Increasing Organic Composition/Complexity/Vulnerability of Capita l

Craven, Jim jcraven at clark.edu
Wed Sep 12 11:27:00 MDT 2001


My daughter called repeatedly yesterday to ask if Louis--and I--were OK
after the bombings (I need to teach her some geography). She stayed home
from school to watch the news coverage all day. She asked me if the U.S.
Government did the attacks and I asked why she asked that. Chrinstina said
that the TV said it was done by "terrorists" and she had often heard me call
the U.S. Government "State-sponsored terrorists."

Marx was not only the first to discover and/or articulate one of the central
contradictions of capitalism--the intensifying contradiction between
inexorable relations of production of capitalism versus [ongoing]
development of the forces of production of capitalism, he also analyzed and
wrote very cogently and penetratingly on the increasing organic composition
(c/v) of capitalism, the increasing complexity of capital, the increasing
organic integration/interdependence of elements of total social capital and
the associated vulnerabilities of capital/capitalism that go with these and
other trajectories of capitalism. In this latest stuff in NYC, we see more
evidence of this.

In at least three of the four aircraft, no warnings were given by the
pilots--or from the ground--that a hijack was in progress. Les said that one
pilot squalked the hijack codes but I have seen no stories confirming that.
Certainly several passengers used their cell phones that a hijack was in
progress, one the right-wing wife and TV commentator/lawyer of the
right-wing Solicitor General who himself helped to hijack not an airplane
but the whole election for Bush, but on the other hand the initial news
reports (I had the TV on from 5:30 am Pacific Time) on MSNBC and saw the
news reports from the first-one on) were that it was an "aircraft disaster."
That was my initial take as missed clearances, assigned altitudes, assigned
headings, assigned airspeeds and separations--on the part of pilots as well
as air controllers--occur all the time and it is a miracle that more
buildings do not get taken out in places like NYC. But watching the second
aircraft hit the south tower in real time clinched it that it was
deliberate. And of course the Pentagon attack cinched it.

But there were some major screw-ups here that point to the increasing
vulnerability of capital/capitalism as a function of increasing organic
composition/complexity/interdependence of capital. I have flow many hours on
instruments, and even when flying in clear weather, under an IFR (Instrument
Flight Rules) flight plan, your eyes are on the instruments always--not
outside the cockpit--as you are expected to be able to fly and do actually
fly, precise assigned headings, altitudes, airspeeds and groundspeeds, rates
of descent/climb, standard (published) arrivals, approaches, departures,
tracks and tracks to specific navigational fixes or points in space and
time. Any deviation is monitored and corrected from the ground by air
controllers who can see exactly what you are doing and not doing. Here we
have two of the four aircraft going out of Logan at Boston on headings of
180-degrees for over 30 minutes when they should have been flying something
like 240-degrees to LA and no one caught it on the ground? The same applies
to the aircraft out of Washington DC and Newark although their targets were
closer and perhaps deviations from standard departures and assigned
headings/altitudes were harder to spot in time on the ground.

For as many years as I can remember, my father, a Northwest Airlines pilot
carried a weapon in his flight chart case. He used to have the attendants
give-up their cockpit keys and would only let them in with a coded knock on
the door. We discussed scenarios just like what took place over New York and
his position was that as a captain, ultimately responsible not only for
those on the aircraft but those on the ground (he taught me that if I was
going down at night, fly to where it is dark and there are no lights to
avoid taking people on the ground with me) he would never surrender the
cockpit unless killed. If a hijacker threatened to kill passengers unless
gaining entry to the cockpit, his position was that the passengers would
just have to get the guts together to act collectively--each risking his/her
own life-- to overpower the hijackers as he would never surrender control of
the aircraft no matter how many were being killed-- because of what could
happen to those on the ground. He once gave me a scenario in which some nut
case wanted to take-out a whole planeload of people and a lot of people on
the ground in a final narcissistic suicidal act and said that he would never
allow himself or a co-pilot to assist in such an endeavor. Armed only with
knives, the numbers of passengers, if acting collectively with iron
determination and willingness to die should have been able to overpower
those hijackers. Some of the cell phone calls said that the aircrews along
with the passengers had been hearded to/held in the back of the aircraft yet
the cell phone callers indicated that they knew they were about to die and
some watched as others were stabbed by the hijackers (the wealthy may be
able to buy protection, but when faced personally with violence and unable
to buy their way out of it, many fold-up and are unwilling to engage in
violence personally and collectively).

Then there is the fact that several key buildings have had their own
structural integrity compromised (the World Finance Building shows an
ongoing fire at the top) and others may also fall.(spatial and functional
interdependce of physical structures) Further, the interdependence of
commodity and financial markets (increasing and very high r-square
lagged-variable correlations between movements in 23 key global stock
markets for example) has also been shown as a result of these recent events.
And the mounting and staggering economic dislocations and costs, the true
costs of which will never be known, from these relatively isolated (in time
and space) acts all reveal increasing global and systemic vulnerability
(systemically) of capitalism and imperialism to increasing organic
composition/complexity/interdependence of capital--and terrorism--on/via
smaller-scale acts and crises on local levels.

Jim Craven


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