nuclear threats and counter-threats- a subtext of our times

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yaya2020
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Aug 18 2008 22:05
nuclear threats and counter-threats- a subtext of our times

the russian government has brought nuclear missles into georgia, apparently to take advantage of the outbreak of instability there to counteract the u.s. plan to incorporate georgia into nato and station its own nuclear weapons there ... here's chomsky on the nuclear weaponry issue.

Quote:
All options on the table?
Noam Chomsky
Khaleej Times, August 6, 2008

NUCLEAR threats and counter-threats are a subtext of our times, steadily, it seems, becoming more insistent. The July meeting in Geneva between Iran and six major world powers on Iran's nuclear programme ended with no progress.

The Bush administration was widely praised for having shifted to a more conciliatory stand -- namely, by allowing a US diplomat to attend without participating -- while Iran was castigated for failing to negotiate seriously. And the powers warned Iran that it would soon face more severe sanctions unless it terminated its uranium enrichment programs.

Meanwhile India was applauded for agreeing to a nuclear pact with the United States that would effectively authorise its development of nuclear weapons outside the bounds of the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), with US assistance in nuclear programmes along with other rewards -- in particular, to US firms eager to enter the Indian market for nuclear and weapons development, and ample payoffs to parliamentarians who signed on, a tribute to India's flourishing democracy.

Michael Krepon, co-founder of the Stimson Center and a leading specialist on nuclear threats, observed reasonably that Washington's decision to "place profits ahead of nonproliferation" could mean the end of the NPT if others follow its lead, sharply increasing the dangers all around.

During the same period, Israel, another state that has defied the NPT with Western support, conducted large-scale military manoeuvres in the eastern Mediterranean that were understood to be preparation for bombing Iran's nuclear facilities.

In a New York Times Op-Ed article, "Using Bombs to Stave Off War," the prominent Israeli historian Benny Morris wrote that Iran's leaders should welcome Israeli bombing with conventional weapons, because "the alternative is an Iran turned into a nuclear wasteland."

Purposely or not, Morris is reviving an old theme. During the 1950s, leading figures of Israel's governing Labor Party advised in internal discussion that "we will go crazy ("nishtagea") if crossed, threatening to bring down the Temple Walls in the manner of the first "suicide bomber," the revered Samson, who killed more philistines by his suicide than in his entire lifetime.

Israel's nuclear weapons may well harm its own security, as Israeli strategic analyst Zeev Maoz persuasively argues. But security is often not a high priority for state planners, as history makes clear. And the "Samson complex," as Israeli commentators have called it, can be flaunted to warn the master to carry out the desired task of smashing Iran, or else we'll inflame the region and maybe the world.

The "Samson complex," reinforced by the doctrine that "the whole world is against us," cannot be lightly ignored. Shortly after the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, which left some 15-20,000 killed in an unprovoked effort to secure Israel's control of the occupied territories, Aryeh Eliav, one of Israel's best-known doves, wrote that the attitude of "those who brought the 'Samson complex' here, according to which we shall kill and bury all the Gentiles around us while we ourselves shall die with them," is a form of "insanity" that was then all too prevalent, and still is.

US military analysts have recognised that, as Army Lt. Col. Warner Farr wrote in 1999, one "purpose of Israeli nuclear weapons, not often stated, but obvious, is their 'use' on the United States," presumably to ensure consistent U.S. support for Israeli policies -- or else.

Others see further dangers. Gen. Lee Butler, former commander-in-chief of the US Strategic Command, observed in 1999 that "it is dangerous in the extreme that in the cauldron of animosities that we call the Middle East, one nation has armed itself, ostensibly, with stockpiles of nuclear weapons, perhaps numbering in the hundreds, and that inspires other nations to do so." This fact is hardly irrelevant to concerns about Iran's nuclear programmes, but is off the agenda.

Also off the agenda is Article 2 of the UN Charter, which bars the threat of force in international affairs. Both US political parties insistently proclaim their criminality, declaring that "all options are on the table" with regard to Iran's nuclear programmes.

Some go beyond, like John McCain, joking about what fun it would be to bomb Iran and to kill Iranians, though the humour may be lost on the "unpeople" of the world, to borrow the term used by British historian Mark Curtis for those who do not merit the attention of the privileged and powerful.

Barack Obama declares that he would do "everything in my power" to prevent Iran from gaining the capacity to produce nuclear weapons. The unpeople surely understand that launching a nuclear war would be "in his power".

The chorus of denunciations of the New Hitlers in Teheran and the threat they pose to survival has been marred by a few voices from the back rooms. Former Mossad Chief Ephraim Halevy recently warned that an Israeli attack on Iran "could have an impact on us for the next 100 years."

An unnamed former senior Mossad official added, "Iran's achievement is creating an image of itself as a scary superpower when it's really a paper tiger" -- which is not quite accurate: The achievement should be credited to US-Israeli propaganda.

One of the participants in the July meetings was Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, who outlined "the Arab position": "to work toward a political and diplomatic settlement under which Iran will maintain the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes" but without nuclear weapons.

The "Arab position" is that of most Iranians, along with other unpeople. On July 30, the 120-member Nonaligned Movement reiterated its previous endorsement of Iran's right to enrich uranium in accord with the NPT.

Joining the unpeople is the large majority of Americans, according to polls. The American unpeople not only endorse Iran's right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes but also support the "Arab position" calling for a nuclear-weapons-free-zone in the entire region, a step that would sharply reduce major threats, but is also off the agenda of the powerful; unmentionable in electoral campaigns, for example.

Benny Morris assures us that "Every intelligence agency in the world believes the Iranian programme is geared toward making weapons." As is well-known, the US National Intelligence Estimate of November 2007 judged "with high confidence that in fall 2003, Teheran halted its nuclear weapons programme." It is doubtful, to say the least, that the intelligence agencies of every country of the NAM disagree.

Morris is presumably reporting information from an Israeli intelligence source -- which generalizes to "every intelligence agency" by the same logic that instructs us that Iran is defying "the world" by seeking to enrich uranium: the world apart from its unpeople.

There are rumblings in radical nationalist (so-called "neocon") circles that if Barack Obama wins the election, Bush-Cheney should bomb Iran, since the threat of Iran is too great to be left in the hands of a wimpish Democrat. Reports also have surfaced -- recently from Seymour Hersh in The New Yorker -- on US "covert operations" in Iran, otherwise known as international terrorism.

In June, Congress came close to passing a resolution (H. Con. Res. 362), strongly supported by the Israeli lobby, virtually calling for a blockade of Iran -- an act of war, that could have set off the conflagration that is greatly feared in the region and around the world. Pressures from the anti-war movement appear to have beaten back this particular effort, according to Mark Weisbrot at Alternet.org, but others are likely to follow.

The government of Iran merits severe condemnation on many counts, but the Iranian threat remains a desperate construction of those who arrogate to themselves the right to rule the world, and consider any impediment to their just rule to be criminal aggression. That is the primary threat that should concern us, as it concerns saner minds in the West, and the unpeople of the rest of the world.

so... do you libcommies support nuclear power, missle plants, etc. because after all people work there, and shutting down the nuclear industry would cause them to lose their jobs? or perhaps would you prefer to see the nuclear power plants pumping out immortal radioactive waste under workers' control?

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Aug 19 2008 03:10

are you just red baiting, or do you actually want a discussion of this? the short answer is no.

yaya2020 wrote:
the russian government has brought nuclear missles into georgia

source? the chomsky article is about israel/iran...

yaya2020
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Aug 19 2008 03:26

I'm not a red-baiter.
Good, glad your short answer's no.
Got a longer one?
source on the missles in russia was http://freeandindependent.wordpress.com/2008/08/11/russians-move-2-ss-21-medium-range-ballistic-missile-launchers-into-south-ossetia/

edit better source

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Aug 19 2008 03:23

nuclear power is shit, in a 'if there was a revolution tomorrow' scenario workers control would hopefully result in the decision to wind it down asap and shift to renewables. because workers work somewhere isn't a reason to support it as an industry, but neither should we oppose it on the bosses terms (i.e. coal is a major pollutant, but we shouldn't have aided thatcher smashing the miners) - the way for us to excercise power over these things is not by lobbying for changes to public policy (which will always seek to put the costs on us), but by building our power as a class to unilaterally implement our needs (even in situations short of outright workers control, such as the green bans)

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Aug 19 2008 03:28
yaya2020 wrote:
source on the missles in russia was
http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/afp/080818/usa/georgia_russia_conflict_us_missiles

cheers.

that article wrote:
A tactical ballistic missile, the SS-21 can carry conventional, chemical or tactical nuclear warheads.

US officials have made no suggestion that nuclear armed missiles have been deployed in this conflict.

if even the US aren't suggesting they're nukes, i don't think we can assume they are.

yaya2020 wrote:
edit better source

that one doesn't quote the US officials, who never actually said they were nukes, just SS21 launchers. i mean it's possible, but unproven.

yaya2020
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Aug 19 2008 03:44

no you have to watch the democracy now thing, that's where i had originally gotten it, i just went to find any old random source for it at first (the yahoo thing), but then after posting i had to edit because i remembered where i'd heard that thing about the missiles.

anyway, but how can you guarantee that workers won't just see things as the capitalists do, 'i do my job you do your job' and 'i make money pollutin it, you make yours cleanin it, everyone's happy,' and not necessarily 'wind it down?' nuclear power workers vigorously defend that hideous industry all the time. a revolutionary takeover of industry by the workers would certainly involve a lot of dialogue and sharing among the different posts at a given business, but it would need to be something other than a unilateral implementation of our needs; it has to be a multilateral consideration of all the factors involved in the production, consumption, relationships, conventions, etc. that we currently play only our bit part in, and all their effects.

i doubt we'll be saved from nuclear power and its immortal waste by some magical workers' revolution.

the green bans thing is interesting by the way...

yaya2020
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Aug 19 2008 03:43

but how is it guaranteed that workers who like their jobs at nuclear plants and defend the nuclear industry would 'wind it down?'
if the focus isn't directly on the eco- and biological impact of these things, how will building our power as a class to implement our needs be sure not to ignore that? our needs are one thing, the fact of production industries' very existence as a real danger is another. it's great that workers organize, all for it; but unilateral implementation of our needs will lead to us being ill informed of the impact of getting our needs met. Other people know more than we average workers do about the different aspects of the consequences of the production and consumption we perform our bit in. A revolutionary workers take over would involve a lot of dialog among workers where they would all learn the different parts of running the business they've begun running for themselves, but not unilaterally like the capitalist saying 'i do my job you do your job,' like 'i pollute it, you clean it, we both make money.'

yaya2020
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Aug 19 2008 03:46

whoa i clicked off it or something and thought that that second post was lost to the winds of time so i rewrote it... pick your favorite

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Aug 19 2008 03:49
yaya2020 wrote:
no you have to watch the democracy now thing, that's where i had originally gotten it, i just went to find any old random source for it at first (the yahoo thing), but then after posting i had to edit because i remembered where i'd heard that thing about the missiles.

according to the transcript the guy, an ex-military analyst not a primary source, says they can be nuclear or conventional, but interprets it as a nuclear message to the US. like i say, possible but unproven.

yaya2020 wrote:
anyway, but how can you guarantee that workers won't just see things as the capitalists do, 'i do my job you do your job' and 'i make money pollutin it, you make yours cleanin it, everyone's happy,' and not necessarily 'wind it down?' nuclear power workers vigorously defend that hideous industry all the time. a revolutionary takeover of industry by the workers would certainly involve a lot of dialogue and sharing among the different posts at a given business, but it would need to be something other than a unilateral implementation of our needs; it has to be a multilateral consideration of all the factors involved in the production, consumption, relationships, conventions, etc. that we currently play only our bit part in, and all their effects.

i doubt be saved from nuclear power and its immortal waste by some magical workers' revolution.

well if it came to it nuclear workers can be outvoted by everyone else, and the industry can't continue without the support of others. of course there's no guarantee a majority would want to shift from nuclear to renewables, but that's the 'problem' with democracy innit. to be honest talking about workers control seems to be getting way ahead of ourselves, but in such a scenario i'd hope that earning wages either making pollution or cleaning it up would be a thing of the past. in terms of 'unilateral' i'm talking about our needs as a class imposed on capital, of course we have to take the things you mention into account.

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Aug 19 2008 04:03

yeah, i shouldn't have said they have missiles but the whole point is that the nuclear message is the only one the US understands, and the rest of the world can act with impunity only if it has even the idea of nuclear weapons (or nuclear capable missile launchers), so it relates to the chomsky article. industry can also produce with impunity with nuclear power's endless high level of energy productivity as compared to other energy sources like coal. sure it all comes from mines, and if all the miners of the world would take over their mines and blow them up we'd be doing good, but then they'd have to find other jobs. it's all just insanely destructive, and in my opinion (and this is the root of what i'm feeling), the vast majority of industrial production basically needs to be shut down completely, and of course, if anything, taken over and run by the workers in a just and equitable way, because the most important fact is that industry is destroying the earth and life.
here's an interesting one on uranium mining,

i don't understand what you mean by this:
"but neither should we oppose it on the bosses terms (i.e. coal is a major pollutant, but we shouldn't have aided thatcher smashing the miners)"

yaya2020
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Aug 19 2008 04:13

from that same " Press Briefing by Press Secretary Dana Perino and Senior Director for East Asian Affairs Dennis Wilder and Deputy National Security Advisor Ambassador Jim Jeffrey," where they first acknowledged that they know about the missile launchers, here's Mr Wilder, sr director of east-asian affairs, and (apparently) crusader for jeebus:
"I think President Hu was saying, you've gone to church today; you've seen Christians worshiping openly in our society. I took it to mean that, I think in the future there will be more room for Christians and other religious groups in this society.

What I hope he means is that the registration of house churches will begin. We very much hope that there are certain things that they can do here in the near future that would be very helpful. Many of these house churches, as you know, live on the edge of Chinese law. Many of them would like to have legal status, and we hope that the Chinese government can move in that direction.

We hope that the Chinese can move in the direction of Bibles being sold in many different places. Today there's a restricted number of outlets for buying Bibles in China; we think that ought to be widened."

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Aug 19 2008 04:15
yaya2020 wrote:
i don't understand what you mean by this:
"but neither should we oppose it on the bosses terms (i.e. coal is a major pollutant, but we shouldn't have aided thatcher smashing the miners)"

i mean that although we may oppose coal on ecological grounds, supporting the states attack on the class (who happened to be miners) would have been no way to advance an ecological agenda, as the state's objective was class war.

yaya2020 wrote:
yeah, i shouldn't have said they have missiles but the whole point is that the nuclear message is the only one the US understands, and the rest of the world can act with impunity only if it has even the idea of nuclear weapons (or nuclear capable missile launchers), so it relates to the chomsky article.

certainly this dynamic exists, and i think the prime motive for the missile 'defence' project is to negate it by providing a US 1st-strike capability (which is why it isn't a defensive system).

yaya2020 wrote:
the vast majority of industrial production basically needs to be shut down completely, and of course, if anything, taken over and run by the workers in a just and equitable way, because the most important fact is that industry is destroying the earth and life.

i wouldn't say most industry is inherently ecocidal, but under capitalism it can't but externalise ecological costs.

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Aug 19 2008 07:40
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nuclear power workers vigorously defend that hideous industry all the time

Not that much, and under capitalism a well paid job ensures that mortage payments are me and that you get a pension and so on, so of course people would defend their job when subjected to those outside pressures. Remove those and take a more rationalised community based viewon things and I think most people would support the gradual transition away from fossil fuels like oil, coal and uranium and towards renewable energy.
I mean its fairly obvious that no-one in their right mind would want to work in a uranium mine unless they were given n other financial option.

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Aug 19 2008 08:25
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anyway, but how can you guarantee that workers won't just see things as the capitalists do, 'i do my job you do your job' and 'i make money pollutin it, you make yours cleanin it, everyone's happy,' and not necessarily 'wind it down?'

You see a profit motive in a future society? My idea of a libertarian communist society certainly wouldn't involve it.

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Aug 19 2008 09:56

Coal power actually produces more radioactive waste than nuclear power. And waste from nuclear power comprises only 1% of the total indefinitely hazardous wastes produced by industry. The potential for fuel recycling (fuel recycling reduces the mass of waste by over 90% and also results in mainly short lived fission products that reduce long-term radioactivity) isn't fully tapped because many countries don't do it due to Nonproliferation concerns (the products of fuel recycling can be used in nuclear weapons). This means that most spent fuel is simply treated as waste. The potential for recycling will be further enhanced if fully functional Breeder reactors can ever be built - these reactors are practically self-sustaining because the processes produce more fuel than they consume and their waste products are dramatically lower.

Nuclear power under capitalism has primarily been pursued because of nuclear weapons. Their huge capital costs (even though afterwards they're actually quite cheap to run) make its profitability questionable. And in an era when capitalism is more and more compelled to cut safety measures in all industries, nuclear power seems an insane choice. This need not be the case in a communist society, however.

Just as we shouldn't uncritically accept everything capitalism tells us about nuclear power, GM crops, (or so-called renewables for that matter which are also marketed by capitalist firms) etc. nor should we necessarily simply dismiss them. But as Joseph K says, what society does with these technological developments will be up to the working class collectively, not just communists!

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Aug 19 2008 10:09
Demogorgon303 wrote:
these reactors are practically self-sustaining because the processes produce more fuel than they consume and their waste products are dramatically lower.

the 2nd law of thermodynamics is screaming "sci-fi" at me...

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Aug 19 2008 10:29

It doesn't violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics. It produces more fissionable fuel than goes into it because the various stages of the reaction produce new elements and isotopes which can themselves be consumed as fuel, which other reactors cannot assimilate. It would still need an input of raw materials over time, but far far less than normal reactors.

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Aug 19 2008 10:32

more fissionable fuel of a lower grade then? never heard of it before, just trying to get my head round it

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Aug 19 2008 10:40

Not necessarily "lower grade". All reactors actually produce useable by-products from initial reactants but breeders (so-called because they produce more fuel than is initially put into it) are far, far more efficient at producing it and using it.

This isn't science fiction, they had already built them in the 70s, although the technology is still in its infancy. The reason they're not more popular was because of the reasons I mentioned above and also because Uranium was reasonably plentiful and this made traditional reactors more economic (typical bourgeois short-sightedness).

However, they seem to be making a bit of a come-back. Japan is reopening one that they had to close down in the 90s due to some kind of leak and India has (or is looking into) a thorium-based breeder programme because of their large natural thorium deposits.

Anyway the real point about nuclear power, as I said enough, is that its waste products are insignificant compared to the materials pumped out by normal industry which are also permanently toxic. Waste will be a problem for the whole transition between capitalism and communism and the nuclear issue will be comparatively irrelevent.

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Aug 19 2008 10:50

yeah it's a bit of a tangent, i'll have a read up on them.

edgewaters
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Aug 19 2008 13:47
Joseph K. wrote:
to be honest talking about workers control seems to be getting way ahead of ourselves

I don't think so at all. If that's not the chief concern, then (a) process is being placed ahead of the outcome, as if methods were goals or solutions and (b) no logical person can be won over, because a logical person does not place any trust in faith and does not take any risks on its account, and this is asking him to have faith that social revolution will produce a society that works. How a new mode of production is to be organized is the paramount question because it is the solution - the process of social revolution is not a solution.

Externalities are something that definately needs to be addressed with something better than a shrug and "well, that's democracy".

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Aug 19 2008 14:07
edgewaters wrote:
Externalities are something that definately needs to be addressed with something better than a shrug and "well, that's democracy".

i'm not dismissing them at all. the point is if you have say a federation of workers councils, then those who suffer the externalities are also those with a say in their production; thus they cease to be externalities, this is what it means to socialise production.

edgewaters wrote:
Joseph K. wrote:
to be honest talking about workers control seems to be getting way ahead of ourselves

I don't think so at all.

i'm not saying it's not the goal, but at a time when we're under a pretty sustained attack as a class and not mustering much fightback, discussing energy policy under workers control does seem like the very definition of getting ahead of ourselves. It's not that we shouldn't contemplate a future society, i was more reacting to yaya2020's apparent concern with revolutionary workers 'thinking like capitalists', 'i make my money' etc, which seems a very academic worry to be honest.

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Aug 19 2008 14:44

The bourgeoisie managed to carry out their revolution without a clear understanding of how a capitalist society could and would work (one might argue they've never managed this). They acted because it was in their concrete economic interests to do so and because they developed political forms to enable them to do so.

In the same vein, it's impossible for communists to produce a blueprint for a future society. To take the example on this thread, communists may or may not be advocates for nuclear power - but unless those communists also happen to be nuclear physicists, they don't necessarily have the expertise to plan out a global energy distribution grid. However, the working class collectively does hold that expertise and will need to draw on it in order to rationalise society.

Communists can only point to the general principles that the organisation of the new society can aspire to. Its up to the working class, faced with the contingent circumstances it will find after the revolution, to decide how to take those principles forward. However, workers don't need to wait for the realisation of communist society to have his faith in social revolution validated. Firstly, because the revolution will happen because the working class is driven to try and make it or face the disintegration of capitalism and its own destruction. Secondly, because as part of its struggle, it develops its forms of organisation to manage that struggle - these forms are the precursors of the collective forms that the class will use to manage society.

Nonetheless, edgewaters does hit on a very important point that a confidence in the future is an essential requirement for the class to make the revolution. This is why theory is so important to the working class because it largely looks towards the future. It's no accident that Marxism appeared on the historical stage with the deep analyses of Capital but the historical tour-de-force of The German Ideology and The Communist Manifesto. The ICC have written some in-depth pieces on "Confidence and Solidarity" here and here which I found interesting.

On the question of the motivation of workers and particular industry sectors, one of the concrete interests of the working class will be to reduce (drastically) the amount of necessary labour in the future society and this will be done through economic planning on a global scale by the whole proletariat. In such a scenario the idea that people will deliberately produce unnecessary waste to provide work for other people to clear it up will be ludicrous. Workers will collectively minimise as much useless work as possible in order to free up time for both leisure and in getting involved in the management of society. The vision portrayed by yaya is one of a working class still divided against itself sector by sector. Such a working class could not make a revolution which makes the whole question of what will happen in communist society a moot point anyway.

Finally, real "workers control" cannot be posed at the level of the individual enterprise or even this or that sector. Without collective planning which incorporates all economic activity on a global scale, workers cannot be in control at all - they are simply slaves to the market. Communism involves the complete abolition of commodity production, exchange, and money. Clearly this cannot be done overnight, but this will be the ultimate goal for a truly human society.

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Aug 19 2008 22:58
Demogorgon303 wrote:
The bourgeoisie managed to carry out their revolution without a clear understanding of how a capitalist society could and would work (one might argue they've never managed this). They acted because it was in their concrete economic interests to do so and because they developed political forms to enable them to do so.

Very true - they never issued any sort of blueprint, and I'm not saying we ought to attempt to plan things down to finer details. Doing so would be no more than a fantasy world or ethereal dream.

But we ought to have certain defined notions about our goal and why, specifically, it's desirable - what problems it will solve. Externalities are one of the chief weaknesses and flaws of capitalist market theory, and one of the most urgent contemporary problems for the working classes. The mounting weight of unresolved externalities threatens the physical collapse of capitalist society in a way almost everyone appreciates, even if they don't have a theoretical basis for understanding. No longer does the death of capitalism (and with it, vast populations) seem so academic or distant.

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On the question of the motivation of workers and particular industry sectors, one of the concrete interests of the working class will be to reduce (drastically) the amount of necessary labour in the future society and this will be done through economic planning on a global scale by the whole proletariat. In such a scenario the idea that people will deliberately produce unnecessary waste to provide work for other people to clear it up will be ludicrous. Workers will collectively minimise as much useless work as possible in order to free up time for both leisure and in getting involved in the management of society.

Absolutely!

It's a ridiculous productivist argument that is being proposed. I depart from Marxist theory strongly on the labour theory of value - I don't believe labour has any value at all except through what it produces. Whether in a monetary capitalist market or a gift economy or anything else, value derives from the desirability of a thing and nobody desires labour for its own sake - they would rather have free time to indulge in artistic, social or recreational pursuits. These things do have value because they are desired. Work, therefore, diminishes wealth and represents a sacrifice of value, not an increase of it. Typically, it produces something desirable that is worth the sacrifice, and the net effect then is that it increases wealth. But if it produces nothing that is desired, then it only represents a diminishing of overall wealth in the sense that someone is sacrificing their time (which has value) for a thing that has no value at all. Not to mention that most work involves the use of other resources, products and costs (for instance, transportation, safety devices, the cost of workplace injuries, and so on).

In our capitalist society, there are many examples of useless work and useless products which seem to generate wealth, however, this is only because value is incorrectly assigned by markets - costs do not reflect value accurately. Thus we have things like externalities, or labour such as childrearing and housework (which certainly produce things of value) apparently not generating any wealth or having any value at all, by the reckoning of the market.

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Aug 20 2008 02:31
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Quote:

anyway, but how can you guarantee that workers won't just see things as the capitalists do, 'i do my job you do your job' and 'i make money pollutin it, you make yours cleanin it, everyone's happy,' and not necessarily 'wind it down?'

You see a profit motive in a future society? My idea of a libertarian communist society certainly wouldn't involve it.

no no i mean the same kind of specific-to-your-industry thinking as we get in 'radical' circles, where we fixate on the one ideology, like fixating on some one profession

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Aug 20 2008 08:12
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depart from Marxist theory strongly on the labour theory of value - I don't believe labour has any value at all except through what it produces.

I'm also not sure how the rest of your argument is actually against the LTV. Marx pointed out that for labour to have value it had to be socially useful labour. Marx defines a commodity as having both a use-value and an exchange-value and it is exchange-value that is defined by the amount of labour congealed in it. If there is no use-value then the exchange-value is redundant because no-one would want it! They must also, by definition, be useful to someone else besides the producer. The definition of "useful" is not absolute, of course, but is also a historically and socially determined category. What may be useful for capitalism may not be useful for feudalism for example. I strongly suggest you read Chapter 1 of Capital, where Marx answers the concerns you seem to be raising here.

Quote:
Whether in a monetary capitalist market or a gift economy or anything else, value derives from the desirability of a thing and nobody desires labour for its own sake - they would rather have free time to indulge in artistic, social or recreational pursuits.

This is perfectly true and part of the reason why the previous arguments were nonsense. But, it must be said those artistic, etc. pursuits can also create useful products. The Hollywood film industry is built on this premise, of course. So work does not necessarily mean sacrifice (assuming, of course, that George Clooney enjoys acting) and one of the most important points about early socialism was not simply "hope of rest" from labour but the hope of pleasure in labour itself. By destroying alienated labour, communism will blur the distinction between "toil" and "recreation".

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Work, therefore, diminishes wealth and represents a sacrifice of value, not an increase of it. Typically, it produces something desirable that is worth the sacrifice, and the net effect then is that it increases wealth. But if it produces nothing that is desired, then it only represents a diminishing of overall wealth in the sense that someone is sacrificing their time (which has value) for a thing that has no value at all.

This would have been a much better formulation, if you left out the first sentence which seems to contradict the rest. Work, by definition, creates value because it creates products - as long as these products are "socially useful" as Marx stated above. It's only when these products are no longer socially useful that the labour has no value.

We must also be careful to state the difference between products that are not socially useful and between products that cannot be sold. For example, for decades, masses of food was destroyed globally every year because there was no market for it - even as millions of people starved. Clearly the food was (or would have been) socially useful and there was a desire for it (unless we think people enjoy starving!), but the market was still inadequate because the people that desired it had no money.

Anyway, I get the feeling this may be derailing the thread (again). First Breeder reactors, now LTV. Where will it end?

yaya2020
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Joined: 16-08-08
Aug 20 2008 08:18

credit instruments have no use value... but they sure can have a lot of exchange value.

Demogorgon303's picture
Demogorgon303
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Joined: 5-07-05
Aug 20 2008 08:46
Quote:
credit instruments have no use value... but they sure can have a lot of exchange value.

Errr, what? Credit an advancement of value from one entity to another. This may be an advancement of money, e.g. when you borrow money from the bank or it may be a delay in payment for commodities already received. Anyway, they are clearly socially useful in capitalism because they facilitate circulation. Note that I don't think that this is the same as being productive in the sense of the debate about productive and unproductive labour. In that sense, the whole financial apparatus is utterly unproductive while also being largely necessary for capitalism's functioning, especially today.