Schrödinger’s Capital: How Marxists erased Marx’s prediction of capitalist collapse

NOTE 26: The contradiction between the two rules within the capitalist mode of production

In my last post, I discussed the odd coincidence between quantum theory and economics. The coincidence is that, in both disciplines, the respective processes appear to be determined by two different sets of rules.

In economics these two different sets of rules are given expression in the division of economics into what is today known as macroeconomic and microeconomic theory. Behaviors at the level of the firm are determined by the rules of microeconomic theory, while behavior of the economy as a whole is determined by the rules of macroeconomic theory.

I argued that this division occurred because bourgeois economics takes as it starting point not production of commodities, but the consumption choices of agents on the margin. Neoclassical theory thus overlooks the fact that the act of production is also a form of consumption.

There is another feature of this split of bourgeois economics into separate microeconomic and macroeconomic rules that may not be obvious at first: both sets of rules are valid and reflect a real contradiction within the capitalist mode of production.

Continue reading “Schrödinger’s Capital: How Marxists erased Marx’s prediction of capitalist collapse”

Schrödinger’s Capital: Two Rules to Ring Them All

NOTE 25: The strange parallels between Schrodinger’s equation and microeconomic theory

In his book, From Eternity to Here, Sean Carroll discusses the peculiar nature of the universe as seen from the perspective of the Copenhagen school. This peculiar nature can be described by four characteristics of matter at the quantum scale:

1. Matter behaves both like a discrete particle and like a less discrete wave.

2. Matter suddenly changes from wave-like behavior to particle-like behavior whenever we attempt to observe it. i.e., whenever we interact with it.

3. The instantaneous transition from wave-like behavior to particle-like behavior is such that it is, a. irreducibly random: Which is to say, we can only approximate its final result in advance; and, b. irreversible: which is to say, we cannot know the previous state of the particle, our interaction with a particle irretrievably destroys the information regarding its previous state.

4. There is an irreducible level of uncertainty when we try to measure a process.

In classical physics the development of a process can be accounted for by a single set of rules based on Newtonian physical laws; but in the natural world described by quantum mechanics the development of a process appears to be governed by two completely different sets of rules, which Carroll explains this way: Continue reading “Schrödinger’s Capital: Two Rules to Ring Them All”

SYRIZA, the Left and the long, slow, painful death of the nation state

I have been reading this post-mortem on the collapse of the first SYRIZA government, Greece and the “SYRIZA Experience”: Lessons and Adaptations. My purpose was to see if I could gain some fresh insight into SYRIZA’s failure and some fresh idea of how to recover from that failure.

The writer begins on a good enough footing:

“SYRIZA failed to stop austerity and neoliberal transformation in Greece.”

Okay, how did it fail? According to the writer, SYRIZA failed because it chose to remain in power, thereby becoming the new, Left, face of austerity and accepting limitations of national power in the European Union and euro common currency.

TitanicIn perhaps less diplomatic terms, SYRIZA accepted the domination of the ECB and EC over the Greece nation state and the corresponding lack of any effective Keynesian economic policy in the middle of what can only be called a full blown depression. By accepting these real limits on its room to maneuver, rather than resigning office, SYRIZA threw away the opportunity to retreat gracefully once it realized it was completely outmatched by the EC and ECB. Thus, a defeat was turned into a rout and utter disaster for the Left in Europe.

Continue reading “SYRIZA, the Left and the long, slow, painful death of the nation state”

Thinking through the problem of the two-party monopoly on elections

Personally, I don’t think there is a political path to communism in the United States (or anywhere else for that matter), but I posted the piece below to the Green Party subreddit this week.

It concerns how the Green Party, as a third party in a system deliberately designed to limit elections to two major parties, can circumvent this limitation by initially playing the role of spoiler against one of the two major parties.

twopartydeadendMost writers seem to assume the artificially imposed two-party system cannot be breached owing to the limitations imposed by the American presidential system. The thinking goes that it is be easier for a third party to emerge in a parliamentary system. I disagree. The American system is extremely fragile and vulnerable to a third party challenge, provided that third party thinks strategically. The emergence of a stable, growing, third party would easily upset the two-party system that now appears entrenched.

My piece specifically mentions the Green Party, but any third party could, in theory, employ the same strategy. For instance, the Libertarian Party might employ it against the GOP or a radical (authentic) socialist party or coalition could use it against the DemoKraps.

The two-party monopoly is not unbreakable, but the two parties desperately need us to think it is. Continue reading “Thinking through the problem of the two-party monopoly on elections”

Endnotes 4: Trying to dazzle us with bullshit

I have been reading Endnotes 4, when I came across an argument by the collective in Part 3 on why the industrial working class never became the majority of society and how this led to the failure of the working class movement. The argument the collective makes has my mind twisting:

“Revolutionaries’ belief that trends would continue to move in their favour was enshrined in the policy of abstentionism. Social Democratic parties became the largest factions in parliaments, even if they remained in the minority; but those parties abstained from participating in government. They refused to rule alongside their enemies, choosing instead to wait patiently for their majority to arrive: ‘This policy of abstention implied enormous confidence in the future, a steadfast belief in the inevitable working-class majority and the ever-expanding power of socialism’s working-class support.’ But that inevitability never came to pass.”

industrial_revolutionSo, the workers’ parties expected that a working class majority would soon arrive and produce a majority in favor of socialism. Is this the argument the Endnotes collective is trying to make? If true, where did this belief in inevitability go wrong?

What happened, according to the Endnotes collective, is that the working class met its external limit of growth long before it became a majority of society:

Continue reading “Endnotes 4: Trying to dazzle us with bullshit”

The Great Unsolved Mystery of the 20th Century: Why did the Soviet Union collapse?

Despite its devastating impact on global relations between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie within the world market, the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union remains mostly unexplained. A large body of literature has been produced to explain the collapse, but, to my mind, very little of it provides a satisfactory explanation.

So I took up reading this paper, recommended by someone on ask.fm, A Reassessment of the Soviet Industrial Revolution, by Robert C. Allen, without the expectation it would add much to the subject.

I was wrong. I now think it is a must read.

Continue reading “The Great Unsolved Mystery of the 20th Century: Why did the Soviet Union collapse?”

No, competition does not cause a fall in wages — labor does

Real World Economics Review has posted a short article by David F. Ruccio purporting to tell us how the reserve army works: “How the reserve army works”. According to Russio, “Excess workers keep wages dampened.”

homeless_blogThe term, ‘reserve army of labor’ is originally taken from labor theory of value, specifically Frederick Engels’ masterful work, The Condition of the Working Class in England.

It seems improbable that ideas from that work, perhaps the first example of the historical materialist method of analysis, should find its way into the literature of simpleton economists in late capitalism, but Ruccio is an economist who has declared his interest in Marxian theory and (bizarrely) economics methodology.

Ruccio hghlights the reserve army of labor to explain a rather interesting paradox: although unemployment (as measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics) is falling and new jobs (again, as measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics) are being created, wages continue to fall relentlessly.

Continue reading “No, competition does not cause a fall in wages — labor does”

How not to argue against reducing hours of labor

scarface_17-2I have been reading an essay on work time reduction, Eight Hours Too Many?, written by E. Kerr. I wasn’t impressed by Kerr’s argument and I have five reasons why I think Kerr’s argument is unimpressive.

1. The ambiguity of “work”

My first objection may seem a bit esoteric, but please bear with me as its significance will become more evident as my argument unfolds.

Continue reading “How not to argue against reducing hours of labor”

How Robert Jackson demolished the Left Accelerationism school

In his groundbreaking essay, Ordinaryism: An Alternative to Accelerationism. Part 1 – Thanks for Nothing, Robert Jackson asks us to consider the things we take as entirely ordinary. So I went through his essay and pulled a number of quotes I found particularly interesting.

Bear with me as I tediously enumerate the most significant of them by stringing together significant sections of Jackson’s argument:

Continue reading “How Robert Jackson demolished the Left Accelerationism school”

Jeremy Roos’ failed critique of 20th century communism

In 2016 it is astonishing to still see this sort of stuff written by radicals:

“All class struggles under capitalism must therefore start from the most elementary question of social reproduction: how to make a living and reproduce the “general conditions of life” without direct access to the means of subsistence. As Manuela Zechner and Bue Rübner Hansen show in their contribution to this issue, the recent transformations and crises of capitalism have pushed this question to the heart of contemporary movements: How do we sustain ourselves under conditions of austerity, precarity and unemployment? How do we provide care (personal, medical, psychological) in the face of a crumbling welfare system? How can we build social power by increasing our reproductive resilience?”

In his most recent essay, Towards a New Anti-Capitalist Politics, Jeremy Roos argues that, in the 21st century, the class struggle must begin not with wage labor, but with what he calls social reproduction.

What is social reproduction? Apparently it means we have to figure how we can make a living and reproduce without a job; how will workers survive when they can no longer sell their labor power to capital.

This would be a generous interpretation of Roos’ argument, however. In fact, Roos seems intent to establish a laughable theoretical proposition that, “Reproduction is always prior to production, as the latter cannot continue without the former.” Based on this nonsense he also insists, the Left must “shift attention back towards the related struggles taking place within the sphere of realization.”

Continue reading “Jeremy Roos’ failed critique of 20th century communism”