and it's perfectly suited to advanced capitalist democracies.

   Why would anyone adopt an embarrassing ideology? Our country has no big labor party, indicating a practically classless society with little to complain about, so various organizations are free to market their own brands of social phlogiston, none of which needs to be overly scrutinized. Anything goes, anything passes for 'pure science', and no one cares if scratching the surface of an ideology reveals underlying self-contradictions and lies.

> Your suggestion that capitalism can be "abolished" by shortening the work
> week
is at best a proposal for a reform of capitalism.

   I am perfectly willing to admit that winning a shorter work week is nothing more extraordinary than reforming laws already on the books. In democracies, what else can be done besides reform? Are people going to revolt? Over what? Lenin wanted Westerners to overthrow their Social-Democracies for the sake of concentrating ownership of the means of production into the hands of communist parties, but Westerners wouldn't buy that plan, spelling death to Marx's vision of 'socialist revolution in the most developed countries', and forcing Russia, China, etc., to revolt - one backward country at a time - in stark contradiction to Marx's expectations. History proved his expropriatory ambitions to be ill-suited to the very modern countries where expropriations were expected to occur first.

> Anyway, capitalism cannot be 'abolished' by some sort of decree;

   Who says? Bakunin? Kropotkin? De Leon? If the work week were to be shortened so much that further reductions would be regarded as ridiculous, and hardy volunteers step in to perform the remaining necessary human labor (all of it intellectual at that point), then the wage system is thereby abolished, and the previously working poor become as liberated from wage labor as the previously idle rich. At that point, could the capitalist system possibly be regarded as 'continuing on as before'? Capitalism is inseparable from surplus value and profit, which would disappear without a work week, and without wage labor. As Marx wrote in his pamphlet "Wage-Labor 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!" Since it would be STUPID to try to abolish the state, or try to abolish private property, that leaves us with trying to abolish labor, which the capitalists are already helping us to do. Our main task is but to see that the remaining labor gets distributed to all humans who would like some paid labor to help them get by. Many activists are not yet helpful in that regard, perhaps because so many of them prefer to try to do the impossible, such as abolish the state, or abolish private property.

> capitalism is a *system*, not a practice. To rid the world of capitalism
would require a radical rethinking of the basis for human existence -

   Who has time to radically rethink anything? None of my neighbors are going to 'radically rethink the basis for human existence'. The handful of people who do rethink the basis of human existence are hardly going to affect the millions who have to work 40 hours (or more) per week.

> anarchism has made significantly more inroads in that direction than
> socialist systems,

   None of which are presently relevant to modern democracies.

> which have generally mimicked the structural attributes of capitalist
> mode of production. (Indeed many of the socialists of yesteryear are
> today's 'Third Way' neo-liberals)

   Marx had few fancy plans for an economic model to succeed capitalism. In the first phase of communism (during the dictatorship of the proletariat), Marx couldn't come up with anything more inspiring than 'wresting capital by slow degrees', which meant that capitalist economics were to prevail - even during the dictatorship of the proletariat. There is no way to get around the fact that capitalism is the best system (and the only system) for abolishing labor, which could be converted into the liberation of labor, if activists would only pay more attention to work-sharing issues, and not allow unemployment to climb any higher, and instead try to drive unemployment down. Five percent unemployment has been national policy for many years, which also means that it is a policy consciously created by humans, so it can be changed if enough people demand it.

> "The main perpetrators of violence have been those who maintain authority,
> not those who attack it. The great bomb throwers have not been the tragic
> individuals driven to desperation in southern Europe more than half a
> century ago, but by the military machines of every state in the world
> throughout history. No anarchist can rival the Blitz and the Bomb, no
> Ravachol or Bonnot can stand beside Hitler or Stalin.
> "
Most anarchists have always opposed any violence which is not really
> necessary - the inevitable violence occurs when the people shake off
> their oppressive rulers.
> - Nicholas Walter, New Humanist, 1979.

   Nicholas Walter wrote:

> Most anarchists have always opposed any violence which is not really necessary

   He says some violence 'is not really necessary', but he also leaves open the possibility that 'some violence may be necessary'. It would depend on the anarchists' objectives, which are precisely what? Abolition of the state? Expropriation of the expropriators? With those objectives, expect to employ lots of violence.

   'Shaking off oppressive rulers' has little to do with life in modern democracies, but has everything to do with the lack of freedoms associated with dictatorships and old absolute feudal monarchies. Anarcho-syndicalism was not so far-fetched for coping with the absolute monarchies of the 19th century, but is irrelevant today, and is becoming increasingly irrelevant with the passage of time.

   Marx and jealous Europeans regarded the USA's Wild West as comparable to anarchy. Hardly any state apparatus at all in the Wild West was a great attraction to those 'yearning to be free'.

   Ken Ellis

   Marx and Engels in "
The [Bakuninist] Alliance in Russia" (me23.526): "Only to the born anarchists, to the people elect, to his young people of Holy Russia does the prophet [Bakunin] dare to speak out openly. There anarchy means universal pan-destruction; the revolution, a series of assassinations, first individual and then en masse; the sole rule of action, the Jesuit morality intensified; the revolutionary type, the brigand. There, thought and learning are absolutely forbidden to the young as mundane occupations that could lead them to doubt the all-destructive orthodoxy. Those who persist in adhering to these theoretical heresies or who apply their vulgar criticism to the dogmas of universal amorphism are threatened with a holy inquisition. Before the youth of Russia the Pope [Bakunin] need feel no restraint either in the form or substance of his utterances. He gives his tongue free play and the complete absence of ideas is expressed in such grandiloquent verbiage that it cannot be reproduced in French without weakening its comic effect. His language is not even real Russian. It is Tartar, so a native Russian has stated. These small men with atrophied minds puff themselves up with horrific phrases in order to appear in their own eyes as giants of revolution. It is the fable of the frog and the ox.

   "What terrible revolutionaries! They want to annihilate and amorphise everything, "absolutely everything". They draw up lists of proscribed persons, doomed to die by their daggers, their poison, their ropes, by the bullets from their revolvers; they "will tear out the tongues" of many, but they will bow before the majesty of the tsar. Indeed, the tsar, the officials, the nobility, the bourgeoisie may sleep in peace. The Alliance does not make war on the established states, but on the revolutionaries who do not stoop to the role of supernumeraries in this tragicomedy. Peace to the palaces, war on the cottages! Chernyshevsky was libeled; the editors of The People's Cause were warned that they would be silenced "by various practical means at our disposal"; the Alliance threatened to assassinate all revolutionaries who were not with it. This is the only part of their pan-destructive program which they began to carry out."

   Engels to Becker (me45.434): "You shouldn't allow the poor anarchists to irritate you so. They, too, are in a truly forlorn state. In the West they have nothing left to do save be anarchical amongst themselves and tear one another's hair out, and in Russia all their murderous deeds achieve - as they have just discovered to their dismay - is pulling the Constitutionals' chestnuts out of the fire for them!"



   dorothy j b wrote:

> The powers that be would like nothing better than for you (and citizens)
> to "explicitely refute violence"

   What (of lasting value) do YOU think could be accomplished by the use of violence?

   Secondly, I did not write "explicitly refute violence". I'm not often guilty of such a blatant abuse of the English language. I only wanted to know if Joe would ESCHEW violence. FYI, violence can be eschewed (or shunned, or rejected), while arguments can be refuted.

> --- a quiet group who gives us no problem,
> police have said, is fine with us, people have the right to march.
> Read as, we are okay as long as we can 'let marches happen and
> control them completely." It was very clear in DC the violence
> came from the police.
> Jesse

   The right to march is pretty darned absolute, but if the intelligence the cops receive indicates that violence would probably ensue, then they have the prerogative to regulate the march, or even prevent it if the anticipated damages might be greater than what the public is willing to put up with.

   The violence perpetrated in Seattle did not result in a higher level of social justice in this country, or did I miss something? Seems to me that things just keep on getting worse.

   Ken Ellis

   "Refute all lies." - Pablo Neruda



   dorothy j b wrote:

> To talk of 'winning a shorter workweek' when with fox grins on their faces,
> Govt offices, corporations, countrywide like a plague, for 2 decades at least
> perversely as technology clicks in more, indicating 'the predicted leisure
> hours, short work days) --when talking of shorter workweek is like an
> aphrodisiac to those who HATE the working and poor class, who aren't
> ABOUT to see them with 'lazy time off' so they did the opposite and post
> offices, and every work place I know about, people are working twice the
> hours, with half (or no) benefits, put in cubicles when unnecessary,
> isolated, give double work loads. Just want you to remember that to
> approach rationally the proposition that
shorter work week would be
> nice
, is not to understand the dismantling of the soul, the taking away
> the dream, the concerted efforts to make life harder for the workers,
> and once again, sending children to work. To talk of '
let's shorten the
> workweek
' was just bizarre to me, considering the whole possibility
> of most workers even making it today so enraged the now-greedier
> than ever, they deliberately take more and more away from them.
> Jesse

   I'm not happy submitting this first comment, but your skill in the use of the English language could stand a bit of improvement. I do gather that you question the value of a shorter work week as if 'fewer hours yield greater hardship', or as if 'more hours yield better times.' But, that is exactly what the bosses would like for you to believe. The unionists of over a century ago, on the other hand, knew that the truth was quite the opposite, and that "Whether you work by the piece or work by the day, decreasing the hours increases the pay." For more on that subject, try:

   There has to be a good reason why the best of the socialists, communists and anarchists can generally agree on the value of a shorter work week. That's because a long work week is such an absurdity, especially in the light of productivity increasing at a double exponential rate. Every year that goes by, it takes less labor than ever to create the necessities of life. If the benefits of increased productivity are not taken in the form of 'fewer work hours', then those benefits flow right into the pockets of the bosses. A shorter work week is THE perfect way to keep more people working, and provide many more people with disposable income. The present rounds of job cuts drive the economy further into the ground, necessitating even more job cuts, creating a vicious circle. But, the bosses and the government are no more clueless about this consequence than are the many anarchists who pretend ignorance on this subject, or maintain a state of denial. Dishonesty is everywhere, left and right.

   Engels was never more truthful than when he stated in 1845 that "the supremacy of the bourgeoisie is based wholly upon the competition of the workers among themselves". Most of the problems in this country originate from the fact that labor is not in control of the labor market, so workers have to compete among themselves for scarce opportunities to make the rich richer. Is violence the solution to this problem? How about 'organizing to put more people to work'? Would violence be any more effective in handling social problems than it has been in handling internal Pacifica problems? :-)

   Ken Ellis



   Joseph W. wrote:

> I really think we are arguing at cross purposes,

   I think we can agree on at least one thing: that we disagree on some issues.

> why do I have to "explicitly refute violence" as though I have something
> to prove on that score - I do not find it excusable - violence is part of
> human existence, one cannot wish it away.

   "explicitly refute violence" was not the term that I used, so I don't know why you chose to use quotation marks. I wanted to know if you were willing to eschew, shun, or reject the initiation of violence in the pursuit of social justice, but it doesn't look as if you are ready. You can probably imagine the gulf that now separates you from the many in this forum who adhere to the principle of 'outright refusal to advocate violent methods in the pursuit of social justice'. I wish I knew of a way to help you understand the absurdity of violent methods in democracies, but, for some reason, you can't seem to accept the application of good logic to social questions.

   Important issues have been raised in this dialogue, but you persist in dodging them. I remain open for dialogue, hoping that you will someday face these issues with the kind of honesty and courage demanded of everyone. One thing for sure is that your dodging and generally poor performance reveal anarchism as vacuous and useless, so I thank you for helping me to prove that point (to any objective observer) beyond the shadow of a doubt.

   Ken Ellis

   "The pen is mightier than the sword."



   Hi, I saw your plea for info about Social-Democracy, did a quick google search, and found over a million pages. It probably could be narrowed down by adding an additional filter, such as by searching for, say, 'social democratic policies'. That filter narrowed it down to 849,000 pages. :-)

   My own web pages actually contain quite a bit about the subject of social democracy, and I even go into the origin of the term. Apparently, bourgeois democrats wanted democracies, but wanted property qualifications on the use of the ballot. Marx also wanted democracies to replace old rotten feudal monarchies, but Marx and the other red republicans wanted universal suffrage - no property qualifications for voting. Marx wanted democracies to be SOCIALLY controlled, and not controlled by a mere elite of property owners.

   Marx's First International was heavily involved in the struggle for social democracy, as proven by many of the statements he made that were recorded in the minutes of the General Council (or Central Council) of the First International. Many of the comments of both Marx and Engels are reproduced at my web site, and were provided in order to counter anarchist arguments against social democracy, and against any form of state power whatsoever.

   Happy hunting,

   Ken Ellis



   dorothy j b wrote:

> Why adopt a policy that would embarrass an activist.
> (or Anarchist you said).

   I didn't specify 'anarchist'. No ideology was specified: "Why would anyone adopt an embarrassing ideology?" is what I wrote, plus: "Why adopt an ideology that could embarrass an activist?" Years ago, neither my anarchist nor communist ideologies could be reconciled with living in advanced democracies, so I was never comfortable with either ideology. It would have been embarrassing to admit that the anarchist ideology I espoused would have resulted in the abolition of the state that my party was attempting to get itself elected to. Duh! After I switched to communism, it would have been embarrassing to try to explain to the average American that 'our government needs to be smashed and replaced with a communist workers' state.' Duh again. Both programs are obviously ill-fitted to democracies, but actually were plausible in Europe a few generations ago.

> Typical Pacifica p. c. statement!

   Anti-violence is not so much a matter of political correctness as it is a matter of adopting tactics that are either effective or ineffective in the struggle for social justice. Average people are turned off by violence. Tactics that alienate average people greatly diminish a group's influence, except to encourage passage of draconian laws.

> If an activist of any size or shape could be embarrassed by a pacifist who
> never risks, never makes waves, then I could sell you the Brooklyn Bridge.
> If you are a committed peace-worker does not equal crying in words only
> PEACE, PEACE and waiting for your religion or magic to work. A humanist
> who wishes for peace among nations and people: will be 1) committed to
> peace as was one of the 'act-out' Anarchists interviewed in Seattle, well
> spoken, calm and deliberately making a breaking window action again Nike
> store, said among his total I believe of 12 'acting out' anarchists in
> Seattle-they were peacefully without endangering anyone, making a statement
> they felt they must make. They were calm and harmed no one, the police were
> extremely violent and harmed many, some being non-protesters, old people
> passing through) -and 2) know when it is time to make a statement that will
> be heard, that means putting your body on the line at great risk.

   The Seattle activists broke windows, and breakage cannot be accomplished 'peacefully'. John Q. Public was turned off, globalization wasn't stopped dead in its tracks, Nike sales did not plummet, etc. The broken glass represented property that was turned into trash, crews had to pick up the pieces, clean up the mess, repair the damage, and it cost big bucks. Property, economy, scarcity, labor, wages, profit, politics, etc., are all closely related, and won't be brushed away by direct action anytime soon.

> Thank God the Union in it's early days to break the mighty power that forced
> long work days, kept children from carrying the work lunch pail, did not get
> embarrassed at the actions and the deaths of their own members in one of
> the greatest struggles in our Nation.
> Jesse

   The union makes us strong.

   Ken Ellis

   Refuse to work overtime for less than double time.



   Joseph W. wrote:

> The following statement you made (below) is utterly ridiculous and
> dishonest. I have never 'advocate(d) violent methods'.
>> "You can probably imagine the gulf that now separates you from the many in
>> this forum who adhere to the principle of outright refusal to advocate
>> violent methods in the pursuit of social justice. I wish I knew of a way to
>> help you understand the absurdity of violent methods in democracies, but,
>> for some reason, you can't seem to accept the application of good logic to
>> social questions."

   You've had many opportunities to reject the use of violence in pursuit of social justice, but refuse to do so. Anyone can deny anything at any time, but denials fall far short of VOICING REJECTION of the use of violence. Can violence be overtly rejected without jeopardizing one's status as an anarchist?

   Ken Ellis



   dorothy j b wrote:

> What truly revolutionary situations are there? (not
> a trick question) - would you consider Argentina one
> at present?
> Jesse

   This CIA web site shows the Argentine economy to be in bad shape, but they have democracy and many parties, 4 million people use the Internet, freedom of speech is intact, so Argentina will not revolt any too soon. Cuba, on the other hand, bans the Internet on principle.

   I can't name any revolutionary situations at present. Venezuela looks headed for counter-revolution, but that's different. In the 1800's, however, revolutionary situations abounded in Europe. France had at least 3 bourgeois democratic revolutions from 1789-1871, along with at least 2 monarchist restorations, or counter-revolutions.

   The classical purpose of revolution was to bestow democracy or independence, not to fix mere economic problems.

   Ken Ellis



   dorothy j b wrote:

> KEN:
>> Secondly, I did not write "explicitly refute violence". I'm not often
>> guilty of such a blatant abuse of the English language.
> JESSE: I apologize for putting quotes around that phrase as you would have
> said such a thing as 'refute violence.' Fans of my writing probably love my
> abuse (and good use) of the English language. Violence can as you say be
> "ESCHEWED" shunned, or rejected but try as you will, you can't get it out
> of your system, nor I out of mine. As Danny Glover read in article on DN!
> program (that stands for Democracy Now) terror is something inate, comes
> with birth. So does both violence/good come at birth in each of us. I know
> it's a bit non-linear in thinking, but I do not advocate violence, and also
> do not advocate child starvation (now at 2 million just in the State of
> California) do not advocate violence yet admired the Black Panthers because
> they were coming from 'survival PURELY of their own people' and we are all
> at 'survival oriented, it's in the genes' - we just haven't 'fallen over yet'
> though much assaulted. I admired the Panthers who were coming only from
> 'our kids are hungry' and began feeding the hungry in Oakland, and took arms
> (guns) into their hands to astonishment, to ask a policeman why he was
> harrassing a lone Black man. They were cornered. (as a race) I don't
> advocate violence though I was raised in a violent country founded upon
> the violence of cruelly bringing (if not thrown overboard, drowned, died
> on shipboard) Africans to be the 'property value' and were literally 'the
> entire fortune' for many owners of the enslaved, who were basis for a great
> portion of the country's economy (including economy of life of Jefferson-
> his home, his slaves, were all that kept him able to continue his life style)
> - I was raised in a violent country, but by a peaceful family, yet not a
> family who said, 'never fight' for they fought as young people (my mother,
> on her own very early, self educated and became leader of University women
> League of Voters, etc, and virtuoso musician) - fought to have a good home
> during the depression - forced to leave Colorado after the cow (who
> furnished all sustenance) blew up and no longer enough money from Daddy
> going dangerous Rocky Mountains (one way roads) with tourists, and Mama
> baking cakes to sell. Arriving back in Oregon where they started 'where
> one could, at the least, grow food'). People such as our family know what
> struggle (AND fortunately not complaining!!) and inequality was and
> peaceful as they were, not an arguing family, but much laughter and
> story telling among 5 children/parents. But they were fighters.
> and when your life is at stake, you fight with all your spirit.

   I don't begrudge individuals of very much in their PERSONAL struggles to get by, because personal struggles for survival are a different kettle of fish compared to our struggle to broaden Pacifica's programming horizons, to broaden the base of control of Pacifica, as well as to inform ourselves of happenings in many different types of struggles for social justice.

> That is how a person who doesn't advocate violence understands that
> Nathanial (Nat) Turner was a hero (today, and by many then, called
> a terrorist and hung until dead, basicaly 'a peaceful man' he told his
> followers' '
but God spoke to me - I waited for a sign (he was a religious
> man) ---"
but this is what I HAVE to do for my people, but the next time
> we won't have to hurt anybody.
" He was totally a hero to the 'pen not
> the sword
' Frederick Douglass.

   As a slave, Nat Turner had few political tools available. In the white-dominated legal system of 1830, Turner was considered no better than a piece of property that 'turned bad on its owner'. In such a situation, the violence used by the rebels can hardly be begrudged them. But, do the same conditions exist today? Are people of color no better than white man's property? The times have changed, so tactics have to change as well. Modern citizens feeling oppressed and lashing out in anger, killing other people, would not receive the reverence bestowed on the Nat Turner rebels.

> So I do not advocate violence, but I understand fighting for one's life (as
> I also have had to do on occasion) with all one's heart and soul, and from
> the examples I heard from the mouths of those few Anarchist activists in
> Seattle, they were doing what they personally felt they must do, not for
> self, not for advocating the ferocious violence of the police, nor wishing
> the 'cloak' of violence be laid upon them,' but their 'FAMILY' (of
> Americans) was being attacked. In that regard, I am not a Pacifist
> although I would hope to NEVER have to injure a person and would
> certainly even if I thought (it wouldn't help) it could save one's life,
> would never own a gun.

   There's often a big difference between organized courses of action, such as what we discuss in this forum, and the actions taken by isolated individuals (and families) struggling to get by. The forum has many more resources available to it, and its courses of action far more likely to be guided by the accumulated wisdom of the ages.

> I say this many words because I don't know how else to address something as
> non-computable, an oxymoron really, that 1) I don't advocate violence and
> 2) I don't believe in any of us going like lemmings to the sea.

   That's a valid stance from which to embark.

>> KEN SAID; The right to march is pretty darned absolute, but if the
>> intelligence the cops receive indicates that violence would probably ensue,
>> then they have the prerogative to regulate the march, or even prevent it if
>> the anticipated damages might be greater than what the public is willing to
>> put up with.
> JESSE: WOW _ that is truly p. c. If our protesters are thinking in this
> climate today of almost certainly terminal world war III, and considering
> recent dismantling of Constitution and considering the ruining in two
> years of the USA budget, by Bush, if our protesters are thinking in
> terms of pleasing the police, making their job easier, and by doing so,
> perhaps pacifying a dumb apathetic nation of spoiled individuals, then
> we're lost!!!!!!!!!! It is an insult to our heritage as a truly mixed group
> of people who, albeit, slaughtered the Indians to steal this "Indian land"
> but still came together with a certain attempt at living up to some of
> the tenets of the Constitution, and a certain indomitable spirit, to speak
> as if we were not fighters for our lives, fighters for justice, as if we
> were simple marching whiners!!!!!!!!! This takes the cake!!!!

   Smashing windows may put a few people to work for a few hours, but it's hardly a permanent or efficient solution to the chronic problems of poverty and unemployment. Activists should spend lots more time thinking of a constructive program that a LOT of people could actually agree upon. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that smashing windows is going to anger many people, who will then be made very happy if the power of the state retaliates against window smashers. Police riots might then become something for a few to complain about, even though they knew beforehand that the violence would likely result in smashed heads, police riots, and injuries to innocent bystanders. With the low level of support for a revolution against the state, it's pretty obvious that the window smashing of today is a total waste. A window smasher has to be able to afford to put so many lives at risk, including their own. Such acts are symptomatic of ideological bankruptcy.

>> The violence perpetrated in Seattle did not result in a higher level of
social justice in this country, or did I miss something?
> Jesse: Did they promise you a rose garden? The violence, listen closely now,
> in SEATTLE was horrible violence, ON THE PART OF THE POLICE! admitted
> by all, and the Police chief resigned, admittedly an out of control SEATTLE
> police. There are still accounts of this, if you can't find it I can direct you
> to the 1) beautiful, artistic and peaceful march on the part of an amazing
> array of people which HAPPENED to include about 12 acting out (calmly)
> Anarchists who harmed no one and did nothing that could be harmful to
> anyone there, while the News (is that where you got your news?) called
> Seattle - the entire huge group, a group of violent Anarchists. They lie
> and they lied.

   Property crimes are bound to raise hackles. Would the police have reacted if the demonstrators did not initiate direct action? The San Fran demo over the weekend is a good example. Everything went smoothly on Saturday, but the 1,000 breakaways on Sunday initiated a police reaction. If damage is done, what else but a police reaction can be expected? The breakaways could not have but hurt their own ostensible cause. One can only wonder if government agents might have orchestrated the breakaway.

>> KEN:
>> Seems to me that things just keep on getting worse.
> Not to worry, seriously, when things get worse is when they can get better,
> a strange flux time, and the smallest event (such as Bush falling on his own
> petard, whoops, I mean a less violent metaphor, say, shooting himself in the
> foot? being caught! In big cover-ups etc) - or any other small event may
> change the picture.

   Sudden changes for the better do not happen in democracies. Western peoples don't overthrow their democracies for the sake of putting power and property into the hands of new elites.

> The GOOD news is the beautiful contact, people to people,
> happening between countries, learning about each other, and groups
> you never even hear about, making things better for the world - humans
> and animals. We have evolved to HUGE population and even surviving that
> is a miracle, but the survival genes built in will keep us adapting and if
> this isn't to be the end of this particular civilization, there is in a sense,
> as much hope as there always was, life was ALWAYS precarious.

   snip old messages for brevity

   I counsel patience, and advise adopting a longer view. When I started refuting anarchist lies, it was wonderful to learn about where society had been, which led to much better predictions of where society might end up in the future.

   Ken Ellis



   dorothy j b wrote:

> Ken,
> And PS - you are right, it is ALL about
the rich get richer while
> the poor get destitute.

   So true.

> PPS - you say, Is violence the solution to this problem?
> JESSE: I'll say a word spoken by doctor who founded doctors going to aid war
> zones, he was speaking from the horrible camps in Pakistan after bombings
> etc. "
War (violence) is never the answer." But see my further words below
> on when "
we fight to survive" though basically against violence.
>> KEN: How about 'organizing to put more people to work'? Would violence be
>> any more effective in handling social problems than it has been in handling
>> internal Pacifica problems? :-)

> correction: In Ken's question: should we organize
> to put more people to work and (with a smile he said)
> should we have applied violence re Pacifica internal
> problems - answered
yes - and meant NO AND NO.

   Jesse's old answer:

> Yes, there should have been by now not only a shorter work week but perhaps
> no work weeks at all, in many cases, with pay (as predicted in books long
> ago, the change that would come when technology took over).

   The correction was duly noted and accepted. With regard to the length of the work week: Certainly it should be short enough to enable more people to find work, or to reduce unemployment to a level that is much more socially acceptable (to the poor) than today's 5.7%, which is the government U-3 figure, while their more comprehensive U-6 figure is 9.6%. Reduce the work week too much, on the other hand, and the engine of innovation grinds to a halt, and class divisions get perpetuated way too far into the future. Today's dog-eat-dog conditions may not be fun to live with, but relief is coming. A socially progressive reason for today's minuscule movement for a shorter work week may be: We work ourselves to death in a mad dash to innovate our way to the total abolition of work, labor, and wage-slavery. How our prodigious levels of energy will be dissipated after the abolition of capitalism, scarcity, and economy, is anyone's guess, but I'm sure that younger generations can look forward to nothing but fun.

> I don't know if today's technology world can be described in terms of a
> 'workers' world. The workers have now been
so screwed in this country.

   Workers are screwed? Compare conditions today to those of a century ago. My neighbors mostly live in single family dwellings with modern conveniences, but a century ago had inadequate housing and heat, barely any electricity, and worked 12 hour days in mills and sweat shops. The good old days really weren't all that good.

> But sociologists, and others know by now we could have been developing
> SOCIETY and WITHOUT identifying people according to their work. Creative
> thinking would hopefully have led us to see what a technological society
> might use it's citizens for, and how citizens once workers (the 9 to 5
> concept will have to change) - will contribute their talents to this society,
> to the global society. We don't need to be put into categories if some of good
> ideas proposed for society, when it reached this evolution point, however
> wild they sound, might have been adopted. More as "how we might live our
> lives, and what society might become." Not how "you should live lives"
> (who know?) but 'how most beautifully might we live our lives.'

   I will admit that we, as a society, as a human race, could be doing a lot better by ourselves than at present, simply in terms of better distributing the wealth we produce, and rearranging our priorities so as not to be in such a mad dash to fill up the pockets of the rich. The biggest reason for the maldistribution of wealth is the maldistribution of work. Too many people don't have enough work to get by, while others have more than enough, which is why 'better regulation of work hours' is so important.

> If we can get out of the category of 'workers' will be difficult.
> Identify ourselves some other way. (I always identified with work,
> background of Mid-western parents) Example of 'great dreams we never
> pay attention to' - current ones (not that recent) solar energy, and on in
> on to inventions for better living, and there are the great dreams of the
> leisure society where the biggest asset the human being has, might actually
> be given an opportunity to really develop: the yet unexplored (despite recent
> dabblings) human brain and the wondrous possibilities. These are the dreams
> now to work for, rather than the now mythical 'worker's world.'

   A workers' world is a world of drudgery, which could end as soon as 2030, if predictions of 'truly smart machines' pan out, and if we don't blow ourselves up in the meantime. With robotic lawnmowers and vacuum cleaners on the mass market today, can the automation of all other drudgery be all that distant in the future?

> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`` In rereading the letter I
> wondered why I hadn't made a complete sentence of the beginning,
> and thought, should I correct it? No, I thought, Ken is intelligent
> and nonlinear as it is,
he'll figure it out, did you?

   Without all of the time in the world to try to decipher individual sentences or paragraphs, my usual pattern is to abandon such efforts after a few exasperating minutes.

> Let me read on and see. are you kidding,
> am I for a shorter work week? Sorry, you didn't get the meaning
> from my 'out of the loop of Academia' style: Books were written years
> ago on the day we would be, as reasonable beings, not only working shorter
> hours, but, maybe no work weeks, and we would have learned that life is not
> identified by WORK. There are all sorts of things (such as doing nothing)
> that people might well use their time for, but we are in the puritan society
> that DOES NOT WANT SLOTHS!!!! We can envision life as it could be, should
> be, but jealousy and other human traits enter in and it is difficult to
> evolve according to our rational thinking.

   I'm glad that you are comfortable with the notion of a workless world. Not enough people are. Many can't imagine anything except 'work, work, work, for the rest of time'. Some really bury their heads in the sand.

> It is RIDICULOUS that in age of technology the reaction of most industries,
> govt. offices, the post office perhaps leading the way, like a disease, started
> SAVE THE MONEY FOR THE (NOW gluttonous) dividends for high officers, and
> retirement lifetime mega bucks. And with the companies etc, Universities
> - the UCB who became ridiculous with 'high retirement pay' for top people,
> and more work, less money for office AND professionals (my composer pianist
> friend) on campus, and where possible, lessened hours to make people not
> eligible for health care. In corporations, in Govt. offices, etc etc.
> .......I have friends working at UC where I was one of three people working
> personally in 1960's, for Dr. Clark Kerr at UCB, replaced his personal secty
> in her absence, handled appts, which had to be handled PERFECTLY, and
> answered (in good English) all his mail as if from him, and wrote digests of
> 200 page reports, down to the one or two pages I knew would interest him,
> as turned in by different departments. We were btw, all automatically 'let go'
> (with a year's notice however, to look for work!) when Dr. Kerr was abruptly
> in one day of Chancellors meeting with then-Gov. Reagon in basement of U.
> Hall, fired. I was the one to collect all of his Bastion cartoons from the
> 'cartoon only' office as Dr. Kerr said in calm anger that he was leaving
> the building immediately and we gathered up all his things.

   Some of your old jobs sound like lotsa fun.

> I don't btw, 'group-think' - and follow what leaders in particular
> idealogies say, it's a characteristic
KPFA once called "she's a natural
> radical.
" But I appreciate your references and comments.

   Ahhh, to be appreciated in one's own day. Nothing to sneeze at. :-)

>> KEN: " But, the bosses and the government are no more clueless about this
>> consequence than are the many anarchists who pretend ignorance on this
>> subject, or maintain a state of denial. Dishonesty is everywhere, left
>> and right."
> JESSE: You are right about all of the above. We, and they the Anarchists,
> are basically clueless, but by GOD we have passion and our own individual
> sense of right and wrong, usually influenced by early childhood/ experience
> - with me, my mother my mentor. We stay in states of hope, denial (one
> of the best aptitudes human was given was the ability to rationalize,
> don't you think?) and most of all, amazingly - we do survive and even
> happily so!!!! With all our varied beliefs, but as a friend writer said,
> "
We do the best we can." And so I would not, personally, call it "lies to
> the left and right of us
" but just call it 'the human animal.' and would
> never call it 'dishonesty.' I just wrote a new song yesterday about "
> sweet Mary Magdalene
" (I'm not religious but I like her) -- and 'who
> will throw the first stone
' could apply to, who is the honest one.

   Denial is one thing, dishonesty another. I don't charge some people with dishonesty lightly, but I do know from personal experience that an 'author' cannot take a quote out of context, and willfully construe it to mean something he knew the original author did not intend in the least, without committing an act of dishonesty. Blanket refusals on the part of my fellow revolutionists in the 1970's to admit that our previous leaders were dishonest caused me to leave my revolutionary party. The stench was too strong, our house was out of order, but my fellow revolutionaries were interested in no better than sweeping the dirt under the rug. They had a living to make, they had 'anarcho-syndicalism disguised as socialism' to sell to politically naïve newcomers to 'socialism', and were not about to jeopardize their livelihoods just because I couldn't tolerate the stench. Dishonesty and treachery can be found everywhere in the political spectrum.

> And of all our instincts, love is above all and makes more understanding
> perhaps, out of what seem to be 'lies.' But, Ken, we have never lived in a
> more Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole of being fed lies by our own Govt
> since 9/11 especially, deliberate, bald-faced and really crude, not well
> delivered, lies -- these are the 'lies, deceits' to beware of, ----
> otherwise, among different beliefs, no one has the truth - you
> always have to say 'WHOSE TRUTH" The Arab's, mine, etc.
> jesse

   Like I always say: the purpose of life in the era of work is to do whatever it takes, and by whatever means, to get somebody else to do our work for us. No crime is too great, and no lie too big, as long as the dirtiest work gets imposed on those who often can least afford to bear new burdens. Our job is to help spread the burden. May our tactics be well chosen.

   snip old messages for brevity

   Ken Ellis



   dorothy j b wrote:

> You don't understand that a huge proportion of workers have been screwed in
> this country?

   The shafting goes on, for sure, but things progress nevertheless, though not always in a straight line, as evidenced by the down-turns of recent years. Nevertheless, few who enjoy our present levels of creature comforts would like to go back to the way things were a century ago. Progress takes time, but the rate of progress is generally increasing exponentially.

> I believe you believe that, but my information is not from the
> viewpoint of the minority who 'have it made' in this country today.

   'Minority'? The MAJORITY of Americans have an adequate standard of living. The lower 40% of the population may have legitimate gripes, and the further down the income scale, the worse the complaints become, but MOST Americans do anywhere from 'fairly well' to 'fantastic'.

> Jobs were sent overseas, shall I go on??????? But more important, workers
> were increasingly, in the majority, being turned into slave laborers, and I
> know from personal accounts. Longer hours (the Union mean who gave
> their lives for short hours would be sad to see this return- 12 hour days)
> It has been easy to see/learn what has happened in corporation, educational
> offices, I know of actions that put many families in danger, taken by the
> new treatment of an expendable huge class of workers.

   Certainly things have declined over the past couple of years, but we are far from having been sent back to the stone age. No one I know is ready to revolt because of our economic conditions.

> I am glad to hear your point
> to be reminded there is also a fairly AFFLUENT part of America
> woefully unaware that the work force has been put at danger, this group
> being (as you seem to be) uninformed is a waste of people who need to be
> in solidarity. I suggest READ much beyond dogma of various systems of
> government. You made MY point - there was a time people worked You
> didn't notice loss of worker benefits? Nationwide? Increase of hours
> along with less pay? And children again going to work?

   The disjointedness of this paragraph defies a cursory attempt to decipher it, so I give up.

> I'm with you on dishonesty: If people politically work secretly (I added
> that) and with dishonest, I have no reason whatsoever to be associated
> with more of the '
same old same old' - compromise/compromise/
> of politicizes, and the lies.
> But I tell these things in song and poetry and as this kind of preacher (and
> worker, mostly in area of 'disabled' artists and with Civil Rights - mainly
> teaching Black history in programs before it was in the schools, etc).
> Jesse

   snip old messages

>> Like I always say: the purpose of life in the era of work is to do whatever
>> it takes, and by whatever means, to get somebody else to do our work for
>> us. No crime is too great, and no lie too big, as long as the dirtiest work
>> gets imposed on those who often can least afford to bear new burdens.
>> Our job is to help spread the burden. May our tactics be well chosen.
> since time began, you are right.

   No, I meant what I said: viz., just about EVERYONE is an opportunist, trying to shift burdens onto anyone but themselves. Nearly 60 years of experience tell me that. I also personally know a few people my age who started with nothing, but worked hard to acquire upper-middle class status, fancy homes, cars, boats, etc. While I failed to rally my meager ambitions, they figured out how to efficiently apply their energies to eventually land a spot in the sun. Living the great American dream is not impossible, at least for some go-getters. But, inequalities will be a thing of the past as soon as the era of labor comes to an end - possibly within a mere 30 years. Until then, hard work, thieving and stealing, etc., WILL enable SOME people to do better than others. Lest they be forgot, though: the louder the 'squeaky wheels' squeak, the more oil will be sent their way, so let's keep on squeaking.

   'Ruling elites' is a term best applied to the old absolute feudal monarchies of times long past, and is nowhere nearly as relevant now. Enron execs were not invincible.

   Ken Ellis



   dorothy j b wrote:

> NOTE: You said you couldn't decipher this but it was an important
> suggestion so I'll repeat it: I suggest (you) READ much (more writings)
> beyond dogma of various systems of government. ......... (about you
> making my point, I guess you didn't get that) You didn't notice loss
> of worker benefits? Nationwide? Increase of hours along with
> less pay? And children again going to work?

   The economy has always had its ups and downs, and sliding further down seems to be the agenda. What do YOU do think should be done about the downslide?

> Maybe we are living in two different worlds. I will have to check out
> worker and poverty statistics and get back to you. I do know millions of
> children under the poverty level, in danger of starvation is too many, that
> 1 million is too many (2 million alone in Ca) that 1,000 is too many, that
> 100 is too many, that 1 is too many. I can't view human existence
> according to statistics that say: if _____% of the country (bush & co
> keep telling us) is doing fine - although economy is an admitted problem
> in the country now - - I don't have the pragmatic mind that can say, 'don't
> worry about the other _______%. It's the 'least of these' in any country,
> or town, that I'm concerned about.

   Certainly poverty and deprivation exist, but the great silent majority might forever remain too content to join the protest.

> I don't think a complete picture that would pencil in conditions of
> necessary groups to a country's economy would be a pretty picture.
> The farmers (in today's world, they are still viable, necessary) but
> the midwest looks like some to be a wasteland. The doctors and nurses
> are leaving - we live in a country where for the first time, doctors
> casually report they have lost their jobs!!! DOCTORS!!!! We read that
> fewer women are becoming nurses, they are hoping men will fill the gap..
> I'm saying, because 'a majority' you claim have it made in this country is
> like saying when London Bridge is falling down, "don't worry about the
> bridge, we don't need it until Fall!!!!!!!
> I tend to think you've been sold a bill of goods.
> Jesse

   How ever did you guess?? I WAS sold a bill of goods, especially back in the 1970's, when I was interested in socialism, but was naïve enough to hook up with a group selling anarcho-syndicalism cleverly disguised as socialism. I wondered why our party was doing so poorly if we supposedly were so great, our program so perfect, and the USA supposedly 'teetered on the edge of revolution'. Yes, I do know what it's like to be sold a bill of goods, and to be stung by that bill of goods, which is why I later wrote a book titled 'Left-Wing Lies', explaining in great detail how 'socialism' became just another rotten business in this 'most bourgeois country in the world'. As Maggy Thatcher said: 'TINA'. (There Is No Alternative {to capitalism}). Anyone who says 'there is' will also be glad to sell a certain bridge in Brooklyn - cheap. In the Communist Manifesto (and other works), Marx proposed no different post-revolutionary relations of production than CAPITALIST relations, because no economic system is better suited to abolish labor (and enslavement to capitalists) than capitalism, paradoxically enough. Our mutual liberation from labor and exploitation is a mere 3 decades (or less) away.

   Activism will not be revitalized (and more political influence acquired) until activists begin to suspect that THEY have been sold a bill of goods. The 'reality' into which radical business people indoctrinate activists needs closer scrutiny. The indoctrination is so binding that no one in this forum is free to admit just how poorly the case for anarchism was made in some recent dialogues, in spite of perfect opportunities to refute liberation capitalism, if such a refutation is possible. Anarchists argued from positions of devastating theoretical weakness, and headed for the hills of Bavatsky, Vedas, Synarchy and Nazism when the going got tough. How many ordinary citizens can be radicalized by inadequate arguments?

> ps - I do think current methods have the appearance of a rapid trip
> back to medieval times (not,
the stone age as you said.)
> pps -
no one you know is ready to revolt because of economic conditions, you
> said. That is what is
wrong with the country. APATHY, APATHY, APATHY. SMASH
> APATHY. So typical "I don't care about saving the trees, I don't own any, or
> I don't live near the trees." "I have my health care, and I can't see beyond
> my nose." When the health care of the country keeps going into the
> toilet, I have the fantasy that me and my family won't go into the
> toilet with the rest..

   Take your mind on a trip back in time, to the near past, to the distant past, to ANYTIME in the past ... Was there ever an era when people were better off (overall) than they are now? Even the halcyon days of the 1950's? Or the 1960's? How many using e-mail are ready to go back to snail mail? Or to go from 100 channels of crisp cable TV back to 12 fuzzy channels of broadcast TV? Or from DVD to Betamax or VHS? From microwaves to gas ovens? From central heat and air conditioning to wood stoves and fans? From cell phones to a single phone per home? Medicaid didn't exist when I was young. If my minor surgeries (recently done for free) were needed back in the 1960's, I never could have afforded them.

   The fact is that progress is happening, whether or not some people might want to deny that progress. Plus, the rate of progress is accelerating fast enough to keep lulling us to sleep. Since the beginning of class divisions, some people grew relatively richer, but class divisions have been widely accepted for as long as the poor are not allowed to sink down to absurdly low levels. If only 2% of the population currently feeds 100%, then child hunger in California certainly hasn't been an ECONOMIC problem for a century or more, so today's hunger is 100% a POLITICAL problem - a matter of public policy, just like unemployment. Bosses and governments know how to solve one problem as easily as the other. The only reason the problems don't get solved is that 'not enough people demand they be solved.' The same goes for homelessness, inadequate health care, etc. Though the bad old days often featured a TRUE lack of productive capacity, none of today's social problems result from incapacity. These problems are maintained by public policy, so they all demand political solutions.

> This letter is a good example of the lazy, not too swift, possibly (scarey)
> majority of Americans. I mean not you, but the friends you know that you
> write about who are comfortable with 'having theirs' and want to may no
> waves for their neighbor. And wear blinders as to the dismal future.
> Jesse

   Apathy is everywhere. The question is: Will social problems worsen the way radical sales people claim 'they inevitably will'? Or, will problems just gradually disappear as made possible by accelerating productive prowess? Who knows for sure? Let us all keep an ear close to the ground, and, in the meantime, doubt everything everyone says, think for ourselves, and share the best of our thoughts.

   Ken Ellis

   "Everything you know is wrong!" - Al Yankovic, Lloyd Pye?



   dorothy j b wrote:

> There's a difference between 'thinking for themselves'
> passionate activists and 'being sold a bill of goods.'
> Where did you market your book?

   The book never hit the market. Only a couple of dozen drafts got printed back in 1995 to give away to friends, prospective publishers, etc. But, since August of 2000, the book has been free for anyone to read at my web site. It's in the middle of another revision, so only parts A, B, C, and D are 'up to snuff' at the moment, but a revamped part E should be ready in another week or two. The rest of the revamps should be ready in March. {Later: It's all up to snuff now.}

> Jesse
> ps - doubt EVERYTHING everyone says, you say. And then share
> with each other from.. from what? our individual brains which
> aren't functioning in a vacuum, they are among other things,
> filled with what others have said and say.

   Sometimes, after digesting what others have to say, it's possible for individuals to come up with their own unique contributions to the world of ideas. If new ideas weren't possible, boredom would reign supreme.

> I am a great believer in taking people for 'truth' - and not only that,
> taking them deliberately on face value, trusting my INSTINCT!!!!!!!!!
> Which is a most valuable animal ability. Because I'd rather be on the
> side of the trusting and believing on the premise of "
win some/lose some"
> than on the side of the doubting and empty and bitter and those 'of no faith'
> in other human beings as I feel we are connected, and if we don't care about
> each other, whether anarchists, communists or baptists or poets, then
> where's the beauty in life, it is not likely the human will ever have
> all one ideologue but have glorious differences and learn from
> each other, have basic common needs and desires.

   That sounds like a very life-sustaining philosophy. Me, I'm more pessimistic and cynical. :-(

   To read my cynical book, just click on the web address below my name, and then breeze down to the book section of the home page, where any of the 8 parts of the book can be opened up. Part A is short, autobiographical, and relatively easy to read. The other parts of the book are rather dense with theory. Parts B and C do contain occasional lighter bits of prose, however.

   The theoretical portions expound upon what every socialist, communist and anarchist is afraid to admit. No marketer of panaceas will admit that it takes physical force and violence to expropriate the means of production without compensation. But, selling violent solutions to people living in democracies is not very lucrative, because 'everyone' knows that social questions in democracies can be settled peacefully. That's why average citizens keep telling radical expropriators to 'go back to Russia where ya belong.'

   The question of 'peaceful tactics vs. violence' is so clouded by commercial concerns and interests that it became shrouded in mystery. Understanding this subject as well as it deserves requires some careful thinking.

   Ken Ellis



   Joseph W. wrote:

> I thought this an appropriate article for this thread, given that Soros is,
> among other things, setting out eviscerate all radical ideologies.
> <>
> "
Yes, I do have a foreign goal is to become the conscience
> of the world.

   That certainly was an interesting article. Soros exhibits a degree of zeal that perhaps only money can fuel. I was attracted to some of his ideas a few years ago, but never followed up on them, and remained ignorant of most of what the article reveals. The bigger picture is a lot scarier than what I could have imagined.

   The essence of what needs 'eviscerating' in today's ideologies is the mistaken notion that 'expropriating or redistributing wealth and/or property is a long-term solution to social problems.' It won't be long before productivity rises so steeply as to interest millions in mainly one kind of redistribution: what little work that remains for PEOPLE to do. Until that paradigm shift, many activists will remain wedded to the same old useless ideologies of expropriation, endlessly repeat the same old 'mistakes', and prove unworthy of leading anyone anywhere except to the bottom.

   Ken Ellis

   Negate negativity.



   Hi, gang,

   Bruce printed my latest letter on page 4 of the Jan. 22 edition of the AVA, which arrived only yesterday. Being a 14 page special edition (instead of the usual 12), maybe that's why it took so long to arrive. Bruce prints "War on the palaces, peace to the cottages!" on the front page of every edition, but I found just the opposite in one of Marx's diatribes against Bakunin. People have the mistaken notion that anarchism is a pleasant and peaceful ideology, but Marx indicated otherwise. But, Bruce omitted some of my quotation marks, making it a little fuzzy as to 'who is saying what'.

   My home town paper has printed every one of my shorter letters to the editors since 1998, except for the {anti property-tax-rise letter above} ...

   The paper probably doesn't want any part in encouraging a tax protest movement, especially with our new Governor Romney slashing away at so many human services in our increasingly Spartan state budget. I'll bet California is doing the same thing to its human services.

   snip irrelevancies





   Hayduke wrote:

> Hi Ken! I'm hoping that my skills are such that I can get some to think
> and consider the dogma that they mindlessly repeat! They are doing
> socialism a grand disservice.
> Michael

   Hi, Michael,

   Glad I reached the correct Michael. I took a stab in the darkness of cyberspace, but it worked out fine.

   About the WSM's repetition of dogma: Repetition is all they know how to do, and all they will EVER do, from now until something dramatic in the future finally convinces even the most die-hard among them that their 'revolution' will not come about, and ordinary people do nothing more extraordinary than find new ways to cope with future changes, and in a peaceful fashion.

   They, and kindred groups, such as America's De Leonist SLP, have never been any better than little businesses dedicated to marketing their product. Never was that fact better driven into my dense brain than in the 1970's, when I worked for the American SLP's National Office as a lowly shipping clerk. I wondered why our party didn't do better if we were really as great as we claimed to be, which got me to do my own research, convincing me that our differences with Marx and Lenin were based upon deliberately falsified concepts of what ordinary people understand Marxism and Leninism to be. Naturally, Party elders could not admit that our anarcho-syndicalist ideology was based on a pack of lies that went back almost a century; they had to save face; they couldn't let a lowly shipping clerk suffering from the indignity of 'helping the party spread its lies' change the party's direction, so the frustration forced me to quit, and the ASLP continues to spread its sectarian lies.

   No matter how skillful you might be with the pen and keyboard, no matter how well you refute WSM ideas, they will never be HONEST enough to allow greater truths to intrude into their inner space and allow newer science to replace older rubbish. Most of their minds are made up for once and for all.

   However, because their ideology is built upon half-truths and lies, some of their ideas are contradictory, which then opens the door for a certain amount of disagreement to be aired, which airing is a big objective of their forum. So, in past months, arguments over free will and freedom of religion flared up with nothing being settled for once and for all, and with no bones being broken.

   The Collected Works of Marx and Engels proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that 'Labor creates property (as well as value)', and that "the abolition of private property will become a reality only when it is conceived as the abolition of labour". Also, 'abolishing competition for scarce jobs would end the reign of capital', 'the struggle for high wages and short hours ... is ... a very necessary and effective means ... towards a higher end: the abolition of the wages system altogether.' If ever you wondered how M+E intended to abolish the wages system, this is the only method which was ever specified in concrete terms. They generally praised hours-of-labor legislation. Early works practically equated the abolition of private property with the replacement of monarchies by democracies. Kings could do with their property whatever they wanted, while republics have the power to interfere with property rights. M+E were staunch red republicans.

   M+E seemed evenly divided over abolishing private property by force vs. abolishing private property by first abolishing labor. Capitalism has made up our minds for us, because capitalists have no moral compunctions against abolishing labor. Abolishing property by force on the other hand, was feasible only after overthrowing feudal monarchies in backward countries (as in Russia), or after liberating colonies (as in Cuba), when communists emerged from battle with the full power of the state, and they could do with property whatever they wanted. But, according to M+E, that very socialist revolution was supposed to begin in the most developed countries and spread to the least developed. They never intended for the socialist revolution to begin in the East without triggering supportive revolutions in the West. Since 1989, expropriation by force has never been more dead.

   I had hoped to get WSM forum people to rebel at the absurdity of their own ideology, but was no more successful in that than in getting the rank and file members of the ASLP to rebel against the lies which determined their ideology. Out of loyalty to gibberish, friction escalates into conflict.

   I wish you luck and success in your endeavors. Feel free to comment and stay in touch. I'd like to be more thoroughly briefed on exactly how 'the WSM does socialism a great disservice.'

   Ken Ellis



   Jim DeM. wrote:

> I certainly agree that we have to add the issue of class to the discussion.
> But class and race are
not really distinct. Was slavery about class (about
> free labor) or was it about race? It was in reality about both.

   Marx believed that the American Civil War was about race, and I agree with him about THAT. Blacks were chattel property with far fewer rights (if any) than whites. The South was willing to fight and die to preserve (and extend to the rest of the country) as immoral a form of property ownership as slavery. Labor was free in the North, but only white labor was free in the South. 'Free labor' was not the issue over which blood was shed. Blood was shed over SLAVERY, an issue of PROPERTY rights. Are property rights absolute or not? Certainly absolute in fascist dictatorships or absolute monarchies, but not absolute in democracies. That's why, in his early works, Marx practically equated 'the abolition of private property' with 'the replacement of monarchies by democracies', a major component of Red Republicanism.

> Likewise is the issue at Pacifica about race or about class?
> It is about both.

   Pacifica is bourgeois enough to go into hysterics over race, but issues of class get short shrift.

> Will the largely middle class control Pacifica or will we reach out to the
> working class?

   Until its dying day, Pacifica will remain middle class. Bourgeois sectarian infighting will prevent the Network from thriving.

> But Blacks and Latinos are in far greater numbers proportionally
> in the working class then are Whites. So again the issues are about
> both class and race.

   Not necessarily so. Being a person of color doesn't prevent membership in the middle class.

> And yes we do have to address those issues Or we
> will become more and more reactionary every day.

   I wonder what it would take to prevent the slide into reaction. Willingness to discuss class may forever elude most of Pathetica.

   Ken Ellis



   First, thanks to Jesse for her note about the alleged rights of slaves.

   Jim DeM. wrote:

>> Ken Ellis wrote: "Pacifica is bourgeois enough to go into hysterics over
>> race, but issues of class get short shrift"
> -----------------------------
> Now that I agree with. But can't we engage in some "class warfare" and
> try to change it? The issues at Pacifica are about class and race and to
> leave out one or the other is to miss the real struggle..

   Just when I thought we were about to agree, I find myself not agreeing with what I wrote yesterday. :-) Lately I've been leaning toward the analysis that 'the USA is more or less a classless society', which is one possible reason why Pacifica doesn't cover class issues very well. The evidence for classlessness is that American workers are not represented by a big influential party of labor. Class divisions and class struggle are not so pronounced here that the situation requires struggle in the state between a big party of labor and other parties. Many people here are living the great American dream: Own your own home, get a nice job or business of your own, plenty of money for cars, boats, good living, send the kids off to college, etc. It's the land of milk and honey that still attracts zillions of immigrants from all over the world.

   Class may not yet be a compelling issue, but issues of race are as plain as the colors of our skins. Discrimination on the basis of color is an obvious fact to all of us in this forum. Most if not all of us can probably agree that discrimination is an abomination that should be ended somehow. Towards that end, in the absence of anything better, many favor affirmative action. Affirmative action unfortunately doesn't address the issue of scarcities themselves, i.e., whether job and opportunity scarcities are necessary in the first place. AA seeks remedies within the context of scarcities. But, 5% unemployment is NATIONAL POLICY, which also means that unemployment could be abolished tomorrow, if enough people want to, but not enough do. In the absence of that absolute solution, the best that affirmative action can achieve is a fairer distribution of scarce jobs and opportunities, which is better than no remedy at all, given the propensity of white males to dole out scarce opportunities to other white males, and let the devil take the hindmost. But, I don't think that the fault lies with white maleness. If wealth and power were concentrated in the hands of black females, it's not too hard to guess which members of society would be disproportionately rewarded. It would be racist and sexist to think otherwise.

> I think that the main reason that the Pacifica activists do not want
> large numbers of Blacks and Latinos involved in Pacifica as Pacifica
> activists is that they are afraid of losing their (mostly White) middle
> class control over Pacifica. They are willing to admit some small number
> of Blacks and Latinos (after testing them to see if they will cause much
> trouble) but large numbers of Blacks and Latinos in Pacifica would be
> trouble big time for the current elitist group of Pacifica activists.

   That wasn't my experience, but I never had an inside track on the innermost motivations of my co-workers.

>> Ken Ellis also wrote: "Until its dying day, Pacifica will remain middle
>> class. Bourgeois sectarian infighting will prevent the
Network from
>> thriving.
> -------------------------------
> Why don't we fight to prevent that?
> Jim "Pacifica - the radio network for the White Middle Class" DeM.

   I wonder about 'white middle class control of Pacifica', as though it's a racist conspiracy. As a white male at KPFA with a philosophical outlook on affirmative action that wasn't as militant as some others, I was regarded by some as 'a white enemy', and was even harassed until I figured out what was going on, and then confronted the abuse. But, that's not the only crime that can be lain at the doorstep of some of the more militant advocates. Free speech and affirmative action seemed at odds many a time. One has to be able to AFFORD to so enthusiastically favor such an incomplete solution.

   Ken Ellis



   SteffieNYC wrote:

> The paradox that we are dealing with is that the partial SUCCESS of the
> civil rights movement has increased the size of the Black middle class and
> that out of this Black middle class come the most narrow of nationalists
> (nationalists who aspire to be the LEADERS of the nation, not the workers
> of the nation) and the worst race-baiters (notice that the advocates of the
> idea that
skin color determines consciousness are NOT usually working
> people, but educated and embittered aspirants to top dog status). See E.
> Franklin Frazier, "
Black Bourgeoisie." This is also true of the women's
> rights movement -- the Nancy Pelosi's, Hillary Clinton's, and Condaleeza
> Rice's are creatures of a middle-class feminist ideology who want to be
> top dog along with their male peers. When does civil rights clash with
> class rights? When a conscious working-class movement DEMANDS
> class justice and when Pacifica breaks free of identity politics
> to reconsider class politics and solidarity politics.
> Steffie

   I second the emotion, but class distinctions may have to widen even more. Growing contrasts between rich and poor may have to be POPULARLY recognized as harmful or threatening, after which a working class party could come into existence, and class struggle engaged for real. Not much longer from now, jobs will begin to disappear faster than what new jobs can be created, labor-saving technologies will take away jobs with a seeming vengeance, while the government had better respond quickly, or else find a new party in the driver's seat.

   As for Marxism, it is too closely associated with 'redistributing property and wealth by force' instead of 'redistributing the vanishing work' to do much better than scare the livin' bejeezus out of ordinary property-loving folk.

   Economic aspects of Marxism are valuable: the nature of capitalism, surplus value, and exploitation of labor. Marx in his early days very sensibly recognized that 'labor creates property', and that 'the abolition of private property would have to be achieved through the abolition of labor'. This bears studying, while some of Marxism's political aspects can be safely abandoned: Property nationalization is totally obsolete, and only applied during the heroic era when communist parties could overthrow a feudal monarchy, or liberate a colony, emerge from battle with the full power of the state, and then dispose of property rights as they saw fit. Ahh, to go back in time and relive the good old vainglorious days.

   Ken Ellis



   GoodVibes7 wrote:

> Currently we reside in a virtual police state. Therefore an important
> question is, "How much must we really compromise utopian idealism
> (decentralization ~ pure democracy) in order to avoid extermination
> by the state?"
> Is there any other reason to compromise transparency?

   This is silly ultra leftism that discredits the left in general. Ordinary people do not believe silly radical nonsense about a 'police state', and the alleged 'police state' didn't prevent millions over the weekend from marching against the war in Iraq, nor will millions be prevented from uniting behind other kinds of social justice movements. If one is thinking about committing a crime, on the other hand, watch out. This country can no longer be identified with the wild wild west that Marx compared to a state of anarchy.

   Ken Ellis



   Jim DeM. {replied to a different correspondent}:

> Cool so someone advocates adding OUTREACH to the weapons and tools to
> diversify Pacifica and you advocate banning them and/or call them a Hyena?
> Even the idea of "
banning" someone is ridiculous. Then the concept of
> attacking someone as a person (the classic ad hominem argument) is also
> ridiculous. (And no attacking a groups is not the same as attacking a person
> - presumably the group stands for something and criticizing it is for the
> propose of change what it stand for hopefully for constructive reasons)
> At any rate whethr or not I am a good person would seem to be irrelevant
> to this argment. I still advocate OUTREACH to add large numbers of Black
> and Latinos to all aspects of Pacifica. Just why that is offensive to anyone
> sure beats me.
> Jim "Is anyone really saying that we have enough OUTREACH to Blacks
> and Latinos?" DeM.

   What does outreach mean? Many methods of outreach are conceivable. Let me mention one method with which I was familiarized while at KPFA:

   Remote broadcasts are very effective means of community outreach. Communities are energized when they know that a potential audience of millions could get to know them. Many new people get drawn into involvement with radio by association with remotes. I can't think of a better way to reach underserved communities, whether it's by broadcasting cultural events or political events.

   Not enough attention has been paid to remote broadcasts. Lots of events that could be covered are simply not covered, often due to lack of resources: people, money, equipment, etc. No programmer likes to lose precious air time by being pre-empted by special broadcasts, but the advantages of special broadcasts to the Network are manifold.

   Ken Ellis, ex-KPFA staff, 1982-97



>> Ken Ellis wrote: "Remote broadcasts are very effective means of
>> community outreach.
>> Communities are energized when they know that a potential audience
>> of millions could get to know them
> ---------------------------------
> Agreed. remote broadcasts are great and a very good outreach tool. They
> are not the only good tool but they are very good tools. Can we plan some
> more in the Black and Lation areas of town.
> Jim "If we keep working at it we just might begin to increase our
> outreach efforts" DeM.

   Good. I'm glad we can agree on the value of remote broadcasts. It looks like the beginning of a list of established and effective means of outreach. In the same spirit of being concrete with our proposals, do equally good methods of community outreach exist, and are these other means equally appropriate for radio stations to engage in?

   Ken Ellis



   Jim DeM. wrote:

> surely my recent posts are not what has caused Pacifica not to do OUTREACH
> for the last five years.

   Now, hold on there. We have agreed that remote broadcasts are an effective form of outreach into the communities, but you have yet to give examples of what else might constitute outreach. What exactly do you want Pacifica outlets to do? Put on little tea parties and invite the neighbors? Send the staff out with leaflets urging people to 'listen to us'? Before you continue to condemn Pacifica for supposedly not doing outreach, please inform Pacifica of what exactly which different kinds of outreach you want Pacifica to do. Also tell us: what kinds of outreach have you urged Pacifica to do over "the last five years" that they might have failed to do. Please imbue your accusations with a healthy dose of specificity.

   Ken Ellis



   Jim DeM. wrote:

>> Ken Ellis wrote: "....but you have yet to give examples of what else
>> might constitute
> ----------Not true. I have made many many specific
> suggestions. and others also have done so. I can give them
> again but outreach suggests do take some time to set forth.

   A viable list of methods of community outreach was inaugurated when we agreed upon item # 1: remote broadcasts. Item # 2 ought to be just as easily summarized. No one asked for, or expects, a 1,000 page doctoral thesis to describe item # 2. One or 2 words might do the trick.

> I believe that it is not how to do outreach
> that is the problem but the will to do it.

   Suppose all of the will in the world was at hand, but no methods came to mind: One would be in just as bad shape as if a zillion methods came to mind, but no will existed. Nothing would get done either way.

> And I certainly do not believe that I am the only one who knows how to do
> such outreach. But for a few specific suggestions (again). I can set up many
> many meetings with Inglewood groups. One is the Inglewood NAACP. Another
> idea is to do a broadcast of a forum on problems in education (either in
> Inglewood or in the Black community or in Black and Latino communities)

   Good. That's a genuine proposal for a remote broadcast, unless the parties involved could be persuaded to make the trek to the station. Last I knew, KPFK had a huge public space on the second floor, which had already been wired for sound.

   Activists who are interested in doing particular types of programs at their stations need to find a regular programmer or staffer who is interested in the same idea. That's the way it has always been at KPFA, anyway. Berkeley area citizens contact the Public Affairs director, who might then try to connect the citizen with a programmer. With sufficient interest and enthusiasm, a concrete proposal could then be presented to the Program Council for their approval. Then some air time could be allocated, and perhaps a regular program pre-empted if it doesn't fit into an existing format. The list of details and hurdles grows enormously very quickly. It does require lots of perseverance just to get a single program aired.

> Another is a program on an Elected Civilian Police Review Board in
> Inglewood(I was on KTYM here in Inglewood on that issue) The Police
> Review Board ideas would go well with the organization around the up-
> coming trial of the officers that beat up Donovan Jackson-Chavis here in
> Inglewood. I could organize the above type of suggestions and generalize
> them for other areas and also give them more specificity. But why
> bother if there is no support for outreach at Pacifica.

   'Why bother'? Negativity must not be invoked at such an early stage of the game. Optimism of success must be maintained at all times. If Jim is not a Pacifica station insider, then the most important thing to do is to contemplate a list of esteemed programmers, one or more of whom might think in parallel with Jim, and then contact the programmer. I saw that process work successfully at KPFA for at least SOME people, and I'm sure it happens elsewhere. One thing for sure: a concerned citizen must be prepared to expend lots of energy to get their programming dreams realized. Until good contacts within a station can be made and cultivated, an outsider has just about no chance whatsoever of getting their programming dreams realized. It might be a difficult row to hoe, that of being very critical of a station or a network on the one hand, and then actually working within that same milieu to get specific programming dreams realized.

> And if there is support for outreach then why don't we all work on
> such outreach suggestions together. Now it certainly is not the case
> that Pacifica has not done outreach just because I have not made
> suggestions as to how to do it - even if I had not made such suggestions.

   Station staff should not be expected to automatically follow through on ideas simply because they happen to be very apropos for the station and the community. If I had a penny for every good programming idea that wasn't followed up on (while I was active at KPFA), then I would be rolling in the lap of luxury right now. It takes lots of time and commitment to get a programming idea realized.

> And actually just a
> few minutes ago in a post to this listserv I suggested that KPFK activists
> get involved with the Taxi Cab drivers unionization effort which was just on
> the Sonali K. show and which will be meeting at the KPFK station next Wed.
> at 11:00 a.m. Now I cannot make it more convenient for people from KPFK
> to get involved than to actually meet at the station. Then several times I have
> recited the time (in the last month or so) that about 30 KPFK activists came
> to the Vernon-Main meeting in South Central but then immediately left to
> meet about who would be the program manager of KPFK and that they
> have never came back despite the interest of the community members
> in the Vernon-Main meeting. I can probably give hundreds of
> outreach suggestions if people want to hear them.

   Many of those 'hundreds of outreach suggestions' sounds like they could fit under the category of 'remote broadcasts'. We began by discussing 'different methods of outreach'. Then we agreed upon 'remote broadcasts' as a METHOD. Do you now wish to list each and every separate programming idea as a 'METHOD of doing outreach'? Methods are methods: I not only offered 'remote broadcasts', but I also jokingly added 'tea parties' and 'leafleting the neighborhoods'. However their relative qualities may compare, those are 3 different methods. For the sake of clarity, can the categories be kept uncluttered?

> Why don't we all make such suggestions? Now your suggestion about remote
> broadcasting was somewhat specific although we could make it even more
> specific. Yet is anyone working on it? Not that they have reported on. So
> even though you began to be specific it did not do the job either. I suggest
> that we do continue to be more and more specific in our suggestions.

   'Remote broadcasting' is a very general category. KPFA did many different kinds of programs, many of which fit under the category of 'remote broadcasts'. The remote van was often driven to the Greek Theatre above the campus where the Grateful Dead was broadcast live. On election nights, remote broadcasts of election results were linked from Oakland, Berkeley and San Fran. Cultural events from People's Park, MLK Jr. Park, La Pena, etc., were broadcast. The remote van was often used to tape events for later broadcast. All of this constituted serious outreach into various communities.

   During my most active decade of involvement, I must have participated in a few hundred different 'remotes'. Some remotes were so complex as to require the assistance of a couple of dozen staff. Others were simple enough for 1, 2 or 3 to accomplish. Simple or complex, remotes were most often accomplished with a scarcity of people power. I burned out many a volunteer by keeping them up too late while cleaning up after an event. The crew couldn't 'just go home' after an event; we had a couple of hours of work afterwards - retrieving antennas and cables, etc. Sometimes I wouldn't get back to the station until daylight, and then have to lug all of that equipment up all of those stairs on Shattuck Ave. Some fun. Very often, 90% of the people power on a remote was volunteer labor. Volunteers with such high levels of commitment to people's radio don't grow on trees. Lack of volunteers is a major reason why more remotes do not get done. Lack of staff in general was a constant problem within Operations Departments. When a financial crisis would emerge, the first budget to get the axe would be the Operations budgets. No more money for this, that, or for broadcast quality phone lines used during remote broadcasts, etc.

> I also suggest though that it is a political decision and that we should
> not be afraid to conduct a political struggle over the value and the
> need for outreach.

   If a remote broadcast was to be done from a location where we didn't have 'line-of-sight' to our transmitter site (where special receivers picked up the signals from our remote transmitters), then broadcast quality phone lines had to be ordered; and if the money could not be found for those phone lines (the cheapest of which could cost a few hundred dollars to set up), then the next best thing was to tape the event for later broadcast.

> In my opinion it is the lack of putting outreach as a priority
> that is the problem in Pacifica. So when is KPFK going to do a
> remote broadcast from Inglewood or another "minority" area.

   Maybe after you and many others begin to tithe over a tenth of your income to Pacifica, and start to provide the resources needed to accomplish more outreach. The solution might be as simple as 'more money'.

> And when are KPFK
> activists going to come to an Inglewood NAACP meeting and then report on it
> (with some members from Inglewood NAACP) on KPFK? And what about a show
> on the Donovan Jackson-Chavis issue. ( I can set up contact with most of those
> who have been most active in that issue if others do not know them - Michael
> Zinzun, Dorothy Freedman etc.) And then maybe go on into the Elected
> Civilian Review Board issue with Inglewood people involved in the effort..
> Now that is pretty specific is it not. And I can give many more such
> suggestions. But are we ever going to actually work on them.
> Jim "
Tea parties might be good also however" DeM.

   Remote broadcasts surely are swell, but it might be cheaper and easier just to send out the staff into the streets with leaflets once a month, or put on the occasional tea party.

   Ken Ellis



   Jim DeM. wrote:

> Ken, Yes I like your ideas. I will be making many many more specific
> proposals for outreach as we go along. At 11:00 today I am meeting with
> some L.A. Taxi Cab drivers (mostly Middle Easterner - largely Iranian and
> Armenian) who are trying to form a Cab Drivers Union. We are meeting
> in the community room at KPFK. I sure hope to see many of the KPFK
> activists at that meeting. The Cab drivers have said that they will
> in turn help do outreach to other groups. Jim DeM.

   Very good, Jim. I will further take this opportunity to reiterate the importance of activists trying to form alliances with staff and programmers within their local stations in order to actually move the stations towards fulfilling activist agendas. Citizens are often too busy to work within a station itself, but may have just enough free time to cultivate a relationship or 2 with insiders who do have the time to volunteer or do programming. If a particular station is deficient in outreach, then the insiders probably have the very best perspective of all as to why that situation exists, and might have positive suggestions for remedies. Dialogue is key, at least in the beginning. It is an issue worthy of investigation and study. Stations for sure SHOULD be doing outreach because of the many political issues out there that make life so tough for working people, and for the many who would rather find a good place for themselves in the legitimate economy than try to scrape by in the black or gray economy. With so much competition over scarce opportunities to make the rich richer than their wildest dreams, it's really 'catch as catch can' out there.

   A reply to Curt's thoughtful message is in the works. Hopefully before tomorrow morning, otherwise by Sunday. Curt should re-post his other message, but should not include attachments. Plain text works best in this medium. I avoid attachments like the plague, even though my newer hardware is much more compatible with them. Attachments remain a total bother.

   Ken Ellis



   Hi, Nicholas,

   snip irrelevancies

   I'm toying with pure heresy now: I'm thinking positively in terms of regime change in Iraq. Nuts like Saddam shouldn't pose a threat to their neighbors, and the only solution for that situation is democratization. Saddam is such a menace to his own people, never mind his neighbors, that he has to be replaced, but not with another individual, but rather by elected bodies. As long as Bush war-mongers, and as long as Saddam can thereby be forced to back down, the better. I just hope that it never escalates beyond war mongering, of course. But, it is having an effect, such as the recent destruction of Iraqi missiles, which is good. But, no matter how much Saddam prostates himself before us, the situation will always remain too tense for comfort as long as Saddam or his hand-picked successor remains in power. The old monarchies have to be replaced with democracies, one way or the other.

   Be good, and don't work too hard.




   Curtis G. wrote:

   snip irrelevancy

> Ken, you seem to both be saying that people
> (outsiders, i.e.. non-staff) must be willing to go though a long list
> of hurdles to get a program aired and at the same time acknowledging
> how difficult it is to do. Why should things be set up that way? Why
> can't the structure and the culture at Pacifica stations be rearranged
> so that the stations are going out to the communities and saying what
> can we do for you? Why can't the staff and resources be available
> from the outset to help facilitate new program ideas?

   At least some of the problem derives from egos. A lot of people like to wet their feet at Pacifica outlets, and, if they are good enough, go on to greater fame and glory at NPR. It's been mentioned that Pacifica is a training ground for later graduation to NPR. If so, then 'serving the people' never becomes a major consideration for some. Pacifica is then just another 'hands-on' school of journalism.

   The problem also derives from the fact of scarce resources. Not enough money, and not enough people to do a lot of remote broadcasts. Apathy enables chunks of air time to became Balkanized pieces of turf (property) that are jealously guarded by stake-holders. If activists want change, then the only way is to invade and get involved. As much as I wanted to volunteer to fix equipment, I still had a heck of a time getting my foot in the door. I tried again and again to get past the volunteer coordinator, who wouldn't give me the time of day. When Max Schwartz, whose prison poetry program I enjoyed very much, spoke of his transportation problems over the air, and appealed for some help to get some rolling stock rolling again, I helped him out, and used that connection to connect with the engineers.

> The path you describe of going to the P.A. director (KPFA has not had
> a P.A. head for several years)

   I haven't listened to KPFA since moving to the East Coast at the end of 97. The indicated change is quite a surprise.

> who then sends the person with the idea to an existing show who might,
> maybe be interested in featuring the issue on their program or the idea
> going through the long drawn out Program Council process. So many
> opportunities for people to say no, and no pressure on anyone to say yes.

   Every time slot was treated like a piece of valuable property, which became fair game for people to hoard or fight over.

> A disabled people's rights program has just been approved on KPFA after
> 20 months of meetings. I commend those folks for their perseverance, but
> that's way too long for us to expect most people to hang in on a process.

   Remember when Judy Huemann had a disabled program back in the 1980's? Similar programs have come and gone; dedicated individuals occasionally come along with the requisite energy to do a show. When the individual leaves, the show often disappears simultaneously, or comes apart at the seams not long after.

> People might reasonably get the message that the station doesn't really
> want any program ideas from the community.

   This critique has a lot of merit, at least for the many programmers who are there for no greater reason than ego gratification or career enhancement, which doesn't always involve 'serving the community'. Sometimes exhaustion from fighting so many battles over time slots drains energy from more productive considerations. No one in charge of a piece of the turf wants to take the chance that a newcomer might come along and challenge the content of the time slot. Many new suggestions get waylaid, and stagnation sets in. That may very well reflect political stagnation in the greater society, such as during the late 80's to the late 90's. When crises occurred, such as the Gulf War, regular programming was suspended, and News and Public Affairs commandeered most time slots for the duration of the crisis.

> At KPFA, when community people come forward
> with a program idea, they are directed to the producers of existing
> shows. Though occasionally the producers use the ideas, frequently they
> do not, and it doesn't matter how relevant or important the issue is, the
> producers have total freedom to do or not do what they like. No one has
> the authority to order them to do a program no matter how well it fits
> in with the mission.

   Sad, but true. It's a perfect example of the old turf system at work. Here's hoping the new Pacifica can find a way to prevent air slots from becoming the 'private property' of individuals and special interest groups. Though one of our old managers gained notoriety for proclaiming that 'KPFA is not a community radio station', here's hoping that the new Pacifica will reflect a broader spectrum of community interests.

> If they can't find a current show that wants to do the subject they can
> try to get a special program approved by the P.C. That requires finding
> a station approved producer to be in charge, then convincing the P.C. to
> pre-empt some other program so theirs can air. Do we really expect people
> without radio skills to do all this? If we're serious about outreach and
> serious about putting programming on that presents the issues of and appeals
> to communities that don't currently listen to Pacifica stations we have to put
> our resources, our processes and our staffing where our rhetoric is. CG.

   Those complexities and difficulties certainly have existed, but the stagnant character of the old turf system combined with community apathy are more a reflection of the relatively easy times experienced by such a large number of Americans. Sure, there's lots to complain about, but this isn't exactly post-WW2 Europe. Making Pacifica into a real tool for activists would be a wonderful thing, a real accomplishment. But, activists will have to jump in with both feet. A real test of commitment might be a willingness to perform menial volunteer labor. That's a tall order for people who are already strapped for time.

   Ken Ellis



   The way some people talk could lead many to believe that poverty affects half the country, but a poll commissioned by the Center for a New American Dream, and conducted in February 2003 by Widmeyer Communications, shows:

> Kids Want Job Flexibility For Their Parents
> If they were granted one wish that would change their parents' job, 63% of
> kids 9-14 would want their mom or dad to have a job that gave them more time
> to do fun things together.
> Only 13% wished their parents made more money.

   That 13% is not a pretty number, but it does show that most kids think their family income is sufficient, and that what they could really use MORE of is time.

> This information is based on a nationally representative telephone study of
> 746 American children ages 9-14. Margin of error for the poll is +/- 3.6%.

   More info on this interesting poll can be found at:

   Ken Ellis



   Hi, Nicholas,

   snip irrelevancies

>> I'm toying with pure heresy now: I'm thinking positively in terms of
>> regime change in Iraq. Nuts like Saddam shouldn't pose a threat to their
>> neighbors, and the only solution for that situation is democratization.
>> Saddam is such a menace to his own people, never mind his neighbors,
>> that he has to be replaced, but not with another individual, but rather
>> by elected bodies. As long as Bush war-mongers, and as long as Saddam
>> can thereby be forced to back down, the better. I just hope that it never
>> escalates beyond war mongering, of course. But, it is having an effect,
>> such as the recent destruction of Iraqi missiles, which is good. But, no
>> matter how much Saddam prostates himself before us, the situation will
>> always remain too tense for comfort as long as Saddam or his hand-picked
>> successor remains in power. The old monarchies have to be replaced with
>> democracies, one way or the other.
> You sure are toying with heresy. If it was a game, I would say bomb
> the shit out of Saddam and all his ilk. But it isn't and least you start to
> think too much in the abstract: remember that the US hasn't brought
> democracy to too many places. The history of US foreign policy has
> nothing to do with democratizing anything. To the contrary.

   The Balkans have been so quiet for the past few years that you have to wonder if the whole population moved out in favor of creating a nature preserve. Milosevic certainly kept things hopping over there until forced out. The trouble with Saddam is that a lot more people seem to be loyal to him than they were to Milosevic. Not even the threat of bombing Iraq back to the stone age seems to sway their nationalist loyalties. The scenario of all of those civilian deaths certainly nullifies any pleasure that could be derived from 'regime change'.

   Bush uses 'regime change' as a loose euphemism for 'democratization', but 'regime change' could mean something as worthless as 'exchanging one dictator for another'. I doubt if a Republican reactionary privatizer like Bush could even pronounce 'democratization'. This week I signed a petition to impeach him. Cast your vote here:

   The certainty of war seems to have notched up a peg or two, some saying it's only a week away, others saying 2 weeks. I wonder if American anti-warriors have the moxie to escalate their efforts proportionally, or whether their energies were dissipated by the last mass marches. I'm too out of touch with live leftist cohorts to be able to assess leftist determination to prevent war. What do you think the left will do?

> The best you could hope
> for in Iraq after the US leaves is civil war. We are talking Kurds,
> Sunnis, and Shiites. There will be much retribution and much blood.

   Gosh, a civil war along sectarian lines isn't very comforting. What good would a sectarian civil war do?

> The libertarian in you is starting to sprout absurdities.
> I love you anyway,
> -Nicholas

   How sweet!

   Love to all,




   Hi, Nicholas,

   snip irrelevancies

>> Bush uses 'regime change' as a loose euphemism for 'democratization', but
>> '
regime change' could mean something as worthless as 'exchanging one
>> dictator for another'. I doubt if a
Republican reactionary privatizer like
>> Bush could even pronounce '
democratization'. This week I signed a petition
>> to impeach him. Cast your vote here:
>> The certainty of war seems to have notched up a peg or two, some saying
>> it's only a week away, others saying 2 weeks. I wonder if American anti-
>> warriors have the moxie to escalate their efforts proportionally, or
>> whether their energies were dissipated by the last mass marches. I'm
>> too out of touch with live leftist cohorts to be able to assess leftist
>> determination to prevent war. What do you think the left will do?
> Get off your duff Ken. Your are living on the dole. Use your time well.
> You have never--and will never--pay enough tax to make up for what you
> are extracting from the system. Consider contributing some time. You have
> massaged your book enough for a while. Send some faxes. Write some
> letters. Help organize against this stupid war. The people in the streets
> during the last three pre-war marches we have gone to are hardly lefties.
> I know lefties have been involved in the organizing but the masses on their
> feet are regular folks. It is wearying. I do not look forward to marches.
> I just go.

   I think the anti-war resolve of the left is faltering. One forum posted the following comment over the weekend:

> Surprisingly, there apparently isn't going to be any anti war protest
> in the Houston area on March 15th. One would have thought that after
> the tremendous showing last month the local anti war forces would
> have tried to maintain the momentum by holding another mass
> protest this month. Apparently this is not the case.
> If anyone can shed some light as to exactly why please let us know.

   This weekend's news seemed devoid of anti-war protest coverage. It's little wonder Bush was unmoved by the massive protests of previous weekends. He must have suspected that the protests were little more than a flash in the pan, and that interest would soon peter out. I'm exhausted and depressed just thinking about it. As long as Iraq remains a dictatorship, Bush and Co. probably feel smug and self-assured about any crime they are prepared to commit. Americans in general seem willing to go along with anything Bush proposes. :-(

> -Nicholas
> "
We must make clear to the Germans that the wrong for which their fallen
> leaders are on trial is not that they lost the war, but that they started
> it. And we must not allow ourselves to be drawn into a trial of the causes
> of the war, for our position is that no grievances or policies will justify
> resort to aggressive war. It is utterly renounced and condemned as an
> instrument of policy.
" -Supreme Court Justice Robert L. Jackson
> Chief US Prosecutor, Nuremburg Tribunal 8/12/45

   If only the clock could be turned back to those halcyon days of 'The Good War'. But, it's "Forward ever, backward never."

   snip irrelevancy

   Be good,




   Adam's use of 'classless, stateless,' etc., in message 19184 got me wondering how often M+E used those terms in the same sense they are commonly used today, which was rarely. Marx first used 'classless' in his well-known 1852 letter to Weydemeyer (about the dictatorship of the proletariat); used it once again in the Grundrisse; Engels used it once in Anti-Duhring; and again in the Origin of the State, Family, and Private Property. 'Stateless' was used only once, and only by Marx, but not in the context familiar to us - rather while describing the disorganized states of Germany in the 1840's. M+E kept their feet a lot closer to the ground than the many who today describe socialism as though they had 'been there, done that', and are therefore well-qualified to reveal its innermost workings to the world.

   Ken Ellis



   Nicholas wrote:

> Bro',
> you are turning into a media baby. The fact that we have a historical
> precedent of MILLIONS of people in the streets voicing their opposition
> to a war BEFORE it has begun has been lost on you. The fact that the media
> consistently under reports the REAL news seems to be lost on you too. If
> you look to the TV to get a pulse, you may well find morbidity. Having been
> to three anti-war rallies in the past six months, I can assure you that it is
> not exactly fun. It wears on you. The sense of powerlessness one has at
> peace marches is palpable. Most everyone feels it. Getting crowds out
> consistently is very difficult. The anti-war resolve is not faltering.
> Very few to none are going to the other side in the debate.
> Defeatism IS a problem. Get off your duff and help out.

   snip irrelevancies

   By now you must have heard that support for the Bushwar is increasing, if anything. Here are some excerpts from the official poll:

> Americans are growing impatient with the United Nations and say they would
> support military action against Iraq even if the Security Council refuses to
> support an invasion, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll.
> The poll found that 58 percent of Americans said the United Nations was
> doing a poor job in managing the Iraqi crisis, a jump of 10 points from a
> month ago. And 55 percent of respondents in the latest poll would support
> an American invasion of Iraq, even if it was in defiance of a vote of the
> Security Council.

> In the poll, 44 percent of respondents said the United States should take
> military action against Iraq soon, compared with 36 percent just two
> weeks ago. Although a majority of respondents still support giving
> weapons inspectors more time, that number has decreased to 52
> percent from 62 percent two weeks ago.

> Over all, Americans support using military force to remove Mr. Hussein
> by 66 percent to 30 percent. But that sentiment breaks down sharply
> along partisan lines that could have ramifications for next year's
> presidential election, depending on the outcome of a war.
> The poll found that 86 percent of Republicans and 64 percent
> of independents supported military action to oust Mr. Hussein,
> while 51 percent of Democrats said they supported it.

> The findings are nevertheless not a green light for Mr. Bush, who
> wants to set a deadline of March 17 for Mr. Hussein to comply with
> the United Nations. The poll found that 60 percent of respondents
> wanted the administration to take the views of allies into account.

   I'm sure that the increasing lust for war didn't result from anything I said. Rather, such is the sad state of American consciousness. I think I'll be writing publicly about it in the future.

   snip irrelevancy

   Be good,




   J S wrote:

> I saw your posting at:
> and clicked on your website. What do you make of the French
> workweek
? It seems any effort at progress or reform is shot down pretty fast
> by revolutionaries; basing their argument on the hidden premise that
> must get desperate to bring on the socialist change.
Jospin was shot down
> by leftists thinking that they could do better somehow - splintered into
> a dozen parties - and now Chirac is free to undo the attempt to
> increase Mitterrand's 1-hour reduction by a factor of 5...
> My view is that the French public knows the restraint of global
> capitalism and pushes against the limits with pretty astute class
> consciousness...occasionally disintegrating into factionalism and
> quickly realizing the error ala Raffarin.
> I'd rather see your response - if any - made publicly on the forum.
> I've been moderated into silence there, due to my questions that
> 'might mislead' those seeking the 'true course' of socialism.
> Somehow, my ignorance is taken as dishonest questioning...
> Thanks for posting your link!
> John F.

   Hi, John,

   I've been observing the WSM forum for a few months, and your thoughtful messages have favorably impressed me. I have a 'history' at the WSM forum, having been expelled a year and a half ago for pursuing the truth a little too vigorously. This is my first foray back into the fold. I've also been expelled from a couple of other forums for expressing too much skepticism over official party lines.

   France's 35 hour week might have been doomed from the getgo due to the failure of the rest of the West to support it with similar legislation. After all, Marx did say that the revolution will begin in the most developed countries, which also means that a single country blazing a trail in a radical direction is bound to have its hopes dashed unless supported by many others. Reducing hours of labor should be regarded as the essence of winning freedom from wage slavery, not trying to fundamentally change state and property. There I differ from Marx, Engels, Bakunin, De Leon, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, etc.

   Much of the nonsense about winning freedom by abolishing 'the state' goes back to the old anarchist hyper-radical perspective of 'the state' as the great evil, and their consequent failure to discriminate between republics and absolute monarchies. That failure to discriminate hasn't been a better way for anarchists to make themselves irrelevant and useless to working people. It doesn't take much perusal of the works of M+E to figure out that the overriding political struggle of THEIR day was the struggle for suffrage and democracy. Now that it's been won in the West, the overriding struggle should be over surplus value, but anarchists are still too busy trying to abolish 'the state'.

   If you delve a little deeper into the works of M+E, you will find them at least hinting that it's not just plain labor that creates property, but it's really SURPLUS labor that creates the whole property relationship. It would be rather brainless to try to abolish private property while so many people are busting their asses trying to CREATE private property. If only Marx had stuck to what he had written in The German Ideology, that "the abolition of private property will become a reality only when it is conceived as the abolition of labour". Certainly not the abolition of NECESSARY labor, but rather the abolition of surplus labor and surplus value.

   If you'd like to debate matters of principle without fear of being 'moderated', the WIC forum might be more receptive. They don't seem abusive, intolerant or censorious. I was first censored by the SLP back in the 1970's for trying to discuss the lies that supported their program. Censorship exposes the absurdity of the kind of 'socialism' espoused by some groups.

   Let me know what you think.

   Best wishes,
   Ken Ellis



   J S wrote:

> I invite you to attend the conference we are having in Ann Arbor on March
> 29-30, advertised on the front page of the web site. I think it will have an
> historic significance.

   Thanks for the invitation, but my current domestic responsibilities prevent travel for the time being. Maybe someday I'll be free ... Speed that day.

   But I do question the 'historic significance' of any conference considering ratifying anything like the following (penned by Alex, I believe):

> after the victory of the proletarian revolution in one area, it would fight
> to establish as much of the economic foundations for socialism as possible
> on the territory it controlled, around the organizations that the workers
> themselves would have created during the revolution.

   The left is in so much ideological trouble that it really ought to figure out exactly what 'proletarian revolution' really means, and figure out if it might even want such a thing. Back in the days of M+E,

   ... "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."

   ... "the bourgeois revolution in Germany will be but the prelude to an immediately following proletarian revolution." Hah! Over-optimism ...

   "The development of the industrial proletariat is, in general, conditioned by the development of the industrial bourgeoisie. Only under its rule does the proletariat gain that extensive national existence which can raise its revolution to a national one, and does it itself create the modern means of production, which become just so many means of its revolutionary emancipation. Only its rule tears up the material roots of feudal society and levels the ground on which alone a proletarian revolution is possible."

   "The first consequence of the proletarian revolution in England will be the centralisation of large-scale industry in the hands of the state, that is, the ruling proletariat, and with the centralisation of industry all the conditions of competition, which nowadays bring the regulation of labour time into conflict with the progress of industry, fall away."

   "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 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."

   "When the volcanic upheavings of 1848 suddenly threw before the eyes of the astonished liberal middle classes of Europe the giant specter of an armed working class, struggling for political and social emancipation, the middle classes, to whom the safe possession of their capital was of immensely higher importance than direct political power, sacrificed this power, and all the liberties for which they had fought, to secure the suppression of the proletarian revolution. The middle class declared itself politically a minor, unfit to manage the affairs of the nation, and acquiesced in military and bureaucratic despotism."

   "Hence in countries where an aristocracy in the Continental sense of the term - and this is what Techow meant by "aristocracy" - has still to be "ousted from power", the very first prerequisite of a proletarian revolution is in my opinion missing, namely the existence of an industrial proletariat on a national scale." Marx thereby detected a contradiction between his own theory and actually existing conditions. Too bad he never thought about that discrepancy carefully enough to correct himself. Self-correction would have saved a lot of resources.

   "The conditions for a proletarian revolution are thus relatively poorly developed, and, for precisely this reason, there still remains a great deal to be done in Spain for a bourgeois republic; above all, its mission here is to clear the stage for the imminent class struggle. ... "A few years of peaceful bourgeois republic would prepare the ground in Spain for a proletarian revolution in a way that would surprise even the most advanced Spanish workers. Instead of repeating the bloody farce of the previous revolution, instead of staging isolated, easily crushed rebellions, it is to be hoped that the Spanish workers will make use of the republic in order to join together more firmly and organise themselves with a view to an approaching revolution, a revolution they will command. The bourgeois government of the new republic is merely seeking an excuse to suppress the revolutionary movement and shoot down the workers, as the republicans Favre and consorts did in Paris. May the Spanish workers not give them the excuse!"

   "If anything can still save Russian communal ownership and give it a chance of growing into a new, really viable form, it is a proletarian revolution in Western Europe."

   "III. Proletarian Revolution. - Solution of the contradictions. The proletariat seizes the public power, and by means of this transforms the socialised means of production, slipping from the hands of the bourgeoisie, into public property."

   "If the Russian Revolution becomes the signal for a proletarian revolution in the West, so that the two complement each other, the present Russian common ownership of land may serve as the starting point for communist development."

   "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."

   "The preliminaries to proletarian revolution, the measures by which the field of battle is being made ready and the way cleared for us - a single and indivisible republic, etc., things which originally we had to advocate in the teeth of those whose natural, normal calling it should have been to implement, or at least demand them, - all this is now agreed, has been learnt by the gentlemen."

   "But the overthrow of the English aristocracy in Ireland would entail, and would lead immediately to, its overthrow in England. This would bring about the prerequisites for the proletarian revolution in England."

   Do you see how intertwined were the concepts of proletarian revolution with winning republics with universal suffrage? Expropriation of the means of production is the only difference between present day Western republics and Marx's red republic. M+E approved of expropriation with or without compensation. As shown by history, expropriation without compensation was feasible only after overthrowing feudal monarchies, or after liberating colonies, but was never feasible after socialist or communist parties won mere elections in established republics. So, the only possible excuse for a so-called proletarian revolution (in an existing democracy [fat chance]) would be to expropriate without compensation. Is that what YOU want to do? I've known a few people who want to do exactly that, but how many others will support that program?

> Jospin's defense of his flagship measure the 35-hour workweek was a
> fraud: casualization of work continued apace, mandatory overtime increased,
> some sectors of the economy affected by the measures did not hire more
> workers, leading to labor shortages, etc.

   Complaints about labor shortages are 100% bourgeois, because capitalists want labor to glut the labor market, compete for scarce jobs, and fight one another for scarce opportunities to make the rich richer than their wildest dreams. Labor shortages are precisely what labor should want to create, and on a global scale, thereby making labor a scarce commodity. That would drive its wage-price up, as well as reduce or eliminate unemployment. Only a capitalist or a totally brainwashed worker would NOT want to create a labor shortage. I'm surprised you didn't catch this glaring faux pas, and you let it pass as settled theory. Better put on the old thinking cap. :-)

   Ken Ellis



   In this 1891 article entitled "Socialism in Germany", check out the role Engels would have the post-revolutionary socialist party play (me27.245):

   "A war in which Russians and Frenchmen invaded Germany would be, for Germany, a war to the death, in which, in order to ensure its national existence, it would have to resort to the most revolutionary means. The present government, certainly, would not unleash revolution, unless it were forced to. But there is a strong party which would force it to, or if necessary replace it: the socialist party."

   So, if need be, the socialist party would replace "the present government"! Obviously, Engels was not a Bakuninist.

   His same article spoke more of 'invading socialists' (me27.239):

   "Need I recount in detail the vicissitudes, the struggles, the setbacks and the triumphs which have accompanied the career of the German party? Represented by two deputies and one hundred thousand votes from 1866, when universal suffrage opened up to it the doors of the Reichstag, today it has 35 deputies and a million-and-a-half voters, a figure which none of the other parties reached in the elections of 1890. Eleven years passed as an outlaw and in a state of siege have resulted in a quadrupling of its strength, to make it the strongest party in Germany. In 1867 the bourgeois deputies were able to regard their socialist colleagues as strange creatures that had arrived from another planet; today, whether they like it or not, they have to regard them as the avant-garde of the power to come. The socialist party which overthrew Bismarck, the party which after eleven years of struggle has broken the Anti-Socialist Law; THE SOCIALIST PARTY, WHICH LIKE A RISING TIDE OVERFLOWS ALL THE DIKES, INVADING TOWNS AND COUNTRYSIDE, even in the most reactionary Vendées - this party today has reached the point where it is possible to determine the date when it will come to power almost by mathematical calculation. (My emphasis above - K.E.)

   "The number of socialist votes was:

   In 1871 101,927
In 1874 351,670
In 1877 493,447
In 1884 549,990
In 1887 763,128
In 1890 1,427,298

   "Since the last elections the government has done its best to push the mass of people towards socialism; it has prosecuted associations and strikes; it has upheld, even in the present scarcity, import tariffs which make the bread and meat of the poor more expensive in order to benefit the big landowners. So at the elections in 1895 we can count on two and a half million votes at least, which will increase by 1900 to three and a half to four million out of ten million registered voters, a figure which will appear curiously "fin de siécle" to our bourgeois."

   Looks very Social-Democratic to me. It's hard to blame such sentiment entirely upon Bernstein and Kautsky.

   Ken Ellis



   J S quoted me:

>> Do you see how intertwined were the concepts of proletarian revolution with
>> winning republics with
universal suffrage? Expropriation of the means of
>> production
is the only difference between present day Western republics
>> and Marx's
red republic. M+E approved of expropriation with or without
>> compensation
. As shown by history, expropriation without compensation
>> was feasible only after overthrowing feudal monarchies, or after liberating
>> colonies, but was never feasible after socialist or communist parties won
>> mere elections in established republics. So, the only possible excuse for a
>> so-called
proletarian revolution (in an existing democracy [fat chance])
>> would be to
expropriate without compensation. Is that what YOU want to do?
>> I've known a few people who want to do exactly that, but how many others
>> will support that program?
> Sorry to deconstruct your letter, but I'm fitting in time here and there.
> I'm not sure what compensation would entail in the scenario that's been
> painted here. The whole idea is that surplus labor built the capitalist
> system and it was expropriated from the working classes. This pretty
> much rules out the need to reimburse the capture of assets for common
> use, doesn't it? I've asked a lot of questions about the specifics of the
> whole enterprise, but not much is forthcoming, except that it
> will NOT be a repeat of the soviet experiences...hmmm...
> The state could be a wise broker and wait for valuations to fall and buy
> them up at firesale prices - using taxes off of those same enterprises
> to do so. Then, if the state were democratic - which we are advocating -
> the assets would be the peoples'...voila!
> What do you mean by expropriation and compensation?
> I'm going to retain my novice status for as long as possible -
> to draw out honest appraisals and opinions. I dread the trees
> obscuring the forest...

   You are asking some good questions. It takes a brave man to admit that the issues might not be perfectly clear. It's a good way to learn.

   Compensation means payment. In England years ago, railroads shuttled back and forth between private and public hands. When the railroads lost money, they were nationalized. When they became profitable, they were privatized. Sort of like what happened to the American Postal Service. It became profitable a few years back, so it was sort of privatized.

   In democracies, whenever a utility is nationalized or made public, private owners are compensated when property is taken away. Quid pro quo. The Fifth Amendment to the American Constitution has a clause saying that 'property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation', which has come to mean 'fair market value'.

   The essence of communism is 'expropriation of the means of production without compensation'. When the Bolsheviks came to power, Lenin gloated over having nationalized all of the land on the very first day of the Bolshevik revolution. Do you think the communists paid the nobility for their land? Certainly not. When Russia was democratized around 1991, the descendants of the old nobility started to sue the new government for compensation for the lands that were confiscated or expropriated by the Bolsheviks. I don't know if anyone is winning their cases or not, but a good friend of mine has a customer who is actually suing the Russian gov't.

   The morality of communist expropriation without compensation can be a touchy issue, but anyone familiar with Western traditions knows what happens to people who 'get caught red-handed taking things that don't belong to them'. Expropriation can be prettied up with fine language about 'the people create the wealth of the nation, so are entitled to its ownership and control', but such language just doesn't fly with the millions who work hard for a living, pay for everything they get, and expect others to do the same. Courses of instruction about surplus value would have no effect if the conclusion to be drawn includes 'the need to expropriate the means of production'. Surplus value is generated when people work beyond the time needed to create the necessities of life, so the obvious solution to 'too much surplus value' is 'less work'. People will be far more willing to consider 'less work' than consider 'expropriation with or without compensation'.

   Now that this base is better covered, my answer to your other message will hopefully make better sense. It should follow soon. Let me know if you still want to expropriate, with or without compensation, and, if so, then exactly why. I'm trying to nail down the logic that allegedly links social problems like unemployment to 'the need to expropriate'.

   Ken Ellis



   J S quoted me:

>> Complaints about labor shortages are 100% bourgeois, because capitalists
>> want labor to glut the labor market, compete for scarce jobs, and fight one
>> another for scarce opportunities to make the rich richer than their wildest
>> dreams.
> This assumes that labor is the
only way to acquire sustenance,
which is a pretty bourgeois assumption too!

   The economy exists to provide sustenance, but the non-economy also provides sustenance. The whole 'establishment' is part of the economy, as well as the vast majority of the population. A few people have succeeded in opting out, and more power to them. Wish we could all opt out, and prosper at the same time. If more people were interested, then opting out would become more successful. But, most people opt into the rat race. They want their Wheaties for breakfast, want to pump gas into their guzzlers, want KFC for lunch, want to be surrounded with innumerable commodities. Once addicted, it's hard to give it all up. Better to teach people while they're young. But, with so many people taking part in the economy, one has to admit that the economy works (especially well for the rich). I don't have many ideas about how to get more people to opt out. Maybe Hayduke does.

   For the majority still part of it, the economy (i.e., management of scarcity) works because of division of labor, which leads to class divisions, which leads to disparities in income and ownership. Surpluses give rise to private property and ownership. We are absolutely stuck in this paradigm until the abolition of labor, which could occur as early as 2029 according to Ray Kurzweil, whose predictions are based on past economic performance. The double exponential rate of tech progress won't go on forever. At some point, a new system of production will finally produce more than enough means of subsistence without using human labor. That great change will end scarcity, economy, employment, money, the state, politics, etc. - all the things we love to hate. This change is also far more certain than a proletarian revolution, because the present path leads precisely to that place. Nothing I can think of is leading the masses to consider anything revolutionary.

   When I discovered the circumstances under which property could be expropriated without compensation, and that it wasn't feasible after mere elections, it became obvious that Marxist expropriation was not appropriate to the very part of the world where Marx predicted it would happen first. Expropriation in the West is stone dead, except for a few on the fringes.

   The thing that WILL happen first in the West is the replacement of labor by new technologies. The intelligent way of dealing with inevitably growing unemployment is to reduce hours of labor by legislation. M+E favored this as well, because M+E were more than aware of labor's struggle for reduced work hours, and were in the forefront of leadership for that very thing. The 8 hour day is part of the program of their First International, which organization's principles are more than worthy of study.

> As you know, certain social democracies have minimum incomes for
> non-working people. These are payed for out of the taxes on profits
> that must be gained in global competition with market capitalists.
> The solution would be a globalization of social democracy, to knock
> the underpinnings out from under capitalism's shell game.

   I have nothing against such a solution. It should be escalated to cover more people, if possible. Trouble is, with Republicans in power, all anyone can think about is cutting taxes. In spite of all of the damages done to social services, people keep on electing Republicans! People want MORE tax cuts! A town nearby just failed to pass three Prop 2 and a half overrides, and now they will have to cut school programs. Clearly the left will have to change a lot of people's minds about taxing and spending, or else come up with a program with broader appeal. It's quite a challenge. Taxing and spending certainly has the potential to solve social problems, but it doesn't look like enough other people support it, and they seem to be running away from it as fast as they can. Have you noticed this? If so, what should be done?

   Ken Ellis



   J S wrote:

> You're speaking just from the American viewpoint here, of course. With the
> repeated rounds of tax cuts - which keep more of the profits in the pockets
> of the super-rich - and repeated rounds of expropriation of jobs to poor
> countries - with the decline in wages here to pay for the cheaper goods thus
> produced - the structure of America comes to resemble a feudal garrison
> state. We're used as canon fodder to enforce treaties on enslaved
> populations elsewhere and payed relatively well for our alliegance.
> Meanwhile, the model of social democracy - which we helped to build in
> our post-war colonial period - is under stress in most societies due to our
> demands that they privatise their public assets. This push is coming from
> very undemocratic places within our society. Our society is increasingly
> governed by undemocratic forces. What to do? It might lie outside the
> scope of our democratic tradition...

   Valid observations, of course. What to do? It isn't outside our democratic traditions to fight for reduced work hours. Gross amounts of surplus value pouring into the pockets of the rich makes it all the easier for them to buy off politicians, but the left simply doesn't know how to use the issue of galloping surplus value. If mentioned at all, they misuse that issue as no better than an excuse to 'smash the state', revolt, etc. - dumb tactics that the average American would never think twice about. 'Surplus value' is in the hands of sectarians who only know how to misuse every bit of Marxism they only have a foggy notion about.

> What I'm trying to do is a bit of anthropological comparison of American
> society with other contemporary societies. Our private media demagoguery
> is unique in the world of democratic societies. In the 60's, it was able to
> shake off 100 years of racial oppression of blacks through sheer force of
> moral persuasion. Likewise, the Vietnam war and Richard Nixon's presidency.
> This same royal assemblage then decided that it was time for a restoration
> and proceeded to re-establish conservative values in a powerless population.

   People are not powerless; they just don't know what to do, so they don't have a reason to change what they're doing. The struggle for wealth and power is just about all we know about because of the vacuum of ideas. In spite of the vacuum, my old American SLP continues to pour out anarchist lies. They have become totally useless to the struggle against enormous surplus value.

> We've seen the results ever since, with the highest prison population on the
> planet, the most extreme difference of wealth between median and rich in
> ourhistory, and the biggest trade deficit in the history of the world.
> What do we do? Stay informed disseminate information to a population
> that will soon be fending for itself. Perhaps we should try to instill class
> solidarity in the population like the French still succeed in doing. All of this,
> though, requires the good graces of the Luce family at
Time-Warner/AOL and
> the good graces of Rupert Murdoch, and
General Electric, etc., etc., in order to
> stand a chance of happening. Perhaps we should bow and scrape before their
> palaces with our petitions to good-faith citizenship building.
> I don't know...

   In the wealthiest countries in the world, people can afford to ignore social issues, or to maintain the most ridiculous reactionary attitudes. Those who enter various movements are bombarded with all kinds of disinformation in an attempt to appeal to their weak spots and win them over. Those who want to do better than just parrot useless party lines will have to do their own research. The West, especially the USA, reels toward disaster, but people still have a little time to do some quality research. I'd like to think that my web site will help people figure things out. I've been lied to quite a bit in my day, and I suspect that refuting lies is the best thing anyone can do for their fellow citizens. It is sad to report that some of my fellow leftists have been as dirty liars as Hitler and Goebels. When many more leftists begin to figure out just how badly they've been lied to, then they will begin to become more useful, and could then help put the brakes on our mad dash to create enormous surplus value. We can only be ridiculously dumb for just so long before enough people figure out how wrong it is. There are so very many ways for people to waste their time trying to do the impossible, such as 'smash the state', 'build a communist party', etc. The first step in figuring out 'what to do' is to figure out 'what NOT to do'.

   Ken Ellis

   "Refute all lies." - Pablo Neruda



   J S wrote:

> Ken,
> I referred to market forces in the valuation of resources, too, though.
> The recent meltdown of corporate valuations is a case in point. I've lately
> heard 'nationalization' used in reference to the US airline industry, along
> with 'collapse' and other catastrophic terms. Hmmm...

   Changing property relations, by itself, does nothing to help workers. It wouldn't matter if one industry or all industries were nationalized, or if they were all expropriated without compensation, or if property ownership were juggled in any way, shape, or manner. Shifting ownership, by itself, does not benefit workers. {Later: By itself, shifting ownership does not provide livable wages, and does not put people to work.}

> British rail was privatised; the investors sold off assets piecemeal,
> let the system run itself into a hole to the point that the public was
> endangered and then bailed out. The government has had to go back in
> and begin the process of rebuilding all over again. Hmmm...

   Truly not much benefit to the lowest classes there.

> Are you opposed to taxation on profits? If not, then it follows that taxes
> can be collected and invested to buy out private means of production.
> If you accept taxation, at what level? Why?

   In the today's economy, taxes are a fact of life, and there's no avoiding them. I agree with Marx in the Gotha Programme that: "Taxes are the economic basis of the government machinery and of nothing else."

   I don't oppose taxing profits; I wish loopholes could be closed so that profits were more equitably taxed. Then the taxes could be used to help the truly needy: the very young, the very old, the disabled, etc. Sin taxes on alcohol and tobacco, etc., are fine with me.

> Do you accept the marxist notion of
surplus value of labor as the source of all profit?

   Yes, profit does come from surplus value. The more productive labor becomes, the greater the surplus value, unless the benefits of increased productivity are taken in the form of a shorter work week, which hasn't been done in the USA. Norway is a good leader in this direction. At the same time the USA raised its retirement age from 65 to 67, Norway's fell from 65 to 64. They're smart.

> I'm not sure that I do,
> but I also shy away from notions of inherited wealth and fortune
> and the idea that
the super-rich are so from their own virtues.

   The Enron (and other) scandals demonstrate that the rich are no more virtuous than anyone else. Some of them can afford to be extremely virtuous, such as the Feuerstein guy who owns the PolarFleece Mills that burned to the ground, but kept all of his employees on at full salary while the factory was rebuilt. As a reward for his virtue, he was forced into bankruptcy, but seems to be recovering.

> Do you accept the idea of democracy? At what level?

   Democracy surely is better than absolute monarchy. Marx was a republican, and his First International was sort of a red republican club. Socialism has long been associated with the struggle for democracy, and against monarchy.

> At what juncture with private property rights? Why?

   Without surpluses, private property could not exist. Low productivity is why primitive societies hold everything in common (with lots of variations on that theme, to be sure). Formal democracy reflects high productivity, enabling division of labor between the state and citizens. In the early USA, back when a uniform class of peasants tilled the land, only male property owners could vote. With the rise of propertyless wage labor, universal suffrage became a broad social movement.

> How would democracy play out if carried
> into the realm of worldwide capital?

   Capitalist companies behave like little monarchies, what with their secrecy, bureaucracy, censorship of employees, and so many other undemocratic practices. I wouldn't know where to begin to try to democratize corporations. Most leftists don't practice democracy within their own organizations, especially within sects that have particular shibboleths to sell to gullible newcomers. Overall, we are lucky to be able to elect mayors, reps, senators, presidents, etc.

> Would the shell game of expropriation
> of jobs to non-socialized countries cease?

   Democratic control of business might terminate outsourcing. But, outsourcing is no more than a free market mechanism, so good reasons for abolishing a viable market mechanism would have to be given.

> Would this precipitate a crisis in profitability,
> or could profit be made even with the demands of a
> democratic government for high living standards?

   What with exponentially rising rates of surplus value (which is the same as the rate of exploitation), worrying about profit is like worrying about keeping food from spoiling at the North Pole. If the amount of profit ever becomes a concern, then suspect that the mind of the worrier has been warped in favor of exploitation. When leftists argue against shorter work hours on the basis of its damage to profits, it makes me wonder for whom they might be working.

> So many questions, but maybe you've got a different take thatn I've
> heard over and over and over again?...Thanks for taking the time!
> John

   Glad to be of service. People who ask sincere questions are rare. Glad to have the opportunity to try to get someone else to see things my way. I never succeed, but I always hope to get lucky some day.

   Ken Ellis



   Dear Editor,

   'Regime change' is not a precise term, nor is it appealing. 'Regime change' occurred in Chile in 1973, when the CIA helped overthrow the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende. 'Regime change' also applied to the ousting of Slobodan Milosevic in Yugoslavia a few years ago, a change many more of us can probably be comfortable with than the evil that was perpetrated in Chile on behalf of big copper and ITT.

   The certainty of regime change in Iraq grows day by day. But, regime change could mean something as evil as replacing Saddam with a different dictator, or it could mean replacing Saddam with a new government with the promise of democratic control after things simmer down. Few would favor replacing Saddam with another Augusto Pinochet type dictator, so 'democratization' hopefully describes American policy objectives better than 'regime change'.

   Ken Ellis



   Carol M. wrote:

> Hi Kenneth,
> Your website is quite interesting, especially because you've put a lot of
> thought into it and you're very articulate.

   It's always a pleasure to receive nice compliments. Thank you.

> From my college days years ago and from some recent books, my personal
> take is somewhat different and I wanted to comment from my viewpoint.
> There are democratic-socialistic governments in the world today (such as
> Sweden and Switzerland), just as there are capitalistic dictatorships as in
> South America. Regarding socialism, I don't have the impression that control
> must always rest in public hands -- only that there should be government
> programs for a safety net.
> Therefore:
> socialism and capitalism = economic systems
> democracy and communism = governmental-bureaucratic ruling systems

   Sounds reasonable. Besides 'governmental-bureaucratic ruling systems', it could also be said that 'democracy and communism are political systems'.

> I even had a class in college which showed how communism and capitalism both
> work to empower and enhance those who would strip away the common people's
> freedom. They are more alike than different in that respect.

   Now there's a chilling bit of near reality. Joe Six-pack might not agree, but a lot of poor people probably could relate.

> Recently I read a book giving the history of Unions in the United States.
> They showed how time and again capitalistic control, by way of the law,
> could minimize the power of unions or the majority of working class people,
> to have an upper hand in decisions. When horrible things happened, such as
> union members being killed, the law would go the unions' way and conditions
> would improve. However Congress, because of money supplied by capitalistic
> power, would renege on these protective laws and once again the rights of
> Unions/working people would be compromised. Personally, I believe in a
> healthy balance. I like the idea of employee-owned companies encouraged
> by laws and tax breaks, etc. Democracy is best -- unless it's threatened
> by power in the hands of an economically-ruling elite. An out-of-control
> ruling elite threatens individual freedom whether it is "capitalism"
> or "communism".

   Good points.

> An important factor is that corporations have been successful in dividing
> workers against themselves through matters of race, etc. True democracy
> tends to put power in the hands of the many, except when the "few" can
> divide them. Ralph Nader himself said that Unions must go global.

   Very true.

> It seems obvious to me that our government must take control
> of imports/exports.

'HAVING to take control of imports/exports' isn't so obvious to me.

> Obviously, it's a sticky issue, but our government is capable of
> slapping taxes both on companies that send workers abroad and by
> slapping taxes on incoming exports. At this time we are endangering
> the very strength of our country. I understand that some big multi-
> national corporations don't want to be called "American corporations"
> and consider themselves without loyalty or national affiliation.

   Multinationals help write rules governing international trade, so they want to make things as easy for themselves as possible. No crime in trying to protect one's own interests. It's all part of 'free trade'. If countries accede to multinational demands and 'give away the store', then the countries lose, the multinationals win big, and more surplus value and profits flow into their pockets. Countries compete with one another to give away concessions to attract multinational exploiters. Maybe they figure that 'some business is better than no business at all.' Countries content themselves with scraps from the table. {Later: Making economies more inclusive would also diminish the tendency to grant damaging concessions to multinationals.}

> So why should the blood of our young American men
> pay to protect corporations that avoid taxes and
> cheat American citizens out of revenue?

   You seem to conclude that 'multinationals with no loyalty to any particular country have arrogated to themselves the power to send citizens off to war.' Democratically elected leaders would surely have to be aware of the real reasons for sending their citizens off to war. Agreeing to war for no better reason than to protect multinational financial interests can no longer be kept sufficiently quiet to let such treason pass without comment or protest.

> Does it make it right when we have stupid laws that make tax
> evasion and exporting of jobs "without consequence" legal?

   Such devices facilitate funneling surpluses into the hands of the ultra rich. People are largely ignorant of the absurdity of creating vast amounts of wealth for the aggrandizement of mostly the wealthiest sectors. The fact that living standards slowly improve is enough to keep people on the treadmill. A slowly rising standard of living is the carrot dangling before our noses that keeps us plodding relentlessly onward. All the while, labor becomes ever more productive, and hands over an ever-increasing share of the newly-created wealth to the ultra rich.

> On the other hand, I believe in protecting legitimate
> corporations, too, by taxing foreign companies/foreign imports.
> Another problem was created when the Supreme Court decided that corporations
> are entities with the same rights and privileges as a human being. This is
> horrendous if you look at what has happened because of that decision --
> companies are endangering people's lives with pollution, etc. This insidious
> horror hides itself within the law through NON DISCLOSURE agreements. I know
> about them because I worked in big law firms as a word processor for 20
> years. We must turn back the clock and hold companies accountable for their
> actions. If companies can be entities then let their CEO's suffer criminal
> prosecution even to death as individual citizens must for their actions in
> our country. Or else, preferably, strip companies of this artificial entity
> status. Originally corporations were allowed to exist ONLY at the discretion
> of the community and if they were not socially responsible then their
> contracts was taken back. Such information can be found at:

   At this point, I began to wonder if you had a web site of your own, so I did a google search. The number one listing was

   Is that your web site? If so, then I can tell you that we share a number of interests, from future studies to constitutional issues, etc. Are you the ..

   "Press Action Hero of the Week: CAROL MOORE" ??? If so, then good for you. Libertarians for Peace do not grow on trees.

> There is so very much to this subject. I agree with you about the horrors of
> communism, but I disagree with you about the benevolence of capitalism. I
> also took a class on "Leisure" in college. I was quite impressed that you
> should address the subject, but this e-mail is too long already...

   Capitalism by itself can be pretty brutal. It will take many conscious people to whip it into LIBERATION capitalism. All that's needed is to create the kind of artificial shortage of labor that would enable ANYONE to find a job in the above-ground economy. Stricter 'hours of labor' laws could move the USA towards serving ALL of its citizens, and the country itself would thereby become a better world citizen. Libertarians and anarchists may detest the thought of laws in general, but the right kind of law in the right place at the right time could work wonders.

> Kennth, thank you for your in-depth website. I'm sure it prompts a lot
> of comments and is also very appreciated by readers such as myself.
> Carol

   Glad you enjoyed it. I hope that many more intelligent people like you will also give it a gander. I spend lots of time trying to improve it even more. The better it gets, the more interest it generates.

   Best wishes,
   Ken Ellis



   Redrepublicanuk wrote:

> Remember that the state is 'abolished' (Marx) or 'withers away' (Engels)
> under socialism.

   When did Marx endorse Bakunin's abolition of the state? The publishers of Marx's Collected Works say otherwise: ... "in contrast to the anarchists, the Marxists suggested beginning not with the abolition of the state, but with the transfer of power to the proletariat."

   "Bakunin has a singular theory, a potpourri of Proudhonism and communism, the chief point of which is first of all, that he does not regard capital, and hence the class antagonism between capitalists and wage workers which has arisen through the development of society, as the main evil to be abolished, but instead the state. While the great mass of the Social- Democratic workers hold our view that state power is nothing more than the organisation with which the ruling classes - landowners and capitalists - have provided themselves in order to protect their social privileges, Bakunin maintains that the state has created capital, that the capitalist has his capital only by the grace of the state. And since the state is the chief evil, the state above all must be abolished; then capital will go to hell of itself. We, on the contrary, say: Abolish capital, the appropriation of all the means of production by the few, and the state will fall of itself. The difference is an essential one: 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. However, since for Bakunin the state is the main evil, nothing must be done that can keep the state alive, i.e. any state, republic, monarchy, or whatever it may be. Hence, complete abstention from all politics. To commit a political action, especially to take part in an election, would be a betrayal of principle. The thing to do is to conduct propaganda, revile the state, organise, and when all the workers are won over, that is, the majority, to depose the authorities, abolish the state, and replace it by the organisation of the International. This great act, with which the millennium begins, is called social liquidation." Engels to Cuno, Jan. 1872

   ... "the 'abolition of the state' is an old German philosophical phrase, of which we made much use when we were tender youths." Engels to Cafiero, 1871

   "The German workers' party strives to abolish wage labour and hence class distinctions by introducing co-operative production into industry and agriculture, and on a national scale; it is in favour of any measure calculated to attain that end!" - Engels to Bebel, 1875

   Ken Ellis



   Carol M. wrote:

> Hi Ken,
> It was truly a delight to read your response. I so appreciate your comments.

   Glad you enjoyed them. It's always a pleasure to dialogue with reasonable people.

>> "Capitalism by itself can be pretty brutal. It will take many conscious
>> people to whip it into LIBERATION capitalism. All that's needed is to
>> create the kind of artificial shortage of labor that would enable ANYONE
>> to find a job in the above-ground economy. Stricter 'hours of labor' laws
>> could move the USA towards serving ALL of its citizens, and the country
>> itself would thereby become a better world citizen. Libertarians and
>> anarchists may detest the thought of laws in general, but the right kind
>> of law in the right place at the right time could work wonders."
> BRAVO!!!! I totally agree. And furthermore, I think you've captured the
> nub of it. Ironically, I worked a six-hour day for 5 years and was never a
> better employee. It doesn't benefit companies (or the rest of the world)
> when people are exhausted, stressed and miserable from lives that have no
> leisure or outside political or community interests other than working to
> death.

   You are a true kindred spirit.

> Although I'm not the libertarian you suspect, there's another Carol Moore
> on the web and she and I have corresponded. She even sent me her book for
> a laugh -- so I could joke and say that I wrote it. Her book is about the
> Branch Davidian (sp?) incident.

   That one sounds like the Carol Moore I thought you were. My mistake. This myriad of Moores should adopt middle names, or at least middle initials. :-)

   snip irrelevancies

> Best wishes. And thanks again for your website and your dedication to
> the subject of LIBERATION capitalism.
> Regards,
> Carol

   Thanks for your appreciation. Our admiration is mutual.

   Best wishes,
   Ken Ellis



   Hi, J S, sorry to be running late. I'm glad you liked my message to the WSM forum. An alleged red republican putting anarchist phrases in Marx's mouth is travesty enough, but they aren't going to get away with total murder as long as the CD of M+E's Collected Works is at hand. :-)

> Thanks for more food for thought, Ken.
>> Changing property relations, by itself, does nothing to help workers.
>> It wouldn't matter if one industry or all industries were
>> or if they were all
expropriated without compensation, or if property
>> ownership were juggled in any way, shape, or manner. Shifting ownership,
>> by itself, does not benefit workers.
> I'm seeing the struggle as between social democracies and what I have come
> to call 'promiscuous capital'. Social democracies can find mechanisms to use
> taxation and nationalization to serve public ends. They must compete globally
> with other producers, though, and those less-socialised societies are at an
> advantage with lower taxes on profit and more draconian labor standards.

   That's very true. A lot of countries join the race to the bottom by offering low tax rates (and consequent high rates of surplus value and exploitation) to attract multinationals. Countries figure that any business at all - even bad business - is better than no business at all.

> As you know, Nixon led us down the low road with
> his mercantilist opening of America to Chinese labor.

   Looking at it philosophically, it was bound to happen. There's no stopping the revolutionizing forces of capital until capital annihilates itself by annihilating the need for human labor. Human labor is identical with economy and scarcities, because few want to work, and more prefer getting something for nothing. The annihilation of the need for human labor is progressive, for it fates society to become classless - no longer divided into workers and bosses. On becoming classless, the need for a state will disappear, and Marx's "higher phase of communist society" will be realized without a drop of blood being spilled by revolutionaries trying to make political revolution. In established democracies, political revolutions are already things of the past. Little more is needed than for activists to help further the economic revolution - the final abolition of all human labor - while politically ensuring the participation of every human in an ever dwindling economy. The guarantee of full participation in the economy (and politics) will guarantee that the new world won't be a 'Brave New World' or an 'Animal Farm'.

   Liberation capitalism shares the classless and stateless higher phase of Marxism, but differs quite significantly on the method of arriving there. We differ by rejecting all notions of forcefully overthrowing modern states (except for absolute monarchies and other forms of dictatorship).

> Clinton said that the American worker could out-compete any
> worker on the planet on their terms. This is what we are faced with;
> the
destruction of our own social democracy and the use of our 300
> million as
cannon fodder to destroy the others, too. Every democracy is
> under competitive pressure on the basis of treaties that the US has
> forced into existence - at the point of a gun or the almighty dollar.
> This is our national juggernaut and it is not in democratic hands.

   I wonder if all of that pessimism is warranted. Let's not forget that the majority of polled Americans support Bush's policies. If his policies cause disaster, then perhaps Americans will have learned some valuable lessons the hard way, and may want to restrain their belligerence in the future. But, the Bush policy may end up 90% effective, giving Republicans another great mandate in the next election, not that I don't groan and moan at that thought, because I do. But, I'm only one out of zillions.

   I used to be equally pessimistic about the future until I discovered that things aren't nearly as bad as how some activists paint them. When I discovered in 1977 that my revolutionary comrades were really marketing a pack of anarcho-syndicalist lies carefully disguised as 'socialism', and when I discovered in 1994 that Marx's 'proletarian dictatorship' meant nothing to the very part of the world where it was supposed to be imposed first, and as I watched my fellow activists stab each other in the back trying to gain control of any movement that stood a chance of attracting revenue, then I understood that, in developed democracies, socialism is no better than a business. Radical business people would like nothing better than for people to believe that 'democracies are capitalist dictatorships fit only for overthrow', and they like to think that they have something MUCH BETTER with which to replace existing states, in spite of the fact that socialism means something different to every group calling itself socialist. Pessimism much better applies to movements for radical change than to democracies.

   I like to think of my web site as a place where sincere activists can learn some tools for debunking sectarian nonsense, a place to learn how much of the politics of M+E were involved with replacing despotisms with democracies - even BOURGEOIS democracies were considered major steps in the right direction, democracies with universal suffrage providing ALL of the tools needed for workers' emancipation. Some elements of Marxism remain valid, but the less honest activists don't like to advertise the valid elements, doting instead on obsolete revolutionary violence and proletarian dictatorship. The fact is that every modern republic has the potential to peacefully become a proletarian dictatorship {in which the masses can impose their will on wealthy elites}, whereas dishonest activists always promote violently overthrowing states the way Lenin did. Leninism needs to be honestly compared to Marx's 1872 Speech at The Hague Congress of the First International. Lenin's critique of Marx's peaceful evolution falls flat.

> For Americans, the idea of 'reformism' rings hollow,

   Activists have to get used to the idea that, in democracies, reform is the best tool of change activists will ever get. To live in the heroic old days of brandishing swords and overthrowing absolute monarchies, that was a horse of a different color. Too bad those days of having fun 'kicking monarchist butt' are over. The 20th century may have had its Castro, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, and Lenin, but the days of creating proletarian dictatorships on the ashes of fallen monarchies or colonies are OVER. We in the West have totally different landscapes to paint.

> since we've pretty much lost the progress that came from
> democratic action and labor unions in the early part of the
> last century. Canadians and Europeans of the left stripe prefer
> to
ignore our profound slide towards 3rd world conditions in the US.

   'Prefer to ignore'? In my town, activists are up in arms over recent budget cuts for the poorest people, but that Republican agenda item might not be reversed anytime soon. I was totally amazed at the number of people who want to overturn our state's income tax - the initiative came out of nowhere, and almost passed!! They really want to murder government. Republicans are stealing Libertarian thunder.

> This would fly in the face of their perceived inevitable progress towards
> that glorious day of socialism...or at least that's my take.

   Many lazy 'activists' sit by while things worsen, hoping that mere mortals will be driven into the arms of these gods of socialism, who hope that their 19th century programs still have the moxie to 'save the masses', but many of them privately suspect that their programs are worthless, though their loyalties prevent them from admitting it, or even thinking about it.

> They argue against 'reformism' as being in bed with capitalists.
> I've argued that pushing reforms far enough would constitute socialism.
> Neither reforms nor revolution can happen on less than a global scale.
> They claim that socialism has never been tried globally, but I say to them
> that neither has social democracy! So I guess that makes me a 'reformist'...
> Meanwhile, though, promiscuous capital has destroyed the fabric of one
> society after another in the pursuit of profit. With this recent success,
> they have upped their own expectations to such a level of opulence that
> there is a danger of neo-feudalism on a global scale. Who was it who said
> that the greatest danger to stability occurs when expectations are
> rising?...

   There's a lot here to agree with. The struggle against surplus value has to begin, and on a global scale. No activist likes unemployment, so the struggle against surplus value can be integrated into the struggle against unemployment without too many impediments. May enough minds change soon so that a concerted struggle may begin.

   Ken Ellis



   matthepoet quoted me:

>> Matt Harley asked if we are different. We would be if we let the
>> capitalists go on abolishing necessary human labor, while we socialists
>> decided that it is our duty to abolish surplus labor and surplus value.
>> Would that be different enough for everyone?
>> Ken Ellis
> I agree with you Ken -- so how do we go about doing this
> outside of this forum?

   Because surplus labor cannot be abolished with a single stroke of a sword or a pen, gradual abolition is the only course. Two hundred years ago, most labor was necessary labor, i.e., related to food, clothing, and shelter. Due to accelerating improvements in productive forces, the old quests for food, clothing and shelter are quickly being replaced by newer quests. In spite of the proliferation of new kinds of jobs, unemployment has developed into a problem that it never could have been 200 years ago. Necessary labor is fading fast, while surplus labor and value accelerate exponentially.

   Lots of good and evil can flow from surplus value. It creates billionaires, it finds its way into politicians' pockets, it is converted into a barrage of advertisements, it is converted into taxes that feed evil governments and their military bureaucracies, etc. Surplus value also fuels scientific and medical research, and further develops labor-saving machines and technology. Because labor is an estimated 40 times more productive than 200 years ago, the work week could conceivably be reduced to a handful of hours without threatening production of necessities. A drastic reduction of hours surely would eliminate most conversion of resources into evil, but life would then become quite static, which isn't very attractive. Something in between might be a good target, reducing labor time enough to abolish unemployment, but not enough to eliminate beneficial investments.

   Toward the end of his life, Engels helped to found an Eight-Hour League in London, and one of its stated ambitions was to combat surplus value. Some modern activists unfortunately misuse 'enormous surplus value' as an excuse to rally revolt, or smash the state. But, surplus value is so much a part of life that it deserves far more than the short shrift it presently gets. It is the very resource that enables President Bush to bomb Afghanistan and Iraq, etc. If Bush would be prevented from making war, then the MEANS of making war has to be withdrawn. A shorter work week would equate to a general slow-down strike, enabling evil projects to be starved out of existence. Anything wrong with this scenario of social change?

   Ken Ellis



   Surplusvalue wrote to redrepublicanuk:

> I hasten to correct you in that Marx and Engels never inferred that
> socialism/communism was "historically inevitable". What they did say
> was that once a majority of the working class became a "class for itself"
> then revolution was likely. If like you imply that you agree that a
> socialist/communist revolution is "historically inevitable", can I take
> it that you are waiting for it to happen? Or on the other hand are you
> doing your bit to make it happen?
> Yours For Positive Socialist Activity
> Brian Johnson (non-WSM)

   It's undeniable: In the Collected Works, Marx and Engels used variations of the word 'inevitable' hundreds of times, though only a few referred to the inevitability of socialism or communism. But, those few were sufficient to solidly make the case, and at least some of the following direct quotes might even look familiar. According to the Indexes to the Collected Works, M+E versed the inevitability of communism or socialism in not so many words probably a hundred more times than this mere handful of selected quotes:

   Socialism: Utopian and Scientific -
The more strongly this earlier Socialism denounced the exploitation of the working-class, inevitable under Capitalism, the less able was it clearly to show in what this exploitation consisted and how it arose. But for this it was necessary - (1) to present the capitalistic method of production in its historical connection and its inevitableness during a particular historical period, and therefore, also, to present its inevitable downfall; and (2) to lay bare its essential character, which was still a secret. This was done by the discovery of surplus-value."

   "The Communist Manifesto had as its object the proclamation of the inevitably impending dissolution of modern bourgeois property."

   Footnote by Engels to Socialism: Utopian and Scientific -
I say "have to". For only when the means of production and distribution have actually outgrown the form of management by joint-stock companies, and when, therefore, the taking them over by the State has become economically inevitable, only then - even if it is the State of to-day that effects this - is there an economic advance, the attainment of another step preliminary to the taking over of all productive forces by society itself."

   "The above application of the Ricardian theory that the entire social product belongs to the workers as their product, because they are the sole real producers, leads directly to communism. But, as Marx indeed indicates in the above-quoted passage, it is incorrect in formal economic terms, for it is simply an application of morality to economics. According to the laws of bourgeois economics, the greatest part of the product does not belong to the workers who have produced it. If we now say: that is unjust, that ought not to be so, then that has nothing immediately to do with economics. We are merely saying that this economic fact is in contradiction to our sense of morality. Marx, therefore, never based his communist demands upon this, but upon the inevitable collapse of the capitalist mode of production which is daily taking place before our eyes to an ever growing degree; he says only that surplus value consists of unpaid labour, which is a simple fact." ...

   Capital - ... "England is the only country where the inevitable social revolution might be effected entirely by peaceful and legal means."

   "Moreover, irrespective of political interests, the middle class can only be Whig or Tory, never Chartist. Its principle is the preservation of the status quo; in England's present condition, "legal progress" and universal suffrage would inevitably result in a revolution."

   "But one day the proletariat will attain a level of power and of insight at which it will no longer tolerate the pressure of the entire social structure always bearing down on its shoulders, when it will demand a more even distribution of social burdens and rights; and then - unless human nature has changed by that time - a social revolution will be inevitable."

   "It was in England that the antagonism between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie was most developed, that the decisive struggle between these two classes became more and more inevitable. It was therefore in England that in all probability the fight would begin which would end with the universal triumph of democracy and which would also break the Polish yoke."

   "What the bourgeoisie, therefore, produces, above all, is its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable."

   "The proletarian revolution will then be inevitable, and its victory certain."

   "The working-class movement itself never is independent, never is of an exclusively proletarian character, until all the different factions of the middle class, and particularly its most progressive faction, the large manufacturers, have conquered political power and remodeled the State according to their wants. It is then that the inevitable conflict between the employer and the employed becomes imminent and cannot be adjourned any longer; that the working class can no longer be put off with delusive hopes and promises never to be realized; that the great problem of the nineteenth century, the abolition of the proletariat, is at last brought forward fairly and in its proper light."

   "Since Blanqui regards every revolution as a coup de main by a small revolutionary minority, it automatically follows that its victory must inevitably be succeeded by the establishment of a dictatorship - not, it should be well noted, of the entire revolutionary class, the proletariat, but of the small number of those who accomplished the coup and who themselves are, at first, organised under the dictatorship of one or several individuals."

   "But what is the secret of the red spectre, if not the bourgeoisie's fear of the inevitable life-and-death struggle between itself and the proletariat, fear of the unavoidable outcome of the modern class struggle?"

   "The highest form of the state, the democratic republic, which under our modern conditions of society is more and more becoming an inevitable necessity, and is the only form of state in which the last decisive struggle between proletariat and bourgeoisie can be fought out" ...

   "And because Free Trade is the natural, the normal atmosphere for this historical evolution, the economic medium in which the conditions for the inevitable social revolution will be the soonest created, - for this reason, and for this alone, did Marx declare in favor of Free Trade."

   "Scientific insight into the inevitable disintegration, now steadily taking place before our eyes, of the prevailing social order; the masses themselves, their fury mounting under the lash of the old governmental bogies; the gigantic and positive advances simultaneously taking place in the development of the means of production - all this is sufficient guarantee that the moment a truly proletarian revolution breaks out, the conditions for its immediate initial (if certainly not idyllic) modus operandi will also be there."

   This will hopefully prove that M+E regarded the revolution to be inevitable. But, little MODERN evidence could lead anyone to believe that an ABRUPT RUPTURE will occur. The abrupt ruptures that did occur in the days of M+E were the replacements of monarchies with democracies. Until 1917, the only successful long-lasting abrupt ruptures were bourgeois anti-monarchist revolutions. In the 20th century, successful socialist-inspired revolutions happened in less developed countries instead of the more developed countries where they were supposed to happen first, indicating fatal contradictions in Marx's ideas. The old 'power and property' path to socialism is kaput, and should be replaced by the more appropriate 'shorter work week' method.

   Ken Ellis



   Hi, Brian, you got me to thinking for days on end.

> All of the quotes below are either the early works of M&E, or quoted out of
> context
in regards the historical inevitability of the socialist revolution.

   'All of the quotes'? 'Socialism: Utopian and Scientific' and Marx's 'Capital' can hardly be described as early works of M+E. Plus, some of the quotes provided plenty of context, and were not mere snippets. The Index to the Collected Works indicates that M+E mentioned the 'inevitability of the socialist revolution' around a hundred times. Inevitability is 100% pure Marxism. Otherwise, wouldn't one have to believe that capitalism is inescapable, except by the grace of a determined party? I'm content to wait for the robots to liberate us from toil, thereby ending the division between worker and boss, propelling society into classlessness.

   The Subject Index to the 45 Volumes of Lenin's Collected Works also listed Lenin mentioning the 'inevitability of the socialist revolution' roughly a hundred times. Using the works of Marx, Engels and Lenin to try to prove that 'they didn't believe in inevitability' wouldn't work very well.

> Whilst in their early days they favoured a mechanistic approach
> to revolution
- it fed their optimism -

   In what way was M+E's early approach to revolution 'mechanistic'? Would a 'mechanistic approach to revolution' permit simply sitting back and waiting for the 'inevitable revolution'? I'm curious about that, because, if M+E had sat back, the First International would have been forgotten long ago.

> the aftermath of the Paris commune soon made them change
> their minds
and made them realise that such a simplistic
> analysis denied the dynamics of a socialist revolution.

   Some evidence of M+E 'changing their minds' should be provided.

> Their later work placed far more emphasis on the need for human agency
> and the co-current necessity for class consciousness.

   'Human agency', as an exact term, does not appear in the Collected Works.

   As early as "The Holy Family", M+E critiqued the middle class consciousness of their intellectual sparring partners, but "class consciousness" and "class conscious" (as exact terms) appear fewer than a dozen times in their works. Nowhere did Marx or Engels mention a 'requirement', 'necessity', or a 'need' for workers to become class conscious. Certainly the GROWTH of class consciousness was applauded and encouraged, but nowhere did anyone indicate a need to CREATE it. Here's how Engels used 'class-consciousness' in 1866:

   "As these contradictions between classes in society are simplified, so the power of the bourgeoisie grows, but at the same time the proletariat's power, class-consciousness and potential for victory grow even more; it is only this increase in the power of the bourgeoisie that gradually enables the proletariat to become the majority, the dominant majority in the state, as it already is in England, but by no means yet in Germany, where in the country peasants of every kind and in the towns small craftsmen and shopkeepers, etc., are still outnumbering it."

   Here's how Engels used 'class consciousness' in 1893:

   "In England, even with the present limited suffrage, the workers form the absolute majority in at least 150 constituencies. If the electoral reform introduced by the government goes through, then in 200. And even today the worker votes are decisive in a majority of all constituencies. What the awakening of the workers to class consciousness means under such circumstances is obvious. The workers only have to want it, and England cannot be governed against their will."

   If a party wants to raise a revolutionary army, then the necessity of raising class consciousness would present itself. M+E, on the other hand, observed class consciousness grow simply as the result of the ongoing evolution of capitalist production. They certainly did what they could to help develop proletarian class consciousness, but apparently never felt that it was a task meriting a gung-ho effort.

> Quite a few critics picked up on this, and hence the remark
> by Marx that he
was no Marxist.

   This would indicate that Marx's critique might have been related to the issue of class consciousness, but the Collected Works editors reported that Marx was specifically complaining about "sectarian and dogmatic mistakes made by the French Marxists in the struggle against the opportunist trend - Possibilism." Also mentioned was Lafargue and Guesde's inadequate struggle against "Brousse, Malon and Co."

> We also need to take into account Engels'
> remarks regarding economic determinism.
> Yours For Positive Socialist Activity
> Brian Johnson (non-WSM)

   When it comes to modern prospects for an abrupt socialist revolution, there are far too few to raise hope. Abrupt power and property revolutions were feasible only after overthrowing monarchies and liberating colonies. It should be obvious to all but the most die-hard sectarian salesperson that an abrupt socialist revolution is 'toast'. It's days have run out, and truly compassionate people will have to seek other ways of redistributing wealth and power. Toward that end, 'redistributing work to all who could use some' should not be overlooked, as well as a modern campaign against surplus value to eliminate the evils flowing from excesses of wealth and power.

   Ken Ellis (non-WSM)



   "johnfull2" wrote:

> Ken,
> Your ideas hold a lot of interest for me. I wonder, though,
> which would starve first; the pet military projects of
> the oligarchs or the needs of the poor?

   'Starve' represents a valid concern over necessary labor, while 'military projects of the oligarchs' are all derived from surplus labor. Necessary labor has already declined DRASTICALLY over the past couple of centuries, corresponding to the accelerating rise of surplus value. Capacity to grow food is obviously much greater than ever before, leading to the conclusion that: modern hunger is nearly 100% political, and not at all economic, whereas 200 years ago hunger was more economy-related, and practically not at all the result of ruling-class policy; but, one well-known exception was illustrated by the old Irish saying: "the Almighty sent the potato blight but the English created the Famine."

   By far, the vast bulk of modern labor is surplus labor, while 200 years ago most labor was related to necessities of life. Capitalism will altogether abolish necessary labor within 30 years. If hours of labor are reduced now, necessary labor would continue undiminished; only surplus labor would be reduced. This of course assumes persistent refusal to labor for nothing, and persistent satisfaction with receiving the value of labor power in exchange for the use of the hours of our lives. Struggling against surplus labor was a stated objective of Engels' Eight-Hour League, but few mention it today.

> Also, it's now touted that 5% of Americans pay 90% of the taxes to
> support all the programs that the government propagates. The reason is
> the huge disparity of incomes - with the top 5% receiving most of the total
> through the expropriated labor of overseas production. The trade deficit of
> the US attests to this, as does the huge gap between the median income
> and the top 5% income.

   Taxes are 100% derived from surplus value. Workers have as little or as much say over how taxes are used as they have over how profits are used. In small towns in the USA, workers actually do have some say over how their property taxes get spent. The small towns surrounding my little city are presently in the midst of voting on tax and revenue issues; and no voter, rich or poor, is excluded from the final decisions.

> So, you think that we should cut the taxes of the super-rich in order
> to starve the war machine that keeps the planet in their hands?

   I eventually realized that 'cutting the taxes of the super-rich' wouldn't affect the war machine very much, except, probably, to increase it. Perhaps something else was intended?

> Something else is going on here, like the atomization of the American
> working classes into self-destructive interest groups. All tied up in the
> alienation of consumption is the fact that we are living off the labor of
> wretchedly poor do we advocate a shorter workweek
> for them?...or even democracy for them?

   The economic works of Marx impart the impression that private property, unpaid labor, exploitation, alienation, etc. - all of the evil stuff socialists hate - were connected to surplus labor and surplus value, but the bad things were never connected to necessary labor. Surplus value is not the easiest topic to understand, and confusion over the subject may result in it simply being passed over. But, greater familiarity with the subject imparts a clarity of purpose that is well worth the time spent in self-education. The same advice could be given to anarchists who fail to discriminate between absolute monarchies and republics - one to be rightfully abolished, the other to be used.

   Ken Ellis



   Bravo, Robert, that 4 part series was inspiring. Gabe asked some very good questions in Part 3:

> Is it conceivable to think that the Teamsters or the Presbyterians could
> be won over to shorter-work-time-ism?

> why can't trade unionists see the diabolical genius of our platform?

> Why can't we approach the NAACP and demonstrate the intimate and
> natural connections among King, Gandhi, and the four-hour day?

> What, exactly, is the trade union mentality? Why has American labor
> been so resistant to the IWW, or socialists, or any other expression
> of class-for-itself ideology?

> What, then, about the Green Party?

> And isn't shorter work time a perfect goal for the harried middle-class?

> what about the church?

   Gabe also wondered about women's groups, and then summarized that ...

> Nothing bodes well for fourhourism.

> I'm now thinking that things are going to
> get worse before they get better. Perhaps a lot worse.
> So, what can we do to keep the ember glowing in the midst
> of generalized disaster?

   These tough questions can perhaps be condensed down to one: In spite of the potential of legislated labor time reductions to solve social problems with great efficiency, why are so few Americans interested?

   The USA appears intoxicated with lust for new stuff, and perhaps it will only increase as new high-tech gadgets obsolesce 'old trash' at a double exponential rate, ensuring such an accelerating explosion of tantalizing new developments and 'neat things' that few will dare propose restrictions that could at all be interpreted as 'putting the brakes on progress'.

   Perhaps for as long as 'U-6' unemployment doesn't too far exceed 10%, the brakes on the sometimes seemingly insane race to be first and foremost may not be applied any too soon. Much of it can appear like addiction, and when the addicts hold the reins of power, and when their leadership goes largely unchallenged, then the whole world becomes captive to their whims.

   In spite of anything that will be done to heat up the economy, jobs are fated to someday disappear faster than new ones can be created, after which swt will arrive.

   Ken Ellis

End of January to March 2003 Correspondence


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