The Real Movement

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Category: Accelerationism

Can your general strike or political revolution do this… ?

Some guy going by the Twitter handle, “Emerican Johnson”, called our attention to the unfortunate chaos caused to global shipping for the past two weeks when a freighter ran aground in the Suez Canal and disrupted an estimated 12% of seaborne traffic.

The cost estimates of the snafu were all over the place, but was nailed down by one plucky source to run about $416 million per hour for the six days the ship was grounded.

Emerican was so impressed by the damaged done to capital by this grounding, which amounted to a global version of gridlock during the rush hour commute, he declared it demonstrated the potential power possessed by the working class in its struggle against capital.

“We don’t need 100% of workplaces to participate” in a general strike to have a major impact on capital! We could probably get away with just 12%!

Which kind of got me wondering: Didn’t we just go through a far greater demonstration of the staying power of the capitalist mode of production last year when perhaps as much as half of the economic activity of OECD countries was abruptly shut down in a sudden stop as an emergency measure to slow the spread of the pandemic for as long as a year.

If I were the type of person who had any illusion that either a Marxist political revolution or Anarcho-Syndicalist general strike strategy had any hope of success in bringing down this mode of production, I would be seriously reconsidering either of those strategies in light of the experiences of the past year.

I mean, what we have here is a clear case of the bourgeois state in one country after another partially shutting down accumulation on a scale hitherto unimagined by most radicals. Yet, by most accounts of these same radicals, the mode of production is not in any danger of collapse as a result of this frontal assault by its own capitalist.

The argument might be made that this effort was not intended to replace capital with another mode of production, but then you would have to demonstrate that a replacement was required. Communism has no property, no wage labor and no state. All that is required of it is that these three — property, wage labor and the state — no longer exist. That isn’t a replacement; it’s nothing.

But I digress.

The real point here is that for the last year the mode of production has suffered more damage at the hands of its own bourgeois state than radicals have ever realistically imagined they could impose on it for generations.

If that damage was not fatal to it, I would like to know what possible damage can be imposed on capital by any possible political revolution or general strike — or combination of the two — that has any hope of exceeding it?

Another Professor heard from…

One thing I hate are people who badmouth Accelerationism as this guy, J. Moufawad-Paul does at about 14:20 into this podcast:

The professor knows, or should know, that Marx said of capital that its historical mission “is unconstrained development in geometrical progression of the productivity of human labour.”

Marx also proposed that the proletariat, if it comes to power, should, “use its political supremacy to wrest, by degree, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all instruments of production in the hands of the State, i.e., of the proletariat organised as the ruling class; and to increase the total productive forces as rapidly as possible.”

If this is not accelerationism, as it is currently defined by its opponents and advocates alike, I do not know what is.

Professor Moufawad-Paul need to pick up a book and read it sometime. He just might learn something new.

The SCUM Manifesto and the Abolition of Wage Slavery

As I was banned on r/communization last night, I accused of parroting Valerie Solanas, author of the SCUM Manifesto in 1967. I had never heard of this person before last night, so I went to read it. I was actually surprised both by the manifesto and by the accusation that I was parroting many of Solanas’s ideas.

If you are familiar with Solanas and her SCUM Manifesto, my surprise may not be what you think it is. I was very impressed with her argument.

Here are some of her choice quotes:

Life in this society being, at best, an utter bore and no aspect of society being at all relevant to women, there remains to civic-minded, responsible, thrill-seeking females only to overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation and destroy the male sex.

This is certainly more profoundly revolutionary sentiments than anything I have ever read on r/communization since I joined it, or any communization screed with which I am familiar.

Solanas also wrote this in 1969:

There is no human reason for money or for anyone to work more than two or three hours a week at the very most. All non-creative jobs (practically all jobs now being done) could have been automated long ago, and in a moneyless society everyone can have as much of the best of everything as she wants.

And, finally, this gem:

What will liberate women, therefore, from male control is the total elimination of the money-work system, not the attainment of economic equality with men within it.

This manifesto was decades ahead of its time on a number of fronts and addresses issues communists still grapple with today.

The text is highly controversial: did Solanas mean it to be taken literally or was it satire on the level of Jonathan Swift? Solanas (and many who knew her) at times appears to take either side of this controversy. In any case, I am going to spend some time examining it. I hope to write something about it in the next few days.

Walmart’s response to the $15 minimum wage campaign

Yes, Walmart bowed to pressure and raised the wages of some of its employees, but it had a Plan B.

I think we need a Plan B as well.

Nick Land on the Left

Nick Land: I think the terminology of left and right, for anyone like you who is fascinated by the question of ideology, it’s completely indispensable. I totally see why people get dissatisfied with that language and say “We have to move beyond this” or “This terminology ceases to be useful” but I have a sense of its kind of extreme resilience. I don’t see us ever stopping talking about the left and the right. It’s always going to come back in, I call it the prime political dimension, there is a basic dimension with left and right polarities that everyone returns to, after their wanderings and complications. And all kinds of ideological currents themselves have a strategic interest in either muddying the water or trying to get people to rethink what they mean.

“But in the end, people come back to this basic dimension of ideological possibility and I think it is the one that captures the accelerationist tendency most clearly. On the right end of that is the extreme laissez faire, Manchester liberal, anarcho-capitalism kind of commitment to the maximum deregulation of the technological and economic process. And on the opposite extreme is a set of constituencies that seek in various ways to — polemically, I would say words like “impede” and “obstruct” and “constrain” and whatever, but I realize that’s just my rightism on display. And there are other ways of saying that, to regulate it or control it or to humanize it, I wouldn’t try and do a sufficiently sophisticated ideological Turing test on myself to try and get that right you know?

“But I don’t think there’s any real … It’s not really questionable, which of those impulses is in play and I think that it’s on that dimension that so-called left-accelerationism is left, I mean, it’s left because it is basically in a position of deep skepticism about the capitalist process. It’s accelerationist only insofar as it thinks there is some other — I would say magical — source of acceleration that is going to be located somewhere outside that basic motor of modernity. They gesture towards the fact that things will somehow still be accelerating when you just chuck the actual motor of acceleration in the scrap. And I think that is the left.”

More of this fascinating interview here.

John Cunningham: What praxis disables the entire reproductive cycle of capital remains an open question …

It literally took John Cunningham more than 6000 words to tell us what he could have told us in a single sentence, namely that he has no idea what communization means.

I feel cheated. I will never get back the time I spent poring over his essay, “Make Total Destroy,” from the anthology produced by Clever Monkey, Communization and its Discontents.

It is actually unfortunate that Cunningham makes this admission, since he appears to come closest to actually establishing a realistic communization strategy. I will try to show why I think this, but first let me summarize what I think is Cunningham’s argument.

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Communization or Accelerationism — or both?

On the surface, I can’t imagine two more irreconcilable ideas than communization and accelerationism. While communization has often been labeled an extreme ultra-Left variant of communism, accelerationism has been called the very grammar of neoliberalism by no less than the person who coined the term, Ben Noys.

I think there are reasons to say this view may be wrong. Far from being opposites, in my opinion, the two extremist radical variants of communism are  ideal complements to one another.

To understand why, let’s look at each idea in turn.

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Exacerbating the tendency — why labor hours must be reduced

A redditor,  jakehmw, tore into my argument on hours of labor. He/She made six pretty important points:

  1. While I argue that wage labor must be abolished, jakehmw points out that the proletarian sells their labor-power for a wage out of necessity due to their being propertyless. This cannot change, he asserts, until the means of production are under common ownership. The proletarians must always compete with each other, being propertyless.
  2. jakehmw says my argument on the abolition of wage-labor and intra-proletarian competition is nothing new. Communism has always been defined as an association of producers producing for use. My ideas in this vein are just a rehash of Marx’s early works.
  3. jakehmw asserts that my view Marx suggested depressed wages and competition were linked to overly long hours of labor, (“the more he works, the less wages he receives”), is not entirely correct. Marx did not intend to show that workers are displaced by overly long hours of work, says jakehmw, but by the development of machinery and the division of labor.
  4. jakehmw  thinks the abolition of labor cannot be brought about by a progressive reduction of hours of labor to zero. To abolish wage labor, the means of production must become the commonly owned property of society. Reducing the working day to zero only results in an impossible halting of both the production of use-values and value.
  5. In jakehmw view, the proletariat can abolish itself only by abolishing private property and bringing society’s means of production under common ownership. With this abolition of private enterprises, commodity production must cease to exist out of necessity, since production, having become common property, is consciously regulated as opposed to the law of value and the fetishism of commodities.
  6. Finally, jakehmw takes exception to my idea that the working class must take control of its labor power. He points out that labor-power is one’s ability to perform labor which is reproduced through the material reproduction of one’s physical capabilities and the mental reproduction of one’s mind and senses through socializing, etc. It is both their mind and body — how can that be common property?

Let me say at the outset that, by and large, I accept most of the propositions outlined in these critical statements, although I might quibble with a formulation here or there.

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The central problem of communist strategy

The central problem of communist strategy consists of this: Capital hates wage labor more than you do.

Although the capitalist are absolutely dependent on wage labor and the proletarians are dependent on it only insofar as they must have wages for their subsistence, as a practical matter the capitalists hate wage labor more than the proletarians. Wage labor itself makes it appear as if the capitalists can do without it, while, at the same time, making it appears as if the proletarians would starve for lack of it.

Communists have never figured out how to develop a strategy that address this peculiar inversion of material reality. They don’t have much time to figure it out.

From futurism.com:

“Last month, reports began circulating claiming Waymo — Google’s/Alphabet’s self-driving division — would be launching a ride-hailing service within the next several months. Now, after eight years of development, Waymo has officially announced their cars are now fully autonomous, and will soon be providing transportation as part of a new ride-hailing service set to launch very soon.”

How labor hours reduction brought about the collapse of the Soviet Union

Pardon my heavy use of direct quotes in this post. I find it necessary to do this because I want to demonstrate in detail my chain of reasoning that leads to the admittedly controversial conclusion that the Soviet Union was not “dismantled”, as certain Marxists allege, but  collapsed owing directly to the operation of the law of value. –Jehu

This is the final part of a series.

Part one is here.

Part two is here.

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What led to what Bronson calls “the tacit abandonment of the Soviet commitment to providing for a continually shorter workday and workweek” and ultimately to a fully developed communist society? And how might this tacit abandonment have contributed to the collapse of the Soviet mode of production?

In his essay, “Lessons from the Demise of State Socialism in the Soviet Union and China”, the writer, David M. Kotz argues that the Soviet Union did not in fact collapse. It was dismantled by a group of persons committed to creating a capitalist society in its place:

“As we show in Kotz and Weir (1997, ch. 5), the Soviet planned economy did not collapse. Despite some disruptions from economic reform legislation that took effect in 1988, real output and real aggregate consumption grew continuously from 1985 through the first half of 1990. … The record shows that the Soviet planned economy did not collapse — it was dismantled through political means, as power shifted from Gorbachev to Boris Yeltsin and the pro-capitalist coalition.”

The argument by Kotz rests on the assumption the reforms of 1988 were not themselves an expression of the collapse, but is this true? I want to suggest that the collapse of the Soviet Union began long before the events of 1989-1991. The collapse of the Soviet Union began with the tacit abandonment by the Soviets to continually shorter labor time and a fully developed communist society.

The collapse of the Soviet Union begins, in other words, long before the attempt to reform the economic mechanism; it begins in the 1960s with the decision by the Soviets to forego reduction of hours of labor in favor of maximizing output.

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