Should salaries be lowered in the western world?

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Tagore2
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Apr 2 2016 12:06
Should salaries be lowered in the western world?

Let me explain.

Salaries are much higher in the western world than in the rest of the world. Also, most Western simply do not have interest in the communist revolution. The communist revolution would have the effect of lowering their standard of living. They have an interest, on the contrary, to support their bourgeois state to preserve their privileges.

Rather, the main interest of the proletarian masses and the poor farmers is to migrate in rich countries. "Why stay in a miserable campaign, having been expropriated, why rot in a shanty town or in refugee camps? We have to leave, find well-paid work abroad." They are right.

Rich workers have no interest in hosting the proletarians and the poor peasants. Millions of migrants lower their wages and increase unemployment by the law of supply and demand. They want to be "protected" by laws against immigration, by diplomas and corporatist measures. Conversely, the bourgeoisie is pleased to give these privileges to the rich proletarians, because they will never do the revolution.

Those who do not understand why there is no revolution in the western world now have an explanation. If wages are too high, there are simply no more objective interest in the revolution.

Roughly, I see the income level where they lose true interest for the revolution to ~ 17,000 PPP (current international $) per year (± 20%) all-in (including health, retirement, education…), which corresponds approximately to the world average income in 2016. This level is changing with the world average income…

What do you think about it?

Preface to the Second German Edition of the Condition of the Working Class in England, Frederick Engels

Imperialism and the Split in Socialism, Lenin

Parasitism and decay of capitalism, 8e chapter of "Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism", Lenin

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Steven.
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Apr 2 2016 12:39

no

Scheveningen
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Apr 2 2016 12:58

You seem to be under the impression that workers in the West don't want a communist revolution because they're too well-off, and that the bourgeoisie keeps them complacent with high wages.

That sounds odd. Even a superficial look at what's going in Europe or America should tell you that workers are anything but satisfied, because no matter how "rich" they are in comparison to other countries they live in a world where all the contradictions and failings of capitalism still exist.

Also, aside from the fact that impoverishing people would be ridiculously stupid in itself, you assume that any dissatisfaction with the present order would express itself as a communist movement. That's not true: anti-migrant sentiment, nationalism, a generic and unfocused opposition to "the big banks", anti-Semitism, racial violence, petty criminality etc., are all ways through which their opposition can (and often does, in fact) take form.

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Entdinglichung
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Apr 2 2016 13:01

no

Fleur
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Apr 2 2016 13:08

Sounds fair. I woke up this morning thinking what I really, really needed was to make less money.

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Chilli Sauce
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Apr 2 2016 13:29

Who are these "rich" workers and "rich" proletarians you speak of?

Anyway, I'd just point out that two of the high points of class struggle in the latter half of the 20th century were Hungary in 56 and Paris in 68. Workers in both of these situations were relatively well off, yet somehow capable of undertaking revolutionary acts.

Also, mate, I definitely surpass your arbitrary threshold, but you know what? My rent (in not exactly a luxury apartment) goes up every year more than my wages, I have few benefits at my job (my partner has even less), and neither of us has health insurance. So spoiled, I know...

Fleur
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Apr 2 2016 13:31

I got paid yesterday. Paid the bills this morning. Oh well, it was nice being rich for 24 hours.

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Reddebrek
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Apr 2 2016 13:44
Tagore2 wrote:
Let me explain.

What do you think about it?

I'm thinking `I really hope you live to the West of me and this is a late April Fools joke.

I mean Third Worldism and bizarre mathematical equations aside, this isn't an accurate depiction of the world.

For example you say its in the interest of workers from poor nations to immigrate to rich nations, but simply put most of them simply don't. And those that do migrate, usually go next door or to a nation with cultural ties like language. Here's a global migration chart play around with it and see. The only real exception to that is when a society faces total collapse like a civil or famine.

You also state that immigration depresses wages and create unemployment, but you seem completely unaware of the phenomena of outsourcing. You know where capital moves to the labour rather than the other way round.

And I'm sorry but this"Conversely, the bourgeoisie is pleased to give these privileges to the rich proletarians, because they will never do the revolution." is total bollocks. What sector do you work in where the bosses are happy and proactive in giving out privileges? I've certainly not met one. Couldn't give me a reference could you?

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Fall Back
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Apr 2 2016 14:15

As Marx so eloquently put it, "Instead of the conservative motto, ‘A fair day's wage for a fair day's work!’ they ought to inscribe on their banner the revolutionary watchword, ‘increase the rate of exploitation!’"

Tagore2
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Apr 2 2016 14:57

>anything but satisfied

All is relative. Not unsatisfied to the point to do the revolution.

You know that the level of consumption is extremely unequal in the world.

And the economic growth will not increase the standard of living of the poorest workers to the level of the richest workers, especially during the revolution. During the revolution, the production decrease, not increase.

So if you want more equality, it is perforce to reduce the consumption of the richest workers. Or we must admit that the rich workers will remain rich and the poor workers will remain poor for an indefinite period. This is not what I call communism.

Perhaps some rich workers say they want “revolution”. But they don’t want equality. They want to earn more than PPP ~ $ 21000 per year (all-in), far more than the average. They want remain a privileged cast.

I saw that simple proletarians easily understand this. But most of Communists do not understand this.

You can read the Engels’s opinion on this in the links above.

> Who are these "rich" workers and "rich" proletarians you speak of?

Above the average: PPP ~$17000 in 2016.

> Anyway, I'd just point out that two of the high points of class struggle in the latter half of the 20th century were Hungary in 56 and Paris in 68.

This explains very simply why these revolutions have failed and why many French proletarians were very happy to return to work with a higher salary (cf. Grenelle agreements: +35% and +10%).

> And those that do migrate, usually go next door or to a nation with cultural ties like language.

This is true, but the migration would be 10x more important without migration restrictions.

> And I'm sorry but this"Conversely, the bourgeoisie is pleased to give these privileges to the rich proletarians, because they will never do the revolution." is total bollocks. […] Couldn't give me a reference could you?

"Pleased", maybe not, but it is knowingly that the bourgeoisie has agreements with the National proletariat rather than make a massive call to immigration.

The bourgeoisie built a fortress, with a bunch of servants ready to defend it. Why fight for the revolution if you are privileged? it does not make sense.

petey
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Apr 2 2016 16:05
Scheveningen wrote:
impoverishing people would be ridiculously stupid in itself

There are thoughtful responses above, but I admit my own analysis pretty much stopped right there

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Chilli Sauce
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Apr 2 2016 16:10

Mate, we already had the libcom April Fool's joke yesterday!

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Chilli Sauce
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Apr 2 2016 16:21

Anyway, consumption-based theories of revolution are so shit. Funnily enough, I saw my rabidly right-wing uncle over Easter and he's told me more than once that American workers are too well off to embrace socialism, how American capitalism has given them such a high standard of living...

I'll tell you the same thing I tell him - besides the fact a huge percentage of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck - alienation is far more of a motivating factor in class and revolutionary activity than poverty. It doesn't matter how much you make, everybody has problems at work, everyone has problems with their boss, and crises of capitalism are inevitable. And workers who are on the front line of struggles are often those who've build up confidence in previous struggles, the kind of struggles that gave them a decent wages and working conditions in the first place.

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jef costello
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Apr 2 2016 16:43
Tagore2 wrote:

Above the average: PPP ~$17000 in 2016.

I make more than that, but I am far from rich. In some countries that would get me a nice house, a car, a domestic servant etc.
I don't have any of these things. I do have health insurance though thankfully, I've been riding my luck a little bit and the idea of being financially wiped out by an accident or illness is pretty terrifying.
"See how you somehow managed to save up the equivalent of a month's take-home pay."
"Yes."
"Well that covers three nights in hospital. Would you like to die in the street or sell a kidney?"

Most people in the west are materially better off, they are certainly financially better off in terms of income. But all of that is under attack by capital, every aspect of welfare and social care as well as employment terms and conditions is under attack in pretty much every country. For example I have a pension, but as they cut benefits and push back the age at which I can claim it I do ask if I'll ever claim it and whether it will be worth anything if I do. If I have kids they can go to university, but they'll have to take out huge loans, assuming that's an option. It's pretty sad that a millstone of debt seems like a good option. I find it odd that you think that doing what capital does to us to ourselves is communism. I also think that any drop in production would be temporary or based on a completely different type of production. For example no more planned obsolescence.

I'm getting depressed maybe we can just come up with some good slogans.

Communism, you'll be miserable!

Full communism : partial housing!

Tired of the daily grind, why not risk your life and work twice as hard to make your life worse!

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Chilli Sauce
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Apr 2 2016 17:06
Quote:
maybe we can just come up with some good slogans

You know you got me thinking, Jef, and I think Tagore might just be right when he says...

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I saw that simple proletarians easily understand this. But most of Communists do not understand this.

I mean, this does explain why when workers in Bangladesh go on strike, you always see placards demanding a reduction in wages in developed countries. You know, it never made sense to me before...

"Simple proletarians of the world unite - low wages for everyone!"

radicalgraffiti
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Apr 2 2016 17:09

lowered by who? who do you imagine is going to lower wages to provoke revolution? the capitalists who are allegedly using high wages to prevent it?

Tagore2
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Apr 2 2016 18:34

> I make more than that, but I am far from rich.

Yes, if you make more than super gross PPP $17000, you are above the average, you don’t have any objective interest in the communist revolution. The world revolution should lower your standard of living.

The English proletariat is actually becoming more and more bourgeois, so that this most bourgeois of all nations is apparently aiming ultimately at the possession of a bourgeois aristocracy and a bourgeois proletariat alongside the bourgeoisie. For a nation which exploits the whole world this is of course to a certain extent justifiable.

I would even say: the English proletariat is completely bourgeois now!

The English proletarians love the monarchy. 85% are monarchists.

The English proletarians hate migrants. 4% want to increase immigration, and 77% want to reduce it.

Why? The English proletariat were “fooled”?

The English proletariat has an objective interest to be allied with the national bourgeoisie. The bourgeois state prevents mass immigration, limiting competition and increases wages far above the average. No wonder if the English proletariat like the monarchy and do never a real hard strike.

The English proletariat is sold.

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gram negative
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Apr 2 2016 18:59

has relative immiseration outside of the 'west' led to revolution?

why is there no revolution outside of the west?

also, mean incomes don't say much when you don't know the distribution of income. methodological issues aside, calling western workers 'rich' is rich. come around to baltimore or other cities with high numbers of urban poor and i'll show you how rich people are

bedfordtk
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Apr 2 2016 19:06

There's so much wrong with your posts.

For starters you are ignoring the fact that 100$ in e.g. UK buys you a lot less than 100$ in India so the idea that you can do some calculation and work out a wage value over which workers are exploiting instead of being exploited.

But more importantly the idea communism will lead to a reduction in living standards for 1st world proletariat is q fallacy that for starters seems to imply there would still be wage labour (ie that money would somehow be globally redistributed after revolution ). We already have the capacity produce everything that most 1st world proletariat have access to, I.e. Food, roof over head, phone, computer, Internet, medical care, entertainment...

Ye there might not be enough for everyone to have yachts/high end luxuries (most of which would lose heir attraction in a moneyless world anyway)but the proletariat in 1st world doesn't have ready access to those anyway.

Also as others have mentioned you are completely ignoring alienation.

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Chilli Sauce
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Apr 2 2016 19:12

Revolutions are rarely made by revolutionaries. In any case, you misanthropy, utter lack of faith in the working class, and serious misunderstanding of class movements is glaring.

You ever read Beecher's Strike? His whole thing is that heightened periods of class struggle make clear the nature of capitalist society and force people to pick a side. Win or lose, people rarely come away from those struggles the same way.

Given the incredibly low level of class struggle in Britain today, it's hardly surprising people fall back on received wisdom.

I might also point out we opinion polls are pretty useless when it actually comes to predicting behavior - especially in relation to class issues.

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The Pigeon
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Apr 2 2016 19:13

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Apr 2 2016 20:01
Quote:
Yes, if you make more than super gross PPP $17000, you are above the average, you don’t have any objective interest in the communist revolution. The world revolution should lower your standard of living.

Erm, making better than average doesn't preclude you from being a class conscious person, or a communist. It does begin to shape the exact role, given this or that actual form of employment, in the fight to get rid of capitalism.

Capitalism can always provide slightly better than average income for some section of the working population; the point of being a communist, and of class struggle is that recognition that capitalism cannot provide higher than average for all. That is, that the working class *as a class* cannot escape the horrors, only this or that section of it. That's a factual point; a point of education, that has to be hammered home. It's not some spontaneous realization based on getting fucked over.

When a section escapes the horrors, even it's sectional interests would indicate the necessity of working class unity. Of course this strategy my be denied given any particular bourgeois notion (national interest, racial interest, gendered interest, as taking precedent over class; some illusion about the rising tide lifting all boats, general economic ignorance, etc.) which substitutes a conservative policy for one which would unite the class around a program of revolution.
grin

wojtek
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Apr 2 2016 20:11

When people rightly claim that the British welfare state and health service was created off the backs of workers from Iran, India, ex-colonies, what is the political implication?

Tagore2
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Apr 2 2016 20:21

The political implication is the corrupt proletariat will never do the revolution. Corrupt proletariat fight against immigration, fight for national and corporatist interests, that is, against the world proletariat.

We need 20 or even 40 million of real proletarians to make the revolution instead of the English. The English working class will never take up arms against the parlement, it is so obvious! His only goal is to become even fatter, richer, as complacently allows it the English aristocracy.

Only people who have nothing to lose are willing to risk their lives for the revolution. Certainly not the English!

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gram negative
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Apr 2 2016 20:29
Tagore2 wrote:
The political implication is the corrupt proletariat will never do the revolution. Corrupt proletariat fight against immigration, fight for national and corporatist interests, that is, against the world proletariat.

We need 20 or even 40 million of real proletarians to make the revolution instead of the English. The English working class will never take up arms against the parlement, it is so obvious! His only goal is to become even fatter, richer, as complacently allows it the English aristocracy.

Only people who have nothing to lose are willing to risk their lives for the revolution. Certainly not the English!

so, where is the non-western revolution? it must be well-hidden

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Apr 2 2016 20:36
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Only people who have nothing to lose are willing to risk their lives for the revolution. Certainly not the English!

Where are these revolutions in the developing world? Going by your logic and the fact that in particular Africa people have been destitute, revolutions should have been happening everywhere and all the time. Here's the shitty fact: if you are worried about feeding yourself and your family--the condition of having lost everything since your life is reduced to mere survival--you simply won't worry about more than food.

And also, if you actually know something about the proletariat in countries in the poorer parts of the world, they are as equally racist, against immigration, typically firmly nationalist and interested in getting "richer" as much as the English proletariat.

Really, Maoist third worldism was always bankrupt and more of pet theory of people in the rich world; people believing in such theories can effectively just ignore doing anything in their home country with an excuse that everyone is corrupt. It's really just a cop out and an excuse for doing nothing.

Tagore2
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Apr 2 2016 21:14

> Where are these revolutions in the developing world?

The class war is much harder in "developing countries" than in developed countries. You would be hard pressed to explain why the proletariat and the bourgeoisie are so kind to each other in the UK? is it really necessary to recall that the South African police fired on miners of Marikana? Or that the police tortured the Susuki strikers in India? You think it is a coincidence that it never happens in the UK?

The British workers know what limit they must not cross, and conversely the bourgeoisie paid attention to well-being of its nice proletariat. So there is no revolution in UK. But in Africa, the Middle East or India, where are the real proletarians: tatatatatata!

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gram negative
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Apr 2 2016 22:00

so, strikes are revolutions now? i don't say this to diminish the actions of the workers, but your argument implies that there is an direct relationship between immiseration and revolutionary activity, but there are many impoverished areas that have not seen the struggles seen in South Africa or Gurgaon - what is your explanation for that?

also, i live in a city in the wealthiest state by median income in the US, which was in the news last year following the murder of a worker by the state, which happens with regularity. a curfew was imposed by the barrel of the gun, hoisted by the military; i'm sure you saw the violence meted out against the protesting workers. so, yes, i don't agree that western workers are bought off and feted, as you do.

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Apr 2 2016 22:20

As gram negative said, strikes don't make a revolution. And also, repression happens in the Western world as well. While the death count may be lower, strikes, protests, square occupations are met with the organized violence of the state. People are increasingly being arrested for statements made on social media and so on. In the US, the police has open season on black proletarians etc.

In any case, you are data mining what happens in the developing world. At the same time as there are strikes, there are pogroms against immigrants, proletarians lining up behind xenophobic politicians.

This belief of yours is kind of juvenile to be honest, and quite orientalist (for lack of a better word). I am sure many people thought in your terms when they were young and new to politics. I certainly did for some time, but then I realized that the world is more than just what I had directly experienced.

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fingers malone
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Apr 2 2016 22:56

Agree with the last two posts.

Where does this kind of view of the western proletariat get you? I remember a guy who was really into that. He told me that by going on strike for higher wages I was killing people in the Third World.

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Apr 2 2016 23:06
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You would be hard pressed to explain why the proletariat and the bourgeoisie are so kind to each other in the UK?

No, not at all. It only takes a bit of knowledge of the period stretching from 1945 to 1973.

In any case, you are offering the crudest determinist argument about why people revolt. It's all about the "objective conditions".