Wednesday, 31 May 2017

The Falklands War, Corbyn and the Tory Plot

When the US invaded Grenada, a part of the Commonwealth,
Britain's only response was a phone call from Thatcher to Reagan
In the Sky News/Channel 4 Leaders Interviews, on Monday, Jeremy Paxman said that on the last occasion that British territory was invaded, in the Falklands in 1982, Jeremy Corbyn had been opposed to the war launched by Thatcher, having described it as a Tory plot. Paxman is technically correct that the Falklands was the last British territory to be attacked, but of course, Grenada which was a British territory until gaining independence in 1974, was a part of the Commonwealth in 1983, when the US invaded, and overthrew the government.

On that occasion, the US invasion was attacked by the United Nations, which condemned it as "a flagrant violation of international law" by a vote of 108 in favour to 9, with 27 abstentions. The United Nations Security Council considered a similar resolution, which was supported by 11 nations and opposed by only one — the United States, which vetoed the motion. But, rather than going to war with the US for this blatant act of aggression, and occupation, Maggie Thatcher's displeasure went no further than a phone call to her friend in the White House, Ronnie Raygun.

Obviously, Tories attitude to acts of aggression and their commitment to defending the principle of the right of self-determination for peoples is not actually determined by any commitment to principle, but only to pragmatic politics. The same was true in relation to their total failure to defend the right of self-determination for the Chagos Islanders. Instead, having separated off the Chagos Islands from Mauritius, prior to its independence, to form the British Indian Ocean Territory, Britain then forcibly ejected the islands inhabitants, on Diego Garcia to enable the United States to establish a military airbase on the island. No wonder that socialists then took the claims of Maggie Thatcher and the Tories in 1982, as the Tories languished in the polls looking likely to be thrown from government the next year, with a large pinch of salt.

The fact was that Britain's main interest in the Falklands was not the 3,000 islanders, any more than it had been for the Chagos Islanders, but was to retain a territorial claim on the island so as to be able to bargain for a portion of the oil and gas rights thought to be present in the territorial waters around it. Britain had in fact been in negotiations, prior to the war, with the US, Argentina and South Africa to establish a quartet, which would jointly undertake the exploration and exploitation of that mineral wealth in the South Atlantic. And, Thatcher's private papers from the time show that she was prepared to negotiate away the rights of the islanders.

As Chris Collins of the Thatcher Foundation says, about her testimony to the Franks Committee,

"She was concerned at the damage the report might do her, because there was much potential for embarrassment at the government's pre-war policy of trying to negotiate a settlement with Argentina ceding sovereignty while leasing back the islands for a period, plus suggestions that Argentine intentions could have been predicted and invasion prevented."

The fact is that, as Thatcher herself admits in the released papers, she was guilty of a political miscalculation. In short, she thought that Galtieri, who she had been negotiating with, and who she thought would settle for the deal been brokered via the US and UN, to cede sovereignty, and organise a lease back, was merely posturing for his own domestic political benefit. The Galtieri dictatorship in Argentina was coming under increasing pressure from the Argentinian working-class. Galtieri, like Thatcher and many more political leaders, knew that in order to distract from their domestic unpopularity, the easy solution is to whip up nationalistic fervour, to wrap yourself in the flag. That is what Galtieri was doing, and Thatcher thought that that was as far as it would go. Why would he go to war, when the likelihood was that Britain would negotiate to cede sovereignty, and organise a lease back so as to proceed with the exploration of the oil and other mineral rights of the South Atlantic along with Argentina, the US and South Africa?

But, of course, as Trotsky and others described long ago, this kind of sabre rattling, even when done purely for show, develops its own dynamic, which sweeps up those involved in it, and drops them down miles from where they originally intended to be. Having whipped up nationalistic fervour in Argentina, and yet still facing growing opposition from the working-class, he had to continually ratchet up the degree of sabre-rattling until eventually, either he had to back down, and face being overthrown, or else to follow through on the rhetoric, and undertake the invasion. He chose the latter, and undoubtedly made his own political miscalculation that Thatcher with whom Argentina had been negotiating would not go to war, especially as Reagan and the US were telling Thatcher not to go to war, but to negotiate a peaceful settlement.

But, in 1982 Thatcher was crashing and burning in the polls. Michael Foot had been elected Labour leader in 1980, and after his election as leader, he began to organise demonstrations across the country, in all major cities, where the Tories austerity policies had brought about mass unemployment at levels only previously seen in the depression of the 1930's. The economy was spiralling down out of control, with not just mass unemployment, but disappearing public services, and inflation running at around 29%! Thatcher looked like she was going to be removed from within her own parliamentary party, and the Tories were certain to lose the next election.

After Michael Foot became party leader, Labour soared to around 56% in the opinion polls. The Tories who had only just won the election in 1979, went from poll ratings of around 45%, to a low of around 27% in 1982, ahead of the Falklands War. They had continually lost support from the time of the previous election. The only thing that gave them any hope was the fact that the SDP split from Labour, at the height of Labour popularity, splitting the anti-Tory vote. But, the fact was that before the Falklands War, the Tories were inevitably going to be out of office, and Thatcher's Austerian experiment would have been finished.

Thatcher's position, therefore, was merely a mirror image of that of Galtieri. She, as much as him, saw the opportunity to distract from her massive unpopularity at home, and certain electoral defeat, by doing what he had done, what Lynton Crosby today would refer to as throwing a dead cat on to the table. She built up her own sabre rattling rhetoric over the Falklands, in the belief that Galtieri would never invade, because she knew full well that they were in the process of negotiating away the sovereignty of the Falklands anyway!

She ended up also in the same position as Galtieri that having built up all of this rhetoric, when Galtieri invaded and failed to back down, especially as he had the backing of the US, at least passively, Thatcher had the alternative of herself backing down, which would have meant that her unpopularity at home would be compounded by being seen as a “blowhard who collapses at the first sign of gunfire” to use a more recent expression. The dynamic of war, therefore, led Thatcher equally into a war she did not really want, and did not expect to happen.

In substance it is quite right that the Falklands War was really the result of a plot, or more correctly two plots. It was the result of a plot by Galtieri to try to distract attention from his domestic problems, and an almost identical plot by Thatcher to distract from her own domestic problems. Neither began expecting to go to war over a chunk of rock, which both countries only wanted for the surrounding mineral rights, and over which both had, in any case, being negotiating.

And, the fact is, given those previous negotiations, and the willingness to throw over the rights of the islanders themselves, as they had done with the Chagos Islanders, there was no real reason for such a war. Had the British government handed over £1 million to each of the 3,000 islanders, as compensation (£1 million then is the equivalent of around £10 million today) it would have more than adequately compensated them for either accepting Argentine sovereignty, or relocating elsewhere. The war itself cost Britain over £1 billion, and the on going cost of defending the Falkland Islands is running at £61 million a year, or around £2.25 billion since the war. Indeed, the cost is so great, and Britain's military capacity so diminished, that many think that an agreement with Argentina will have to be negotiated in the end. Meanwhile, an avoidable war, fought mainly by combatants who were merely posturing for their own domestic political benefit, cost the lives of nearly 1,000 soldiers, with a further 2,500 wounded, some of them seriously wounded and disfigured.

Theories of Surplus Value, Part I, Chapter 4 - Part 85

Marx then turns to examine this like for like reproduction of c in more precise detail.

“It consists of the constant capital which enters into raw materials, and secondly of the constant capital which enters into the formation of the capital, and thirdly of the constant capital which enters into auxiliary materials.” (p 245)

Raw Materials

Marx's definition of raw material, as set out in Capital I, includes anything that is used in the production process, as a component part of the end product. So, a raw material such as yarn, used in the weaving process to create linen, itself contains the raw material flax, used in the spinning process to create yarn. On the other hand, some raw materials may themselves be directly consumable. Marx lists “... cattle, corn, grapes ...” (p 245), although cattle would presumably have to be slaughtered and butchered, rather than being directly consumable. But, in so far as such raw materials are directly consumed, they comprise commodities of class A, in the examples given (Department II).

The relevance of this is that, in so far as these commodities belong in class A, the constant capital used in their production does not fall into the category of constant capital being discussed. It is only the constant capital used in the production of means of production that we are concerned with here.

That constant capital, used in the production of raw materials, Marx lists as:-

“... in the first place of fixed capital, machinery, instruments of labour and buildings, and perhaps auxiliary materials, which are means of consumption for the machinery employed.” (p 245)

This seems to leave out the raw materials, used in the production of some raw materials, used in the production of some raw materials, as described above, but that is not the case, because these end up in the consumable product themselves ultimately. So, flax is used as raw material by the spinner to produce yarn, which in turn is used by the weaver to produce the consumable product linen. Similarly, cattle are raw material for the abattoir, and the butcher, who then produces the consumable product.

We are not considering here any of the constant capital that goes into the production of the consumable product, but only that which goes into the production of the means of production. Even so, the same thing applies to the raw materials used here. For example, steel is a raw material used by the machine maker. But, for the steel maker, iron ore and carbon are raw materials, Moreover, for the steel producer, coal may be an auxiliary material, but it is one used in large quantities. Coal here is defined as an auxiliary material, because its use value does not form a component of the end product, in the way that iron ore does in steel, or flax does in linen. The coal is only required to provide the heat to smelt the iron ore, and some other heat source can be used for that, but you can't make steel without iron ore.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

General Election – What Labour Should Say On Defence and Security


  • Labour should commit to a real defence and security of British people
  • Real defence and security of British people does not consist of occupying, bombing or interfering in the countries of other people
  • The hugely expensive military systems such as Trident, global naval fleets and so on are always aimed at offensive actions against others, not defensive actions to protect the British people. They are also, as Galbraith and others discussed in relation to the US Military-Industrial Complex, more concerned with promoting the profits of huge armaments producers than with any effective defence and security of a country's people
  • Real security for peoples comes from establishing friendly and co-operative relations between the peoples of all countries, such as was being developed via the EU. It does not come from a retrenchment from such developments and a jingoistic promotion of narrow national self-interest
  • Defence and security should be the concern of all citizens, and should be the responsibility and duty of all citizens
  • Real defence and security comes from the involvement of all citizens being actively involved and organised on a democratic basis. Universal military conscription, as Engels put it, is the necessary corollary of universal suffrage. It is the means by which the people ensure that their democratic wishes are implemented
  • All wars start with the generals basing their plans on the weapons that dominated the last war, and which quickly have to be discarded, as new weapons always dominate the current war. In an age where computers dominate control of everything including weapons systems, the dominant weapons of any future war will be cyber weapons not nuclear weapons, or other forms of mechanical device
  • Real defence and security comes from the permanent mobilisation of the citizenry at a community level. The basic requirement is to develop democratically controlled community policing, linked to the development of a citizens militia.

Every government should commit itself to the defence and security of the people of its country. Such a commitment does not in any way contradict the concept of revolutionary defeatism. Revolutionary defeatism only means that socialists will not align themselves with their own ruling class, in order to oppose some foreign enemy. A practical reason for that is that experience shows that the ruling class will never pursue the defence of the vast majority of the people to its fullest degree. In World War II, the French ruling class, quickly changed sides and established the Vichy government, for example, so as to continue making profits at the expense of French workers. Further back in time, Cromwell had to remove all of the old aristocratic generals, and organise the New Model Army, to ensure that the King was defeated.

The working class, which nowadays constitutes the vast majority of the population, in developed economies, cannot rely on the ruling class for its own security and defence. It must organise that security and defence itself, and pursue it fully, which means also by the most rational and democratic means.

If someone were to say to us that the defence of Russia or China, involved those countries developing vast armies, naval fleets, and missile systems aimed at Britain, still less if they were to tell us that the defence of those countries relied on them being able to bomb, or occupy Britain, we would immediately see through such arguments. We would say, this has nothing to do with the defence of Russia or China; it only has to do with the expansionist ambitions of the rulers of those countries. Yet, we are asked to believe that Britain's bombing of Syria, of Iraq, of Libya, its development of a £100 billion Trident nuclear submarine fleet, the creation of nuclear bombs, and long range fighter bombers, of a global navy, and of armed forces, most of whom are stationed not in Britain for its defence, but across the globe, is all part of a defence of Britain!

Clearly, it is not. If all of our soldiers, sailors and airmen were intended to provide defence and security for the British people they would be based in and around the British coastline; the military hardware on which billions of pounds is expended would be geared to providing those soldiers and sailors with the kind of equipment required to protect those borders, rather than to be used to invade and attack other countries. The reality is, as J.K. Galbraith and C. Wright Mills discussed long ago, the real determinant for these armaments is not what provides effective defence for the people, but what provides the biggest profits for the armaments companies, on whose boards the former generals and admirals sit, and from which they draw large stipends. Its rather like the way NHS spending is always geared to the huge hospital complexes, expensive hardware, medicines and computer systems, from which the big companies make huge profits, rather than on the kind of primary care, and health protection measures that would be much cheaper and more effective.

In the same way that the health security of the people would be greatly benefited from having locally organised democratic control over the general environment in which people live and work, the provision of decent homes and communal spaces for everyone, and an abolition of all those aspects of work that destroy workers health, be it from noxious substances, dangerous work practices, or the general stress that leads to mental illnesses caused by the uncertain nature of employment, so too the general security of workers would be greatly benefited from the people themselves being actively involved in their own security and defence, organised from a community basis upwards.

The development of the modern standing army, and of the police force are recent developments. The police force was only established in the middle of the 19th century, and its main purpose was to protect the rapidly rising wealth and property of the urban bourgeoisie. Even in the 19th century, it was common for nations to employ mercenaries to fight in their armies rather than to have their own standing army. In the United States, its Constitution called not for such a standing army, but for a Citizen's Militia, and it is in respect of the organisation of such a militia that the Constitution requires that the people have the right to bear arms.

The Second Amendment was based partially on the right to keep and bear arms in English common law and was influenced by the English Bill of Rights of 1689. Sir William Blackstone described this right as an auxiliary right, supporting the natural rights of self-defence, resistance to oppression, and the civic duty to act in concert in defence of the state. 

It states,

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” 

After the Manchester terror attack, there has again been considerable discussion about the role that Britain's foreign policy plays in encouraging attacks on Britain. The claim is made that the real reason for terrorists attacking Britain, the United States and other countries, is because they hate our way of life. Yet, Switzerland also has the same way of life as Britain or the US, but has not been the target of such foreign terror attacks.

This information from the Swiss Federal Intelligence Service indicates not only no activity by jihadists in attacking Switzerland, but even very little activity of people travelling from Switzerland to Syria to take part in terrorist activities. Indeed, the main concern of the Swiss Intelligence Agencies seems to have been in relation to surveillance activities by foreign governments, whilst home grown terrorist activities by left and right-wing extremists was considered almost as much a threat as that by jihadists.

I tried to find details of actual terrorist attacks in Switzerland, from Wiki, and again found a dearth of evidence of such attacks. Only three were listed, and none were actually to do with jihadists. An internet video by some ISIS supporters has been released, which speaks of further attacks across European countries, including Switzerland, however.

So, although its clear that ISIS, ideologically hate modernism, and the principles of democracy, culture, equality and so on, which underlie civilisation, and so might attack people in European countries on that basis, whether or not they come from a country that has carried out attacks in Syria, Libya or elsewhere, the fact is that currently, Switzerland has not faced those attacks in the way that the UK, France and other countries have done, who have been actively involved in such intervention.

There is, of course, another reason why Switzerland has faced no such attacks, and less in the way of terrorism in general, and that is that Switzerland has a form of direct democracy, and also its own defence is organised more via the existence of its Citizen's Militia than a standing army. Consequently, a more or less permanently armed citizenry, via that militia, is focussed upon national defence rather than external aggression against other countries, and so can be more actively involved on a daily basis in ensuring that defence, in a way that a permanent, small standing army, whose resources are concentrated on very expensive large-scale, equipment, that is only justifiable on the basis of fighting large scale wars across the globe, can never be. See also: Terrorism and Democracy.

The real basis for establishing peace and security is for ordinary people to come together and form organisations that promote friendly and co-operative relations amongst each other. The EU provided one framework in which such relations could begin to be developed. Indeed it was established after WWII, in part precisely for that reason, so as to try to avoid future wars. But, the biggest risk to peace and security in Europe currently comes from Britain's decision to leave the EU, and the Tories proposals for a hard Brexit. Already that has led to some Tories, and the Tory gutter press calling for Britain to go to war with the EU, over Gibraltar! The inevitable consequence of Brexit will be the re-establishment of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, which open up all of the old wounds that the EU helped to heal via the Good Friday Agreement.

We have seen Theresa May prepared to launch into a jingoistic attack on the EU, at the start of the General Election campaign, and the EU itself now faced with a US, under Donald Trump, who sees the EU as an enemy, and who is clearly beginning to distance himself from NATO, and a Brexit Britain under May that is positioning itself as the US's unofficial 51st state, has openly declared, via Merkel, that the EU must integrate further, and distance itself from both the US and UK. This represents one of the biggest movements away from peace and security, and a move towards hostility and conflict, for decades.

Labour should commit itself, whether Britain is in or out of the EU, to building links between workers and workers organisations across Europe, based on the need for cooperation, and our own collective security. That security should not consist just of security against military attack, but security against environmental disasters, against the insecurity that comes from a capitalist system prone to regular crises and chaos. We should, in that vein begin to develop a European wide Labour Movement, and we should where possible create European wide worker-owned and controlled co-operative enterprises, that builds international cooperation and security at an organic level between workers in all countries.

And, at the same time, we need to develop these organic links and co-operation at a local community level.  In 2011, when riots began to take place across Britain, it was not the police that brought them to an end, but the self-organisation of local communities into defence squads. The state, and the functions of the state should not be separated from civil society itself. Such separation is the basis upon which authoritarianism, and dictatorship is based. Every citizen has as much of a duty to take part in the policing and defence of the community as they do to vote, or to take part in Jury Service.

When the Manchester bombing took place, ordinary citizens spontaneously took part in helping the injured etc., and that happens in every such instance. It demonstrates that for all of the talk from bourgeois ideologists about human nature being essentially individualistic and selfish, which is the basis of capitalism, nothing could be further from the truth. But, instead of such activity and involvement only occurring when some such tragedy arises, how much better would it be for the citizenry to be permanently mobilised, and to be organised on a democratic basis so as to prevent or to minimise such tragedies?

The best means of detecting threats within our own communities comes from the people who live in those communities. All to often, as has been seen recently in the US with the police killings of numerous black men, the police are seen not as the defenders of communities but as an alien force, treated with suspicion and hostility. Democratic self-policing by communities removes that division between police and policed. And, communication and coordination between such community organisations enables the information to be shared, so that potential threats can be identified and prevented at source.

We cannot immediately go from a standing army to a citizen's militia, such as exists in say Switzerland, but we can begin to develop the basic infrastructure for such a militia. At the start of WWII, it was a communist Tom Wintringham, who had fought with the International Brigade against the fascists in Spain, who set up the Volunteer Reserve, which became the Home Guard. Engels in his pamphlet The Prussian Military Question and the German Workers' Party, argues that universal military conscription is the logical corollary of universal suffrage, because “it puts the voters in the position of being able to enforce their decisions gun in hand against any attempt at a coup d'état.” 

If the workers in Chile had followed that advice, then the government of Allende could not have been overthrown, and the vicious fascistic regime of Thatcher's friend General Pinochet, would not have been able to come to power

Thatcher implemented her own milder versions of Pinochet's tactics in closing down democracy wherever local Councils like the GLC confronted her, and imposing virtual martial law on mining communities during the 1984-5 Miners Strike. The closeness of Thatcher and the Tories to Pinochet's brutal regime even led Tony Blair in 1999 to call the Tories “The Party of Pinochet”.

If we look at the events of recent weeks, it shows that the Tories have failed in the basic duty of a government to ensure the security of the people. The cyber attack on the NHS showed that they have not even spent the money required for basic things such as upgrading hospital PC's or the software running on them. It is an indication of how little has been spent on Britain's 21st Century infrastructure needs in terms of a modern broadband backbone. Instead the Tories prefer to waste hundreds of billions on HS2. Yet, all of that would be as useless as a chocolate teapot in the event of a cyber attack, which seems to have been the likely cause also of the breakdown of BA's computer systems that brought its flights to a standstill.

Similarly, the terror attack in Manchester showed that the Tories preferred expensive military hardware solutions are useless when it comes to dealing with such attacks. The Tories have a problem because with such attacks they have no obvious target to bomb, which is what their defence and security policy always comes down to.  Indeed, as I wrote recently with modern cyber warfare, nuclear weapons are a ticking time bomb waiting to be exploded whenever some hacker decides to set them off!

Labour should commit itself to investing large amounts of money for cyber security, not just to be ready for any attacks by enemy nations, but to protect UK businesses and citizens from the kind of criminal activities that affected the NHS, and which are targeted at ordinary British people and their normal activities.

In short, the current policies of defence and security amount to nothing of the kind. They are generally geared not to defence but offensive military action against the people of other countries. They are not based on concerns for the defence of ordinary British people, but for the interests of British capital at home and abroad, including the interests of the big military contractors to make big profits.

Labour should commit itself to turn all that on its head, and to ensure that British citizens are provided with real defence and security for the things that actual affect them on a daily basis, a defence and security based upon their own involvement and democratic control.

Theories of Surplus Value, Part I, Chapter 4 - Part 84

Looking at the situation from a different angle.

“In fact, the whole of the labour added annually (leaving out of account the capitalisation of profit) is equal to the labour contained in A.” (p 244)

In other words, national income, which is equal to the new value produced by labour during the year, is equal to the value of the total consumable product. But, as Marx has set out, the value of this consumable product, even taking into consideration the value of the intermediate production, which contributes to its value, is not equal to the gross national output. In fact, on the basis of the above statement, its clear why this must be the case.

If the value of the total consumable product is equal to the new value created by labour during the year (equal to National Income, divided into wages, profits, interestrent and taxes) then it is equal to v + s. But, the value of the Gross National Product, like the value of any commodity is equal not to v + s, but c + v + s.

So, we return, by this alternative view of the situation, that in terms of the total output, we have the value of c, which is not consumed, or at least not consumed out of revenue of any kind. Rather it is consumed industrially, by capital. It exchanges not against revenue but against capital. In essence, it exchanges with itself, reproduces itself and as a product it simply replaces itself on a like for like basis.

“In its use-value, product A represents the whole part of the annual total product which enters annually into individual consumption. In its exchange-value, it represents the total quantity of labour newly added by the producers during the year. 

Thus, however, we have as residuum a third part of the total product whose constituent parts, when exchanged, can represent neither the exchange of revenue against revenue nor of capital against revenue and vice versa. This is the part of product B which represents B’s constant capital. This part is not included in B’s revenue and therefore cannot be replaced by or exchanged against product A, and therefore also cannot enter as a constituent part into A’s constant capital. This part is likewise consumed, industrially consumed, to the extent that it enters not only into B’s labour-process but also into the formation of value in B. This part, therefore, like all other parts of the total product, must be replaced in the proportion in which it forms a component part of the total product, and indeed it must be replaced in kind by new products of the same sort. On the other hand, it is not replaced by any new labour.” (p 244-5)

It cannot be replaced by new labour, because all new labour takes the form of revenue, whether as I (v + s) or II (v + s), and all of that exchanges with the product of A, i.e. against consumption goods. All consumption goods have been accounted for, and all revenue to buy them has been accounted for.

The remaining component of national output, which exceeds the value of national income, therefore, consists of c, the constant capital in the shape of means of production used in the production of means of production themselves. This component must by physically reproduced on a “like for like” basis, and just as its use value is thereby reproduced, so too is its value reproduced.

The farmer who uses 100 kg of seeds for his production, must reproduce these 100 kg out of his current production, in order to continue production on the same scale. In other words, they must be physically replaced on a like for like basis. If the historic cost of these seeds was 100 hours of labour, equal to £100, but, due to a fall in productivity, the value of 100 kg of seeds is 200 hours of labour, equal to £200, it does no good to replace the consumed seeds with £100 of seeds, because that would constitute only 50 kg. representing a contraction of the capital and scale of production.

But, likewise, the value of the consumed seeds, in so far as it is related to the value of the current production, is not measured by its historic cost, but by its current reproduction cost. If we isolate the effect just to the constant capital for illustration, then if the farmer paid £100 for seeds, and as a result of a fall in productivity the value of seeds rises to £200, then we might have:-

c 100 + v 50 + s 50 = 200, and then

c 200 + v 50 + s 50 = 300.

The historic price paid for the seeds is still £100, but this historic price obscures the reality that the value of the seeds, used in production, has changed. It is this current value that is passed on to, and reproduced in, the value of the end product, not the historic price, which is why the value of the end product rises from 200 to 300. Its only on this basis that the requirement to reproduce the constant capital, on a like for like basis, can be understood.

In order to continue production on a like for like basis, the farmer must buy 100 kg of seed, which now cost £200. But, if the value of his output is only £200, based on the historic price of the seed, he then has nothing left over to buy labour-power. But, if the value of the constant capital continues to be defined in terms of its historic price, whilst the value of output is determined by its current reproduction cost, this creates an anomaly that destroys the Labour Theory of Value. We would then have:-

c 100 + v 50 + s 50 ≠ 300.

The only way this could be reconciled would be:-

c 100 + v 50 + s 150 = 300.

But, now £100 of surplus value has arisen, which has not been created by labour!! It is a surplus value that has arisen due purely to a nominal capital gain, arising from the fall in productivity and increase in the value of seeds as against their historic price. That is why, in order to be consistent with the Labour Theory of Value, the value of capital must always be calculated on its current reproduction cost, as Marx does, and not on the historic price paid for it.

Monday, 29 May 2017

The IRA, Briefing, Me and Corbyn's Labour Party

It was fairly obvious, the Tories would attack Jeremy Corbyn for his past positions on Ireland and the IRA. That attack had already been launched prior to the Manchester terror attack, but it has opened up the opportunity for the Tories, and Tory media, to again attack Corbyn, and others, like McDonnell and Diane Abbott, on the basis of guilt by association. They attacked Corbyn, and asked him to apologise for an old article that appeared in London Labour Briefing, falsely claiming that Corbyn was on its Editorial Board, and so bore responsibility for it. That in itself is an illogical stance to take, but, in any case, Corbyn had not been on Briefing's Editorial Board.

At the time this was being discussed, on the TV, I said to my son, “He wasn't, but I was!” My son asked, “So, do you have anything you want to apologise for?” To which I replied, “I'm sure there are plenty of things I got wrong back then, but nothing I can think of that I would apologise for.”

In fact, as I told him, I was on the National Editorial Board of National Labour Briefing, as opposed to London Labour Briefing. Labour Briefing itself, at the time, brought together a number of organisations, and the National Labour Briefing brought together representatives of Labour Briefing groups from around the country. 

The meetings were held usually, once a month, at Digbeth Civic Hall, in Birmingham, though the inaugural meeting, and some others, were held at County Hall in London. As a member of Socialist Organiser, at the time, there were a number of articles that were printed in the magazine that I disagreed with, but that is part of being in an organisation that represents disparate views. The task of an Editorial Board is not to prevent publication of articles that some, or all, of the Editors disagree with. On most occasions, before the meetings I would meet with the other Socialist Organiser supporter on the Editorial Board, John Bloxham, to agree what our line would be, and what we thought were the most important items to try to line up the Editorial Board behind.

So, what was the situation in relation to Ireland, the IRA and the British state? As a supporter of Socialist Organiser, I held to the line the organisation and its predecessors had held for some years. Workers Fight, one of the predecessor organisations of Socialist Organiser had split from the International Socialists, in the 1970's, shortly before I joined the organisation. At the time I joined, it had fused with Workers Power, which had also split from IS, though not long after I joined, the two organisations split again. At the time I joined, the organisation operated under the banner of Workers Action.

A key factor, in the split with IS, had been over the question of Ireland. The question demarcated Workers Action from both IS and the other main left group of the time, the Militant Tendency. When in 1969, British troops went into the North of Ireland, they were initially welcomed by the nationalist community, who were a minority facing severe communal violence at the hands of the loyalist majority. In the 1960's, a large part of liberal sentiment, across Britain, sympathised with the plight of the nationalist minority that faced discrimination in almost every aspect of life, in a situation where Protestant Unionists dominated the major industries, as well as controlling the Northern Ireland trades unions, and where those Unionists had an in built electoral majority, across the six counties as a whole, but also had voting privileges over the Catholics. 

In many ways, the situation facing Catholics, in the North of Ireland, was similar to the situation facing blacks in the US, particularly in the Southern US. When Northern Ireland Catholics began to mobilise in similar civil rights movements to those in the US, under the leadership of people like Bernadette Devlin, therefore, it was quite normal for liberals in Britain to sympathise with that movement. I certainly remember, at school, during the 1960's, my school teachers, who were far from being left-wing socialists, being sympathetic to Devlin, and there being a number of morning assemblies that focussed on “Man's Inhumanity to Man”, which discussed the situation in the US, in Ireland, and in South Africa in similar terms. Of course, although the Black Panthers were organising more militant resistance, in the US, the only one of these three, at that time, where actual violent resistance was being offered was in South Africa, by the ANC, and where today's global treasure, Nelson Mandela, was considered, by Tories, and all right thinking people, as being a dangerous terrorist.

The response of Unionists, to the growing civil rights movement, was to launch communal attacks on Catholics. As the situation began to spiral out of control, in 1969, the Labour Government of Harold Wilson sent in the troops to hold the ring. It was under those conditions that the troops were welcomed by Catholic communities. But, it did not take long for that situation to change. In 1969, the IRA were almost non-existent. The Official IRA, which was Stalinist, had turned exclusively to electoral politics, which, in a condition where basic democratic rights were systematically undermined, was never likely to be a strategy that met the needs of the nationalist community.

The Provisional IRA had emerged as essentially a Catholic defence force, in a climate when the Catholic community was under attack from Protestant paramilitaries, and where the British troops were increasingly seen to be, at best, standing aside from such attacks, and at worst, as with Bloody Sunday, were seen as an extension of those Protestant paramilitary groups, whose ties to the police were so close that it was hard to know where one ended and the other began.

The split of Workers Fight from IS had not just been over Ireland, but also over the collapse of IS into a form of left nationalism over the EEC. Throughout the 1960's, the Trotskyist Left, in Britain, had held to a position of active abstention in relation to the question of Britain's membership of the Common Market. Workers Fight summed up the position in a pamphlet entitled “In or Out, The Fight Goes On.” It essentially argued that workers had no reason to vote for or against joining the EEC, because both were capitalist structures. The problems that workers, in Britain, faced would not be resolved by joining the Common Market, but nor was the British capitalist state, in some way, a better structure for workers that they should support, simply on the basis that it was British!

But, when the issue came centre stage in the mid 1970's, with the 1975 referendum, sections of the Left, including IS and Militant capitulated to nationalist Little Englander sentiment, as the Labour Left around Tribune, Tony Benn and the still influential Communist Party, became the centre of the NO campaign. The capitulation of IS and Militant was essentially an attempt not to lose the periphery of worker militants they had built around them, during the previous period, many of whom were being drawn by the pulling power of the Bennite Left.

But, this sentiment also impacted these organisations in relation to Ireland. The Left, throughout the 1960's, had held to the position that the North of Ireland was an occupied part of Ireland, that Britain had no right to be there, and that it should be united with the rest of Ireland. For so long as the campaign for such a movement was limited to the civil rights movement, and was able to win the support even of British liberals, for at least those civil rights, if not for a United Ireland, it was easy to advocate that the people of Ireland, as a whole, like the people of any other part of Britain's old colonial empire, had the right to self-determination.

Elsewhere in the globe, that anti-colonial struggle had also taken a violent turn, for example, with the Mau Mau in Kenya. I remember, in the 1950's, our next door neighbour, who was in the army at that time, brought me back a Mau Mau bow and arrow. War crimes were committed on both sides, but most of the war crimes committed by the British army only came to light years later. Many of the tactics and strategies developed by Britain in Kenya, were, however, also utilised in Northern Ireland.

But, it was much easier for middle class liberals to defend abstract principles of bourgeois freedom, such as self-determination, when it related to events thousands of miles away than when the same thing was happening just 50 miles away, across the Irish Sea, especially when those events began to be felt on the British mainland itself. When the Provisional IRA began to fight back, against not only the pogroms that nationalist communities faced from loyalist paramilitaries, but also against what, increasingly, was seen as support for those paramilitaries by the British state, and when that fight back took the form of shootings of British soldiers, bombings and so on, the inevitable reaction to those acts, from British workers, whipped up by an overwhelmingly Tory press caused sections of the Left to take fright at the possibility that their hopes for “building the party”, that they had harboured for the previous twenty years, as they had started to win some measure of support from industrial militants, would be destroyed.

Thousands of Parisian workers were murdered by the French
state when the Paris Commune fell.
The question had never been about the Left supporting terrorism. The Bolshevik position had been established long before. Lenin's brother had been executed, having taken part in a terroristic attempt, by the Narodniks, to assassinate the Tsar. It influenced Lenin's own hostility to terrorism. He argued against the individual terroristic acts of groups such as the anarchists, “The difference between us and the anarchists is that they go in for violence retail, whereas we Bolsheviks go in for it wholesale.” In other words, the Bolsheviks opposed individual acts of terror as being adventurist and counter-productive, whereas the Bolsheviks only supported violence as part of a revolutionary overthrow, a violence they knew they would be forced to adopt, given the experience of the violence used by the ruling class, and its state against the Paris Commune.

Lenin made this same point in relation to the struggle of oppressed colonial peoples too. In the Theses on the National and Colonial Questions he writes, 

“fifth, the need for a determined struggle against attempts to give a communist colouring to bourgeois-democratic liberation trends in the backward countries; the Communist International should support bourgeois-democratic national movements in colonial and backward countries only on condition that, in these countries, the elements of future proletarian parties, which will be communist not only in name, are brought together and trained to understand their special tasks, i.e., those of the struggle against the bourgeois-democratic movements within their own nations. The Communist International must enter into a temporary alliance with bourgeois democracy in the colonial and backward countries, but should not merge with it, and should under all circumstances uphold the independence of the proletarian movement even if it is in its most embryonic form;” 

That meant that communists would support the right of colonial peoples to fight for their liberation from colonial powers, but that did not at all mean supporting, let alone throwing their lot in with, any old forces engaged in such a struggle.  In fact, he also says,

"second, the need for a struggle against the clergy and other influential reactionary and medieval elements in backward countries;

third, the need to combat Pan-Islamism and similar trends, which strive to combine the liberation movement against European and American imperialism with an attempt to strengthen the positions of the khans, landowners, mullahs, etc."

That, of course, is quite at odds with the idiot anti-imperialism that sections of the Left have fallen into, in the last thirty years. It also means that we do not feel in any way bound to support the specific tactics and actions undertaken by any of those organisations involved in such struggles. On the contrary, where such organisations are identified as being hostile to the interests of the working-class, we have a duty to say so, and to try to build truly revolutionary alternatives to them. It means that we criticise the specific actions of those organisations, where they are, in fact, counter-productive.

In the end, we support the bourgeois-democratic right of self-determination for nations, but it is always and everywhere subordinate to our larger goal of building working-class unity, and organising a struggle not for national self-determination, but for working-class self-determination, and self-government.

The IS, then as now, failed to make these distinctions. Today, it confuses our duty to support the right of oppressed peoples to fight for their liberation, with a duty to support whatever reactionary forces appoint themselves as the representatives of such struggles, and to support whatever methods those organisations choose to adopt. So, it leads them to make ridiculous statements, such as, “We are all Hizbollah Now”. It leads them to act as cheerleaders for some of the most reactionary regimes and organisations on the planet, simply on the basis of a claim to be “anti-imperialist.”

And, in the case of Ireland, it fell into exactly this kind of position, until such time as the shootings and bombings by the IRA, started to provoke a backlash within the British working-class. Then, as it had done in relation to the EEC, it made a rapid zig-zag. Communists had no duty to support the Provisional IRA, which was, and is, a petit-bourgeois nationalist organisation, whose own politics were largely influenced by Catholic ideology. When the inadequate politics of the PIRA then led it down the road of individual acts of terrorism, that should have made no difference to the attitude of communists to the right of the Irish people themselves to self-determination, the right to free themselves of British rule, and the right to a United Ireland.

Communists had no duty to support the counter-productive acts of PIRA, any more than they had a duty to support the war crimes of the Mau Mau, or the terrorist attacks of Nelson Mandela, and the ANC. But, our criticism of those acts is made in the light of the difference between the violence that the oppressed are led into, and the violence of powerful capitalist states, ranged against them, with massive firepower. 

There could be no real equivalence between the war crimes committed by the Mau Mau, and their bows and arrows, and the war crimes committed by the British state against them, let alone the crimes committed against the people of Kenya, and the rest of the British Empire, over several centuries. Nor could there be any real equivalence between the violence employed by Mandela and the ANC as against the violence used against the people of South Africa by the apartheid state.

Nor could there be any equivalence between the violence employed by the PIRA, and the violence of the British state against the Northern Irish nationalist community that included daily home invasions of Catholic homes, random assaults on Catholic youths, internment of Catholics, in the same way it had been used, in British concentration camps, during the Boer War, and in Kenya during the Mau Mau rebellion, and the targeted assassination of Republicans, by British Special Forces, as documented in the film “Death On The Rock”. 

And, the position I held, at the time, was based on precisely those ideas and principles. There was no reason for Marxists to support the PIRA, because it was not a truly revolutionary organisation, of the type that Lenin describes. Its acts actually drove towards communalism, that acted against the need to build working-class unity, across the whole of Ireland, and if possible across the whole of Britain. It remained necessary to build such a truly revolutionary organisation of the working-class. But, the question of the border could not be ignored, because it dominated all political life, and itself acted to divide the working-class. Marxists had to continue to argue for a United Ireland, as the expression of the right of self-determination of the whole Irish people, and that necessarily meant arguing that Britain had no place in Ireland, that the troops had to be withdrawn, that no military solution was possible, and that Britain should relinquish its claim to Northern Ireland. 

It was not easy to argue that position. I remember in the early 1980's, I was involved in producing a regular unemployed workers bulletin called Dole Mirror. A couple of blokes from Kidsgrove began to talk to me at the local dole, and became involved in producing and distributing it. It turned out that one of these blokes was a soldier who had been badly injured by the IRA, I won't use his name, because I haven't seen him for a long time. One weekend, we were in the pub on the miners' estate, near where he and his mate lived, and I was discussing with them that week's Socialist Organiser, where a headline was about Ireland. Some of the other regulars in the pub were about to want to lynch me, but the ex soldier intervened, to tell them to calm down, and we then proceeded to have a rational discussion.

Its a long time ago, so I wouldn't like to say whether I completely convinced him of the arguments I put forward, but he certainly continued to help with the production of the bulletin, and a few weeks later he also helped to organise a disco at the town hall, to generate funds for its further production, and he became a Labour Party member. The arguments I put to him were about similar struggles in the past against occupations. As a soldier, I asked him, had you been French, when Germany occupied it, would you have simply sat back and accepted the situation, or would you have fought back, and if you had fought back, would you, faced with the overwhelming military power of the German army, have felt that you had to fight back using only the conventional methods of war, or would you, as the Resistance did, use whatever you could bring to hand to conduct that fight?

And, of course, had that discussion been had some years later, a similar argument could have been put about the struggle of the ANC in South Africa, after apartheid collapsed. Whilst that struggle was going on, the Tories lined up solidly behind the apartheid regime, they vilified Mandela as a terrorist, who quite rightly belonged in jail. And, it is always that way, with Tories and their ilk. When the actual fighting is going on, they are always on the side of the establishment, of the status quo, and always hostile to those fighting against oppression. Only when the fighting is done, and a new establishment is in place, do they decide that those who, yesterday, they called terrorists, today they call world statesmen, as they did with Mandela. And, of course, we should remember that even the Queen brought herself to shake the hand of McGuinness, and to send condolences to his widow. Its only the Tories who seek to rake over the coals of thirty years ago, and to attack Corbyn for again being on the right side of history, as they themselves risk throwing the North of Ireland once more into chaos, and violence, as a result of Brexit

The Tories have sought to criticise Corbyn and Diane Abbot for some of the comments they made at that time. They attack Abbot for a comment where she said that any defeat for the British state would be a victory for British workers. She has resiled from that comment, but, of course, in a sense it is right. Had Thatcher lost against Galtieri during the Falklands War, it would have weakened Thatcher, and may have meant she was unable to press ahead with her attack on the miners. But, does the statement of that fact mean that socialists had to support Galtieri? Absolutely not. At the time, any consideration of the benefits of Thatcher losing could play no part in the consideration as to whether support should be given to Galtieri, and his own expansionist ambitions. In WWII, every victory for Stalin and his regime against Hitler, quite clearly weakened the Nazis, and benefited Britain. Did that mean that British Tories had thereby to become supporters of Stalin? Clearly not!

The Tories have proceeded with their typical hypocrisy. When it comes to Crimea, Ukraine, Tibet, Kosovo and so on, they are quick to insist on the right of self-determination of peoples, to demand that the occupying forces be withdrawn, and they support the fight of those in those places against the occupying forces, no matter how reactionary, or whatever methods they use. But when it is Britain that is the occupying power, when it is Britain that is the oppressor, they expect us to believe that different rules must apply.

No, there is nothing in the positions I supported at that time in relation to Ireland, to South Africa or anywhere else where peoples were fighting against oppression and discrimination that I have reason to regret or to apologise for. Can the Tories say the same thing for their support for the terroristic apartheid regime in South Africa at that time, for similar regimes in Namibia and elsewhere, or the vicious fascistic regime of Thatcher's friend Pinochet in Chile?

Theories of Surplus Value, Part I, Chapter 4 - Part 83

Marx makes an important point. As he sets out in Capital III, Chapter 6, technological development, which leads to a rising organic composition of capital, is not represented by a relative increase in the mass or value of the fixed capital, but the opposite. The rise in the organic composition of capital sees the decline in the relative mass mass and value of both fixed capital and variable capital compared to output. What rises in mass, and less so in value, is the circulating constant capital, i.e. the raw materials processed.

Suppose a machine costs £16,000. It has 4 spindles. A worker, in 10 hours, adds a further £1,000 of value. The machine loses £1,000 of wear and tear. The total value of output is then £1,000 (wear and tear) + £1,000 (material) + £1,000 new value produced by labour = £3,000. Of this, each component represents 33.3%.

If a new machine is introduced with 12 spindles, which likewise loses £1,000 in wear and tear, it processes four times as much cotton. So:- £1,000 (wear and tear) + £4,000 (cotton) + £1,000 (labour) = £6,000. Now fixed capital has fallen to just 16.6%, labour 16.6%, whilst cotton has risen to 66.6% of the total value of output. It is this which leads to the rising organic composition of capital, and tendency for the rate of profit to fall, not an increase in the relative value of fixed capital.

In fact, as Marx sets out, the same technological change is likely to cause a fall in the value of the fixed capital itself, even in absolute terms, as well as an increase in its effectiveness. It is both of these aspects which bring about a moral depreciation of the existing fixed capital.

“Although the absolute magnitude of its reproduction—or its wear and tear—grows with the absolute size of the fixed capital, as a rule its proportional magnitude falls, in so far as its period of turnover, its duration, as a rule increases in proportion to its size. This proves among other things that the quantity of labour reproducing machinery or fixed capital is not at all proportional to the labour which originally produced these machines (conditions of production remaining the same), since only the annual wear and tear has to be replaced. If the productivity of labour rises—as it constantly does in this branch of production—the quantity of labour required for the reproduction of this part of the constant capital diminishes still more.” (p 243)

That doesn't apply to the auxiliary materials used by the machinery, such as coal for power, or oil for lubrication, because these are produced in industries entirely separate from machine building, and where such technological change does not occur so as to so markedly reduce the value of these commodities. However, the amount and value of these commodities used in production is relatively minor.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

For Professional Liars, These Tories Seem Very Amateurish

I can't remember an election when the Tories have not based themselves on lies.  For all of the previous century, the Tories appeals to the electorate, despite one period of government after another during which they insisted on the need for austerity, was based on the idea that such "hard choices" were a prelude to "Jam Tomorrow".  The Tories, as  a party, have always been a party of lies and deception.  Their whole existence depends on telling a big lie to voters about the true nature of society.  They are by necessity, by tradition, and by their history a party of professional liars, but for such professional liars, this current gang of Tories seem very amateurish.

On the bigger picture, the Tories, like all of the bourgeoisie, of course, are not liars.  To be a liar, it is necessary that you actually know that what you are saying is not true.  On the bigger picture, the bourgeoisie believes that not only is capitalism the best system for organising society, but it honestly believes that it is the only way of running society, that all of history, is a history of society being organised on capitalist principles only with variations.  This is what Marx says about Ricardo, for example, who was one of the best advocates for the bourgeoisie, and who Marx also commends for his scientific honesty.

"All the objections which Ricardo and others raise against overproduction etc. rest on the fact that they regard bourgeois production either as a mode of production in which no distinction exists between purchase and sale—direct barter—or as social production, implying that society, as if according to a plan, distributes its means of production and productive forces in the degree and measure which is required for the fulfilment of the various social needs, so that each sphere of production receives the quota of social capital required to satisfy the corresponding need. This fiction arises entirely from the inability to grasp the specific form of bourgeois production and this inability in turn arises from the obsession that bourgeois production is production as such, just like a man who believes in a particular religion and sees it as the religion, and everything outside of it only as false religions."

Its not in this bigger picture that the Tories are liars, but in the praxis, in the contradiction between what they believe to be true, and their refusal to acknowledge what their own experience shows them to be true.  They are forced to lie, every day, as reality contradicts their own belief in what constitutes that larger truth.  The two things are incompatible and in irreconcilable contradiction, and so in order to hold on to their larger truth, they are daily forced to lie about each smaller truth.

The problem for the Tories is that society has moved on.  That ability to lie and get away with it, in politics has always been a time restricted tool.  It may have been true, and may still be true that "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time."  But, it has also always been true, and is even more true today, that "You can't fool all the people all of the time."

Sooner, or later, the lies catch up with you.  Eventually, the lie that the hardship and austerity of today are a necessary prelude to jam tomorrow, wears thin, and the electorate twigs.  The electorate begins to recognise that the "hard choices" that are being talked about are never hard choices that affect the rich, but only ever affect the poor, the working and middle classes.

Take one current meme that has been pursued.  The Tories talk about the fact that there has been full employment.  They even recognise that this full employment has gone along with the employed workers being on zero hours contracts, appallingly low wages and so on, and use that to argue against improving wages and conditions for fear of that employment being jeopardised.  But just think about what this actually means.

Under systems of slavery, there is always full employment.  The slave owners have a strong incentive to ensure that the slaves are kept in work, and that they work as hard and as long as possible.  But, who do you think really benefits from this slavery and the full employment it entails - the slave or the slaveowner?  

On many things, the Tories get away with the lies they tell, because the truth itself is not hard to uncover.  As Marx said, if the real nature of things was apparent from their surface appearance, then there would be no need for science to uncover the underlying reality.  In part, that encourages the Tories to be lazy.  They can tell lies about the economy, and the way it works, and the way workers are exploited, without it being immediately apparent that what they say is untrue.  When they have a Tory mass media that reinforces all of those ideas, it is even more difficult to expose those truths.

And, when it comes to other truths about daily life and politics, therefore, the Tories have been able to rely on that mass media to frame the discussion in ways that favour their version of reality.  There are two approaches that can be taken with this lying.  Either you adopt the same approach as Goebbels, which is to believe that if you are going to tell a lie it might as well be a big one, which if you repeat often enough, a sufficient number of people will believe, or else you take the view that a lie if it is to be believable, should be based on a kernel of truth.  The Tories during the election campaign have apparently chosen the Goebbels school of lying, which also fits with their other election strategy of presenting themselves as an authoritarian regime, based upon a "strong and stable leader" , an Il Duce, as the Italians would have it, or a Fuhrer, as the Germans would term such a person.  The Tories obviously believed that they could win the election despite having nothing positive to say, nothing positive to offer the vast majority of the population, but just by continually attacking Jeremy Corbyn, and telling is what a strong and stable leader Fuhrer May was.

The lie in relation to Fuhrer May was apparent, given that week after week she failed to answer a single question put to her by Corbyn in Parliament, and every time she went of the tightly scripted lines she had been given to parrot, was shown to be unable to think for herself on her feet.  The lie was exposed when this supposedly strong and stable leader was shown to be too cowardly to debate Corbyn and other party leaders.  It was further exposed, when she hid away from the voters during the election campaign, only appearing in close camera angle, highly choreographed audiences with small groups of Tory supporters, whilst day after day, Corbyn was addressing mass rallies of tens of thousands, and every day talking to ordinary people on the street, and winning more and more of them over, in the process.

And, the lie of the strong and stable leader was then blown wide apart, when, after having come out to attack the elderly with their policies for removing the Triple Lock, Scrapping the Winter Fuel Allowance for large numbers of pensioners, and then proposing the Dementia Tax, Il Duce May having allowed all of her first lieutenants disgrace themselves on Sunday politics programmes, by defending those policies, herself the very next day, came out to overturn the Dementia Tax, whilst still ridiculously claiming that they had made no U-Turn.  It was an open lie, that everyone could see was a lie, and should have led every voter to question everything May and her team said on anything!

But, worse.  The Tories with the same kind of hubris that led them to think that they could get away with the fact that there was absolutely nothing in their Election Manifesto of substance, other than this policy of attacking the elderly, without anyone noticing, then tried to scandalously use the atrocity of the terrorist bombing in Manchester to score cheap political points against Corbyn by telling even more overtly obvious lies about him.  The trouble for the Tories in following the Goebbels school of lying is that, he and the Nazis could get away with it, in an era when the masses relied on the newspaper and radio for their information, especially newspapers and radio that was controlled by the state in that totalitarian society.  The hubris of the Tories seems to have been enhanced by the fact that in Britain, the media is overwhelmingly Tory in nature, and through the election campaign could be relied upon to pump out daily the line against Corbyn.

The trouble is that the world has moved on from the 1930's, and even the early 2000's.  The majority of young people get their information from the Internet, and the Tory newspapers and TV are no longer the source of their information about the facts of current affairs.  That comes from a multitude of social media outlets, and the related open source media and news coverage that comes along with it.  A lie blurted out by May, Fallon, Johnson or some other Tory from the high command, can be instantly challenged and checked for its veracity.  Now, those lies are counter-productive.

So, when Theresa May came on to TV to claim that Jeremy Corbyn in his speech had blamed the Manchester bombing on British Foreign policy that could instantly be seen to be a lie, because Corbyn in his speech went out of his way to stress several times, that although former heads of MI5, had themselves spoken about the role of British foreign policy in the Middle East of creating conditions in which terrorist groups had been able to grow, that in no way justified or excused the atrocity committed in Manchester.  It was not difficult to see the reality of what Corbyn actually said, because it was there for everyone to see and hear immediately on Youtube, and to compare it with the lies that the Tories offered up about it, not just once but repeatedly.

And its here that the aspect of how the Tories are led into lying, referred to at the start is also clear, because it is when it gets down to the nitty gritty of bourgeois electoral politics that they are forced into justifying themselves and their core beliefs, and their narrow party and personal interests, as it comes up against reality.  For purely party political and electoral reasons, the Tories lie (they are of course, not alone, the same could be said of the Liberals and of the Blair-rights and soft lefts), and they say one thing one minute only to deny it the next, or to attack their electoral opponents for having said exactly what they have said in the past, or vice versa.

So, to the extent the Tories have had any policies recently they were frequently stolen from Ed Miliband's 2015 Election Manifesto.  For example, they adopted a policy of imposing a cap on energy company's prices, despite calling such a measure, when it was proposed by Miliband, "Marxism", and ludicrously unworkable!  There has been nothing subtle or sophisticated about the lies Theresa May and her team have attempted to perpetrate, they have been as lazy and incompetent in that sphere as they have been in all others.  Only their friends in the more intelligent sections of the media have attempted to cover their backs by framing their attacks on Corbyn and his thoughtful speech on terrorism in more nuanced ways, though of course, the gutter press could be relied upon to simply come out with the usual garbage, presumably thinking that its core readership of older people do not themselves use the Internet or social media, or do not themselves have children and grandchildren who use those facilities, and draw their attention to the lies they are being told by the Tories.

Its no wonder the Tories now seek to impose yet further controls on the freedom of speech and on social media.  Yet again, Theresa May and her team are following the playbook of other strong and stable leaders around the globe such as her friend Erdogan in Turkey.  Even some of the mainstream media seems to have twigged that in an age of social media and Youtube, and with support for Coryn's Labour surging in the polls, they also cannot continue to take the electorate for fools.  The Channel 4 News interview with Michael Fallon, who must be in the Tories Premier League of dissemblers, was a classic, where, illustrating the point above, he managed to confuse the words of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, some time ago, linking British Foreign policy in the Middle East, with the rise of Islamist terrorism, for Jeremy Corbyn.  When confronted with the facts, Fallon could not deal with it, and simply tried to dissemble his way out of the conundrum he had placed himself in. 

The problem for the Tories is that they have a crude approach to all issues of law and order and security.  In terms of law and order, as always the Tories policy has been based upon a policy of hang 'em and flog 'em.  In terms of security it is always similarly to look to some form of violence as a solution.  Yet, the last two weeks have shown the inadequacy of that approach.  The problem they have is that when it comes to the cyber attack on the NHS, or it comes to an individual act of barbarous terrorism such as that in Manchester, the Tories have no obvious target to bomb!  Their reliance on the biggest stick possible, such as spending £100 billion on Trident, turns out to be as useful as a chocolate teapot in responding to the threats of the 21st Century, as opposed to the threats of the 20th century.

Again the Tories cannot admit to that, and so are led to simply attack their opponents with lies.  If we take the Tories proposals for imposing requirements on social media companies or on technology companies in relation to encryption, it can be seen again.  Who was it that held the store of viruses and malware from which was taken the WannaCry virus used by hackers against the NHS?  It was the US Security Services!  It was the very same state bodies that the Tories and their co-thinkers want to allow access to the encryption and security on which the world's telecommunications now depend.

If we think about the implications of allowing these bodies to have access to that encryption what will be the consequence?  It will be that everyone in the world going about their lawful business over the Internet, and using their mobile phones will find they are doing so in an insecure environment.  But, those who use those facilities for illegal activities will, in the end be unaffected.  The criminal organisations, the terrorist organisations have their own technology experts.  In order to have secure encrypted communications all that is required is that those within such a network have their own encryption software installed on their computers, mobile phones etc.  That software will then provide the keys to lock and unlock the encryption, as messages are sent and received, the keys being changed each time such a communication occurs.  Those engaged in nefarious activities will continue on their way, whilst the rest of us will be the ones affected.

Its a bit like the Tories policy on social care.  If you are rich, the Tories policy will not affect you.  In the village where I live, a lot of households already have gardeners, cleaners and so on, not because they are old or infirm, and need such care, as would be provided on a less adequate basis for the elderly under the Tories plans, but simply because they are rich enough and affluent enough to afford it.  The really rich, who take it for granted that their house will be cleaned every day by a cleaner, that their meals will be provided for them by a cook, that their garden will be tended by at last one gardener, that their physiotherapist, manicurist, and masseur will visit regularly to pamper them, and so on, will notice no difference when those services are provided for them in their old age, or infirmity, because they already take them for granted, just as they take for granted the nanny who tends to their children.  It is only workers and the middle class who will notice having to pay for such services when they no longer are able to provide them for themselves.  And now the Tories will force them to pay for those services by their children having to sell the family home after their death.

These Tories, or Theresa May's Team as Fuhrer May would have us call them, are some of the most incompetent, and most reactionary we have seen in decades.  We need to see them gone, and hopefully there is only a couple of weeks to go before we do.

Theories of Surplus Value, Part I, Chapter 4, - Part 82

As Marx demonstrates in Capital II, the capital used in spinning must be smaller than that used in weaving, because the output of the spinner forms part of the constant capital of the weaver, and the weaver adds additional capital in the form of variable capital in order to produce their output.

In considering that part of A's constant capital that must be reproduced by new labour, i.e. that which exchanges with the revenue of B, it is only that part which comprises the circulating capital, or the wear and tear of fixed capital that must be reproduced. In other words, to keep production on the same scale, the raw and auxiliary materials currently used up must be continually replaced, in kind, whilst the wear and tear of equipment must be reproduced, either in the shape of repairs, or else in the shape of an amortisation fund.

“A large part of the existing constant capital—large as regards the relation of the fixed capital to the total capital—does not therefore require to be replaced annually by new labour. For that reason the (absolute) amount [of the capital to be annually replaced] may be considerable, but nevertheless it is not large in relation to the total (annual) product. This entire part of the constant capital, in A and B, which enters into the determination of the rate of profit (with a given surplus-value), does not enter as a determining element into the current reproduction of the fixed capital. The larger this part in relation to the total capital—the greater the scale on which present, already existing, fixed capital is employed in production—the greater the current volume of reproduction will be that is used for the replacement of the worn-out fixed capital, but the smaller relatively will be the proportional amount, in relation to the total capital.” (p 242)

It is not this fixed capital, however, that is the explanation for that element of the value of total current production that forms no part of revenue. For one thing it is only the value of the wear and tear of fixed capital that enters into the value of current output. It is that part of the circulating capital plus the wear and tear of fixed capital, of the producers of means of production, which constitutes this element.

The reason that the estimates of the rate of profit, used by many economists today, are wrong is not because, in some cases, they do not take into consideration the fixed capital, but rather because the value of constant capital they use is only that for intermediate production, i.e. that which is equal to the revenues of Department I. In short, they really exclude constant capital from the calculation, because the value of constant capital represented by intermediate production is only equal to the new value produced by labour in the current year I (v + s). What is represented as a rate of profit, for the economy, is, in reality, only the rate of surplus value.

If we take the fixed capital in an economy, different parts of it will wear out faster than others, but it can be aggregated together to give an average period of duration, during which it is turned over. Say this average duration is 10 years, then if the total fixed capital constitutes 10% of the total capital, then this would mean that 1% of the total capital would be turned over annually, in the form of fixed capital. But, if the fixed capital comprised 30% of the total capital then 3% of the total capital would be turned over annually in the form of fixed capital. 

Similarly, where fixed capital comprises the same proportion of total capital, the effects will vary if the rate of turnover of this fixed capital varies. If fixed capital comprises 50% of the total capital but it only turns over every 20 years, 5% p.a., then only 2.5% of the total capital turns over in a year, as fixed capital. Even if the fixed capital represented 80% of the total capital, only 4% of the total capital turns over during the year as fixed capital.

By contrast, if the fixed capital turns over three times a year, then even if it constitutes only 10% of the total capital, then 30% of the total capital is turned over each year as fixed capital.

“On the average, the larger the fixed capital in proportion to the total capital, the longer is its relative (not absolute) period of reproduction; and the smaller it is, the shorter its relative period of reproduction. Implements form a much smaller part of handicraft capital than machinery does of machine-production capital. But handicraft implements wear out much more quickly than machinery.” (p 243)

Its important to note here that it is not the total capital turning over that is being specified here, but only that part which relates to fixed capital. Marx does not actually make this clear in his comments. For example, suppose a capital comprises £100 fixed capital and £100 circulating capital, with the latter turning over once in a year, and the former turning over every two years, i.e. £50 per year. Then £50 of fixed capital turns over each year, and this comprises a quarter of the total capital. But, all the circulating capital turns over, so the total capital turned over is £150, or 75% of the total capital.