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Working class/communist demands

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jef costello's picture
jef costello
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Jul 3 2007 20:31

The state will always try to claw back everything that it can from us. It is wrong to think that if I defend my local services I am taking money from someone else. As catch says, they will take what they can whenever they can.
The state is fundamentally and by definition hostile to our interests, in certain instances it may serve the state's interests to act in favour of ours, however this must not hide the fact that we cannot trust the state.

Mike Harman
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Jul 3 2007 21:51
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yes but when they cry that the funds have to come from somewhere it's a pretty good idea to point out the rank hypocrisy of their wages, dividends, not only that but it also highlights that capital depends on actual concrete class hierarchies that uphold unequalities and underfunding, that is capitalism can't be reduced to this or that executive/boss/shareholders and yet can't function without such hierarchies, and that we have to understand that it's us against them and that our security puts their's at risk.

Yeah of course, but it's a mistake to think that one militant department won't win at the expense of other passive ones if they simply say "take it out of your own wages guvnor, not theirs poor sods" without anything going on in the other departments - or for that matter singled out and ostrasiced for being 'unreasonable' and 'putting the organisation at risk' etc. etc.

lem
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Jul 3 2007 22:26

Akright well i think that if you think there has to be some level of self conscious reforms before communism [still not sure if the oppoiste is stupid], then you have to agree that there is somethng about a reform as a reform that will inspire workers to revolt in the future. I don't think that is likely, despite what some of the stuff i've read about almost that exact point.

yoshomon
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Jul 4 2007 23:12

Does the WSM support 'nationalisation' of the oil industry in Venezuela or other places where the government actually discusses this?

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Nate
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Jul 5 2007 15:06

Catch, I agree with you completely here:

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it's a mistake to think that one militant department won't win at the expense of other passive ones if they simply say "take it out of your own wages guvnor, not theirs poor sods" without anything going on in the other departments - or for that matter singled out and ostrasiced for being 'unreasonable' and 'putting the organisation at risk' etc. etc.

and with your earlier comment that it's not "finance the demand this way!" that matters so much as expanding further. It seems to me, though, that "here's a way that the demand could be paid for" could have a useful role in that expansion on some occasions.

Maybe part of the disconnect I'm having is about what a 'demand' means. I think in talking with co-workers at our own places and in reaching out to other places it can make sense to talk about how the improvements we want will be paid for. For one thing, people are likely to want to know that the demand can be paid for and isn't an impossible commie plot. (I worked at a place where we did a slowdown that resulted in our facility being closed because they were paying more in wages than they were making.) In that sense, saying to co-workers "we can force them to take the money from here or there" can be useful. Posing the opposition to cuts by saying to management "pay for it this way, bastards!" on its own isn't very useful. But you could also demand that management open the books and show where the money came from. If the effort was small it wouldn't work. But if it got big enough you might win on this. Like if it there was an action at every local clinic in town or something, with a demand for improvements (or no cuts) plus a demand that the cut not be passed on to someone else down the line but be taken out of management's paychecks.

Again I'm not saying this always a good idea, but you seem to be saying it could never be a good idea, which doesn't make sense to me.

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Steven.
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Jul 5 2007 15:14
Nate wrote:
Again I'm not saying this always a good idea, but you seem to be saying it could never be a good idea, which doesn't make sense to me.

Yeah I think it's fair enough to point out money in certain areas. Like here for example, I think our union leaflets about wage cuts should state the government is not short of money, spending billions in Iraq, £12bn on ID cards, £75bn on nuclear missiles etc.

I think it's good to oppose the government spending on things like this. Hmmm I'll think about where this leaves my point.

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Lazy Riser
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Jul 5 2007 17:53
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Like here for example, I think our union leaflets about wage cuts should state the government is not short of money, spending billions in Iraq, £12bn on ID cards, £75bn on nuclear missiles etc.

Iraq, ID cards and missiles maintain Sterling’s value. If we didn’t do those things the pay raise you win wouldn’t be worth anything.

Mike Harman
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Jul 5 2007 19:14
Nate wrote:
It seems to me, though, that "here's a way that the demand could be paid for" could have a useful role in that expansion on some occasions.

Well John already answered, but I think it's fine to point out the hypocrisy of whoever you're fighting by pointing out their excess in some areas when they're cost-cutting in others.

Quote:
Maybe part of the disconnect I'm having is about what a 'demand' means. I think in talking with co-workers at our own places and in reaching out to other places it can make sense to talk about how the improvements we want will be paid for. For one thing, people are likely to want to know that the demand can be paid for and isn't an impossible commie plot. (I worked at a place where we did a slowdown that resulted in our facility being closed because they were paying more in wages than they were making.) In that sense, saying to co-workers "we can force them to take the money from here or there" can be useful.

I don't think that's so bad, depending on the situation. However, saying "The organisation is spending x amount on this budget and via this 60% saving in this area as outlined below we feel it would finance a 5% pay increase across the board". Even though it's not in that language, I think the WSM's nationalisation of oil thing starts from that angle - i.e. the campaign is for a change in the management of capital which they hope to then link to demands for public services. It's not straightforwardly for more resources regardless of capital whilst pointing out that actually they do have the money for some of it.

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Like if it there was an action at every local clinic in town or something, with a demand for improvements (or no cuts) plus a demand that the cut not be passed on to someone else down the line but be taken out of management's paychecks.

Or PFI interest payments, or the director's hotel bills etc. etc. - again I don't think there's any reason to specify "this thing we want should come from this part of the cake" - there's always some largess somewhere and this can be used simply to expose that their arguments are bereft. There's also the risk that they'd start a whole series of cuts with stopping sandwiches in senior committee meetings or a cut in share dividends some other token gesture (that was specified by the campaign) - then cut anyway. At that point you've got little left.

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jef costello
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Jul 5 2007 19:32
Lazy Riser wrote:
Iraq, ID cards and missiles maintain Sterling’s value. If we didn’t do those things the pay raise you win wouldn’t be worth anything.

MAybe to the first one, no to the second and a probably not to the third.

Mike Harman
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Jul 5 2007 20:02
John. wrote:
Yeah I think it's fair enough to point out money in certain areas. Like here for example, I think our union leaflets about wage cuts should state the government is not short of money, spending billions in Iraq, £12bn on ID cards, £75bn on nuclear missiles etc.

I think it's good to oppose the government spending on things like this. Hmmm I'll think about where this leaves my point.

I think the point is that we'd oppose war, ID cards, nuclear weapons even if they were free. It's not like we'd argue that the government should do cheapo ID cards for £3billion and spend the £9billion left over on the NHS.

Also with the military, I think it's fine to point out how the military manages to underspend on essential kit for squaddies in Iraq, or cuts costs by using TAs on endless tours because full-timers have limits in their contracts etc. even though you wouldn't do that by arguing for more money to be spent on the military as a whole.

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madashell
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Jul 5 2007 20:18
Mike Harman wrote:
I think the point is that we'd oppose war, ID cards, nuclear weapons even if they were free. It's not like we'd argue that the government should do cheapo ID cards for £3billion and spend the £9billion left over on the NHS.

True, but it does make them look a bit silly when they say they can't afford x million pounds a year for Alzheimer's drugs while they're spending £12 billion on a totally unnecessary ID database/card system. Nothing wrong with pointing that out.

I'm not arguing for "Put up taxes by 20% for earnings over £100,000 PA so you can pay for our demand" or some such bollocks, so much as making it clear that capital/the state could easily afford whatever demand if they weren't spending the money elsewhere. Which is also quite useful in leading on to why they're spending that money on ID cards/MP's salaries/the war.

Mike Harman
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Jul 5 2007 20:38
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making it clear that capital/the state could easily afford whatever demand if they weren't spending the money elsewhere. Which is also quite useful in leading on to why they're spending that money on ID cards/MP's salaries/the war.

Yeah that's all fine.

However it's also worth pointing out that the state (or at least states taken as an aggregate) can't stop spending money on wars and security, because otherwise capitalism would collapse. So demanding they stop spending money on Iraq comes back, again, to impossible demands - if you expand that to military spending in general, unless you're just nitpicking about how they manage it.

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Lazy Riser
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Jul 5 2007 21:06
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no to the second and a probably not to the third.

On the contrary, like the NHS IT project, ID cards will take plenty of currency out of circulation, and give it to foreign owned outsourcing interests. As to missiles, procurement of military assets, especially given their only function is the destruction of capital (including themselves) is an excellent way of soaking up cash that would otherwise be fuelling house price inflation. Increasing the strength of military, our capacity to defend assets at home and abroad, is bound to increase confidence in the currency. After all, Sterling is more-or-less backed by UK banks' foreign assets (including foreign corporate debt).

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madashell
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Jul 5 2007 21:17
Mike Harman wrote:
However it's also worth pointing out that the state (or at least states taken as an aggregate) can't stop spending money on wars and security, because otherwise capitalism would collapse

Which would be the why bit I was talking about leading on to wink

Mike Harman
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Jul 5 2007 21:23
madashell wrote:
Mike Harman wrote:
However it's also worth pointing out that the state (or at least states taken as an aggregate) can't stop spending money on wars and security, because otherwise capitalism would collapse

Which would be the why bit I was talking about leading on to ;)

Yeah sorry, that wasn't really aimed at you, more at Joe Black and Dundee United who've both counterpoised winnable and impossible demands recently.

There's all kinds of irrational over-spending in capitalism, which we can point to, but as soon as you try to rationalise that spending you're out in the woods.

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Lazy Riser
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Jul 5 2007 21:32
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the state (or at least states taken as an aggregate) can't stop spending money on wars and security, because otherwise capitalism would collapse

Bang goes your pay rise then. But as the comrade says, it’s more important to expand the spirit of communism through struggle than make things any better, because it can't really get better.

Mike Harman
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Jul 5 2007 21:36
Lazy Riser wrote:
Bang goes your pay rise then. But as the comrade says, it’s more important to expand the spirit of communism through struggle than make things any better, because it can't really get better.

There's still some slack, regardless of the general situation, from which my pay rise might come.

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Lazy Riser
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Jul 5 2007 22:17

Setting aside the impact of the collapse of capitalism on your pay claim, looking at an individual firm - unless you've an idea how much the firm can afford to spend without going under, striking for a pay rise is a risky business. One is presumably banking on the state considering the industry "strategic" enough to bail out. I wonder how Devrim's strike call at the car plant played out.

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jef costello
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Jul 5 2007 22:33
Lazy Riser wrote:
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no to the second and a probably not to the third.

On the contrary, like the NHS IT project, ID cards will take plenty of currency out of circulation, and give it to foreign owned outsourcing interests. As to missiles, procurement of military assets, especially given their only function is the destruction of capital (including themselves) is an excellent way of soaking up cash that would otherwise be fuelling house price inflation. Increasing the strength of military, our capacity to defend assets at home and abroad, is bound to increase confidence in the currency. After all, Sterling is more-or-less backed by UK banks' foreign assets (including foreign corporate debt).

I fail to see how taking money out of circulation for ID cards achieves anything except lining the pockets of a few companies. I was under the impression that taking money out of circulationw was bad for the economy.

I see your point about missiles but: Britain already has nuclear missiles, everyone knows Britain can't use them unless the americans let it in which case they'd have bigger problems than HM government. Buying Nuclear missiles is handing a large amount of money over to an ally we can no longer trust at all. Makes more sense to use the money internally to boost employment and consumer confidence, possibly with national service.

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Jul 5 2007 22:43
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I was under the impression that taking money out of circulationw was bad for the economy.

Whether or not it's bad depends on your perspective, however it does reduce the supply of Sterling, which like reducing the supply of anything in demand, increases (or at least maintains) its value.

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jef costello
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Jul 5 2007 23:17

Surely the problem with Sterling is that it isn't really in demand.
Also if you take it out of circulation by sending it overseas then surely you are increasing the supply abroad thus reducing the value of strling.

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Lazy Riser
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Jul 5 2007 23:29

Sterling is one the worlds reserve currencies. Indeed, the devaluations of the 60's were forced upon it in order to remain so. Yes, shipping Sterling to Europe puts downward pressure on Sterling to Euro exchange rates, but controls real inflation at home whilst allowing the total amount of Sterling to grow, as is neccesary to pay the interest the BoE charges on money lent to the top tier of UK banks.

(Edited: From 70's to 60's.)

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jef costello
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Jul 5 2007 23:33

Why were these devaluations forced on it to remain so?

What about sbsequent devaluations?

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Lazy Riser
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Jul 5 2007 23:36

The value of Sterling measured in oil became so low that it was forced to devalue by the other European powers, who would otherwise no longer be prepared to hold Sterling in reserve. There was a "run" on it, as they say.

yoshomon
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Jul 5 2007 23:44
yoshomon wrote:
Does the WSM support 'nationalisation' of the oil industry in Venezuela or other places where the government actually discusses/does this?
Dust
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Jul 6 2007 00:01

Surprisingly we havn't established a position on the nationalisation of the oil industry in venezulea but on a personal level i see it as a postive thing.

WSM's position regarding the nationalisation of hydro carbons off the coast of Ireland is outlined in our newly updated "perspectives" position paper. (The relevent points are points 4.17 and 4.18 in the short term perspectives section) http://www.wsm.ie/story/454

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Devrim
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Jul 6 2007 00:34
Lazy Riser wrote:
I wonder how Devrim's strike call at the car plant played out.

Hardly mine lazy, I just work there. There was a very small strike there. I will post some stuff about it soon.
Devrim

yoshomon
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Jul 6 2007 04:13
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The WSM over the past two months has had several private discussions with Eirigi on the topic of natural resources. These discussions have explored the idea of setting up a campaign to protect Irelands natural resources and reclaiming those already privitised. This would supplement the shell to sea struggle, bring together other struggles on going and be ready for future struggles, which now seem inevitable such as the Dunquin prospect... The WSM endorses the idea of a campaign if incorporates the following points

a) The Natural Resources of Ireland (oil, gas, wind/wave power, water) should not be owned or controlled by business interests
b) These resources should be used for the benefit of all of the people in Ireland.
c) These resources must be used in a sustainable way, so that future generations and the environment of Ireland are not put at risk.
d) The acceptance of direct action as a legitimate tactic.
e) The campaign is organised on a democratic and delegate basis
f) The campaign is not set up as a rival or competitor to Shell to Sea
g) Within it's first year it is capable of being more than a small publicity campaign

Maybe I'm misinterpreting this, but lines like "used to benefit all of the people in Ireland" seem to be nationalist. The demands laid out here aren't class demands at all.

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Lazy Riser
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Jul 6 2007 08:38
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The Natural Resources of Ireland (oil, gas, wind/wave power, water) should not be owned or controlled by business interests

The state is a business interest.

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Steven.
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Jul 6 2007 08:46
Mike Harman wrote:
madashell wrote:
Mike Harman wrote:
However it's also worth pointing out that the state (or at least states taken as an aggregate) can't stop spending money on wars and security, because otherwise capitalism would collapse

Which would be the why bit I was talking about leading on to ;)

Yeah sorry, that wasn't really aimed at you, more at Joe Black and Dundee United who've both counterpoised winnable and impossible demands recently.

There's all kinds of irrational over-spending in capitalism, which we can point to, but as soon as you try to rationalise that spending you're out in the woods.

Yeah this is what I meant.

jef - things like military spending do help boost the economy. Especially if consumer spending low it's a great way to inject loads of cash into the economy. In the UK for example private defence firms are massively subsidised by the state. Last time I worked it out a few years ago it was about the equivalent of £12k per year for every job.