Decadence

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Lazy Riser's picture
Lazy Riser
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Feb 7 2006 23:46

Hi

Cheer up. This is important to decadence and nationalism. Where, in the modern age, does reform end and revolution begin?

When we address the concerns of working class people by offering revolutionary proposals, what are we specifically offering? More violence? More poverty? The war to end all wars?

In Iraq, the army of occupation are as much revolutionaries (and reformists) as the resistance. There is no clear line between the occupying forces and their terrorist shadows, I’m surprised that no one assumes that the resistance isn’t staffed by the CIA. I mean, I would, if I was them.

Every power station disabled by the “resistance” only serves to consolidate the occupation’s authority.

Love

LR

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jef costello
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Feb 8 2006 00:40
Armchair Socialism wrote:

Short of having me banned, there's not much you can do. grin

Couldn't even if I wanted to.

Quote:
Jef Costello a écrit:

....I simply mean that they have no realistic plan for a state or any kind of reconstruction....

I did point out above that some people want a Muslim Empire, where as others want Saddam Hussein back, others want a Shia state, the Kurds want a Kurdish state, etc. etc.

There are lots of "plans".

But not realistic plans. Desire for a Kurdish state is simple nationalism is it not? It is also seperate from the Iraqi resistance, unless you admit that they are simply another competing bourgeois faction. Your quote doesn't prove that the kurds have been fighting the americans (although I was wrong about that, there have been one or two incidents)

Quote:
By becoming a de facto supporter of American and British Imperialism

I don't really see how to sort out Iraq, the occupation will not work, I fail to see how a withdrawal will either. Practically Iraq is in the shitter and none of the groups likely to have any power seem to have any intention of doing anything for the working class.

Modern capitalism (depending upon how you define it) is not necessarily a condition for revolution, I certainly don't see the need to support its development as a precondition for social revolution, it doesn't have to get worse before it gets better.

Armchair Socialism
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Feb 8 2006 15:49
lem wrote:
The definition of reformism I use is someone who will accept a nicer capitalism. According to this definition these people are reformist.

Well this is the problem with blanket definitions. My definition of reformism applies to revolutionaries in Modern Capitalist countries only.

However as to whether the Iraqi resistance is reformist or not. By my definition for Communist revolutionaries then they wouldn't be reformist, by your definition they are.

However one must remember the key part in the word reformism, reform. The Iraqi resistance are not trying to "reform" the system, they are trying to smash it.

lem wrote:
Its not in theory impossible to be a armed reformist though, if what I said is true....

Well no. An armed person has consciously decide to work outside the system and has ruled out the possibility of reform.

Even if what they achieve is a reform, the method wasn't reformism because they are trying to force the system.

lem wrote:
Again that a different derfinition of a bourgeois revoliution than what I use - Iraq is not under a fuedal mode of production

Whilst Iraq isn't under a "feudal mode of production" pre-Capitalist structures still dominate the country.

All those structures need to be smashed.

Indeed the possibility of Islam being destroyed in Iraq lies heavily on resistance winning. If the resistance loses, then all secular forces will be seen as Western occupiers and routinely killed.

If the resistance wins, then these forces will have "room to breathe". Indeed there are "rumblings" in Iran now, that suggest within the next decade or so the Mullahs will have their heads chopped off. grin

Such a situation seems virtually impossible in "Saudi" Arabia. sad

lem wrote:
Read my link

I'll print it out in a bit and read it. Unfortunately we can't start a thread on it and discuss it properly because we can't "copy and paste" paragraphs.

lem wrote:
Do you have an argument or reference for this?

What that national bourgeois' develop countries better and quicker than foreign ones?

Just list all the countries you consider "modern" and look at their history and how they developed. South Korea is about the only country that has developed under Imperial rule.

Lazy Riser wrote:
Why should we stay poor for the sake of dumb taboo?

We shouldn't.

However voting in an election and campaigning for some bastard has never got us anywhere. If you really want "more food on the table" the only way you're going to get it is to take to the streets and demand it.

Jef Costello wrote:
But not realistic plans.

Well I don't think the "coalitions" plans have turned out to be all that "realistic"!

Jef Costello wrote:
Desire for a Kurdish state is simple nationalism is it not?

I'd imagine they quite fancy the "safety" of not being gassed any more.

Jef Costello wrote:
Your quote doesn't prove that the kurds have been fighting the americans....

Read again....

BBC News wrote:
Ansar al-Islam is a radical Sunni Muslim group with its base in mountainous northern Iraq.

It draws its recruits from Kurds who oppose the US-backed Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party, according to US intelligence website globalsecurity.org.

The group, which is also known as Ansar al-Sunna, suffered a severe setback during in early 2003, losing many bases to the US bombing campaign.

In February 2004, it claimed responsibility for simultaneous suicide bomb attacks on the offices of the two US-backed mainstream Kurdish political parties.

The group's alleged leader, Mullah Krekar, has lived in Norway as a refugee since 1991.

The US has accused Ansar al-Islam of ties to al-Qaeda.

(Emphasis added.)

Plus I found you this....

myWiseOwl.com wrote:
Ansar al-Islam (AI) has become known for its suicide attacks in Iraq following the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. When the US invaded, it attacked AI training camps in the north, and the terror leaders retreated to neighboring countries. When the war in the north settled down, the militants returned to Iraq to fight against the occupying American forces.

http://www.mywiseowl.com/articles/Ansar_al-Islam

Jef Costello wrote:
Practically Iraq is in the shitter....

Iraq is "in the shitter" so why don't we just let the Iraqi's have a go at sorting it out? ....they can't possibly do any worse!

Jef Costello wrote:
Modern capitalism (depending upon how you define it) is not necessarily a condition for revolution....

In short, Marx was wrong and Lenin, Mao and co. were right.

Well we'll see. 8)

petey
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Feb 8 2006 15:55
Lazy Riser wrote:
Every power station disabled by the “resistance” only serves to consolidate the occupation’s authority.

yyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyup

Lazy Riser's picture
Lazy Riser
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Feb 8 2006 16:47

Hi

Quote:
the only way you're going to get it is to take to the streets and demand it.

That’s reformism, pure and simple. We have no demands to make of the bourgeoisie, our banners simply read “Behold, Your Executioners”.

Quote:
Marx was wrong…

Today it's necessary to choose whether to remain a Marxist or to remain a revolutionary.

Quote:
…and Lenin, Mao and co. were right.

No, that’s not quite what I had in mind. Their track records of success speak for themselves.

Armchair Socialist wrote:
Mao undoubtedly saw himself as another Emperor

Lenin did too. The only right thing about them was the wingedness of their political philosophies.

Love

LR

Armchair Socialism
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Feb 8 2006 18:38
Lazy Riser wrote:
That’s reformism, pure and simple.

How??? confused

Lazy Riser wrote:
Today it's necessary to choose whether to remain a Marxist or to remain a revolutionary.

Good grief!

What post-modernist windbag has declared that?

Lazy Riser wrote:
No, that’s not quite what I had in mind.

Balk at it you may, but the simple fact remains that the whole Leninist (and Leninist-Maoist) paradigm depends on the idea that the material foundations for Communism are not required for a Communist revolution.

A view that you wholeheartedly agree with.

Lazy Riser wrote:
Their track records of success speak for themselves.

Indeed they do.

What their "track records" show, is what will happen when you try and make a proletarian revolution in a place where the foundations for proletarian revolution aren't in place.

What you achieve is a bourgeois revolution "wrapped in red flags".

lem
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Feb 8 2006 18:45

Its a bit lame arguing about something I know nothing about

Armchair Socialism wrote:
My definition of reformism applies to revolutionaries in Modern Capitalist countries only.

Even if what they achieve is a reform, the method wasn't reformism because they are trying to force the system.

Give us a reference. Reformism is reforms as an end. Reform is (Dictionary.com) to "put into a better form or condition". So reformism is to... put into a better form or condition as an end - i.e. attempts to make a nicer capitalism. I don't see how force has anything to do with it, I thought that was socialism versus evolutionary socialism. Though your first point leads us onto

Armchair Socialism wrote:
Whilst Iraq isn't under a "feudal mode of production" pre-Capitalist structures still dominate the country.

If its under bourgeois mop then it can't undergo a bourgeois revolution though - it can just develop more

Armchair Socialism wrote:
Just list all the countries you consider "modern" and look at their history and how they developed. South Korea is about the only country that has developed under Imperial rule.

Could very easily be coincidence - less developed coutries are more likely to be under imperialist rule etc. Have you read a pamphlet or something to decide that we should support nationalist fights in underdevloped countries - or is it just your own ideas?

Armchair Socialism wrote:
Indeed the possibility of Islam being destroyed in Iraq lies heavily on resistance winning. If the resistance loses, then all secular forces will be seen as Western occupiers and routinely killed.

Who by?

Armchair Socialism
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Feb 8 2006 19:09
lem wrote:
Its a bit lame arguing about something I know nothing about

Huh? ....what are you referring to here?

lem wrote:
Give us a reference.

Alright, if we have two Unions - lets call them A and B - and both these Unions have unhappy memberships.

Union A organises a strike, ballots, observes all the Union laws etc. and conducts what is a civil and legal strike that doesn't challenge the bourgeois state in any way.

Union B ballots and goes on strike without paying any notice to the Union laws and maybe even breaking a few laws in the process of the strike - fighting with police etc.

Union A has conducted a strike which is reformist in method. It works within the boundaries of bourgeois law and tries to reform the system "peacefully".

Union B on the other hand, started out with complete disrespect for bourgeois legality and the strike which Union B conducts is far more likely to create a "revolutionary atmosphere" because it started from a "revolutionary perspective" - war with the bourgeois and the state.

lem wrote:
I don't see how force has anything to do with it, I thought that was socialism versus evolutionary socialism.

Well the "evolutionary socialists" all acted as reformists. Indeed the whole premise of "evolutionary socialism" is that you can "reform" the system from Capitalism to Socialism.

lem wrote:
If its under bourgeois mop then it can't undergo a bourgeois revolution though....

Well some of it is "under bourgeois mop" and some of it is distinctly pre-Capitalist. So what we are left with is a country that has some of the trimmings of the Modern World, but is unable to progress.

Marx didn't foresee Imperialism acting in this manner, Lenin noticed it but his solution has proved a failure and really the only viable solution there seems to be is to kick the Imperialists out!

I call this a "bourgeois revolution" because in my opinion it would be the final stage Iraq has to pass through in order to develop into a Modern Capitalist country.

lem wrote:
Could very easily be coincidence - less developed coutries are more likely to be under imperialist rule etc.

Yet why to they still fail to progress at the normal rate under Imperialist rule?

lem wrote:
Have you read a pamphlet or something to decide that we should support nationalist fights in underdevloped countries - or is it just your own ideas?

In various writings of Marx and Engels they make it clear that in underdeveloped countries we should support the "Masters of Capital" and after various debates and reading other literature I have come to this conclusion.

lem wrote:
Who by?

By pissed off Iraqis and if history is any guide the American and British Armies.

lem
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Feb 8 2006 19:28
Armchair Socialism wrote:
Union A organises a strike, ballots, observes all the Union laws etc. and conducts what is a civil and legal strike that doesn't challenge the bourgeois state in any way. The "evolutionary socialists" all acted as reformists. Indeed the whole premise of "evolutionary socialism" is that you can "reform" the system from Capitalism to Socialism.

Union A and evolutionary socailism do seem more likely to be reformist by the definition I have given, but I thought that in this example you are explicitly arguing for an improved capitalism. Though I don't really know if I would call ir primarily reformist and not anti-imperialist.

Armchair Socialism wrote:
Yet why to they still fail to progress at the normal rate under Imperialist rule?In various writings of Marx and Engels they make it clear that in underdeveloped countries we should support the "Masters of Capital" and after various debates and reading other literature I have come to this conclusion.

Do they? Underdeveloped bourgeois (which is what I think you said Iraq is) or underdeveloped fuedal?

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Lazy Riser
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Feb 8 2006 19:47

Hi

AC wrote:
the only way you're going to get it is to take to the streets and demand it.
LR wrote:
That’s reformism, pure and simple.
AC wrote:
How???

It’s reformist to demand it. We take to the streets to create a new world, not to make demands of the existing one.

Anyway, demand it from who? The bourgeoisie? They haven’t got it, it’s ours already. We just need to see it for what it is, an imaginary institution. And now for the segue of the year…

Quote:
Today it's necessary to choose whether to remain a Marxist or to remain a revolutionary.
Quote:
What post-modernist windbag has declared that?

Ho ho. No flaming on “Introductory Thought”, comrade. You’re going to have to do better than that to refute it.

Maoism puts the argument for Iraqi Nationalism into a perspective. I suppose we want different types of post-revolutionary society. There’s no fault with your analysis, just your goals.

Love

LR

dom
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Feb 8 2006 20:55
Quote:
It’s reformist to demand it. We take to the streets to create a new world, not to make demands of the existing one.

Anyway, demand it from who? The bourgeoisie? They haven’t got it, it’s ours already. We just need to see it for what it is, an imaginary institution. And now for the segue of the year…

What so in the revolution all we need to do is open are eyes and all the captilatist will disappear? I can't see how this would happen.

Quote:
If its under bourgeois mop then it can't undergo a bourgeois revolution though - it can just develop more

Why not if its under the rule of american bourgeois then why can't the Iraq's have a political revolution and get themselves in powere insted. Though that might be meaningless.

Lazy Riser's picture
Lazy Riser
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Feb 8 2006 21:33

Hi

Quote:
What so in the revolution all we need to do is open are eyes and all the captilatist will disappear? I can't see how this would happen.

There is no “the revolution” anymore than there is “a judgement day”.

As for opening our eyes, I’m not sure awareness raising is quite the order the day. Nevertheless, when a critical mass of working class people share a vision of how to get what they want then capitalism will end. We should develop an independent working class political project, then we’ll see some serious decadence and no mistake.

Love

LR

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jef costello
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Feb 8 2006 23:01
Armchair Socialism wrote:
Indeed the possibility of Islam being destroyed in Iraq lies heavily on resistance winning. If the resistance loses, then all secular forces will be seen as Western occupiers and routinely killed.

By who religious fanatics and nationalists? Who will immediately stop the killing once they have achieved their revolutionary project.

Armchair Socialism wrote:
If the resistance wins, then these forces will have "room to breathe". Indeed there are "rumblings" in Iran now, that suggest within the next decade or so the Mullahs will have their heads chopped off. grin

Its a possibility but it's been a while, surely Iraq should learn from its neighbour and avoid the rather useless theocratic phase.

Just list all the countries you consider "modern" and look at their history and how they developed. South Korea is about the only country that has developed under Imperial rule.

Quote:
Jef Costello wrote:
But not realistic plans.

Well I don't think the "coalitions" plans have turned out to be all that "realistic"!

Why does it have to be a choice between the lesser of two evils? I thought you weren't a reformist.

Quote:
Jef Costello wrote:
Desire for a Kurdish state is simple nationalism is it not?

I'd imagine they quite fancy the "safety" of not being gassed any more.

If they'd been good little Iraqia then they wouldn't have been.

On a more serious note is that supposed to be a counter-argument? This is more reformism isn't it?

Quote:
Jef Costello wrote:
Your quote doesn't prove that the kurds have been fighting the americans....

Read again....

BBC News wrote:
Ansar al-Islam is a radical Sunni Muslim group with its base in mountainous northern Iraq.

It draws its recruits from Kurds who oppose the US-backed Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party, according to US intelligence website globalsecurity.org.

The group, which is also known as Ansar al-Sunna, suffered a severe setback during in early 2003, losing many bases to the US bombing campaign.

In February 2004, it claimed responsibility for simultaneous suicide bomb attacks on the offices of the two US-backed mainstream Kurdish political parties.

The group's alleged leader, Mullah Krekar, has lived in Norway as a refugee since 1991.

The US has accused Ansar al-Islam of ties to al-Qaeda.

(Emphasis added.)

Try reading it yourself.

Armchair Socialism wrote:
oppose the US-backed Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party
Armchair Socialism wrote:
losing many bases to the US bombing campaign.
Armchair Socialism wrote:
simultaneous suicide bomb attacks on the offices of the two US-backed mainstream Kurdish political parties.

They have been attacked by americans and this article proves that they have attacked other kurds, not americans.

I had already admitted that I was wrong:

Jef Costello wrote:
Your quote doesn't prove that the kurds have been fighting the americans (although I was wrong about that, there have been one or two incidents)

But your quote still fails to make the point.

Armchair Socialism wrote:
Iraq is "in the shitter" so why don't we just let the Iraqi's have a go at sorting it out? ....they can't possibly do any worse!

That is reasonable enough, but I don't see the point in supporting the least worst option.

Armchair Socialism wrote:
Jef Costello wrote:
Modern capitalism (depending upon how you define it) is not necessarily a condition for revolution....

In short, Marx was wrong and Lenin, Mao and co. were right.

Well we'll see. 8)

I've highlighted the important part be a love and read it. You could try comparing your definition with Iraq's present state and then seeeing how far you've moved from Marx.

You seem to have a very dialectic point of view and there seems to be a seriously deterministic bent to your thought, on that logic the revolution will happen when the conditions are right no matter what happens, so lets not do anything.

Lazy Riser, I hope I'm there when you wave the banner.

They will shoot me come the revolution, but not for a bit.

Armchair Socialism
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Feb 9 2006 17:53
lem wrote:
....but I thought that in this example you are explicitly arguing for an improved capitalism.

Well that's how revolutions usually start out. The soon to be revolutionaries propose a relatively moderate demand, but the "dying" class society is unable to meet these simple requirements, and then the fun starts!

Actually one of the most interesting things I've read about the French Revolution (1789) is that out of 25,000 people who wrote to the King "airing their grievances", not one proposed an end to the Monarchy.

lem wrote:
Though I don't really know if I would call ir primarily reformist and not anti-imperialist.

Well they're fighting an Imperialist force (unless someone wants to come up with a new name for what America and Britain are doing) which means they are anti-Imperialists.

lem wrote:
Do they?

Yes.

Lazy Riser wrote:
We take to the streets to create a new world, not to make demands of the existing one.

Well we only have one world and I'm pretty sure that modern Science is not going to come up with a way to create a "new" one any time soon.

Therefore every change we make, undoubtedly changes the "existing one".

Lazy Riser wrote:
No flaming on “Introductory Thought”, comrade.

It wasn't flaming, I'm just wondering what pot-modernist came up with that conclusion?

There does seem to be a habit today of people equating (daftly) Marxism with Leninism, Trotskyism or Maoism and then writing Marxism off as a theory.

I of course have no way of stopping people from doing this, all I can do is to advise them to read some Marx and Engels (critically) and then draw your own conclusions.

Lazy Riser wrote:
I suppose we want different types of post-revolutionary society.

Well I have no idea what you want for a "post-revolutionary society", me I want Communism pure and simple and none of that Socialism (State-Capitalism) crap.

dom wrote:
Why not if its under the rule of american bourgeois then why can't the Iraq's have a political revolution and get themselves in powere insted.

That is a fair point. However "political revolutions" are usually not really revolution at all (think Ukraine). If the Iraqi's actually voted in someone unfavourable then American tanks would roll through the streets of Baghdad before you could say "hello".

Think Guatemala.

Jef Costello wrote:
By who religious fanatics and nationalists? Who will immediately stop the killing once they have achieved their revolutionary project.

No, they probably kill quite a few after they've driven the Americans out.

However, over time these secular forces will "grow again" (like in Iran). However if America stays there they'll never grow (like in "Saudi" Arabia).

Jef Costello wrote:
....surely Iraq should learn from its neighbour and avoid the rather useless theocratic phase.

Well "Primitive Capital Accumulation" requires despotism.

In Russia there was Stalin, in China Mao and in Iran Ayatollah nutball.

Building Modern Capitalism is a brutal, but necessary process and the quicker it happens, the quicker the possibility of proletarian revolution. I mean real proletarian revolution here, not some Peasant revolution which flings some "Vanguard of the people" into power.

Jef Costello wrote:
Why does it have to be a choice between the lesser of two evils?

I doesn't. One can happily take the "other worldly" option of supporting some tiny Communist Party in Iraq and "denounce" everyone else.

However such a choice is not really a choice, more like a "cop out".

Jef Costello wrote:
That is reasonable enough, but I don't see the point in supporting the least worst option.

Well why not just "support" the right of the Iraqi's to decide for themselves and not a foreign power?

Jef Costello wrote:
You could try comparing your definition with Iraq's present state and then seeeing how far you've moved from Marx.

So you think that Marx would agree that Iraq is a "Modern Capitalist country"???

Jef Costello wrote:
You seem to have a very dialectic point of view....

Not on purpose. "Dialectics" can stay in the realms of useless philosophy for all I care.

Lazy Riser's picture
Lazy Riser
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Feb 9 2006 18:00

Hi

Quote:
So you think that Marx would agree that Iraq is a "Modern Capitalist country"???

I don’t know whether Marx would agree, but I think it is a modern capitalist country and has been for some time.

http://www.isx-iq.net/

Love

LR

Armchair Socialism
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Feb 9 2006 23:41
Lazy Riser wrote:
Quote:
So you think that Marx would agree that Iraq is a "Modern Capitalist country"???

I don’t know whether Marx would agree, but I think it is a modern capitalist country and has been for some time.

http://www.isx-iq.net/

I think I'll leave it up to the reader to decide whether a "Stock Exchange" makes a country "Modern".

To me, the idea seems ludicrous. grin

____

On the issue of "decadence". A few pages ago I linked a thread over at Rev-Left, anyway here's a group of posts from that thread....

http://www.redstar2000papers.com/theory.php?subaction=showfull&id=1139411482&archive=&cnshow=headlines&start_from=&ucat=&

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Demogorgon303
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Feb 10 2006 09:39
Quote:
“For instance, Capitalism may well be becoming "decadent" in parts of Europe, but in China and India it is booming and very much in its "ascendancy".”

Is it really? China is particularly interesting primarily because of the noise and heat generated in the bourgeois press. It certainly is showing rapid growth but what is important here is the nature of that growth and how it is situated within the dynamic of global capital.

Firstly, the massive growth in China is built on the massive ‘inward investment’ of the capitalist metrolpoles. This is because the bourgeoisie is becoming increasingly desperate to drive the cost of labour down below even the level needed for its reproduction. The impoverished masses in China are excellent fodder for this. Some workers and recently proletarianised peasants probably have seen some small increases in their immediate living standards but this correlates to the increasing scourge of unemployment and degradation of living standards for workers in the metropoles.

In many ways the Chinese ‘miracle’ is similar to the brutal programme of industrialisation in the USSR under Stalin but with a ‘free market’ twist. The ‘inward investment’ is first and foremost a massive form of credit. Although the Stalinist regime is doing an excellent job (in bourgeois terms) of avoiding the financial storms that descended on East Asia in the 90s – primarily because they’ve kept such a tight rein on the renminbi – they are still prone to all the usual plagues of ‘developing’ countries such as‘overheating’ leading to rampant inflation, growing shanty towns etc and these phenomena can only become more and more intense.

Worse, the situation of China is situated within a totally different situation to the ‘natural’ expansion of capitalism in the 18th and 19th Centuries. Today China is competing on an already glutted world market and is making progress solely because of its grotesque levels of exploitation. Because of the corresponding unemployment in the metropoles, though, the actual market for these primarily consumer goods has contracted – and the employment of the Chinese workers at far lower levels of subsistance cannot compensate for this loss in any meaningful way. In terms of both the situation of the global working class and the long-term prospects for capitalism due to this shrinking market in relation to the mass of goods produced, the Chinese ‘miracle’ is clearly a moment in capital’s decline.

Quote:
“And the "revolutionary marxists" of that period were wrong! Capitalism after the First World War continued to grow and progress everywhere. You could say that Capitalism started to decline in some countries around 1980, but in a lot of the world, Capitalism still has progress to make.”

On the contrary, the revolutionary Marxists of that period have had the core of their perspectives concerned whatever their confusions about the exact nature of the decline. Capitalism has only managed to mask its increasingly serious contradictions because of the gigantic stimulus of the war economy. In the first phases of decadence, this constituted a massive adrenalin burst to capitalism by stimulating production – even though this was financed through a progressively dangerous resort to credit (for example, Hjalmar Schacht’s manipulation of Nazi Germany’s finances). Nonetheless, the capitalist ‘body’ was capable of absorbing these early economic equivalents of perfomance enhancing drugs – but only at the price of an increasing addiction to those ‘drugs’ and continual degradation of underlying health. Today we are witnessing the equivalent of the ravaged body of a drug addict, absolutely incapable of functioning without gigantic levels of credit continually being pumped into the system. The credit is partially made up of ‘hot money’ and fictitious capital – the rest is sourced from the overproduction of surplus value that has no profitable arena for reinvestment. The American economy with its absolutely fantastic credit distortions is the best example – and it is actually the American economy (or rather its massive overdraft) that is absorbing many of the products now spewing out of China. When the limits of this policy are finally reached, the Chinese economy will go the way of Stalinist Russia, the Latin American countries, Africa, East Asia and all the other economic ‘miracles’ before it. No doubt, capitalism will find new ‘miracles’ with which to beguile us in the future – but always on a more and more fragile basis and always at the price of never-ending brutalisation and suffering of the international working class.

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Alf
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Feb 10 2006 10:01

That was a powerful post from Demogorgon. Completely agree with the analogy with Stalin's Russia. Then the Italian left criticised all those who were entranced by the staggering figures of growth (which included Trotsky, who thought that it proved the superiority of the 'workers state' over capitalism) and showed the reactionary nature of this 'development', insisting that it was part of the preparations for a new world imperialist war. Their staring point was always the global and historic interests of the working class, not the possibilities of building more factories in this or that country. Their starting point was that capitalism as a world system had already created the material conditions for communism, and that in this context, the 'development' of production in this or that country was not making the world more ripe for communism, but was part of the other side of the historic alternative the slide towards barbarism.

I'm still away, but not, Armchair, serving with the occupation forces in Iraq. Behind the joke is a political point your complete inability to understand what it means to oppose both sides in an imperialist conflict. You call me a bootlicker and tell us that it was revolutionary to call for 'victory to the NLF' in the Vietnam war? In the same company as all the Maoist and Trotskyist bootlickers of Ho Chi Minh and all the other Stalinist bureaucrats? There is not a lick of difference between your position and that of the Trotskyists.

Armchair Socialism
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Feb 10 2006 17:58
Demogorgon303 wrote:
This is because the bourgeoisie is becoming increasingly desperate to drive the cost of labour down below even the level needed for its reproduction.

If I remember correctly, "real wages" in China are rising and the "working poor" are getting, well....less poor.

Very similar to 20th century Britain wouldn't you say?

Demogorgon303 wrote:
....and recently proletarianised peasants....

Perhaps one of the most important "hallmarks" of a new and developing Capitalist country is the mass influx of people from the countryside to the cities.

They clean the shit out from in between their toes and "hey presto" we've got ourselves a proletariat! grin

Demogorgon303 wrote:
....but this correlates to the increasing scourge of unemployment and degradation of living standards for workers in the metropoles.

Again, mass unemployment was not uncommon in the developing Capitalist countries, indeed it was often encouraged by the Capitalists to keep labour costs down.

Demogorgon303 wrote:
In many ways the Chinese ‘miracle’ is similar to the brutal programme of industrialisation in the USSR under Stalin but with a ‘free market’ twist.

Yeah and it's also similar to many of the European countries and the ways in which they developed (indeed Europe was more "brutal" than Russia during industrialisation).

Primitive Capital Accumulation is a "brutal" process.

Demogorgon303 wrote:
....they are still prone to all the usual plagues of ‘developing’ countries....

So you agree that China is "ascendant" instead of "descendant"?

Demogorgon303 wrote:
Today China is competing on an already glutted world market and is making progress solely because of its grotesque levels of exploitation.

That's half the story.

It is also investing heavily in Africa and is doing some investment in South America. Indeed it seems to be "stealing" a lot of the older Capitalist countries "investment zones".

Demogorgon303 wrote:
In terms of both the situation of the global working class and the long-term prospects for capitalism due to this shrinking market in relation to the mass of goods produced, the Chinese ‘miracle’ is clearly a moment in capital’s decline.

I think what perhaps "baffles" all you proponents of "decadence" theory, is the possibility that the old Imperialist countries could fall apart.

Just like the "European Powers" after the Second World War, America will lose its Empire and the Chinese bourgeois look a good "bet" to be the country that steps into its place.

Even though you could argue that the World is "all divided up" (I don't think so myself) what you can't possibly deny is the possibility that the old Capitalist countries will lose their "slice of the pie". Can you?

Demogorgon303 wrote:
On the contrary, the revolutionary Marxists of that period have had the core of their perspectives concerned whatever their confusions about the exact nature of the decline.

Just so I know, what "revolutionary Marxists" are you referring to here? ....the Social Democrat Economists, Lenin, Luxemburg and so on.

Demogorgon303 wrote:
Capitalism has only managed to mask its increasingly serious contradictions because of the gigantic stimulus of the war economy.

Horseshit!

Since 1918 there has only been one major war which would require a worldwide "war economy" and even this didn't spell the end for Capitalism. Something Lenin and co. all assumed it would.

Indeed a "war economy" isn't beneficial - in the long run - at all. America has lost a lot of money trying to conquer Iraq, can you imagine what a "proper" War would do to American Capitalism?

Demogorgon303 wrote:
In the first phases of decadence, this constituted a massive adrenalin burst....

It can just see the title of the book: Capitalism - the "Roid 'ead"! grin

Demogorgon303 wrote:
....but only at the price of an increasing addiction to those ‘drugs’ and continual degradation of underlying health.

Okay, despite the weird analogy, I'd say that this hypothesis with regards North America and Western Europe is probably pretty useful. What I contest is that it is equally useful for the whole World.

Unless of course you're willing to contend that the whole World is on one "even page" and what's true in Region X is true in Region Y.

Demogorgon303 wrote:
....and it is actually the American economy (or rather its massive overdraft) that is absorbing many of the products now spewing out of China.

Actually I think gradually the Chinese people themselves are "absorbing" those products more and more.

Demogorgon303 wrote:
....but always on a more and more fragile basis and always at the price of never-ending brutalisation and suffering of the international working class.

There's probably some truth in this statement. I think it's quite possible that the new Capitalist countries will "fizzle out" in less centuries than the old ones will.

However, the process will still be long and it will inflict "suffering" and unfortunately - emotional pleas withstanding - there's nothing we can do about it.

Alf wrote:
Their staring point was always the global and historic interests of the working class, not the possibilities of building more factories in this or that country.

Well that would be nice, but that's not what was materially possible.

Alf wrote:
Their starting point was that capitalism as a world system had already created the material conditions for communism....

Well they were clearly wrong about that one weren't they?

Alf wrote:
I'm still away, but not, Armchair, serving with the occupation forces in Iraq.

Nice to hear, I missed you yu' know! embarrassed

Alf wrote:
....your complete inability to understand what it means to oppose both sides in an imperialist conflict.

It is completely beyond my comprehension how anyone could consider post-1995 Iraq Imperialist in any sense of the word.

Alf wrote:
In the same company as all the Maoist and Trotskyist bootlickers of Ho Chi Minh and all the other Stalinist bureaucrats?

History ain't your strong point is it? ....just a little "tit-bit" of useful information, the "Trots" in Vietnam were massacred by "Ho Chi Minh and all the other Stalinist bureaucrats".

Alf wrote:
There is not a lick of difference between your position and that of the Trotskyists.

Well actually a few "Trots" I've talked to have "denounced" the Resistance too, but they "denounce" everything post 1930 as the work of the "Devil" himself - Stalin.

Anyway, what's with the repeated "Bolshevik analogies"???

Demogorgon303's picture
Demogorgon303
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Feb 10 2006 19:22
Quote:
If I remember correctly, "real wages" in China are rising and he "working poor" are getting, well....less poor. Very similar to 20th century Britain wouldn't you say?

I already pointed out that some Chinese peasants and proletarians might have their immediate living standards increased even though the majority of population remains mired in poverty. The point of my post is that the global working class is getting poorer. So, following Marx's method of examining the totality of social phenomena, not at all similar to capitalism's early development.

Quote:
Perhaps one of the most important "hallmarks" of a new and developing Capitalist country is the mass influx of people from the countryside to the cities.

Yes, and their absorbtion into the capitalist economy. Not the development of massive shanty towns where people live like rats in a sewer. Unless I completely missed that period of European history?

Quote:
Again, mass unemployment was not uncommon in the developing Capitalist countries, indeed it was often encouraged by the Capitalists to keep labour costs down.

Very true. Marx called it the industrial reserve army as I'm sure you're aware. But the massive, permanent unemployment of today is a different animal. Whereas the unemployed masses in the 19th century were reabsorbed and ejected from work in periodic cycles, today the mass of the unemployed grows and grows in the long-term.

Quote:
Yeah and it's also similar to many of the European countries and the ways in which they developed (indeed Europe was more "brutal" than Russia during industrialisation). Primitive Capital Accumulation is a "brutal" process.

The question is not just the brutality, although again I doubt you could compare Stalin's assault on the kulaks with the development of capitalism in Europe. I don't recall millions dying in Europe as they did in both Russia and China's industrialisation.

Quote:
So you agree that China is "ascendant" instead of "descendant"?

China isn't anything in isolation. The question is whether global capitalism is ascendent or descendent.

Quote:
That's half the story. It is also investing heavily in Africa and is doing some investment in South America. Indeed it seems to be "stealing" a lot of the older Capitalist countries "investment zones".

Like Worldcom invested heavily in other sectors of the capitalist economy despite the fact it was a massive debtor. Just because an individual company or state is expanding does not alter the fundamental condition of the global situation anyway.

Quote:
I think what perhaps "baffles" all you proponents of "decadence" theory, is the possibility that the old Imperialist countries could fall apart.

I think it's unlikely that the US and the other great powers would take such a challenge from China lying down, but I don't exclude the possibility at all. We've already seen it happen in Russia.

Quote:
Just like the "European Powers" after the Second World War, America will lose its Empire and the Chinese bourgeois look a good "bet" to be the country that steps into its place.

So what? If this happens it will be at the price of unimaginable horrors unleashed in the society of the metropoles and will there be any corresponding increase in the living standards of the Chinese proletariat? No. Whether this or that imperialist gangster steals a bit of cheese from another is a matter of indifference to the world proletariat. The point is that ultimate there is less cheese for everyone.

Quote:
Even though you could argue that the World is "all divided up" (I don't think so myself) what you can't possibly deny is the possibility that the old Capitalist countries will lose their "slice of the pie". Can you?

I don't deny it all, even though it is probably unlikely to happen. But whether it does or not doesn't actually invalidate any of the points in my post.

Quote:
Since 1918 there has only been one major war which would require a worldwide "war economy" and even this didn't spell the end for Capitalism. Something Lenin and co. all assumed it would.

One major war? I guess the Cold War was just something that happened to other people! More was spent on arms in any one five year period of the Cold War than in the entire two World Wars combined!

Quote:
Indeed a "war economy" isn't beneficial - in the long run - at all. America has lost a lot of money trying to conquer Iraq, can you imagine what a "proper" War would do to American Capitalism?

Exactly the point! In the long term its consequences are absolutely catastrophic, but in the short term in the early days of decadence it could constitute a stimulus. Unless you think the New Deal, Stalin's Five Year Plan, Hitler's Four Year Plan had no effect on the economy at all? In any case, you are setting up a false dilemma: either war economy is totally effective at all points in history or is a massive drain at all points in history. This kind of crude empiricism that fails utterly to grasp the dynamic nature of social reality is in complete opposition to the Marxist method.

Quote:
Okay, despite the weird analogy, I'd say that this hypothesis with regards North America and Western Europe is probably pretty useful. What I contest is that it is equally useful for the whole World. Unless of course you're willing to contend that the whole World is on one "even page" and what's true in Region X is true in Region Y.

That's exactly what I contend, that capitalism as a whole is in decline. This doesn't preclude momentary spurts of growth in this or that region as long as we understand the overall context. None of the points you have made have addressed, let alone refuted that point.

Quote:
Actually I think gradually the Chinese people themselves are "absorbing" those products more and more.

To some extent yes. But nowhere near in the volumes needed to represent a viable market for continual expansion.

Quote:
I think it's quite possible that the new Capitalist countries will "fizzle out" in less centuries than the old ones will. However, the process will still be long and it will inflict "suffering" and unfortunately - emotional pleas withstanding

If it was simply the economic crisis we had to worry about, you'd be right about the process being long. Unfortunately for humanity, we have all the 'superstructural' problems produced by decadence too: war, environmental catastrophe, the collapse of the social order in barbarism. The synthesis of all these phenomena will destroy human civilisation in far less time than 'centuries'.

Whilst you are clearly able to grasp facts in isolation, the entire post above shows a complete inability to situate any of them into any kind of methodological framework that can explain the phenomenon in its totality.

This is exactly the speculative method of bourgeois ideology and explains your adoption of the viewpoint of the ruling class which you clearly articulate when you say:

Quote:
there's nothing we can do about it

Frankly, peddling the idea that there's nothing we can do about capitalism (decadent or not) is speaking on behalf of the bourgeoisie. Of course this is part-and-parcel of your entire activity on this thread where you have acted as cheerleader (unwittingly or not) for every bourgeois clique from Ho Chi Minh to Hu Jintao.

If you really believe that "there's nothing we can do about it" I fail to see any point in your participating in this forum at all - whatever disagreements the participants may have, the vast majority of them believe there is something that we can do about it. It was not for nothing that Marx said that the point is not simply to understand the world, but to change it.

Armchair Socialism
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Feb 10 2006 20:28
Demogorgon303 wrote:
The point of my post is that the global working class is getting poorer.

Yet that is a totally useless assertion.

What good does it do us to know that the "global working class is gettin poorer"? ....it's like saying that people are getting taller.

I want to know which people and where.

Demogorgon303 wrote:
Not the development of massive shanty towns where people live like rats in a sewer. Unless I completely missed that period of European history?

It seems you have.

There are plenty of well written books documenting the wretched standards people lived in during the 18th and 19th century, I suggest you look over one.

Demogorgon303 wrote:
Whereas the unemployed masses in the 19th century were reabsorbed and ejected from work in periodic cycles, today the mass of the unemployed grows and grows in the long-term.

Again, another meaningless fact. We really need to know where this is happening, not just that it's happening.

Demogorgon303 wrote:
I don't recall millions dying in Europe as they did in both Russia and China's industrialisation.

Most of Europe's "victims" of Primitive Capital Accumulation lie in the colonial lands.

However, I'd still surmise that there are a lot of "forgotten deaths" - ones which people never bothered to count.

Demogorgon303 wrote:
The question is whether global capitalism is ascendent or descendent.

Again, even if we knew the answer, the answer would still be useless.

Arguing whether "global capitalism" is "ascendant" or "descendant" is like arguing about "Man in the Abstract".

As we know - or should know - there are specific men, in specific places, at specific times and these conditions place heavy strains on what is possible.

Demogorgon303 wrote:
I think it's unlikely that the US and the other great powers would take such a challenge from China lying down....

I'd doubt if they be able to do anything significant about it at all.

Demogorgon303 wrote:
One major war? I guess the Cold War was just something that happened to other people! More was spent on arms in any one five year period of the Cold War than in the entire two World Wars combined!

As you know, the military spending during the "Cold War" does not denote a "war economy".

Demogorgon303 wrote:
In any case, you are setting up a false dilemma: either war economy is totally effective at all points in history or is a massive drain at all points in history.

Well it can be both.

However, in the "long term" we know that this or that economic policy will have little effect due to the fundamental nature of Capitalism and the way it works.

Demogorgon303 wrote:
None of the points you have made have addressed, let alone refuted that point.

Well I haven't "refuted" your "points" because in all honesty, they are nonsense.

It is no good just to say "Capitalism is....", you must say "Capitalism in Region X is....". Without knowing the specifics of a certain place, we will be about as efficient at making decisions as a headless chicken at a barn-dance.

We really need to know more than just what Capitalism is in the Abstract, or what "Man" is. We need to know the specifics of what Capitalism is in Region X in order to make a thorough analysis.

For instance, just by saying "global capitalism is descendant" are you effectively saying proletarian revolution can take place anywhere?

Demogorgon303 wrote:
Unfortunately for humanity, we have all the 'superstructural' problems produced by decadence too: war, environmental catastrophe, the collapse of the social order in barbarism. The synthesis of all these phenomena will destroy human civilisation in far less time than 'centuries'.

"Doom Scenarios" (Secular Superstitions) are quite frankly daft.

Humans are an intelligent species and we will cope just fine with whatever "Mother Nature" or War throws at us.

Demogorgon303 wrote:
Whilst you are clearly able to grasp facts in isolation, the entire post above shows a complete inability to situate any of them into any kind of methodological framework that can explain the phenomenon in its totality.

No, I just refuse to make anything into the Philosophical Abstract. Pure and simple.

Demogorgon303 wrote:
Frankly, peddling the idea that there's nothing we can do about capitalism (decadent or not) is speaking on behalf of the bourgeoisie.

No, it's speaking on behalf of the historical materialist paradigm. No matter how much we would want it, we're not going to have a functioning Communist society in "outer shitholia". Material reality will make such an attempt fail, every time.

Demogorgon303 wrote:
It was not for nothing that Marx said that the point is not simply to understand the world, but to change it.

Indeed, but notice he said we must understand the world. There are places where "we" can do something and these places are the places where proletarian revolution is possible, or becoming possible.

That's why we need specific analyses and not just "grand statements".

lem
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Joined: 25-07-05
Feb 12 2006 05:59
Quote:
No, I just refuse to make anything into the Philosophical Abstract.

Surely that must cripple your ability to think.

About the a repulsion of the US in Iraq not being a bourgeoirevolution, because a bourgeois revoltuion is only the transition from fuedalism - Tronti thinks that it is an advantage to the bourgeoisie for the bourgeois revolution not to sweep away everything, but keep some - so that the revolution is not complete and instead the revolution continually reproduces itself - expressed as the growth of productive forces (I think). So maybe it coluld be a part of the bourgeois revolution.

If capitalism is decadent, then can individual countries still be considered ascendent? If China is decadent, just like the rest of the world, then if it is developing quicker than expected (what sort of development would be expected for a decadent China?) does this discofirm decadence? Would it, being only a temporary phenomena followed by a collapse, save the theory from disconfirmation? Etc.

Demogorgon303's picture
Demogorgon303
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Feb 12 2006 10:58
Quote:
Yet that is a totally useless assertion. What good does it do us to know that the "global working class is gettin poorer"? ....it's like saying that people are getting taller. I want to know which people and where.

Which completely underlines the point I made about your method being bourgeois - it's based entirely on empiricism and has absolutely no regard for history. Marx demonstrated throughout his work that in order to understand a phenomena you have to understand it in its totality as well as its specifics. To say it is "useless" to know whether the working class is getting globally poorer is simply a staggering assertion! You seem to think the direction of human society is simply a non-question. No doubt you take a similar view of global warming - it probably doesn't matter if the world as a whole is getting warmer, you just want to know which bits. Just as it is a ludicrous attempt to understand the floods in Boscastle (that's a town in Cornwall, England for those non-British readers wink ) without reference to global climate change, it is also useless to understand the Chinese economic situation without reference to global capitalism.

Quote:
It seems you have. There are plenty of well written books documenting the wretched standards people lived in during the 18th and 19th century, I suggest you look over one.

Once again, you are attacking a straw man. I did not claim the people of that time did not live in wretched conditions. The question is the scale of that pauperisation, the proportion actually integrated into capitalism, etc. In other words, how quantity relates to changes in quality. Despite the "wretched standards" of the people of those times, they were nonetheless integrated into the development in nascent capitalism. In fact, in Britain during the very early stages of development the process of primitive accumulation which you pontificate about was actively kicking the serfs off their land precisely in order to meet labour shortages in the cities.

The situation of today is simply not comparable. The shanty towns are caused by masses of peasants moving voluntarily to the city to escape the total decomposition of the rural economy. It is precisely because they are not - and have no real hope of being - integrated into capitalist production that they live in their wretched conditions. They are not part of the proletariat which, to some extent, actually has better conditions. Whereas the development of capitalism in the 19th century progressively absorbed more and more of this population, today the perspective can only be for it to grow more and more. This situation in the "Third World" is matched by a similar degeneration in the metropoles - vast areas of major cities transformed into ghettos where more and more whole generations of people have never known work and the only careers options are drug dealing and crime. The "lumpenisation" of the population in the metropoles thus corresponds with the failure to proletarianise the population in the Third World illustrating what you refuse to accept - the global nature of capitalism and its crisis.

Quote:
Most of Europe's "victims" of Primitive Capital Accumulation lie in the colonial lands. However, I'd still surmise that there are a lot of "forgotten deaths" - ones which people never bothered to count.

Which, once again, despite their brutal characteristics are in no way comparable with the sheer scale of Stalin and Mao's assault on their populations. Nor did it take place in the context of a gigantic war economy - which we have already agreed constitutes a drain and a decline in capitalism's long term health.

Quote:
Again, even if we knew the answer, the answer would still be useless. Arguing whether "global capitalism" is "ascendant" or "descendant" is like arguing about "Man in the Abstract". As we know - or should know - there are specific men, in specific places, at specific times and these conditions place heavy strains on what is possible.

To follow this logic, it is useless to know whether there is 10 umemployed people or 3 million unemployed people in Britain. What really matters is whether Alice Walker, 33 Lavernia Close has a job! But in order to know why Alice can't get a job we need to know exactly the "conditions [that] place heavy strains on what is possible". In other words we need to know the conditions of the economy in which she functions. And today, the capitalist economy is a global entity which is why we need to understand it globally.

Quote:
I'd doubt if they be able to do anything significant about it at all. [Referring to the efforts of the metropoles to resist China]

Even if that is true, it won't stop them trying. I've already pointed out that it is primarily American capital invested in China and primarily American consumers, bloated with debt, that are buying Chinese goods. On that level, China and America are interdependent even as they compete with each other.

But more importantly, one of the reasons why the US has taken such an aggressive stance in the invasion of Iraq is to increase its control of the Middle East. This is partially so it can control the energy supplies on which China and India are so dependent for their industrial and military strength, not to mention its European rivals. Now, the success of this strategy is another question but it underlines how the economic crisis feeds the drive towards war, which in turn exacerbates the economic crisis and so on.

It is this vicious circle, the way that capitalism is locked into a permanent spiral of decline which is the absolute epitome of decadence. Once again, you fail to understand this because you refuse to look at the way phenomena are inter-related.

Quote:
As you know, the military spending during the "Cold War" does not denote a "war economy".

You must be joking! More was spent on arms during each five year period of the Cold War than in any other period of human history and this doesn't mean war economy? And yet you make this preposterous statement without any argumentation at all!

Quote:
Well I haven't "refuted" your "points" because in all honesty, they are nonsense.

Stating an argument is nonsense is not the same as demonstrating it. I was under the impression that the point of this board was to think and educate each other in the service of the class struggle (however the individual participants here might interpret that). To do that, it is absolutely essential that we learn to debate properly don't you think? I make no claim to be an expert in debate, but I have at least tried to show why I disagree with your points.

Quote:
It is no good just to say "Capitalism is....",

I haven't. I've pointed out why and how capitalism is decadent and shown how the specific situation of a country, China, relates to capitalism's overall health. Examining the totality of a situation is not the same as being "abstract" which means something considered apart from concrete existence. The qualities of decadent capital: chronic economic decline, social dislocation, permanent drive towards war, etc. are concrete phenomena. It is the accumulation of these phenomena and the way they interact to reinforce each other that constitutes the decadence of capitalism.

Quote:
For instance, just by saying "global capitalism is descendant" are you effectively saying proletarian revolution can take place anywhere?

What I'm saying is that a proletarian revolution, in order to succeed, must eventually encompass the entire planet to be successful. The whole system is ripe for revolution. Abstractly speaking, the world revolution could begin anywhere. Nonetheless, given the evolution of the world situation it is probably Western Europe where the first tremors will be fought as it has the greatest concentrations of proletarians, with the most historical experience, the most militant traditions and thus the greatest concentration of class consciousness.

Nonetheless, this doesn't preclude a revolutionary explosion elsewhere. After all, the 1917-23 revolutionary wave began in a relatively backward country, Russia.

Quote:
"Doom Scenarios" (Secular Superstitions) are quite frankly daft. Humans are an intelligent species and we will cope just fine with whatever "Mother Nature" or War throws at us.

Environmental catastrophe, the collapse of whole continents into war and economic ruin (such as Africa) and the clear spread of this to other regions such as Afghanistan and the Middle East are just a secular superstition? Yet another incredible statement from you with no other argumentation than an almost religious optimism about human intelligence, whereas previously you were claiming there is nothing humans can do about the development of capitalism. We can deal with "Mother Nature" and "War" but not capitalism, when it is precisely capitalism which is destroying the former and producing the latter? The contradictions just keep piling up!

Quote:
No, I just refuse to make anything into the Philosophical Abstract. Pure and simple.

No, you simply reject any effort to understand anything apart from an immediatist fixation on "specifics", divorced from their context.

Quote:
No, it's speaking on behalf of the historical materialist paradigm. No matter how much we would want it, we're not going to have a functioning Communist society in "outer shitholia". Material reality will make such an attempt fail, every time.

A functioning communist society cannot exist in the whole of Western Europe either. It can only exist as a global society encompassing the entire planet, with a planned and rational use of the planet's resources in sustainable manner. Communism will need things like vast solar energy plants in the Sahara, plugged into a worldwide grid providing power for every one. Unless, of course, you accept the Stalinist concept of "Socialism in One Country".

Quote:
Indeed, but notice he said we must understand the world. There are places where "we" can do something and these places are the places where proletarian revolution is possible, or becoming possible. That's why we need specific analyses and not just "grand statements".

You claim Marx's insistence on understanding the world, whilst completely abandoning the method by which he attempted to do so.

In Capital he makes this point about method:

"In order to examine the object of our investigation in its integrity, free from all disturbing subsidiary circumstances, we must treat the whole world as one nation, and assume that capitalist production is everywhere established and has possessed itself of every branch of industry." (Marx, Capital Vol 1, Chapter 24)

Marx is not afraid to be 'abstract' because he understands that the scientific analysis of capitalism demands examination of capitalism as a whole and not just this or that bit of it. In trying to understand capitalism, Marx 'abstracts' it momentarily out of its historical aspect in order to demonstrate its internal laws of motion - all the better to later situate it firmly again on its historical terrain, to demonstrate how these laws of motion drove its development as he does in the following chapters dealing with primitive accumulation. On the analysis of capitalism, he never tired of mocking bourgeois economists and their efforts to understand capitalism by the use of "Robinson Crusoe" analogies - in other words their failure to go beyond specifics and understand capitalism as a whole.

The theory of decadence follows Marx in "treating the whole world as one nation" i.e. examining capitalism as a totality in order to identify its laws of motion. These laws of motion thus explain the actual historical expressions of that decadence, such as war economy, etc.

I also suggest you re-read the Communist Manifesto where he says:

"1.In the national struggles of the proletarians of the different countries, they [communists] point out and bring to the front the common interests of the entire proletariat, independently of all nationality. 2. In the various stages of development which the struggle of the working class against the bourgeoisie has to pass through, they always and everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole."

And later where he says:

"The Communists, therefore, are on the one hand, practically, the most advanced and resolute section of the working-class parties of every country, that section which pushes forward all others; on the other hand, theoretically, they have over the great mass of the proletariat the advantage of clearly understanding the lines of march, the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement." (The Communist Manifesto, Proletarians and Communists, Marx/Engels, all emphases are mine)

In these quotes, Marx quite clearly states that in both theory and practice, Communists push to understand the conditions of the class struggle (which means capitalism too) in their entirety, that the struggle of the proletariat is international and can only be understood in that sense. Far from drawing on Marx, your method negates every advance he made!

And, once again, we see the political consequences. Your fetish for specifics and failure to understand the "movement as a whole" leads you to support every Third World nationalist gang you can think of and to preach defeatism in terms of opposing capitalism and yet you think we can overcome war, etc. despite this. Despite your appropriation of Marxist terms, you speak for bourgeoisie and this becomes more and more apparent with every post.

Beltov
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Joined: 10-05-05
Feb 12 2006 15:50

Hi,

Just to agree with Demogorgon's last post, which clearly shows that Marx's method was against empiricism. It would help the discussion if AS could answer the following questions:

1) Does he think that capitalism is eternal? Is it false to pose the alternative 'socialism or barbarism'?

2) If the proletariat siezed power in Europe would it have to wait for the bourgeoisie to bring every last backward economy up to the level of 'modern capitalism' before the revolution could be extended to these regions?

There's a useful article on the ICC's website that discusses the differences between the ascendent and decadent phases of capitalism here:

http://en.internationalism.org/ir/023_proletariat_under_decadence.html

Beltov.

Lazy Riser's picture
Lazy Riser
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Joined: 6-05-05
Feb 12 2006 16:04

Hi

Quote:
Does he think that capitalism is eternal?

How do we know it’s still capitalism? What are its essential features?

Quote:
Is it false to pose the alternative 'socialism or barbarism'?

No. It seems likely to be true. What is the meaning and content of socialism? What are its essential features?

Love

LR

Armchair Socialism
Offline
Joined: 28-01-06
Feb 12 2006 16:51
lem wrote:
If capitalism is decadent, then can individual countries still be considered ascendent? If China is decadent, just like the rest of the world, then if it is developing quicker than expected (what sort of development would be expected for a decadent China?) does this discofirm decadence? Would it, being only a temporary phenomena followed by a collapse, save the theory from disconfirmation? Etc.

That is, in my opinion, a very good question and it surprises me that none of the "decadence theorists" have decided to "tackle" it.

Demogorgon303 wrote:
....it's based entirely on empiricism....

What an odd criticism to make. I mean what is "empiricism" but the....

dictionary.com wrote:
a. Employment of empirical methods, as in science.

b. An empirical conclusion.

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=empiricism

And....

wikipedia.org wrote:
It is generally regarded as the heart of the modern scientific method, that present theories should be based on our observations of the world rather than on intuition or faith; that is, empirical research and a posteriori inductive reasoning rather than purely deductive logic.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empiricism

Stop the presses folks, it appears I am "guilty" of wanting to know things about the real world. What a dreadful crime!

Demogorgon303 wrote:
Marx demonstrated throughout his work that in order to understand a phenomena you have to understand it in its totality as well as its specifics.

Indeed, but the "specifics" are what matters.

After all, Marx said Germany, France and England would be the first countries to have a proletarian revolution for specific reasons based on empirical observation of the material conditions in those places.

He also predicted that Russia was "ripe" for a bourgeois revolution due to the specific material conditions in Russia.

If he had not known the specific details of what was happening in those countries then all he would have been able to do is make statements like "at some point, all countries will have proletarian revolutions".

A statement has "real world consequences" and the "consequences" of such a statement is confusion. After all, there a thousand questions one could ask based on that statement and if each question was to be answered correctly, then you'd have to use the specific details of specific places.

Otherwise, you create the "aura" of a "holy prophet". The "grand declaration" that "capitalism is decadent" has the odour of the Jesus freak who says "Jesus will return".

When will her return? ....why will he return? ....what will he look like? ....and so on.

Demogorgon303 wrote:
No doubt you take a similar view of global warming - it probably doesn't matter if the world as a whole is getting warmer, you just want to know which bits.

Well yes.

If someone makes the statement "the whole world is getting warmer and it will cause certain environmental catastrophes". Isn't is useful to know where these catastrophes may take place?

After all, if we are to try and reduce the risk, then surely it's better to know that relocating a whole city in Region X is better than relocating it in Region Y - especially if Region Y is at more risk than the original location of the city.

Your proposal - that we just say "the world is getting warmer" - drops us to the level of playing "pin the tail on the donkey". In other words, we're left to guess about the specifics from the basis of one "grand statement".

That may be good enough for you, but I want something a little more specific and useful.

Demogorgon303 wrote:
Despite the "wretched standards" of the people of those times, they were nonetheless integrated into the development in nascent capitalism.

And you think this is not happening in China? ....baffling.

Demogorgon303 wrote:
In fact, in Britain during the very early stages of development the process of primitive accumulation which you pontificate about was actively kicking the serfs off their land precisely in order to meet labour shortages in the cities.

What do you think happened in Russia in 1917 or China in 1949?

The Russian working class made up about 2% of the population in 1917. Do you think that 2% carried out Russia's industrialisation? ....of course not. They either forced the "folk who work the land" to go to the cities, or - as is often the case - the "rural folk" happily left the squalor of "rural life".

Demogorgon303 wrote:
The situation of today is simply not comparable. The shanty towns are caused by masses of peasants moving voluntarily to the city to escape the total decomposition of the rural economy.

Nonsense!

The mass influx of people from rural areas to the cities has always been mostly "voluntary". City life is far more appealing than the "muck of rural idiocy".

Plus "the total decomposition of the rural economy" is a "natural" Capitalist process like "the total decomposition of Religion".

The "acid" of Capitalism "eats away" at a load of unpleasant shit!

Demogorgon303 wrote:
This situation in the "Third World" is matched by a similar degeneration in the metropoles - vast areas of major cities transformed into ghettos where more and more whole generations of people have never known work and the only careers options are drug dealing and crime.

Again something which was very "natural" in the old Capitalist countries. 19th century Britain was full of "ladies of the night" and there was plenty of "petty crime".

Demogorgon303 wrote:
Which, once again, despite their brutal characteristics are in no way comparable with the sheer scale of Stalin and Mao's assault on their populations.

Stalin and Mao's "assault on their populations"???

I've got a feeling your over-exaggerating here. Russia's industrialisation was far less "brutal" than anything that happened in Western Europe and the Russian working class - in many ways - had a "better deal".

Demogorgon303 wrote:
Now, the success of this strategy is another question but it underlines how the economic crisis feeds the drive towards war, which in turn exacerbates the economic crisis and so on.

In other words, the American Empire is starting to "frey at the edges" whilst the Chinese Empire is starting to form.

Old ruling classes (like in America) tend to do desperate things to halt their decline, where as the new ruling classes (like in China) act in a more rational way and have a far better perception of their real class interests.

Demogorgon303 wrote:
More was spent on arms during each five year period of the Cold War than in any other period of human history and this doesn't mean war economy?

Well....

wikipedia.org wrote:
War economy is the term used to describe the contingencies undertaken by the modern state to mobilize its economy for war production. Philippe Le Billon describes a war economy as a "system of producing, mobilising and allocating resources to sustain the violence". The war economy can form an economic system termed the "military-industrial complex". Many states increase the degree of planning in their economies during wars; in many cases this extends to rationing, and in some cases to conscription for civil purposes, such as the Women's Land Army and Bevin Boys in the United Kingdom in World War II.

In what is known as total war, these economies are often seen as targets by many militaries. The Union blockade during the American Civil War is regarded as one of the first examples of this.

Concerning the side of aggregate demand, this concept has been linked to the concept of "military Keynesianism", in which the government's military budget stabilizes economic business cycles and fluctuations and/or is used to fight recessions.

On the supply side, it has been observed that wars sometimes have the effect of accelerating progress of technology and industry to such an extent that an economy emerges greatly strengthened after the war, especially if it has avoided the war-related destruction. This was the case, for example, with the United States in World War I and World War II. Some economists (such as Seymour Melman) argue, however, that the wasteful nature of much of military spending eventually can hurt technological progress.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_economy

Aside from this, the American economy still functioned as a "normal Capitalist economy" during the "Cold War" and was nothing like the economies of Nazi Germany, 1940's Britain, etc. etc.

Demogorgon303 wrote:
I make no claim to be an expert in debate, but I have at least tried to show why I disagree with your points.

Indeed you have, by repeating the same formula - "capitalism is decadent". You have yet to offer any specific analysis, something which I find of little use.

Demogorgon303 wrote:
The whole system is ripe for revolution.

As you know, I dispute such a statement.

Demogorgon303 wrote:
Abstractly speaking, the world revolution could begin anywhere.

No it couldn't. It will start - and no it won't be a "world revolution" - in places where the specific material conditions for proletarian revolution are in place. That isn't "anywhere".

Demogorgon303 wrote:
After all, the 1917-23 revolutionary wave began in a relatively backward country, Russia.

1917 was a bourgeois revolution with a "lick of red paint".

Demogorgon303 wrote:
Environmental catastrophe, the collapse of whole continents into war and economic ruin (such as Africa) and the clear spread of this to other regions such as Afghanistan and the Middle East are just a secular superstition?

I'll let the reader judge for themselves whether they "doomy" sequence of events represent a "secular superstition" or not.

Demogorgon303 wrote:
A functioning communist society cannot exist in the whole of Western Europe either.

Poo!

Western Europe has enough resources to create a functioning Communist society.

Demogorgon303 wrote:
Communism will need things like vast solar energy plants in the Sahara, plugged into a worldwide grid providing power for every one.

Or we can just build a "top notch" Nuclear Power Plant.

Anyway, solar energy would work perfectly well in Western Europe, Scandinavia currently has a great system of geothermal heating and virtually all renewable technologies can be adapted to any part of the world.

Demogorgon303 wrote:
Unless, of course, you accept the Stalinist concept of "Socialism in One Country".

Well that's a "funny question" and here's my answer....

http://www.revolutionaryleft.com/index.php?showtopic=45554&view=findpost&p=1292010770

There is of course the polar opposite - "world revolution" - that you say will happen. Both Socialism in Cuba and one giant "world revolution" seem impossible to me.

Demogorgon303 wrote:
The theory of decadence follows Marx in "treating the whole world as one nation"....

Yet Marx based most of his analysis on figures from 19th century England. He derived general "laws" from these figures and then applied these "laws" to Capitalism as a whole.

It remains to be seen whether Marx was right, the early evidence points in that direction, but only a functioning Communist society will confirm his hypothesis.

Demogorgon303 wrote:
Your fetish for specifics and failure to understand the "movement as a whole" leads you to support every Third World nationalist gang you can think of and to preach defeatism in terms of opposing capitalism....

You're quite right. I oppose abstract notions of supporting the "movement as a whole" when the "Masters of Capital" need to progress - just like Marx and Engels! grin

By the way, what irrelevant sect are you "supporting" in Iraq?

Armchair Socialism
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Joined: 28-01-06
Feb 12 2006 16:57

Questions, goody....

Beltov wrote:
Does he think that capitalism is eternal?

The evidence so far points in the direction of Marx's hypothesis being correct. However, only a functioning Communist society will prove this.

Beltov wrote:
Is it false to pose the alternative 'socialism or barbarism'?

I don't think that it's a very likely scenario.

Beltov wrote:
If the proletariat siezed power in Europe would it have to wait for the bourgeoisie to bring every last backward economy up to the level of 'modern capitalism' before the revolution could be extended to these regions?

Yes.

Lazy Riser's picture
Lazy Riser
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Joined: 6-05-05
Feb 12 2006 17:03

Hi

Quote:
If the proletariat siezed power in Europe would it have to wait for the bourgeoisie to bring every last backward economy up to the level of 'modern capitalism' before the revolution could be extended to these regions?

That's put a bit funny....

Quote:
If the proletariat siezed power in Europe would it have to wait for every last backward economy to be up to the level of 'modern capitalism' before the revolution could be extended to these regions?

I don't think so, but don't the Internationalists advocate this "all or none" position?

Love

LR

lem
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Joined: 25-07-05
Feb 12 2006 18:49
Quote:
You have yet to offer any specific analysis, something which I find of little use.

What will you do when you work out where the revolution is most likely?

Demogorgon303's picture
Demogorgon303
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Feb 12 2006 19:07

Hi Armchair

I didn't respond to Lem's questions because they were, in effect, answered in my preceeding posts. I only have limited time and energy to spend here and your points needed answering. Unfortunately, pressure of time is why I'm not going to be able to answer every point in your post. I'll try and take up some of the other points at a later time.

Empiricism is part of the scientific method, not the whole thing. It is not equivalent to historical materialism, which you claim to be employing precisely because it is ahistorical and views experience passively. In practice, it examines "snapshots" of reality and then presents those categories as unchanging and eternal. To take Hume's famous critique of empiricism, just because we've always seen the sun rise doesn't mean it always will. In the same way, just because national liberation struggles were progressive in one period does not mean they are progressive in all periods. Your method reduces capitalism to an eternal, unchanging category.

On your point about specifics, all you seem to want to know is which country will have a proletarian revolution. Well, fine, but in order for such a revolution to be successful we need to know the context which such a revolution will take place. Marx could talk about particular countries having a socialist revolution because he lived in a world where capitalism was not yet a truly global phenomena with all national economies interlinked. Even then he still insisted on these "local" struggles as moments in the global class struggle. I notice you've totally ignored the quote from the manifesto where he makes the point that you have to understand each "national struggle" in international, global terms.

In other words, you need to have an understanding of how the proletariat in each country must conduct itself to further the movement as a whole. As you say theory has real world consequences. In the case of decandence, its consquences mean a total rejection of all national liberations struggles, rejection of union work, rejection of bourgeois democracy. Nor is this simply armchair theorising. They are amply confirmed by the concrete experience of the proletariat in all countries where national liberation gangs turn on the proletariat as soon as they come into power (Ho Chi Minh), where unions sabotage struggle from the inside (e.g. Solidarity in Poland), and where democracy is used to justify the latest round of economic attacks, wars, etc. because apparently "we" voted for it.

You've castigated the theory for failing to predict where the revolution will break out, yet you have not actually shown that you have a better method. Very well then, as it is so clearly important to you, lets see you answer you own question! More to the point, you can explain why it is more "useful" to know this rather than knowing what the tasks of the proletariat will be when such an explosion occurs?

You're right that both Stalin and Mao used force to accelerate the development of their national capitals. This doesn't change the fundamental points of scale and context. I repeat: the migration from countryside to town in the 19th Century resulted into the integration of more and more proletarians into the capitalist economy. Mao and Stalin were able to repeat this to some extent, but they were never able to modernise their economies to the level of the metropoles. The development in China today is even weaker, precisely because it is not intergrating these peasant masses which is why you have the formation of shanty towns. And I repeat again, what intergration does take place is at the price of disintergration elsewhere - it is estimated that over a million textile workers across Europe will lose their jobs in the next year. The threat is not just to the "old capitalisms" - other developing nations are feeling the pinch:

"Severe as these impacts are for Europe, for many developing countries they will be devastating. Since the 1980s, largely as a result of the quota system in place until this year, many have built a huge dependency on the textile sector. In 2000, it accounted for 95% of all Bangladesh's industrial goods exports, in Laos 93%, Cambodia 83%, Pakistan 73%, Sri Lanka 71%, and Nepal 61%. The sector employs more than 1.8 million workers in Bangladesh, 1.4 million in Pakistan and 250,000 in Sri Lanka. Little wonder, then, that at the end of last year several dozen developing countries made an 11th-hour appeal to the WTO to save their textile industries from Chinese imports - it fell on deaf ears." http://www.guardian.co.uk/g8/story/0,,1520699,00.html

Quote:
Russia's industrialisation was far less "brutal" than anything that happened in Western Europe and the Russian working class - in many ways - had a "better deal".

Stalin's Great Terror was a better deal?!

Finally, on War Economy, your statements are once again simply staggering. Before World War One, defence spending struggled to reach 3% of GDP. Germany was considered exceptional because in 1913 because its massive 4%. But throughout the Cold War, the arms production of the Great Powers of the Western bloc averaged around 8% of GDP spent on weapons, some powers topping 11% in some years. Even by 1989 the US was still spending 6.3%, nearly double the Great Power average for the 1870s to 1900s and sixtimes its own average before World War 1. The USSR spent even more, some estimates coming in at 16% of its GDP. It's true that these figures don't compare to the massive percentages achieved during the world wars (e.g. 50%) but remember that this expenditure was maintained over a 30 year period!

It is absolutely clear from these figures that permanent arms production has become an essential feature of the capitalist economy for all states, with peace-time arms production hanging around at double the average compared with the 19th Century. The recent phase of demilitarisation - today's averages are about 3% - constitutes not a return to the halcyon days of the 19th Century but the total exhaustion of capitalism as a result of decades of bloated militarism.

The rest of your points will have to wait for another time.