Create Two, Three, Many SYRIZAs?

The programs of the Left are being threatened from an unexpected direction

openbordersOver the weekend I spent some time  taking a deep dive into the programs of some of the radical parties on the Left and I have a big question: How do you have open borders, on the one hand; and many of the programs supported by the Left, on the other hand?

The Socialist Equality Party argues:

“The SEP fights for the repeal of all anti-immigrant laws and the disbanding of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the US Border Patrol. It calls for all undocumented workers to be guaranteed full legal rights, including the right to work and the right to travel to their home countries without the threat of being barred from returning and torn from their families. Against the attempt to militarize borders and persecute immigrants, not only in the US but all over the globe, the working class must uphold the principle of open borders—the right of workers to live and work in whatever country they choose with full citizenship rights.”

So far, so good, right?

Continue reading “Create Two, Three, Many SYRIZAs?”

Badiou redefines communism in the 21st century

The strange case of Apple’s huge hoard of dead capital

Richard Wolff tweeted this gem last week:

Exec admits Apple evades taxes; says US laws allow it. Buffoon thinks we don’t know corps buy such laws from pols: yhoo.it/1J2AzHA

In case you been living in a cave, you’ll know Wolff is talking about Apple’s massive cash hoard. It is widely estimated that Apple is sitting on something in excess of $135 billion of capital that is presently just lying around idle. Wolff argues Apple has been able to accumulate this vast hoard of uninvested capital because tax laws are written in such a way to allow it to accumulate vast sums of profit that are not taxed.

pete-afp-cartoon-obama-plays-with-dronesA tragedy, right? Apple is sitting on billions of uninvested capital that could be paid out in food stamps, while Washington is so short of funds, it is running massive deficits just to make ends meet.

Of course, the relevant question Wolff should be trying to answer is not why this huge hoard is not taxed by Washington, but why Apple is not investing billions of essentially tax free profits to make even more tax free profits. Aren’t capitalist firms supposed to be maximizing their profits? Why is apple just sitting on the cash, rather than investing it? Continue reading “Badiou redefines communism in the 21st century”

Platypus Question No. 10: The utopian character of “the politics of work”

In their final question, Platypus asks what effect the decline of the workers’ movement over past century has had on attempts to come to grips with the politics of work, overwork and unemployment.

“10. A century ago, these questions were consciously taken up by a politically constituted workers movement in which socialists and Marxists participated. Today, discussions of this topic risk becoming utopian in the a-political sense. How, if at all, has the decline of workers movements and the death of the Left circumscribed our ability to engage the politics of work in the present?”

The problem with this question is that it assumes what has to be demonstrated: that a politically constituted workers movement taking up discussions of the politics of work was not itself utopian.

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Platypus Question No. 9: The paradox of Left politics

In question 9, the Platypus group asks about the role of political organization in relation to labor issues.

“9. What role, if any, do you assign to political organization, such as an actual or potential political party, in working to progressively transform contemporary relations of work and unemployment? What should be the relationship between any such organization and the working class?”.

I think it is important to state, following the premises of historical materialism, as outlined by Marx and Engels, that there is no social organization that can give the working class control over work and unemployment. As many writers note, labor itself is premised on the fragmentation of the conditions of labor. This fragmentation cannot be overcome through any political organization nor by the establishment of a working class political party. One of the most important defects of the Left’s approach to labor and to overwork and unemployment is the idea these can be addressed by political measures and political organization.

Continue reading “Platypus Question No. 9: The paradox of Left politics”