Can Capitalism grant meaningful reforms today? Is Decadence

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Lazy Riser's picture
Lazy Riser
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Jul 14 2006 10:01

Hi

Quote:
because 7.5 is actually ok

Reactionary. 0 hours is bearly tolerable. You see if you feel the same way at 50.

Devrim's point is interesting. Even if meaningful reforms are possible, there are plenty of reformists busy winning them. Moreover, if they’re going to win them at all, then they don’t need revolutionaries' help to do so. Thus, revolutionaries have no business with reformism.

It's an excellent excuse, as if one were needed, to develop theory whilst waiting to swept along by “meaningful struggle” when it eventually gets around to you.

LR

raw
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Jul 14 2006 10:11

Interesting thread

¦---Begin temporary derailment---¦

Jack wrote:
I wish I only worked that, but even if I did, I'd hardly find it fine, it'd still be far too fucking long!

But Jack some people have no choice in working long hours, and you saying working more than 7.5 hours is too long sounds of anti-workerism hippy-activists-bollocks.

¦---End temporary derailment---¦

Decadence Theory shouldn't be seen as the preserve of the ICC, I have read alot of stuff from varying political trends which describes the current situation in this way.....from bonnano Anarcho-insurrectionists to post-autonomia.

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Jul 14 2006 10:13
raw wrote:
Interesting thread

¦---Begin temporary derailment---¦

Jack wrote:
I wish I only worked that, but even if I did, I'd hardly find it fine, it'd still be far too fucking long!

But Jack some people have no choice in working long hours, and you saying working more than 7.5 hours is too long sounds of anti-workerism hippy-activists-bollocks.

¦---End temporary derailment---¦

You have to admit, the boy's got style. grin

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Jul 14 2006 10:23
raw wrote:
Interesting thread

¦---Begin temporary derailment---¦

Jack wrote:
I wish I only worked that, but even if I did, I'd hardly find it fine, it'd still be far too fucking long!

But Jack some people have no choice in working long hours, and you saying working more than 7.5 hours is too long sounds of anti-workerism hippy-activists-bollocks.

¦---End temporary derailment---¦

That is just a derailment, and a strawman. Working 1 hour is too much, Jack would never suggest otherwise. If we could move on past insults back to the discussion...

Quote:
Decadence Theory shouldn't be seen as the preserve of the ICC, I have read alot of stuff from varying political trends which describes the current situation in this way.....from bonnano Anarcho-insurrectionists to post-autonomia.

Are you saying this is a good thing, or that you agree with decadence or something?

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Jul 14 2006 10:35
Lazy Riser wrote:
Ha ha. No there aren’t. Monogamy is easily as irrational as any other sexual peccadillo.

Which is why mating for life is so common among the social primates, including humans? You can get up to whatever tickles yr pickle for all I care, but it's a matter of fact that monogamy is the more rational choice, afaic.

Quote:
Like I say, Civil Unions are totally reactionary. A reform that genuinely advanced working class interests would have withdrawn any reference to sexual lifestyle from statute and contract.

In theory that might be better, but something is much better than nothing and you don't get many people who aren't in a sexual relationship wanting to marry/enter a civil union.

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Jul 14 2006 10:49

Hi

Ho ho. I'll pick the monogamy thing up on another thread. Honestly, though, if people think that "civil unions" are a meaningful reform, I just don't know, I really don't.

Love (and lots of it)

LR

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Jul 14 2006 10:53
madashell wrote:
Lazy Riser wrote:
Ha ha. No there aren’t. Monogamy is easily as irrational as any other sexual peccadillo.

Which is why mating for life is so common among the social primates, including humans? You can get up to whatever tickles yr pickle for all I care, but it's a matter of fact that monogamy is the more rational choice, afaic.

This doesn't follow, nor am I sure that monogamy is common among social primates. Certainly not among bonobos, whose entire social structure is built around resolving conflict via sex. Nor chimps, where there is a dominant male and the lesser males try to sneak matings when they can or use the offer of meat to try to cajole it. I don't know about gorillas or orangs, but they are less "social" animals.

Lifelong monogamy is only "rational" because that's what the society we live in reinforces, and one of the social gains over the last 4 decades has been to make the "lifelong" bit redundant. Outside of what Levi-Strauss called the "monoculture" there are lots of different arrangements, which implies that it is not something that is "natural" but a social construct based on the society we live in.

Regards,

Martin

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Jul 14 2006 10:54

Hi

I hope afraser is happy with the way this thread went.

Love

LR

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Jul 14 2006 11:06
Jef Costello wrote:
I have to say it is far more due to fear of being sued than any concern with our safety.

There's clearly more to it than that. If you have an unsafe work environment, you end up with people getting injured regularly, which means people leaving or even dying, which means having to train a new employee every time. Not to mention that every time there's a serious accident they have to deal with the unions and environmental health and God knows what else.

Nothing to do with altruism, per se, but there's more to it than "fear of being sued", I'd say.

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Jul 14 2006 11:10
martinh wrote:
Lifelong monogamy is only "rational" because that's what the society we live in reinforces, and one of the social gains over the last 4 decades has been to make the "lifelong" bit redundant. Outside of what Levi-Strauss called the "monoculture" there are lots of different arrangements, which implies that it is not something that is "natural" but a social construct based on the society we live in.

I'm not saying it's "natural" exactly, rather that there's a reason why it's such a common arrangement. Monogamy means less spread of STDs, stable families and a lot less emotional complication.

From my point of view, that's rational.

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Jul 14 2006 11:11

Hi

Let me tell you what a meaningful reform would be...

Say the workers at Ryton, or wherever, formed an enterprise to manufacture hydrogen fuel cells and associated vehicles and equipment, and went to the government or the bank for a great big grant and to secure an income stream to finance their venture for the foreseeable future. Then, upon having their request denied, the public withdraw their custom from a highstreet bank, causing its collapse unless the terms of the Ryton workers are met. The Bank of England steps in, seeing that this is not an inflationary measure, and finances the Ryton venture, thus advancing the material condition of the working class, plus playing to our hand in terms of economic infrastructure. That would be a meaningful “reform”.

If through civil disobedience the government was forced to use the Bank of England to write-off tax credit overpayments, thus advancing the material condition of the working class, plus playing to our hand by re-establishing a line of control into the money supply. That would be a meaningful “reform”.

I think the bourgeoisie would “grant” them in order to stave off full blown revolution, but they must know in doing so they are sealing their own demise. The question is how do we break out of the cycle of authoritarian conditioning that prevents us from implementing the courses of action which genuinely enhance our standard of living.

Love

LR

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Jul 14 2006 12:49
Lazy Riser wrote:
if people think that "civil unions" are a meaningful reform, I just don't know, I really don't.

you reckon it is not meaningful for the couples who have to live in fear of the future home of their children if something happens, or not be able to see eachother when seriously ill in hospital, or not have a way to share property without a lot of hassle?

Is empathy reactionary wink

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Jul 14 2006 12:57
JDMF wrote:
you reckon it is not meaningful for the couples who have to live in fear of the future home of their children if something happens, or not be able to see eachother when seriously ill in hospital, or not have a way to share property without a lot of hassle?

Well put.

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Jul 14 2006 13:48
JDMF wrote:
Lazy Riser wrote:
if people think that "civil unions" are a meaningful reform, I just don't know, I really don't.

you reckon it is not meaningful for the couples who have to live in fear of the future home of their children if something happens, or not be able to see eachother when seriously ill in hospital, or not have a way to share property without a lot of hassle?

Is empathy reactionary ;)

Nobody is saying that it is not meaningful to those individuals whoever they are, and whichever class they come from. That it is not a meaningful reform for the working class is the point. As I mentioned before there can theoretically be a capitalism with complete equality for homosexuals. There can not be one without the exploitation of workers.

Devrim

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Jul 14 2006 14:01

Another thought.

On the supposed key test of working hours and the 8 hour day. The idea this has not been improved on is probably not true - its is just the way it has been improved is hidden behind the other changes in the structure of the working week.

I'm pretty sure the struggle for the 8 hour day took place in a period when the working week was 6 rather than 5 days and when workers got little in the way of annual holidays.

If so then in the EU where minimum hoildays are now 21 + 10 days and adding in the 52 Saturdays (or equiv) this would amount to around 80 extra days a year off = 640 hours which for a five day week at these amount of days worked is equivalent to 2.78 hours per day. This is in fact a larger reduction than that from a 10hr to 8hr.

This is larger still when you consider that EU workers also have a number of sick days that can be claimed each year - and I'm sure most of us make sure to use most of the 'no sick note' days at least. Plus in individual sectors, in particular public and semi public sectors the working week has sometimes been reduced further, eg.. I work a 32.5 hr rather than 40 hr week.

Whoever came up with this theory appears not to have put much work into it!

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Jul 14 2006 14:02
Devrim wrote:

Nobody is saying that it is not meaningful to those individuals whoever they are, and whichever class they come from. That it is not a meaningful reform for the working class is the point. As I mentioned before there can theoretically be a capitalism with complete equality for homosexuals. There can not be one without the exploitation of workers.

Devrim

following from your logic of what is meaningful, there can also be ban on gay relationships on a communist society where there is no exploitation of workers as workers.

Logical position, though utter bollocks IMO smile

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Jul 14 2006 14:02
Devrim wrote:
[ As I mentioned before there can theoretically be a capitalism with complete equality for homosexuals. There can not be one without the exploitation of workers.

This is true but you are now trying to define meaningful reform in a way that seems to require the abolition of capitalism. This seems a little odd.

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Jul 14 2006 14:04

As I said on page 1........

the button wrote:
But -- is Dev really saying that "meaningful reforms are impossible, because if it's a reform it can't be meaningful"? :wink:
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Jul 14 2006 14:32
JDMF wrote:
Devrim wrote:

Nobody is saying that it is not meaningful to those individuals whoever they are, and whichever class they come from. That it is not a meaningful reform for the working class is the point. As I mentioned before there can theoretically be a capitalism with complete equality for homosexuals. There can not be one without the exploitation of workers.

Devrim

following from your logic of what is meaningful, there can also be ban on gay relationships on a communist society where there is no exploitation of workers as workers.

Logical position, though utter bollocks IMO :)

Are you seriously suggesting that civil union is a reform for the working class? Is it only working class people who are gay? We don't say that it is not meaningful for people in their lives, but it is not a reform to the working class.

Joe Black seems to be working hard to say that capitalism is making life better. If you really believe this Joe, you would give up on anarchism, and be in some leftist reformist group. Oh, sorry you are in the WSM already aren't you.

Afraser sees it very clearly

afraser wrote:
It’s not idle questions here, there is a proposal out right now to create a wannabee WSM group in Glasgow, except one that would be even more leftist/reformist. The alternative option would be to have a Glasgow local of SolFed or AF and so keep pure, albeit perhaps ineffective on day to day working class issues.

I eagerly awaiting seeing what a more 'leftist/reformist' anarchist group than the WSM would be like.

As Lasy Riser wrote:

Quote:
By the way, those of us who grew up in the seventies stand a good chance of being worse off, in terms of spending power vs hours worked, than our parents.

Devrim

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Jul 14 2006 14:43
Devrim wrote:
Are you seriously suggesting that civil union is a reform for the working class? Is it only working class people who are gay?

I don't see where he suggests it is only a gain for the working class. Nor do I see why in order for it to be a gain for the working class it cannot also be a gain for individuals members of other classes. Maximum working hour legislation after all is also a gain for sections of the middle class (bank managers, stock brokers, doctors) who work fixed hours.

Devrim wrote:
Joe Black seems to be working hard to say that capitalism is making life better. If you really believe this Joe, you would give up on anarchism, and be in some leftist reformist group. Oh, sorry you are in the WSM already aren't you.

I am shocked by the quality of this response - I expected better of you.

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Jul 14 2006 14:44

Hi

Quote:
you reckon it is not meaningful for the couples who have to live in fear of the future home of their children if something happens, or not be able to see eachother when seriously ill in hospital, or not have a way to share property without a lot of hassle?

A meaningful reform would have repealed the special status of heterosexual married couples rather than extended it to gay ones. Now gay couples can be snooped on for benefit fraud too, hope you’re happy. Custody and property rights can be sorted out without recourse to the state certifying your sex life as close enough to the Christian ideal to be a suitable vehicle for probate or child rearing.

Love

LR

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Jul 14 2006 14:48
Lazy Riser wrote:
Now gay couples can be snooped on for benefit fraud too, hope you’re happy.

*** Off-topic anecdote alert ***

When I worked for the dole, I remember a young co-habiting lesbian couple came into the office for precisely this reason. They insisted that the unemployed partner have her benefits stopped because the other one was working, on the grounds that that's what would have happened if they were a straight co-habiting couple.

*** Off-topic anecdote ends ***

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Jul 14 2006 15:00
JoeBlack2 wrote:
Devrim wrote:
Are you seriously suggesting that civil union is a reform for the working class? Is it only working class people who are gay?

I don't see where he suggests it is only a gain for the working class. Nor do I see why in order for it to be a gain for the working class it cannot also be a gain for individuals members of other classes. Maximum working hour legislation after all is also a gain for sections of the middle class (bank managers, stock brokers, doctors) who work fixed hours.

But the subject that we are arguing about is whether "permanent meaningful reforms for the working class are no longer possible under capitalism", and this is not a reform for the working class. Decadence Theory is based on economics. It doesn't at any point suggest that gay rights are not possible.

JoeBlack2 wrote:
Devrim wrote:
Joe Black seems to be working hard to say that capitalism is making life better. If you really believe this Joe, you would give up on anarchism, and be in some leftist reformist group. Oh, sorry you are in the WSM already aren't you.

I am shocked by the quality of this response - I expected better of you.

Why so shocked, Joe? Did I misread you advocating voting for trade union officials, or continually being soft on left nationalism? Apart from abstentionism, how are the WSM different from groups like the SWP? In my opinion they are not. It matters not to me whether 'leftism' calls itself anarchist, or Marxist. It is still leftism.

Devrim

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Jul 14 2006 15:10
JoeBlack2 wrote:
Devrim wrote:
Joe Black seems to be working hard to say that capitalism is making life better. If you really believe this Joe, you would give up on anarchism, and be in some leftist reformist group. Oh, sorry you are in the WSM already aren't you.

I am shocked by the quality of this response - I expected better of you.

Devrim wrote:
Why so shocked, Joe? Did I misread you advocating voting for trade union officials, or continually being soft on left nationalism? Apart from abstentionism, how are the WSM different from groups like the SWP? In my opinion they are not. It matters not to me whether 'leftism' calls itself anarchist, or Marxist. It is still leftism.

To be honest the above reads like empty leftest rhetoric, pretty much the same stuff every sect says about every other sect - I tend to filter out such rhetoric as I reckon do a lot of other people. (The specific issues I have discussed in great detail in the Ireland forum). But in any case it is only intended as a distraction.

I'm disappointed because I think I pointed out a pretty obvious flaw in the idea that even on the core question of working hours things have stood still since 1914. I expected a serious response - not a tantrum.

Quite frankly the idea that to be a revolutionary you have to deny the obvious - that capital has delivered real gains since 1914, and still continues to do so - leaves me cold. I can remember when I was younger being daft enough to argue the same sort of thing and I can remember the exact moment when I realised how stupid it made me sound.

If this is what is at the heart of 'Decadence theory' then truly the emperor has no clothes. And shouting in anger at the little boy who is laughing won't change that.

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Jul 14 2006 17:55

A couple of thoughts have occured to me throughout the day, so here they are in no particular order. They're not particularly well thought either (no change there, I hear you cry!):

- Gay relationships have been actively accepted in many class societies. For example, I've heard it argued that the Ancient Greeks saw homosexuality (between men at least) as the highest form of human relationship. It's clear that some form of gay rights can cohabit quite happily with class exploitation. The ICC have written directly on this subject here:

"Using the methodology developed by Marx to analyze the Jewish question in 1844, one can conclude that same-sex couples gain nothing from obtaining the right to legal marriage other than the same institutionalized oppression that married heterosexual couples receive in the dehumanizing social world of capitalist society, including "the right" to such things as domestic violence, brutal divorce, sexual frustration, economic insecurity and personal alienation. While it is indeed true that many couples are able to construct meaningful and satisfying lives together, it is doubtful that the legal status of their relationships has anything to do with this, a legal status that really only ends up legitimizing many of the more negative aspects of marriage and the family that often dominate these relationships in the context of capitalist dehumanization. In short the demand for the "right to marry" is a demand within capitalist social relations that does not challenge capitalism in any fundamental way. It is really a demand to be recognized by capital through its state." - http://en.internationalism.org/inter/130_gay_marriage.htm

While communism, by definition, contains within it the struggle against all the alienation and oppression that capitalism secretes from every pore (be it racial, sexual, national, or religion-based) the fight for these rights within capitalism offers no challenge to the root of the system whatsoever. The working class can only emancipate itself as a class and in doing so, it emancipates the whole of humanity. Unfortunately, the emancipation of non-class groups can only exchange one form of alienation for another.

- On increased life expectancy, another interesting point is the crisis it's thrown the system into. Something which should be a positive is, in fact, one of the factors that's driving the current attacks on pensions. Our living longer will become a condemnation to an even longer life of ferocious exploitation. The current mantra is that we'll have to "work till we drop". This is optimistic in assuming work will be an option - the reality will be rotting in unemployment until we die. For the working class in capitalism, this "improvement" will actually be a curse due to the utter bankruptcy of this social system.

ernie
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Jul 14 2006 21:08

Hi

What a discussion, 6 pages in just over 24 hours! And everyone is trying to answer everyone else. It is impossible to deal with every point. Just three points;

- On the question of what are real reforms. Alf has made the main point on this, that the socalled reforms of the welfare state are nothing but the attempt by the capitalist state to control every aspect of our lives. Is the increasing hold of the state over our lives something that we should welcome? The NHS was also set up as part of the war machine of the western bloc, WW1 and WW2 should that it was essential to have a minimum of health standards in order to have effective canon fodder. The reforms of the 19th century did not lead to the increasing the states hold over the working class. The workers' movement was opposed to the state control of its health and set up its own insurance and mutual societies to provide health, in order to maintain its autonomy. Even the early Labour Party was against state control of health.. I think the points made by Lazy rider about the differences between even the early 70s and now are very important and no one has come back on them. There is also a statistic by the Rowntree Trust I think, that shows that the bottom quater of the working class (whatever that means) conditions are worse than they were in the 1880's.

- on life expectency; yes this has increased since the war, by how much for the working class would be interesting to calculate. It is still the case that there is at least a 10 year difference in this depending upon your class and whether you live in a working class area or not. It also determines how well you are treated by the 'wonderful' NHS, the middle class having a better knowledge of what they should get, and much better abilty to have time to recuperate etc. At the beginning of the 20th life expectency was about 63 years, now it is 70 odd. In the 1840's many workers did not live beyond their 20's -see Engel's The condition of the working class- so by the end of the century it had increased to about 60.

Such comparisons are very difficult and need to be done with care, if anyone knows of any sites or books that seek to make such careful analysis they would be very useful to us all

- The discussion has focused around the economic benefits or not in the heartlands. If we look at the global condition of the working class the conditions of the class do not look so good. In the 19th century the working class was formed, in the 20th whilst the class has grown, capitalism has been increasingly unable to intergrate massive numbers into the class. The growth of mass starvation, disease, and slums express the inability of capitalism to integrate large parts of humanity into its productive relations. Again there is the question of the massive growth of military barbarism, the level of slaughter has been of historical unprecedent levels, apart from may be the 100 years war in Europe, but that was confined to Europe. Today every part of the world is effect by militarism, parts of it left to turn into living hells of barbarity. And as is said above, the 'reforms' of the 20th century have been part of this militarism: welfare state in order to maintain healthy canon fodder and to creat the illusion that capitalism has something to offer. One cannot separate the two, as appears to be done by those who defend the idea that there have been real reforms. In fact, those who defend the idea of 'real' reforms do not mention the question of the global condition of capitalism, it is simply a question of whether we are better off then our forefathers. For the ICC and most of the communist Left decadence is not an 'economic' question but the conditions of the whole system and its relations. How can you square this barbarity with 'real' reforms?

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Jul 14 2006 23:46

Just like to say I understand what the left comms are saying. Not that reforms like allowing gay marriage aren't good or anything but just that the state could easily grant them cos they're not class reforms, they're just reforms.

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Jul 15 2006 02:03

This is the thread that won't stop. So I still haven't read in full the ICC links yet, nor will I anytime soon give the mountainous volume of the linked text, in fact will need a separate thread here to discuss them. However the apparently serious use of phrases like “Historical Materialism” and “Asiatic Mode of Production” (!) do not bode well.

Alf wrote:
If communism is not a necessity, if capitalism's survival has not become inimical to our survival, on what basis are revolutionaries going to try to persuade their fellow workers that they need to take the difficult, dangerous, costly and by no means guaranteed-of-success path of making the revolution?

By rational argument, based on sincerity and truth? I have no problem with being brutally truthful to my fellows, affect the path of making the revolution as that may. By what right do we revolutionaries persuade our fellows if not by truth?

Devrim says that "permanent meaningful reforms for the working class are no longer possible under capitalism". True – but the rejection of reforms in itself does not follow (because all reforms are impermanent, more or less by definition). Capitalism can not grant permanent meaningful reforms, but it might be able to grant other kinds of meaningful reforms, and those alone could be enough to justify leftist reformist activities.

Lazy Riser on first post of page six points to the ability of the central bank regime to, were it forced, grant some, no question, meaningful reforms. Robin Hahnel says the same (search for “Taming Finance”).

Joe Black on fifth post of page six gets the recent working hours reduction well. US workers cannot believe the holiday entitlement Europeans have.

My comment on 7.5 hours being ok is I think pretty true of current priorities of most workers now. With the long commutes we have, more days off is a higher priority than reducing daily hours. That is, we should push for more paid holiday days more than a reduction in daily hours. That would I think change in some future quasi-utopia where work was devolved out into the communites in the form of home working and walk to work areas.

Devrim wrote:
I eagerly awaiting seeing what a more 'leftist/reformist' anarchist group than the WSM would be like.

Less eagerly than I then. Think Tory Party before Thatcher, the days of One Nation wet Toryism of Heath/Hume/MacMillan/Eden/Chuchill.

meanoldman wins the whole debate when he wrote:
The question is not whether capital is capable of granting reforms, it is whether we are strong enough to win them.
lem
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Jul 15 2006 02:23
afraser wrote:
meanoldman wins the whole debate when he wrote:
The question is not whether capital is capable of granting reforms, it is whether we are strong enough to win them.

I think then, that it could fairly be said, that the w/c are not strong enough to win any meaningful reforms.

I mean, doesn't this question come down to the question of, if we are strong enough to win reforms, then we are strong enough to fight for more.

Is every reform not by definition a compromise, so that more could have been won.

confused

Sorry if that sounds hopelessly naive

lem
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Jul 15 2006 02:25
John. wrote:
Just like to say I understand what the left comms are saying. Not that reforms like allowing gay marriage aren't good or anything but just that the state could easily grant them cos they're not class reforms, they're just reforms.

If they are not class reforms, and they are not won by struggle, then what are they? What process is at work here?