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Assuming we lose

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Convert
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Apr 4 2011 07:20
Assuming we lose

I think this is the right section but if not, sorry.

Is anyone considering the possibility that class struggle will never overcome capital?

Take a step back and make an honest guess at what the world will look like in 10-20yrs assuming we continue to get our asses handed to us ala Wisconsin (and countless other defeats).

Maybe its too cynical to consider a future scenario where capital has conclusively 'won' but Im interested in the opinions of Libcommers...

gypsy
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Apr 4 2011 07:41
Convert wrote:
I think this is the right section but if not, sorry.

Is anyone considering the possibility that class struggle will never overcome capital?

Take a step back and make an honest guess at what the world will look like in 10-20yrs assuming we continue to get our asses handed to us ala Wisconsin (and countless other defeats).

Maybe its too cynical to consider a future scenario where capital has conclusively 'won' but Im interested in the opinions of Libcommers...

Capitalism will end (probably not in our lifetime) but it will.

ajjohnstone
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Apr 4 2011 09:53

Or the world will end, first

Harrison
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Apr 4 2011 10:05

capitalism might use up all the worlds natural resources or start a nuclear war or some such shit.

i think capitalism will come to a final crisis eventually (when it runs out of energy sources), but we need to make sure that what replaces it is not a form of highly developed feudalism

its preferable to fight to overturn capitalism before this happens.

LBird
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Apr 4 2011 10:17
Convert wrote:
Take a step back and make an honest guess at what the world will look like in 10-20yrs...

Since, like most people when they first 'Convert' to the dark side, I tried to guess this back in the mid-80s (post-Miners' Strike), I can honestly say 26 years later that, in a class sense, things look worse now than they did then.

But this hasn't made me think that perhaps capital will never be overcome, but that it is even more likely and necessary that the class struggle will end, either in a victory for our class (as gypsy alludes) or in the complete destruction of humanity (as ajjohnstone says).

But, based upon my experience, my honest guess is that the world in 10-20 years will be worse than now. Yet longer working lives, worse pensions, the rich even wealthier; but more proletarians, more international awareness, less individualism. 'Class' will be more important.

Though, as Communists, we have to look at these issues over the centuries, not years or decades. After all, the French Revolution was only 222 years ago, and Marx only died 128 ago - moments in terms of historical development.

But something tells me that this isn't what you want to hear...

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Rob Ray
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Apr 4 2011 10:27
Quote:
Is anyone considering the possibility that class struggle will never overcome capital?

We only need to win once. They need to win every time, forever.

baboon
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Apr 4 2011 12:40

The mutual ruin of contending classes, i.e., barbarism: Ivory Coast, Japan, Pakistan, writ large.

Boris Badenov
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Apr 4 2011 14:30

No I don't think capitalism will be overcome, at least not in the way most leftists and anarchists envisage it (in an epic global pitched battle a la Berlin 1919 or Spain 1936). But I don't say this because I'm a pessimistic defeatist. On the contrary, I think small victories will, and do, change the course of events. Capitalism is not what it was 150 years ago in terms of sheer debasement of workers. 4 year olds don't work 14 hours a day anymore. This doesn't mean that capitalism has been "reformed" (a logical impossibility) or that it has reached a stage of "benevolence" from whence it can't return. Obv. the tendencies of capital are always regressive, from the point of view of the working class, always towards profit and against the preservation of human dignity.
But things do change, and it's our actions that make them change. The battle against the cuts will not be without repercussions. A new generation of young workers (and future workers) has been radicalized, in places as far away from each other as Wisconsin and Egypt. Capital's attempt at rollbacking the gains workers have won through class struggle (for there are no free handouts in this society as the legion of "humanitarians" and "charity workers" would like to believe), will be resisted, and although a world revolution will not be the outcome (imho), it is very likely that a point of no return, in which capital will either relent or risk fanning the flames of class warfare, will. And that is something to build on I think.
I am not a pacifist or a reformist, but I think that capital will never be overrun in a manichean battle between workers and reaction. It will subside gradually, and in ways that are largely unpredictable (because future material conditions are largely unpredictable). I am not even going to mention "dialectical" anything, for fear of being accused of bourgeois mystifying tongue but I find it hard to believe that capitalism will either have a full totalitarian triumph over everyone forever, or that socialism will rise like a phoenix and wipe out this exploitative social system for ever and ever. "Socialism or barbarism" is good motivation, but really crap analysis.
In conclusion, the struggles here and now are what matters; the material reality of the future cannot be predicted, only pondered to no conclusive result; Workers of the world unite for you have nothing to lose but your chains, but remember that we don't make history as we would like to.
That's my 2 cents.

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MannyCalavera
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Apr 6 2011 14:52
Boris Badenov wrote:
4 year olds don't work 14 hours a day anymore. T

Apologies for picking out one fragment of your post but I have to disagree with this. A more accurate statement would be our children don't have to endure such hardship.

C19th conditions of working still exist, they just don't exist here. C19th levels of exploitation still exist, they just don't exist here.

Boris Badenov
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Apr 6 2011 18:15
MannyCalavera wrote:
Boris Badenov wrote:
4 year olds don't work 14 hours a day anymore. T

Apologies for picking out one fragment of your post but I have to disagree with this. A more accurate statement would be our children don't have to endure such hardship.

C19th conditions of working still exist, they just don't exist here. C19th levels of exploitation still exist, they just don't exist here.

That is a very important point actually. embarrassed

gypsy
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Apr 6 2011 18:24
Boris Badenov wrote:
MannyCalavera wrote:
Boris Badenov wrote:
4 year olds don't work 14 hours a day anymore. T

Apologies for picking out one fragment of your post but I have to disagree with this. A more accurate statement would be our children don't have to endure such hardship.

C19th conditions of working still exist, they just don't exist here. C19th levels of exploitation still exist, they just don't exist here.

That is a very important point actually. embarrassed

What are you like Boris! wink Who said you could change your avatar?

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Steven.
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Apr 7 2011 07:39
Boris Badenov wrote:
MannyCalavera wrote:
Boris Badenov wrote:
4 year olds don't work 14 hours a day anymore. T

Apologies for picking out one fragment of your post but I have to disagree with this. A more accurate statement would be our children don't have to endure such hardship.

C19th conditions of working still exist, they just don't exist here. C19th levels of exploitation still exist, they just don't exist here.

That is a very important point actually. embarrassed

yeah, I was going to say! Not only that but in absolute numbers probably far more workers endure such 19th-century levels of debasement than in the 19th century. Not only that, but they do so with daily exposure to Western consumerist culture, so I reckon a significant difference between now and the 19th century is that many people have higher aspirations now, which they will never achieve under capitalism.

I also do not think capitalism will ever fully triumph over workers. As technological advancement continues, its irrationality becomes more and more obscene. With mass agriculture we could feed everyone, yet hundreds of millions starve. With the widespread automation of industry and computerisation, you would think that would reduce necessary labour time, but instead we all work longer hours than before.

No matter how work changes, it will always be resisted. Bosses were always want us to work longer for less, and we will always want to work less for more.

I also don't think that we (as in the working class today) is in quite as weak a position as we sometimes feel we are. While there were mass strikes and revolutions in the last century, millions of those same workers were also happy to trek off to another country and slaughter workers there (or in their own country to prevent revolution). This is now definitely not the case, and I doubt it ever will be again. In terms of the possibilities of revolution I think this is extremely important.

As someone else said above, capitalism has not existed for very long in the scheme of things, so it would be naive to think that it will always exist. That said, I don't think it's likely that it will be overthrown in any of our lifetimes, although of course the future is impossible to predict. The world could be an extremely different place in 50 years time.

In terms of the current wave of austerity, if the government in the UK at least does push through the bulk of their reforms, I think it could have some unexpected benefits for us. For example, the government plan to basically privatise everything. If that happens, over time small private contractors will go bust and bigger ones will take them over. In the end we will probably end up with a few big companies running most public services, like Veolia, Mitie, etc. At the moment pitting public sector workers against private is a powerful tool in the hands of our rulers, but they will no longer have this weapon. This monopolisation will also have the effect of grouping workers together again, where we will hopefully be able to regroup and fight for the same kind of conditions we lost in the public sector. I think this could have the kind of effect which the bosses didn't anticipate when they created the mass factory worker to undermine the position of skilled workers, not realising the fierce resistance the new mass workers would put up (Beverly Silver's book Forces of Labour goes into this sort of stuff and I would highly recommend it).

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Lumpen
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Apr 8 2011 06:40

Of course capitalism will end. The basis of capitalism is inherently unsustainable – people will either get sick enough to overthrow it, it will run out of resources or we'll literally be obliterated by nuclear weapons. I'm sure people under feudalism could not imagine the eclipse of the church and landlord. The real question is what it will be replaced by (socialism or barbarism)? Anarchism seems like a rational and desirable thing to me in the short and long term, so that is what I go for.

So yeah, it is possible that class struggle will not overthrow capitalism. It's possible that the seas will rise, we'll drown while the rich put their mansions on stilts. It's also possible that we will win. Rob Ray is right on the money:

Quote:
We only need to win once. They need to win every time, forever.

Capitalism simply can't keep going. Anarchism isn't the army of victory, it's the laboratory of the future society. The "we" is the class that has the power to transform society, not anarchism per se. Given that we are the basis of the society that exploits us, it makes sense that we could be the basis of a society that unleashes humanity.

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RedEd
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Apr 9 2011 03:03
Convert wrote:
Maybe its too cynical to consider a future scenario where capital has conclusively 'won'

I think its worth being absolutely clear that capitalism can't conclusively win or overcome class struggle, since class antagonism is key to the functioning of capitalism. If class struggles stops, its only because capitalism has too.

Dan K
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Apr 9 2011 05:21
Boris Badenov wrote:
No I don't think capitalism will be overcome, at least not in the way most leftists and anarchists envisage it (in an epic global pitched battle a la Berlin 1919 or Spain 1936).
Boris Badenov wrote:
I am not a pacifist or a reformist, but I think that capital will never be overrun in a manichean battle between workers and reaction. It will subside gradually, and in ways that are largely unpredictable (because future material conditions are largely unpredictable).

I agree that the one-time Manichean battle is unlikely. But gradualism doesn't look likely to me either. I've found it useful before to make a comparison to the nationalist revolutions in the Americas. The mercantilist/imperialist system created a new class of people (landowning settlers) who it depended on, but had interests opposed to the overall rulers of the system (the monarchy). There was a string of revolutions in the New World. Not one revolution at the same time in all the colonies, but some revolutions inspiring others. Then, after the new class took power, there was a continuing process of transformation until we ended up with capitalism.

So I don't think we'll have one big Manichean battle, but I don't think we'll have a gradual transition either. Historical transition moves in fits and starts. Captialism has created a class (dispossessed workers) who it depends on, but have interests opposed to its rulers. We won't have a world revolution, but we could have a string of revolutions that end up deciding the system the whole world will end up running on. I suspect the early ones in the string would not be in places where workers are relatively privileged in comparison to other workers. But there will still be revolutions, sooner or later, unless humanity is just fucked. We've had them before, and we'll have them again.

Boris Badenov wrote:
I find it hard to believe that capitalism will either have a full totalitarian triumph over everyone forever, or that socialism will rise like a phoenix and wipe out this exploitative social system for ever and ever. "Socialism or barbarism" is good motivation, but really crap analysis.

Well, Capitalism will end eventually. I suspect we'll all be dead by then, but it'll either kick off a nuclear war or ecological collapse, or we'll have a workers' revolution, or it'll last until the sun goes out. I doubt it'll be the last one, because that'll be a damn long time. "Socialism or barbarism" is maybe a melodramatic way of putting it, but I do think that in the (very) long term, some kind of global libertarian communism or some kind of global state capitalism are the only social systems that can provide the necessary social discipline to prevent nuclear war or ecological collapse. So in the very long term, it's socialism, barbarism, or a big pile of bodies.

Boris Badenov wrote:
In conclusion, the struggles here and now are what matters; the material reality of the future cannot be predicted, only pondered to no conclusive result; Workers of the world unite for you have nothing to lose but your chains, but remember that we don't make history as we would like to.

Yes, absolutely! smile

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Malva
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Apr 9 2011 09:28

I think that you can see in a game like Eve Online the ultimate fantasy of contemporary capitalism for its eternal continuation. The idea that the system can last for ever, eating up the material resources of the entire universe and spreading the values of the market to every corner of the galaxy. It's the fantasy of nihilists. Fortunately, it is just that, a fantasy.

Alexander Roxwell
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Apr 10 2011 04:41

The question you need to ask yourself is what will happen if the workers do not "wake up" and stay awake long enough for the class struggle to be fought all the way to victory.

Capitalism's "division-of-labor" has come to pervade the entire thinking process of almost everyone. One person knows tons of things about heart surgery but next to nothing about astronomy. Someone else knows tons of things about Geological history but next to nothing about human history. Another person knows tons of things about how to sail a boat but nothing at all about penguins. Each person has his or her specialty and relies on "others" for their knowledge of everything else.

So a very few people know anything at all about how society works and the rest of us are fed obscurantist poppycock by the media. And most of us get our information from the media about everything outside our special skills or interest rather than from friends or from books or from actually thinking about it

How does class consciousness arise in this environment? In fragments, in pieces, in spurts and spikes. Usually it is "tagged on" to whatever existed in the minds of the person before awakening - a Catholic or a Moslem or even a flat out bigot. People grope and battle in the fog. Smoke and mirrors surround us and we grope our way forward. Hopefully the people who are further along nurture those who are groping their way forward rather than slamming them back - but there is alot of ego there - and most "experienced" leftists are proud of their turf and not shy about showing off - which often means ridiculing those who have "inferior knowledge" or still hold some "backward" views.

Each time something happens some of the people wake up - at least partially. The question is what happens to them when the event that woke them up subsides. Do they "return to the doldrums" or do they remain somewhat awakened, learning more from the next event and the next.

If the workers who partially woke up yesterday keep returning to the doldrums once their own event subsides and the capitalists win battle after battle eventually the environment will rot, the price of oil will skyrocket or the entire continent of Africa will starve to death or something will happen that will cause "capitalism" to collapse. But if this happens we will see it replaced by something that will resemble "Big Brother is watching you" but significantly upgraded technologically - at least for awhile.

The "left" needs to "grow up" and realize that its role is not to find the "perfect" ideology but to create some kind of an institution that will nurture workers trying to navigate their way thru the smoke and mirrors towards an understanding of the world around them. Until we do that I am very afraid that the workers who "wake up" today will go back to sleep before tomorrow’s workers "wake up" to join them.

And each sectlet will cling to its own little hill of ideological perfection while driving everyone else away.