Thursday, 30 June 2016

John Pienaar's Disgraceful Report

No one in the Labour Party expects unbiased reporting by the Tory media.  That Tory media includes the BBC, which has, in fact, been one of the most biased sources over recent years.  That the Tory media should support the Tories against Labour, is then taken for granted.  But, it is quite clear that this also extends to the media's support for the representatives of the Tories inside the Labour Party, primarily in the Parliamentary Labour Party, which again demonstrates the BBC and Tory media's support for the establishment elite against the majority and its democratic decisions.  Over the last week, it has been obvious that the pre-planned coup by sections of the PLP, and supported by 172 Labour MP's, and by their co-thinkers in other privileged positions, such as MEP's and council leaders, also appears to have been coordinated with that Tory media, which has acted as its propaganda organ.

I watched the report on BBC News, last night, by John Pienaar, with disgust.  His report from start to finish was a biased account of events surrounding the attempted coup against Corbyn, and Corbyn's response to it, along with the response of the hundreds of thousands of party members around the country that are coming to the defence of the elected party leader, and opposing the coup attempts of this handful of entryists and plotters, around the Progress party within a party.

All of this group that have acted unconstitutionally, bringing the party into disrepute, at a time when the focus should be on attacking a Tory party in disarray, were presented as having a natural right, as part of the establishment elite to ignore the wishes of the vast majority of party members.  In doing so, they are presented as being moderates, and acting reasonably, when the very opposite is the case. When Ed Miliband is called upon to ask Corbyn to stand down, his statement that he is "No Blairite" is taken as good coin, as though it is all strands of opinion in the party that stands against Corbyn.

Ed Miliband was a better choice than his brother, and certainly better than Cameron.  But, of course, Miliband, like his brother, is a Blair-right.  They like most of the other Labour MP's, standing against Corbyn, came into the party as career politicians, who had gone through the channels of being student politicians, advisors and assistants to existing Kinnockite/Blair-right MP's, bureaucrats in a range of quangos and charities, that are required activities for the CV's of such politicians, prior to becoming an MP, and jumping on to the grossly extended front bench gravy train that keeps them in a comfortable cosseted existence, often for the rest of their lives.

Pienaar's report, like all reporting by the Tory media, starts from this basic framework, whereby the current establishment elite, such as the 172, are all moderates, and by implication the half million party members who support Corbyn, must be extremists, or as one of the 172 described them "a mob".  His report, however, went beyond even that level of bias.  It was laden with charged terms and phrases that were implicitly and sometimes explicitly hostile to Corbyn.  For example, he referred to Corbyn being "a laughing stock" just by entering the Commons Chamber, at Prime Minister's Question Time.

In the evening, Corbyn addressed a large spontaneous gathering outside the School of African Studies in London.  A few hundred people had gathered to hear Corbyn and McDonnell.  Corbyn spoke passionately about the work that the Labour Party now needs to undertake to defend workers, women, minorities and the environment, in the aftermath of the referendum result.  At regular intervals Corbyn was loudly cheered by the crowd.  There was just one lonely heckler, who shouted to Corbyn "What about Europe Jeremy.  You let us down".  It later turned out that he was a Liberal candidate!

The charge is, of course, false.  It was the official leaders of the Labour In campaign such as Alan Johnson and Hillary Benn, who failed to provide an inspiring campaign, partly because they are limited in doing so by their own politics, and the record of their own political actions in the last Labour government in creating many of the conditions in urban areas, that people are responding to, as well as their lack of opposition to austerity measures introduced by the last government.

But, the point is that this was a solitary heckler, who's intervention was quickly drowned out by chants of "Jeremy", by the vast majority of the crowd.  But, Pienaar's report carried virtually nothing of Corbyn's speech, just as they carried nothing of the thirty odd meetings he did up and down the country during the referendum campaign, and which thereby facilitated the specious charge of the Progress party within a party that he had not been active in calling for a Remain vote.  Instead, Pienaar's report carried the shout of this lone heckler, and then visibly cut the response to it from the crowd, giving the impression that the crowd was actually hostile to Corbyn.  This was not just biased reporting, it was a distortion of the truth.

The same has been true of the BBC's vox pops of supposed Labour voters, who the BBC would have us believe are not going to vote Labour because of Corbyn.  In fact, all of the actual electoral tests that the party has undertaken have been passed comfortably under Corbyn's leadership, reversing the decline that has been seen over recent years.  Even those interviewed in those vox pops give the game away, by setting out as their reasons for not voting Labour, the abandonment of their communities by past Labour governments, past Labour governments whose main representatives are those very same MP's that are now plotting against Corbyn!

Pienaar then talked about the challenge to Corbyn that is expected to come today from Angela Eagle, who we were told was a "left-leaning" member of the PLP.  But, as a prominent member of the Blair-right governments of Blair and Brown from 1997-2010, Eagle showed no indication of being "left-leaning", and was one of the primary Labour politicians responsible for the abandonment of working-class communities, which have in turn abandoned Labour over the last fifteen years, and were the main centres of opposition to Remain!

When the Tories last year introduced the Welfare Bill to cut £12 billion of benefits from the disabled and poorest in society, the then acting Leader, Harriet Harman, called on Labour MP's not to oppose it!  Angela Eagle, along with her sister Maria, were among those who abstained on the vote.  How on Earth can any Labour MP be considered to be in any way "left-leaning" when they cannot even bring themselves to do the decent thing and vote against £12 billion of cuts proposed by a vicious, right-wing Tory government aimed at the most vulnerable in society.  It beggars belief, and it beggars belief that the BBC can expect us to believe that they are engaged in anything other than a propaganda war, that they can present the situation in such a way.

In fact, the BBC's reporting across all of its news and politics programmes more resembles war-time propaganda than anything else.  That is not surprising, because the BBC, as part of the Tory establishment, is engaged in a war.  It is a war in defence of establishment privilege against basic democracy.  Jeremy Corbyn is not some radical revolutionary, but merely a social-democrat of the kind of Attlee, or Wilson.

That he is portrayed as anything but that is an indication of the extent that politics has been monopolised, over the last thirty years, by a conservative clique that acts in the name of an establishment based upon the ownership of money wealth.  In the past, the ruling class was based on its ownership of productive-wealth, but today not even that is true.  The current ruling class is, in fact, the enemy of productive wealth.  It destroys productive wealth via its policies of austerity, and its programme of money printing to keep the prices of its paper wealth in the shape of shares, bonds and property inflated.

That model is crashing around the ears of the ruling class, for the simple reason that it has resulted in official interest rates at zero, whereas many businesses cannot even borrow to expand, whilst millions of families have to resort to pay day loans with 4000% p.a. rates of interest.  It is crashing, because without real productive investment, their can be no expansion of profits, or the rate of profit, and so the payment of interest on all those shares and bonds, and rents on that property cannot increase, and the yield, therefore, continually shrinks, meaning that sooner or later, the prices of those assets must crash too.

That is not just happening in Britain by across the globe, which is why the political centre is collapsing, as seen in the collapse of Pasok, the rise of Syriza, Podemos, the Left Bloc, Corbyn, Sanders and so on.  The old order is dying, and the BBC is simply trying to paper over its demise, in the hope that it will not be consumed in the fire.

Withdraw The Whip From The 172

The 172 Labour MP's that supported a motion of no confidence by the PLP, was unconstitutional.  It deliberately breached the party's rules determining the election of, and challenges to the party leader.  That vote together with the staged resignations of some of those 172 who were front bench spokespeople was clearly planned way in advance, as has been the staged support for those manoeuvres by the Tory media.  In other words, these were attempts at a coup against the party, by a party acting in its own interests within the Labour Party.  It is no different from the actions of the Militant Tendency in the 1980's that saw its members expelled, including the closing down of entire CLP's, or the actions of the SDP, which saw it split from the party, and join up with the Liberals.

A few weeks ago, as a result of press reports about Tweets by Naz Shah, she had the Labour whip withdrawn, and was suspended from the party by the NEC, for bringing the party into disrepute.  It is quite clear that by acting as a party within a party, mostly organised around the Progress organisation, and by undertaking an unconstitutional action in organising a vote of no confidence in the democratically elected party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, the 172 have brought the party into disrepute, at a time when the focus should be on attacking Cameron, Johnson and the other Tories, who have brought chaos and crisis to the country by their EU Referendum, which itself was only undertaken for reasons internal to Tory party factional manoeuvres.

Over the next two days, Corbyn and the Chief Whip, should, therefore, call in, individually, the members of this 172, and withdraw the Labour Whip from them.  He should begin with the initiators of that coup attempt.  Its fitting that the initiator of the no confidence vote was Dame Margaret Hodge, given that their performance so far has been a pantomime, that is farcical in its extent, given the serious events going on in the country, and the extent to which they have shown themselves completely at odds with, and out of touch with, not just the vast majority of party members, but also of Labour voters too.

At the same time, Naz Shah, along with a number of other Labour Party members were suspended for bringing the party into disrepute for their statements in relation to anti-semitism.  Interestingly, John Mann MP, who brought the party into disrepute, with his obviously staged, and publicity seeking attack on Ken Livingstone, at BBC headquarters, was not suspended.  The party must act even handedly against those that bring it into disrepute by their public statements and actions.

The members of the Progress party must be given the same degree of fairness, in being suspended, prior to their expulsion, as were the members of Militant, and other organisations in the 1980's, and 1990's.  However, the members of Militant, and these other groups never launched the kind of coup against the democratically elected leader of the party that the 172 have launched, backed by Progress.

By withdrawing the whip from the 172, it would mean that they could no longer intervene in PLP meetings, and so the real PLP, behind Corbyn, would be freed to get on with its work of leading the party freed from the destructive actions of the wreckers.  It is a necessary preliminary step prior to deselecting these 172, and their supporters on local councils, and in the European Parliament.  The actions need to be backed up with the planned democratic reforms at Labour Party Conference that are also being backed by the trades unions, which will start to ensure that the party is returned completely to its members.

The writing should now be clearly on the wall to the 172, and the Progress party, and other such right-wing entryist groups.  If they have any remaining shred of decency and principle they will go now, and find their natural home with the Liberal-Tories.

Capital III, Chapter 37 - Part 14

Money-rent can only develop with commodity production, which brings about the creation of money.

“In so far as commodity-production and thus the production of value develops with capitalist production so does the production of surplus-value and surplus product. But in the same proportion as the latter develops, landed property acquires the capacity of capturing an ever-increasing portion of this surplus-value by means of its land monopoly and thereby, of raising the value of its rent and the price of the land itself.” (p 638)

To the extent that commodity production brings about the separation of agricultural and industrial production, the industrial commodities can only be bought with money, as can the increasing volume of imported commodities, being offered up by merchant capital. In order to obtain these commodities, therefore, the landlords require their rent in money form.

This increase in the size of the market and with it the surplus product, brings with it an increase in rent completely independent of any action by the landlord.

“This is the characteristic peculiarity of his position, and not the fact that the value of the products of the land, and thus of the land itself, increases to the degree that the market for them expands, the demand grows and with it the world of commodities which confronts the products of the land — in other words, the mass of non-agricultural commodity producers and non-agricultural commodity-production. But since this takes place without any action on his part, it appears to him as something unique that the mass of value, the mass of surplus-value, and the transformation of a portion of surplus value into ground-rent should depend upon the social production process, on the development of commodity-production in general.” (p 638)

Marx cites Patrick Dove (The Elements of Political Science, p 279), who from this basis tried to explain rent on the basis of the value of the agricultural product rather than its mass. But, Marx points out that this depends on the mass and productivity of the non-agricultural population.

Referring back to his previous comments, Marx notes,

“But it is also true of every other product that it can only develop as a commodity partly as the mass and partly as the variety of other commodities which form equivalents for it increase. This has already been demonstrated in connection with the general presentation of value. [English edition: Vol. I, p. 88. — Ed.] On the one hand, the exchangeability of a product in general depends on the multiplicity of commodities existing in addition to it. On the other hand, on it depends in particular the quantity in which this product can be produced as a commodity.” (p 638)

No individual producer can produce commodities, and, therefore, exchange value in isolation, because a commodity is only a commodity if it has been produced for the purpose of exchange or sale, and its exchange value is determined in that process. This is true whether the commodity is industrial or agricultural. And, as Marx demonstrates, later, in Theories of Surplus Value, the proportionality referred to earlier, between these different types of commodities that are brought together to exchange with each other, depends upon the level of productivity in each sphere. 

“Therefore, if, on the one hand, surplus-value or, still more narrowly, the surplus-product in general is explained instead of rent, the mistake is made, on the other hand, of ascribing exclusively to agricultural products a characteristic which belongs to all products in their capacity as commodities and values. This is vulgarised still more by those who pass from the general determination of value over to the rea1isation of the value of a specific commodity. Every commodity can realise its value only in the process of circulation, and whether it realises its value, or to what extent it does so, depends on prevailing market conditions.” (p 639)

This is a mistake made today by those Marxist economists who ignore the question of adequate demand for produced commodities, and thereby implicitly accept the principles of Say's Law. As Marx demonstrates in Theories of Surplus Value, there is no reason that two industries with divergent levels of productivity should be able to continue to find a market one in the other. 

“By the way, in the various branches of industry in which the same accumulation of capital takes place (and this too is an unfortunate assumption that capital is accumulated at an equal rate in different spheres), the amount of products corresponding to the increased capital employed may vary greatly, since the productive forces in the different industries or the total use-values produced in relation to the labour employed differ considerably. The same value is produced in both cases, but the quantity of commodities in which it is represented is very different. It is quite incomprehensible, therefore, why industry A, because the value of its output has increased by 1 per cent while the mass of its products has grown by 20 per cent, must find a market in B where the value has likewise increased by 1 per cent, but the quantity of its output only by 5 per cent. Here, the author has failed to take into consideration the difference between use-value and exchange-value. (Theories of Surplus Value, Part 3)

Agricultural commodities develop and confront industrial commodities, therefore, in no different way than one industrial commodity confronts another. The development of a market for one commodity, necessarily implies the development of the market for the other, and the maintenance of the right proportion between the two.

But, that proportion is a function of the mass of each not the value, because although the supply of each is a function of value, the demand for each is a function of use value.

“The singularity of ground-rent is rather that together with the conditions in which agricultural products develop as values (commodities), and together with the conditions in which their values are realised, there also grows the power of landed property to appropriate an increasing portion of these values, which were created without its assistance; and so an increasing portion of surplus-value is transformed into ground-rent.” (p 639)

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Newark Constituency Labour Party Passes Motion Backing Corbyn

Besides all of the tens of thousands of people that have signed the petitions supporting Jeremy Corbyn against the right-wing coup attempt against him by a handful of right-wing elitist MP's, support is beginning to flood in from other sources.  I reported yestrday about the support from the Durham Miners, and the poll in the Sunderland Echo, showing 66% support from its readers.

In addition now a number of CLP's are beginning to pass resolutions supporting Corbyn, and denouncing the right-wing plotters.  For example Newark CLP have passed the following motion.

"Newark Constituency Labour Party notes and supports recent statements by trade union leaders such as Wendy Nichols (Unison) Dave Ward (CWU) and Len McCluskey (Unite) who have voiced their union's support for Jeremy Corbyn's continued leadership of the Labour Party.

Newark CLP condemns the actions of many shadow cabinet ministers who have resigned at a time when the Parliamentary Labour Party should have had two key priorities in mind:

1) Preparing for an imminent general election

2) Holding the government to account when it opens negotiations to leave the EU

Following tonight's well attended meeting, Newark CLP would like to confirm that it has full confidence in Jeremy Corbyn's leadership following his election with a very clear mandate.

Newark CLP urges the PLP and the NEC to unite strongly at such a critical moment in the history of the Party and the country."

Already a number of the big unions have come out to back Corbyn, Manuel Cortes of TSSA, earlier today, rightly told the BBC that the actions of the handful of Labour MP's who are attacking Corbyn rather than the government in the present conditions are a disgrace.

On their website the TSSA on Monday set out the support for Corbyn from twelve major union leaders.

They wrote,

"Twelve major trade union leaders, including TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes, have backed Jeremy Corbyn against the leadership challenge being manufactured by some in the Parliamentary Labour Party.

The following joint statement was issued over the weekend:

“The prime minister's resignation has triggered a tory leadership crisis. At the very time we need politicians to come together for the common good the Tory party is plunging into enter a period of argument and infighting. In the absence of a government that puts the people first Labour must unite as a source of national stability and unity. It should focus on speaking up for jobs and workers' rights under threat, and on challenging any attempt to use the referendum result to introduce a more right-wing Tory government by the backdoor. The last thing Labour needs is a manufactured leadership row of its own in the midst of this crisis and we call upon all Labour MP's not to engage in any such indulgence.”

Quite right.

In the meantime, the kind of politics the plotters represent, and the politics they would want to return the party to is illustrated by the fact that rich novelist Robert Harris is trying to get a load of his rich friends to get right-wingers to join the party to vote against Corbyn.  The same approach is being taken by the right-wingers of Labour First.

Aaron Bastani has also provided information on the politics of those who have resigned from the shadow front bench, by listing them and showing all those who abstained on the 2015 Tory Welfare Bill, which took £12 billion away from the disabled and poorest in society.

As Paul Mason says, it appears that these right-wingers are hell bent on causing a split, but they are shit scared to put up a candidate for an election, because they know they will lose, despite all of the media games they are playing to try to suggest the opposite, with a handful of schills stuck up in front of a camera to suggest they were former Corbyn supporters who have changed sides.  They also know that if they split and stand in elections under their own banner they will disappear into the dustbin of history, like the SDP before them.

That is why they are desperate to get Corbyn to resign so that they don't have to stand against him, and so they could prevent another left-wing candidate being on the ballot.  They have also been investigating who owns the name Labour Party, as well as seeking legal advice on whether Corbyn could be prevented from being on the ballot.  The Labour Party itself took legal advice on that, and as Emily Thornberry has also said, the rules are clear.  If Corbyn does not stand down, he does not need to be nominated, but is on the ballot automatically against any challenger.

Rather like Cameron, the plotters gambled, acted rashly, and they have lost.  Cameron gambled he would not have to call a referendum, and then gambled he could win it.  The plotters, because they are so used to playing their own elitist, Westminster games, thought that by going through all of their childish plots of staged resignations - that everyone has known were going to be played out at some point - they would force Corbyn to resign as one of them would.  Now he has not, they are lost.  

Petty intrigue between them is what they know, and the game they play without any concern for the party or the workers they are supposed to protect.  That same factor means they are even having difficulty settling on a candidate to stand against Corbyn, because whoever does so will be cutting their own political throat.  They have been exposed for the self-centred charlatans they are.

The fact, is as one young member told the BBC, Corbyn is the only person, at the moment, who can transform the Labour Party, and save it from the decline it was suffering.  By turning it into a social movement, rather than just an electoral machine designed to provide a handful of elitists with a comfortable political career, the truth is that even all the stuff about staffing the front benches is so much stuff and nonsense.  As I wrote the other day, the size of governments and shadow front benches is driven not by a requirement to have that many MP's in such privileged positions, but simply by patronage, and a means of playing Westminster games.  Corbyn needs no more than 10 top Ministers, if that.

The real job of holding the Tories to account takes place not in Parliament, which no one sees, not in Prime Ministers Questions which is a total farce and a disgrace for democracy, but out in the communities, in the workplaces, and it is there that the Labour Party needs to build its activity and its support.  The SNP say they want to be the official parliamentary opposition.  In a sense there is a case for that, because the 172 renegade MP's have essentially already put themselves outside the party by their treacherous actions at a time when the fire should have been directed firmly on the Tories.  If the Labour party in Parliament does not support the democratically elected Leader of the Party, if they will not serve in the interests of the party, then the SNP are quite right to dismiss them as being actually Labour Party MP's.  The Labour Party in the country would then know who to blame for that situation, and for the petulant, childish behaviour of those MP's.  We should begin replacing them immediately, with grown up real Labour MP's, who will support Corbyn, and the mass membership of the party.

I noticed today that at PMQ's the disgraced Labour MP Simon Danczuk, who has had the Labour whip withdrawn from him, and now sits as an MP, was sitting firmly in the middle of all these right-wing plotters and traitors, and it is fitting that he was welcome amongst them.  The call of Cameron for Corbyn to go, today, should be one of the reasons that Labour Party members rally around him.  Cameron is already going having gambled and lost.  All of those Tory-lite plotters and traitors in the Labour Party who have let the Tories off the hook, by their actions, by their own gamble should do the same thing, and for God's sake go!

Protest and Politics

The Blair-rights have always argued against Corbyn, just as they have always argued against the idea that the Labour Party should be driven by principle rather than their own careerism, that the politics of protest is no use without being able to be in government. They continue to promote that nonsensical argument today. Yet, the most graphic, most momentous destruction of that argument has just occurred. The UK Independence Party still has just one MP in Parliament, three-quarters of MP's in parliament favour remaining in the EU, and the government threw all of its weight, plus the weight of other international institutions behind the campaign to remain inside the EU. Nevertheless, the protest movement, calling for Britain to leave the EU, won and all of those MP's, and the government, are now having to legislate to take Britain out of the EU!

That is one of the most momentous changes in my lifetime, and yet it has been brought about by a party that has campaigned for it, that today still just has one MP!! How on Earth can those Blair-right MP's and apologists continue to make what is quite clearly a false argument, with a straight face? The truth is that nearly all political changes, of any magnitude, have been won outside Parliament, outside government. Governments have usually, at best, simply legislated to bring those changes into law so that appearance and reality coincided, but just as frequently, where such legislation has been enacted, it has often watered down the actual social changes that have been achieved outside parliament, funnelled the movements of direct, self-activity of workers into safe, institutions channels, and thereby emasculated them.

The first blog post I ever wrote (at that time on the AWL website), and which I have reproduced here described this very process, from my own experience. In 1981, myself and another Labour Party member organised a campaign against a decision by the Labour controlled County Council to site a toxic waste tip in our community. We managed to organise several hundred people from within the community to oppose the plans, and to engage in their own self-activity. The local Labour councillors, and right-wing party bureaucracy threatened to expel us, just for opposing the decision; the local Tory media obviously fell in behind them. All of the local council's bureaucratic apparatus was mobilised to defeat the arguments we put forward.

But, they failed to defeat us. Within weeks, the same councillors who had been opposing us, stood on election leaflets claiming they had supported the community all along, and the District Labour Party, even incorporated opposition to the siting of toxic waste tips in urban areas, into its manifesto, along with other environmental policies.

If we look at things like Equal Pay, the real fight and victory for equal pay was waged by women workers, such as those at Ford's Dagenham. The Labour Government, via Barbara Castle, only put into law what was already being brought about by direct action, and self-activity by workers on the ground. In the process it acted to demobilise the self-activity, because women workers were thereby encouraged to believe that they could now simply rely on the law, and appeal to the courts. In fact, they could not. The law, of course, made it easier, just as the Factory Acts of the 19th century, made it easier for workers to hold to account employers, but women workers still needed, via their unions to demand their legal entitlement to equal pay, and that fight now was transferred on to the ground that favoured the employer, into the industrial tribunals and courts, run by the bosses friends in the state apparatus.

The reality of that has been shown by the fact that year after year employers found ways of denying equal pay whilst remaining inside the law. It was up to workers to prove that their jobs were identical, until along with other European workers struggles the law was changed to a comparison based on work of equal value. Yet, women's wages continue to lag behind those of men, which is evidence that 40 years after the passing of that legislation, the fight for equal pay continues to be one that workers have to win by their own actions, through trade union struggle. 

To be clear, I am not making the kind of syndicalist case here that sects like the SWP make, that political action is irrelevant, and that all that counts is industrial action, and more militancy. Far from it. As I said above, the Factory Acts made it easier for workers to hold employers to account, so do things like the Equal Pay Act; the anti-union laws introduced by Thatcher make it harder for workers to organise, and political action to remove them would be beneficial. As Marx pointed out, in relation to education, although we oppose state provision of education, the introduction of minimum educational standards for the curriculum, for the qualification of teachers and so on, by the state, as with minimum health and safety standards, enable workers to operate collectively to establish education by their own self-activity, on a uniform basis. But, all of these things depend upon workers themselves being sufficiently organised, sufficiently capable to enforce and deepen all of these provisions, otherwise they are simply a sham, a means of duping the workers and pacifying them, driving them into apathy and inaction.

In fact, what all of these instances show is that ultimately workers can only have real control over any of these things, when they themselves have control over the means of production, and of their communities. Otherwise, everything is a perpetual Sisyphean task that has to be continually repeated, and every victory is only ever temporary. That is the real political action that is required.

Just a casual consideration shows that to be the truth. It was not becoming the government that brought down the Berlin Wall, and ended the workers prison house of Easter Europe, but direct action by Eastern European workers. It was tens of thousands of ordinary workers that protested against the Poll Tax, and brought down the Thatcher government, whilst the Kinnockites watched on, and as today complained about the actions of those who were actually supporting workers and bringing about that change. The Suffragettes, by definition had no votes, let alone any MP's, let alone, therefore, the possibility of becoming the Government, and yet their protest movement forced a male dominated parliament to legislate the right of women to vote. In the 19th century the same was true of the Chartists who organised workers protests for the right to vote, and so on.

In all these cases the legislation came after the victory of the actual protest outside Parliament, and that legislation, in every case, then acted to dilute what was being fought for and won outside Parliament, to channel it into safe institutional forms, and to limit the transformational function of such changes. On one hand, the legislation made it easier for those that had fought for the change, because it meant that they could use the law as a benchmark, but that benchmark could only ever have any use, if the workers themselves continued to be strong enough, organised enough to be able to use it, and enforce it. On the other hand, it weakened those that fought for the change, because it demobilised the struggle, and by setting it inside legally defined parameters, it limited what could be achieved, because the bosses could always appeal to that same law, and to their friends in the judiciary to interpret the law in their favour.

The health and safety laws require workers to enforce them, for example, and the bosses continually ridicule such protections via their media, talking about “health and safety gone made”, backed up by the same kind of fabricated stories that have been used by that media over the years to attack the EU, immigrants and so on. How often does an employer get prosecuted for breaches of health and safety, despite the fact that hundreds of workers in Britain die each year from industrial accidents, and many thousands more die each year from industrial diseases. The introduction of a Minimum Wage was a step forward, but it is wholly inadequate, both in its level, and in the fact that it is only an hourly, rather than a weekly or monthly minimum. Yet, there have been virtually no cases of employers being prosecuted, let alone jailed for breaching it.

All such laws and rights for workers introduced by legislation are essentially useless unless a strong, organised working-class exists in society to enforce them. Even then, the task of enforcing such rights is a continual task that always favours the employer, and not the worker. Only when workers themselves own the means of production, via the creation of worker owned co-operatives, can they ensure that proper health and safety is provided as a matter of course, without the need for constant vigilance against the employer, only then can those workers ensure that they provide equal pay for work of equal value, and that the wages they pay are those required to ensure that the workers labour-power is able to be adequately reproduced, without the need for constant battles with the employer, and disruptive action.

But, none of that can be legislated via Parliament, or even a government that is wholly favourable to workers. As Marx put it,

“That the workers desire to establish the conditions for co-operative production on a social scale, and first of all on a national scale, in their own country, only means that they are working to revolutionise the present conditions of production, and it has nothing in common with the foundation of co-operative societies with state aid. But as far as the present co-operative societies are concerned, they are of value only insofar as they are the independent creations of the workers and not protégés either of the governments or of the bourgeois.”

(Critique of the Gotha Programme)

In other words, not even the most worker friendly government can provide such things for workers, unless the workers themselves want to bring about such change, and take on the task. It must be workers who want to take over and run their enterprises, not the government that takes them over, or establishes them on behalf of workers. The consequence of the latter was seen in all of the Stalinist states, and in the experience of all of the state capitalist nationalised enterprises. If workers do not passionately wish to take over the means of production, and exercise control over them, then a bureaucracy of some kind will immediately take on that role. It is why politicians of the Blair-right kind wish to keep workers themselves out of such roles, and to insist that all change can only be brought about by self-serving, self-selecting elites such as their own.

A Message To The 172 MP's

The 172 MP's who voted against Jeremy Corbyn claim that their mandate comes not from the party, and its half million members who selected them, canvassed for them, and got them into parliament, but to the voters who only then voted for them.  Some of those MP's have even called Corbyn's reliance on party members as "turning to the mob"!  That is the total disregard and disrespect these elitist MP's have for the party and its members that they are for them nothing more than a mob, when they disagree with them, and should only be there to ensure the MP's are able to get into parliament and pursue their comfortable lifestyles.

It is of course, nonsense.  The number of MP's who fell out with the party and stood on the basis that it was the electors that gave them their mandate, who then were able to win that mandate without the support of the party shows it.  A few like Dick Taverne in the 1960's were able to win their seat as an independent in a by-election, but invariably they lost that seat again at the following general election.

But, if the 172 MP's beleive the crap they are peddling about their mandate coming from the voters and not the party, let them show it.  The answer for them is simple.  You disagree with the 60% of the party that elected Jeremy Corbyn just 9 months ago.  You have always disagreed with the party's decision, and have since that time been trying to find ways of overturning that decision.  Every claim you made, about Corbyn causing the party to lose support has been proved wrong, and so now you have launched this coup on the most spurious and elitist of grounds.

Your predecessors, the traitors of the Gang of Four, at least had the courage of their convictions when they disagreed with the majority of the party.  They left and joined the SDP, and its subsequent lash up with the Liberals, which ended up in the coalition government with the Tories, before disappearing into the dustbin of history.  Its no wonder you do not even have the principles they did, to follow that example, because you are even more grasping and self-serving, even more elitist and cosseted than they were.

You claim that your mandate comes from the amorphous mass of voters who were only able to vote for you, because Labour Party members selected you, and campaigned for you.  If you truly believe that, then instead of carrying on with your self-serving, attacks on the Labour Party, which is destroying any possibility of it achieving the thing you claim to want - to defeat the Tories - then put your belief to the test.  Leave the Labour Party, as the SDP did, resign your seats now, set up your own party, and stand in elections against new Labour Party candidates, and see just how you go on.

To quote Dirty Harry, "it comes down to this.  Are you feeling lucky today punk?  Well are you?  Go ahead, make my day!"

Capital III, Chapter 37 - Part 13

However, the subjective condition for surplus labour and surplus value – that the producer performs more labour than is necessary for their subsistence – and the objective condition – that it is possible, within the working day, to produce more than is required for their subsistence – applies across all societies, and does not affect the specific form this surplus labour, product and value assumes. It cannot be an explanation of ground-rent, therefore, as a specifically capitalist form of rent.

3) It is a peculiarity of ground-rent that its amount is determined completely separately from any action by the landed proprietor. Ground-rent and with it the price of land, rises as a result of the rise in social productivity. This development of social productivity causes a growth in the mass of profit, and thereby the mass of capital, which means an expansion of the market. This means an increased demand for the products of the soil, in which is included not just food, but raw materials, including oil and minerals.

This means the demand for land itself must rise. That includes a demand for land for non-agricultural or extractive purposes too.

“More exactly — if one considers only the actual agricultural rent — rent, and thereby the value of the land, develops with the market for the products of the soil, and thus with the increase in the non-agricultural population, with its need and demand for means of subsistence and raw materials.” (p 637)

Kautsky saw in this a basis for colonialism. (See: Kautsky and Colonialism). 

Capitalism reduces the agricultural population, relative to the industrial population because although a rising technical composition of capital means a relatively smaller quantity of variable capital, this also must involve an absolute expansion of variable capital, because the mass of capital itself expands at a faster rate. 

But, in agriculture, this same process must result in continually fewer workers, being employed on any given area of land. The absolute number of agricultural workers could then only increase if more and more land was brought into cultivation. However, Marx points out that although this sets agriculture, as a whole, apart from industrial production, as a whole, considered at the level of individual commodity production there is no difference between agricultural production and any other kind of commodity production.

“In fact, we are not dealing here with a characteristic peculiarity of agriculture and its products. On the contrary, the same applies to all other branches of production and products where the basis is commodity-production and its absolute form, capitalist production.” (p 537)

In other words, this is the point Marx makes in the Grundrisse, in discussing the “Civilising Mission of Capital”. The expansion of capital is not an expansion of capital in each type of commodity per se. If productivity in coal-mining rises, for example, more labour, absolutely, at any mine can only be employed if new coal seams are opened up. In a car factory, it would require that additional assembly lines or even factories are opened. But, there comes a point where the demand for coal or cars does not justify any such further expansion. To do so would be to lead to the kind of disproportion between supply and demand, Marx previously alluded to, creating a crisis of overproduction.

Consequently, the additional capital gets invested in some new or alternative line of production, so that the required proportion can be maintained, and in this way, the additional labour is employed.

“These products are commodities, or use-values, which have an exchange-value that is to be realised, to be converted into money, only in so far as other commodities form an equivalent for them, that is, other products confront them as commodities and values; thus, in so far as they are not produced as immediate means of subsistence for the producers themselves, but as commodities, as products which become use-values only by their transformation into exchange-values (money), by their alienation. The market for these commodities develops through the social division of labour; the division of productive labours mutually transforms their respective products into commodities, into equivalents for each other, making them mutually serve as markets. This is in no way peculiar to agricultural products.” (p 637)

This can most clearly be seen also in respect of the way that employment in manufacturing industry has fallen in a similar fashion to the fall in agriculture described by Marx. Yet, just as that fall in agricultural employment led to no crisis, so too with the fall in employment in manufacturing industry. Instead, just as capital and labour moved from agricultural production to manufacturing production, so it has moved from manufacturing to service industry. This is simply a confirmation of the laws that Marx set out here and in the Grundrisse, and indeed of The Law of Value, acting via the market to redistribute capital and labour to meet social needs and maintain the required proportions of their production.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Blunkett Talks Bollocks

David Blunkett has talked some bollocks in his time, and shares a large part of the blame ofr the position that Labour is in due to the Tory policies on immigration, and austerity he pushed through in the last Labour Government, but his comments tonight on the BBC take the biscuit.

Jeremy Corbyn has won the largest backing of any party leader, of any party, not just of the Labour Party.  He won 60% of the party members votes only a few months ago, and since then another 200,000 party members have joined due to the enthusiasm he has brought.  By contrast, there are just 170 cosseted Labour MP's who think that the party exists for no other reason than to keep them in a good living, who have voted against him.  Blunkett himself having got used to the high life and cosseting, has now joined the other Tories and fat cats in the House of Lords, where of course he does not have to worry about tedious things such as democracy to keep him in the Tory lifestyle he has become accustomed to.

But Blunkett has the audacity to call on Corbyn and the several hundred thousand party members who stand behind him to leave and set up their own party.  What totally utter bollocks, but how typically self-centred of politicians like Blunkett.  It is they who are out of step with the party.  It is they who should leave and set up their own party and see how they go on.

Meanwhile another illustration of the support for Corbyn from ordinary working people came from the Durham Miners.  In an online poll being run by the Sunderland Echo, support for Corbyn amongst its readers is running at 66% for him to stay, and only 34% to go.

Corbyn represents the true voice of Labour and of ordinary working people, whereas careerist politicians like Blunkett are the voice of the past, and their own inflated egos.

Are Some of the Blair-right Plotters Paid Tory Agents?

The vote of 170 careerist Labour MP's against Jeremy Corbyn means less than nothing compared to the 200,000 plus votes of LP members standing behind him.  The 40 MP's who voted for Corbyn should make their support public, so that party members know who the 172 who voted against are, so that they can be held to account.

Shadow Lord Chancellor, Richard Burgon, last night on Newsnight correctly said that it was unfathomable why some Labour MP's were deliberately trying to unseat Jeremy Corbyn, and to defy the wishes of the vast majority of the party, especially at the present time.  The question has to be asked, is the reason for their actions driven by the fact that some of them are actual paid Tory agents, working inside the Party to destroy it?  After all, in the 1970's and 1980's, it is well known that Special Branch and the secret services had around 200 trade union officials directly on their payrolls, including ex-NUM President Joe Gormley, who was feeding them information, before the 1972 and 1974 miners' strikes, when he was himself NUM President.  In addition, we know that they have had large numbers of undercover agents working in the environmental movement, CND, the Stephen Lawrence campaign and so on.  We all know that the Tory Party and these agencies have close links, so them having their own agents inside the LP would be not at all unlikely.

On the same Newnight, Owen Smith commented that the coup against Corbyn was a plot that had been hatched by Blair-rights some time ago, and that the claims about Corbyn's role in the referendum campaign were a red-herring.  But, then Smith's own actions in then resigning are wholly irrational.  If he knows its an unprincipled coup attempt by Blair-rights, if he knows the claims about the referendum campaign are just a cover for it, why resign, and thereby add grist himself to the mill of the conspirators and traitors?

But, Smith's comments about the referendum campaign are quite correct.  Nearly 70% of Labour supporters backed Corbyn and voted Remain.  Only 30% voted to leave, which is the same proportion as Liberal voters who voted to Leave, of SNP supporters who voted to Leave, and Green Party supporters who voted to Leave.  Yet, no one would suggest that anyone could be confused about where the Liberals stand on the issue, no one is accusing Sturgeon of leading a lacklustre campaign!  Moreover, if we are asking about Labour supporters not knowing what Labour's position was, how does that reflect on Labour MP's, and particularly those Blair-right MP's now criticising Corbyn?

In Tristram Hunt's Stoke Central Constituency, there was one of the biggest votes to Leave anywhere in the country, so where has Hunt been for the last few years?  Why did Labour voters in Stoke not know where he and the Labour Party stood on the issue, and if they did know, how come Hunt did such an appalling job of connecting with those voters and convincing them of the case for Remain.  Perhaps Hunt was too busy conspiring with other Blair-rights to oust Corbyn to have actually been doing his job and persuading Labour supporters in Stoke to vote Remain!

The same is true of Kinnock Minor, where the vote to Leave in his safe Labour seat was 57%.  In Gloria De Piero's safe Labour seat, the Leave vote was 70% to Lave, but De Piero has the nerve to criticise Corbyn!  In London, the vote to Remain was around 70%, with only 4 Boroughs voting to Leave.  One of those Boroughs was Barking and Dagenham, the seat of Margaret Hodge who led the campaign to launch a vote of no confidence in Corbyn!  In Barking 62.4% of the vote went to Leave. So what was she doing during all that time?  Why was she so out of touch with labour voters in her constituency?  Why did she fail to let them know what her and Labour's position was, why did she fail so spectacularly to convince them? Should she not resign in disgust at her pathetic performance, compared to the performance of Corbyn.

The fact is that those who now complain about Corbyn's role had some of the worst results in the country.  It was they who gave a weak and mixed message.  They seem not to have learned the lesson from the Scottish referendum, where Labour stood shoulder to shoulder with the Tories, and consequently got annihilated in Scotland.  But, its no wonder that the Blair-right Tories ignored that lesson, ignored the Labour Party's decision not to stand on platforms with Tories and so on.  The fact is that those Blair-rights message was indistinguishable from the failed message being purveyed by the Tories themselves.  Having put forward that Tory message, and lost, the Blair-rights now have the nerve to blame Corbyn for the defeat!

It was Blair-right MP's like Harriet Harman, and Tessa Jowell, and soft Blair-right London Mayor, Saddiq Khan that were repeatedly seen standing shoulder to shoulder with Cameron, one of the most right-wing Tory leaders in decades, not Corbyn.  It was Tom Watson and Ed Balls who joined in the Tory Leave supporters calls for tighter immigration controls, not Corbyn.  It was former Labour Chancellor, Alistair Darling, who stood shoulder to shoulder with George Osbourne, and promised to inflict £40 billion of further austerity measures on Labour voters, not Corbyn!  And, if we are to complain about the visibility of the campaign, where was the official leader of the Labour In campaign, Alan Johnson, during all that time, where was Shadow Foreign Secretary Hillary Benn. They were missing in action, no doubt too busy plotting.

This coup was planned long ago.  The fact is that a handful of Blair-right MP's who have only allegiance to their own careers and wallets, and some possibly to the Tory Party itself, and no respect for the Labour Party and its half million members, never accepted the vote of the members of the party.  Corbyn in my opinion made a mistake in allowing them into the Shadow Cabinet in the first place.  He should have read Machiavelli's "Prince" to know how to deal with them.  Yesterday's Shadow Cabinet reshuffle showed that there are more than enough MP's to take the places of the traitors.  As I wrote some time ago, the size of governments and Shadow governments is way too big.  It is driven not by necessity, but by a desire of career politicians to cajole their colleagues by the power of patronage, and a desire of them all to get on to an extended gravy train.  There is no need to have more than 10 Shadow Ministers, and they can be backed up by party staff, rather than other MP's.

The only motivation of the traitors in provoking this clash at the moment, when the Tories are in tatters, is to promote their own personal interests, and possibly for some of them, to distract attention from the troubles of their paymasters in the Tory Party itself.  No other rational conclusion can be drawn, because they must know that by causing such division, any chance the Labour Party has of winning the next election is being destroyed.  They are clearly putting their own interests above those of the party, as they always have.  In fact, most of them think the party only exists to serve them, to put them into Parliament, so that they can live the life of Riley, and draw their large salaries and expenses.

The coup has clearly been long planned, and the fact that the Blair-right traitors are being supported in their campaign by the Tory media, tells us all we need to know about its political aims, and the political affinities of the plotters themselves.  The BBC has played a typically abysmal and biased role.  Along with the rest of the Tory media they have created a narrative that they seek to purvey as gospel.  So, we have supposed Labour voters in Wigan interviewed in a vox pop.  How do they know they are Labour voters, given that in Britain we have a secret ballot.  Yet, we are expected to take it at face value that what we are being told is absolute, unquestionable truth.

We are then told that these Labour voters will not vote labour because of Corbyn.  Firstly, this hand picked selection of interviews is presented as though it is in some way representative of all Labour voters, but secondly on the basis of the reasons they said they would not vote Labour, they certainly would not vote Labour under the Leadership of any of the Blair-right pretenders, because they stand for the very opposite of the politics those interviewed were seeking!  Indeed, it is the policies of those very Blair-rights over the last twenty years that created the conditions in those communities from which those people are suffering, and which turned six million of them away from Labour after 1997, in the first place!

The only way forward for Labour here is to get rid of the Blair-right traitors.  They are out of step with the Labour Party.  They should go and go now.  If they do not go voluntarily, the Labour Party should deselect them, and for some expel them for bringing the party into disrepute, including their open fraternisation with the Tories during the referendum.  Only then can we ensure that we have a Parliamentary Party that is in step with the Labour party itself, and is thereby able to give a clear and distinctive message around which we can organise to win the next election.

Our Youth Have Been Robbed

The people who have been most adversely affected by the Brexit vote are our youth. It is they who will suffer most from the immediate and longer term damage to the UK economy; it is they who will suffer from the increased social division; it is they who will suffer from the increasing authoritarianism of a Bonapartist regime under Boris Johnson; it is they who will suffer from the limitations on the free movement of labour; it is they who will have to fight in any future conflicts arising from the inevitable tension caused with Europe. Yet our youth overwhelmingly did not want this result. It has been inflicted on them by an older generation, many of whom will not be around long to witness the consequences.

A look at the breakdown of the voting shows just how stark this division is, but it is highly illustrative in many ways. The overwhelming majority of younger voters supported Remain. In the 18-24 age group, 75% voted to remain, and in the 25-49 age group the percentage was 56%. By contrast, in the 50-64 age group 56% voted to leave, and in the 65+ age group the figure was 61% to leave. 

In fact, had the 1.46 million 16-18 year olds been given the right to vote, as Jeremy Corbyn advocated, and as happened in the Scottish referendum, then the vote would have been to Remain.

On that basis alone, this referendum was undemocratic. By denying 16-18 year-olds the right to vote, the older voters were thereby given an immediate added weight in the ballot.

A look at the breakdown of the vote shows why this is important. The older the age group, the higher the vote to leave. But, it has been obvious that, almost from the beginning, this vote had very little to do with membership of the EU. The EU, in the minds of most of those who voted to leave was just a proxy for foreigners in general, and immigration in particular. That has been shown in the aftermath of the vote, in the attacks on a Polish community centre, increased harassment of people with darker skins, and the fact that those who previously kept their bigotry for private conversations have been emboldened to vent it publicly.

That bigotry exists far more extensively amongst the older generations than amongst our youth. Part of the reason for that is that the older generations grew up at a time when the glow of Britain's imperial power was still visible. When I was at school, maps of the world still had vast areas of red, where the British Empire held sway, and for the generation before mine, that colonial regime, and all of the racist accoutrements that went with it, was even more powerful. I remember in the 1970's my father in law saying how terrible it was that Britain had granted independence to India,a nd that it was no wonder the Indians were now starving!

There is a misconception that I will write about in more detail at some point, concerning racism and bigotry. Some time ago, I wrote about the view of the black, Marxist, US sociologist, Oliver Cromwell Cox. Cox described the way that racism develops as a means of capitalism reconciling its ideology of freedom and equality with the enslavement of millions of people. I think that is correct, but the capitalism that Cox is describing is actually Mercantilism. Its Mercantilism whereby merchant and financial capital forms a symbiotic relation with the old landed aristocracy that leads to colonialism and that enslavement of peoples.

But, in fact, large scale industrial capitalism stands in opposition to Mercantilism and replaces it. Imperialism, as opposed to colonialism, is based upon that large scale industrial capital. It has no need of the enslavement of peoples, and indeed its antithetical to its interest. That is why the epitome of that modern industrial capital, the United States, set itself the goal, after WWII, of breaking apart all of the old colonial empires.

Another aspect of “idiot ant-imperialism” and anti-capitalism, therefore, has been a moralistic blaming of capitalism for all ills, whereas, in fact, many of those ills are a consequence not of modern industrial capitalism, but of the legacy of the earlier forms of capital.

Its not surprising then that the older generations suffer from a bigotry arising from the ideas that still flowed from those older social relations. 

But, there is another factor at work, and in part also flows from these different economic and social relations. It is the question of education. The vote for Leave was much higher amongst those that had low levels of education, and vice versa. Only 30% of those who had no qualifications voted to Remain, whilst 70% of those with degrees voted to Remain. It is a simple fact, also that younger people have a higher standard of education than older people, but its also a different kind of education.

When Marx spoke of “the idiocy of rural life” he meant that that when people do the same repetitive tasks, in the same way, year after year, and nothing changes around them, they do not have to think about anything. The same is true when people worked on a production line, or as a machine minder, especially when they came home and everything else they should think was fed to them by an increasingly effective and all-pervasive mass media. In part, this was also why the “traditional” Labour vote existed as a similarly unthinking conditioned reflex.

When I was at Junior school, we were still taught things by rote. By the time I was at secondary school, I was individually learning about set theory. Back in the 1980's, I went on a computer course, and some of the other people on it were twenty years older than me, and some of the others. When it came to doing calculations in binary, octal or hexadecimal the older students simply could not do it, because they could not accept the idea that calculations could be conducted on any basis other than base ten. They had learned unthinkingly, by rote that ten times ten must be one hundred.

A look at the breakdown of the voting in the referendum shows a similar thing. Its not just that the support for leave was much higher in these older generations, but that the same kind of bigotry exists across a range of topics. For example, 80% of those who think that feminism as a force for ill, voted for Leave.

There is a difference between just being wrong and being bigoted. Someone who examines the facts to the best of their ability may simply come to a false conclusion. But, someone who does not bother to examine the facts, or who only seeks to to find reasons to deny the facts, on the basis of their own beliefs and preconceptions, is a bigot. A religious zealot who insists that the Bible is the absolute truth, and word of God, and who thereby seeks to deny the theory of evolution, and all of the evidence that the Earth is more than 7,000 years old, is not just wrong, but is a bigot.

On virtually all of the issues listed in the chart above, the views of those members of older generations are not a question of people having honestly considered the facts and simply coming to the wrong conclusion. If that were the case, there is no reason that there should be such a high proportion of older people coming to the wrong conclusion as opposed to the proportion of younger people coming to those conclusions. The difference is clearly down to bigotry.

And, the fact is that the leaders of the Leave campaign cynically used that bigotry for their own narrow political ends.

In the last couple of days, it has become clear that Johnson and co. did not want to win, and did not expect to win, and they are now flapping around like fish out of water. Johnson saw Leave as his platform to oppose Cameron and secure the Tory leadership. He expected Leave to lose, but for it to win enough support for two things. Firstly, to put him in the driving seat in the elections for Tory leader, in a year or so. Secondly, he has a naive belief that the EU will negotiate further concessions for the UK.

On both counts, he has miscalculated. Leave won and Cameron stood down, basically saying to Bojo, “You broke it, you own it.”

Now Johnson and the Brexiters are frantically rowing back on everything they said and promised. The £350 million a week to the NHS – disappeared; the end of large-scale immigration – disappeared; staying outside the single market, and an end to free movement – disappeared.

All of those who voted for the false prospectus will be gravely disappointed, with nothing they can do about it. The only good thing for our youth is that as the Pound sinks, and interest rates rise, the property bubble will collapse, so that houses and rent becomes affordable, and as the stock and bond markets crash, buying adequate pension provision will become more affordable.

In the meantime, Bojo's hope that he will be able to negotiate some further concessions from the EU, without needing to actually leave, are futile and naïve. The EU has already conceded too much to the UK, and has every reason to claw those concessions back, not grant more. If, as is likely, the UK ends up needing to try to stay in the EU, or seek readmission, as its economy suffers, it will find itself doing so on far worse terms than currently exist, including the requirement to accept all conditions, and membership of the Eurozone. Such is the incompetence of the Tories.

England Loses To Iceland for A Second Time

In the 1970's, the still supposedly "Great" Britain, lost out to tiny Iceland in the "Cod Wars", over fishing rights, as the British navy was faced down.

Last night, tiny Iceland, whose population is about the size of Leicester, and whose players are part-time, played the English football team off the field, and beat them 2-1.  It could easily have been a bigger win for Iceland.

The irony is that as the predicted rise in racist attacks across Britain has seen "hate crime" rise by 57% since the Brexit vote, England's best players on the night were those from ethnic minorities that the idiotic, racist elements of British society are now demanding "Leave" the country.

Those elements of the England fans caught on film by Channel 4 News, chanting "If you all hate Muslims clap your hands", abusing young Romany children in Paris, proudly stating they had only gone to France for the violence, represent that 30% of the population that I have previously identified as being made up of fascists, hard core racists and bigots.  The point of Emily Thornberry's tweet last year, during the general election, becomes clear.

Dealing with these elements will not come from continuing to deny their existence, or the size of their presence, as middle class journalists, and do gooders have tried to do for decades.  Nor will it be done by pandering to their bigotry, by sinking into nationalism and demands for tighter immigration controls.

England's defeat at the hands of Iceland is emblematic of the trajectory of Britain itself outside the EU, yet the nationalists will still want to fantasise about a long gone "Great" Britain.

Capital III, Chapter 37 - Part 12

Even in economies based on peasant production, some producers will tend to produce food, whilst others will produce raw materials. For the individual producer of food, their day is divided into necessary labour and surplus labour. The surplus food they produce may be exchanged for raw materials, say cotton. But, from the perspective of society, the totality of the labour-time of those producing food, and those those producing raw materials is equally divisible into a portion of necessary labour and surplus labour.

The total surplus product of the food producers is what enables the raw materials producers to produce raw material rather than food.

“Although the labour of the direct producers of means of subsistence breaks up into necessary and surplus labour as far as they themselves are concerned, it represents from the social standpoint only the necessary labour required to produce the means of subsistence. Incidentally, the same is true for all division of labour within society as a whole, as distinct from the division of labour within individual workshops. It is the labour necessary for the production of particular articles, for the satisfaction of some particular need of society for these particular articles.” (p 635)

So long as these different articles are produced in the correct proportions, so that, for example, only sufficient food supply is thrown on to the market, to meet the demand of the raw material suppliers, and vice versa, then these commodities will exchange at their values – and later under capitalism at their prices of production. If this proportion is not met, however, then the demand for some commodities will not coincide with the supply and so market prices will diverge from exchange values, and prices of production.  This is one of the causes of crises of overproduction described by Marx and Engels, as I have set out in my book, Marx and Engels' Theories of Crisis.

“It is indeed the effect of the law of value, not with reference to individual commodities or articles, but to each total product of the particular social spheres of production made independent by the division of labour; so that not only is no more than the necessary labour-time used up for each specific commodity, but only the necessary proportional quantity of the total social labour-time is used up in the various groups. For the condition remains that the commodity represents use-value. But if the use-value of individual commodities depends on whether they satisfy a particular need then the use-value of the mass of the social product depends on whether it satisfies the quantitatively definite social need for each particular kind of product in an adequate manner, and whether the labour is therefore proportionately distributed among the different spheres in keeping with these social needs, which are quantitatively circumscribed. (This point is to be noted in the distribution of capital among the various spheres of production.) The social need, that is, the use-value on a social scale, appears here as a determining factor for the amount of total social labour-time which is expended in various specific spheres of production. But it is merely the same law which is already applied in the case of single commodities, namely, that the use-value of a commodity is the basis of its exchange-value and thus of its value.” (p 635-6)

The importance of this is that unless this proportion is maintained, either at the level of the individual commodity, the industry or the total social capital, the value of the commodity cannot be fully realised, and so the capital used in its production will have been overproduced, forming one basis for the outbreak of crisis.

“For instance; let us assume that proportionally too much cotton goods have been produced, although only the labour-time necessary under the prevailing conditions is incorporated in this total cloth production. But in general too much social labour has been expended in this particular line; in other words, a portion of this product is useless. It is therefore sold solely as if it had been produced in the necessary proportion. This quantitative limit to the quota of social labour-time available for the various particular spheres of production is but a more developed expression of the law of value in general, although the necessary labour-time assumes a different meaning here. Only just so much of it is required for the satisfaction of social needs. The limitation occurring here is due to the use value. Society can use only so much of its total labour-time for this particular kind of product under prevailing conditions of production.” (p 636)

Monday, 27 June 2016

If Corbyn Goes It Will Destroy The Labour Party

If Jeremy Corbyn is put into a position whereby he is effectively forced from office by a coup organised by a handful of MP's, it would spell the death of the Labour Party.  The Party like, the Tories was in long-term decline prior to Corbyn's election as Leader.  Since then it has enjoyed a renaissance, both in terms of its own membership, support within the trade union movement and in terms of its electoral support.  Decades of Blairism, and proto-Blairism, under Kinnock, had eaten away at the party and its base, and created the conditions for the rise of UKIP, and the Leave vote in the recent referendum.  Corbyn has been the antidote to that Blair-right sickness.  If Corbyn goes, the sickness will return with renewed vigour and kill off the party.

There are a number of options.

Firstly, if the handful of Blair-right MP's are able to remove Corbyn, then hundreds of thousands of members who joined because of him, and many more who were already members, and were re-enthused because of him, will simply leave the party.  Some will go to the Greens, but that is a petit-bourgeois dead end.  Many more will sink into apathy and frustration.  Eventually, some will begin to organise once more, and as happened in Greece with Syriza, in Spain with Podemos, in Portugal with the Left Bloc new social-democratic parties will develop.  The Labour Party will even sooner than that suffer a process of Depasokification.

Even life long Labour Party supporters like me will find no reason to even vote for a Labour Party that is nothing more than an ego trip for a handful of MP's, whose only concern is their own immediate career prospects, and finances.  The consequence will be that the LP will have no one to canvass for it, and an increasingly smaller number of people prepared to vote for it.  The Blair-rights, not for the first time, will have handed over power for the foreseeable future to the Tories.  But, why would anyone support Tories in Blair-right livery, rather than Tories that stand in their own colours? There would be nothing to lose in either case.  The Blair-rights would have brought about their own demise, but would no doubt quickly sign up to stand themselves in their true Tory colours.

Secondly, the Blair-right MP's may seek to isolate Corbyn and his supporters in the PLP, and force a new leadership election.  But, Corbyn will win that contest by an even bigger margin than last year. Given the fact that Tom Watson has buckled, we should then also call for an election for Deputy Leader, and we should demand the right of a Corbyn supporter to be able to stand for that position. The Blair-right MP's should then be told to leave, and set up their own party, because they clearly do not belong in this one.

Thirdly, the Blair-right MP's may seek to isolate Corbyn, and make the position untenable, whilst refusing themselves to resign.  We should already have deselection procedures in place to get rid of them.  In Stoke, for example, the vote in Tristram Hunt's constituency was one of the largest for Leave in the country.  He clearly failed to speak to the voters of Stoke, and to get over to them the message that Labour was for Remain.  Such Blair-right MP's, in many cases only hold their positions because they were imposed on local parties by the Blair-right control of the party machinery. Otherwise, people like Tristram Hunt would have been as welcome in Stoke, as a fart in a lift.

In that case, the Labour Party should simply expel them.  That would mean they continued in office until the next election, but we would by then have selected our own Labour candidates who would undoubtedly defeat them at the next election.

Fourthly, the trades unions have come out in support of Corbyn.  If by whatever means the Blair-rights are able to remove Corbyn by this coup, then Corbyn and his parliamentary supporters, should along with the mass of activists, and the network created by Momentum, join with those trades unions to create a new Labour Party.  Without the hundreds of thousands of activists, without the financial muscle, and organisational power of the trades unions, the Blair-rights would then only be left with the name of the Labour Party, a name which, in any case, thirty years of Kinnockism and Blairism has sullied.

For A United Ireland

The result of the EU Referendum makes consideration of the question of a United Ireland once again front and centre. Marxists must continue to argue for Scotland to remain within the United Kingdom, so as to maintain the unity of the working-class within a single unitary state, though we should consider the options of a so called “reverse Greenland”, whereby Scotland could remain within the EU, and also within the UK. But, there is no reason for the North of Ireland, which voted by a similar margin as Scotland to Remain in the EU, to remain trapped within the UK.

The existence of the Northern Ireland statelet was always an affront to democracy. It is clearly a part of the island of Ireland, and should have been a part of the Irish Republic when it was established. The only reason it was not was the power of British imperialism to keep it separate, and thereby to support the Unionist majority. In fact, even that Unionist Majority had to be gerrymandered. On the basis of the nine counties of Ulster, the Unionists were in a minority, and so the border was deliberately gerrymandered so as to provide a Unionist majority.

But, Ireland had a bourgeois democratic right to self-determination for the whole of Ireland that was denied them by British imperialism and force of arms. The consequence was that the nationalist minority in the six counties were perpetually discriminated against, including having fewer rights in employment and in voting compared to the Unionists. It was a recipe for communalist violence, which perpetually broke out.

From the late 1960's, until the late 1990's that violence continued. Marxists continued to argue for a United Ireland, but our concern has never been simply to argue for such bourgeois democratic rights in isolation. As Lenin said, these bourgeois democratic demands are always subordinate to our primary goal of forging the greatest possible unity of the working-class as part of the struggle for socialism. No part of our programme and approach to Ireland, therefore, could be about simply dismissing the concerns and rights of Unionist workers in the North.

It was on that basis that in the 1980's, I supported the idea of a Federal United Ireland, which provided the maximum rights for minorities in each part of the country. That indeed, was the kind of approach that Lenin sought to the issue of minorities within Russia, as the basis of forging working-class unity.

Marxists always favour a single unitary state, as the most effective form of state organisation. That is why I thought the proposals for devolution were always a first step on the slippery slope of fragmentation within the UK that we now see. It is why, although I defend absolutely the right of Scotland to become independent of the UK, if that is what they choose, I argue strongly that they should not choose to become independent, and thereby weaken that unity, and the unity of the Scottish and English and Welsh working class that goes with it.

As I have written before, the EU is not yet a state, and so binding Scotland to the EU, is not the same as it remaining part of the British state. But, that does not apply to the North of Ireland. The North of Ireland voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU. Its not surprising, because the North of Ireland has obtained considerable benefits from being in the EU, as has the Irish Republic. Its no wonder, that even Unionists in the North have been trying to get Irish passports, which mean that they can retain EU citizenship.

A large part of the reason that the conflict in the North was dissolved in the late 90's was precisely because of the role of the EU, as people and trade moved backwards and forwards across an increasingly irrelevant border between the North and the Republic. The rights of nationalists were themselves in large part underpinned by the EU, and the ECJ. Nationalists could feel themselves as much EU citizens as Irish or citizens of the UK, and the prospect opened up that the issue of the border and of a United Ireland would itself resolve itself peacefully over time.

But, the referendum result throws all of that now into the air. It is quite clear that if the main concern of those voting for Brexit was immigration, then the border between the North of Ireland and the Republic must be closed, or else border controls and checks would have to be imposed between the North and the rest of the UK. Without that, there is nothing stopping EU citizens flying into the Republic, and from there walking across the border into Northern Ireland, and from there into the rest of the UK.

The only way of stopping that is to close the border and to reintroduce border checks. It will open up all of the old divisions that caused the years of violence and communal conflict. The obvious solution is to abolish the border by reuniting the North with the Republic of Ireland. In fact, as part of the EU, and with all of the protections it provides for minority and human rights, there is no longer any need to argue for a Federal United Ireland. For a United Ireland, within the EU, and for the unity of the working class, for a struggle for a United States of Europe.

Capital III, Chapter 37 - Part 11

Ground rent arises from a situation of monopoly, which enables things which have no value, i.e. they are not the products of labour, to have a market price, and thereby to be sold as commodities.

“...that the price of things which have in themselves no value, i.e., are not the product of labour, such as land, or which at least cannot be reproduced by labour, such as antiques and works of art by certain masters, etc., may be determined by many fortuitous combinations. In order to sell a thing, nothing more is required than its capacity to be monopolised and alienated.” (p 633)

There are three main errors that confuse the study of ground-rent.

“1) Confusing the various forms of rent pertaining to different stages of development of the social production process.” (p 634)

Rent is the name given, and the form taken, of all payments to the owners of landed property. Yet, the nature of that landed property, throughout history, changes and so the nature of rent must also change with it. In the Asiatic Mode of Production (AMP), the land is owned by the state, and rent is paid to an individual or individuals who represent the community via the state. In the Roman Empire, and under serfdom, the basis of wealth is the slave or serf, and the land is merely a means of production, required by them for the production of wealth. Under feudalism, it is the mere title to land that exists, its actual working being undertaken by independent producers. Under colonialism, and other forms of peasant production, the land is owned by the producer themselves, and so the rent becomes subsumed in the labour of the producer themselves.

“This common element in the various forms of rent, namely that of being the economic realisation of landed property, of legal fiction by grace of which certain individuals have an exclusive right to certain parts of our planet — makes it possible for the differences to escape detection.” (p 634)

2) All ground-rent is surplus value. That is, like interest, it can only exist because there is a surplus product, and it is a share in it. Under feudalism, for example, where rent is paid by the peasant, as labour-rent, by working on the landlord's fields for a certain number of days, or else in kind, by providing a quantity of products, they can only do this because this labour is provided, or products provided that is in excess of the time required, or products required for the peasants subsistence. It may, or may not be the whole of this surplus labour or product.

This involves both subjective and objective conditions. The subjective condition is that the producer does perform surplus labour; the objective condition is that they are able to perform surplus labour. That requires that the conditions provided by nature are such that the amount of necessary labour-time does not consume the whole working day.

This is also the condition for slavery. There can be no economic basis for having slaves, if the slave can only produce enough, during a working day, to meet their own needs for subsistence.

“The fertility of Nature establishes a limit here, a starting-point, a basis. On the other hand, the development of the social productive power of their labour forms the other limit. Examined more closely, since the production of means of subsistence is the very first condition of their existence and of all production in general, labour used in this production, that is, agricultural labour in the broadest economic sense, must be fruitful enough so as not to absorb the entire available labour-time in the production of means of subsistence for the direct producers, that is, agricultural surplus-labour and therefore agricultural surplus-product must be possible. Developed further, the total agricultural labour, both necessary and surplus labour, of a segment of society must suffice to produce the necessary subsistence for the whole of society, that is, for non-agricultural labourers too.” (p 634-5)