Monday, January 16, 2017

Vulture Funds and Diarmaid Feritter

Vulture Capital
Paddy Hackett

 Diarmaid Ferriter, in a piece of his published in The Irish Times, is of the mistaken view that there is good and bad capital. He cannot understand that all capital is based on the exploitation of labour power. It is profit driven. Capital cannot be regulated. Capitalism in a small open economy such as is the Irish economy is even less open to significant regulation. At most the effects of capitalism in the Irish Republic can be marginally modified.

Factory closures and rationalisations that throw workers out of work is no worse than   “vulture capital” that throws tenants out of their apartments. There is ample evidence that there has been much of this. It compares well with the adverse effects of “vulture capital” in Ireland.

Feritter describes this capital as foreign. But indigenous capital is just as capable of taking on a vulture quality as is foreign capital. Indeed Irish capital is on the record for having engaged in this kind of conduct. The increasing centralisation and concentration of capitalist farming is another example of vulture capital. It forces small farmers out of existence. Capital, in general, has an inherently vulture nature. It would not be capital if it did not have this nature. The large scale offshoring of manufacturing capital from the US economy to the Chinese economy is as much a form of “vulture capital” as any other kind of capital. Offshoring has resulted in the casting of thousands of American workers out of employment and into destitution.

The imposition of taxes on incoming vulture capital cannot stop vulture capital penetrating the Irish economy. At most it may modify its volume. Even that depends on global circumstances that transcend the diminutive Irish economy.

The point is that capital, by its very nature, is fluid. Without this fluidity it would collapse and then the Irish economy would  be in an even more acute state. Ferriter is pushing a narrow nationalist agenda which is unrealisable in today’s capitalist world. It is a utopian programme designed to delude the working class of Ireland.
The “horrendous consequences for homeowners left at the mercy of the vultures” don't just apply to homeowners. Such “horrendous consequences” apply universally to workers in New York, Dublin and Aleppo. Capitalism, by its very nature produces “horrendous consequences”: wars, famine, unemployment, homelessness etc. There is no possibility of eliminating these serious problems under capitalism. Capitalism cannot be modified to eliminate them. Feritter misleadingly claims that the Irish government can take us down this road. The “horrendous consequences”for homeowners in Ireland cannot be divorced from “the horrendous consequences” of war and famine. They are all inevitable and related products of capitalism. The only solution is the elimination of capitalism by its forcible overthrowal through social revolution.

“the State was already prepared to ignore one of the lessons of the crisis by aggressively encouraging and facilitating the unregulated vulture funds to offload the toxic assets from the banks, whose very lack of regulation created such a mess in the first place.”
Even had it tried the Irish government, given its inherent limitations, would have been unable to prevent “vulture capital”, Irish or foreign, from picking up Irish based devalued assets. In a crash weaker capital crashes and is devalued and then picked up by stronger capital. This is a law of capital that has a universal character. This law occurs for diverse forms of capital such as industrial capital and capital in its property form. In the absence of this law capital could not recover from crashes. Indeed it would not exist.

The crash that hit Ireland formed part of the world crash. It was not simply caused by unregulated Irish banks. Narrow nationalism mistakenly endeavours to disconnect the two. The global crisis merely exposed the limitations of the Irish economy including its banking sector.
“The notion of collective responsibility has been conveniently used to distract from failures of leadership, and the prioritisation of private capital over public purpose.”
 There is no choice here. The inherent limitations of the governmental form prevent the prioritisation of private capital over public purpose. Under capitalism society is profit driven and based on the exploitation of labour power. Consequently  “public purpose” cannot serve as the driving force of society. To establish public purpose capitalism must be replaced with communist society.
“a relatively small number were able to skew the market through speculation, reckless lending and a refusal to reduce the inflation of the property market”
The property boom was not the cause of economic meltdown. The property boom in the Irish Republic  was a manifestation of the global economic crisis. Neither was it a product of subjective factors: “a small number”engaged in market manipulation. The latter, in so far as it existed, was a symptom of the unfolding cycle of objective economic events.
“Taking a stand against the vulture fund and the state that supports them” deludes the working class thereby impeding the class struggle. The source of the problem is not a particular form of capital –“vulture capital. There is no good and bad capital. All capital has an inherently vulture form. The source of the problem is capital in general. This being so capitalism must be challenged –not a particular form of it.

 “it is not “all about the economy”, it is about people and their right to a home.”

Alas, under the current social system, it is not “about people and their right to a home.” It is about profit maximisation. Feritter misunderstands the very nature of Irish society. In this way he is spinning an ideology that envelops the working class in illusion thereby assisting in the perpetuation of capitalism.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Apollo House

Apollo House

The street sleeping problem in Ireland cannot be merely solved by the adequate availability and quality of accommodation. Even if the latter is achievable, which is questionable, the problem will not inevitably go away while the current social system persists. Adequately available good quality accommodation will only perpetuate the problem. This is because improved conditions will tend to encourage others to gravitate towards the street because of the availability of quality accommodation for street people. Rather than minimising and even eliminating the problem it will magnify it. Through this process the size of the street people will increase. Furthermore if quality housing is made available for all of the homeless by the state this, again, only sustains the problem. This is because guaranteed quality housing encourage a never ending number of people to avail of it. The solution reproduces the problem. This again tends to increase the size of the homeless relative to the working class.

The source of the problem lies much deeper. It is located in the inherently oppressive nature of social conditions under capitalism. Rough sleeping is largely a product of people with psychological and other problems. These problems are caused by the prevailing conditions of oppression and alienation. Capitalist society damages people. The  solution to the problem requires the elimination of these alienating and oppressive conditions. This must involve capitalism’s replacement by communist relations. But this social revolution must assume global proportions. It is not a problem that is merely national in form. Indeed the entire national issue is itself, an historical problem, a product of capitalism. No nations existed in the Stone Age.

Suggesting that governmental policies are responsible for street sleeping is to fetishise government thereby investing  it with magical powers it cannot have. Government is a limited political institution. As a product of capitalism it cannot transcend capitalism’s inherent limits.

The HomeSweetHome campaign based in Ireland has “failure” built into it. This is because it peddles the illusion that capitalist governments, through popular pressure, can solve street sleeping together with the housing problem in general. The effect of this illusion  is to hinder the development of class struggle by implying that social revolution is not a necessity. HomeSweetHome’s assumption suggests that capitalism is progressive and thereby in no need of forcible overthrowal. Consequently the campaign does not exist to authentically solve street sleeping nor the housing problem itself. It creates the appearance of solving it –an image. Instead HomeSweetHome exists to obstruct the development of class struggle –to perpetuate capitalism and thereby the housing problem itself. It promotes a superficial programme bearing a plausible character that, in fact, constitutes an illusion.

The HomeSweetHome campaign fuses “art” and politics into a form of pageantry or theatre. It turns politics into theatre –an image. Such a strategy is a reflection of HomeSweetHome’s lack of confidence in its own politics. It believes it must introduce entertainment (images) into its campaign to win popular support. Its assumption is that politics alone is not adequate enough to mobilise popular support. Political theatre tends to bypass critical thinking. It thereby tends to draw people’s support for a cause on the basis of a rational deficit. Because of this it's popularity bears an inevitably ephemeral character.
It is the politics of the heart over the head. The theatrical character of the HomeSweetHome campaign reflects itself in the diverse nature of its
popular support: from Christian do-gooders to liberally leftie types. It is supported by a heterogenous collection of people because it does not pose a challenge to the system. It is a cross class campaign that ignores class division.

The politics of the theatre seeks to manipulate the masses through the form of entertainment –pyrotechnics. From the commercial world of entertainment celebs are deployed by the HomeSweetHome campaign because of their market value or commodified character. HomeSweetHome, itself, engages in marketing to enhance its image. Its existence is all about the creation and development of itself as spectacle or image. Its supporters can only relate to each other through music and imagery generally. It is, in a way, the music (image) and not the issue that rallies their support. This degree of support has not been given to the McVerry trust

which has been in existence for many years? Appearance, not essence, is what counts. The spectacle or image envelops its supporters.

HomeSweetHome fetishes the street people as a means of enhancing itself as a spectacle. There is now no place for dialectical thinking. The street carnival is the thing. Market value of musicians replaces artistic quality. Image, as market value, is now substance. It is market value that counts –the law of value. The street people are merely a feeble pretext for enhancing the marketing of HomeStreetHome. If there were no street people they would have to be invented.

The campaign is not being spearheaded by the street people themselves. This is because, as a category, they are not cohesive and have no independent power. The street people, as do much of the non-street homeless, form part of a subclass, the lumpenproletariat. It contrasts with the working class whose power is rooted in the character of its relationship to the production process. The street people’s backgrounds are diverse: drink, drugs, crime etc. As a small vulnerable category it is incapable of mobilising itself to promote its interests.  It forms, as Marx would suggest, part of the lumpenproletariat. Such a category can serve to undermine the class struggle as was witnessed by the existence of the Nazi storm troopers and the gangs used to attack striking workers. It, as a category, is distinct from the working class by virtue of its independence from the production process. Consequently it lacks the capacity to challenge the system. It is a category that depends on the capacity of the working class to liberate humanity from alienation. But this liberation is a function of the transformation of the production process. This process entails replacing capitalist relations with communist relations through social revolution. Given this the dissolution of street sleeping and homelessness generally must be based on revolutionary action. Street sleeping is a derivative problem whose dissolution is only possible through the abolition of capitalism. Strategically speaking tackling street sleeping politically is to misdirect politics. It is to put the cart before the horse. Such a misleading strategy can only succeed in confusing the working class thereby impeding its political development. It is not a central issue for the working class itself and fails to promote the class struggle. Street sleepers and much of the non-street homeless form part of an underclass that shares a common feature with  the rentier layer of the capitalist class Both are parasitic on the production process. The street sleeping people and much of the official homeless are not subject to exploitation. This is because they don't sell their labour power. Unlike the working class they stand outside the wage relation. Despite this its existence is largely a function of the economic system. As the economic system goes through cycles so too does the size of the lumpenproletariat.

Under capitalism the housing problem can no more be shut down than can wars, famine and pollution. The only real solution is by the working class forcibly taking over the building industry, vacant premises and land to solve the housing problem. This popular seizure of assets requires the creation of factory, office and street committees along with workers’ militias under a federation of workers councils. This system must be informed by participatory democracy. This transfer of wealth is only achievable through revolution. In a sense Apollo House is a demonstration as to the feasibility of the seizure of power by workers. The seizure, occupation and management of Apollo House was largely undertaken by workers. The state played no part in the Apollo House project.

 Workers can only successfully take control of and manage society through participatory democracy. They don't need the state. They, without any state, can solve social problems. They can end housing, health and the other problems by the forcible seizure of power involving self-organisation.

The housing and street people problem cannot be solved by the implementation of a programme based on the assumption that a solution is possible under capitalist conditions. This strategy is tantamount to effectively supporting  capitalism and thereby the disguised perpetuation of the housing and street people problem. Different elements within the spectrum of the  liberal Left advance different programmes. They compete with each other as to which element possesses the most rational programme. They don't see that the problem is not an issue of rationality. It is not a superstructural problem. It is an infrastructural problem as to the character of the foundations of society.  They cannot see that it is, at core, an issue as to the kind of society necessary to produce a sustainable solution to the housing problem. The housing and street people problem, as an ethical question, is only solvable through the politics of class action: social revolution. Social revolution is ethical.

Friday, December 30, 2016

The Negative Aspects To State Spending

State spending in Ireland supports many small firms. These are firms that are so inefficient that they would face extinction in the absence of enormous state spending. Many, if not most, of these firms are low waged and non-unionised. Their conditions of work tend to be bad too. 

This means that much of the surplus value generated by more efficient firms is transferred, through the imposition of taxation, from these firms to these less competitive ones. The outcome is less capital available by the more profitable firms for capital growth. This hinders the growth and concentration of industrial capital. It correspondingly constrains the growth and concentration of the industrial working class.

Not unconnected with this, state spending artificially maintains many of the villages, and even towns, in rural Ireland. In the absence of state spending many of theses villages and small towns would cease to exist. 

In short state spending hinders class polarisation in the Irish republic. This hinders capital growth and concentration and the corresponding growth and concentration of the working class. This, in turn, hinders the politicisation of the working class.

The Irish state promotes backward capital and thereby artificially sustains a backward (petty) bourgeois class to the detriment of the working class and the class struggle. Consequently increased state spending cannot serve the class interests of the working class. Ironically much of the Irish Left promote spending by the capitalist state as the way forward.

Take Car

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Anti-Water Charges Campaign

The AAA-PBP alliance argues that Irish water should be funded from progressive taxation with the emphasis on those earning over €100,000. Clearly  the latter sum is not, by today's standards, an enormous sum. This effectively means that the middle and working class are to fund the national water system. 

Progressive taxation is a bourgeois tax that is enforced to sustain the capitalist state. It is not a tax that exclusively hits capitalists. Progressive taxation is a cross-class tax. Consequently there is nothing radical when AAA-PBP promote this fiscal form as part of a solution to water funding. However it has the appearance of radicalism.  It is a policy designed to deceive the working class.

The AAA-PBP alliance, in effect, claim that the Irish (capitalist) state is the benefactor of the working class (if in the right hands). The inference, then, is that water maintenance serves the interests of workers when only under (capitalist) state control. But the alliance fails to point out that the state is capitalist. Consequently that state will privatise or statify water assets should it ultimately serve the interests of capitalism. Therefore the alliance's call for the continued statification of water is unjustifiable from a proletarian perspective.

Neither direct water charges nor progressive taxation are solutions to the problem of water. Both are bourgeois fiscal forms. Both hit the working class in different ways. But substantively they have the same character. Progressive taxation is a more deceptive fiscal form.

The only solution is direct ownership, control and regulation of water resources by the working class. This means the establishment of directly democratic workers councils --communism. 

The AAA-PBP  position actively seeks to contain the struggle over water within the parameters of capitalism thereby preventing the working class from becoming class conscious and taking political power into its own hands.

The Right2Water campaign, as it stands, is a cross- class alliance that serves the interests of capitalism at the expense of the working class. This is explains why there is a substantial number of deputies supporting the abolition of water charges.

The alliance argues that the justification for the abolition of water charges is the "democratic mandate" within  the Dáil (parliament) to abolish these charges. But Dáil mandates have existed since the establishment of the Irish state. These mandates have been, largely speaking, anti-working class, ones that much of the Irish Left would have refused to support. The Thatcher and Blair governments, in Britain, had parliamentary mandates. Yet much of the Left opposed these mandates. There is no obligation, morally or politically, for the working class to support "democratic" mandates. This is because bourgeois democratic mandates are not necessarily morally or politically justifiable.

The argument that the Irish  state can take surplus value from the capitalist class to solve the problems of the working class is both illogical and impossible. Surplus value deductions, by squeezing profits, undermine the capitalist econonic system. It is a programme that falsely suggests that capitalism is not obsolescent and can serve the class interests of workers. Because of its inherently class nature the state is objectively unable to serve proletarian interests.

The lack of radicalism of the Right2Water movement has now been concretely demonstrated by the political activity of the two major bourgeois political parties along with its (Indpts) satellites. By their suspension of water charges they have resolutely undermined the Right2Water campaign. With a stroke of the pen the FG/FF alliance has destroyed that movement. The latter now can no longer mobilise much of the the populace in the way that it did.  This was possible because the raison d'etre for the campaign was based  simply on the specific form of taxation, a bourgeois issue, rather than the issue of power and its nature. 

It is ironical to hear a deputy from PBP say on the RTE news that the intervention by FF/FG on the water issue constitutes a breakthrough. This is to suggest that these two political parties bear a progressive character.  The deputy's comment is a further indication of the purely bourgeois character of the anti-water charges campaign. The latter  was one enormous illusion presented as radical by the leadership of the Right2Water movement. The AAA-PBP alliance is exploiting poverty, pauperization and the exploitation of labour power to advance its power base within the decadent dynamics of capitalism. This can only obstruct any opportunities that exist for workers to emancipate themselves from the shackles of capitalism.

The water problem, the health problem and homelessness can only be solved by workers setting up a system of factory/ office committees and workers' councils. Under such directly democratic workers' forms the Irish state can be both confronted and destroyed. This is the path to the establishment of authentic com unitarianism. 

The promotion of statism by the AAA-PBP alliance is a bourgeois strategy that is hostile to proletarian interests. It is ironically a programme that the SWP and the Socialist Party were formally opposed to, in its extreme form, with respect to the extinct Soviet Union. They have now taken a 360 degree rotation -- a revolution. But not the revolution that communists advocate.

Superstitious belief in the Irish legislature and the state, itself, is generally reactionary. What may serve as a tactic has been converted into a strategy by the #AAA-PBP alliance. Bourgeois democracy is an obsolescent institutional form. It is not the way towards emancipation.

There is no royal road to class emancipation. Anti-property tax and water charges campaigns  are cross-class alliances that cannot challenge capitalism. They bear a superficial character that is incapable of challenging the existing  social system. 

It is the contradictory nature of the process of production that is at the heart of the problem. The fiscal sphere is not. It is merely concerned with how surplus value, already generated by production through exploitation, is to be distributed. Changes as to how this distribution is undertaken are not of fundamental significance. This is because the production of surplus value has already been realised. Exploitation has already been effected. 

The only way to deal with the issue of the  water system is to seize it. This means working class ownership, control and regulation of the water system. Under these conditions taxes can never be an issue. This is because they would not exist. 

The task of the working class cannot be concerned with reforming the fiscal system. Its task is the elimination of all taxation. Taxation is a capitalist  form. It  is not a form by which the class needs of the working class are met. Progressive taxation, in particular, is a bourgeois form. It is not a form by which the class needs of the working class are realised. Consequently the call by the AAA-PBP alliance for funding of water through progressive taxation is not a solution to the problem. 

Neither is borrowing by the state a solution to the water problem. This is because borrowing is undertaken at the expense of the working class. 

A social revolution is necessary if the problems of the working class are to be solved. This entails the seizure of power by the workers through the establishment of a federation of workers' councils that replaces the state. A community without a state.

Take Care
Paddy Hackett

Friday, March 4, 2016

People Before Profit Alliance

The People Before Profit Alliance seeks the total abolition of water charges. To fund the provision of clean and safe water it supports the cost of this service being imposed on the capitalist class and sections of the middle class. The logic behind the position  means that the total cost of all state spending should be, largely speaking, imposed on the capitalist class and sections of the middle class too.

Under these conditions the capitalist class would be left with no alternative but to withdraw its assets from the Irish economy. This would lead to the effective disappearance of the Irish economy. Consequently the income of the working class would collapse while unemployment would become widespread. Apocalyptic conditions would prevail.

Neither can the leadership of the right2water campaign  support any abolition of water charges made by a future capitalist government. This is because it's abolition will result in the charge being largely imposed in a veiled form on the working and lower middle class (under general taxation or whatever). Should such support be forthcoming from the right2water leadership it will  clearly expose its reactionary character. The abolition, suspension or modification of the water charges by a bourgeois government cannot be justifiably claimed to  be a victory for the leadership of the Right2Water campaign.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Irish General Election 2016

The General Election Results

The Irish General Election results are showing that there has been no radical change in Irish politics. The general election results are evidence  of the political and ideological stagnation within the working class. The evidence produced by the elections shows that the Irish working class is politically and ideologically stagnant.
Despite its disastrous record leading up to and including the world 2008 financial crisis Fianna Fáil has electorally won back  much of the working class and lower middle class.  The increase in support for Sinn Fein is merely support for another bourgeois party by the working class and other social strata. It is ironical that the Socialist Party has been describing the Sinn Fein party as an “anti-establishment” party. There is nothing “anti-establishment” about Sinn Fein. Indeed it has been going out of its way to demonstrate how pro-establishment it is. Increased support for the mix bag of Independents is largely support for other bourgeois political elements.

 The modest support for the Left is of no real significance. Indeed much of this Left has been becoming increasingly more moderate. Much of their political interventions are little or no different from that of much of the Labour Party of  yore. As it sniffs the power it will move further to the right. This Left is largely opportunist and will cut its cloth to increase its popularity.

Given this, overall, there has been no significant shift to the Left. The politics and ideology of the Irish working class is as it was in the days before the 2008 financial crisis. Essentially taking place is a reconfiguration or recalibration  of bourgeois politics in Ireland to meet the present class needs of the bourgeoisie. The effect of this  is to block off the working class from becoming more politicised thereby posing an increasing challenge to the existing system.

Any modest gains made by the Left, given its opportunism, will further encourage it to focus on electoralism to the detriment of more radical activism. Emerging from the new political situation will be a tendency by this Left to fetishise electoralism. There is now a strong possibility of the Left joining together to form a new party. Such a new party may even unite with relatively  “radical” elements within the existing Labour Party.  Such a party will descend into a crass opportunism  in the style of the present Labour  party. This will bring us back to where we started.

Ultimately the source of the problem is the existing character of the working class movement. It is a stubbornly politically stagnant working class. It is a class scurrying about since the 2008 world financial crisis seeking out diverse political elements that it mistakenly thinks will prevent it from loosing “ its benefits” of one sort or another. Consequently it will go to bed with any political element that, it believes, can protect its  “welfare”  –even with former terrorists. It lacks a class morality. It fails to understand that under capitalism the coalition government was compelled to cut back on the living standards of the working class and the lower middle class. The only other solution is a communist revolution. Despite their claims neither Sinn Fein nor the Left can solve the problems of the working class from within capitalism.

 The southern Irish working class has not shifted in a leftward direction. Instead it is still essentially politically and ideologically stagnant. It was the world financial crisis that generated the shake up in Irish politics –not the working class nor parties such as Sinn Fein, the Socialist Party nor the SWP. Indeed it was the crisis that rendered them more popular. This is the power of capitalism. Needed, more than ever, is a principled communist movement.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Did Steve Keen Get It Right?

Review of Steve Keen

Steve Keen, the author of Debunking Economics, argues that  economic crises are caused by excessive private debt. He claims that the financial sector plays a key role in creating this debt. The banks, he argues, are not simple intermediaries between lender and borrow. When they lend they increase debt and thereby credit and money. He claims that austerity imposed by the state is not the solution. For him the latter intensifies the problem. For Keen when private debt is contracting cutting back on public debt through austerity simply magnifies the problem. On this basis, if anything, the state needs to expand its intervention under such conditions. Keen fails to understand that the problem is due to lack of total profitability or surplus value. It is then a problem located in the process that generates surplus value (profit). The problem is not created in the circulation process. Consequently the problem is not due to the diminution of private borrowing. The latter is merely a symptom of the problem. Hence Increased state borrowing cannot solve the problem. Indeed increased state borrowing merely sustains weak private capitalists in business. This prevents the crisis from forcing out weak capital as a means towards restoring profitability. Keen never informs us as to what, itself, is the cause of debt. This is because capital is the source of debt and thereby its regulator –the law of value.  The financial system, including the banks, is thereby the product of value relations. Keen fails to view social categories historically.

Keen, instead, falsely bases the existence of the crisis free stage of the economic cycle on subjective factors: psychology and memory. He makes the false assumption that memory of the previous debt ridden crisis makes investors and others risk adverse. This is hardly a justifiable assumption as a basis for offering an understanding of the economic cycle. It makes the false assumption that subjective factors standing outside the economic cycle are the cause that leads to crises. It also, in a sense, implies that the fading of memory explains the shift away from being risk adverse leading to the burgeoning of debt. Consequently the cycle of remembering and forgetting is the basis for the debt and economic cycles. Now psychology is the ultimate basis for economic behaviour. This is no better a basis than the utilitarianism, that Keen criticises, as the basis of neo-classical economics. Keen is forced to promote a fictitious account of the existence of economic recovery because of his repudiation of the process of capitalist production as the core location of crises. Because he has rejected a materialist account of the capitalist economy based in the production process he must resort to idealistic assumptions. But these are no more than mere myths.

The problem with Keen is that he views the problem in reverse. By privileging debt as opposed to production he reverses the problem thereby taking surface appearances as the source of the problem. For him result is cause. But the  problem is not excessive debt but the opposite: over-investment of capital  with respect to the degree of exploitation obtaining. It is this that is responsible for excessive debt. Capital is over-produced in relation to profitability.

 In contrast for  Keen over-accumulation of capital is driven and facilitated by excessive accumulation of debt. Credit not production is cause. He fails to understand the opposite to be the case. The over-accumulation of debt is a product of the over-accumulation of capital.  Because there is an ultimate limit to the overproduction of capital there is a limit to the scale of possible debt. As capital accelerates to such a degree that it turns into over-accumulation credit consequently contracts. It is over-accumulation that causes both excessive debt and the consequent credit contraction. Under these circumstances the ratio of debt to GDP spirals out of control. But this ratio is merely an index that over-production of capital has occurred.

The contraction of credit manifests itself on financial markets through the emergence of wild speculation. Eventually there is a credit crunch. Credit thereby becomes less available to make investments and to meet debt obligations. This is a chain like reaction.

The state steps in to compensate for private credit contraction through what is known today as quantitative easing. This prevents the contraction from sufficiently deepening to make a robust recovery a reality. Consequently the conditions for a real  recovery never assert themselves. This then leads to  further problems. To realise real recovery the crisis needs to deepen sufficiently to restore profitability. This is because the general rate of profit is the source of the problem –not debt. This means that many weaker capitalists are eliminated. It also entails the pauperisation of much of the working class. It is the restoration of profitability through the destruction and devaluation of capital that creates the conditions for recovery. But under certain very adverse conditions war may be a necessary condition too. This was the case in the period leading up to the Second World War. And the Great Depression, then, was obviously not caused by excessive debt accumulation.  Under these conditions the fall in the general rate of profit is arrested and restored to a higher rate.

However this does not provide  a permanent solution to the capitalist economic crisis. The contradictions ultimately reassert themselves. Ultimately the only solution is the elimination of the existence of social relations in the form of value relations. This is achieved through the realisation of communism by social revolution.

Keen maintains that the problem is caused by the excessively high ratio of debt to GDP. Debt here is a multiple of the GDP. This, he claims, becomes increasingly unsustainable eventually leading to a steep fall in asset prices. Under these circumstances Ponzi finance is the first to collapse. This initiates a domino effect that runs right through the financial system. For Keen modern capitalism is powered by debt. The debt cycle drives the economic cycle.

The possibility of the existence of credit relations originates in money’s function as means of payment. The possibility of credit is a product of the inner nature of the capitalist mode of production itself.  The limits of the valorisation of capital determines the limits of credit and debt. Not the reverse as Keen holds. The more profitable capital is, the more credit becomes available. The quantity of capital and the scale of its valorisation dictate the degree to which  credit and debt can expand. Capital constrains credit expansion. Otherwise it's expansion would proceed ad infinitum. Then growth would prove an endless process. But the more disproportionate the volume of credit in relation to industrial capital the greater the intensity of the contradictions that manifest themselves. The rate of credit expansion is forced to contract. Credit turns into its opposite. This contraction entails a fall in demand and a corresponding contraction of the economy. Excessive accumulated debt is the appearance of the crisis not its cause.

The  underlying cause is the inadequate valorisation of capital. It's inadequate expansion. Credit expansion and debt is capital’s attempt to overcome its immanent limits or barriers. Because it cannot overcome its limits a crisis is generated. The crisis is the solution to the problem. But it is merely a provisional solution. Revolution is the authentic solution.

The state engages in an austerity programme of cuts in state spending. This adds to the painful nature of the crisis. It entails further hardships both for elements within the capitalist class, itself, and the working class. The state fears the deepening of the crisis for political reasons. Consequently instead of the crisis deepening itself to the degree necessary for a full recovery the state steps in to try to moderate the crisis. But this intervention fails to solve the problems of capitalism. It merely distorts the form by which the laws of capitalism manifest themselves.

The reproduction process of capital consists of the production process and the circulation process. It is a contradictory unity. The circulation process involves circulation time. It is a necessary form of the expanded reproduction of capital. In contrast to the production process it cannot produce value. It forms a barrier to the production process. Circulation is a contradiction. It both facilitates and hinders the valorisation process. Circulation time is always a barrier to the creation and realisation of value. Consequently the necessary tendency of capital is not only to shorten circulation time but  to reduce it to nothing wherever possible i.e. to  bring about circulation without circulation time.
Capital endeavours to overcome this barrier through credit. Valorised capital finds its realisation in capital’s circulation process.

Credit emerges from the reproduction process to overcome this barrier. In other words the capitalist  secures credit to facilitate the fluent continuity of the circulation of capital. The banks are an institutional form by which this is achieved. However money capital cannot directly valorise itself. It is only capital (self expanding value) in the form of the process of production that achieves this. It is therefore imperative that money capital  functions within the circulation of capital as soon as and as little as possible. In this way the scale of valorisation is maximised. But there is no guarantee that this is always achieved. This is because of the separation of sale and purchase –the source of the possibility of crises.

Capital can only create surplus value within the production process. Each phase of production must be followed by a phase of circulation which continually  interrupts the continuity of production. Thus the conditions of production arising out of the nature of  capital contradict each other. The contradiction is superseded and overcome in only two ways: by the division of capital and through credit.

Circulation time is a barrier to the creation and realisation of value. Consequently the necessary tendency of capital is not only to shorten circulation time but to reduce it  to nothing wherever possible i.e. to bring about circulation without circulation time.

 In this context the function of money is bound up with unproductive expenditure. Insofar as money is value it is a cost of circulation to capitalist production. Money in the form of capital, money capital, cannot produce value. Hence capital strives to economise on money positing it as a merely formal moment.

The entire credit system together with the over-trading and over-speculation connected with it rests on the necessity of valorisation expanding and leaping over the barrier of circulation and the sphere of exchange. Credit is an inherent form of the capitalist mode of production. However it cannot create surplus value. It is confined to the non-valorising circulation process.  Credit helps to keep the acts of buying and selling further apart in time and thereby forms the basis for speculation. It  arises out of the difficulty of employing capital profitably. Credit and debt exists within the framework of the drive for valorisation. Overproduction and the credit system are means by which capital  seeks to break through its own barriers and to produce over and above its own limits.

As capital expands it causes credit and debt to grow. In the absence of such credit  the economy would not grow. Its rate of expansion cannot be  subjectively regulated. This is why the state’s relentless attempts to manage money never eliminate crisis, stagnation and even war. The drive to valorise capital cannot exist in the absence of credit and thereby debt. This is why valorisation historically creates credit and debt.

Credit is derived from the existence of money in the form of  means of payment. But the production process creates money and money capital. The circulation time is shortened by credit thereby rendering the valorisation of capital increasingly  independent of the circulation process. The greater this independence the greater the disconnection between the production process and the real market. The real market becomes increasingly independent from the  valorisation needs of the production process itself. It is this independence that provides the condition for the emergence of Ponzi finance. Consequently there are increasingly less constraints on the degree to which production grows. Production becomes increasingly production for production’s sake. But this state of affairs cannot be indefinitely sustained. Capital cannot transcend its immanent limits.

 Credit becomes increasingly speculative acquiring a Ponzi character. As  Keen puts it the ratio of debt to GDP spirals out of control. This is just another way of saying that capital fails to valorise on a scale sufficient to justify the volume and rate of debt  expansion. In other words the production of surplus value fails to grow at a volume or rate commensurate with the volume of debt. This means that the base (let us say the GDP) on which this massive volume of debt rests is too small to sustain it. Eventually this debt becomes increasingly chimerical and thereby, in a sense,  increasingly meaningless. This is because it is ultimately disconnected from its source –the production process.  The credit system collapses and production consequently contracts. Investment slows down even coming to a virtual halt. Keen by suggesting that austerity intensifies the problem does not understand the unproductive nature of much of state spending.  As unproductive it is a form of expenditure that contributes nothing to the creation of surplus value and thereby growth. In fact it largely constitutes a deduction from total profit.

For Keen it is not a  question of diminishing profitability being the central problem.  It is debt becoming increasingly excessive and assuming a Ponzi character. Ponzi finance becomes unsustainable because of falling asset prices. But it is not falling asset prices that is the cause of the problem. It is the growing difficulties with valorisation. In this way Keen fetishises debt positing its cycle as the driver of valorisation.

Crisis is the forcible establishment of unity between elements that have become independent. Although it appears in the process of circulation the crisis is an interruption in the process of reproduction as a whole.

Keen essentially shares the same conception as neo-classical economics, Austrian economics and the various forms of Keynesian economics. None of them see the contradiction in the capitalist mode of production as the source of the problem. Instead they see the product of capitalism, credit and debt etc, as the cause of capitalism. They see circulation as the problem. This is why they believe that it can be  seriously modified or changed by the state in one way or another such as budget deficits, quantitative easing etc. But ultimately the laws of capitalism cannot be managed. Ultimately they must manifest themselves even if in a distorted way. Capitalism, not debt, is the problem. It must be abolished and replaced by communism.

Friday, February 5, 2016


Bentham confined his discussion to the current society under which he lived. He never advanced the need for the replacement that system with communism. He did not base his ethics on the need for revolution. Revolution involves the existence of actors in the form of collective forces (classes). They are not grounded in players in the form of individuals. His ethics was reductionist and not holistic. A worker or a capitalist implies class. It is class that determines the nature of the individual. These are social not individual forms. Consequently to privilege the individual is to abstract from class. It is a Robinsonian view. It is social forms that determine the role of the individual --not the reverse. The transformation of social forms changes the character of the individual --not the reverse. The specific social relations of production are the drivers --not the individual. Benthamism, on the other hand, offers the individual as the driver which is why society is presented as constituted from the sum of individuals.

Should workers realise communism through social revolution they realise this project not as individuals but as workers --in the form of the working class --a social form. Nor is class consciousness the sum of the individual consciousnesses of workers. The latter is a contradiction. Class consciousness is exclusively a form of social (public) consciousness. The basic historical forms are class forms and social relations. Individuals cannot exist outside the social relations that connect them together. Individuals cannot exist independently of social relations or social forms. Bentham believed that individuals exist independently of social forms.

Under capitalism social relations of production are reified. It is this reification that imposes inherent limits on the working class. In other words the relations between producers, in the form of workers, assumes the form of relations between things. It is this reification that must be abolished if workers are to be emancipated.

Under reification it is not possible for workers to achieve "the greatest happiness of the greatest number." The latter is an ethical illusion presented by the ideology of utilitarianism. The latter misrepresents the character of capitalism. It suggests that capitalism is a natural, thereby eternal, system. Much of the radical Left misleadingly prescribe the greatest happiness principle under capitalism. They fail to acknowledge the limits of capitalism. This the ethical basis for its claim that the interest of the working class is achievable under capitalism.

Much of the radical Left is imprisoned by the Enlightenment tradition. In other words it has not transcended the limits of the Great French Revolution. This is partly because the programme of The Great French Revolution has not been realised by the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie were so threatened by the modern working class that it feared it's own Enlightenment programme.

Much of the radical left seeks to complete the programme of the Enlightenment programme. It fails to comprehend that this programme is no longer realisable under capitalism. It is now an unrealisable Utopian programme -- an idealistic programme. Only under communism can the needs of the working class be met.

Utilitarianism, because of its individualist reductionism, precludes the necessity for social revolution. It is inherently anti-revolution. Since its slogan of "the greatest happiness of the greatest number" is based on the individual utilitarianism precludes the role of social forms. Without social forms (as opposed to the individual) as driver revolution is impossible. Social revolution necessarily implies social forms as actors.

Clearly utilitarianism is an ideology that distorts the character of society thereby misrepresenting the way forward. It is a consequentialist ethics that denies the working class its historic role.

Utilitarianism And The Radical Left

In general the Left in Ireland is utilitarian in their moral and political philosophy. It is forever making demands for this and that. Generally its demands are not concerned with the need for the emancipation of the working class together with the need to eliminate alienation. This is because it does not seek the elimination of capitalism. Instead it seeks the Utilitarian increase in pleasure and reduction in pain. The greater happiness principle of Jeremy Bentham. The latter believed that “the greater happiness of the greatest number” was achievable within capitalism. This is essentially the position of much of the radical Left. This Left is not even reformist. Reformists claim that it is possible to incrementally turn capitalism into socialism by means of reforms. This Left’s call for socialism is at most aspirational. It does not dialectically tie it in with its Utilitarian Action Programmes. It's political philosophy is a vulgar version of Utilitarianism. It is not even aware of the Utilitarian moral assumptions underlying its political outlook.

Utilitarianism is a reductionist moral philosophy. For it the unit of society is the individual. Consequently it ignores class division and advocates cross class policies as does much of the Irish Left. It's active leadership of the anti-property tax and anti-water rates campaigns are an example of this. It's support for electoralism is another. The latter means the support of the atomisation of the working class though elections under representative democracy. 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Sinn Fein Is A Failure Appearing As A Success.

The current Sinn Fein leadership has failed in its principal long standing aim of achieving a 32 county Irish republic. This is because achievement of national self-determination of the Irish people is impossible under capitalism. It supported the IRA's capitulation to the forces of British imperialism. Sinn Fein has returned to the position taken many years ago by what is today called the Workers Party. It has also effectively accepted the same deal, the Good Friday Agreement, as was accepted by the SDLP many years ago in the form of the Sunningdale Agreement.

Following this surrender its popular and electoral strength has ironically grown enormously over the years. Accordingly the electoral success of Sinn Fein, North and South of the border, has been on the basis of defeat, failure and surrender. In a sense failure appears as success to much of the Irish working class.

Ironically the Irish citizenry are apparently fooled by this political charade. It rewards failure and surrender at the ballot box. Logically, if anything, Sinn Fein should have suffered wipe-out at the ballot box. Ironically the SDLP was the successful party in the North since it was essentially its programme that SF submitted to with its acceptance of the Good Friday Agreement. Yet the SDLP suffered electoral slaughter at the hustings in the North.

The Irish citizenry suffers from a (schizoid) contradiction. There is an absence of logic in their political consciousness. Its morality is venal. Sinn Fein, within the context of the Irish republic, make many promises. Promises that they cannot support given that it supports capitalism as a social system. Its programme is unrealisable under capitalism. Given its abject and opportunist abandonment of the national struggle their is no guarantee that it will not blithely abandon its current programme too when its political circumstances change. Yet the public apear to learn nothing. The Official Republican camp did the same. By abandoning its original aim -- the achievement of a 32 Irish Republic- its popular support increased eventually giving it seats in the Dail. DeValera and his comrades did the same. This led to their growing popularity and electoral successs culminating in its forming the first Fianna Fail government. In Ireland failure and abandonment of politial principles spells success.

Clearly this is a serious problem that reflects the current character of the modern working class in Ireland. Its an indication of the venal nature of the Irish working class. It has no interest in principled politics. It is merely concerned with supporting elements within society that it believes will "protect", even appear to increase its economic benefits. It has the hallmarks of what Lenin and elements within the German radical Left in the first quarter of the 20th century termed "the labour aristocracy". The real poor in Irish society are a marginal group that is largely ignored. The Irish electorate within the state south of the border is merely concerned with maintaining its living standards even if that means voting for a party that supported bombings and killings for a cause that it later abandoned. Its principle is its pocket. The venal Irish working class is not concerned with eliminating the systemic exploitation of labour power once it has money in its pocket. It does not care as to the blood stained nature of any bourgeois party once it believes it will protect its holidays abroad. It is a working class infected by the acquisitiveness of capitalist morality. In the Marcusean sense it is a bourgeois working class.

A radically fundamental change ( a paradigm shift) in the culture of the working class is necessary if it is to become a revolutionary force. As a revolutionary force it must adhere to principled libetarian politics. Effecting such a coomprehensive transformation is a long and arduous process. It will not necessarily occur in the short term and it has to be realised by the class itself. There cannot be any substitutionism.

The anti-water charges campaign has little or nothing to do with class politics. This populist campaign has not become a force because the working class is moving to the Left. It is simply an opportunist campaign that simply wants a return to the status quo ante. It is a venal response to growing hardship caused by the austerity measures imposed by the state. It is not anti-statist nor anti-capitalist campaign. The diverse elements that constitute it merely want a return to previous living standards. They are not engaged in challenging the class nature of Irish society and the need for its replacement with communism.

Consequently parties such as the Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party are merely accommodating this opportunism by their involvement in the anti-water charges campaign. Indeed the Irish working class have shown its first signs of vitality over the water charges issue. Yet this mass mobilisation is being mounted at a time when the Irish capitalist class have recovered from the shock and collapse in confidence suffered by it in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2007/8. This earlier period would have been a politically more correct period for mass mobilisation. But again the reactionary Irish working class get it wrong. Questions need to be raised concerning the nature of the Irish working class. Romanticising the working class as undertaken by the radical left merely holds back any chances of authentic political development. It is almost a taboo among this Left to make any serious criticisms of this working class. Left communists are not obliged to pander to a working class that has been backward for so long.

In order to stand a chance of assisting in the revolutionising of the consciousness of the working class it is necessary that communists struggle to raise the consciousness of the most class conscious elements within the working class. Its aim is the raising of class consciousness as opposed to appealing to the less politically conscious strata within the working class by coming down to its level through the medium of the anti-water charges campaign.

The Yes Vote Is Not A Victory For The Workers

The outcome of the same sex referendum in the Irish Republic shows a clear majority in favour of it.

Many people see this outcome as a manifestation of progress. However this is far from the case. The popular vote in favour of same sex marriage merely means that the electorate support the widening of the institution of marriage in Ireland. But the issue is that marriage is an oppressive institution that sustains the nuclear family. Marriage today is predominantly an institution of the state and the Christian churches.In the course of human history the family has assumed different forms. The present prevailing family form in the West is a bourgeois form that plays a key role in inculcating bourgeois morality and ideology into the working class.

Much of the radical Left and the gay rights movement by calling for a yes vote were promoting nothing but the fortification of the bourgeois marriage institution at a time when the working class have been increasingly shifting away from it. Instead of calling for a yes vote the call for the abolition of marriage should have been the demand. The very ironical fact that many of those that promoted and voted a yes vote are members of the Catholic Church illustrates the bourgeois nature of the yes campaign. Furthermore the fact that the major parliamentary parties actively supported a yes vote is more evidence of the bourgeois basis of the campaign.

Syriza Cannot Solve The Problems Of The Greek Working Class

The referendum is a decision made by the Syriza government because it has run out of road. Syriza lacking strategic vision is entrapped in a political cul de sac. Its politics have reached their limits. After approximately five months of negotiating with the EU leadership the abject result is capitulation to austerity. The recent draft deal would have meant the acceptance of even more austerity. Accepting such a deal would have split Syriza and alienated much of its popular support. Rather than face this it fell back on the referendum tactic. But this forthcoming referendum can only add to the confusion and further demoralisation of the Greek working class. This is because the referendum is ambiguous. It is not clear as to what it is about. It is not clear as to whether it concerns a vote for or against the Euro and even EU membership. The brevity of the campaign and the surrounding financial conditions entailing bank holidays, capital controls and cash withdrawal restrictions may not help debate. The referendum, as it stands, is a manifestation of the political bankruptcy of Syriza.

Should the public vote yes in this forthcoming referendum it will mean the transfer of political power back to the previous conservative Greek forces. In that way Syriza will have, in effect, surrendered power to these conservative forces thereby missing a golden opportunity to actively participate in the radicalisation of the Greek and European masses towards the seizure of popular power and the establishment of communism. But Syriza's very nature prevented it from such an achievement. Its function is the disarming of the Greek working class.

The Greek crisis is an acute and concrete manifestation of the limits of capitalism. The Greek crisis can only be resolved on a European and global basis through the popular democratic establishment of communist society. It is not a choice between being in or outside of the Euro. Both choices are capitalist I character entailing austerity. Anti-austerity is only realizable through a popular based social revolution that transcends the limits and contradictions of capitalism.

The various programmes advanced by much of the radical left are lodged within the limits of capitalism. But it is these very limits that the Greek financial crisis is manifesting. Leftists proposing the limits of capitalism to solve those very limits is a contradiction.

The principal problem, then, is not the bourgeoisie. The principal problem is the failure of the working class to recognise through its experience the Greek situation as a manifestion of the limits of capitalism. This is not, as such, an objective problem but a subjective one. It is a problem of the consciousness of the Greek and European working class --class consciousness. Capitalism in the form of the Greek crisis is telling the working class that it, capitalism, has limits and thereby cannot satisfy the needs of the workers. Yet the working class resist this thereby persisting in the maintenance of the deluded image of a capitalism that can overcome its own limits.

No Anti-Austerity Campaign Can Be Successful Under Capitalism

The Greek working class have no option but the promotion of European communist insurrection to abolish the EU and the capitalism that it supports. The Greek working class cannot achieve communist on a national basis. A revolution confined to Greece would be strangled at the hands of European and US capitalism. Greek society is too weak to successfully transform itself on a nationalist basis. Communism in one country is an impossibility.

Staying in or out of the Euro is not an option for the Greek working class since both options will involve austerity for it. Only communism precludes austerity. Syriza's anti-austerity platform is based on the false view that an austerity free membership of the capitalist Eurozone is possible for the Greek working class. Events are verifying the pro-austerity nature of Syriza. Even if Syriza was to take the working class out of the Euro austerity will still face it.

Consequently the entire debate as to whether Greece should stay within the Euro or not is a bourgeois debate of no real relevance to the working class. It is an option presenting itself within the limits of capital. Indeed present conditions concerning Greece are acutely manifesting capital's limits and the need to transcend them in the form of communism. Much of the Left, such as the Irish Socialist Party, show solidarity with Syriza in its pseudo anti-austerity campaign. In this way it is promoting capitalism and deceiving workers. Of course in Ireland the active politics of the Socialist Party suggest that anti-austerity is possible under Irish capitalism.

State Budgets Never Serve The Class Interests Of Workers

The annual budget statement is a bourgeois matter. It is the obligation of communists to highlight the latter rather than getting exclusively immersed in its details. No matter how popularly appealing a budget appears it can never serve the class interests of workers. Sections of the Left relate to state budgets as if they are pliable and can consequently meet workers' needs. In this way they seek to delude the working class and thereby promote capitalism. The state budget cannot, by its very nature, transcend the limits of capitalism. No government can transcend these limits through the medium of the budget.

It is not a subjective matter. It is an objective matter determined by the laws of capital. Conservative bourgeois governments do not introduce annual budgets that fail to meet the needs of the working class because of their immoral nature. Capitalist constraints prevent this just as the law of gravity and the second law of thermodynamics impose objective constraints on the physical world. The nature of budgets is not a moral question.

Consequently arguments made by the radical Left as to how adverse the substance of a particular budget is amounts to no more than mere political rhetoric designed to obstruct the development of class consciousness. Such delusional rhetoric is designed to suggest that capitalism is a progressively rational system capable of serving working class needs. It falsely suggests too that bourgeois governments fail to meet the needs of workers for morally subjective reasons. This assumes that such governments consist of "bad people".

In the light of the foregoing it is clear that it is not the obligation of communists to evaluate budget details in themselves. To do so is to base a budget on the false assumption that it can serve the interests of workers. At most the content of a budget must be discussed as evidence of the inherent inability of budgets to meet the needs of workers.

Having said this I am not claiming that all budgets, although bourgeois, are of equal value. Some budgets may more adequately serve the class interests of capitalists than others. Analogously some bourgeois governments are better than others at representing the interests of capitalism. Bourgeois governments can vary in competence.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Election Candidates and Sinn Fein

Capitalism cannot solve the problems of the working class.This why a social revolution is historically necessary.The working class must achieve communist revolution.No amount of tinkering with the system can convert it into a system that satisfies the class interests of the working class. Reformism can never serve the class interests of the working class.Consequently the realisation of radical demands to the benefit the working class is impossible under capitalism. The claim that a programme of such demands is realisable under capitalism is a utopian claim. It constitutes an idealisation of capitalism and thereby its defence. It,therefore, promotes the sowing or reinforcing of illusions in capitalism. If such a programme is realisable then the struggle for communism is unnecessary.

The reason the recent austerity offensive against the working class has been mounted in Ireland and elsewhere by the capitalist class is because capitalism cannot meet the class needs of the modern worker. The recent global recession was an objective, not a subjective, event.

This means that it was not caused by capitalist greed, a nasty government or any other such subjective factor. It was due to the objective characteristics of the capitalist economic system that it broke out. This being so it follows that capitalism as an inherently obsolescent system must be replaced by a new objective system --communism. It is only by this dramatic revolutionary transformation of objectivity that the needs of the masses can be met. The only way that the inevitable problems manifested by the recession can be solved within capitalism (provisionally) is by an attack on the working class through strategies involving austerity. Radical demands advanced by the radical left, if realisable, would only deepen recessionary conditions thereby rendering working
class conditions even more severe. In that sense these radical demands, instead of benefiting the working class,would tend to worsen for the latter. This is because, as I have been arguing, capitalism cannot solve the problems of the working class.

Whats more the solutions to the problems of the working class cannot be solved within a nationalist framework.The solution,social revolution,is only achievable on a global basis beginning in the most advanced capitalist countries such as the U.S. Given this there can be no social revolution on the island of Ireland independently of Western Europe.

Even if the working class achieved concessions prior to the
global recession, that broke out in 2007/8, they would have contributed to the emergence of the economic and financial upheaval itself. This, as I have been arguing,is because capitalism cannot solve the problems of the working class.

In view of this the rhetoric by  Sinn Fein, the Anti Austerity Alliance and the People Before Profit Alliance featuring on  RTE's Prime Time programme amounts to nothing but illusion. Their election candidates showed no understanding of the need for revolution. Their rhetoric suggested that capitalism can be managed or reformed to the benefit of the working class by effectively taxing the rich and not the working class. Indeed the entire show confined itself to suggestions as to how to reform capitalism in one way or another. In that way the participants sought to effectively defend the capitalist system. Essentially all contributors were essentially advocating bourgeois politics. If the Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers  Party are genuinely revolutionary they would have challenged RTE and its other contributors by advocating the need for revolution.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Vincent Browne and The People's Debate

I watched with interest the programme called The People's Debate on TV3 chaired by Vincent Browne on Wednesday night October 1st.

Not surprisingly each of the contributors, with one exception, based their comments on the assumption that all solutions to the problems of the Irish working class are solvable within the framework of capitalism.They do not see capitalism as the cause of the problems experienced by the Irish working class. They do not see that the only solution to the problems of the working class is social revolution involving the replacement of capitalist society with communist society.

Many, if not most, of the contributors, were advocating the reforming of capitalism in one way or another. They failed to make clear that the problem is not the way capitalism is structured but capitalism itself. It is an obsolescent system that cannot meet the needs of the working class.

People from the Anti-Austerity Alliance and People Before Profits featured prominently on the show in suggesting capitalist solutions to working class problems. They want to save capitalism from itself. Both these organisations are fronts for The Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party respectively.Yet as radical socialist, even Marxist, parties, they support capitaltism while pretending to be against it.

Parties such as the SP, SWP and Sinn Fein are essentially no different from each other nor from Fine Gael, the Labour Party and Fianna Fail. They are all bourgeois nationalist parties competing for power within the capitalist system. Reformism is still alive and well and embedded within the Irish working class movement.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Call For Nationalisation Is A Bourgeois Demand

State expenditure is largely unproductive expenditure. It thereby does not produce value. This means it constitutes a deduction as opposed to an increment in total surplus value. This involves a corresponding fall in the rate of accumulation of capital. The latter tends to ultimately manifest itself in the form of a fall off in industrial growth.

As valorisation becomes increasingly difficult capitalism is compelled to reduce state expenditure. To counteract this it engages in increasing privitisation of its assets --denationalisation. It becomes increasingly impossible, then, for the state to extend nationalisation. The government does not privatise its state assets because it enjoys hurting the working class. Because of the specific nature of the objective conditions it is forced to privatise.

Under these circumstances calls for nationalisation and increased state spending are utopian and idealistic.These calls fail to correspond with objective reality. These calls then amount to no more than the deception and misleadership of the working class. By reinforcing illusions in the working class concerning capitalism reformism obstructs the working class from moving towards a realistic programme of communist revolution.

Because of monopoly capitalism's growing limits it must seek to minimise the state. On the other hand with a few exceptions it needs to eliminate or cut welfarism and related spending. To achieve this it may even need to abolish the formal democracy obtaining in the West.

However savage cut-backs by the state can only lead to sharpened class struggle. Under these conditions the emergence of class consciousness may make itself felt among the working class leading to the birth of a communist movement. Under these circumstances reformism will grow less plausible and influential within the working class. In view of this it is reactionary for reformism to make calls for nationalisation and increased spending by the state.

Despite the 2008 financial crash there has been no visible shift by the working class to a class conscious political paradigm. The working class is still dominated by reformism in one form or another. Even the Greek working class, despite its militancy, is still imprisoned within reformist ideology. The working class of the world still supports the capitalist system in one form or another.

Privatisation programmes undertaken by capitalist states must be combatted by the working class fighting for the control and ownership of these state assets. This revolutionary seizure of state assets is only possible within the context of a sustained attack on the capitalist state itself. This entails a class struggle for the abolition of the state and the capitalist system. The seizure of state assets such as health care services is only possible within the framework of a revolutionary struggle to destroy the capitalist state. The proletarian seizure of health care will bear a popular democratic character. Health will no longer be based on profit nor on a political strategy designed to serve the class interests of capitalism.

Health care is simultaneously a necessary reproduction and repair of labour power.Much of nationalised health care forms part of the value of labour power. But much of it is unproductive too. This means it is a drain on surplus value. In that sense it directly contributes to the fall in the general rate of profit together with a corresponding decline in the economy.

Much of health care, whether private or public, serves to maintain the value of labour power by ensuring that the latter is preserved in a healthy condition. The health of the working class serves the interests of capital. This is because the health of the working class is of concern to the capitalist class with regard to the valorisation process. An unhealthy working class is not going to be as available for exploitation in the prodiction process.

Nationalisation was introduced as a strategy designed to help pacify the working class in the interests of capitalist stability. It was also designed to support the economy. But nationalisation has contributed to falling profitability which has interfered with the rate of capital accumulation. Because of this capitalism seeks to increasingly privatise health care especially in a period, such as this, when the profitability of capital is a growing problem.

Calls for the continuation and extension of health care nationalisation are bourgeois demands. Instead the call must be for the ownership and control of health care by the working class. This can only be achieved by the abolition of the state and its capitalist basis. Under these conditions the criterion of profitability no longer exists.

A part of the health service maintains the health of the active working class. Consequently it maintains and even increases the value of labour power which leads to a reduction in profit. Although the above is true it tends to be counteracted by health care maintaining and even improving the condition of labour power thereby maintaining and even increasing its capacity to provide labour within the production process. In that sense it cannot be simply regarded as unproductive activity. However the part of the health service that does not maintain and increase the present and future value of the working class is unproductive. This constitutes a direct deduction from surplus value and thereby contributes to the decline in economic growth. Clearly state health care, overall, tends to adversely affect the growth rate.

The nationalised section of health care is funded by the state effectively through taxation which is a revenue drawn from value. This is a deduction both from surplus value and the value accruing to the working class. It represents a transfer of value away from the consumption of the active working class and the accumulation of capital.

Education plays a similar role to health within capitalism. A part of it involves the training of labour power in the interests of the capitalist reproduction process. This heightens the value of labour power while improving the capacity of the worker to provide labour. The result is upskilling of labour power. Overall this aspect of education may more or less prove to neutral in ughrelation to capital accumulation. Research contributes to increasing the productivity of labour by promoting technological progress. However the residual part constitutes a deduction from surplus value without any change in the value of labour power. Much of this aspect of education is ideological. It is designed to maintain and even increase citizen support for the capitalist system through false consciousness. This feature of education obviously contributes to the contraction of growth.

The armed forces, the police and much of the state bureaucracy constitute significant deductions from surplus value. They constitute an unproductive expenditure. Thereby they lead to a fall in the rate of profit which further constrains the expansion of capital. This is why governments seek to reduce the cost of these state features.

State expenditure, as a whole, constitutes an enormous deduction from total surplus value. This largely unproductive spending involves an enormous contraction in the accumulation of capital. It is a deduction that has been growing significantly in the aftermath of the 2nd World War. In the present period of growing problems, regarding the accumulation of capital, there have been continuing feeble attempts to shrink the state or at least reduce the annual rate of state spending.

The contradiction is that burgeoning state spending was undertaken to compensate for the inherent limits of capital entailing mass unemployment and many other problems.Yet this spending paradoxically leads in turn to the reinforcement of these limits. Indeed much of the entire state constitutes a deduction from total surplus value because it constitutes unproductive expenditure. This is why there have been attempts, not very successfully, to shrink the size of the modern state. In this way capitalism is its own grave digger.

Capitalism, because of its growing limits, is decreasingly able to fund welfare and other expenditure. Capitalism is unable to meet the demands being made by left reformists such as the SP/SWP and other political organisations. Consequently reformism deceives and misleads the working class by suggesting that capitalism is manageable in such a way as to solve the problems of the working class.

If capitalism can solve the problems of the working class then it is superfluous and misleading for communists to call for social revolution.

Why Reform the Gardai in Ireland?

The whistle blower controversy concerning the Gardai is a non-issue concerning the class interests of the working class.

The gardai, as a security force, forms an essential arm of the Irish capitalist state. Consequently its function is to serve the class interests of the capitalist class --not the working class. Therefore calls for the improvement of this security force by "leftists" suggests that the Gardai in some way represents the class interests of the working class or is an apparatus of a state that stands independent of the capitalist class.

The Gardai can never serve the interests of the working class despite the degree to which it is reformed. Any reforms undertaken are, at most, made to deceive workers into believing that the Irish state exists to serve the interests of the wage worker.

The more a police force appears to serve the class interests of the working class the more successful it may be in fooling the working class.

All this stuff about misconduct within the Gardai has no real relevance for workers. At most its so called misconduct merely exposes the bourgeois nature of the force. Parliamentarians like Clare Daly, Mike Wallace and Ming Flanagan by tub thumping in relation to the Gardai are merely engaging in populism designed to fool the working class. Sinn Fein, not to be outdone, has been engaged in a similar exercise.

Calling for the resignation of Allen Shatter, as Justice Minister, is of no significance. It does not matter politically whether he resigns or not.He will be simply replaced by another politician from the parties in coalition government. By calling for his resignation the appearance is created that his replacement by another politician from a bourgeois party will make a difference.

The calling for the jailing of white collar crime is another issue that is not the business of the working class. Prisons are oppressive bourgeois institutions.

The only correct call, from the standpoint of the wage worker, is the call for the abolition of the Gardai.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Gerry Adams Arrest

Sinn Fein claim that the recent arrest of Gerry Adams by the PSNI had a political character designed to damage Sinn Fein. It claims that there is a dark element within the PSNI. It also slanders Dolores Price and Ivor Bell.

The above claims are a further reinforcement of the reactionary nature of this political party. Its claims suggest that the PSNI as a necessary part of the British imperialist state is non-political. As an organic part of the capitalist state the PSNI is of necessity political. When the latter intervenes in demonstrations organised by nationalists or loyalists it is acting politically. Ironically for Gerry Adams and the stalinist like Sinn Fein the six county police are only political when they arrest Gerry. It is not being political when they arrest a "dissident" Republican but when they arrest Gerry it is. The point is that when Sinn Fein opportunistically accepted the establishment of the PSNI it was, ipso facto, accepting the entire force. Sinn Fein cynically want to see the PSNI like the parson's egg.

The essential point is that Sinn Fein/IRA betrayed its core principles many years ago when it officially accepted the existence of political partition and its two reactionary states on both sides of the border. This means it accepts the validity of the imperialist domination of the island of Ireland.

Furthermore it is highly unlikely that the arrest of Gerry was undertaken without the consent of the British government. Sinn Fein knows this but seeks to reduce the arrest to the level of an aberration caused by a cabal within the police service. This is because Sinn Fein supports both British and Irish capitalism. And this is why its opportunist economic program in the South is based on the absurd assumption that economic and social problems are solvable within capitalism. This assumption and the programme built on it means that Sinn Fein is not an anti-capitalist formation. Neither is its success largely due to its performance. It is due largely to the recent world crash and the consequent exposure of Fianna Fail, the Green Party, Fine Gael and the Labour Party. Sinn Fein is inherently a bourgeois opportunist party.

The party's denigration of Dolours Price, Brendan Hughes and others is an indication as to the degree to which Sinn Fein has descended into the mire. Incidentally it is an indication of the journalistic cowardice to which Ed Moloney has descended as evidenced by his comments on the recent arrest of Gerry Adams. In the interview on American radio he effectively accepted that the interviews with Price and Hughes had a dubious character.

Concerning the abduction, killing and disappearance of Jean McConville by the IRA let me say this: If Gerry Adams was seriously suspected of being directly involved in her killing then why did the British government, the Irish government, Fianna Fail, the PDs, Fine Gael and the Labour party negotiate with him or support such negotiations leading to the GFA? The British and Irish governments were prepared to negotiate an agreement with a political leader who was understood to be a leading member of the IRA and thereby responsible for killings and bombings including the McConville killing.

Given the establishment of the GFA it makes no sense to punish individuals who were members of the IRA. It makes no sense to hound them on the question as to whether they were IRA members. This problem should have been sorted out during the GFA negotiations. I would have thought that secret diplomacy by the involved parties would have covered this. Again the opportunism of Sinn Fein/IRA is again exposed if there was no settlement concerning this in this regard. It is now being hoisted by its own petard.

Overall the McConville issue is being venally exploited by sections of the bourgeois media and the political establishment to damage Sinn Fein. The foregoing no more care about Mrs McConville than they do the victims of HSE incompetence. To conclude: The Adams arrest may have been carried out as part of a plan to get an agreement on past actions of individuals from both the Republican and Loyalist camps. Such an agreement might bring to an end the arrest, trial and imprisonment of activists for their previous actions. This makes me wonder whether these recent events were choreographed by Sinn Fein and the British government. Gerry looked well for a guy kept in detention for four days and subjected to continuous questioning especially as he had not eaten for the first two days of his detention.