[Marxism] Consumer Culture - 3/dialectics

Waistline2 at aol.com Waistline2 at aol.com
Sat May 1 08:16:38 MDT 2004

In a message dated 4/30/2004 3:25:58 AM Central Standard Time, 
emusis at adelphia.net writes:

>But here's a proposition for debate:

"The fundamental contradiction in the world today is between capitalist 
production -- its dynamic compulsion to grow or die --  and the capacity of the 
earth to sustain it without exhausting itself and the environment that sustains 
all life, and therefore between the rule of capitalists and the survival of 
life itself, including especially the rest of humanity as that form of life 
conscious of the threat and capable of choosing between utopia or oblivion " <


The law of the unity and strife - struggle, of opposities or contradiction 
deals with 'movement and self movement' or internally necessary movement - the 
principle of self movement of things. We are speaking of the contradictory 
motion within a thing or process and not forms of external collision: This 
includes capitalism colliding with the metabolic logic of the earth. The external 
collision of a system of production with the metabolic process of earth has been 
written about by Marx and Engels, but from the standpoint - in my opinion, of 
how the metabolic process creates the form of resolution of contradiction. 
This external collision does not create the resolution - at best only its form. 

What is being challenged is not the need for urgent action against 
environmental destruction on all fronts of the economic, social and political spectrum? 
Before retiring in 2001 a series of reports and statements from "Clay Ford" 
concerning the Ford Motor Company commitment to the Green Revolution were 
issued. CHrysler had won several "Green Awards" the previous year. I worked at 
Chrysler Mound Rd. Engine in Detroit and the plant was closed in 2002, with two new 
Engine plants built in Detroit - Mack Ave. Engine I & II. These new plants 
were given awards as being "Green Friendly." In relationship to the last 
generation engine plants, the bourgeoisie can claim a relative "Green Friendly." In 
relationship to the automobile as the embodiment of bourgeois production these 
plants cannot be green friendly because the metabolic processes of the earth 
are already breached. The logic of the bourgeoisie is equivalent to telling an 
alcoholic that his problem can be solved by switching brands or drinking less. 
A resolution of alcoholism requires total withdrawal from that, which makes 
one alcoholic. 

I of course favor a fuel cell power plant as a transition measure, as a 
partial resolution of auto emissions. I do not advocate halting automotive 
production but rather abolishing the property basis that cast individual 
transportation as a society need. There is a place for automobiles - private 
transportation, on earth. 

The above philosophic formulation, which is the philosophic expression of the 
late Comrade Mark Jones thesis, poses the question incorrectly and 
consequently non of the advocates have actually traced the origin of "needs" that is the 
underlying impulse for why society is configured on this basis. All of the 
Comrades see the problem. 

The "fundamental contradiction in the world today" remains within bourgeois 
production and cannot magically "leap" outside the logic of bourgeois 
production on the basis of external collision between the metabolic process of the 
earth and a system of production. 

The danger in any exposition of dialectics consists in several factors. 
Exposition always takes place in a given boundary of the development of the 
productive forces, which forces certain feature of the process to come to the fore. 
During the time of Lenin and Stalin brief expositions of dialectics 
concentrated on the relationship between quality and quantity and even Leon Trotsky's 
"ABC of Marxism" is written from this standpoint. Stalin's "Dialectical and 
Historical Materialism" is a reasonable guide for the beginner, with no history of 
philosophy. A more advanced exposition in history is "A Textbook of Marxist 
Philosophy" prepared by the Leningrad Institute of Philosophy (1937). This text 
is dated by excellent compared with other expositions written in the time 
frame of 1935 - 1940. 

The last book I read on Marx method was "Dance of the Dialectic: Steps in 
Marx's Method" by Bertell Ollman, which is written for a somewhat different 
audience than industrial workers and those with a less than High School education. 

One can consult on line the Institute for the Study of the Science of Society 
for expositions of dialectics, written in American English for our workers. 

The issue of external collision has a prime place in dialectics and the class 
struggle in real time and real life. "Real life" means as we live out our 
daily activity. External collision is the result of contradiction being replaced 
by antagonism and this is marked as an increased polarization and breach 
between the two basic components  - opposites, that constitutes the internal 
compulsion. Contradiction does not become antagonistic but is replaced by antagonism 
as a form of resolution. 

For instance the proletariat does not become the bourgeoisie, but rather 
abolishes itself as proletariat, and along with him the bourgeoisie. 

Labor and capital - bourgeoisie and proletariat as forms of property, are the 
irreducible elements of bourgeois production.  How this process takes place 
is what Marx calls society moving in class antagonism.  At this stage of 
capital - which is not devolution, the proletariat and bourgeoisie takes on new 
features. The emergence of speculative capital to leader of the world total social 
capital is characterized as an enormous mass of capital that has in fact 
broken its connection with the production process or the production of 
commodities. This capital is not commercial paper or bonds mirroring, trailing or in 
front of investment in production. This is not speculative activity of all the 
previous eras, or quantitative boundaries in the expansion of bourgeois 
production. We are taking about the existence of a mass of capital absolutely outside 
of production and its owners are regarded as capitalist. Marx noted the 
beginning of this development in Volume 2 of Capital, the system of credit capital. 

This capital outside of production exists as the polar opposite of a 
communist class or class of proletarians outside - more than less, the production 
process. These two poles of capital are unlike labor and capital in the production 
process because their is no bond or connecting tissue between them. These 
extreme expressions of polarity exist in external collision by default. 
Contradiction is replaced by antagonism. 

The external collision is not the need of capitalism to expand versus the 
carrying capacity of the earth ("the capacity of the earth to sustain') or the 
"mysterious crossing over" of the internal logic of bourgeois production into a 
contradiction outside its own self movement. 

Let us look at this speculative capital in its external relations to labor 
and capital deployed in the process of production. Comrade Jurriann provided 
some excellent material on this subject. 

>"the money game players have been so successful in creating play money that 
for every $1 now circulating in the productive world economy of real goods and 
services, it is estimated that there is $20 to $50 circulating in the world 
of pure finance--"investment"
funds completely delinked from the creation of real value.

In the international currency markets alone, some $800 billion to $1 trillion 
changes hands each day--unrelated to productive investment or trade in actual 
goods and services [i.e. an annual capital flow of around $300 trillion] 
(...) The world's 200 largest industrial corporations, which employ only one-third 
of one percent of the world's population, control 25 percent of the world's 
economic output. The top 300 transnationals, excluding financial institutions, 
own some 25 percent of the world's productive assets. Of the world's 100 
largest economies, 51 are now corporations--not including banking and financial 
institutions. The combined assets of the world's 50 largest commercial banks and 
diversified financial
companies amount to nearly 60 percent of The Economist's estimate of a $20
trillion global stock of productive capital."<

Let us look at some features of the communist class. 

>"Globally, as many as 1 billion people fail to meet life's basic 
requirements as defined by the UN.  About three-fifths of the world's population in 
developing countries live without sanitation.  About one-third live without safe 
drinking water.  One-fourth lack adequate housing; one-fifth live without modern 
health services; one-fifth of their children don't make it through fifth 
grade; an equal number are malnourished.

Water shortage and contamination kill nearly 25,000 people a day.  Diarrhea 
kills nearly 4 million children every year.  In Bolivia, when the US 
multinational Bechtel tried to privatize the water supply, a revolution was sparked.  
Now, we can add Bolivia to the list of countries that don't like our policies.

In addition to global inequality, the United States is also experiencing 
domestic inequality.  According to the US Census, more than 34 million Americans 
now live below the poverty line.  That's almost 2 million more impoverished 
than in 2001.  Over 16% of our children live in poverty, almost double the 
figures for 2001.  The Veterans Administration estimates that on any given night 
300,000 veterans sleep on America's streets.  The VA estimates that during the 
year as many as half a million veterans experience homelessness.  
Conservatively, one out of every four homeless males who is sleeping in a doorway, alley, or 
a cardboard box in our cities and rural communities has put on a uniform and 
served our country."

More information about the Marxism mailing list