Wolff: You see communism is just like capitalism except its Christmas Eve all the time

Here is a shorter version of this DEFENCE OF MARXISM post:

The aim of communism is to make labor pleasant and more productive.

Fucking imbeciles.

In this crisis, we have the opportunity to speak to people about an entirely new world of possibilities. For some really stupid communists, this means everything would be exactly like it is now — only ‘better’.

wolffI thought about this while watching a video by that idiot Richard Wolff. According to Wolff, there is far more overlap between capitalism and communism than most people think. According to Wolff, capitalism has planning and communism has planning; capitalism has market and communism has markets capitalism has private property and communism has private property; capitalism has state action and communism has state action.

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Bernanke’s ‘Septaper’ Debacle

Why didn’t the Fed begin tapering yesterday? Matt O’Brien (twitter: @ObsoleteDogma) thinks he knows:

“The short version is it didn’t make sense. The longer version is it didn’t make sense, because the recovery is still rotten — and might get even more so.”

The cause of this rottenness is clear for O’Brien:

“The Fed won’t be willing to withdraw any stimulus until House Republicans give up their fantasy of using a government shutdown or debt default as leverage to defund Obamacare.”

Ben Bernanke Holds News Conference After Fed Interest Rate AnnouncementThis is a rather unconvincing explanation in my opinion. In 2002, Bernanke looked at Japan and asked why, if he was recommending quantitative easing if deflation struck the US,  quantitative easing didn’t work for Japan. He came up with an interesting explanation: Japan was rocked by an economic and political crisis in addition to deflation:

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Part 3: Pushing On A String? – The puzzle of the composite commodity in neoclassical theory

Lump of labour fallacy: In economics, the lump of labour fallacy … is the contention that the amount of work available to labourers is fixed. It is considered a fallacy by most economists, who hold that the amount of work is not static.

–Wikipedia

In part 2 of this series, I showed why fascist state management of the mode of production is indirect, rather than direct, i.e., why the state seeks to manage the process through its control over money, rather than directly imposing its control over the process of production. This method of management perfectly expresses the way in which crises actually unfold empirically within the mode of production. The first obvious symptoms of crisis are in exchange: unsold commodities, rising unemployment, credit contraction and a fall in GDP. It follows that any attempt to end a crisis will begin with these symptoms, rather than the underlying overaccumulation of capital.

Moreover, this method of approach reflects the problem from the standpoint of capital itself, where the problem, empirically, is not overproduction, but the ‘absence of demand’ for what has already been produced. For capital, the mode of exchange operates as an impediment to the realization of the surplus value already created. By necessity, therefore, the effort of management of the mode of production is directed at overcoming what capital sees as the ‘defects’ of the mode of exchange.

However much we can ridicule the simpletons for taking the result of the process of production for its cause, this much is clear: Between 1933 and 2008, nominal GDP experienced no year over year contraction — that is 75 years of unbroken nominal growth. To give this fact a historical perspective, in the 75 years prior to 1933, the US experienced at least 20 economic dislocations of various types, including depressions and panics. There is no question that fascist state economic management, for all of its silly assumptions, has been an unparalleled success so far as bourgeois economists are concerned. For most of that period, the only contraction in nominal GDP the US experienced were engineered by Washington deliberately to slow nominal growth of money in circulation, of employment and of GDP.

By way of comparison, consider that the Soviet Union experienced about 70 years of unbroken growth employing direct management of production. gorbachevFor all of the success of the Soviet mode of production in this regards, however, year 71 was a motherfucker — the Soviet centralized production system collapsed and the Union quickly broke up. Success along these lines clearly does not in any way guarantee against collapse. In the Soviet Union in 1991 and in the United States in 2008, it was as though 70 years of development was suddenly expressed in a single massive movement of society.

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Part 2: Pushing On A String? – Capitalist crisis from capital’s point of view

Business cycle stabilization: Stabilization can refer to correcting the normal behavior of the business cycle. In this case the term generally refers to demand management by monetary and fiscal policy to reduce normal fluctuations and output, sometimes referred to as “keeping the economy on an even keel.”

— Wikipedia

2. The bourgeois simpleton’s view of crisis

In the first part of my series on how economists see the mode of production they are attempting to manage, I explained how the method of management focuses not on capital, i.e., the production of surplus value, but on the reflexive expressions found in exchange relations. This is sort of like attributing to a sheet of paper the words that are printed on it, rather than the pen in the hand of the writer.

crisisFrom the viewpoint of labor theory, however, this approach is not surprising. A commodity producer only finds validation for the social character of his labor when trying to sell his commodity. His activity, the production of the commodity, is carried on in isolation, but only becomes a social product through exchange. This cannot be emphasized enough: The commodity producer intends to sell his commodity, but he doesn’t even know if there is a market for it.

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Pushing On A String? – The logic of state management of capitalism

“‘Pushing on a string’ is particularly used to illustrate limitations of monetary policy, particularly that the money multiplier is an inequality, a limit on money creation, not an equality.” –Wikipedia

So here are the questions I have been contemplating for the past week or so: When simpleton economists suggest policies to manage “the economy”, what in their view do they think is being managed? How do they Yellen-Summers-picconceptualize both the “economy” itself and the tools they employ to manage it? What, if any, are the vulnerabilities (defects) of this form of management that is being expressed in the current debate among mainstream (neoclassical) economists? In particular, what are the choices being expressed in the debate over who should replace Bernanke as chair of the Federal Reserve Bank?

To be sure, I am not trying to offer a polemic against mainstream economics in this essay but to understand this policy in its own right, as well as to restate it in a form that is comprehensible within a labor theory framework as i understand that framework.

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