ICC position on Decadence and the Bourgeoisie in Developing Nations?

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Joseph Kay
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Jun 10 2015 07:02

New markets post-WWI? Telephony, white goods, aviation, computers, most pharmaceuticals, data/web services... Markets ≠ territory.

slothjabber
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Jun 10 2015 09:04
S. Artesian wrote:
Many of the "new markets" of the 18th and 19th century were taken from "somebody else's" trading bloc. Jamaica, Santo Domingo, Barbados, sections of Brazil, portions of Africa, Singapore, Taiwan, etc. all changed hands, some more than once.

As for new markets, how about China? Nobody's trading bloc right? 1949-1972? And now?...

So the idea that now capitalism cannot expand its markets except through taking off other other capitalist powers is countered with the observation that sometimes capitalism did this earlier?

Sometimes in the ancient world, owners of the means of production paid workers to produce commodities. This doesn't mean the ancient world was capitalist. If sometimes something happens this does not mean that it always has to happen. The point about decadence theory is now this is necessary. It doesn't claim that previously it wasn't possible.

China was being carved up between the capitalist powers in the 1880s. That's what the Opium Wars were about. The fact that it tried to adopt autarky between 1949 and 1972 is not then a refutation of the idea that further capitalist expansion moves at the end of the 19th century from incresing in extent (finding new markets) to increasing in intensity (exploiting more deeply the markets/resources already controlled), nor the idea that finding 'new' markets really means re-dividing the imperialist cake.

S. Artesian wrote:
...
Thing is, I don't agree that massive state involvement is an indicator of decay. It's certainly just as much, if not more so, an evolutionary development in the advancement of capital...

So? Jura asked for some indicators. The fact that you call some of the indicators an 'evolutionary advancement' (change in the system over time) and some people call them 'decadence' (change in the system over time) is pretty irrelevant. The point is that it's an indicator of change in the system over time. In the mid-19th century approximately 3% of the UK economy was in the hands of the state. In the 20th century, the state is the biggest player in practically every economy, certainly the leading ones, to the tune of 25-40%. This is a very different pattern - so, how do opponents of decadence theory explain these differences? In terms of Jura's question, one or many successful capitalist economies where the state only controlled/acted in 5% or less of the national economy would, I would say, 'disprove' decadence, as they would demonstrate that one of (what I consider to be) the important planks of 'decadence theory', namely the increasing state involvement in the economy, is not necessary in the 20th-21st centuries.

S. Artesian wrote:
... Capitalism able to expand without massive unemployment in the 19th century? Not really. There was indeed massive unemployment at moments in the capitalist cycle, and a permanent sector of unemployed-- that's where the reserve army of labor comes from, remember?...

Was the development of German and/or US capitalism accompanied by massive unemployment in Britain? I'm not sure they were. Certainly, the revolutionising of the agricultural sector in Britain was accompanied by periods of massive unemployment. But the two phenomena are unrelated. No-one is claiming that capitalism never produced unemployment before 1914.

However, I don't think it prouced multiple millions of multi-generational unemployed (unemployed who are the children and granchildren of the unemployed). I don't remember any 19th-century Detroits or even Sunderlands.

S. Artesian wrote:
...Chinese capitalism and Korean capitalism at the expense of US capitalism and European capitalism?

Really? The shift in China comes in 1979 with Deng's 4 reforms. How has it come at the "expense" of US capitalism? And how relevant can that be even if true, when the claim is that decadence sets in around 1914?...

I'm not sure that anyone claims 'decadence sets in around 1914'. 1914 is if you like when the diagnosis is confirmed. It's not the point that the first symptoms are noticed and certainly not when the patient contracts the illness.

The point is, after capitalism becomes 'decadent', or 'evolutionarily advanced' if you prefer, the rise of one power (eg China) comes at the expense of other powers. Therefore after the beginning of the 20th century - if decadence is a valid framework - then industrial advance in one country comes at the cost of industrial decay in other countries, rather than, as seems to be the case in the 18th & 19th centuries, industrial development in one country acting as a spur to development in other countries. Whether this pattern is because growth in one place causes decay in another place, or growth in one place is only possible if another place 'falls back', is not at the moment the point - only, that the two phenomena seem to be linked.

By analogy, in a finite patch of garden, only so many of a particular kind of plant can thrive. If you plant too much, some plants will overshadow some of their neighbours so they don't grow as fast; or one plant can suffer some catastrophe and provide an opportunity for its neighbours to thrive at its expense; either way, the situation relies on the garden-space being 'full'.

It's not a perfect analogy but it's not entirely useless.

S. Artesian wrote:
... Korea? At the expense of US capitalism? Exactly how has Korea's development, financed by US capitalism, come at the expense of US capitalism? ...

I said that the rise in Korean and Chinese capitalisms came at the expense of US and European capitalisms. I should of course have mentioned industrialisation in Japan too, but Japan was among the last industrial powers to establish itself before the 'onset of decadence'. India is also an important player economically, though determining the role of India in the world economy before the 20th century is somewhat fraught. So what the relevance of these two countries is to the question of decadence is difficult (for either side of the debate I would think).

Certain sectors, like shipbuilding for example, almost completely disappeared from Europe and as global industries becme more associated with (for example) Korea. South Korea now builds 41% of the world's ships, I find out from a quick internet search, having almost no shipbuilding industry in 1960. In the same period the UK has gone from being one of the world's leading shipbuilders to having no shipbuilding industry to speak of.

I don't know that there are similar patterns for the development of industries in the 18th and 19th centuries. It sems that instead of a large-scale process of economic 're-division' (essentially, the same processes moving around the globe) there was much more of a (capitalist, of course) 'virtuous cycle' of developments in one country leading to developments elsewhere.

S. Artesian wrote:
... You need to a)quantify your claims and b)show the causal relation, otherwise all we're left with is ideological assertions, not critical analysis.

Hmmm. What Jura asked for is a set of criteria that would 'prove' or 'falsify' decadence. That's what I started to provide. It's a framework. You may call it 'evolutionary development' (much as the SPGB say that capitalism isn't decedent, but it is 'obsolete'), but I'm not sure it's possible to 'prove' that the decline of the shipbuilding industry in the UK was 'caused' by the rise of the shipbuilding industry in Japan and Korea (or vice versa), or that the decline in the US steel industry was 'caused' by the rise of steel production in China and India (or, again, vice versa). What it is possible to say is that these patterns for the 20th-21st centuries appear to be different to capitalism in the 18th and 19th centuries - so, if there isn't a causal relationship (either, that the only way for shipbuilding to develop in one place is for it to decline in another, or that the development in one place causes a decline in the other), then it's up to the opponents of decadence to explain why shipbuilding in the UK (steel production in the US or whatever other industry) declined in the 20th. What do these patterns mean, why are there differences between the 19th and 20th centuries?

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Jun 10 2015 13:53

Honestly curious. I've never understood why state involvement in the economy is proof of decadence. Or indeed why that is even relevant. Stating that that is a pillar of decadence and pointing out the stats of increased involvement may be convincing to someone already convinced about the decadence hypothesis, but not to someone who can't even understand why that would be proof of anything more than that capital and the state are two sides of the same coin.

baboon
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Jun 10 2015 14:28

Major elements of the bourgeoisie thought capitalism was a perfectly "natural" system, that it could continue expand and function by its own innate laws, that it could produce endlessly and that it was a system that could go on and on for ever. Once the First World War was over and German reparations worked out with the help of God, these elements of the ruling class saw capitalism return the laissez-faire of the 19th century. The economic crisis of 1929 put an end to all that wishful thinking and saw the unprecedented involvement of the state in all aspects of capitalism's life leading, as we know, to the consolidation of the Stalinist and Fascist regimes - expressions of decadent capitalism - and much greater state involvement in the democracies. What followed the Second World War has been decades of permanent economic crisis and generalised imperialist warfare as well as threats to the very existence of humanity that are more and more irrational. A snapshot of where we are today shows further unprecedented increases in debt and financial skullduggery in order just to keep the system going and that the working class will have to pay for, the western "neo-liberal" nationalisation of major banks, the further militarisation of society and the threat to humanity both from wider imperialist war and climate change increased. Call it what you like but it's not a positive, expanding economic system.

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Jun 10 2015 14:35

Baboon, was that a reply to my post?

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Call it what you like but it's not a positive, expanding economic system.

Wow, who would've known? Seriously, is this the "original insight" of decadence theory?

S. Artesian
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Jun 10 2015 15:14
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What followed the Second World War has been decades of permanent economic crisis

And this is where it gets us-- "permanent crisis." There is no such thing as permanent crisis. If it lasts more than a year or two, it becomes a goddam business plan.

baboon
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Jun 10 2015 20:35

Through its permanently precarious, increasingly alienated and exploited existence, through its hundreds of millions of dead killed directly or indirectly by this cannibalistic system, through the increasing attacks on all its conditions of life and through the mortal threat to its - and everyone's - existence, what's the quid pro quo for the working class from decadent capitalism? Washing machines - washing machines which "liberated" women enabling them to go to work thus maximising the exploitation of the proletarian family.

I know I simplify but I think that the point is valid.

No Khawaga, just making a general post but I think that the development of state capitalism has had great consequences for the working class. The integration of the unions into the state has been a significant development over the period of capitalism's decadence following the social democratic parties. The Second World War, which of course had tendencies that link it with wars in capitalism's ascendent period (it did "rise" didn't it?), had a totally different dynamic that involved the militarisation of the whole of society and, despite the myths, war abroad was accompanied by repression at home. The significant advances in the intelligence of the bourgeoisie in particular regard to the proletarian threat was shown in the actions of all the major imperialisms involved in WWII: millions of German P.O.W.'a were kept in prisons for years after the end of the war with the bourgeoisie fearful of sending them back to Germany; towards the end of the war the bourgeoisie increased its bombings of proletarian areas - a couple in Japan - and the "anti-fascist" Entente used the Nazis more than once to silence the proletariat in Europe. Despite all this talk about "rolling back the state", the state throughout the period roughly after the First World War, has continued to strengthen itself.

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Jun 10 2015 22:47

If chocolate can be decadent, why can't capitalism?

The ICC's theory of decadence doesn't make the mark. But it does point out mutations of capitalism, symptoms of whatever disease we're trying to identify. If the disease is simply capitalism itself, there are a number of "mutations" we can trace, which the ICC is actually pretty keen at pointing out. The problem is, like this thread makes clear of all of us, recognizing these mutations does not further our understanding much. I wonder why that is.

Capitalism is more mature today than it ever has been.I would advise against off-hand dismissals of "peak-isms". Don't forget we're blowing off the tops of mountains and drilling into glaciers and arctic ice just so that peak oil chart doesn't become a reality.

S. Artesian
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Jun 10 2015 22:47

"Decadence" theory isn't about capitalism being a disease. It posits a period of ascent and decline with a definite demarcation between the two. The decline is supposed to be characterized by a.......n traits, categories, manifestations.

The problem is, and the problems are, that these traits, categories, manifestations are, like capitalism itself, cyclical; expanding, contracting waxing waning etc.etc.

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Jun 10 2015 23:04

That may be true but some of the structures we've seen emerge appear to be permanent or permanent enough. Are you arguing, for example, that unions could again become proletarian and revolutionary? Or the state capitalism might revert away from being the dominant power structure? In the same way the markets expand and contract? Are you basically suggesting certain class organs, which I consider permanent, are "transient", too?

S. Artesian
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Jun 11 2015 01:00

Unions, proletarian? Sure thing. You don't think workers are in unions? Revolutionary? I don't think unions ever were revolutionary; never ever.

You are basically engaging in the same "state=bad [decay]" "private[market]=good [ascent]" mythology that forms the core for Ayn Randists, Greenspanists, Friedman-ites etc. etc. etc.

State capitalism? What is that? Is that when the state subsidizes the bourgeoisie by transferring wealth? When hasn't the state done that?

I'm talking about the argument that says "capital can no longer augment the productivity of labor;" cannot expand the "productive forces." Well it can. It may cost us all our lives, but that's not capital's problem, nor its contradiction, nor its conflict, nor its immanent critique.

I'm talking about the argument that there is some sort of permanent crisis that's been going on for 100, or maybe 90, well definitely 50, ok, last offer 40 years.

That's not a critical analysis. That's an ideology.

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Jun 11 2015 01:49

First I don't understand capitalism, and now I'm a Randist. Lol.

S., you have an insistence on telling people what's going on in their own heads. It is not very charming to say the least. I thought we agreed to drop the shtick a few pages back.

Regardless, I largely agree with you.

However, I see a clear tendency towards democratic government, increasing involvement of the state in the markets, in civil society, the unions, etc. The "death of communism" as the ruling class calls it. Total cultural hegemony. Unprecedented degrees of surveillance. Just a growth spurt in capitalism? Part of it's cyclical nature?

S. Artesian
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Jun 11 2015 02:43

But what does any of that have to do with decadence-- that is to say, decline, decay, deterioration?

The decadence of capitalism is indicated by "a clear tendency towards democratic government"? Really? For the last 100 or so years, we've had a clear tendency towards democratic government?

Strip my gears, and call me shiftless. I never would have figured that.

Total cultural hegemony? I don't even know what that is, much less how you give it a quantitative measure like "total."

Unprecedented degrees of surveillance? How does that make capital decadent?

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Jun 11 2015 03:56

I never said it does. I never even gave a time frame. I was just curious what these trends mean to you, if anything. Apparently they did not compute.

jaycee
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Jun 11 2015 08:00

I know I'm making the same point over and over but S.Artesian you are confusing 'crisis theory' with 'decadence'. That is not to say I don't think some form of crisis theory is useful to understanding capitalism over the last 40 (was it?)years or so. For example the move away from industry to 'services' and the massive growth of debt and capitalism's solution to this of more debt speaks to me of some underlying problems which capitalism can't quite deal with.

In terms of the growing role of the state Baboon made a point that I don't think was picked up on. After WW1 they tried to go back to laisses-faire capitalism as it was before WW!; this lead to the Wall Street Crash/ Great Depression. State intervention was clearly then decided on by all nations around this time (I remember an interesting bit in 'Century of the Self where Goebbels talks about how he agrees with The New Deal) and it hasn't relented since then.

However like I've said before decadence when it boils down to it simply means that it no longer has any progressive historical role to play and that a proletarian revolution on a global scale is now possible. Do you agree that it was not really possible before the 20th century? (even here there is room for a bit of grey because as some have already pointed out 1914 is only the 'cut off point' seen as confirming a process which had obviously been going on for a while before). History shows us that the only attempt that came close was in the 20th century. Capitalism doesn't need to be in permanent economic crisis to be decadent but the civilization itself is certainly in a crisis today as Jamal says- they are competing with each other to get drilling in the melting north pole to get more oil to melt it even more. does this not make you think that capitalism might be in a position it can't see and can't offer any way out of?

Again apologies for sounding like a broken record but I still don't think you're getting what I'm saying- or you don't accept what I'm saying as being relevant to the discussion.

Jamal, what about the ICC's view of decadence do you disagree with? Is it the theory of over-production/ under-consumption or something else?

slothjabber
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Jun 11 2015 08:16
Khawaga wrote:
Honestly curious. I've never understood why state involvement in the economy is proof of decadence. Or indeed why that is even relevant. Stating that that is a pillar of decadence and pointing out the stats of increased involvement may be convincing to someone already convinced about the decadence hypothesis, but not to someone who can't even understand why that would be proof of anything more than that capital and the state are two sides of the same coin.

OK.

Jura asked for defining characteristics, the absence or opposite of which would disprove decadence. I gave some. Now some people who don't think decadence is real are arguing with definitions.

Seems legit.

Why, in the 19th century, did the state constitute an actor in the economy to the tune of approximately 3%, and in the 20th century 40%? Do you see that these things are different, that 'quantity has a quality of its own'? Do you have an explanation beyond 'muh they're different'? Because 'muh it's always been like that' is obviously not true.

Engels talks about the tendency of the state to come to represent the 'national capitalist' in the late 19th century; then of course the idea that increasingly, competition between capitalists manifests itself as competition between states. The state increasingly has become an economic actor since the early 19th century; why? Supporters of decadence theory would say that it's because the earlier form of capitalist organisation is not tenable. There has been a change of conditions in which capitalism operates.

S. Artesian wrote:
Quote:
What followed the Second World War has been decades of permanent economic crisis

And this is where it gets us-- "permanent crisis." There is no such thing as permanent crisis. If it lasts more than a year or two, it becomes a goddam business plan.

Well, I think this is just semantics, really. I agree that 'crisis' implies some short-term disturbance from the norm. What we have is a 'new norm' - which can still have 'crises' such as the bourgeoisie's recent economic troubles which it has successfully negotiated by even more viciously attacking working class living-standards.

S. Artesian wrote:
...

You are basically engaging in the same "state=bad [decay]" "private[market]=good [ascent]" mythology that forms the core for Ayn Randists, Greenspanists, Friedman-ites etc. etc. etc.

...

Do you think private capitalism is a good thing, SA? Or is it that you think that feudalism was a good thing? I don't get what you're arguing here.

When capitalism was a revolutionary system - when it was busy overthrowing feudalism - it could be regarded as a positive development for humanity even though as a specific development for many people it was horrible.

When capitalism became a reactionary system - when it was busy trying to prevent the establishment of a socialist society - it can be regarded as a negative development for humanity even though as a specific development for some people it's pretty peachy.

Those things are different.

markyhaze
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Jun 11 2015 08:29
S. Artesian wrote:
State capitalism? What is that? Is that when the state subsidizes the bourgeoisie by transferring wealth? When hasn't the state done that?

This is rhetorical, right?

Because in reality surely you'd agree we need to at least critically analyse the significance of the phenomena of fascism and Stalinism in the 30s, not to mention Roosevelt’s New Deal, the De Man Plan, etc.? Now I would see these as the response of capitalism not only to its economic crisis but also the need to mobilise the working class for war, in an period when a new world war and the massive destruction of productive capacity is the only response of the system. You can deny that this is evidence of capitalism’s decadence if you like but it’s surely not just a little cyclical difficulty? That it needs a bit more explaining?

Ok we don’t generally see fascist or Stalinist regimes today, because primarily both were products of the defeat of the working class after WW1, again we can critically analyse that, decadent capitalism changes over time (contrary to your view that it is simply decay), but, in effect, saying ‘there’s always been a role for the state’ doesn’t seem like a very useful analysis to me – not if we want to at least warn the working class about the nature and strength of the enemy it faces today, what the stakes of the struggle are.

S. Artesian wrote:
"Decadence" theory isn't about capitalism being a disease. It posits a period of ascent and decline with a definite demarcation between the two. The decline is supposed to be characterized by a.......n traits, categories, manifestations.
The problem is, and the problems are, that these traits, categories, manifestations are, like capitalism itself, cyclical; expanding, contracting waxing waning etc.etc.

Again, you criticise ‘decadentists’ for not providing a critical analysis and yet your own view is, it seems to me, essentially that ‘capitalism is cyclical’.
If you reject the concept of decadence, then logically (and I’m sure you’ll tell me if I’m misrepresenting your position here), you reject the whole concept of ascendance as well? I mean do you agree that there is a stage in each mode of production where the relations of production become a fetter on the productive forces? If so, how will we know when it has been reached?

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Joseph Kay
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Jun 11 2015 08:50

Even if we accept the argument of increasing state involvement in the economy, how does that constitute *decline*, as opposed to say, a mature mode of production that stabilises some of the crisis tendencies of more 'free market' dynamics and stimulates capital accumulation with public investment? Asserting things are 'different' is hardly the point, since I don't think anyone is arguing capitalism is in unchanging historical stasis.

Also, in terms of anti-feudalism/anti-socialism, I don't think those divide neatly into successive phases either. There were communistic revolts against feudalism before and after the rise of the bourgeoisie (elements in the Peasants Wars, Diggers in the English Revolution, elements in the French Revolution), some of which were suppressed by the bourgeoisie at the same time as they battled the aristocracy - or in the case of England, by elements of the aristocracy as they transformed themselves into a bourgeoisie.

Then you've got things like notionally 'anti-feudal' land reform in contemporary Latin America, which is provoking communal revolts like the Zapatistas (Mexico) or the MST (Brazil). And as I mentioned before, pre-capitalist relations weren't necessarily feudal outside Europe or Tokugawa Japan. Does conquest of the non-state, communal property Haudenosaunee/Iroquois Confederacy count as progressively destroying the muck of ages or reactionary anti-communism?

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Jun 11 2015 09:05
slothjabber wrote:
Jura asked for defining characteristics, the absence or opposite of which would disprove decadence. I gave some. Now some people who don't think decadence is real are arguing with definitions.

As far as I can see there were four in your post: the growing role of the state, the impossibility of territorial expansion unopposed by other capitalist powers, the complete defeat of feudalism and the existence of a "post-industrial society". Do you think decadence is the only explanation for these characteristics?

slothjabber
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Jun 11 2015 09:23
Joseph Kay wrote:
Even if we accept the argument of increasing state involvement in the economy, how does that constitute *decline*, as opposed to say, a mature mode of production that stabilises some of the crisis tendencies of more 'free market' dynamics and stimulates capital accumulation with public investment? Asserting things are 'different' is hardly the point, since I don't think anyone is arguing capitalism is in unchanging historical stasis...

Arguing that decadence isn't real, and that supporters of decadence haven't defined it properly, is a bit like saying that Japan's not real, and the map we've drawn of it is wrong. Or, alternatively, that Neverland is not real, and the map we've drawn is wrong.

I'm not sure any supporter of decadence theory has used the word 'decline'. Is cancer a 'decline'? It's an increase, from the point of view of the cancer cells. Is 'maturity' a better term than decadence? I tried to get at this earlier, with reference to the SPGB, who insist capitalism is not decadent, but it is 'obsolete'. The point is not the word one uses, I don't think, but the package of characteristics that the word is supposed to refer to. I don't really care if you call it decadent, mature, obsolete, senile, advanced, or whatever.

So; asserting that things are different - and that these differences have both causes and consequences - is precisely the point. Are you prepared to agree that capitalism in the 20th century is different to capitalism in the 19th century, and that these differences have causes and consequences?

Joseph Kay wrote:
...
Also, in terms of anti-feudalism/anti-socialism, I don't think those divide neatly into successive phases either. There were communistic revolts against feudalism before and after the rise of the bourgeoisie (elements in the Peasants Wars, Diggers in the English Revolution, elements in the French Revolution), some of which were suppressed by the bourgeoisie at the same time as they battled the aristocracy - or in the case of England, by elements of the aristocracy as they transformed themselves into a bourgeoisie...

Do you think it was possible to establish socialist society on the back of intermittent feudal and other forms of production? Or were the developments of capitalism, international communications, industrialisation, and a proletariat constituting a world class necessary preconditions of socialist society?

Joseph Kay wrote:
...Then you've got things like notionally 'anti-feudal' land reform in contemporary Latin America, which is provoking communal revolts like the Zapatistas (Mexico) or the MST (Brazil). And as I mentioned before, pre-capitalist relations weren't necessarily feudal outside Europe or Tokugawa Japan. Does conquest of the non-state, communal property Haudenosaunee/Iroquois Confederacy count as progressively destroying the muck of ages or reactionary anti-communism?

As you point out, contemporary Latin America is not 'feudal'. The fact that the Zapatistas (or the Maoists or Castro) talk(ed) about 'feudal' or 'semi-feudal' relations in the countryside is near here nor there.

My take on the destruction of Iroquois communal property would be (as Marx opined about communal property in Russia in the letter to Vewra Zasulich) that had it survived into the time of a successful proletarian revolution, it could have provided the basis for a move to truly socialised property. But it didn't. Capitalism took it over, that takeover contributed in some way to the development of capitalism we see now. Was it progressive? Was it necessary? Well, Iroquois property relations weren't going to conquer world capitalism (as it existed up to that point). So from the point of view of 'now', then their destruction was probably necessary (for capitalism).

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Jun 11 2015 10:15
slothjabber wrote:
I'm not sure any supporter of decadence theory has used the word 'decline'.

The ICC routinely use "decline" as a synonym of "decadence". The whole debate here is framed in terms of ascent and decline of a mode of production, of a "progressive" and "decaying" period in its development.

slothjabber wrote:
So from the point of view of 'now', then their destruction was probably necessary (for capitalism).

Yeah, this is something I tried to get at in one of the earlier posts. The problem with the historico-philosophical views of "necessity" and "progress" that are behind theories of decadence is that from the point of view of "now", everything in the past appears as "necessary".

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Jun 11 2015 10:24

Anyway, if decadence simply means "capitalism is now so developed that not only communism is possible, but it would now probably be easier to establish than in 1968, 1917, 1871 or 1525", then I guess I don't have a major problem with it. For every year of further capitalist development, one can add the previous year to the list. It's not clear to me why we should call this decadence, because that implies some sort of downfall, but whatever.

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Jun 11 2015 10:37

My point about Latin America is that the capitalist states are breaking up and privatising 'feudal' land arrangements (large estates, ejidos) in the name of capitalist modernity (i.e., enclosures), while being resisted by communal agrarian movements. So you have simultaneous attempts to destroy feudal structures and communal insurgencies/land expropriations.

slothjabber wrote:
Do you think it was possible to establish socialist society on the back of intermittent feudal and other forms of production?

Depends what you mean by a socialist society. The gap in military capacity between an armed peasantry and mercenary knights in the peasant wars was far less than between proletarians and predator drones. If omnia sunt communia had prevailed in central Europe I don't see why it wouldn't have been a form of socialism. If you mean it wouldn't have extended itself globally, almost certainly not, unless it somehow spread to peasant uprisings in the Ottoman Empire, Qing China etc (and there wasn't any obvious mechanism for that).

But I don't get what this has to do with decadence, unless all decadence means is 'socialism is possible', in which case every socialist believes in decadence. But this seems back to the bait-and-switch from the stronger claim to the weaker one.

slothjabber wrote:
I'm not sure any supporter of decadence theory has used the word 'decline'

Alf, post #5: "capitalism is a world system, which reaches its period of decline"
Leo, post #13: "Most decadence theories assert that capitalism entered its period of decline and fall around WW1"
Jamal, post #63: "I still see lots of evidence showing the general decline of health" (though not sure if he counts as a supporter)

etc

This isn't just about semantics, ('decadent' vs 'mature' or whatever), it's about analysis that turns reality on its head. Capitalism has grown massively over the past century, commodified whole new areas of life, and over the past 30-40 years has been smashing the living standards of workers in the 'post-industrial' states (offset only by cheap clothing/gadgets from East Asia, which is seeing rising workers' struggles and living standards). Asking questions like "If capitalism isn't decadent then what's up with the world and human society?" (Jojo) makes out like class weakness vis capital is somehow a weakness/decline of capitalism, rather than capitalism functioning normally.

markyhaze
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Jun 11 2015 11:07
jura wrote:
Anyway, if decadence simply means "capitalism is now so developed that not only communism is possible, but it would now probably be easier to establish than in 1968, 1917, 1871 or 1525", then I guess I don't have a major problem with it. For every year of further capitalist development, one can add the previous year to the list. It's not clear to me why we should call this decadence, because that implies some sort of downfall, but whatever.

No, clearly decadence means more than this, although I agree there is some frustration (on both sides) with the definition of terms here; I’m beginning to think the clearest description of what we’re really talking about is more like Marx’s description from the Grundrisse, of a period of "acute contradictions, crises, convulsions”, which provides a less static-sounding vision than ‘decay’ or even ‘decadence’.

But the real point is that, since the proletariat was unable to overthrow capitalism at the onset of this period, ie. in the 1917-21 revolutionary wave, the growing risk to humanity as a whole, especially today, is that capitalism will irrevocably erode the conditions for communism; if not through a third world war (which, we have to remind ourselves, was a real possibility, and hasn’t completely disappeared), then through endless limited wars, environmental degradation, a cumulative series of defeats for the proletariat, or any combination of the above...

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jura
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Jun 11 2015 11:22
markyhaze wrote:
No, clearly decadence means more than this, although I agree there is some frustration (on both sides) with the definition of terms here; I’m beginning to think the clearest description of what we’re really talking about is more like Marx’s description from the Grundrisse, of a period of "acute contradictions, crises, convulsions”, which provides a less static-sounding vision than ‘decay’ or even ‘decadence’.

OK, but there were periodic crises already in the 19th century. Some were really severe. For example, the US unemployment rate during the 1890s was higher than in all later crises except the Great Depression. If we take crises as an indicator of the conflict between productive forces and relations of production, then the periodization needs to be shifted back to around 1825.

markyhaze wrote:
the growing risk to humanity as a whole, especially today, is that capitalism will irrevocably erode the conditions for communism;

I agree, capitalism has immense destructive potential. But this was true of 19th century capitalism, too. There was a real danger it would gradually destroy the working class through overwork, hence the shortening of the working day.

S. Artesian
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Jun 11 2015 13:05
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I know I'm making the same point over and over but S.Artesian you are confusing 'crisis theory' with 'decadence'.

I'm not confusing anything-- baboon asserted there has been a "permanent crisis." He also supports, it appears, the decadence theory.

It's too bad Alf hasn't returned. He provided us with the ICC's statement on decadence complete with the nifty "is/was" matrix, and after all, the thread is supposed to be about ICC's decadence theory and developing nations. So perhaps we can focus on those specifically and make some headway?

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Khawaga
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Jun 11 2015 13:14

And with those explanations I am even more convinced that decadence is just hot air. I mean from the explanations it doesn't actually explain anything about capitalism that cannot be explained in much much simpler terms. In other words, lots of uneccessary theorization that just amounts to a teleological argument about communism.

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Jamal
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Jun 11 2015 14:51

Hot air?

Khawaga, jura, Artesian what are you theories on the trajectory of capitalism since the early 20th century?

Still no unique insight from any of you on state capitalism, democracy, the unions, etc.

markyhaze wrote:
Surely you'd agree we need to at least critically analyse the significance of the phenomena of fascism and Stalinism in the 30s, not to mention Roosevelt’s New Deal, the De Man Plan, etc.?

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jura
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Jun 11 2015 15:21
Jamal Rayyan wrote:
Still no unique insight from any of you on state capitalism, democracy, the unions, etc.

Wait, so have we established the bankruptcy of decadence theory?

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Jamal
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Jun 11 2015 15:37
jura wrote:
Wait, so have we established the bankruptcy of decadence theory?

Seems established to me.