A General Discussion of Decadence Theory

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mikus
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Nov 13 2007 08:31

Also, if you want to discuss this I'll be happy to discuss it with you. I think my discussion with the others (namely Alf, ernie, Demogorgon and baboon) has gone as far as it will go and I'll leave it to others to decide whether or not they think decadence theory is even coherent, let alone true. (Lem is right, this thread has turned into a bit of a train wreck. If I could have foreseen that making fun of baboon would have made the thread go in this direction I wouldn't have done it.) But if you have some new arguments to add I'd be happy to discuss them.

How about a definition of decadence first of all? And what decadence theory means? I still don't think it's clear what you guys are talking about, particularly because when questioned about the meaning we get some kind of "look at this horrific event which took place after 1914" response. If decadence theory were just a catalog of those events, then anyone who acknowledged that those events indeed occurred would agree with decadence theory. Which is clearly not the case. So what is it?

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Alf
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Nov 13 2007 08:57

I don't think this thread has been a train wreck although it is threatening to become one now, with the multiple insults flying around. Mikus asked for a definition of decadence at the beginning and I basically quoted Marx from the Preface about an epoch where social relations turn from forms of development into fetters on development. There was a discussion with Dave C about whether this "epoch of social revolution" as Marx calls it in that text is equivalent to an epoch of decadence. That remains the central issue on this thread if we can get back to it.

lem
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Nov 13 2007 15:03

that's here

Quote:
"At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or – this merely expresses the same thing in legal terms – with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an era of social revolution"

i don't know what to make of it confused

i suppose that it's not enough, cos it sounds like a sidenote.

what is marx's main goal in the preface?

i can't really spot any difficult ambiguities in what i quoted. i suppose you could argue that capital is born a fetter because 'material productive relations' mean bourgeois revolution. otherwise i'm at a complete loss, sorry surprised

what, may i ask, do the icc add to that quote, in order to get decandence theory?

eta or i said before, he just means crisis, rather than decadence.

jaycee
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Nov 13 2007 15:39

i think the basics of decadence theory is as follows. All civilizations jhave gone through periods of rise and fall, of being progressive to becoming barriers to progress. I think we all agree that capitalism just as all these other civilizations has been progressive (in general way). I think its clear enough that capitalism is no longer progressive, firstly there is no other societies left against which it can be meassured, its world wide conquest of the globe (at around the 1900's, 1914 as a clear sign of this fact).

Secondly due to the fact that communism could only be 'created' once capitalsim had laid the foundations, communism had to be global. Therefore there needed to be a world wide working class, again 1900's and 1914 in particular seems a good starting point. The fact that the revolution was close to being successful at this time adds weight to this, especially with a view of what the weaknesses of the Paris commune were.

I think it is quite clear that capitalsim is no longer progressive (what with threatening the survival of humanity and all), and i can't see any evidence of its progressive nature in the history of the 20th century either. The only real period of growth and rise in living conditions anywhere in the world being confined to the post second world war reconstruction and then only in the 1st world.

Do you agree with the idea of state capitalism becoming increasingly important after WW2?

Also do you think that all sections of the bourgeoisie are equally reactionary,and if you do do you think this has always been the case?

lem
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Nov 13 2007 15:46
jaycee wrote:
Do you agree with the idea of state capitalism becoming increasingly important after WW2?

Also do you think that all sections of the bourgeoisie are equally reactionary,and if you do do you think this has always been the case?

keynes was post ww2 no? his ideas were surely popular.

i don't know exactly what you mean by reactionary so i'm not sure if i can answer, if in deed you were talking to me. i don't think that some sections of the bourgeois are more communist. individual capitalists may have more charitable sides but i doubt that's what you mean..

ernie
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Nov 13 2007 19:19

Lem, I think jaycee is asking whether you think that say national liberation movements can be progressive, or that the say a Labour government is less reactionary than a Tory one.

Keynes was famous from the early 1920's when he wrote the Economic Consequences of Peace, but you are right that his economic theories were put into practice most systematically (or at least some of those putting into practice the economic policies of the 50's and 60's would have called them Keynesian).

Interestingly Keynes thought that there had been some kind of watershed marked by WW1 and the economic stagnation that followed; that it was necessary for the state to become much more active in the economy.

lem
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Nov 13 2007 19:26
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Lem, I think jaycee is asking whether you think that say national liberation movements can be progressive, or that the say a Labour government is less reactionary than a Tory one.

even if could list the differences between labour and tories and say which would affect me better or which were more charitable [tho in th uk at least this is not an issue], i don't think that either are more likely to deliberately bring around communism. if that doesn't answer the question i don't know what the question is.

lem
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Nov 13 2007 19:36

sorry to make a dp: maybe you mean progressive as in good for the working class?

leaving aside the example of the labour party for now.

perhaps some amount of reformism is ok as a minor capitulation to how people are acting now and what they are asking for. so it's a difficult question: can something other than deliberate communism be good [not 'best'] for the working classes. is that bourgoies? but again, is saying that X is good for working class, but it is not BEST for the working class is that treating the working class like a spoilt child confused

i guess that that depends on economics, but we want to say that some legitimated by the bourgeois is progressive, or we'd go around breaking strikes.

i'm not for national liberation but not sure how to absolutely ground it. and neither would i support parliamentary politics fwiw, perhaps thru apathy rather than conviction i just don't know.

all the best

lem smile

Steggsie
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Nov 13 2007 23:01

Like Alf, I don't think that this thread has, for the most part, been a train wreck, although it is threatening to hit the buffers now. That's a shame, as there's been some really interesting discussion.

I am generally sympathetic to some notion of capitalist decadence, although I think mikus has raised many points which require much more coherent (and, in some cases, curteous) responses than they have generally received. In particular, it'd be good to have (either here on the ICC website) a much clearer definition of decomposition, which remains a rather shadowy concept for me. That said, anti-decadentists, whether anarchists or otherwise, seem to me to be reluctant to be drawn on the question of precisely how capitalism has transformed itself in the C20th.

As far as I am aware, no other left communist groups, or other defenders of decadence (nice tagline for somebody there) are pitching in here. What says EKS to all this stuff (I know they hold a pretty similar line to the ICC, but to what extent)? What is the IBRP position?, etc. Might their intervention help to open up some new fronts for discussion?

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Devrim
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Nov 14 2007 07:20
Steggsie wrote:
As far as I am aware, no other left communist groups, or other defenders of decadence (nice tagline for somebody there) are pitching in here. What says EKS to all this stuff (I know they hold a pretty similar line to the ICC, but to what extent)? What is the IBRP position?, etc. Might their intervention help to open up some new fronts for discussion?

Leo has commented on this thread, though he is closer to the ICC than anybody else in the EKS. I don't have the time to get into a long economic argument, and nobody else in EKS really has the English to do it, sorry.

Devrim

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Alf
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Nov 14 2007 11:52

Steggsie - thanks for that post, it was very encouraging given some of the recent developments on this thread.
I agree mikus needs coherent and courteous answers but I am often not sure what his views are. The fact that he is so coy about saying where he actually stands (either on political conclusions or on the period in which we are living) is the main reason why people have been 'extrapolating' about it. At any rate, perhaps you could outline what are the questions posed by him which you think need answering.

Haven't got time for a long response about decomposition but I think the basic notion derives from the opening lines of the Communist Manifesto

The history of all hitherto existing society(2) is the history of class struggles.

Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master(3) and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes

The term 'decomposition' implies an advanced stage of capitalism's decline where we are facing the danger of the "mutual ruin of the contending classes": given the difficulty of the proletariat raising its struggles to a level where it can move towards the "revolutionary reconstitution of society", , the inordinate prolongation and deepening of all the elements of capitalist decay is threatening to undermine the very bases of a future communist society. That's the danger, though we don't think the point of no return has been reached.

In recent discussions with the comrades of the EKS, they stressed that one of the elements that has led them to adopting a notion of capitalist decadence has been the reality of social decomposition all around them, the intensification of barbarism which they see very openly in the region they live in.

For a fuller explanation:

http://en.internationalism.org/ir/107_decomposition

http://en.internationalism.org/taxonomy/term/286

ernie
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Nov 14 2007 17:26

Lem

We do not see it in terms of what is good for the working class. The framework that we use is what enables the working class to develop its autonomy and class consciousness.

For example, whilst we say the unions are part of the state and that even if workers manage to win some concessions from the bosses they will soon be lost, that does not mean we do not support workers defending their living and working conditions. For us the most important question in such a situation is what struggling workers and other workers can do to gain a balance of forces that will enable them to win, all be it temporary, a concession. This means how to organise and extend the struggle.

In relation to the question of national liberation we think this is an excellent example of the implications of decadence. Whilst capitalism was an historically ascendant system the formation of nations, though not all, could be progressive for the working class. However, once capitalism had carved up the world, the formation of new states did not serve the interests of the working class, but were expressions of the imperialist struggles. For example the formation of states after WW1 in Eastern Europe was done in order to weaken German and Austrian imperialism and in order to try and form a cordon around the proletarian bastion in Russia.

I have to say lem that it can be a bit difficult to work out what you are trying to get at some time, but don't stop trying: it is only through discussion and theoretical reflection that we clarify our understanding of a question.

ernie
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Nov 14 2007 17:30

Steggie,

I fully affirm what alf said, it is great to have your contribution and to know that you have found the thread interesting. It would be very helpful to the development of the discussion to have more comrades join in and pose their questions. Mikus is rather frustrated by us so may be someone else asking questions of him could help to bring out more of what he is trying to get at.

mikus
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Nov 14 2007 18:13

I just don't see why my views are (were) relevant to a discussion of decadence (Luxemburg), since my views were not the subject of the debate. Like I said, I could be social-democratic national chauvinist and it would make absolutely no difference to the relevance of my criticisms. If they stand, they stand on their own, and if they don't, they don't.

On a semi-unrelated issue: What is your guys' take on redtwister's note on "necessity"? He puts forward his own version of "necessity" at the end of his long post as if it were an understanding of necessity opposed to what the ICC or other orthodox Marxists have called "necessity". My impression is that it could have been written by the ICC or many other Marxist groups. I don't see what is so different about. Am I correct in thinking this?

redtwister wrote:
A Note on the Necessity of Communism
Necessity is a funny term. Often, as in this discussion, it is used moralistically. Capital is so bad, communism is necessary. That however is clearly not Marx’s notion of necessity. Other use it to indicate a kind of economic determinism: capital gives rise to communism out of necessity. And then all kinds of objective facts are deployed to show how increasing centralization and concentration of capital, up to state capitalism, set the stage for communism. IMO, this too has jack and squat to do with Marx. Communism is necessary for Marx in the same sense in which a child becoming an adult is necessary: the essence of being a child is that one is on the way to becoming an adult. Now, chance may intervene and the child may bet hit by a car or eaten by a bear or whatever. That however does not change the necessity of the child becoming an adult, that is, that the child has a potential which it will, as long as nothing kills the child, realize of necessity.

This notion of necessity has its underpinnings in Aristotle and Hegel, and Marx, being somewhat familiar with and grounded in, albeit critically, these two fellows, uses the notion of necessity in a similar way. For Marx, necessity grounds chance. It does not do away with it or over-ride it. Quite the contrary: chance can overwhelm necessity, especially where the necessity can only be realized in the most capricious and conflict-ridden conditions.

This notion of necessity is no more deterministic than the notion of necessity that guides the growth of a plant (which under bad conditions may die before maturing, under others may be eaten, etc.), in which concrete conditions and chance (which are closely related) can put an end to that necessity, but at the same time can only be understood as chances or accidents in relation to some constant or law. In the same way, Marx’s notion of law does not imply determination of an outcome, but a line of tendency.

Chris

Steggsie
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Nov 14 2007 19:55
Devrim wrote:
Steggsie wrote:
As far as I am aware, no other left communist groups, or other defenders of decadence (nice tagline for somebody there) are pitching in here. What says EKS to all this stuff (I know they hold a pretty similar line to the ICC, but to what extent)? What is the IBRP position?, etc. Might their intervention help to open up some new fronts for discussion?

Leo has commented on this thread, though he is closer to the ICC than anybody else in the EKS. I don't have the time to get into a long economic argument, and nobody else in EKS really has the English to do it, sorry.

Devrim

That is fully understandable. Thanks for responding anyway Devrim.

Steggsie
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Nov 14 2007 20:08
Alf wrote:
Steggsie - thanks for that post, it was very encouraging given some of the recent developments on this thread.
I agree mikus needs coherent and courteous answers but I am often not sure what his views are. The fact that he is so coy about saying where he actually stands (either on political conclusions or on the period in which we are living) is the main reason why people have been 'extrapolating' about it. At any rate, perhaps you could outline what are the questions posed by him which you think need answering.

Haven't got time for a long response about decomposition but I think the basic notion derives from the opening lines of the Communist Manifesto

The history of all hitherto existing society(2) is the history of class struggles.

Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master(3) and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes

The term 'decomposition' implies an advanced stage of capitalism's decline where we are facing the danger of the "mutual ruin of the contending classes": given the difficulty of the proletariat raising its struggles to a level where it can move towards the "revolutionary reconstitution of society", , the inordinate prolongation and deepening of all the elements of capitalist decay is threatening to undermine the very bases of a future communist society. That's the danger, though we don't think the point of no return has been reached.

In recent discussions with the comrades of the EKS, they stressed that one of the elements that has led them to adopting a notion of capitalist decadence has been the reality of social decomposition all around them, the intensification of barbarism which they see very openly in the region they live in.

For a fuller explanation:

http://en.internationalism.org/ir/107_decomposition

http://en.internationalism.org/taxonomy/term/286

Sorry, I've only just had some time to come back to this thread.

Alf: many thanks for your explanation and the links, which are helpful. I understand the ICC's notion of decomposition to mean something like a stalemate in the class struggle, a tug of war in which neither the bourgeoisie nor the proletariat can impose its 'historical solution' and therefore both begin to somehow break down. But going by what I have read, the evidence given for this does seem startlingly diverse and seems to encompass pretty much everything about the contemporary world, from the looming environmental catastrophe to reality TV. What, precisely, is it that is decomposing?

You also asked which of mikus' questions still remain unanswered for me. Well, how about, what is it that makes decadence a theory as such, as opposed to a description? What would falsify it? And, I might add, is decomposition also a 'theory'?

redtwister
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Nov 14 2007 21:00

My note was intended to differentiate between uses expressed in this discussion about the "necessity" of communism because capitalism is so "bad", because the "only other" alternative is barbarism, and uses of it from the old Marxism which took necessity to mean an iron-clad determinism (that the outcome is given a priori), which I mention specifically because that is often what people think "necessity" means.

There is also the normal notion of necessity as merely a kind of statistical repeatability common to empiricist thinking, which could be summed up in the idea that "necessity resides in the way we talk about things, not in the things we talk about". In this mode, contingency or chance is considered primary and necessity is rendered toothless, IMO. Necessity per se does not exist ontologically (to the extent that contemporary philosophy can discuss ontological issues at all except vis-a-vis the worst irrationalist crap like Deleuze, Heidegger, Bergson, etc.), and usually not logically either. It may exist empirically, and therefore a posteriori (it was possible that it might end up otherwise, but it did not.) Please note that this has to do with ontology and not epistemology, which confuses some people who think that ontological necessity requires or has something to do with a priori knowledge (the former being Aristotle, Hegel, Marx, the latter being Kant and neo-Kantians.)

Much of Marxist thinking, especially in the aftermath of the Second International's Kantianism and Third International's DIAMAT, seems to have tried to merge Marx and anti-essentialist philosophy or make Marx an anti-essentialist, under the pressure also of the various strains of positivism, empiricism, analytical rationalism, and even Nietzschean irrationalisms of all sorts. Anti-essentialism was of course helped by the kind of essentialism people encountered in nationalist, racialist and feminist writing, but IMO this is of a different kind altogether. Often this tendency to concede to anti-essentialist criticisms of necessity is combined with the moral usage of necessity, but the moral usage is worth very little philosophically or critically.

My understanding of necessity in Marx is influenced by the idea that Marx is working in the world of potential/actual, of the ideal and the realized, and that necessity does not mean that in all cases that the potential is actualized, but that potential and actual are meaningless without reference to essence and necessity, the fact that in the absence of contingent incursions, an essence will realize itself of necessity, a potential will become actual.

So far in this discussion, as with your question re: what the term decadence actually means, I see the use of the term necessity as either 1) moral or as 2) used in a rather un-Marxian i.e. anti-essentialist, manner. The first is meaningless except as exhortation, the second presents philosophical issues, and, IMO indirectly, political issues.

Hope that muddies the waters before the flaming ensues. Prolly should be another thread anyway.

Chris

PS
And for those who wondered, I simply do not have the time or desire to engage in long arguments (I have no one to recruit and I have better things to do than engage in endless arguments, the latter something i realize more clearly the older i get.) I prefer to state my opinion, hopefully in as clear a manner as possible, and allow people to agree or disagree or do with it what they will rather than try to hash and re-hash points into the ground, as it there were some process of rational argumentation that would allow me to prove my point where the matter is not a factual disagreement but a philosophical one, or as if someone's disagreement was predicated on their not understanding my argument (after all, someone can understand and simply disagree).

PPS
I believe I also owe the ICC a detailed explanation of where I thought that they were inaccurate in their portrayal of other people's arguments, to the point of it being malicious, esp. the ICG/IGC from the thread "Barmy...". I have the notes, I simply have not made the time, but I have not forgotten nor do I intend to shirk the responsibility to back up my claim, its just a low priority.

capricorn
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Nov 15 2007 11:41

Having read (or rather having tried to read since the style is terrible) the 2 articles on "decomposition" that Ernie refers us to, I can only repeat that I still think "decomposition" is an even more dubious concept than "decadence". It is referred to as "ultra-decadence" and the "final phase" of decadence which is going to end in the destruction of civilisation if not of the whole humanity race. I'm still not sure why capitalism is supposed to have moved on from being simply "decadent" to being "ultra decadent" but it seems to be something to do with a Third World War not materialising and "decomposition" being a way of achieving the same result, ie massive slaughter, death and destruction on a planetary scale.
Whereas the ICC can find some outside support for its theory of decadence, "decomposition", or "putrefaction" as they sometimes also call it, is just weird. It appears that my joke about the ICC preaching "REVOLT, THE DECOMPOSITION OF SOCIETY IS NIGH!" was nearer the mark than I thought.
My advice to the ICCers here is: I wouldn't talk too much about the "decomposition of society" if I were you as you're only making fools of yourselves.

ernie
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Nov 15 2007 11:49

steggsie

You have hit the nail on the head, decomposition does arise out of the impasse in the class forces.

As you say, we do think that it is the social relations of capitalism that are rotting.

We would say that decadence and decomposition are social realities and that our analysis of them are the historical materialist understanding of this reality. This is probably very crude, but 100 years of wars, chaos, the enormous growth of the states hold over society, the experience of the class are no theory or description but a social reality, and it is only Marxism that has the means for not only understanding this historical process but the revolutionary praxis to enable it to see the potential contained in it..

What would falsify it: the reversal of capitalism to a socially progressive system, something that is impossible. What will put an end to it is probably a better question. Decadence can only be ended by the overthrow of capitalism and the construction of communism; decomposition however can be terminated as a phase in capitalism's history through the proletariat developing its self-confidence and consciousness to a level where it is able to pose the real possibility of massive confrontations with capitalism i.e., that it will throw its weight into the balance of history.

This probably does not answer your question, and will send Mikus barmy, but it is the best I can do at the moment. For a more theoretical analysis of decomposition see the link to our Theses on Decomposition.

ernie
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Nov 15 2007 12:03

Capricorn, we will continue to very happily to put forwards our analysis of decomposition because it is the marxist explanation of the current phase of capitalism. It has its roots in Marx's analysis and method and is a coherent analysis of the development of capitalism in the last three decades.

Capricorn, given you have read the Theses, it would be worth while you explaining what your alternative analysis of the phenomena that we try to deal with. If you are going to kick us, it is necessary to at least given some developed explanation of why it is wrong, because frankly you have not done so in the above post. Surely you have more to say than that. We are more than willing to discuss our analysis of decomposition, and we have put forwards our theses to enable such a discussion to take place. For example, do you agree or disagree that there is an impasse in the class forces?

As for revolt because decomposition is nigh! There is a question behind this, why do you think the working class should revolt? And also do you think there has been no qualitative worsening of barbarism and social decay in the last 3 decades?

capricorn
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Nov 15 2007 17:13
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we will continue to very happily to put forwards our analysis of decomposition because it is the marxist explanation of the current phase of capitalism

This is going a bit far, Ernie, isn't it -- "the", not "a" or "a possible", but "the" marxist explanation! Either a revealing slip or an open expression of your dogmatism, quite apart from problems with the whole concept of "Marxism".
My basic problem with "decomposition", or "ultra-decadence", is that I don't accept the basic premiss that capitalism needs a Third World War to continue accumulating. If it doesn't need a Third World War, then it doesn't need something that produces a similar result in terms of death and destruction.

Quote:
do you agree or disagree that there is an impasse in the class forces?

Don't know. What is "an impasse in the class forces"? In fact, what are "the class forces"? Can you translate this from ICCspeak into plain English.

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mikail firtinaci
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Nov 15 2007 18:59

I am also having difficulties understanding the position of mikus on decadance. But as it is been said we (EKS) accept that capitalist system is a decadant one. However we as an organisation could not be able to clarify on decadance. However I think there is a very strong atmosphere in the political proletarian camp which is "activistic" and against making a discussion of "theoretical issues" , which is a reflection of burgeoisie ideology. Most people who are sympathetic towards us argue that theoretical clarification and discussion on decandance, luxemburg, mattick, grossman etc, are simply intellectualist. This idea is a real danger for revolutionaries since it obscure their roles. Because if we don't discuss then our role only become that of propaganda and futile activism -Like all the left wing groups of burgeoisie-. This mans telling to the workers the things they already know. (Like the unions are bastards and burgeoisie is driving them towards war and misery etc.) We as an organisation think that without a clear understanding of capitalisms decadance and without relating this to the daily issues of class no communist intervention is possible.

However as I said we are not clear on this point and majority of us are totally agree on that we have to deepen our understanding on "decadance" since we can not take an artificial position which is obscured.

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Alf
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Nov 16 2007 09:31

I don't accept the basic premiss that capitalism needs a Third World War to continue accumulating

Neither do we

capricorn
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Nov 16 2007 09:34
I don't accept the basic premiss that capitalism needs a Third World War to continue accumulating

Neither do we

Then why do you think capitalism needs a Third World War?

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Nov 16 2007 09:41

Capitalism in decadence is driven to war because it's like a bunch of thugs fighting in a prison cell where the oxygen is running out. Killing one or two thugs doesn't create more oxygen, even if it lets one or two breathe at the expense of the dead ones for a bit longer. But a third world war would mean the end of accumulation and the end of civilisation. It solves nothing. War in decadence is increasingly irrational even in capitalist terms, and yet they are still driven towards it. Even if a third world war is not on the agenda, the drive to war still accelerates in other forms (such as the growing mess in the Middle East...)

baboon
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Nov 16 2007 16:09

Capricorn, when I first saw your joke (15.11) about decomposition being something like "the end is nigh", a doom-laden message, you did pick up something of the analysis. But the sense of doom is for religious fanatics and not marxist. Decomposition is what marxism is about, ie, the sense of a new stage of decadence. The marxist perspective from the decadence of capitalism is not doom but revolution - and it's only within decadence that a revolutionary perspective can occur. This might be ABC to you, but a revolution can only take place when the existing system becomes a barrier to further development. This is not doom, or "the end is nigh", but marxism.
The decadence of capitalism is not, and never has been, a static analysis; many revolutionary elements and millions of workers, while not necessarily using the word decadence demonstrated their clarity on this question during the revolutionary wave of 1917-26. Engels for one demonstrated the consequences of decadence before decadence began. Luxemburg, Lenin and Trotsky were (more or less) particularly clear on the consequences of imperialism (see Alf above), a key component and expression, of capitalism's decadence.
Capitalist society (whether you use the word decadence or not) has not maintained a static equilibrium since August 4 1914 (or August 3 if you like) to 16.11.7. There's been a process, a process of decay in this case. Or Capricorn has capitalism progressed in relation to the working class, and if so, in what areas, moral, social, economic, environmental, militarily?
The decadence of an economic system necessarily brings changes, adaptions to that system; that's what happened under slavery and that's what happened under feudalism - and that's what happened to capitalism during the 20th c.
Steggsie is right above, in the absence of a revolution or major workers' struggles the decay and irrationality of capitalism can only deteriorate at all levels. The implosion of the eastern bloc in 1989 that took place in the complete absence of any workers' activity, demonstrating the stalemate between the classes and the stakes in the class struggle. It did this enough (it was the biggest, most important political event in our lifetimes) to characterise this as a phase of decomposition. It's a perfectly good analysis to say that something that is decaying reaches a stage of decomposition. Put an apple on the table and watch it for the next few months.
All the elements expressed in capitalism's decadence are there in decomposition. It represents a further stage. Is this system progressive, is it somehow remaining completely neutral, or is it in decay. Which is it? And what do you say to the working class?

yoshomon
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Nov 16 2007 17:33
Quote:
Decomposition is what marxism is about, ie, the sense of a new stage of decadence. The marxist perspective from the decadence of capitalism is not doom but revolution - and it's only within decadence that a revolutionary perspective can occur.

Decomposition is what marxism is about? Really?

Also what is a "static equilibrium"? It is pretty amazing that you can narrow down its disappearance to the day.

capricorn
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Joined: 3-05-07
Nov 16 2007 19:34
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War in decadence is increasingly irrational even in capitalist terms, and yet they are still driven towards it.

Sorry, Alf, I don't agree. Wars have always been irrational in human terms, but they have been, and still are, rational in capitalist terms. Capitalism involves a competitive struggle for profits between rival capitalist firms backed by their states. Normally, this is commercial and peaceful but, at times, some state feels that its vital interest is at stake to such an extent that it has recourse to war. This, in capitalist terms, is a rational decision. Take the first Gulf War. The Iraqi ruling class, with no clear access to the Persian Gulf for its exports and imports took the calculated risk of invading Kuwait. The US and the other Western Powers considered this a threat to their interests (oil supplies) and responded by war. War is one possible policy option, a weapon of last resort (like the strike for workers) which a capitalist State hopes can be avoided by threatening it. When a state goes to war the stakes are very high: if they lose they lose everything, including even lives. But it is not an irrational decision, but a calculated risk.

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The implosion of the eastern bloc in 1989 that took place in the complete absence of any workers' activity, demonstrating the stalemate between the classes and the stakes in the class struggle. It did this enough (it was the biggest, most important political event in our lifetimes) to characterise this as a phase of decomposition.

Baboon, I'm afraid that your attempt to justify the concept of "decomposition" ("ultra-decadence") is just as inadequate. Agreed, that the "implosion of the eastern bloc" has probably been the most important event in the lifetime of most of us (not of those born since 1989 of course), but I don't see what it has to do with "decomposition" -- though I suppose you could substitute "decomposition" for "implosion" and speak of the "decomposition of the eastern bloc", ie Russian-style state-monopoly capitalism but that's not the same as the decomposition of the whole capitalist system. In any event I would say this was a good thing: it gave workers there more elbow-room to defend their wages and working conditions and also gave revolutionary minorities the opportunity to openly propagate their ideas. Nor did it take place "in the complete absence of any workers' activity". I seem to recall that it was sparked off by strikes in the Gdansk shipyards. And one important reason why Russian-style state-monopoly capitalism failed ("decomposed", even) was as a result of the passive resistance of the workers there who refused to work hard enough to allow the ruling class to extract a big enough surplus from their labour.
I'm afraid the ICC's analysis of recent history is as flawed as their analysis of the economics of capitalism.

kurasje
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Joined: 3-07-07
Nov 16 2007 21:22

"The implosion of the eastern bloc in 1989 that took place in the complete absence of any workers' activity"

Somewhere in my cellar I think I have a fat file on massive workers' strikes and demonstrations in different areas of the old USSR just up to the final 'official' collapse of this regime.

j.

mikus
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Joined: 18-07-06
Nov 17 2007 01:00

No answer from an ICC'er on whether or not they more or less agree with Chris' comments on "necessity"?