Communism is dying

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carlosgonzalez
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Oct 8 2006 10:51
Communism is dying

It is an ideology which arouse in the mid 19th century in response to a kind of society which we no longer have in the west.

Though it still hold relevance in other parts of the world which have not advanced as much it is neither a practical solution as we nowadays have better solutions.

As a modern socialist and economist I prefer to express myself in terms of social democracies and CIVIL societies.

I despise the use of terms as "proletarian" as it does not respond to the realities of the problems and situations we are facing. Nor do I give any credit to the class struggle ideas, as I dont see such rigid structures anymore.

My ancestors fought a bitter war, the Spanish Civil war, something which makes me proud to be Spanish as the ideals and issues of the time where forefront. It also makes me proud to see the country we have today, its liberties, tolerance and welfare.

Dont you think that it is time to move?

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Joseph Kay
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Oct 8 2006 11:02

bienvenido carlos

i think the proletariat/working class has changed massively since '36, but class struggle still exists, even if the kind of classical proletarian revolutions like in Spain are a thing of the past (not least because of modern weaponry).

i don't think the spain of today is the spain that millions fought and thousands died for on the barricades in the civil war - we still have a lot to do if we want the liberty your ancestors fought for.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Oct 8 2006 11:03

Social democracy is also dying - the PSOE is now merely a neo-liberal hatchet force, imposing the desires of the coporations. Say goodbye to the welfare states across Europe as well, if social democrats have their way.

carlosgonzalez
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Oct 8 2006 11:54

Dear Joseph, thanks for the welcom,I disagree when you say:

Quote:
i don't think the spain of today is the spain that millions fought and thousands died for on the barricades in the civil war

That is what anarquist or comunists of the time would say today but you have to bear in mind tha anaquists where limited to Catalunya and that comunists where a very small minority party when the conflict arouse, thought it grew considerably thanks to the rusian support and their militarist profesionalism.

The militaris uprising was against the democratically elected socialist government who did not intend to carry out a revolution as such but to introduce new "revolutionary" laws that would have seriously affected the staturs quo of the church, the army officers and the land owners, and by extension, the conservative middle / rural classes of the day.

In that sense the Spain we have today is very similar to the Spain of the day, Democratic, Secular and Progressive. And I am sure that many of those who fought would be very proud of what we have today.

Joseph, what more libyerty do you need? I for one do not feel my rights to be coerced by anyone...

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Dear lazlo, you wrote

Quote:
Social democracy is also dying - the PSOE is now merely a neo-liberal hatchet force, imposing the desires of the coporations. Say goodbye to the welfare states across Europe as well, if social democrats have their way.

You maybe right, but then call me a neo-liberal hatchet if you please as I am not willing to stand up and fight for socialist dogmas. I am first and foremost a CYNICAL, I dont belive in fighting for what is not attainable, in particular following our history in the past 100 years where people have masascred each others for ideas that proved worthless.

Though I know where u are coming from regarding social democracies and the welfare state and I agree with you that they are pulling back on their comitment, I also have my experience as an economist to understand why, though one does not need to be an economist to see the problems in the system.

However, though the generous German welfare states has received some cutbacks, that has not been the case with the spanish one and I am particularly proud of our health system, specially since I have already had 3 small operations myself. Furthermore there is an agreement between all parties to secure the health of our pension system which came under threat due to demografic fall in the birth rate. In a great part thanks to immigration.

I asure you that the spanish Welfare systems is very solid in its current form and that neither PSOE nor PP are planning any major changes besides guaranteeing its continuity.

It maybe interesting for you to know that our welfare systems was introduced by PP during Francos regime. I know from other boards that it is a troublesome topic, but fascists where socialists in much of their ideology, (Nazi - NSDAP - Nationaliste Socialiste Deutsche Arbeits Party)

Let me finnish by saying that I am very sadened by the way left wing movements have disagreed and fought, often to death, in the past. I find American politics extremely confusing, with all that neo-con and neo-lib talk, but I would appreciate if you stood up for one of the most important socialist partys in europe instead of critizise it. Lets not follow in the steps of the comunist(Stalin)-Poum(Trotsky)divide.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Oct 8 2006 12:55
carlosgonzalez wrote:
I would appreciate if you stood up for one of the most important socialist partys in europe instead of critizise it. Lets not follow in the steps of the comunist(Stalin)-Poum(Trotsky)divide.

The PSOE has alrready declared war on anarchists in Spain a lon time ago. I think you need to look at your socialists' record of represson against workers, immigrants and nationalists before askin for 'peace'. Like you point out, in many cases sate-socialists are similar to fascists - they only favour welfare as a way to head off greater change.

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Ed
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Oct 8 2006 13:19
Quote:
I asure you that the spanish Welfare systems is very solid in its current form and that neither PSOE nor PP are planning any major changes besides guaranteeing its continuity.

tut tut carlos, I thought you said you were a cynic. Are you telling me that in the face of big business pressure and the need to remain competative with other countries in Europe that the PSOE would continue to bolster welfare in Spain. Why? Coz they're nice? That doesn't sound like cynicism mate, that sounds like naivety.

I mean, one of the biggest post-Franco strikes in Spain happened when the PSOE tried to shut down shipyards in Puerto Real. And I think you've only got to look at the British Labour Party to see how far social democracy can degenerate. What makes you think it'll be different in Spain?

Quote:
It maybe interesting for you to know that our welfare systems was introduced by PP during Francos regime. I know from other boards that it is a troublesome topic, but fascists where socialists in much of their ideology, (Nazi - NSDAP - Nationaliste Socialiste Deutsche Arbeits Party)

Sorry mate but we can all play this game. I mean, history is full of regime's which called themselves democratic but at no point would I ever draw parallels between your ideas and that of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Its intellectually dishonest and just a little bit rubbish.

Quote:
Though I know where u are coming from regarding social democracies and the welfare state and I agree with you that they are pulling back on their comitment, I also have my experience as an economist to understand why

I'm not sure what you want us to say to that. I mean, their reason is that they want to maximise/increase their profit so giving less to state welfare/marketising it seems a good move on their part. Rubbish for us though. Could they not just keep paying into social welfare? No, that's not how capitalism works.

Which is a shame.

carlosgonzalez
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Oct 8 2006 13:55
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. I think you need to look at your socialists' record of represson against workers, immigrants and nationalists before askin for 'peace'.

Lazlo, that is the kind of bullshit I associate with religious style communism. Who are you to talk of "repression"? For one in 8 years of PP government not one immigrant got his papers, it took a PSOE government to legalize one million people.

I for one had a russian girlfriend and came close to marrying her just so she could get her papers and have some peace of mind to live and work like a human being. I was under the PP government and with the help of the Union I searched for all possibilities, but found none. Fortunately PSOE won and I avoided getting married to her, all the better because we are no longer together...

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Dear Ed, when asked, spaniards are not worried about any possible demise of the welfare state. I mentioned that the welfare state was created by PP to highlight that both parties are interested in maintaining it.

Quote:
their reason is that they want to maximise/increase their profit so giving less to state welfare/marketising it seems a good move on their part

That is over simplistic. The main reason is that it has been statistically obseved that countries with more moderate welfare systems have better economies with more activity and more responsive to change.

The story goes like this: government spends by virtue of taxes, taxes which it mainly gets from workers. If government spend less on welfare it will not need to tax as much. This leads to more expenditure from workers wich leads to more economic activity.

You have to stop working under the premise that there is a class struggle. Why are central banks independent nowadays? Why are all governemnts vouching for cero deficit budgets? It got nothing to do with class struggle but with being more efficient, of working better.

By the way, this is not captalism, this is economics, the same principles that have existed since the moment life was created and was faced with making choices. What you call capitalism died with the industrial revolution, to continue to use the same terminology is not only simplistic but demeaning to your valid leftwing points of view.

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p.d. I know this is too long, but you mentiong the shipyard strikes in Puerto Real. As a worker and tax payer I do not want to maintain industries that are loosing money, I rather have that money spent in schools or health provision. It is not our fault that Corea subsidiezed its shipbuilding industry, just as it was not Margaret Thatchers fault that the UK found oil in the NOrth Sea and there was no longer a need for coal.

Another similar issue nowadays is subsidies given to farmers and barrier placed on food imports from developing countries, those same countries to whom we are giving aid to... We cannot have it both ways and i'd rather eat carrots from Etiopia instead of Badajoz, that way I save the subsidies to the farmers in badajoz to make a decent living growing carrots and the aid sent to etiopia because they have noone to sell their carrots to...

Mike Harman
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Oct 8 2006 14:04
carlosgonzalez wrote:

Besides a government spends by virtue of taxes, taxes which it mainly gets from workers. If government spend less on welfare it will not need to tax as much. This leads to more expenditure from workers wich leads to more economic activity, and more responsive.

That's a non-sequitor. Welfare and social provision cuts in the UK have been associated with spiralling taxes and cost of living increases. The only additional "economic activity" it generates is the massive asset stripping that goes with it, as things are sold off at a fraction of their value, prices are hiked, workers' conditions are cut, and "investment" is redirected into shareholder dividends, whilst the government continues to subsidise at massive cost via PFI interest payments and 30-year service agreements etc.

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Ed
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Oct 8 2006 14:37
Quote:
You have to stop working under the premise that there is a class struggle. Why are central banks independent nowadays? Why are all governemnts vouching for cero deficit budgets? It got nothing to do with class struggle but with being more efficient, of working better.

Don't stop now mate, keep going! Working better for who? And to who's detriment?

carlosgonzalez
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Oct 8 2006 14:55

Dear Catch, you have a point, but the idea is not limited to one country but rather it is an statistical obsevation from many, atleast 50. Hence discussing the situation of the UK alone does not support or contradict the overall conclusion.

I dont want to go into full fledge economics because what I have seen is rather simplistic and would rather take it a step at a time. In any case what you describe sounds closer to Argentina than the UK. I also find it too short.

Lets see,

Quote:
Welfare and social provision cuts in the UK have been associated with spiralling taxes and cost of living increases

In my time the main welfare cuts I saw was in the NHS. What spiralling taxes? Has VAT changed in the past few years? Life was dam expensive when I was studying in London...

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The only additional "economic activity" it generates is the massive asset stripping

Masssive? I can believe that of Argentinas National Monopolies, but not of the UK's welfare system... What is there, or was there so massive to be stripped down?

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"investment" is redirected into shareholder dividends

Were we not talking about the welfare state? what do shareholders got to do with it?

In any case, in an economy Investment = Savings. Those shareholders you speak of, which in modern economies is much of the population, will use the extra dividends to spend or save. This decision grants a good analysis, but we would need to go into more complex issues, probably where the heart of the matter lies.

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whilst the government continues to subsidise at massive cost via PFI interest payments and 30-year service agreements etc.

Here is where I got lost, what are these PFI and 30-year service agreements?...

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One simple conclusion generally accepted in the past 20 years is that individuals are better at spending money than government.

You may find this obvious but for a long time it wasnt and governments where seen as responsible for its citizens as parents to children.

This in part led in the 60's and 70's to increasing expenditures by running considerable deficits. The idea was that it would boost economies whose full potential had not been realised. The problem was that most economies where realizing their full potential and after the money was spent countries were left with the same economy but highly in debt. Italy's government in 1990 owed 134% of its GDP, i.e. about 20.000 pounds per citizen...

Things have changed a lot lately, for one we have not suffered a serious crisis in 15 years. Remember those boom and bust economies? Remember the "economic cycles"? They have dissappeared thanks to economists, who have identified the problems and provided working solutions. For example through Independent central banks who decide on interest rates and monetary policy.

carlosgonzalez
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Oct 8 2006 15:06
Quote:
Working better for who? And to who's detriment?

Dear ed, my grandmother has arthritis in her hands because she could not afford a washing machine.

In the past most people rented accomodation because they could not pay for it.

Ed, you have a computer, so I suppose you have a house and possibly a car among other goods... Where did all that come from, to who's detriment is it that you have all this wealth???

p.d. Captialism doesnt exist, it died with the industrial revolution and dickensian working conditions. You must be referring to something else, I hope we could agree on the vocabulary, after all we are trying to communicate.

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sam sanchez
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Oct 8 2006 15:07

I don't see what has changed.

We are still exploited.

We are still forced to cell command over out bodies and minds - our freedom - to those who control the means of production

Our interests are still opposed to those of the bosses who have power over us and make money from our work.

The ruling classes are still hugely class conscious, and there are huge schemes afoot to get rid of the rights workers have gained, casualisation etc. P.S. this is not more efficient - indeed, research unusually strong for any area of the social sciences, that more profit share, worker participation and job security are more efficient, not less. The reason they are being rolled back are because they reduce the power management and shareholders have over workers.

So in summary, the problems are the same at a basic level as they were in 1936, and they will be until we have things such as workers' self-management and community direct democracy.

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sam sanchez
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Oct 8 2006 15:12
carlosgonzalez wrote:
D Those shareholders you speak of, which in modern economies is much of the population

Wrong. Around 90% of shares are owned by 5% of the population. Even if shares were equally distributed, it would not make the capitalist workplaces any less undemocratic, hierarchical and alienating. Stability or mere monetary equality is not the only issue in an economy, you know.

carlosgonzalez
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Oct 8 2006 15:37

I am not being exploited, as a matter of fact I have not worked in the last 3 years, I dont need to, it is not that expensive to live nowaday, I am very happy with 300pounds a month and I have plenty more saved up.

The issue is that I dont have a girfriend, wife / family to maintain and I am not falling to my peer pressure to work, from my family and some friends.

Ofcourse the interest of bosses are different to those of workers, just as a plumbers job is different to a salesman, and just a two competitors have different interests.

Look, the richest guy I have worked for barely knew how to read and write, but he was a great deales and a very hard working man that build up his business, so please dont give the that rulling class crap because Ive seen plenty of those stupid kids fucking around in uni and their contacts didnt take them very far.

I think that there is a fundamental difference between some of you guys and I, in that you think there is something mistical about the working class. Whereas 100 years ago class structures were rigid, nowadays someone who has the right values of hard work, constancy and dedication can easily succeed either studying, through job promotion or becoming an entrepeneur themselves. I for one had a relatively unhappy teenhood because I had to study hard to get to university.

Quote:
So in summary, the problems are the same at a basic level as they were in 1936, and they will be until we have things such as workers' self-management and community direct democracy.

Yeah, and now tell me that you dont like taking your girlfriend to the cinema to watch a hollywood block buster, that you dont enjoy driving a german car and that you never go McDonalds... And next please explain how all this fits in self-management and community direct democracy.

THE BOTTOM LINE IS, IF YOU CAN DO IT BETTER, WHAT IS STOPPING YOU???

carlosgonzalez
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Oct 8 2006 15:41

Bullshit sam, the biggest shareholders nowadays are pension funds, where did you get that crap about 5% holdign 90%?

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Stability or mere monetary equality is not the only issue in an economy, you know.

There is a ranking of living standards which compares countries, It has 30 different categories to rate... so dont come with childish argument to me man, just because I did not mention all the other 28 doesnt mean that I do not value them.

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sam sanchez
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Oct 8 2006 16:17

I got it from the lastest government surveys, showing that the gap between rich and poor is increasing. Its a commonly acknowledged fact.

What's stopping us? Mostly the fact that our ideas aren't out there. Most people I have talked to still think anarchy = chaos and communism = the USSR.

carlosgonzalez
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Oct 8 2006 16:26

Id like to check out those figures, can you give me a link?

I'll also try to find aternative ones myself.

By the way, there are some people like Bill Gates who have enormous fortunes, but most of these are in shares of companies because they want to control them and not necessarily and primarily as a store of wealth. So I would be weary of including that in my figures just as I would not include the shares which are held by other companies.

By the way, you may be pleased to know that it only takes 3 generations for a multibillion fortune to be wasted. Vanderbilt which was a early american trains mogul, had 50 descendants by the third generation, and most of them were profesional who lived on their salaries, one of them writting this grandfather biografy...

This is important because 100 years ago wealth tended to stay in the family and class structures where rather solid, but that is not so nowadays.

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Joseph Kay
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Oct 8 2006 19:14

but a fluid class system is still a class system. ruling and being ruled is degrading, and the only 'choice' we have is how far to scramble up the ladder with the resources we have. thats bullshit.

and as others have said, where there is social democracy without a decent level of class struggle for it to contain, it is being dismantled as superfluous to the requirements of accumulation. capitalism isn't all top hats and smokestacks anymore (in the first world at least), but it still very much exists.

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jason
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Oct 9 2006 00:51

Firstly, big ups to everyone for the quality of the debate on this thread and not degenerating coz of the diametricaly opposed views.

Carlos, I think most people in the country where I live would agree with you that we live in an unparralled era of wealth and freedom, and consequently working-class consciousness is currently extremely low. However, to think that we are seeing the end of history and a new era of stability is pretty naive. The fact is that no capitalist economy can maintain social spending without becoming inflationary, then there's liberalisation, then people get upset and demand social spending, etc, etc ... hence the cycles of capitalism. In my country we're currently seeing huge roll backs in worker's rights and social welfare, probably even class mobility. All this is coupled with rising wages in Asia, so global financiers have less to throw around. Thus, I can't see how wages and social conditions here won't be forced backwards on the whole, or in the first world more generally. On top of all this the thirst for profits demands wars to protect oil reserves, destroys the planet, etc.

Don't forget the critiques of capitalism were also based on an admiration of its organisational and productive capacities to increase human standards of living, but only until a point when things can't get better. The early philosphers also never predicted things like nuclear war and ecological catastrophe. How long do you think the current economic arrangement can persist? Do you think things are getting better or worse in your country for working people? Do you make a conection between profit-seeking and wars in the mid-East? Why do you think the US and its allies are militarising the globe - to protect us against terrorism, or to protect markets? I think you should pratice a bit of that cynicism you claim to have.

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daniel
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Oct 9 2006 01:31

I dunno, I gotta say you're fucking hilarious Carlos Gonzalez. A real comic. You don't seem totally stupid and yet everything you are saying is shite. Funny old thing that.
Anyone who denies the reality of class struggle is an idiot or a liar.

carlosgonzalez
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Oct 9 2006 02:14

I also value the level of the debate, it is what I was expecting and I have learnt a lot about your points of view.

My first criticism is that you seem to think that it is only "capitalists", or rahter what I would probably refer to corporations, that indulge in accumulation of wealth. But I look at my granmother for one and I see a teacher who has spent her entire life saving and hardly indulging in any pleasure, for one, my grandfather never owned a car. Now she is a relatively rich old woman and continues to save i.e. spend less than her pension. Another example of accumulation by everyone is the desire to own more than one car or apartment. Statistics say that 30% of properties in spain are un-inhabited, people own them as a store of wealth.

So please stop deluding yourself with the idea that accumulation is unique to capitalism. Accumulation of wealth is as rational and human as the simple desire to enjoy life.

Quote:
The fact is that no capitalist economy can maintain social spending without becoming inflationary,

You have a point, but you are mixing two separate concepts. In particular you relate to the practices of the 60s-80s where economic theory of the time, mainly keynesian, argued that if the economy was not at its full potential, then governments would do well by borrowing and running budget deficits to incentivate it. However this was flawed and as a side effect led to serious miss management of monetary policy (interest rates). Politicians where tempted to seek short term gains by lowering interest rates incentivating investment and reducing the cost of government borrowing, but this led to increased money supply and inflation in the long ran. One can either control the money supply or the interest rate, and missmanagement led to the high inflations of the 70s and 80s.

The solution to this problem has been to set up independent central banks, which is a very recent development i.e. very late 80's. Taking the interest rate decision out of the government is equivalent to taking away monetary policy from them and into the hands of independent Central Banks, people like Greenspan or like my monetary economics teacher. Since then inflationary preassures have been tamed wherever independent central banks exist. This is a success story of economist and economic theory, i.e. what many call tecnocrats.

The initial problem with your statement is that the level of social spending you want to maintain is in excess of the taxes received. The solution requires that as any reasonable household or individual, governements do not attempt to spend more than they earn, and that they do not attempt to cover this expenditure gap with borrowing.

So now we arrive to modern economies such as the spanish one, where a level of social spending is maintained without inflationary pressures, and year by year spending is incresed in education, health and other areas in accordance to the higher tax revenue. In particular education expenditure was increased 5% last year.

Quote:
hence the cycles of capitalism

This is something you have to reasses, the US and Europe have seen constant economic growth since 1990, that is more than 15 years, something totally unprecedented. Ofcourse economic growth sometimes slowsdown, but nothing like the recessions of the past.

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Now, another term which I would prefer to discuss other than capitalism is Globalisation, the globalisation of corporations that is. whereas I see positive effects, world wide growth rates are at their hieghst point in human history (5%) and conflicts at a minimum, I see resonable criticism in the exploitation of corruption in less developed countries i.e. Argentina.

Another aspect of this globalisation is that as you comment, it bring millions of consumers and workers into the global economy, people who demand houses, cars and ultimately scarce resources like oil. Hence it is expected that as our limited resource are shared among more people the price of these will rise and we in the west being the current high earners ones, will see part of our wealth decline at the same time as asians wealth incrases.

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War for Oil.

This is a very interesting topic, particularly because I am convinced that the war in Iraq has been engineered and used by the Bush administration as an excuse to justify 300billion US dollars worth of government expenditure which as we all know has been channeled towards companies owned directly or by friend of people in the administration.

Hence I see this more in terms of horrible corruption and abuse of the confidence and innocence of the American public than a war for Oil resources, particularly because as we have seen it had the opposite effect, leading to a doubling of oil prices.

Ofcourse Bush and friends argued that they would use Iraqui oil revenues to pay for the 300billion spent, but that has just not happened and the whole operation in iraq, besides killing thousands of people and throwing a country into a defacto civil war and the hands of Iranian simpathisers.

The real politics of the fight for energy resources is played by energy companies from each country with big fat bank accounts to compete and buy energy resources. For example, 9 of the 10 most important foreign companies in Sudan are Chinese, and they are buying all of Sudan's oil production, something that the US is not pleased about and is fighting by highlighting and bringing into the media the dafur conflict.

Infact, it is stupid for the US to keep such as expensive imperialistic army as it is only good against second rate countries, and too expensive to implement anyway. It is obvious that the US is not going to fight China, or Rusia, or Europe, or Latin America and that makes up 75% of the world population and 95% of its wealth.

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I have read early philosophers, the earliest being Plato and Aristototeles and in particular I found Plato hilarioius to read because in hindsight most of his ideas are extremely stupid. Rather than a philosopher he was a very early scientist, albeight one who thought that thinking could provide the answers, whereas modern science rellies on the scientific method of hypothesis testing and empirical observation.

Similarly I feel that "early" left wing philosophers such as Proudon, Marx, or Engels are an early breed or economist, who studied the system and saw the problems it had and proposed solutions. Hence I am inclined to feel that it is economists who are their true inheritance and the language of economics the one needed for dialectic discourse, rather than comunist or anarchist thinkers who are still anchored in obsolete points of view and terminology.

At this point I will say that I have a B.Sc in Economics from the LSE and that I am very proud of the impact my university, founded by Sidney and Patrice Webb, has had on the UK and world socialism through the development and expansion of WELFARE ECONOMICS. Without understanding modern economic development you guys are crippled to provide practical and relevant solutions to the problems posed by modern realities.

carlosgonzalez
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Oct 9 2006 02:37

Dear daniel, Early revolutionaries saw the working class as the rightfull leaders of the economy by virtue that they carried the burden of the physical labor involved.

Now we saw with Stalin, that workers remained being workers and that the Bourgueous where replaiced by and ideological elite. I despise those who take ideology as a sacred religion and consider themselves their holy priests, with a licences to make normative decisions about other peoples lives.

Class struggle exists but I wouldn't call it that, I would rather say that we are all different types of economic agents, faced with a world in which resoruces are limited and hence allocated by a market system with the use of prices. This system has problems which justify the existance of a central authority to regulate and reduce these inefficiencies.

Workers are face with competition from other workers and with the inefficiency associated when there is a limited number of employers who then have monopolistic control on the job market. Employers themselves are face with competition among themselves for labour, resources and clients, and they too have to face inneficiencies i.e. comeptitors using monopolistic practices.

Focusing on the "class struggle" is a very limited way to analize the economy. In particular there used to be a say in Spain that "no employee is fundamental to the running of the company", to which I have added that "no one company is fundamental to the life of the employee". With a dinamic job market where a new job is not difficult to get, the worker can change very easily. Whereas in the past workers dreamt of a life long job, nowadays this rarely happens and most of the people I know change job every few years in other to get better working conditions, be it a better salary, more recognition or maybe just being closer to home.

Furthermore, there has been a drastic change, particularly in spain, whereby the working class are earning more than the traditionally educated middle class. Spain is an exceptional country because nearly 50% of the people get university degrees and this leads to a average salary for degree holders between 800€ and 1200€ i.e. in administration, banks, etc. However a good carpenter soon earns 1500€ a month, and some construction workers make in excess of 2000€. The reason is simple, parents dont want their children do do manual labour and as a result the price and salaries of manual labour have risen considerably.

So please stop thinking exclusively of the working class and start to show a little more pity on the middle class - professionals.

By the way, is there any working class in this forum? Does anybody work in a factory? Construction? Driving a bus?

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EdmontonWobbly
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Oct 9 2006 03:00
Quote:
So please stop deluding yourself with the idea that accumulation is unique to capitalism. Accumulation of wealth is as rational and human as the simple desire to enjoy life.

Who claimed that?

By the way I'm a postal worker thank you very much. Most of my comrades work in places like the railroads, oil drilling in western canada, and the public education system and I think they are just as capable of running their own workplaces as anyone else.

carlosgonzalez
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Oct 9 2006 03:27

Joseph K did, but it has also been mentioned in other threatds.

Oil drilling, public education, postal service, railroads... How working class are these? for I come from a family of teachers and we are not working class, it even states in their contract that their category is as middle class profesionals. Oil drilling is a risky job but it pays terribly well. And the postal and railroads service used to be public in spain and had extremely good working conditions, for one most jobs were for life...

I would have thought that the difference between working and middle / profesional classes lies in the level of education required. I see the working class more along the lines of Ken Loach's "Bread and Roses", those jobs immigrants are doing and where they are extremely vulnerable.

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they are just as capable of running their own workplaces as anyone else

That is a very interesting idea and if it where true it would mean that the company could save a lot of money by reducing managerial positions. Im sure that you have a point and also that many business structures have responded to this, in part by lowering the salary difference between different categories of employess.

I worked for one of the main spanish banks and the salary difference between a newbie and the branch director was only 60%, taking into account that there were 3 intermediary categories, i.e. a 15% increase in salary everytime one improved in category.

The way we run the office was very indepedent, everyone knew their job and we hardly interfered with each other. We were all "compañeros" and treated ourselves on a first name basis even though we showed respect towards our peers... It was a nice working atmosphere and the only problem came from a couple of big mouthed back stabbing coleagues, fortunately nothing serious as there wasnt a real "boss" figure. This bank by the way, has repeatedly proven to be the most profitablle of spanish banks.

My conclusion is that if your friends are not running their workplaces it must be because it has been tried and it didnt work as well as the current system.

Please note that in the spanish civil war, CNT-FAI proved successfull thanks to their organisational bureocracy.

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jason
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Oct 9 2006 04:54
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So please stop deluding yourself with the idea that accumulation is unique to capitalism. Accumulation of wealth is as rational and human as the simple desire to enjoy life.

Of course it is natural to try and save for a rainy day if you live under an insecure economic arrangement. I would much prefer to pay off a mortgage than piss money away as rent. I don't see how this translates into some claim about humanity's propensity to accumulate stuff. If school's and hospitals were free and family's had the means and time to look after their aged, would people still accumulate wealth? I suggest you look into the anthropological literature on material accumulation in different times and places. Maurice Bloch is from LSE, he might be of help to you.

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The initial problem with your statement is that the level of social spending you want to maintain is in excess of the taxes received.

Exactly my point. People's needs are at odds with what the current economic arrangement can provide.

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The solution to this problem has been to set up independent central banks, which is a very recent development i.e. very late 80's. Taking the interest rate decision out of the government is equivalent to taking away monetary policy from them and into the hands of independent Central Banks, people like Greenspan or like my monetary economics teacher. Since then inflationary preassures have been tamed wherever independent central banks exist. This is a success story of economist and economic theory, i.e. what many call tecnocrats.

Except that the independent banks aren't very independent at all in practice being appointed by the government. The inflationary success story you are referring to is nothing less then the roll back of public spending characteristic of the neo-liberal era ('80s-'90s) and the concommitant roll back of working-class quality of life.

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So now we arrive to modern economies such as the spanish one, where a level of social spending is maintained without inflationary pressures, and year by year spending is incresed in education, health and other areas in accordance to the higher tax revenue. In particular education expenditure was increased 5% last year.

I think you'll find that every other advanced economy is feeling the burden of what residual social expenditure exists and is rolling it back. Don't worry you'll see in Spain in a few years, which only now is playing a little catch-up. You still have to address my point from my initial post though that the only way for the advanced economies is backwards, and what does this say about capitalism?

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the US and Europe have seen constant economic growth since 1990, that is more than 15 years, something totally unprecedented. Ofcourse economic growth sometimes slowsdown, but nothing like the recessions of the past.

er...the steadiest growth was between the '60s and '70s with heightened fluctuations in the late '80s/early '90s. And now of course economists are predicting a recession in the US given the current budget deficit and rising oil prices, which of course will translate into a world recession...

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jason
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Oct 9 2006 05:12
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Now, another term which I would prefer to discuss other than capitalism is Globalisation, the globalisation of corporations that is. whereas I see positive effects, world wide growth rates are at their hieghst point in human history (5%) and conflicts at a minimum

Of course the well documented problem with growth rates are that they take the average and ignore growing inequality. Like Mexico where billionaires are growing but the country is festering with poverty and unrest. And conflicts are unambiguously NOT at a minimum.

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War for Oil.

You just provided a pretty decent critique of capitalism yourself. How could this situation be any different under capitalism?

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I have a B.Sc in Economics from the LSE

You poor thing. You must be horribly indoctrinated. My commiserations. wink

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Khawaga
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Oct 9 2006 07:55
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My first criticism is that you seem to think that it is only "capitalists", or rahter what I would probably refer to corporations, that indulge in accumulation of wealth. But I look at my granmother for one and I see a teacher who has spent her entire life saving and hardly indulging in any pleasure, for one, my grandfather never owned a car. Now she is a relatively rich old woman and continues to save i.e. spend less than her pension.

Anyway, when people here on the board talk about accumulation they usually refer to capital accumulation of surplus value which results from the explotation of labour. This is the so-called labour theory of value. Capitalists need to (or they're rather forced to) accumulate profit in order to saty afloat, re-invest etc etc. Capitalists can accumulate because of their power of employing wage-labour.

Your grandmother on the ohter hand is not accumulating wealth in the Marxist sense (though semantically it is of course correct), she is simply saving.

I think the problem here is that you operate with mainstream economic categories, whereas quite a few others use Marxist concepts. We might use the same words but we are talking about very different things.

Another problem with your arguments (though they are well argued) carlos is that they are very ahistorical (for a Marxist anyway) and because of this you take a lot of things that are specific to capitalism (which is a unique historical phenomneon) and take them for being eternally valid and natural (at best it is "end of history" all over again). That is a problem of reification.

Did they teach you Marxian economics at LSE? Probably not is my guess. Or were you taught TINA?

Vaneigemappreci...
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Oct 9 2006 13:01
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So please stop deluding yourself with the idea that accumulation is unique to capitalism. Accumulation of wealth is as rational and human as the simple desire to enjoy life.

the comparisons you are making are just silly. people in general attempt to gather wealth, through wages, as a means of survival, we need to sell our labour in order to receive a wage and thus survive. The reason we need to sell our labour in order to survive is because the means of subsistence and production are privately owned by a capitalist class. This capitalist class gather their wealth from our labour and by selling us backs the things we need to survive at a price that is much greater than the price other workers have been paid to produce it. The way they accumulate capital is buy imposing work and the imperative of work on society and by ensuring this state of events is perpetuated through the private ownership of the means of production, ensuring we are forced to accumulate what we can by working for them.

and yes capitalism has advanced since the industrial revolution, capitalism is not a scene from a Warbutton's advert its a set of social relations, if you are suggesting that capitalism was simply coal mines, wool looms and factories then are you suggesting that capitalism still exists independently in areas but not as a system?

I think youre probably on the wrong boards mate, try going here http://www.libdems.org.uk/

carlosgonzalez
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Oct 9 2006 13:29

At this point let me thank you for your posts, it is helping me understand thing from your point of view, and though I may not be 100% there and may even disagree with some of your positions, I do respect them.

I once tried reading Marx and Proudon, but they were too thick for my taste, they were talking in terms that did not relate to me just as I find "El Quixote" or "Great Expectations" to be rather thick...

War for oil

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You just provided a pretty decent critique of capitalism yourself. How could this situation be any different under capitalism?

By all means no!!! That the Bush administration is corrupt has very little to do with capitalism, it is just plain'ol CORRUPTION.

It has much more to do with the way the American public has been militarised all these years, under constant propaganda of the nuclear threath (when it seems that the Rusians were far more scared of the USA). They exhibit certain christian and patriotic fundamentalis traits that makes a humanist like me want to puke.

I do hope that the US is the last Military/Imperialistic regime. I find that conflict fought economically leave much less blood on the carpet...

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Capitalists need to (or they're rather forced to) accumulate profit in order to saty afloat, re-invest etc etc

The 80 and 90 saw a lot of action in Wall Street because powerfull individual players were using junk bonds to purchase entire corporations. They would then used all their "accumulated" wealth to pay of the junk bond and make millions of dollars for themselves.

Soon big corporations learnt that under threat of a buyout the best thing they could do is get rid of all that excess wealth that was not fundamental to their business, i.e. by giving extraordinary dividends... That way there was no incentive for the sharks to carry out a hostile buyout.

The size of companies varies and it is a very interesting part of industrial economics, some are huge natural monopolies such as most utilities and others are family business. I like to think of it in terms of organisational efficiency, if you run a steel mill you need to compete with economies of scale, if you run a restaurant it is a question of quality and personal touch.

Thanks to that "capitalist" urge to accumulate nowadays we have cargo ships capable of carrying 16.000 TU, that is 20" steel containers, whereas at the time of Marx and Engels most transport was in crates and sacks which had to be ofloaded manually. But it is not a question of accumulation, it is a question of making the best of economies of scale to keep profit margins as wide as possible, and this is possible because a boat carrying twice the load requires less than twice the energy.

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Another problem with your arguments (though they are well argued) carlos is that they are very ahistorical (for a Marxist anyway) and because of this you take a lot of things that are specific to capitalism (which is a unique historical phenomneon) and take them for being eternally valid and natural (at best it is "end of history" all over again). That is a problem of reification.

Im not quite sure atlemmk, but I think you are agreeing with me. Indeed I find that capitalism is something of the past, Im not implying that what we have is better or worse, but definitely it is different and a new vocabulary is needed.

---------------------------

As I final note I have been reflection on Anarchism and FAI-CNT. I find that it is a wonderfull sincicalist movement, a trade union ideology, a pressure group to defend the rights and strengthen the position of workers.

What I dont see it is as an ideology capable of running a country. You will probably say that you dont want to either, which is fair enough and I understand it. I just find it a little sad to be constantly surrounded by a persecution sindrome in that there is an oppresion of the working classes, a class struggle and that they will never let an ideal state be realised.

I prefer to be more realistic and stick with the success of trade unions, the development of cooperatives, specially in agriculture, and basically working withing the frame work of a regulated market economy and a modern legal structure.

Vaneigemappreci...
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Oct 9 2006 15:39
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I prefer to be more realistic and stick with the success of trade unions, the development of cooperatives, specially in agriculture, and basically working withing the frame work of a regulated market economy and a modern legal structure.

that would be the "failure" not the "success" of the trade unions!

Black Flag
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Oct 9 2006 16:24

Economists are capitalst arseholes!Fuck! politicians listen to economists all the time, thats whats wrong with the world!fuck your liberal ,conformist, fascist econonomics!