The Real Movement

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Tag: Paul Mason

Post-capitalism, Accelerationism, communism and the march of the job-eating killer robots

Two speculative views of what comes after capitalism for those without enough imagination to picture themselves on a beach having group sex.

The first offer some discussion of the so-called Left accelerationist writers Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams. Left accelerationism is a sort of awkward nerdy, pimple-faced techno-fetishism that seeks to make Nick Land palatable to Sanders supporters.

The second discusses the even less credible argument, put forward by Channel 4 News in-house radical Paul Mason. Mason is … well, the Channel 4 News’ idea of a radical, if a radical worked for Channel 4 News. Of course no radical actually works for Channel 4 News, but if a radical did work for Channel 4 News, they would likely be a radical just like Paul Mason.

The starting point of these conceptions of life after the class-war, is the now ubiquitous prediction that soon capitalism will no longer generate enough new jobs to go around owing to the replacement of human living labor by machines.

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Can the state prevent the collapse of capitalism by printing currency?

Tom Cutterham seems to believe to the answer to that question is, Yes. Cutterham’s review of Paul Mason’s book, Postcapitalism — Forget Wikipedia — is a common enough response by some activists to any mention of communism:

“Again and again, those who predicted imminent collapse were proved wrong. There were always new ways for the system to adapt to its inherent contradictions and crises, always new markets to pry open and new forms of labour to exploit.”

Capitalism, this argument goes, is apparently capable of almost infinite adaptation. The response usually does not deny that capitalism is prone to crises, nor that these crises may trigger some political event like a social revolution. However short of a social revolution, (triggered usually by an alteration of consciousness secondary to a crisis), there is nothing inherent in capitalism driving it toward its self-annihilation.

The current iteration of this argument, which among Marxists seems to date back to Tugan-Baranowsky, is now defended by the value-form school and almost all Marxists today. This school includes very influential Marxist writers like Michael Heinrich in Germany, John Milios in Greece and David Harvey in the United States.

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After capitalism, what? (Random thoughts on Paul Mason’s article)

I am reading an article by Paul Mason, “The end of capitalism has begun”. This article can be placed in the context of several videos exploring the same theme by radical thinkers. There is, for instance, a video by Peter Hudis, “Alternatives to Capital”; and David Harvey gave a rambling lecture from 2013 along the same lines,  “The End of Capitalism”.

The three pieces are all of a type: speculation regarding the end of capitalism and of what might replace capitalism if it is at its end.

According to Mason, the end of capitalism is driven by three forces: First, capitalism has reduced the need for work, blurred the edges between work and free time and loosened the relationship between work and wages. Second, information is corroding the market’s ability to form prices correctly because, while markets depend on scarcity, information is abundant. Third, Mason notes the spontaneous rise of collaborative production that is no longer determined by markets and managerial hierarchies.

To be sure, the end of capitalism has been predicted so often that any sane person would conclude the subject hardly bears serious examination. The end of capitalism is the “Who shot JFK?” of social commentary, periodically surfacing in society during crises. None of the above mentioned individuals are insane, however, yet they are willing to stand before audiences and speculate on what many may judge to be crackpot theories.

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What happens ‘when something has to give”, but nothing likely will?

There is an interesting and much retweeted article today from Paul Mason, “Greece: why something has to give”. According to Mason, pressure is growing for a split in SYRIZA:

“So there is pressure growing, from within and without, to force a split in Syriza, with the Left Platform leaving the parliamentary group, and Tsipras now forced to rely on centre-left and Karamanlis-wing conservative votes to get any deal through the Hellenic parliament.”

Singularity-Brain-2Mind you, this is all over a debt that everyone knows cannot be repaid, no matter who is in power. It is not just that the EU is using the debt to beat SYRIZA down, SYRIZA seems intent on using the debt against itself.

Of course, a split in SYRIZA cannot fix Greece’s debt problem, as bondholders and anyone with an ounce of common sense knows:

“Let’s start by considering the raw numbers. Greece can’t borrow big money on the global markets, because its €320bn debt is – rightly, I think – seen as unpayable. No level of austerity bearable by Greek society could pay down the debt.”

The previous government lied about the state’s finances, capital is fleeing, the ECB is waging economic warfare against SYRIZA; and the ECB and Eurogroup have no desire to come to an agreement with SYRIZA. As the EU adds pressure from the outside, Mason argues, the Left Platform is organizing for a split from the inside.

This can’t go on, explains Mason. At some point, something somewhere has to give.

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Pushing back on the push for Grexit

Paul MasonPaul Mason’s post today is a very good take on the problem SYRIZA faces: the push for Grexit is becoming overwhelming:

“The shock in Syriza’s upper echelons, symbolised by the expression on Alexis Tsipras’ face as he addressed the nation on Saturday, was real. It was the shock of realisation that, Germany was stronger than Italy and France combined, and that there really is no space inside the euro for a radical left government.

Since this realisation, many ordinary Greeks, and some previously pro-euro politicians and advisers,  have come to the conclusion that Syriza should prepare Greece for a “controlled exit”. Instead of “we were kicked out”, it would be sold as “we escaped” – and I think however positively today’s deal is spun, the push for Grexit will grow stronger as constraints become obvious.”

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A SYRIZA win will unleash an earthquake on the Left

According to the most recent correspondence from Greece by Paul Mason, the thinking by influential people within SYRIZA is dangerously unrealistic about the troika, social democrats and greeceGreece’s isolation.

Says Mason,  Euclid Tsakalotos “has totally unrealistic expectations of the way the ECB negotiates, and the rationale from which it negotiates.” Far from thinking the current austerity regime in Greece has gone too far, the troika still believes wages have not fallen far enough. Thus, writes Mason, there is a dangerous mismatch of expectations between SYRIZA and the troika.

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What is SYRIZA? Two opposing takes on the new euro-politics

euro-bombWhat is SYRIZA and Podemos, and what are their significance on the stage of world history? I came across two interesting and contrasting views by folks much more familiar than I with the situation on the ground. I offer their take, along with my own caveats:

The first is a rather pessimistic take on Greece by a conventional vanguardist formation called the International Committee for a Fourth International; knuckleheads who are connected to the Socialist Equality Party (@SEP_US), (the latter who have shown they don’t know labor theory from a hole in the ground — but okay).

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