Democratic Party, Politics, Socialism, Uncategorized

The Sanders “Revolution” Is a Blind Alley

“The working class will acquire the sense of the new discipline, the freely assumed self-discipline of the Social Democracy, not as a result of the discipline imposed on it by the capitalist state, but by extirpating, to the last root, its old habits of obedience and servility.”–Rosa Luxemburg

Bernie Sanders’ reformist welfare state capitalism is not, in any way, shape, or form socialist, let alone Marxist. His way is just a prettier repackaging of neoliberalism for desperate Millennials emeeging from the warm nest of the post-WWII capitalist bubble into the cold reality of late-stage capitalism in crisis.

Sanders & his ilk seek to improve the material conditions of the middle, and to a much lesser extent, working classes WITHOUT addressing the system which creates and will continue to create the conditions seeking to be reformed.

Sanders’ kabuki theater “revolution” is a essentially a morphine drip for the petty bourgeois Millennials who are the first generation in the advnced post-industrial west to experiance the full savagry of late stage-capitalism in crisis. His policies would make the current generation more comfortable with their misery under the current system, and would have as a consequence the INTENSIFICATION AND PROLONGATION of the crisis and its’ attendent woes & brutalities. Only the overthrow of the capitalist system and its replacement with communism will ameliorate the condition of the working classes & disintegrate the class barriers that stratify society. Sanders is a new coat of paint on the walls of the same old reformist blind alley.

 

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anarchism, Atheism, Catholicism, Death, poetry, Religion, Socialism, Spain, Uncategorized

Heretic’s Benediction

Priests bless the perversions of the fascists

While condemning the sharing of the land

but no foul curate will thwart our demand

we have no fear of holy chauvinists

 

Mass is held with the flesh of socialists

While Fathers absolve the barbarous bands

The sign of the cross made with bloody hands

Having sold their souls to Nationalists

 

We drink the pure water of righteousness

Boorish Priests are drunk on the holy blood

We sup as one on the bread of blitheness

While like cows with their host they chew the cud

they make a desert of faith with their weakness

Lo, and heed; after us will come the flood

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2016 Election, GOP, history, Nations, News, Socialism, Uncategorized, Writing

Notes Under The Pavement: 1/10/17

The US media, or at least that vast Nixonian [un]silent majority that represents the media Left of Center to  Right of Center and every CNN & TIME Magazine in between, now seem content with dryly reporting the bare facts of Trump’s misdeeds pre-Presidential misdemeanors with aw shucks faux shock. The insufferably bourgeois hip-Left news dumping ground Huffington Post (or “HuffPo” to the denizens of the portmanteau saturated social media world) posted a headline, Trump Denies Mocking Reporter With Disability, Even Though It Appears He Did, attached to a bricolage of links and tweets mixed into a brain dead snark-filled navel gazing exercise disguised as click-bait. “Appears” to have? APPEARS TO HAVE? Not only did “HuffPo” plaster the drooling, spasmodic pantomime performed by Trump all over their front “page”, they lionized themselves for their moral superiority in denouncing this obviously horrid abuse of his privilege & power for weeks on end. Giving even the hint of self-doubting deference now to a living, toupee abusing example of confirmation bias shows how low the media mojo has sunk in the age of right wing reactionary driven”Facts are what you FEEL” information nihilism.

This Barney Fife approach to media due diligence may keep their readership (or the firewall flouting “Nine of Ten articles remaining this month” group which plays the part well enough) mollified & with enough full of self-righteous pride to keep clicking past the pleas to subscribe & keep the first amendment alive, but it is not what a republican system descending into kleptocracy needs to survive. There is such an  air of affected incredulity emanating from the offices of the Times, Post & Co. that one would be forgiven in believing Claude Rains’ ethically pragmatic Capt. Renault had returned from the dead in order to run the UPI wire.

The refugees from the erstwhile Grand Obama Coalition are still milling about, shiftless, abandoned by their great Pant-suited Hope, desperate for a political gong to bang which will summon forth a new New Deal (or at the very least a new Great Society) but settling instead for gloomy Wednesday (Thursday, Friday…) quarterbacking over an election that was lost as soon as the rust belt & the Jim Crow 2.0 voter suppression Governors heard dog whistle to end all others, “Make [White] America Great Again.” With the swearing in of Trump less than two weeks away, the White Liberal base is getting more and more enamored with token gestures of “Resistance”, lapping up the trickle down pat public declarations and demonstrations of safe, easily retweeted self righteous indignation by aging and burgeoning Progressive Icons™ like Meryl Streep, Mark Ruffalo, and Rob Reiner, or Elizabeth Banks. All the while, the newly panicked Liberal popular vote majoritarians continue, as they always do, to ignore, turn up their noses to, or pay lip service towards true examples of resistance and push back from the radical Left, LGBTQ, Black, and Native American communities. Ms Streep gets a million twitter bromides and a heroic profile on every major media front page while the concrete, community driven direct revolutionary actions of Black Lives Matter or the continuing pogrom against Trans women of color are brushed aside with a heart emoji or a generous “like”.

To top it all off, Russia has emerged once more as the Great Foreign Adversary of the moment, bedeviling the inexorably collapsing Pax Americana with the specter of sexy Russian spy/spin masters & crafty hacker-warriors electronically burgling an electronic Watergate. we are told to be afraid, very afraid for our “democratic values”, which are only ever invoked when they are justifiably sneered at by our fellow nation states/Masters of the Universe. This time it is the turn of the Liberal Left to take up the McCarthyite torch, and they are not wasting any time red-baiting grammatically and intellectually challenged Right Wing Depolorable media personalities, whose only familiarity with Lenin consists of their belief that he declared long ago that “Happiness is a Warm Gun”. Ostentatious Patriotism is once more the hobby horse of jack-asses.

—L’Ennemi

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Socialism

Draft of “Capitalism in its Last Days”

art by Noah Mann-Engel

art by Noah Mann-Engel

The following is an excerpt from an essay I am working on about the end of capitalism. Enjoy!

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We forget, often and with deleterious consequences for the public intellectual exchange, that capitalism, or, a system designed for or in sympathy with an economy of exchange of goods for services and the requisite institutions private and public thereof, has no ideological leaning. Systems of capitalism, first colonial, then industrial, and now digital as well as industrial, have always sought to ingratiate themselves with the powers that be, so to speak. Capitalist economies have survived, and even thrived, under republican, democratic socialist, authoritarian and even totalitarian regimes. The pursuit of wealth in material forms as well as in the form of stock, cash, and credit, seems to be a uniquely human disorder. It is telling that in the mind of many a human there is a moment of consideration of making a profit by destroying human life before one comes to ones senses. Capitalism, in the form it inevitably takes when it is hindered only by the most token of regulation, is an economic philosophy of the sociopath and for the sociopath.

This is not in and of itself a bad thing; no product of human thought is “bad” or “good”. There is only relative consequences, for good or evil, that stem from people acting consciously or unconsciously in service of a philosophy. But history and the very structure and morality of capitalism in the real world show that capitalism allows far too many avenues for those who wish to exploit others for profit to do so. At the moment in the United States a conservative and proto-fascistic political party known as the Republicans represent the interests of capital. But it was not always this way. Capitalism benefited under the rule of such liberal paragons as FDR and JFK. Capitalism is an ideological chameleon, metamorphosing from one political shade to another, depending on circumstances.

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economy, Socialism

The American “Dream”: The Meaninglessness of American Labor

Malcolm-Powder

Every child born into the American state can expect a life of frustrating and stultifyingly meaningless labor, the rewards for which will be ever diminishing returns and ever less security and comfort. That is of course if they are unbelievably lucky. More than likely that American child will become an American adult who will languish at different levels of the welfare state and struggle with debt that has no end because it is structured to be unending and to reinforce the economic status quo. This can almost be assured if that child is female, black, an undocumented immigrant or child of the same or disabled in some way. There is no future for an American child but inertia punctuated by dehumanizing toil rewarded with regressively structured compensation. The American system is collapsing into a Thatcher-esque privatized lassiez faire wonderland for he who find excitement and profit in exploiting and stealing the products labor of his fellow man. Such is the American system after the New Deal era.

I sincerely believe the last real chance we had for top down institutional change came and went with the first and second Franklin Roosevelt administrations. The the alphabet soup of socialist workers programs like the NRA, WPA, TVA, the Fair Labor Standards Act, CWA and the CCC. Under Roosevelt and the auspices of the Great Depression of 1929 a true top down statist socialist society was attempted. We will never know if that project would have succeeded; the Supreme Court and The Second World War saw to that.

Since that time there has be an creeping marketization of the entire apparatus of American welfare, labor, economics, and culture. The default position for the American political theology has become self-aggrandizement and profit for profit’s sake. If a problem cannot be solved by the free market then it is not a problem it is a consequence of the craven laziness of the workers of America. There is no love of labor in America. There is only the dollar. The time has come for each American, each human being, to define success and prosperity by his or her own standards and to fight any system that abuses or ignores these standards. We cannot depend upon a democratic system that now caters exclusively to corporate and capitalist interests. If a representative system no longer represents the interests of the working and bleeding and striving classes then it is no longer a representative system and must be rejected. The liberals are not going to save you, the Democrats will not, and surely the Republicans will not. If you are waiting for a change to this system from the political classes and their  institutions, well, to paraphrase Lennon and McCartney you better start changing your mind instead.

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Socialism

On Austerity and Power

USSR

Are there any parallels in recent history that will help us understand the predicament that the US finds itself in regarding systemic corruption and capitalistic power? At the dawn of the 1990’s the Soviet Union seemed to be on the verge of true change in favor of civil liberties and more economic democracy. Gorbachev was dragging the USSR and the political cabal that ran it kicking and screaming towards a less authoritarian state socialism. We sadly never got the chance to see a former dictatorial superpower open up and reform its system. A right wing and capitalist sponsored coup toppled Gorbachev and killed the Soviet Union and ended a flawed but ongoing experiment towards state socialism and revolutionary reform. Boris Yeltsin and his capitalist supporters took pains to make themselves appear to be the harbingers of change and hope for Russia and they took steps they felt were justified by their show of force to speak “for” the people and “revolutionize” the Russian/Soviet system from the top down.

Certainly the USSR was no more or less violent than the US in its projection of power abroad and imperial expansion internally. It was at least founded upon an ideal of human equality and workers rights, whereas the USA was founded as a Republican and Capitalist state that depended upon slavery and economic exploitation for its very existence. The Russian Revolution showed that a nation could kill absolute state power and control by popular protest and revolutionary action. It also showed that the people must be wary of trusting power to brash and egotistical “leaders” who want to create a top down state socialist system. Utopian aims were used as an excuse to acquire and abuse enormous amounts of state power and cultural control. While the US consumed the resources and people of the non-”western” world and exploited its minority communities at home the USSR consumed its own people as a resource for societal engineering on a horrifying and awe-inspiring scale.

In 1990-91 there was a chance for a new stage of the Soviet experiment but that chance was smothered in its cradle. Today as a result Russia is a gang-ridden, crony-capitalist big brother state with a dictator at the helm and the people more exploited and impoverished  now since they have been since the collapse of the Soviet system. The state that once enforced loyalty to the state socialist system now enforces loyalty to the pary of Putin, the Billionaire State-Subsidized energy barons, and the increasingly bigoted and radical Russian Orthodox Church. LGBT people and their supporters are beaten openly in the streets, political groups are banned or harassed, journalists are threatened or “disappeared” and artists, like the revolutionary anarchist artist collective Pussy Riot, are persecuted and imprisoned. Rates of alcoholism, domestic violence, homelessness and poverty are through the roof and if you happen to be an ethnic minority your chances for a stable safe life are even lower. Corporations own the natural resources of the nation and write the laws that allow them to manipulate and exploit workers. Russia is a Neo-Feudal kleptocracy on a scale not seen since the Czar and his family were dragged from their palaces and shot.

Does this seem like a problem unique to Russia? Are the “dirty reds” paying the price for their flawed socialist delusions? Is this sort of societal and economic collapse unique to the Russian experience? It is worth looking at the conditions extant in the other superpower on the world stage in order to investigate. The United States has been shaken to its core by a series of economic disasters of epic proportions. The political system is deadlocked and the people are beginning to demand reform of the Market System and the government that manipulates and profits from its continuation and expansion. Capitalism itself is facing a crisis as more and more power is placed in the hands of fewer and fewer companies and individuals. The government supports, incentivises and promotes this monopolization of all industry and all resources. This leads to a state where the worker as alienated as is possible from the product of his labor and the means of production itself. The American working public must “compete” against the miniscule wages and abysmal working standards of the corporate slaves employed in the “third world”. As Lenin observed in his Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism

 

Free competition is the basic feature of capitalism, and of commodity production generally; monopoly is the exact opposite of free competition, but we have seen the latter being transformed into monopoly before our eyes, creating large-scale industry and forcing out small industry, replacing large-scale by still larger-scale industry, and carrying concentration of production and capital to the point where out of it has grown and is growing monopoly: cartels, syndicates and trusts, and merging with them, the capital of a dozen or so banks, which manipulate thousands of millions 1

 

With the banks that finance the monopolies guaranteed a “bailout” by the “democratic” government there is no incentive for reform within the capitalist edifice. The “concentration”, as Lenin put it, is therefore inevitable as are the side-effects of a fully consolidated capitalist oligarchy. With full financial support from the government and with an enormous corporate welfare system in place the financial and corporate sectors have rebounded dramatically with no commensurate increase in worker pay or employment prospects. The corporations demand more and more cheap unskilled labor and demand a level of unemployment that will make it easier for them to use “market forces” as an excuse to further suppress wages and workers rights. In Chapter 25 of Das Kapital Marx tells us

 

It is the absolute interest of every capitalist to press a given quantity of labour out of a smaller, rather than a greater number of labourers, if the cost is about the same […] The more extended the scale of production, the stronger this motive. Its force increases with the accumulation of capital.

 

The explosion of debt that comes from the glut of spending on behalf of Corporate and financial interests plays into to a conservative reaction against all government spending, which is erroneously seen to weighted in favor of the poor and working classes. This conservative backlash is encouraged by “libertarian” businessmen and political leaders who stoke conservative fears of draconian “wealth confiscation” by the government in favor of the “freeloaders” (assumed to be racial minorities, immigrants, young people, and the poor)  in order to have further support for their austerity plans. Austerity is essentially regressive tax on the working classes and the poor. While public sector spending on social welfare programs, education, healthcare and poverty is cut or eliminated entirely spending on corporate welfare increases exponentially and the cycle repeats itself ad nauseum. Increased poverty, desperation and the closing off of “economic/social mobility” leads to desperation in the population, with some turning to nationalistic, jingoistic and radical libertarian movements as way to express their rage and frustration. This sort of angst is easily manipulated by the political parties into any number of bigoted policies against hated or feared minorities and the working poor.

Whether it is Obama or Yeltsin or anyone else the problem is that politicians of any political persuasion will always seek to personify “hope” and “change” in order to usurp the legitimate power of the people. They will tell us that circumstances dictate what must be done and that they alone (or at least with the token support of those people allowed the vote and choose to exercise it) can bring about needed reform and administer justice. This is a false paradigm and one that must be overthrown. The people must dictate what is to be done and they must be central to the process of reform and revolution. Change cannot come from the top down and it cannot come from political operatives who claim the mantle of “hope”. Any man who claims to be the personification of human striving and dignity is most likely the one who will destroys hope and demeans the people in the name of preservation of the status quo. These are the real facts on the ground and they do not change from person to person or from place to place.

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Activism, Capitalism, economy, essay, Socialism

A Short Marxist Discourse on Land and Property Rent

John_Constable_-_The_Hay-Wain_-_WGA5191

            The system of tenant renter based housing has been at the center of socialist and housing rights movements throughout the world. The exploitative practice of collecting rent from a group of renters living on property owned and operated by a largely unaccountable landlord (the term itself a left over from the pre-capitalist feudal economies) has long been a plague upon the working classes. The structure of a rental property agreement is largely a pyramid scheme that can be manipulated and shaped to fit the needs of the landlord and his interest in making a profit off of the workers and families who rent his property. This of course is not all the fault of the landlord; the system of regressive and restrictive property taxation and the dearth of government participation in creating affordable safe housing. Though referring in particular to arable land rents, Marx  in his essay Rent of Land makes a general point about the landlord/renter system that is equally valid when applied to modern day rental housing: “the rent of land [or the property thereon] is established as the result of the struggle between tenant and landlord” (The emphasis is Marx’s). Marx goes on to quote Adam Smith:

               “The rent of land, therefore, considered as the price paid for the use of the land, is naturally a monopoly price. It is not at all proportioned to what the landlord may have laid out upon the improvement of the land, or to what he can afford to take; but to what the farmer can afford to give.”  

            This goes to the inherent corruption in the rental system; there is no accountability or reckoning when it comes to how rental rates are established or how the income made therefrom is used to improve the properties or reduce rental rates. There is indeed an incentive built in to the arraignment that rewards the landlord for maintaining substandard conditions and a high or even punitive rent. The drive towards profitability, the capitalistic ethos that underpins the belligerent relationship between renter and landlord, and the bias in favor of the landlord and landowner inherent in most forms of local and state governments, makes certain that renters are always, or at least nearly always, the loser in the equation.

            It is a fact that much in the way of making a rental property habitable is taken up by the renter himself. In my personal experience as a renter, I have found that the landlord often will not take the initiative in improving the property or repairing appliances or utilities. Indeed, some landlords structure the rental agreement so as to put as much responsibility for the upkeep and maintenance of the property and appliances/utilities into the hands of the renter, without a commensurate reduction in rent. There is therefore no incentive for the landlord to repair property, as he controls the rate of rent totally, and a punitive mandate for the renter to maintain the property at a potential loss to his personal income. This situation is alluded to by Marx, once more quoting Smith:

“…Improvements, besides, are not always made by the stock of the landlord, but sometimes by that of the tenant. When the lease comes to be renewed, however, the landlord commonly demands the same augmentation of rent as if they had been all made by his own.” (From Rent of Land)

            In fact, the agricultural renter/tenant has the potential advantage of deriving some sustenance or income form the property rented. The housing renter simply does not have that option. What, then, is the renter/tenant to do to bring equity and justice to the situation? The answer is nothing, nothing, at least, within the confines of the current capitalist land renting/taxation/purchasing system. There must be a radical departure from the current way renters are treated and indeed how they rent. We cannot expect such change to come from above, indeed capitalist control over the governmental apparatus and political system precludes this. So the change must come from us, the renters and the workers. Since we do not have a viable democratic socialist system and structure with which to work in we must make do with the system we have, and to come at it from a revolutionary and counter-capitalist perspective.

            The cultural disdain extant today against the renting of property, usually purely for housing purposes in this day and age, is in America largely a result of the bias against the working classes and the poor in general. The renting of property is an implicit acknowledgement of defeat in the pursuit of the American dream of owning property and transcending the bounds of welfare state which as implemented is as much use for the humiliation as for the benefit of the working classes. This is of course a somewhat hilarious prejudice given the pitiful and criminal system of mortgage and finance available to the middle class. As the recent housing market collapse has shown us, renting is not the financially unsounds option claimed by so many gurus of personal economics. The renting system merely puts the renter in a more dramatic and visceral situation vis a vis the exploitative market forces at play; the landlord can find resource in archaic and punitive renters laws and has direct control over the circumstances and obligations that must be maintained in order to secure housing. The home owner, or rather mortgage owner given the realities of the system put in place for the purchase and financing of housing, has a few levels of corporate and banking bureaucracy between him and the visage of his exploiter, but he does exist to exploit him nonetheless.

            The state of affairs is of course violently opposed to the interests of the proletariat because there is no recourse available to the renter against the whims of the landlord. The landlord holds the deed and directly pays the taxes on the property, and as the renter has no legal right to negotiate a more equitable arrangement (nor is there even an expectation of such parity between the two parties) there can be no law but whim and personal greed. This is a remnant of a feudal system that never hid its intent to exploit and constrain the proletariat. Marx said

               “It is absurd to conclude, as Smith does, that since the landlord exploits [through the collection of rent] every benefit which comes to society, the interest of the landlord is always identical with that of society.” [Rent of Land]

            This of course begs the question, how can land be seen as property? Upon what basis does one man transfer ownership of fixed area of earth to another? And why should the basic human need of shelter be subject to the whims of those seeking to derive profit? These are question I do not presently have an answer for but it should be the pursuit of a contemporary socialism to puzzle it out and elucidate a theory upon whose foundation a new system can be created.

 

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