The Real Movement

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Kliman and ‘company’ double down on their tragic 2020 election debacle…

 

Presented, as published, the apology of the Klueless Kliman Kompatriots in defense of their hapless, hopeless strategy of support for ‘Jim-Crow’ Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election, further evidence that post-war Marxists just don’t get it:

Example 3 of bad practice

There are also attacks on MHI that cannot even be treated as criticism of ideas; they come from people engaging in trolling. A lot of these attacks are directed at Andrew Kliman, MHI’s most high-profile theoretician. In a blog called “The Real Movement” by someone who goes by the name Jehu, there was a picture of Kliman with the caption “Will somebody out there tell Kliman to get off his knees and stop servicing “Jim-Crow” Joe. It’s embarrassing now.” The hyperlink within the caption was to an article, carried in With Sober Senses. It consisted of contributions from three people who normally don’t bother to vote but who cast their ballot for Joe Biden in 2020 with the express wish to get Trump out. The article was not pulled together by Kliman; the views of the contributors were those of those individuals, none of whom is Kliman; Kliman is not the editor of With Sober Senses; and he did not commission these pieces.

The effort to portray everything from MHI as something that comes from Kliman personally ignores the fact that we are an organisation, not just an individual, with a set of principles and by-laws that govern our functioning. It is an ad hominem attack on Kliman and––by misattributing a piece not written by him, but carried in With Sober Senses––it is the dismissal of MHI as an organisation. The misattribution by Jehu is also an example of the false cause logical fallacy, because it assumes that everything done by MHI comes from Kliman, who in fact had nothing to do with that article. In addition to insulting those of us in MHI who are assumed to be the puppets or mouthpieces of Kliman, Jehu’s attack is also objectionable because of his homophobic use of the words “servicing” and “on your knees”.

While it is true that Biden voted against the bussing of Black kids to predominantly white schools as a means to break down school segregation, at a time when the efficacy of bussing was widely questioned amongst liberals, to slur him with the term “Jim Crow” Joe is wholly misleading. Jim Crow was the system of local and state laws that allowed the discrimination against Black people after the Supreme Court ruled in 1883 that the Civil Rights Act of 1875 was unconstitutional. Jim Crow was officially ended with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Joe Biden did not enter politics until he was elected to the US Senate in 1972. He never voted or campaigned for discriminatory laws or practices against Black people. Biden’s record on issues of racial justice, while questionable, does not merit the epithet “Jim Crow” Joe.

This distortion of Biden’s record, by Jehu, is particularly troubling given that Biden was the only presidential candidate able to electorally stop the proto-fascist Trump (who has actually repeatedly defended the cultural legacy of the Confederacy) from winning a second term.

Really? Do you think I give a flying fuck that you support this or that bourgeois politician? Do you think my censure would have been less severe had you supported, for instance, Bernie Sanders or even Donald Trump? Do you think it matters to me that you enlist equally clueless proletarians to parrot you nonsense, rather than Kliman himself?

Elections today amount to little more than a formal democratic contest between which gang of slavemasters will conquer and wield the machinery of the fascist state for the next four years.

You brain-dead clowns!

Your endorsement of this war criminal and segregationist didn’t even amount to the most trivial, negligible rounding error in the column of the mass of apathetic non-voters, who rightly reject participation in this quadrennial farce.

You are worse than nothing!

You are a distraction from the real work that must be done.

Grossman on how the Marx exposed the ‘flaw’ in the Law of Value

In this quote Grossman explains, as clearly as I have ever seen it put, why, eventually, exchange value can no longer be the measure of use-value, and why, ultimately, production based on exchange value must breakdown as predicted in the Grundrisse by Marx.

Source, Henryk Grossman Works, Volume 1, page 475:

In his critique, Marx proceeds from the mystifying character of the reified forms of value, that is the fact that relations that people enter into in the process of production appear as relations between objects, things, and that these reified forms conceal true relations between people. Marx therefore speaks of the deceptive appearance of all forms of value. In contrast to transparent, precapitalist forms, the relation between exploiter and exploited in the modern capitalist form of value is opaque because in the wage-relation, that is a form of value which regulates the ‘exchange’ between the wage labourer and the entrepreneur, it appears that the worker’s wage fully compensates all his labour and no unpaid labour is performed.

According to classical theory, all exchange transactions correspond strictly to the law of value, i.e. equal labour times always exchange for equal labour times. This principle also applies to the exchange relation between the worker and the entrepreneur. Now, according to Marx, it is quite evident that there is no exchange of equivalents between worker and entrepreneur. If workers were to receive as much in wages (measured in labour) from entrepreneurs as they give in labour then profit, surplus accruing to entrepreneurs, and hence also the capitalist economy, which is based on this profit, would be impossible. Since both profit and capitalism do, however, exist, no exchange of equivalents can take place. Marx’s entire effort is directed at showing that the transaction between capitalist and worker is as much an exchange of nonequivalents as of equivalents, depending on whether this transaction is regarded within the sphere of circulation (on the market) or during the process of production. The exchange of equivalents between worker and capitalist on the market is merely an appearance arising from the form of exchange. Despite the alleged exchange of equivalents, the laws based on the production of commodities … become changed into their direct opposite … The relation of exchange between capitalist and worker becomes a mere semblance belonging only to the process of circulation, it becomes a mere form, which is alien to the content of the transaction itself, and merely mystifies it. The constant sale and purchase of labour power is the form; the content is the constant appropriation by the capitalist, without equivalent, of a portion of the labour of others, which has already been objectified, and his repeated exchange of this labour for a greater quantity of the living labour of others.

Marx regards it as one of Smith’s great merits that he at least sensed that the exchange between capital and wage labour is a flaw in the law of value. Although Smith could not clarify it, he could see ‘that in the actual result the law is suspended’. According to Marx, it is precisely the form of exchange value which mystifies the real content. ‘The wage form thus extinguishes every trace of the division of the working day into necessary labour and surplus labour, into paid labour and unpaid labour.5 Just as the wage form does, so too all the other forms of value that emerge in the process of exchange mystify. The reified forms of value (exchange value, ground rent, profit, interest, wages and prices, etc.) conceal and invert the real relations between people, by making them appear as the ‘fantastic form of a relation between things’, ‘a social hieroglyphic’, ‘something dark and mysterious’.

On Postone’s concept of the hollowing out of working society – XXV

So, here is my contention regarding Postone’s concept of the hollowing out of working society.

Assume working society, as Postone uses this term, means a society of capitalist commodity production, as opposed to simple commodity production. (And here the distinction is very important, despite the value-form school.) This capitalist commodity production, however, continues to rest on value-producing labor as the term is employed by Marx in Capital, Volume one, Chapter 1, but is put to use for purpose of extracting surplus value, not just exchange value. The phrase “hollowing out of working society” means that value-producing labor is progressively being robbed of its value-producing capacity by the development of the forces of social production created by capitalist accumulation itself.

As explained by Marx in the Grundrisse, the mechanism for this is that value-producing labor is progressively displaced by machines in the production of material use-values:

“[The] creation of real wealth comes to depend less on labour time and on the amount of labour employed than on the power of the agencies set in motion during labour time, whose ‘powerful effectiveness’ is itself in turn out of all proportion to the direct labour time spent on their production, but depends rather on the general state of science and on the progress of technology, or the application of this science to production. (The development of this science, especially natural science, and all others with the latter, is itself in turn related to the development of material production.)

According to Marx this development should eventually lead to a breakdown of production based on exchange value and the emergence of a communist society where:

“The free development of individualities, and hence not the reduction of necessary labour time so as to posit surplus labour, but rather the general reduction of the necessary labour of society to a minimum, which then corresponds to the artistic, scientific etc. development of the individuals in the time set free, and with the means created, for all of them.”

Not so quick, says Postone. Communism doesn’t necessarily emerge. It is a contingent outcome. The other outcome is that labor is progressively hollowed out, rendered superfluous to the production of material wealth, but communism never emerges:

“With advanced industrial capitalist production, the productive potential developed becomes so enormous that a new historical category of “extra” time for the many emerges, allowing for a drastic reduction in both aspects of socially necessary labor time, and a transformation of the structure of labor and the relation of work to other aspects of social life. But this extra time emerges only as potential: as structured by the dialectic of transformation and reconstitution, it exists in the form of “superfluous” labor time.”

Postone bases this assessment on the opinion that historical necessity Marx relies on cannot, in and of itself create the freedom he predicts. Interesting enough, he refers to Marx as the authority for this position:

“My analysis of the dialectic of transformation and reconstitution has shown that, according to Marx, historical necessity cannot, in and of itself, give rise to freedom. The nature of capitalist development, however, is such that it can and does give rise to its immediate opposite — historical non-necessity — which, in turn, allows for the determinate historical negation of capitalism. This possibility can only be realized, according to Marx, if people appropriate what had been constituted historically as capital.”

This now leaves us with the worst possible outcome of all: If the fundamental underpinning of capitalist accumulation, production based exchange value, is now a historical non-necessity, but people (what people?) are either unwilling or unable to appropriate what has been constituted historically as capital, Postone argues this must result in an ever growing mass of superfluous labor time, labor that produces nothing, empty labor for the sake of fictitious accumulation.

This is the nightmare scenario that Rosa Luxemburg called Barbarism.

The Test of Communism (Bernes, 2021)

Jasper Bernes issues a a rather bold call for the immediate abolition of the state, property and labor…

communists in situ

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by Jasper Bernes (2021) PDF

Communism is an old idea in the world. Let’s call it ancient, for it may as well be our antiquity. We need not track down its origins in the alleyways of insurrection, only know that millions have struggled and died in its name. In this sense, it is not just an idea but a real force in history, product of and factor in a proletarian movement that has for at least two centuries now posed the overcoming of capitalism by classless, stateless, moneyless society. In fact, what’s remarkable about the history of the workers’ movement of the last two centuries is that this real ideal has until recently not only seemed inevitable but obvious. Even where they disagreed, violently, about how to achieve such a state of affairs, anarchists, communists, socialists, Marxists, syndicalists, and even some liberals, all stood joined by a common vision of…

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Wikipedia on Henryk Grossman’s reconstruction…

Wikipedia has this discussion of the formula Grossman introduces in his reconstruction of Marx’s labor theory of value concerning the number of years down to what is referred to in the entry as the absolute crisis of capitalism:

Discussion of the formula

The number of years n down to the absolute crisis thus depends on four conditions:

  1. The level of organic composition Ω. The higher this is the smaller the number of years. The crisis is accelerated.
  2. The rate of accumulation of the constant capital ac, which works in the same direction as the level of the organic composition of capital.
  3. The rate of accumulation of the variable capital av, which can work in either direction, sharpening the crisis or defusing it, and whose impact is therefore ambivalent.
  4. The level of the rate of surplus value s, which has a defusing impact; that is, the greater is s, the greater is the number of years n, so that the breakdown tendency is postponed.

The accumulation process could be continued if the earlier assumptions were modified:

  1. The rate of accumulation of the constant capital ac is reduced and the tempo of accumulation slowed down.
  2. The constant capital is devalued which again reduces the rate of accumulation ac.
  3. Labour power is devalued, hence wages cut, so that the rate of accumulation of variable capital av is reduced and the rate of surplus value s is enhanced.
  4. Finally, capital is exported, so that again the rate of accumulation ac is reduced.

These four major cases allow us to deduce all the variations that are actually to be found in reality and which impart to the capitalist mode of production a certain elasticity …

Much of the remainder of Grossman’s book is devoted to exploring these “elasticities” or counter-crisis tendencies, tracking both their logical and their actual, historical development. Examples of each would include:

  1. Depressed interest rates, investment capital transferred to unproductive speculation, e.g. housing stock, art objects.
  2. Enlarged state sector bleeds value from the accumulation process via taxes. Wars destroy capital values.
  3. The reserve army of labour (unemployed) created to discipline wage claims.
  4. Imperialism

The second section refers to four condition under which the accumulation process could continue if assumptions made by Marx were modified. The most important of these is 3., the devaluation of labor power. If wages were cuts, say the authors of this entry, the rate of accumulation of variable capital would slow and the rate of surplus value would increase.

Grossman had in mind a continuous reduction of wages below the value of labor power, with wages being cut continuously.

“I have shown that even if all conditions of proportionality are maintained and accumulation occurs within the limits imposed by population, the further preservation of these limits is objectively impossible. The system of production described in Bauer’s own scheme has to breakdown or the conditions specified for the system have to be violated. Beyond a definite point of time the system cannot survive at the postulated rate of surplus value of 100 per cent. There is a growing shortage of surplus value and, under the given conditions, a continuous overaccumulation. the only alternative is to violate the conditions postulated. Wages have to be cut in order to push the rate of surplus value even higher. This cut in wages would not be a purely temporary phenomenon that vanishes once equilibrium is re-established; it will have to be continuous. After year 36 either wages have to be cut continually and periodically or a reserve army must come into being.”

But Grossman thought this was not possible politically, because the working class would rise up in rebellion in the face of such wage reductions:

“A continuous deterioration of wages is only possible theoretically; it is a purely abstract possibility. In reality the constant devaluation of labour power accomplished by continual cuts in wages runs up against insuperable barriers. Every major cut in its conditions of life would inevitably drive the working class to rebellion.”

Unfortunately, what Grossman missed (and this is not his fault because no one could have foreseen it) is that the very same crisis that forced money wages to be reduced below the value of labor power would also force the state to debase its currency from gold (commodity money), effectively severing the currency from exchange value. In fact, what happened is that labor power was devalued, as Grossman argued, when wages were effectively reduced to zero in exchange value terms by one and the same act.

As Keynes later explained, after that debasement it was a simple matter of letting inflation eat away at the subsistence wages of the working class one or two percent a year. The Federal Reserve continues that same policy even today with its two percent inflation target.

This is the real implications of debasing the currency from gold in 1933 — the part missed by the authors of the entry.

Two days of debate, but value-form moron STILL can’t explain why commodity money disappeared after 4,200 years…

From Wikipedia:

Shekel or sheqel is an ancient Near Eastern coin, usually of silver. A shekel was first a unit of weight—very roughly 11 grams (0.39 oz)—and became currency in ancient Tyre and ancient Carthage and then in ancient Israel under the Maccabees. The word shekel is based on the Semitic verbal root for “weighing” (Š-Q-L), cognate to the Akkadian šiqlu or siqlu, a unit of weight equivalent to the Sumerian gin2. Use of the word was first attested in c. 2150 BC during the Akkadian Empire under the reign of Naram-Sin, and later in c. 1700 BC in the Code of Hammurabi. The Š-Q-L root is found in the Hebrew words for “to weigh”, “weight” and “consideration”.

The picture above shows an ancient shekel, a minted commodity money coin composed of silver said to circulate in circulate in Carthage between 310 BC and 290 BC, almost 2000 years before the rise of capitalism. As a circulating medium, it suggests there was already an established simple commodity production system well in advance of the capitalist mode of production as Engels stated in his supplement to Capital, volume 3.

For some reason this sort of commodity coin, and commodity money in general, disappeared from circulation throughout the entire world market in a blink of an eye between 1929 and 1971, after having a stable presence since at least 2150 BC — nearly 4200 years. No scholar in the value-form school seems to be able to explain why this happened, although Marx predicted the event about 100 years before it occurred.

I spent two days debating the issue with Marshall Solomon, trying to get him to offer some explanation of this event that is consistent with the value-form theory of money.

The results are below.

Read the rest of this entry »

What is misinformation/disinformation?

I had that question when I read this interesting headline from the Washington Post:

Misinformation dropped dramatically the week after Twitter banned Trump

When I read that headline I had to ask myself, “Now, The Washington Post wouldn’t lie, would it?”

It turned out that the hacks at the WP were citing a “study” being flogged by some public relations marketing firm by the name of Zignal Labs. Although, Zignal calls itself a lab, it’s not actually a lab in the scientific sense; it is really just a massive doxxing operation at the service of the wealthy and powerful.

Headquartered in San Francisco, with offices in New York City and Washington, D.C., and serving capitalist firms like Expedia, Uber, Synchrony, Prudential, ExxonMobiletc., this doxxing operation calls itself:

… the world’s leading media intelligence company, helping users measure opinion in real time, and identify the topics, networks and people that shape it. Used by the world’s largest companies and public sector organizations, Zignal lets users measure and shape their corporate brand, drive improved marketing campaign performance, understand what features are most impactful in customer products and experiences, and identify risks and opportunities as they emerge.

The only real service Zignal offers, apparently, is helping capitalist firms spot and stay ahead of negative stories. The folks at Zignal ask, “What if you could get ahead of the story – and spot negative narratives so that you can counter them as they arise?”

Note the euphemism, negative narrative. Quaint, right? Zignal is not so petty and moralistic as to ask if the story is true — in fact they have this disclaimer on their site:

“Zignal Labs’ platform does not determine what is true or false. Rather, Zignal looks at stories and themes that surface in the media and provides data regarding origin, spread, degree of automation involved in the spread, and the like.”

So, when Zignal reports that misinformation dropped dramatically the week after Trump was banned, the public relations flacks weren’t saying outright lies and deliberate misstatements by Washington politicians dropped dramatically the week after Twitter banned Trump. Rather, they were saying NEGATIVE STORIES ABOUT THEIR DEMOCRAT CLIENTS dropped dramatically the week after Twitter banned Trump.

And the Washington Post faithfully printed the public relations release as if it were news.

I’m glad I cleared that up for you.

Just remember that, today, when Trump supporters stormed heaven…

The Congressional cowards, including many who whipped them into a frenzy, were hiding in closets like the weak, pathetic cowards they are and never tried to go out and meet with their own constituents.

On the eve of open warfare between Trump… and the GOP

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

W. B. Yeats, The Second Coming

The Donald cut his holiday in Florida short to return to Washington as his forces prepare to challenge Biden’s coronation in the House and the Senate. Still hanging in the balance are two senatorial seats in Georgia that only he can clinch. An opening skirmish is planned over a military appropriation that no one ever thought was in danger.

The center likely will not hold…

Um, Trump is going into Georgia… so there’s that.

If his gamble works, I think he is going to own the GOP and the Senate — even after leaving office. Which means, Biden gets nothing of his agenda in Washington for the next two years.

“Jim-Crow” Joe might as well stay in his basement.