Monday, June 27, 2016

And Bob's Your Shambolic, Wonky, Pear-Shaped Uncle....

So in the aftermath of the Great One-Off of Britain's referendum on membership in the EU, "shock and awe" seems to have taken on, if not a whole new meaning, at least a different application, and a different target.  Now it's the financial traders, the stock-jobbers, the hedge-fund managers who emerge from buildings, still intact but hollowed out, blinking and wondering, "What happened? Who and how did we get into this? Who and how can we get out of it?"

Suits and body armor by McQueen, the City fathers and sons and daughters are incredulous:  "What do you mean 'they cut the power? How could 'they' cut the power, man? They're animals!

We have some in the business, some out of the business, some who are the business saying "This is another Lehman Brothers moment."

We have some proclaiming the situation isn't that bad:  "This is a Bear Stearns moment."

Others proclaim the situation is worse than Lehman Brothers.

One says this:

"There's no playbook for this," says one executive at one investment banking and brokerage company, that, years before,  had been buried in the rubble of the World Trade Center.

Note: post edited, material removed after initial publication.

June 27, 2016

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Post-It #3

Over on Michael Roberts' blog, I  came across this which sums it all up:

If you are this squeamish about (possible) consequences and retaliations of a Brexit, then, gentlemen, I suggest you go back to your dinner parties, essay writing, painting and embroidery, and forget everything about the revolution.

The fact that those reading that blog, squeamish and un-, might not be gentlemen, does not detract from the accuracy of the comment.  Props to its author

The prospects, terms, relations, and needs of accumulation are not what they were 50, 40, 30, 20, 10, even 7 years ago.  The structures embodying those relations and mechanisms are no longer adequate. They break down; they decay; they wobble, stagger, come apart.  No getting around it.  That's history, or more precisely, when the structures become inadequate, history erupts, and the eruption is anything but neat.  It's a mess, as it could only be, given these conditions of its origin.

Britain's disengagement from the EU, along with incredible contortions the EU has gone through, making a shambles of its own refugee policy; its assaults on the living standards of workers in order to preserve bankers and bondholders, is indicative that the existing institutions, relations. structures of capital, no longer correspond to the needs of accumulation; and that the needs of accumulation are more than ever in conflict with the limitations of both private property in the means of production, and the reproduction of the working class.

In or out of the EU, the bourgeoisie everywhere are forced to find ways to drive the cost of labor below its value; below what is necessary for its reproduction as a working class  in order to extract a level of surplus value that will also be adequate to levels of profitability. What's in the cards are continued assaults on workers' living and labor standards across the EU (and capitalism) as "economic adjustment" requires liquidation-- liquidation of jobs, liquidation of job protections, liquidation of social welfare, liquidation of "stability" in favor of aggrandizement.

That it takes a toll on what some of the so-called "enlightened bourgeoisie" (an oxymoron if ever there was one) consider institutions of "progress" "cooperation" "humanity" shows just how contingent progress, cooperation, and humanity are on expanding capitalist reproduction, and how meaningless those concepts are to capitalism. 

After Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal; after the EU ploys against refugees, and the EU play in the Ukraine-- does anyone truly think remaining in a union of European capitalists offers a future different, more "hopeful," than its immediate past?  That there's a shred of "progress"  "cooperation" "humanity" involved in the grand confederacy of European capitalists?

This "mess," this eruption of history, also contains class struggle.  So the workers of Northern England, of Wales, of that portion of the "United Kingdom" asset-stripped, beat down, abandoned, zombified by banks and property speculators didn't miss the opportunity to tell the too-clever-by half Cameron to "sod off" with his prospects for a "greater Britain in Europe."  Those workers have been living in the "greater Britain in Europe" ever since Callaghan. 

And what a genius Cameron is-- thinking 2016 was just like 2015, and his plebiscite would quiet the voices of the old Tories; that he could sell coal to Newcastle, since the mines were now all closed.  I know there's at least one lady who's less than happy with this self-important posh twit-- Queen Elizabeth II who will now have to remember her passport when she wants to visit Balmoral Castle. "Oh bring back the days of hanging by the neck until dead at the pleasure of the sovereign," she tweeted just the other day to Helen Mirren.  

Heads on pikes, anyone?  Eton schooled heads in particular on pikes?

This "mess" is not the product of the British working class' xenophobia; its conservatism; neither its betrayal nor its duping. The dysfunctionality is capitalism breaking down capitalism. It's ugly. It's unavoidable.  It's history.  It's also a shift in class struggle, bursting through but still  covered in the grime, muck, and blood of bourgeois "progress,"  bourgeois "opportunity,"  bourgeois "order."

June 25, 2016

Friday, June 24, 2016

What Next? Post-It Series #2

Logical question, not that anything at all has been accomplished, but still.....the votes are in and Britain, temporarily,  has voted to exit the European Union.  Temporarily...not temporarily the exit stuff; but temporarily the "Britain" part, because Scotland and Northern Ireland voted remain.  So it's England and Wales, or soon will be. Cameron and Osborne and Johnson and Corbyn and Farage will have accomplished what the Scots couldn't, or didn't want to, the dissolution of their union with England.

And Northern Ireland?  What was that Hudson said in Aliens?  "That's great, this is really fuckin' great, man. Now what the fuck are we supposed to do? We're in some pretty shit now, man!"  

So much for Good Fridays.  Maybe Gerry Adams can build a fire, sing a couple of songs.

So what's next? For starters-- a campaign for a referendum.  Are you serious?  "So nice they tried it twice"?  This one takes advantage of the disorder now gripping the ruling parties while at the same time puts the truth, and the lie, to the "reclaim our government" bullshit of the exiteers.  This one is for Britain, or whatever assumes its place: Leave NATO.

Withdraw from NATO.  No US military bases in Britain.  And more importantly, you want to control your borders?  Then withdraw all British military forces currently active in other countries; close all British military bases outside the "borders" of Britain.

And then?  How about a referendum to abolish Thatcher's Nationality Act?  Keep the home fires burning.

June 24, 2016

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Microanalysis of Venezuela (Designed to Fit on a Post-It)

As in Greece with its "new socialists," the Bolivarian "revolutonaries" in Venezuela have decided it's better to starve the people than to repudiate the international debt.

Chavez's "socialism" was nothing other than an iteration of the oft-repeated and always failing strategy of "sowing the oil" to create a dynamic economy. Didn't work then, doesn't work now. Oil production for export is simply the pre-formation of a tourist-driven economy-- the product, producers, and reproduction of non-development. The economic footprint of the industry is so huge that the level of support it requires exhausts the rest of the economy, deprives the society of any basis, of sufficient resources to enhance productivity in other sectors.   "Black gold," my ass.  Tar pits, sucking down flesh, bone, and blood is more like it.

So while the "left" salutes, or bemoans, Syriza's loyalty, or betrayal, in its allegiance to the EU and paying its debt; and while the "left" repeats the salutes, with fingers crossed, for a Britain led by its government of the posh +  punters + toffs + tossers to remain in that international association for the advancement of capital, it should keep one hand free for applauding the righteousness of the Bolivarian revolutionaries.

Meanwhile, I've seen the Bolivarian future, and it looks a lot like Greece dancing to the music of the gaitas and guacharacas.  The shelves are empty, pero bailar mis queridos. Cumbia, Cumbia! 

Chicha, mis queridos!  It won't be long until the tanks are rolling, your rich dig up a new Pinochet, and the light at the end of the tunnel is just a white phosphorous round coming your way,  

June 21, 2016

Saturday, June 04, 2016

True Story

Met Ali in Chicago. I think it was before the first Frazier fight. He was walking down Michigan Ave with a crowd around him. He stopped to sign autographs and answer questions, so I stepped into the mix. First thing I noticed, he really was beautiful, I mean Greek god-come-to-life-beautiful, I mean better looking than Mandela beautiful. I mean TV, photos, movie can't do him justice beautiful.

I asked him, "Champ, what about all those writers who say you've slowed down?"

"What writers? Who cares about them? I want to know if you think I've slowed down?"

I shrugged my shoulders. "I have no idea, " I said.

Then Ali said: "Don't move. Don't move a muscle." The crowd around us backed up and oohed, anticipating my imminent, and rapid, deconstruction.

Ali threw maybe 20 punches at my head, at different points on my face, pulling each punch by about 1/4 inch to avoid contact. I didn't move because I never saw any of the punches coming...not a one, just a blur.

Then Ali dropped his hands and said "Now what do you think?"

I said, "I'm betting on you, Champ."

I asked him for his autograph, and he took the book I was holding and signed the title page. The book was Marcuse's Reason and Revolution, which I still have to this day, with Ali's autograph on the title page.

The other thing I noticed when Ali was signing my book-- the knuckles on both hands were bone white-- from all the impacts from all the punches.

June 4, 2016

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Little Ado About Something

1.  While the European Union tries to "kettle" refugees in Turkey, turn them back to Libya before they reach international waters, struggles to reign in Italy and its navy which has committed the unpardonable sin, according to the EU, of upholding the law of the sea by insisting on rescuing people at risk on the sea, even where and when those people are of darker skin and a different religion than the EU finds admissible; while the European Union contorts and distorts its own refugee policy to deny safe haven to those fleeing barrel bombs, militias, armies, automatic weapons, air strikes waged, supplied, supported in part, by the very same countries that make up the EU; the big worry, apparently, for some socialists in the United Kingdom is that a majority of people in Great Britain might actually vote to leave this confederation of capitalists; this union of exploiters; this common market designed to flatten every particular impediment to the accumulation of capital.

Wouldn't that be a pity?

In two words, "Hell no."

2. What's the big deal?  According to some socialists, the big deal is that a "leave" vote represents a capitulation to British chauvinism, racism, ethno-centrism, nationalism, and xenophobia.  Sure I repeat myself, but I just want to be clear.  According to some, the success of a Brexit vote would symbolize the isolation and separation of the English working class from the Scottish working class, and the working class of Ireland.

Really?  Some could, and some actually did, make the same argument for voting against the Scottish referendum on independence from England-- as if the separation of Scotland was not a program of the Scottish bourgeoisie and petty-bourgeoisie for separation to establish "territorial exclusivity" for the rights of exploitation.  Separation of Scotland from England would have exactly zero impact on the unity of the Scottish and English working class as solidarity and unity can only in mutual support for struggles against the bourgeoisie as a class, in both local and international manifestations.

Has Britain's membership in the EU advanced, by a single shred, English workers' solidarity with Irish workers?  Of course not.  Such solidarity in fact could have been advanced if English workers demanded that Britain withdraw from the EU; that Britain oppose EU policies; that Britain not support the "bailout" of the Irish banks; a bailout of criminals, scammers, and anti-worker goons, that forced about 400,000 workers and young people to abandon Ireland.

How did we ever get to the point where voting to remain in an organization of anti-worker rip-off artists becomes essential to workers' solidarity?  Here's how:  Because nothing terrifies the left like the prospects for the abolition of capital.

In a word: Nothing.

3. And we get this:  "The Brexit movement is dominated by racist, anti-immigrant forces like UKIP and Boris Yeltsin  Johnson.  Argument for leaving the EU automatically plays into the hands of these racists."

Really?  "Automatically?"

See  1 above: Hell no.  Only if the socialists abandon anti-capitalist, anti-bourgeois opposition to the EU, only if the socialists abstain from identifying the EU for what it is-- a continental confederation of capitalists, only if the socialist do not articulate opposition to the EU as part and parcel to the commitment to the emancipation of all labor, and all laborers from, the categories of "illegal/legal," "documented/undocumented," "migrant/native," only if the socialists abandon class solidarity beyond borders by acceding to capitalist solidarity beyond borders, is the field open for the UKIP or worse, the wannabe Enoch Powells or worse, next year's model fascists and worse to cover themselves with the poser-left rhetoric of concern for the "real, authentic, national, British worker."

Should revolutionary organizations agitate, organize for Britain to leave the EU as part of a general revolutionary program?  Ask yourself first, if there were a proletarian revolution in Britain would a revolutionary government of workers' councils remain in the EU?

Hell no.

That tells us all we need to know.  We don't get to the one, that revolutionary opposition to the EU, without articulating that opposition at every opportunity prior to a revolution.

June 1, 2016

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Class Struggle in France 2016--

1. Fulfilling his destiny, and obligations, as standard-bearer of the Parti Socialiste of France; fully cognizant of his party's importance to the EU-wide Party of European Socialists, and the worldwide Socialist International, and the galaxy-wide Progressive Alliance, Francoise Hollande, soon to be former President of France, has unleashed yet another round of "labor restructuring,"  "de-regulation,"  and "productive competitiveness" -- each and all code words for reducing living standards-- on students, youth, and workers in France. Who knows better the importance of reducing living standards to the future of capitalism than the big S Socialists?  One or two capitalists perhaps, but since the capitalists as a class live off the labor of others, command the labor of others, nothing could be more fitting than to have others execute those commands, and more others in the vanguard of that execution.

The "labor reforms" are intent upon decentralization-- decentralization of work rules, localization of standards for total work hours, overtime payments, hiring and firing.  Decentralization is the mantra of state power in the service of decrepit capitalism because decentralization means increasing the fractionalization of the working class.  A fractionalized working class is the atomized worker, without collective power, without the ability to present class defense. 

Splitting the workers into unions, by unions, through confederations of unions is no longer good enough, which of course, really means that the bourgeoisie, that capital,  cannot go on as before.

Labor restructuring is the disorganization of the working class.

Turning the page, and flipping the script of the heroic guerrilla, Che Guevera, Hollande, speaking for the bourgeoisie of France, defeated once upon a time in Indochina, gets his, and their, revenge.   "Create 2, 3, many Vietnams!"  Indeed, create 2,3, many SEZs.

Fractions, that's the mantra of the bourgeoisie.  Profit is but a ratio of the capital advanced, a fraction, a rate.  For capital to be more than the sum of its parts, labor cannot exist as a whole.

2. Terrified that the strikes and shutdowns of oil refineries, rail service, commercial aviation, nuclear power plants,  might interfere with the eagerly anticipated QE fueled "recovery," Manuel Valls, actually Manuel Carlos Valls Galfetti, Prime Minister of France, sought refuge in that first, and last, abattoir of capitalism,  the Fatherland.   "Good grief," said Manuel Carlos, "are people patriots or not in this crisis?"  Good question, although the fact that Manuel Carlos, born in Barcelona of a Spanish father and a Swiss mother, was speaking German might have undermined his appeal to the greater glory of Frankreich (and his own claims to patriotism).  But not to worry, the QE recovery itself is conspicuous only by it absence, being,  of course, without a country.

Not to be outprimed by PM Carlos Valls Galfetti, Emmanuel Macron, Minister of the Economy, trained by Jesuits and then at the Lycee Henri IV, former inspector of finances, former investment banker for Rothschild & Cie, and the man so instrumental in making sure that the package of labor "reforms" by-passed the French parliament and was imposed by presidential decree, bemoaned the conservatism, the inertia, the intransigence of the French students, workers and youth.  "What has happened elsewhere?" he asked.  "Other countries have all evolved, all done things."

Only a financier, an investment banker, could classify what has taken place in Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Greece-- what will be occurring in Austria, Finland, the Netherlands as "evolution" rather than what those "things" most closely resemble--primitive accumulation.  

As if on cue, Matteo Renzi, Prime Minister of Italy and purveyor of his own package of labor reforms, suggested that his brothers and sisters in France should be willing to entertain this "experiment."  Meanwhile, Renzi's own brothers and sisters in Italy might have a few suggestions for Mr. Renzi, given that Italy's GDP per capita is currently at the 1998 mark.

3. Meanwhile, anyone and everyone can tell you how about the "un-formed"  "liberal" impulses and organizations behind the Nuit Debout  manifestations in Paris. It's "Occupy" with a bigger vocabulary.   Indeed it is,

And the same anyone and everyone can tell you about the role of the Stalinist led, manipulated, and controlled union of two million workers, the CGT.  Indeed.  When the CGT feels compelled to take action; to label police attacks as war and to promise to respond in kind, it's trying to pick the low-hanging fruit; to put the movement that overwhelms the boundaries between union and non-union, workers and students, employed and unemployed, documented and documented, back into its own pocket.

International Communist Current urging caution, puts it this way:
We have to be clear: there was nothing spontaneous about Nuit Debout. It’s something which has been prepared and organised over a long period by the radical defenders of capitalism. Behind this “spontaneous” and “apolitical” movement lurk the professionals, the groups of the left and extreme left who use “apoliticism” as a means of control.
Well, OK, and... well, so what?  Was there another way for the movement to develop other than being planned well in advance by new left coalitions, or expanding into blockades of oil and power stations by the CGT?  If there already was an independent autonomous class-for-itself, movement... correct, Nuit Debout  would not have developed, aggrandized, this much support.  But if there were already a class-conscious movement, we wouldn't be discussing this would we? We'd be discussing the success of the French revolution as the opening round of world revolution.

This is how struggles develop, carrying the baggage of all the institutionalized failures that have preceded it. That's the history in the historical materialism.

The origins of the struggle are not the slightest reason in the world to hesitate or "be cautious." It's all the more reason to develop the demands, the organizations, the institutions, that break the domination of the archaic clusters of power-- including the CGT bureaucracy, the new left coalitions-- and clearly this movement contains exactly that potential-- particularly with the almost universal acceptance of the demand to "open the borders"-- to erase the distinction between documented and undocumented workers. The key is how quickly, clearly, and class consciously the French workers and students can link up with those in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Belgium, Ireland, Poland, Germany with a program that opposes the EU's vision of "capitalism without borders" with a program of revolution; a program not limited to "utilizing" banks or corporations for the "public good," but one of abolishing banks and corporations; a program for the emancipation of labor everywhere from pettiness of production for value.

To its credit, and to the honor of class struggle everywhere, the French youth,  students,  and workers have raised, discussed and reiterated the demand to open the borders to all.  While the  Europe Union everywhere recoils in horror from those driven from their areas of origin by the economic and military conflicts which the European Union itself has aided, abetted, utilized to atomize living conditions, and labor power, in southwest Asia, Africa, the Persian Gulf, the Middle East, the French workers, youth, students have demanded open borders, elimination of any fractionalization of workers into "documented" and "undocumented."  Eliminating that boundary is the key to breaking the confinement of the struggle to the theater of the CGT and the Nuit Debout.   That boundary will be eliminated not in Paris, but of Paris, when the students and workers link up with those in the banlieue, and to those risking death at sea to escape from the destruction imposed by capitalism.

Good source for information on the struggle in France:

S. Artesian
May 30, 2016