Oil and overproduction

Charles Brown BrownBingb at aol.com
Thu Jan 23 12:17:34 MST 2003

Hello David,

You wrote in part

....  The great
danger to the development of an ecosocialism is not people like me who
stress the fundamentals, but the manipulation, distortion of the socialist
message by those terrrified by the billions on the planet looking for
something to eat.  Marxism, and Marxist ecoology has to take pains and make
every effort to isolate and attack those primitivists who would see in it
another vehicle for the reduction in living standards.

... And indeed his conclusion that it is the appropriation of
the fish as a commodity, an object of commodity production, that places the
stocks in such danger, is exactly the Marxist/ecological point.  It is not,
to my mind, the deployment of  factory ships in and of itself.  It is the
deployment of them with the requirement for profit to keep them afloat that
makes them ever larger,  forces production to be wasteful, indiscriminate,
warlike.  ...clip-

Really, 2 billion people are living on less than $2 a day.  How much fish
can they be eating?  How much fish are all those living on less than $20 a
day eating?  Are we saying we can only feed them if everybody decides to
live on $10 a day?  ...clip

CB: You know in a way Lou and Mark are hazing you as a newcomer to the list
in the sense that they aren't taking the time to explain to you how their
discussions of these issues got to where it is in relation to what you are
talking about ( although Mark did refer you to the archives).

Perhaps I can articulate now a little better what I was trying to get at in
mentioning Mark's Marxist "credentials". Mark ( and Lou) really are aware of
the Marxist critique of Mathus ,and the bourgeois perverted use of awareness
of the ecological problems created by the bourgeois's own polluting and
destructive system. They know the whole fallacy of bourgeois populationist
demogogy that you explain so well in your post here. They both are very
convinced of the ABC's of Marx's political economy, including the principles
that you keep espousing on this thread.

But they are also both concerned that bourgeois pollution and environmental
destruction/exhaustion have reached a point where there has to be some new
theory building which integrates the ABC's of classic Marxist political
economy with a new priority of attention to Marxist ecology.

Now oil depletion is also a sort of special or emergency dimension in this,
at least for Mark.  He's saying that even if we had a world wide socialist
revolution and total transformation to global communism TODAY ( mean in 24
hours), there would still be a very difficult problem because fossil fuels
are so critical in the universal human energy and technology regime of 2003,
which wouldn't be switched to a wholly new basis with the worldwide socialist
revolution. The capitalists have pushed even their potential
proletarian/socialist successors way out on a technological limb. Marxists
have always focussed on a transformation of the mode of production , with a
new use of the existing , capitalist system means, instruments and raw
materials ( at least in the short run after the revolution). But Marx never
said it wasn't possible for the capitalists to misuse science and technoloigy
so badly as to ruin human ecology even beyond repair with a communist mode of
production. As an analogy, clearly it would be possible for the capitalists
to carryout a nuclear war that would be so universally destructive that there
would no longer be the means for socialist and communist society.  Socialism
or Savagery ! And the delay in the revolution may remove the first option.

Anyway, that's what I get from this thread ( which actually is about 4 or 5
years old; didn't start a few weeks ago on this list).

So, you are correct in what you are saying. Really. It is just that there
looms this extraordinary issue that complicates the old issues which you
discuss very rightly. You should just really believe that Mark and Lou are
not bourgeois Malthusians, and present your arguments with that in mind. They
are wearing masks some. They are trying to get Marxists to think outside the
box, as the saying goes these days. And they use exaggeration and costumes to
do it sometimes.

CB: On this (somebody might have mentioned it already) , doesn't
"overproduction" in the ABC''s usually refer to the whole economy , not
one industry.  Do Marxist's talk about a crisis of overproduction in the
industry ?

DMS: Yes and no.  And yes.  Marxists and capitalists both talk about
overproduction in specific industries, including the auto industry.  Such
was the case in the 70s, when the auto industry began its assault on its
labor force.  In the 70s, GM had enough productive capacity to satisfy all
forseeable demand for autos in NA solo.   Without any contribution from any
other manufacturer. That didn't stop VW, Ford, etc from expanding,
particularly in Mexico, LA, etc. in the 70s, 80s, 90s. -clip-

CB: Yes, and actually what you could have said to me here was that there IS
(maybe) a general , whole economy crisis of overproduction in the U.S.right
now. Unemployment is rising. The stock market bubble has burst. etc. So, Bush
is going to war because we are in recession. Straight forward. Classic.

This also has indicia of a colonialist conquest of a locale of important raw
materials which I think doesn't have to be tied to a particular business
cycle crisis for explanation.

Of course , the question of why this war is occurring is to an extent
academic. We know it's for capitalist profits whether in the short run or
long run or both. It's not to make the world a better place for most people.

DMS:  Capital uses all of the above to secure itself and its property.  I
would argue that the LBO period of American capital, arson by other means is
a sort of war.  Let me take this opportunity to correct, or actually deepen
an earlier observation:  I asked "Why now?"  "Why not a war in 1973."  Of
course capital did initiate a war in 1973.  A war against the working class
particularly in Latin America, the US, and Europe.  Chile, 1973 is NOT
separate and apart from OPEC.  OPEC ushers in the "austerity" period
designed to reduce the wages and living standards of the working classes in
the US and Europe.

CB: Yes. What you say is important to say. On the other hand, and I don't
mean this as a criticism in the sense of  we shouldn't say what you just
said, but from the standpoint of your question "why now ?" the position that
the capitalists are always starting wars and they are always because of
crises of overproduction blunts the specificity dimension. It is worth
considering whether there are some "new" things going on in 2003, beyond the
continuous , permanent cause of crises of overproduction, no ? By the way, I
too agree that Margaret's point about no Soviet Union to curb U.S.
imperialism is a new specific cause.

CB:    Are you saying the war on Iraq will raise the rate
of profit back up by reducing the supply and raising pricdes , because the
war will reduce the supply coming from Iraq ? Or will taking the oil allow
the American capitalists to raise their rate of profit back up ? How does
war fit into your logic of solving a crisis of  overproduction ?

DMS:  I do not know if the war will be successful in resolving the rate of
profit problem in the industry.  Success isn't the issue for the
bourgeoisie.  Any and all means will be attempted to restore profit and the
ratio of profit to expense.  If my finding costs are $0 (and I hope to
discuss the impact of finding costs on the oil industry later on.  Don't
groan, I promise to make it interesting).  My production costs are 97cents a
barrel and I'm charging my European allies $30.... well, stand back Martha,
I'm a fixin' to run like a race horse...

CB: I'm just thinking that there doesn't have to be a crisis of
overproduction for the bourgeoisie to be motivated to conquer Iraq in order
to grab production costs of 97 cents while they can sell for $30, no ? We
could be in a boom for oil and they still would want to grab that opportunity
by any means necessary.

All Power to the People !

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