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DEAR TINTDUDES - FYI


LEO'n'DARTZ

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FYI. JUST FYI.

Jo Mettam

It's quite infrequent that I find myself in the fashionable camp. So I'm always a bit surprised if, according to the trends of the day, I've got something right.

Imagine my surprise then on hearing from no less an authority than the London Times that reading Karl Marx "has become as fashionable as this season's colour on the catwalk."

Apparently, returning to Marx's seminal works on capitalism, as I find myself doing in the midst of the economic turmoil engulfing the world, has become de rigueur. And I for one certainly welcome this increased interest in one of history's most trenchant and astute critics of the brutal system of capitalism.

But when no less a scumbag than the right-wing President of France Nicolas Sarkozy, who has done everything he can to attack workers' rights, is photographed reading Capital, you suspect that something's gone awry.

Marx had more insight into the system of capitalism than the authors of entire libraries of economic texts. Therefore, defenders of the system have always returned to Marx in periods of crisis, with the aim of using these insights to stop the rot of the system infecting their own wallets. The rest of us, though, should be looking at these insights in the way that Marx himself intended: to provide us with tools for dismantling their rotten system.

After all, as Marx says in The Communist Manifesto, "Modern [capitalist] society...is like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells."

Looking at the roller-coaster ride which is the share market at the moment, it's clear that those powers are more rebellious than ever.

Even though Marx was writing when capitalism was still in its infancy, the nature of what economists clinically refer to as the "business cycle" was clear. Marx looked at why the system had a tendency to move through cycles of boom and slump.

He pointed out that capitalism is based on the production of commodities for the market, in which individual capitalists compete with one another to win higher profits than their rivals.

Whereas in previous societies production was organised for direct consumption, under capitalism just about everything that is produced must first be bought and sold on a market before it can be used. What this means is that profit, rather than consumption, becomes the purpose of production.

And this goes for everything, including life's essentials. Take the housing situation in America, for example. Under capitalism, there is no sense that people should be entitled to shelter. Instead, housing is treated as a commodity like any other.

And so, despite the fact that literally millions of people in America are being foreclosed on, because it would be unprofitable to house these people we see more and more of them being forced out onto the streets and into the emerging slums or subjected to the indignity of sleeping every night in the back seat of their cars.

Even if it means that people die as a result of homelessness, if the profit motive is not met, life's necessities will not be produced or distributed.

Marx, in Capital, described this profit motive of the capitalist class as, "Accumulate, accumulate! That is Moses and the prophets!"

Because the driving force behind production is the profit motive, there is no planning behind that production. In the competition between capitalists for a greater portion of that profit, the anarchy of the market reigns.

Each capitalist rushes to produce goods that will make profits. Many different capitalists follow suit and more goods are produced than can be sold, and the unsold ones begin to pile up.

This crisis of overproduction leads to firms going bust and workers being sacked. Spending on consumer goods falls and a general crisis occurs.

Marx described how in periods of economic crisis

"there breaks out an epidemic that, in all earlier epochs, would have seemed an absurdity - the epidemic of over-production. ... t appears as if a famine, a universal war of devastation, had cut off the supply of every means of subsistence; industry and commerce seem to be destroyed; and why? Because there is too much civilisation, too much means of subsistence, too much industry, too much commerce."

The only way out of such crisis is the "enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces". In other words, letting machinery in factories rust, letting office space go empty, letting tracts of land go fallow. By doing this, the companies that were lucky enough to escape the crisis relatively unscathed get bargain basement prices from liquidators of businesses that weren't so lucky. This activity of buying and selling means that investment picks up and more money gets circulating.

In order to escape their crises, capitalists must destroy what they have produced. It seems ridiculous, but - as has clearly been seen with the current financial crisis - capitalism is not a sane society. Rather, it is one based on nothing more than the capitalist class's "n@ked self-interest", than "callous cash payment", as Marx put it.

This "n@ked self-interest", unfortunately, only applies to the capitalist class. As for the rest of us, we're the pawns of their selfishness. In a passage that will ring true for anyone who has ever worked in a call centre or a factory, Marx describes how "The work of the working class has lost all individual character, and, consequently, all charm for the worker. [The worker] becomes an appendage of the machine, and it is only the most simple, most monotonous, and most easily acquired knack, that is required..."

That certainly describes most people's jobs today. Regardless of how much you earn, you know that the biggest part of the profit from any technological innovation goes to the boss.

No matter how much the economy grows, there's never enough money for healthcare, education or decent wages. Of course, they always find a way to pay trillions for massive bailouts and for wars.

None of this would have surprised Marx, who saw that the rights of ordinary working class people were nothing under capitalism compared to the right of bosses to make a profit.

"[Capitalism] has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom - Free Trade."

Given Marx's amazing prescience when it came to all these issues which continue to infect capitalism over a hundred and fifty years after he and Engels wrote The Communist Manifesto, it's no wonder that people still look to his writings to try to figure out what's going on.

But the media reporting on the fashion for Marx have largely missed the point. Yes, Marx was an amazing commentator on the system. But, more than this, all of his writings are revolutionary calls to action. His works are an explanation not only of what is wrong with society, but how it can be transformed to create "an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all."

From looking at how the system works and who benefits from it, Marx then goes on to argue that capitalism itself creates the material and social conditions for a sane society in which exploitation and oppression have ended and humans can lead rewarding and fulfilling lives.

Marx argued that socialism was not only desirable, but necessary. His vision of socialism was a society in which cooperation replaces competition, where the economy is democratically controlled, rather than subject to the whims of bosses, where there is social equality rather than the ever increasing inequalities we see under capitalism.

Marx argued that capitalist crisis is inevitable, but socialist revolution is not. Capitalism may yet bring about "the common ruin of the contending classes". Only the active intervention of organised revolutionaries - "the most advanced and resolute section" of the working-class movement, in Marx and Engels' words, with a clear "understanding [of] the line of march, the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement" - can bring about a different outcome.

I often like to think about what that outcome would look like. Personally, I think that if ordinary working class people ran the world, the first thing we'd do is to provide a solution to the equation that has thus far eluded the capitalists in the midst of this financial crisis: add the six million people who have been evicted because of foreclosures to the 18.6 million homes in America currently lying empty, and what do you get?

Seems simple, doesn't it?

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"Marx had more insight into the system of capitalism than the authors of entire libraries of economic texts. " <----- Really?

what are you saying? trying to get us to think?

shall we look a little closer at socialism? Try googling the Labor Theory of Value. Not exactly light reading but will educate you on Marxist theories. Also, lets look at some of the political repression and economic problems of some, ahem, former communist states! Lets look at GDP's and SOL in pro-market versus socialists states. What do you find?

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FYI. JUST FYI.
No worries Leo. Glad you posted this. :lol ...
Marx had more insight into the system of capitalism than the authors of entire libraries of economic texts.
Subjective
After all, as Marx says in The Communist Manifesto, "Modern [capitalist] society...is like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells." Looking at the roller-coaster ride which is the share market at the moment, it's clear that those powers are more rebellious than ever.
:stop:lol
Even though Marx was writing when capitalism was still in its infancy, the nature of what economists clinically refer to as the "business cycle" was clear. Marx looked at why the system had a tendency to move through cycles of boom and slump. He pointed out that capitalism is based on the production of commodities for the market, in which individual capitalists compete with one another to win higher profits than their rivals. Whereas in previous societies production was organised for direct consumption, under capitalism just about everything that is produced must first be bought and sold on a market before it can be used. What this means is that profit, rather than consumption, becomes the purpose of production.
Yeah.
And this goes for everything, including life's essentials. Take the housing situation in America, for example. Under capitalism, there is no sense that people should be entitled to shelter. Instead, housing is treated as a commodity like any other. And so, despite the fact that literally millions of people in America are being foreclosed on, because it would be unprofitable to house these people we see more and more of them being forced out onto the streets and into the emerging slums or subjected to the indignity of sleeping every night in the back seat of their cars. Even if it means that people die as a result of homelessness, if the profit motive is not met, life's necessities will not be produced or distributed.
There it is. A reason why I should feel guilty about capitalism. Oh great seer, show me how I have erred, that I might repent of the great injustices that I have commited; and while you're at it, take care of it in a way that I don't have to exercise anything more than the obligatory pandering concern for the less fortunate. Right? :lol2
Marx, in Capital, described this profit motive of the capitalist class as, "Accumulate, accumulate! That is Moses and the prophets!"
:lol BS
Because the driving force behind production is the profit motive, there is no planning behind that production. In the competition between capitalists for a greater portion of that profit, the anarchy of the market reigns. Each capitalist rushes to produce goods that will make profits. Many different capitalists follow suit and more goods are produced than can be sold, and the unsold ones begin to pile up. This crisis of overproduction leads to firms going bust and workers being sacked. Spending on consumer goods falls and a general crisis occurs. This crisis of overproduction leads to firms going bust and workers being sacked. Spending on consumer goods falls and a general crisis occurs.
See above response. Any foolish business that produces more than it can sell (cf. Detroit and Toyota) should have known better. The same applies for any employed by said business that doesn't/can't/won't see it coming.
The only way out of such crisis is the "enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces". In other words, letting machinery in factories rust, letting office space go empty, letting tracts of land go fallow. By doing this, the companies that were lucky enough to escape the crisis relatively unscathed get bargain basement prices from liquidators of businesses that weren't so lucky.
Or... societies could not be told that they will take on the burden of bailing out (in the US's case to the tune of a trillion dollars, so far) the "businesses that weren't so lucky" to begin with. :lol2 Ironically enough, it appears that in a capitalist society there is no need to force a company to end itself. Yes, there will be an inevitable "boom and slump" - as the author calls it - in the world economy; but it is the overreaching meddling of - wouldn't you know it? GOVERNMENT - that can most easily and assuredly hinder the transition from slump to boom. They do this by using the same approach as the author: by attempting to propagate sad stories and what if scenarios, and in the case of an established government, it's not even to convince the whole, but merely to appease a few; as they will have their way regardless.
This activity of buying and selling means that investment picks up and more money gets circulating.
OH! A silver lining. :lol
This "n@ked self-interest", unfortunately, only applies to the capitalist class. As for the rest of us, we're the pawns of their selfishness
:lol2 HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA Yes, and none of us have ever been pawns of any other form of selfishness. People who use other people as pawns for their own selfishness are also pawns for other people's selfishness; and those people might at times be pawns for the first people's selfishness, let alone a whole other set people's selfishness altogether. Happens all the time. Selfishness.
In a passage that will ring true for anyone who has ever worked in a call centre or a factory, Marx describes how "The work of the working class has lost all individual character, and, consequently, all charm for the worker. [The worker] becomes an appendage of the machine, and it is only the most simple, most monotonous, and most easily acquired knack, that is required..." That certainly describes most people's jobs today. Regardless of how much you earn, you know that the biggest part of the profit from any technological innovation goes to the boss.
Am I honestly to believe that I'd be much more content working at a call center or factory (both fine jobs if the pay's right; ignore the author's snobbish and ultimately damning view of the fields) if only my nation would convert to a socialist operation? This is a classic example of pandering. That said, if you're buying it, I'd gladly employ some unemployed folks down the way to sell it to you - because I could sling this kind of :lol2 all day. :lol
No matter how much the economy grows, there's never enough money for healthcare, education or decent wages. Of course, they always find a way to pay trillions for massive bailouts and for wars. None of this would have surprised Marx, who saw that the rights of ordinary working class people were nothing under capitalism compared to the right of bosses to make a profit.
More pandering. Seriously, this crap makes union propagandists look like freakin' Mensa's finest.
But the media reporting on the fashion for Marx have largely missed the point. Yes, Marx was an amazing commentator on the system. But, more than this, all of his writings are revolutionary calls to action.
"Revolutionary calls to action"?!? Everyone's towing that line in one form or another. Obama used a similar sentiment in his own bid. There will be no action. There will be no revolution.
From looking at how the system works and who benefits from it, Marx then goes on to argue that capitalism itself creates the material and social conditions for a sane society in which exploitation and oppression have ended and humans can lead rewarding and fulfilling lives. Marx argued that socialism was not only desirable, but necessary. His vision of socialism was a society in which cooperation replaces competition, where the economy is democratically controlled, rather than subject to the whims of bosses, where there is social equality rather than the ever increasing inequalities we see under capitalism.
Fanciful utopianism.
Seems simple, doesn't it?
Yeah. Real simple.
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Well that's a big surprise a socialist book is popular in socialist countries. I fear it will be popular here soon as my country falls deeper and deeper into socialism. As Rorschach says, "Never Compromise!"

Wow, let's just post about window tinting. OK! I don't want to make any enemies!

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Marx argued that socialism was not only desirable, but necessary. His vision of socialism was a society in which cooperation replaces competition, where the economy is democratically controlled, rather than subject to the whims of bosses, where there is social equality rather than the ever increasing inequalities we see under capitalism.

This is EXACTLY why Marxism and Socialism does NOT work.

Marx argued that capitalist crisis is inevitable, but socialist revolution is not. Capitalism may yet bring about "the common ruin of the contending classes". Only the active intervention of organised revolutionaries - "the most advanced and resolute section" of the working-class movement, in Marx and Engels' words, with a clear "understanding [of] the line of march, the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement" - can bring about a different outcome.

This sounds a lot like what our current President is all about

The only way out of such crisis is the "enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces". In other words, letting machinery in factories rust, letting office space go empty, letting tracts of land go fallow. By doing this, the companies that were lucky enough to escape the crisis relatively unscathed get bargain basement prices from liquidators of businesses that weren't so lucky.
Or... societies could not be told that they will take on the burden of bailing out (in the US's case to the tune of a trillion dollars, so far) the "businesses that weren't so lucky" to begin with. :gasp Ironically enough, it appears that in a capitalist society there is no need to force a company to end itself. Yes, there will be an inevitable "boom and slump" - as the author calls it - in the world economy; but it is the overreaching meddling of - wouldn't you know it? GOVERNMENT - that can most easily and assuredly hinder the transition from slump to boom. They do this by using the same approach as the author: by attempting to propagate sad stories and what if scenarios, and in the case of an established government, it's not even to convince the whole, but merely to appease a few; as they will have their way regardless.

:thumb

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Do you know the real story of Thanksgiving? The Pilgrims arrived and they had to immediately find a way to make a living. They had to find a way to support themselves, and this is, by the way, all contained in William Bradford, he was the first governor, if you will, of the colony. William Bradford in his own writings describes their first experiment.

They gave everybody a plot of land. Everybody produced what they produced and it went into a single store, it went into a communal store where everybody was then able to partake what they needed and what they wanted from what everybody else had produced. Bradford found that this led to a bunch of slackers, a bunch of slackers not producing anything. They just sat around and waited for what the others in the colony produced. Communism didn't work! The first ever experiment with socialism on this country was undertaken by the Pilgrims in the 1600s. Bradford said this isn't gonna work and got a different idea.

He gave everybody their own plot of hand, he assigned them their own plot of land and said whatever you produce here is yours. You keep it. And he writes of the miracle that happened after that. The industriousness and the ambition that was utilized by the Pilgrims, that is when they became prosperous, that is when they had bounty, that is when they had more than they knew what to do with.

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