LOV and Tory Stabilisation?

Howie Chodos howie at magi.com
Thu Jul 6 11:17:54 MDT 1995


Some comments on a few of the recent posts dealing with politics. First, I
want to second Jerry's comments on Chris' post. I think that Chris is
overstating the connection between the LOV and day-to-day politics. Or to
put it another way, in order to sustain the credibility of a strong link it
is necessary to water down the LOV to such an extent that many other
explanations than the law of value per se can be adduced to explain the same
phenomena. Thus Chris writes:

>The rationale for linking it with the Law of Value, is that the different
>factions all know unconciously that the British bourgoisie has to
>accumulate capital or it will perish.

And

>But when the chips
>are down and they are sussing out the sense of direction of British
>economic fortunes, Major has been pulled as by a strange attractor, to
>risk a further period of instability from the bicycle-riding right,
>because of a sense that there is more substance and solidity in Heseltine's
>robust but complex interventionist model of capitalism.

Acknowledging the need to accumulate capital, which takes many forms in
governmental rhetoric, the most important contemporary one being the need to
remain "competitive", unites everyone who does not challenge capitalism, and
would thus seem to be a limited guide to clarifying the nature of the
various interests behind different political positions. Is Portillo any less
attuned to the needs of capital than Heseltine? Or Lamont, who would seem to
have been a purely political casualty of a previous cabinet reshuffle? The
problem with linking political and economic phenomena in one direction only
(ie. LOV determines politics) is that it does not allow for a reciprocal
effect of politics on economics.

In another post Scott M. ridiculed the idea that the state could ever be
neutral in the class struggle. While on the whole I think that this is true,
I also think that we need to avoid seeing the state as a monolith, or as
simply the passive instrument of "the ruling class". One problem I have with
such positions is that they blend very easily with conspiracy theories. I
prefer the kind of approach pioneered by Poulantzas and developed by Bob
Jessop which has the state as a site of struggle over strategic orientation.
Such a view does not presuppose an existing ruling class consensus that
precedes the activity of the state apparatus to work one out. It sess the
state as a place where the ruling class can work out its own internal
conflicts, and also one where its rule can be contested both from within and
from without. Such a struggle is of course ongoing, so that the kind of
thing Scott referred to, the state taking away with one hand what it has
been forced to concede with the other, happens all the time. But the lesson
is that we need to find ways to hold onto the gains that are made in
struggle and this includes conquering positions of influence within the
state, in order that a more profound transformation of the entire state
apparatus can eventually come about.

Finally, one comment on TimW's latest post. It seems to me that the
necessary consequence of envisaging a democratic transition to socialism is
that we be prepared to accept a democratic decision to move back to
capitalism. Personally I don't have a problem with this, but it is probably
controversial for some. Let me note however that affirming democratic intent
does not preclude the possibility of exrtraordinary measures should the
democratic will of the people be suppressed non-democratically by the ruling
groups; nor does it preclude a period of transition where extraordinary
measures may be necessary in order to ensure the emergence of conditions
conducive to democracy. But democracy needs to be the rule and extraordinary
measures the exception.

Howie Chodos



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