Thursday, July 21, 2016

Birth of a Nation

Make no mistake about it, what's going on in Cleveland right now is a national Klonvocation of present and future lynch mobs.

If Barack Obama showed up on that convention floor, the various state delegations would be arguing about who gets to put the rope around his neck.  The convocation of lynchers would lynch him not because the economic recovery has been the weakest in the post-war period; not because drone strikes have killed thousands; not because he has pursued the deportation of migrants with a vengeance; not because use of food stamps has doubled; not because a single worker has lost a single job, but because, and only because Obama is, literally, African-American and has dared to presume he has the same right to preserving US capitalism, to use the military and its weapons against civilian populations, the same right to obstruct, prevaricate, cover-up, misdirect, misinform, murder, destabilize, manipulate, spy, provoke conflicts  as a white man. 

And if Hillary Clinton showed up, this resurrection of the Redemptionists, this expo of nightriders, would lynch her too, but only after assaulting her sexually, for she is a woman who thinks she has the same rights as the African-American who thinks he has the same rights as a white man.

It's just that simple.  Doesn't mean vote for Hillary, or vote for anyone.  It simply means, recognize this gathering of Kleagles for what it is. Lincoln and Grant-- no pictures of you on US currency; Trump and Trumpettes have targeted those slots for Nathan Bedford Forrest and D.C. Stephenson.

July 21, 2016

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Post-It Series #4: The Shrewing of the Tame

Everything's as it should be.  Cameron, dancing on the pinheads of the Tory party, exits stage right, with a "consummate performance,"  a "valedictory," in parliament, introducing his successor, Theresa May, not to be confused with Theresa May Not, Mother Theresa,  or the children's game "Mother Theresa May I?"   Cameron plans a well-deserved private vacation-- just the immediate family, and a pig head or two, with Boris Johnson one of the pigs.

Meanwhile, everything's as it should be.  The dog's dinner known as the Labour Party breaks itself apart on the shoals of how much to, and how best to, get behind an "enlightened," "humane," integrated, efficient, inter-national capitalism, while capitalism is busy demonstrating, once again and in spades, how unenlightened, inhumane, disparate, dysfunctional, parochial it is, it was, it will be.

"All out for the defense of war criminals!"  proclaim the partisans of 'New Labor.' Our program is easy as ABC!  Anybody but Corbyn, say All Blair's Chums.

"We wish to tag-along partners in empire.  Any empire-- the US's, the EU's-- makes no difference to us. Next year in Singapore!"

Corbyn himself claims "victory" against the "coup-plotters" in that his name will be on the ballot as the ABC's force a new election for, pardon the oxymoron, party leadership.  But because Corbyn, and some other vanguard capitulationists can't be arsed to stay for the entire meeting, because they don't know they better stay for the entire meeting, the ABC's change who's allowed to vote for the new, old party leadership, thereby disenfranchising about 100,000 of those most likely to support Corbyn.

Man's a tactical genius... and a zen master for sure.    Who else could win by losing?  Besides the Confederate States of America, I mean?

Here the Tories get themselves at sixes and sevens by letting Rupert Murdoch's coffee boy pretend he's the prime minister, and Labor proves it can always one-up the Tories when it comes to morons, dunces, gits, and twits.

I expect much of the "left"-- the outside the Labor Party left-- will demonstrate its repetition compulsion neurosis and support Corbyn, once again,  advocating and abdicating for "Old Labor" as opposed to Blair Labor, and if all else fails, pleading for Corbyn to leave the shell of the LP and start a new party, which could get busy picking up exactly where the old party left-off, that is to say, going nowhere.


How about this: how about we try a new party that isn't part of the rot that has been capitalism for a century or so?  How about some first principles to that party:

1. Abolition of the monarchy.  Confiscation of all property belonging to the "royals," their relatives, their retainers, and anyone with a title (excepting professional designations only, like doctor).

2. In the interim, prior to the abolition of the monarchy and its attendant detritus, no member of the party may accept a peerage;  or any position or title historically associated with the administration of the, or to the, dictates of the British Empire.

3. Immediate withdrawal from NATO and removal of bases and soldiers belonging to other countries.

4. Immediate dismantling of British military posts outside the territory of Britain.

5. Immediate legal residency status for all those residing and/or working in Britain.

6. Prohibition against financial institutions investing in the sovereign debt of any country, including the UK.

7. Immediate freezing of all capital accounts held by institutional investment companies, hedge funds, insurance companies etc.

Now that's entertainment!

Maybe, you think?  Maybe not.... particularly if history is just a play written by idiots, played by fools, for the enjoyment of cynics.

July 13, 2016

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Roger Dodger

1. Not to file too fine a point onto David Cameron's head, but he certainly made a right cock-up of that one didn't he?  A regular old Thomas Hardy he conjured, didn't he?  Here he comes home, having stuck his thumb into the EU pie, felt one or more things round and soft-- "a plum!" he thinks, "What a good boy am I!"-- and pulls out hard, only to discover that the softs and rounds were his own testicles.  Oh, the shock, and pain, of recognition.  Fecking brilliant.

2. Cameron resigns, but not until October.  Britain votes out of the EU, but not out until....well, nobody knows.  Boris Johnson, playing Yeltsin to Cameron's Gorbachev, pulls himself out of the race to replace Cameron.  Farage pulls out because......well, because that's what the British ruling class has perfected over the last 70 years of dissembling, and disassembling an empire.  "Pull-outs are our specialty."

It's not that Cameron has created a "political vacuum" in government.  It's that the British ruling class and its institutions have been a vacuum, a veritable universe of anti-matter, for decades.

"What? You thought we were serious?"
"You didn't realize we were just playing?"
"You expect us to submit a notification under Article 50?  There's an Article 50? Crikey, Jean-Claude, we've never read that far into the agreements."
"You can't believe we actually intended to go through with this, can you?  We're pull-out and put-on artists."
"We were pissed.  We were taking the piss.  Like at public school."
"You want to know our plan? What plan?  What, do we look like Bolsheviks to you? We all worked, and work, for Rupert Murdoch. Didn't that give you a clue?  There's no plan.  Just balls-up and tits out on the front page, hacking a murdered girl's cell phone, and fucking a pig's head in the weekend supplement."

3. Welcome to wrecker capitalism, 21st century edition.  A crumbling ship sailing, at slow speed, to nowhere on a sea of sleaze.  Captained by fools, alcoholics, and spoiled brats, the crew thinks everything  that needs doing will be done by someone else or by drones, while they are busy with the really important stuff on their touchscreens.

History chooses fools, alcoholics, spoiled brats, gobshites, punters,tossers, because  they're convenient; there are lots of them; they're the lowest common denominator of the mode of accumulation.

4. The European Union is not breaking apart because Britain has voted to leave.  The Tories inability to figure out how to leave should make that perfectly clear.  The EU is breaking apart because it, the EU, is an organization designed to service capital accumulation, and that capital accumulation is breaking down.

The EU is what it is today precisely because of what it has been since day one,  what it will always be, and what it has done since 2008.  Everything for capitalism!  And that everything-- layoffs, nationalizations, privatizations, capital injections, QE, LTRO, EFSF, QE2, MOUs 1,2,3.....n, bail-out, bail in, hair cuts, low interest rates, lower interest rates, negative interest rates,  implants, increased taxes, lowered taxes, labor restructuring, free trade, manipulated trade, free markets, government intervention.......everything has failed.

Back in 2008, everyone everywhere had a plan and all the plans were the same-- "buy some time."

Of course the problem, and the solution, doesn't come with the "buying of time."  Capitalism doesn't buy time.  It appropriates unpaid time; the unpaid labor time of others.  Capital requires rapidly expanding pools of unpaid labor, of expropriated time.  The proportion of unpaid labor has to increase disproportionately to the mass of labor time.   Capital "buys time" by not paying.

The mechanisms for extracting and realizing this unpaid labor time, however, reduce the mass of labor time that can be aggrandized and converted into value, by expelling it from production ; no matter how great the disproportion, as the mass of exploited labor is reduced, the increments of accumulation shrink.  Profit becomes loss, and nobody wants to hear the bourgeoisie scream in the empty space of their own making.

The big slowdown in  the weak recovery from long recession has been going for about a year now. World trade in 2015 fell to its lowest level since 2009.  In 2016, US property sales have declined about 50 percent from the previous year.  The WTO notes that 2016 will be an "unprecedented 5th consecutive years of below average growth in global trade.  Corporate defaults, globally, in 2016 are at their highest rate since 2009.  IPOs on European Union exchanges have declined by 1/3 year over year.  Negative-interest rate debt amounts now exceed $10 trillion.  The World Bank has downgraded its estimate of global economic growth again, this time from 2.9 to 2.4 percent.

And that's not the half of it.  Or it is only the half of it.  The other half is and will be increased attacks on migrants and refugees.  Germany is planning to deny migrants from Romania and Bulgaria, fellow EU member states, access to unemployment benefits for 5 years.

What will the bourgeoisie do?  What they always do.  Attack, dissemble, destroy.  Wrecker capitalism it is, and wrecker capitalism it will be.  This wrecker capitalism is looking for the old lightning in the bottle, the old razzle dazzle, the old reliable-- a war; and not a little one like that one in Iraq; or the one in Libya, but a big one.   Wrecker capitalism looks east across Germany and Poland.  "Once a commie, always a commie," the latest crop of brats, and fools think.  "Deep battle? That's so obsolete."

No, it isn't.

July 7, 2016.

and here

An Approach to the Ambiguities

So how about this:  productivity in any specific labor process of capital, the substitution of machinery for labor, the "real subsumption of labor by capital" does not automatically generate the expansion of relative surplus value.  Socially, in the production process, this real subsumption amounts to valorization of greater increments of capital by lower increments of labor power.

Regarding the valorization process, however, the increment of valorization is magnified not by the depreciation of the value of the wage, not by the the reduction in production time alone, but in the reduction of turnover time-- shrinking the lag between production and realization, reducing the gap between production and circulation, such that capital recuperates its "advanced" outlay more quickly, and recirculates that recuperation such that its subsequent outlays for "v"  and "c" are paid for, more or less, with "house money," requiring no following "original" outlays.

Now as Marx makes clear in the Grundrissee and the other Economic Manuscripts, the very mechanisms that reduce turnover times for portions of the total capital-- the investments in fixed assets which only transfer their value in fractions-- also entail the slowdown in the turnover of the entire capital.  Thus while the investment in fixed assets only participates incrementally in the valorization process, the entire investment is required to participate in the labor process.

EDIT:  So that capital expansions are (almost always) initially indicated by expanded and expanding investments in the means of communication and the means of transportation.  "Telephones and trucks" used to be the phrase used on Wall Street to identify the "upticks."  And... at the same time, the investment in these assets, these improved, more efficient, better performing assets, entails a slowdown in the realization of their value-- something made so painfully evident in the overproduction of container ships, with total capacity doubling between 2013 and 2016, revenue per container at record lows, having declined 25% since 2015, and the adaptation of "slow steaming" techniques to keep the fleet in service and avoid the "downtime" and costs of laying the ships up.

Said an official of the Maersk group, referring to the automated container terminal Maersk operates in Rotterdam, "It takes a long time to realize the returns."

The comrade at  has explored this.  And I'll be rereading volume 2, just to see how much I'm fooling myself.

July 7, 2016
Here and here

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

An Abiding Interest in Ambiguities of Surplus Value

A friend, who runs the RedMarx forum has suggested using that forum as a common platform by all of us who think we know some thing about Marx somewhat different than some things some others know about Marx.  

Anyway, I'm game, and I thought I take the opportunity to indulge my sense of Marx's ambiguities in the explorations of surplus value.  So what's posted below is also posted over there

I recommend that you, the reader, presuming I have readers, take up the thread, if deemed worthwhile, of ambiguity over there at RedMarx....just to see what happens.  Of course, you are free to respond here, or not respond at all. 

S.Artesian  July 6, 2016

Marx states that relative surplus value can only be amplified by reducing the value of the necessities making up the wage, and thus reducing the value of the wage itself in the reproduction of capital.

He makes it a point to demonstrate that mere reductions in prices of commodities through the applications of more efficient processes, or greater applications of constant capital, do not create additional surplus value, but distribute the same portion of new value over a greater number of use values. "Productivity of labor" as such is, in this instance, defined by Marx as greater output of use values, and does not enhance the aggrandizement of surplus value.

But having argued that, Marx seems to have forgotten this and repeatedly (in the Economic Manuscripts, in TSV, in the Grundrisse) turns to talk about societies that have moved to the point where relative surplus value is the dominant mode of expropriation, and he equates that dominant mode, that transformation to the real subsumption of labor by capital with the extraction of relative surplus value through the application of machinery to the production process.

How are we to reconcile this apparent/real conflict? If machinery cannot impact accelerate the extraction of relative surplus value unless it reduces the value of the wage, how are we to account for Marx's real subsumption of labor; how are we to account for situations where rates of surplus value increase and the value of necessities do not fall; the wages do not fall?

If machinery does increase the extraction of relative surplus value in its enhancement of "general" social productivity, how are we to calculate that relation based on the value composition itself-- which I think we should be able to.

And just to anticipate a response, a response that opens another hugely ambiguous term Marx uses; if someone wants to argue that the application of machinery raises the intensity of labor above the norm, thus leading to greater value produced in less or the same time-- how is that even possible? If time is the measure of value, how do we even measure different intensities, individually or  as constituting something average? If time is the measure of value, how can intensity lead to greater value in the same time period?

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Flash Analysis of Brexit from my Favorite Stupid Marxist

Once upon a time, a woman with whom I was once quite close provided the best description of a certain lead guitarist of the "world's most famous rock 'n' roll band."  Said she of him:  "He's my favorite stupid person."  


I have my own favorite stupid person, although he's no rock guitarist.  He flogs himself as  an unrepentant Marxist, but he'll always be Stupid Lou to me.

What makes him my favorite, and stupid?   Worried about the repercussions of Brexit on the EU, this unrepentant endorser of Syriza, of the MOUs with the Troika, of the euro, of servicing debts, of referendums where "No" means "Yes," provides the following insight:

"And most importantly, given the genocidal-like slaughter of Syrians, the end of the EU would make it that much more difficult to get political asylum."

The mind boggles, doesn't it?  

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the EU has so violated its own asylum policies, has so trashed the "governing" international agreements on the handling of refugees that Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) has returned some $60 million dollars to the EU in protest of the EU's actions.

Maybe he hasn't been keeping up with with current events, but Chancellor Merkel has led the EU into an agreement where essentially it pays a bounty to the Turkish government for preventing the movement of refugees to Greece.

Maybe he doesn't know yet that the EU is upset with his Syriza comrades in the Greek government for not deporting sufficient numbers of refugees back to Turkey, for not taking advantage  of the hard currency being bestowed upon Erdogan.

Or maybe he just doesn't care.  Being unrepentant means you never have to apologize for being stupid.

June 30, 2016

Report From London

Below, received from my friend William Bowles: 

30 June 2016

[A lightly edited version of this was published in the latest issue of Coldtype, available here as a pdf]

It's very rare that you see the ruling elite totally at a loss for words: but they were. Gobsmacked and stunned would be accurate descriptions of the look on the political class's collective face on the morning of June 24, 2016.

It's the corporate/state media that effectively calls the shots when it comes to national decision-making in the UK these days, so most people assumed that the Remainers would win the previous day's vote on whether or not the country should remain in Europe. The pre-voting propaganda was so solidly devoted to the "immigration problem," that nobody considered the implications of actually exiting from the EU should the Brexiters win the vote. In fact, it just added to the confusion, the results of which are all too apparent now, with pro and anti at each other's throats. And all of it, engineered.

However, almost a week after the vote, economist Richard Wolff spelled out the reasons for the result during an interview with the Real News Network:

"It's perfectly clear that the mass of people wanted to send a message to the old, established, austerity-committed government of David Cameron, that they don't want him, they don't want what he does, they don't believe in any of this. They believe that the leadership of the European Union, what is crushing Greece, etcetera, is not something they want to be part of. They feel victimised by all of that. And the Brexit vote gave them a chance to say no, we don't want it. Sure, there were racist elements and anti-immigration elements. That's part of the British political scene. Of course it's going to play its role, seeking its objectives as part of this."

The BBC's propaganda campaign in favour of remaining had been as relentless as their attacks on Jeremy Corbyn since his election as leader of the Labour Party almost a year ago. So it seemed almost logical that, in a bizarre inversion of reality, that he, not Cameron, is the one they, and the rest of the media, would blame for Brexit.

Media watchdog Medialens highlighted one of the meanest media attacks on Corbyn in the days following:

"Perhaps the worst example of an anti-Corbyn attack, post-Brexit, was in the Mail on Sunday. A piece by Dan Hodges was illustrated by a Photoshopped image of a malevolent vampiric Corbyn in a coffin with the despicable headline, 'Labour MUST kill vampire Jezza.' That this should appear just ten days after Labour MP Jo Cox was brutally murdered is almost beyond belief." -

Reading what passes for news this past seven days, you'd never know that the real cause of the upset was the Tory Party, which, aside from Cameron's resignation, has barely been mentioned; for the reality is that it was an internal spat in the Tory Party that started the whole Brexit ball rolling.

Instead, the Remain camp feels they've been cheated out of victory by their Brexit opponents -- wrongly labelled as a bunch of Nazis and xenophobes. This is exactly the way the BBC has been portraying events: images of angry Remainers demonstrating outside Parliament, contrasted with interviews of penitent Brexiters, who have seen the "error of their ways" and wished they'd voted with their "internationalis"' brothers and sisters. So no problem taking in the refugees then?

A convenient scapegoat

Initially this was going to be a kind of blow-by-blow diary of the vote and its dramatic outcome, but it's two stories: one about the UK as a broken capitalist state and its relationship to the EU; the other, much more important story, of the attack on Jeremy Corbyn by his enemies inside and outside the Parliamentary Labour Party in an conspiracy to remove him as leader of the party.

Medialens reports:

"Attempts to unseat Corbyn have been supported by Left Foot Forward Ltd, a company set up by Will Straw, which runs the country's 'No. 1 left-wing blog' of the same name. Straw is the son of Jack Straw, who served as Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary under Tony Blair. . . . Will Straw is 'among a network of longtime Blairite stalwarts trying to re-found the Labour Party -- a project demolished by Jeremy Corbyn's landslide victory in the Labour leadership elections in September 2015.'

"The independent journalist Steve Topple highlights the links between coordinated attacks on Corbyn and a network of Labour figures with direct links to the PR company, Portland Communications.... The PR firm was set up in 2001 by a former adviser to Blair. Its clients include the World Economic Forum, the EU, the UK government, Barclays Bank and large companies, including Morrisons and Nestle."All this is reminiscent of the dirty tricks the Establishment used against a previous Labour Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, in 1976, as Ann Talbot of WSWS reminded us in 2006:

"For a large part of his career and throughout his time as prime minister from 1964 to 1970 and again in 1974-76 Wilson was the object of a smear campaign that emanated from the British security services and the CIA. They fed material to the press that appeared to substantiate the view that he was a Soviet agent who had been put in place after the KGB had supposedly murdered Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell. In the course of the documentary, the Daily Express defence correspondent Chapman Pincher unapologetically admitted his part in spreading those rumours."

The political class sees Corbyn as a danger, although we are constantly told that socialism is so passe, so 20th-century? So what's the panic? Why the demonisation of this man, if he is so ineffectual and seemingly from another era, with his scruffy clothes and his vaguely subversive and quaint ideas about not wanting to drop atomic bombs on people? Just what is it that the elite are so afraid of that such venomous dirty tricks should be used against him?

The Great Unwashed

The truth is that Corbyn's election woke up a sleeping giant -- not just those few percent who tipped the balance in favour of Brexit, but the millions of working people who have had enough of austerity while the richest one percent get even richer.

They voted not so much about leaving the EU as in giving the government a black eye in the only way they could (what does this tell us about the current state of of the Labour Party, never mind the Tories?).

In any case, given the nonsense both government and media have been talking about for the past couple of months, how could anyone come to the right conclusion based on so much disinformation and outright lies?

So what should Corbyn do? Or is he just going to turn the other cheek to the vicious attacks being made on him?

Writing on the World Socialist Web Site, on June 29, Julie Hyland clarifies:

"The extraordinary scale of the right-wing coup, which had already seen Corbyn lose most of his shadow cabinet in a series of timed resignations, was intended to force the Labour leader to resign. But in a statement put out moments after the result, Corbyn said that he had been elected 'by 60 percent of Labour members and supporters"' only last September, and 'I will not betray them by resigning.'"

The second assault on Corbyn (after the carefully timed shadow cabinet resignations), a vote of no confidence passed by 170 Labour MPs (with 40 in his favour), has no legal basis, but is merely an opinion. The only way to attempt to remove him is to call for an election which, I believe, requires the signatures of 50 Labour MPs. Fine, let them run a new election, they have the numbers. But it's an election, which according to a YouGov poll, Corbyn will win all over again, and by much the same margin.

As I write, Angela Eagles, one of his former shadow cabinet colleagues, in a traitorous move, has been persuaded to stand against him. But she was roundly trounced in the election that made Corbyn head of the Constituency Labour Party last year, collecting just 16.9 percent of the votes against Corbyn's 60 percent. In fact, Corbyn was so popular with rank-and-file Labour supporters that he got more votes than all the other contenders combined. Now he has to live up to the faith those voters put in him, but it's an uphill struggle with the combined weight of the Establishment, the media and his own colleagues in Parliament, out for his blood.

Corbyn has, in my opinion, only one chance of success and that's if if he steps outside the straightjacket of Parliament and works directly with his supporters. Perhaps ultimately, this might mean splitting the Labour Party in two (and not for the first time) but I doubt Corbyn has got the bottle to do that. It is, after all, an Institution. But as far as I'm concerned, it would be no great loss, in fact I view the Labour Party as an obstacle to real progress.

This is, after all, one of those extremely rare moments in our lives, when things change radically. A dislocation if you like, or revolution even, which is why I wonder whether Corbyn has the bottle or not to take a step into the unknown? 52% did, even if they didn't know it at the time due to our devious and lying media.

Of course, there's still no guarantee that a way won't be found to either neutralize, reverse or rerun the Referendum, now that the awful reality of a Brexitized UK has sunk in. Awful, because that's the way the elite want it to be and demonizing Corbyn as its cause is an essential part of it.

The issues go to the very heart of a broken economic and political system, not just our place in Europe. The next few weeks are critical.

And if this was not enough to raise the country's blood pressure, next week we see the publication of the long-awaited (by some at least) Chilcot report on the Blair government's murderous and illegal assault on Iraq. A report that has been delayed over and over again and is now more than two years past its original publication date.

Will it change anything? It all depends on its content, but which by now will have been well sanitised of anything truly incriminating for our present or past political class. But it adds to the overall sense of unease that permeates the country at this critical juncture in the downward spiral of capitalism.