"selling" your politics (Class war article on here)

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Joseph Kay
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Aug 14 2008 08:37
OliverTwister wrote:
I havent read enough of him either, but i think its a correctly described tendency, even if its one that could probably never be wholly completed (as there would probably either be a revolution or extinction beforehand).

it stands to reason that as capital becomes more and more accumulated it more and more escapes the control of bourgeois individuals. however as you say, it's only a tendency, not the totality. as a tendency it's even in marx in places (iirc he talks about joint-stock companies being a move towards the social ownership of capital, but by no means undermining it). i mean it's just about possible to conceive of a basically self-managed capitalism without distinct classes where everyone has a share portfolio and so suffers from a split-personality between their interests as workers and their interests as capitalists, but there's no reason to believe such a society would be stable as successful accumulators would soon enough cease having to work and having demonstrated themselves as the most able human agents of capital, form a new bourgeoisie. and it's certainly not where capital is heading either, as wealth continues to be polarised in the modern world.

what is happening is a shift away from the bourgeois-as-moneybags owner depicted in Capital to the bourgeois as director or fund manager, arguably a more alienated form of being bourgeois, but not a general humanisation. (on the related question of whether middle-management constitute a distinct class, i would say no, insofar as they express and interest distinct from shareholders - the amassing of wealth and power for themselves as opposed to the corporation - this is an interest that has been with the bourgeoisie from the start, in tension with the desire to be thrifty and re-invest in accumulation.)

OliverTwister wrote:
For example if Singularity is possible then that would be one example of real autonomous capital.

i'm not sure what Singularity means in this context, but capital is never truly autonomous as it is a social relation amongst people, but at the same time it is never really under human control either in its vampire-like expansion. more below....

OliverTwister wrote:
Also one big thing in camatte is the tendency for capital to colonize human beings and turn them into agents of itself.

it definitely does this, but not in the same way to all undifferentiated 'human beings' - the alienation we experience as wage slaves is distinct from the alienation of the CEO who would for example like to be more eco-friendly but is constrained by impersonal 'market forces' (or the operation of the law of value if you prefer). i prefer the formulation of the 'ontological inversion' for describing this situation: (apologies for the long quote, but it's a good'un)

Shortall's 'The Incomplete Marx' wrote:
capitalist production is not only a process of alienation for the worker; it is also a process of alienation for the capitalist, albeit in a qualitatively different way. If the capitalist is to remain a capitalist then she must act in accordance with the laws of the market. Failure to intensify the exploitation of her workers, to mechanize production and to maximize the accumulation of capital, will ultimately lead to bankcruptcy and her demise as a functioning capitalist. Hence, the subjective ends and purposes of the capitalist must be in accordance with the needs of capital's accumulation. As a result, the capitalist becomes merely a personification of capital. The capitalist emerges as merely a conscious agent through which capital is set in motion. Hence, it becomes clear that it is not the capitalist that is the subject of the capitalist production process, but rather it is capital itself! So, with the capitalist mode of production we have a fundamental ontological inversion. As a first order mediation, the subject/object of the dialectic of human praxis is the human being. Human beings, through their labour, come to objectify themselves in the external natural and social world. In transforming the world in accordance with their own subjective will and purpose they come to transform themselves as natural and social beings. As such, the dialectic of human praxis is the self-development of human beings in their relation to each other and to nature.

However, as we have seen, under capitalist relations of production the process of objectification is at one and the same time a process of alienation. As a result, human beings confront their own objectified labour as an alien power that has its own dialectical self- development. The purpose of production is no longer so much the self-development of human beings but the accumulation of alienated labour -- that is the accumulation of capital. So, as a second order of mediation, the dialectic of human labour has as its subject/object not human beings but capital! Capital subjectivizes itself through the subordination of human ends and purposes to its own self-expansion. Like a vampire, it is dead labour preying on the living. Sucking the life blood of living labour it accumulates itself as alien dead labour. But in doing so it reproduces both the objective and subjective conditions of the worker and the capitalist necessary for its own continued existence and development. We therefore have the self-development of capital over and against the will and purposes of human beings -- what we shall term the dialectic of capital -- which is what underlies the apparent autonomy of the economy within bourgeois society, and with it the objective and positive science of political economy.

http://libcom.org/library/incomplete-marx-felton-c-shorthall-5
as you can see, this is similar to what you're saying is in Camatte, until the last bolded bit, which is what i was getting at above. the very process of accumulation reproduces the conditions for future accumulation, i.e. classes of human beings.

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Aug 14 2008 08:41
OliverTwister wrote:
I agree with Camatte when he said that the tendency of Capital is to turn all of humanity into proletarians, and the project of the proletariat is to liberate all of humanity. (paraphrasing of course).

These views aren't that far from Marx's are they? Certainly so for the latter one. As for the former, I would agree with Marx, contra Camatte, that capital requires a ruling class, even if it is very, very small in relation to its enemy class. But then I liked the qualification you added in your next post on this point.

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Joseph Kay
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Aug 14 2008 08:44
cantdocartwheels wrote:
I dont really see this beef you have with class unity-class pride as a slogan, i mean when you and your workmate stood up to the bosses over that issue of yours a few weeks back you probably felt a bit of pride having done so right?
Joseph K. wrote:
sure, we can be proud of things we do, like standing in solidarity together etc, but to be proud of what we are, 'class pride', makes no sense at all.

i agree with your identity politics criticism too, i clarified that was what i objected to the slogan as symptomatic of above.

Mike Harman
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Aug 14 2008 10:52

Openly classist wasn't Class War was it?

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Aug 14 2008 14:10
Jack wrote:
Andy Anderson from Solidarity and his son. :(

A lot of people thought he was a spook.

Devrim

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Aug 14 2008 17:57
Weeler wrote:
To my mind 'class pride' sounds like anarchists stealing nationalists clothes. Class Unity is ok, Solidarity works better in my mind. 'Openly classist' was one of the saddest things I heard CW come out with.

Thats the impression I always get, even down to the literal clothing of the odd CW person I've come across. I may well be wrong, but it seems like CW was to some degree a conscious attempt to move alienated young working class men away from fascist recruiters, whilst retaining the two dimensional identitarian "all lefties are middle class" stuff that you get with British fascists. If it contributed to ideas which are still prevelent that office workers, teachers and nurses are in some way not part of the working class, and that class identity is a cultural one, then it was counter-productive.

Still, anarchism before CW and DAM sounds like a fucking toilet, and their paper is funny, but I don't read it for the quality of the organisation's politics.

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Aug 14 2008 18:18
Django wrote:
I may well be wrong, but it seems like CW was to some degree a conscious attempt to move alienated young working class men away from fascist recruiters,

I think it was more of an attempt to recruit what passed for anarchism at the time.

Quote:
Still, anarchism before CW and DAM sounds like a fucking toilet, and their paper is funny, but I don't read it for the quality of the organisation's politics.

DAM was formed in 1979 from the remnants of the Syndicalist Workers Federation, which went back to the 1950s.

Devrim

Mike Harman
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Aug 14 2008 18:54
Devrim wrote:
Jack wrote:
Andy Anderson from Solidarity and his son. :(

A lot of people thought he was a spook.

Devrim

He admitted to being a spook early on in his life didn't he? I think the question was around whether 'The Enemy is Middle Class" was an assignment or not.

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Aug 14 2008 19:00
Mike Harman wrote:
He admitted to being a spook early on in his life didn't he? I think the question was around whether 'The Enemy is Middle Class" was an assignment or not.

Yes, he did. The evidence was circumstantial, but added together it was quite convincing;
1) He had previously worked for British intelligence.
2) When asked about what he had been doing for the past years, he lied.
3) If he had been a plant to split class war, he couldn't have done a much better job.

I think it should remind people though that the state does have spies, and they do get monitor/ get involved in very small groups.

Devrim

martinh
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Aug 14 2008 22:03

Openly Classist was promoted by someone who wasn't related to Andy Anderson, though, and had been in CW. So it wasn't just 2 people (there were at least 3 wink )

I remember getting vitriolic spite off them because I didn't give "Educating Who about What" a glowing review in Black Flag. Presumably he'd been hoping for someone feeling guilty about middle class. roll eyes

BUt i think Dev's basic premise that Class War's lack of clear politics led to this dead end - if you see no difference between teachers and Richard Branson, or worse, think the former are your main enemy, then you end up at Openly Classist's ideas.

Regards,

Martin

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Aug 15 2008 00:11
Personalist wrote:
Boulcolonialboy wrote:
I suppose the slogan 'class pride' depends very much on how you interpret it, as such I wouldn't use it devoid of 'class unity' which is aspirational to a large extent though when it does occur, albeit in limited form, this is actually something to be proud of. How about pride in the fact that, unlike the parasitic classes we actually produce the wealth of the world? Of course this does not mean we should be or are proud of the fact that this wealth is expropriated from us.

Nicely summed up. That's exactly what I was trying to get over.

Why thank you guv'ner.

JK wrote:
Boulcolonialboy wrote:
:

all those you have listed do actually contribute to the capitalist accumulation of wealth, except maybe those who are unemployed.

they can certainly contribute, in the same kinda way overhead costs make the bottom line possible within a single firm. you can even argue the unemployed keep wages down and discipline those in work, thus contributing to profitability/exploitation. which is why i agree as a class we do produce all of society's wealth. i wouldn't conflate all this into 'production' though, at least in marxian categories, although this is a whole other debate which has been had before. in finance in particular though, so much of what is 'accumulated' is speculative paper titles to future wealth it does really constitute ficticious capital, so even contributing to the production of such is nothing to be proud of. likewise i'd argue firefighters/nurses etc produce no value for capital (only necessary use values, but not exchange value which is necessary for value, and surplus value), but from a 'producing something useful' point of view as opposed to 'producing value for capital' are perhaps amongst the most 'productive.' wealth and value are not the same thing, and 'productive' has different meanings from different perspectives. but i digress.

Aw, c'mon in the first part of that said I wasn't going for the negri-esque thing, again there is nothing in what I have posted that would suggest I disagree with what you've said now is there?

And Openly Classist, a complete crock of shit, though to be fair as far as I recall Class War pretty consistently regarded nurses as working class unlike this shower. Educating Who About What had a great influence on one former member of Organise! who went on to join the IRSP after causing havoc prior to his departure. The thing is some people who are quite sincere bought this shit.

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Aug 15 2008 06:07
boulcolonialboy wrote:
again there is nothing in what I have posted that would suggest I disagree with what you've said now is there?

not really, just clarifying on 'contribution' to wealth production wink

BB
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Aug 15 2008 10:41
Devrim wrote:
Mike Harman wrote:
He admitted to being a spook early on in his life didn't he? I think the question was around whether 'The Enemy is Middle Class" was an assignment or not.

Yes, he did. The evidence was circumstantial, but added together it was quite convincing;
1) He had previously worked for British intelligence.
2) When asked about what he had been doing for the past years, he lied.
3) If he had been a plant to split class war, he couldn't have done a much better job.

I think it should remind people though that the state does have spies, and they do get monitor/ get involved in very small groups.

Devrim

As an aside, motherfucker!

Ah well, reading Hungary:56 still had a major positive effect on me.

And again, Motherfucker!!!

Deezer
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Aug 15 2008 10:42
Weeler wrote:
IRSP, lulz.

The only other member of Organise! who had time for Openly Classist went on to join another group n' all, I think they mighta been called the WSM wink

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Aug 15 2008 12:03

And people who prefer their coffee served by unionised baristas, don't forget wink

mikus
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Aug 15 2008 14:48

Sorry to derail the thread, but I had never heard of Andy Anderson being a spook. Is Hungary 56 a reliable source then?

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Devrim
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Aug 15 2008 16:26
mikus wrote:
Sorry to derail the thread, but I had never heard of Andy Anderson being a spook. Is Hungary 56 a reliable source then?

Hungry 56 is a good book. In it he admits to working for British intelligence after the war though.

Devrim

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Aug 15 2008 22:00

So was the question over whether or not he had cut ties?

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Devrim
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Aug 15 2008 22:30

I think it was his behaviour that made people ask the question.

Devrim

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Aug 15 2008 23:12

I don't want to get away from the main discussion but the tendency of capitalism to concentrate wealth (pushing people into the proletariat) is countered (although maybe not balanced) by the weakness that develops within monopolistic organisations or capitalistic dynasties. Capital is not a stable system and requires capitalists to have (or buy) technical skills to maintain their position. This can be seen in the rise of individual capitalists who take advantage of changing markets/circumstances etc during their growth stage and then reach a point where they wish to maintain what they have and then seek to artificially introduce stability (often through laws/state intervention)
The problem with capitalism is that it requires expansion and as has been said above, transforms everyone, even capitalists, into slaves of capital. Capitalists can either see their position decline or become such slaves. In the case of organisations as they expand they become more and more complex and bureaucracies and structures develop that weaken the organisation leaving it vulnerable to smaller more streamlined competitors. It can be seen as a cycle or as a rise and fall model.
I think that all makes sense.

anarchyjordan
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Aug 15 2008 23:15

a system that must constantly expand or die is completely inhuman

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Aug 16 2008 00:43
JK wrote:
likewise i'd argue firefighters/nurses etc produce no value for capital (only necessary use values, but not exchange value which is necessary for value, and surplus value)

I could be entirely missing the point here, but don't nurses and everyone else who performs work that keeps other workers healthy and able to go to work, produce value for capital in that sense? so individually perhaps their work is not profited from in the same way that e.g. a production line worker's labour is, but if you take the working class as a whole then nurses' work allows capital to continue extracting surplus value from the labour of an able/healthy workforce? just wondering like, i've heard this sort of argument before but i'm still pretty ignorant about lots of theory, so any enlightenment would be great..

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Aug 16 2008 00:51
Jenni wrote:
JK wrote:
likewise i'd argue firefighters/nurses etc produce no value for capital (only necessary use values, but not exchange value which is necessary for value, and surplus value)

I could be entirely missing the point here (also I can't find where this has come from originally..), but don't nurses and everyone else who performs work that keeps other workers healthy and able to go to work, produce value for capital in that sense? so individually perhaps their work is not profited from in the same way that e.g. a production line worker's labour is, but if you take the working class as a whole then nurses' work allows capital to continue extracting surplus value from the labour of an able/healthy workforce? just wondering like, i've heard this sort of argument before but i'm still pretty ignorant about lots of theory, so any enlightenment would be great..

there's been some discussions on it before, and i've argued that although lots of these ancilliary roles (housewives being the classic one) perform functions necessary for value production, they're not in themselves productive for capital as they don't produce or transform commodities (for example it's quite a stretch to say firefighters and nurses 'produce' any commodity which is then sold, realising surplus value), kinda like the distinction in accounting between direct costs and indirect costs/overheads. now this isn't to say there are hard and fast divisions, nor to attach any moral weight to 'productivity' (which is the most common objection to this argument, as if being productive for capital is something noble). i'll try and dig out one of the old threads when it isn't 2am and i can keep my eyes open.

anarchyjordan
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Aug 16 2008 00:55

they contribute to preserving healthy lives, which is a lot more important than producing anything for capital.
as for firefighters, well, a nice burn sometimes can be a good thing, like when it's a forest that would erupt into a huge conflagration if you put out every little brush fire. think of that metaphorically as it relates to the production of surplus value in capitalist exchange.

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Aug 16 2008 01:04
Joseph K. wrote:
Jenni wrote:
JK wrote:
likewise i'd argue firefighters/nurses etc produce no value for capital (only necessary use values, but not exchange value which is necessary for value, and surplus value)

I could be entirely missing the point here (also I can't find where this has come from originally..), but don't nurses and everyone else who performs work that keeps other workers healthy and able to go to work, produce value for capital in that sense? so individually perhaps their work is not profited from in the same way that e.g. a production line worker's labour is, but if you take the working class as a whole then nurses' work allows capital to continue extracting surplus value from the labour of an able/healthy workforce? just wondering like, i've heard this sort of argument before but i'm still pretty ignorant about lots of theory, so any enlightenment would be great..

there's been some discussions on it before, and i've argued that although lots of these ancilliary roles (housewives being the classic one) perform functions necessary for value production, they're not in themselves productive for capital as they don't produce or transform commodities (for example it's quite a stretch to say firefighters and nurses 'produce' any commodity which is then sold, realising surplus value), kinda like the distinction in accounting between direct costs and indirect costs/overheads. now this isn't to say there are hard and fast divisions, nor to attach any moral weight to 'productivity' (which is the most common objection to this argument, as if being productive for capital is something noble). i'll try and dig out one of the old threads when it isn't 2am and i can keep my eyes open.

thanks. yeah fair play it's pretty late.. i do see where you're coming from, but could you not argue that nurses are 'producing' the maintenance of other people's labour power, which is a commodity that is then sold. sounds like just using different words to argue the same thing though really. umm actually i should just wait til you post the relevant thread shouldn't i smile night.

anarchyjordan
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Aug 16 2008 01:08

yay marx-fetishism

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Joseph Kay
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Aug 16 2008 07:43
Jenni wrote:
sounds like just using different words to argue the same thing though really.

basically yeah. in technical marx-speak 'productive labour' is juxtaposed to 'unproductive labour' (i.e. clerks etc), and more recently 'reproductive labour' (typically housework), all three of which are nonetheless necessary for the (re)production of capital. it's a 'technical' concept insofar as it has a specific definition and can be used to understand certain dynamics of caitalist production (such as arguably the capital flight to china to get people to do jobs that were automated here, a geographic move to counter the tendency for technology to expel productive labour and thus the source of profit perhaps). Labour-power is a commodity, but i would argue it's a special one in terms of value production as it's not produced under capitalist conditions, and so it remains useful to distinguish between productive and reproductive labour for analytical purposes. here's the thread