homeownership and Black Panthers

jones/bhandari djones at uclink.berkeley.edu
Mon Sep 18 05:47:55 MDT 1995

>From Pat of MIM:

> We pointed to differences in expectations for
>property ownership, upward mobility and children's upward mobility.

Yes that is what you did.  You POINTED to EXPECTATIONS; this is hardly the
rock-hard materialist basis for the political economy of the white working
class.  By the way, who is white? Also, you have not responded to numerous
points, as I am sure you are aware.

>The proportion of
>unproductive laborers is a key difference amongst working classes
>internationally. Our critics are trying to obscure this in
>deference to borders the imperialists created.

Many African countries must have some of the highest ratios of unproductive
to productive workers.  What implications do you draw from this?

Workers in circulation sectors often make less and are more unprotected
than workers for industrial capitalists.  What do you make of this?

The surplus populations of this earth don't produce much surplus value.
What role will they play in revolutionary transformation?

The exploited proletariat must often fight for real wage increases in order
to enable the reproduction of labor power in the face of the
intensification of labor (this is emphasized in Value, Price and Profit and
Grossmann's wage theory); hence, real wage increases do not indicate a
softening of exploitation.
As MIM measures exploitation by income, income differentials and absolute
poverty (all anti-marxist measures to the core) , how could MIM possibly be
aware of the severest forms of exploitation today?

But let's leave this aside, raise another issue -- Mao's Critique of Soviet
Economics.  In a recent post Alex Trotter has begun a critique of Engel's
technological centralism as the anticipation of Stalinism.  How does Mao's
critique compare to Alex's? This discussion is relevant to this debate on
productive labor.  Alex is suggesting communism must have other goals than
increasing  production by labor, no matter how more evenly the total
product is distributed.  So will MIM's commitment to productive labor
(which I still question)trap it into worship of the technological
centralism, industrialism and alienated labor process through which labor's
production has been maximized? Also, is Mao's Critique of Soviet Economics
adequate in a world after Chernobyl and Bhopal? Mustn't we go much further
and deeper?  Mustn't productive labor become now a critical category, as
has been painstakingly argued in Moishe Postone's Time, Labor and Social

> That sector of the national bourgeoisie which
>in fact benefitted from its alliance with imperialism, usually through
>its role as puppet in the state, Mao called "comprador" enemy.

Does MIM honestly think that if there is a Black bourgeoise in this
country, it could be anything but compradorial?  Has anyone read Abram
Harris' 1937 The Negro as Capitalist?

> By 1995 we can say that this is
>a perverse desire to see the proletariat on the losing side of
>strategic battles--all for the benefit of our nihilist-idealist-purist
>critics' ideals as stated somewhere in a poetry collection.

Well, the proletariat could probably 'win' as subordinates in a bloc
hegemonized by some fraction of capital.  But what would they have
achieved? Another New Deal?

> and why Sri Lankan
>wages have been recorded at 4% of U.S. wages in the industrial sector.

Yes, in use value terms a California farmworker, a Chinatown seamstress, a
sped-up, just-in-time production worker all make a substantially higher
wage than a Sri Lankan proletarian whose low wage may still not entice the
relocation of industrial enterprises. From friends, I understand the
unemployment rate in and around the Sri Lankan EPZ's is monstrous.

There are two questions here.  One is Jerry's, that workers under certain
conditions may well reject the consumptionism allowed by those high real
wages if all the disastarous effects on body, community and nature from
industrialism are manifest, no matter how 'high' workers' living standards
seem to bourgeois economists and MIM--both of which seem to measure to
wealth and poverty in similar ways.  The task of the revolutionary
propagandist would then not be to condemn as aristocratic the higher paid
proletarian in the imperialist country but to research and bring out the
effects on one's health and happiness  for the 'privilige' to continue to
produce and help sell at a  'high' wage a surplus product in the value

Second, capital endeavors to pay all  workers only what is necessary for
the reproduction of labor power, though Marx does argue that the conception
of necessity is socio-historically variable. No matter how variable, it is
clear that capital is now forcing labor here as well as elsewhere to accept
the intensification of the labor process for little gain, if at all, in
real wages.  This can amount to sufficient real misery in both physical and
social terms to lead to revolt.  To this add the future possibilities, in
the light of continuing automation and phasing out of 'mature' industries,
for the growth of surplus populations within the imperialist countries
themselves.  It all adds up--environmental destruction, sped-up and
fragmented work and unemployment--to the possibility of mass-based
revolutionary action in this country, the possibilities of which have been
seriously underestimated by MIM.

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