The Real Movement

Communism is free time and nothing else!

The Federal Reserve and monetary policy

It is almost certain the Federal Reserve Bank will raise its policy interest rate next week. The question is why? According to most mainstream simpletons there is no appreciable inflation, real wages are only beginning to rise, growth is robust and unemployment has dropped to levels unseen since the sixties. It is what the simpletons call a “Goldilocks economy” — not running too hot or too cold, a sustainable moderate economic expansion.

Oddly, the Fed seems intent on killing it.

Why increase interest rates, especially when this increase will likely not be felt for — perhaps — eighteen months or so? Is the Fed dead-set on committing suicide? Perhaps eighteen months is the clue: the impact of an interest rate increase in December, 2018 would only just be felt in June, 2020; smack dab in the middle of the presidential election season. It is just possible that the devious bastards at Federal Reserve are trying to trigger a recession just in time for Trump’s re-election.

Trump would be the first president to run for reelection in the middle of a recession since Jimmy Carter — and we all know what happened to that poor fool.

Of course, I have no way of knowing if this reasoning is accurate, but it makes complete sense to me.

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Where are the communizers in France?

The headline says it all: “Thousands of French ‘yellow vests’ protest for fifth Saturday”:

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of French cities on Saturday in the fifth weekend of nationwide demonstrations against Emmanuel Macron’s government, despite calls to hold off after a gun attack in Strasbourg earlier this week.

In Paris, police were out in force to contain possible outbursts of violence. But several major stores, such as the Galeries Lafayette, were open to welcome Christmas shoppers.

Numbers were down compared to Saturday last week.

The critical hint in this news fragment regarding the likely trajectory of the yellow vest protests is not that the number of protesters are declining, nor that Macron’s government has managed to get a handle on containing them. Rather, the hint is prefigured in “Saturday”, the day of the week that has become a recurring moment in the protest.

Saturday is free time away from labor for the protesters. On this day they are free to shop for Christmas, work in their gardens, hang out with friends and family. Some choose to spend this free time protesting Macron’s policies.

Yet, by spending their free time protesting Macron’s policies,, yellow vest protesters concede their protest will not interfere with their wage labor. This seems to be an unconscious recognition of the limitations of their protests. The protesters don’t want to challenge the mode of production as a whole but only insofar as it impinges upon their position as wage slaves.

Can it become more?

With all the gibberish about communization coming from the continent recently, you would think so. The yellow vest protests are a direct challenge to that school.

Except for this brief exchange, however, as far as I can tell the communizers have been remarkably silent:

“…[The] disorder must be pushed further. The moment of the urban riot is itself the limit point of what is now happening: historically it corresponds with two modalities, either the seizure of state power or pushing the state into a crisis to then push for concessions. But this is not 1917, no seizure of state power to then realize a socialist program is conceivable, and we are not in 1968, there were will be no agreements made at Grenelle5. To stick with the urban riot is to remain at a level where the movement still has politics. But if what manifested on Saturday in Paris and everywhere in France returns to the blockades, creates new ones and begins to truly “block the country,” that is to say, to seize itself and to decide from there on its future, one can imagine going from riot to uprising to revolution. But no one can say in which direction this is going, this thing running faster than the whole world: there is no better mark of revolutionary content than this. This movement, because it is a class struggle, bears all that can be today a communist revolution, including its limits, its dangers and its unpredictability: but to reach that point, it will probably be necessary to burn a great deal of things that stand between us, whether it’s cars or social relations.”

The pronouncement does not explain how the protest can be pushed further, but it sets this as the task.

 

There is useful theory — and then there is Kliman’s theory

In September of this year, Andrew Kliman took a stab at the most important question of our time: “What’s Standing In The Way Of Socialism?”

I thought his answer was interesting:

I think there are both external and internal obstacles. The foremost external one is that a substantial segment of the capitalist class — in the US, Russia, and elsewhere — has decided to turn against liberal democracy and whip up pro-fascist sentiment, in order to protect its wealth and privileges. As David Frum, a conservative political pundit, has argued, Donald Trump came to power because wealthy interests, afraid that “the poor might pillage the rich,” helped to energize the racist, authoritarian, and misogynistic “Trump base.”

The foremost internal obstacle is the naïve belief that leftists can turn capitalism into something it’s not. So instead of struggling against capitalism, many leftists struggle for power within capitalism. They think that, by imposing radical redistribution of income and wealth, they can both improve working people’s lives and make capitalism function better. This ignores the obvious, overriding fact that capitalism is a profit-driven system. What’s good for the system — as distinct from the majority of people living under it — is high profits, not low profits. They also naïvely believe that government regulation will do wonders, even though the failure of Keynesian theory and policy during the massive economic crisis of the 1970s showed that passing laws does not overcome the economic laws that actually govern capitalism.

Ignore the silly, naive political Monday morning quarterbacking of the first paragraph. Every election outcome can be explained more or less as the result of infallible intervention by “wealthy interests” — whatever this sophomoric term means — until it cannot and we are forced to introduce some other silly, naive explanation.

I mean, to be perfectly honest, we cannot prove or disprove Kliman’s silly thesis that wealthy interests, fearful of the poor, promoted Trump’s election. The statement is so vague, and the terms involved are so ill-defined, as to constitute a staggering case of theoretical malpractice on the part of a Marxist writer.

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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.

Desmond Wong on Communism

“I think people have the wrong view of what communism is. To place communism in a difference context than the one with which we are familiar, consider that communism is simply 100% unemployment, in which your wages can buy nothing because the money is worthless, you own nothing and democracy itself is a trivial shell game without any sovereign popular content at all.

“Is this not closer to the actual trajectory of society already evident to even the dullest simpleton? There is a commonly held fallacy that communism involves involves a negation of the present trajectory of capitalist society. This is not true. Communism is catastrophe for present society and that catastrophe is inevitable. All that is necessary for this catastrophe to materialize is that we do exactly what we are doing right now — nothing.

“It is likely our consciousness will undergo a radical revision only when we find it actually impossible to sell our labor power and only when, even if we sell it, our wages can buy nothing.

“Is this the preferred way to realize communism? Probably not, but wage slaves are not in the position to experiment with utopian visions of the future. They have to feed their kids. So they likely will keep selling their labor power until this becomes impossible. Confronted by this new situation, they will improvise: communism!” –Desmond Wong

[I was informed today that this is actually a quote taken from me here. I honestly did not realize this. My apologies to Desmond, who was likely very confused by my citation.]

Radicals who hate Trump have missed the point of the exercise

Trump has changed the debate, forever.

(Reposted from r/abolishwagelabornow)

No matter how the Trump presidency turns out, he has already had a lasting impact on the Right. Under Trump, the “alt-Right” has appropriated the class struggle rhetoric of the radical Left and realized it for what it is in reality: an argument to save wage slavery in the interest of wage slaves.

From a review of “The Once and Future Worker”

“Indeed, far from the usual conservative manifesto,”The Once and Future Worker,” is a scathing critique of globalization, open immigration, and the commoditization of labor — forces which Cass believes have ransacked working class fortunes across three decades of neoliberal hegemony, despite the ideological half-measures offered by bourgeois elites designed to merely absolve them of complicity.”

The Right even out-radicals the radicals in its critique of weak reformism. The reviewer quotes from the book:

“Workers have no standing, in this view of the economy; neither do their families or communities. Households that see their economic prospects plummet or their livelihoods vanish should ask for a government check and be placated when they get one … Like a medieval indulgence, a promise of redistribution cures all.”

I think I am going to read it as soon as I can figure out how to steal it.

The practical results of four decades of anti-capitalist scribblings

COMMUNIZATION:

“Communization […] has little positive advice to give us about particular, immediate practice in the here and now […] What advice it can give is primarily negative: the social forms implicated in the reproduction of the capitalist class relation will not be instruments of the revolution, since they are part of that which is to be abolished.” Endnotes

OPEN MARXISM:

“How then do we change the world without taking power? At the end of the book, as at the beginning, we do not know. The Leninists know, or used to know. We do not. Revolutionary change is more desperately urgent than ever, but we do not know any more what revolution means. Asked, we tend to cough and splutter and try to change the subject. In part, our not-knowing is the not-knowing of those who are historically lost: the knowing of the revolutionaries of the last century has been defeated.” John Holloway

WERTKRITIK:

“The call for the abolition of labor does not have immediate ramifications for Marxist politics.

There is no new program or a master plan for emancipation that can be developed out of the abolition of value. Rather, it can be seen as a condition of emancipation from value and the abstract system of oppression it represents.” Elmar Flatschart

LEFT ACCELERATIONISM:

“Perhaps the real import of the accelerationism defended by Srnicek and Williams is as an intervention into the politics of abstraction. They argue that the representation of abstraction is not only unavoidable but necessary in order to mount an epistemic and political challenge to capitalism. But the fact that such representation is necessary does not guarantee that it is possible to align epistemic and political acceleration, or more basically, that it will be possible to align theoretical explanation with emancipatory activity. Doing so requires the social realisation of cognition […]. Without a theory of the totality that articulates explanatory rationality with emancipatory causality, it becomes difficult to understand the conditions under which epistemic practices might be realised. This is arguably accelerationism’s chief lacuna. What is required is an account of the link between the conceptual and the social at the level of practice, which is to say, an account of the way in which cognitive function supervenes on social practices. This is what … [Left] accelerationism [does not] currently provide.” Ray Brassier

Any objective observer will realize that the last four decades of theoretical development has been a dead end. Theory provides no more practical advice today than it did at the end of the 1970s.

Wage labor must be abolished. Right now. Immediately. Without hesitation on our part.

This is the conclusion everyone is trying to avoid.

I thought this would make a very interesting question for some grad student to answer

With all of the talk about how robots are going to take our jobs, no one seems much interested in investigating why automation has been progressing so slowly.

In the capitalist mode of production, machines compete against labor power. Yet labor power seems pretty persistent in maintaining its advantage despite technological progress.

Why?

From Reddit, a question:

“Why haven’t stores become automated yet?

“In the past 2 years, my city has seen automation introduced in stores from McDonalds and KFC to the local Supermarkets as we have those Kiosks and self-check out cashiers that can handle everything needed in the stores, except for cooking. Yet these stores still have human workers even though they can be automated and have the technology available, I was interested in whether or not there’s unseen obstacles I haven’t considered.

“I thought Amazon’s success in the US with its own automated stores would have proven the concept is viable and human workers are no longer needed in stores.”

Sounds like a doctoral thesis to me.

(Just saying.)

Notes on the Communist Horizon as an Immanent Outside

Interesting piece from Xenogothic…

xenogothic

Distinct thoughts are coalescing after last night’s now-embarrassing waste of energy on Twitter arguments. I always regret fanning the flames with so much oxygen the morning after and, obviously, it would only be worse to delete it later.

A very important side note from the Caves: “weaponise inattention”.

There was a point made, however — a mention of which is not intended as a provocation towards further pointless discussion; I’m not going to address it any further in any hellthreads — that Fisher and Dean both expressed a belief in the piety of party politics and so my own frequent and/or recent use of their work towards a politics of fragmentation is bad. The response I would give to this is useful only because I think it opens out onto a bunch of tandem debates, and one in particular witnessed in private channels which likewise speaks to some of the…

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It would be interesting to know what the average Marxist makes of this statement by Nick land

“Sorry, Justin, if I can just interrupt you for one minute, because again, this is two-sided … Yes, I nod along to everything you were just saying, but … the language of emancipation, it’s fine with me, you know, but — what is being emancipated?

“Already in the 1990s, my interest is in the emancipation of the means of production. I have zero commitment to emancipation in any way defined by our dominant political discourses. I’m not into emancipated human groups, an emancipated human species, who reaches species-being to emancipate human individuals … None of that to me is of the slightest interest, so in using this word of emancipation, sure, I will totally nod along to it if what is meant by that is capital autonomization. I don’t think that’s something that it isn’t already there in the 1990s, but I’m no longer interested in playing weird academic games about this and pretending this is the same thing as what the left really means when they’re talking about emancipation. I don’t think it is. I think what the left means by emancipation is freedom from capital autonomization.”

Nick Land, Ideology, Intelligence and Capital

As the interviewer puts it, (in his best apocalyptic voice-over), the “oppressive pessimistic horror show” for which Land is to be condemned is the future where, in a clear echo of Marx’s prediction in the fragment on the machine, factories operate without people.