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?