[Marxism] Detroit in the new era of class antagnonism: general theory props and specifics

Waistline2 at aol.com Waistline2 at aol.com
Thu Aug 19 08:38:25 MDT 2010


Our common history has been completion of the industrial revolution.  
Society cannot leap backwards to agrarian relations buttressed by an  
infrastructure founded on and expressing a division of labor flowing from  handicraft, 
manufacture or "heavy manufacture" of two hundred years ago. A  society can 
be momentarily dragged back to an outdated political form of  property, but 
not for very long. 
 
Bourgeois property - wage labor as system of surplus value extraction,  
corresponds to and is suitable to an industrial economy. Wage labor is  
absolutely hostile to and evolves in antagonism with a post industrial economy  
founded on electro-computer processes. In front of our eyes a new form of 
wealth  has arisen, dominating the world total capital and this wealth is not 
being  generated based on surplus value extraction. This does not mean no one 
works in  society. The non-banking financial system dominates finance 
capital. Capital as  a notional (imaginary) value evolves in antagonism with wage 
labor. Wage labor  evolved in contradiction with capital as the laboring 
process, wherein surplus  value was appropriated by capitalist owners of the 
means of production. 
 
Our common experience has been shaped by the tensions - contradiction,  
between the needs and desires of the working class for a better life and the  
needs of the capitalist owners to make adjustments in the legal, social, and  
political system to retain power and develop the economy. In the first 70 
years  of the last century, that tension resulted in expanded civil rights, 
free public  education and state university systems, a safe water supply,  
government-supported home ownership, union-won health care and the rest of the 
 "American dream." 
 
This form of class struggle drove the system through its various  
quantitative boundaries. No where at the front of the curve of industrial  
development was this form of class struggle sufficient to bring the system of  
bourgeois property to an end. Various theories sought to explain why the system  of 
bourgeois property was not overthrown anywhere at the front curve of  
industrial development. What is indisputable was the vying of capitalist and  
forces for socialism for political authority in countries making the leap from  
agrarian-feudal relations to industrial relations of production. 
 
Everyone over sixty has lived half their lives under conditions where  
reform of the system was possible and did in fact take place. II. The transition 
 from labor-based industry to labor-replacing electronic production, 
though, has  transformed every aspect of society. This process does not take place 
all at one  time. The old period of "re-forming" social, legal and 
political relationships  that served to tie the working class into support of the 
capitalist system,  ended 30 years ago. Most people still do not recognize the 
full import of this  change. Marxists with feet in the old communist 
movement have been reluctant to  shed the doctrines of the Third International. 
 
The capitalists, though, know that they are engaged in a political battle  
over power and control and are taking steps to change how society is run. 
They  are implementing a strategy to replace bribery and democracy (as limited 
as they  were) by more direct control and a state prepared to do what's 
necessary to  preserve private property, capital as a notional value and 
maintain social  stability in times of crisis. 
 
As workers are thrown out of the system, forced lower and lower, and  
dispossessed of what they had gained, their ties - connection, to capital are  
broken. The breach is material and political. Proletarians become more open to 
 considering other possibilities, including a world that isn't controlled 
in the  interest of just one percent of the population. Their own experience 
begins to  show them that the path of reform is blocked. But what lies 
ahead? 
 
History has closed one road to a better life, but has opened another.  
Labor-replacing technology has created the conditions for a world of great  
abundance. It makes possible a cooperative society where everyone can benefit  
from the wealth produced. While there may be a thousand different ways of  
talking about this better world, it is clear that it can only be built if  
production is taken from private hands and organized to provide for the general 
 welfare. 
 

III. 
 
The history of U.S. economic development is a constant story of giant  
giveaways: dollars, land, roads, resources, military contracts, risk insurance  
and more - public wealth put into private hands. As the economy grew during 
the  past century, it brought incredible wealth to a small class of people 
and a  comfortable standard of living to millions of workers integral to the 
productive  process. My parents lives material improved with the expansion 
of the material  power of productive forces. Much of my life improved. This 
is not the case  today. 
 
Electronics changed all that. The expansion  of the material power of  
productive forces ruins the proletariat at the front curve of the technological  
advance. 
 
Today's bailouts and the nationalization of failing industries - with the  
goal of getting them healthy and putting them back into private hands - are  
different from the giveaways of the past. They are a recognition that 
private  ownership and the market no longer can meet society's needs. Now 
millions of  workers stand outside of the economic process. The connection of labor 
and  capital in production is broken and the two classes therefore have to 
confront  one another externally -politically. A huge section of our 
proletariat, with no  stable connection to capital via the production of material 
values is evolving  in external collision with a form of capital with no 
stable connection to  capital via the production of material values. No reform 
of the system can bring  this dispossessed proletariat into the system of 
bourgeois commodity production. 
 
That reality shapes the path forward. The challenge of revolutionary work  
in the movement is to link the inability of capitalism to deliver and the 
need  for a different system with what is the next step now for the movement. 
As the  world polarizes, the old route of pressure and protest for "more" 
won't work  anymore. In the fights for education, housing and water, we can 
see the first  small steps on the only path open to the movement-toward a 
political  confrontation between the two classes that face each other in 
society. 
 
IV. 
 
This new phase of the proletarian revolution crystallized in Detroit in the 
 late 1990s. On August 28, a demonstration with be held in Detroit 
organized by  the UAW - autoworkers union and Jesse Jackson Sr. crew - Operation 
Push. The  demand is for Jobs, Justice and Peace. 
 
As the saying goes "slow motion beats no motion." 
 
What of the 47,000 people in Detroit who have had their utilizes shut off  
since January? What of the 30,000 people who showed up 10 days ago in 
greater  metropolitan Atlanta seeking 1500 slots for section 8 - government, 
housing?  What of permanent government assistance and perpetual unemployment 
checks until  those seeking work are employed? 
 
The struggle of the dispossessed proletariat is already objectively  
evolving outside the employee/employer relationship. The fight is objectively  
with the state. This dispossessed proletariat is not a flat category, in as 
much  as the word "proletariat" describes a political form of a property 
relation. 600  - 800,000 retired members of the autoworkers union have been 
dispossessed and  the union will have to wage a life and death battle to negotiate 
on their  behalf. Sections of these retired workers have lost their pension 
benefits and  been thrown into the arms of the Federal Pension Board (FPB). 
The FPB pays 65%  of ones basic pension benefit. 
 
This needs explanation to illustrate the devastation taking place. My total 
 monthly pension is $2768.89. After taxes and total deductions $2583.59. My 
basic  pension payment is $445.51. The supplemental payment is $2323.08. 
 
65% of my basic pension payment is $289.58 a month. It is not uncommon for  
retired workers to simply lose 100% of their pension altogether. These 
workers  need a lot of "justice." The industrial form of the old trade union 
movement  will be and is being sublated. In real time this has meant the 
organized battle  to redefine the purpose of unions and the union movement. A form 
of union not  connected to an employer and able to confront state and 
government is needed. At  this writing the issue and battle for health care, by 
the largest segment of the  union - retired workers, is 100% outside the 
employer-employee relationship. 
 
Where will these workers turn when federal law does not require an employer 
 to negotiate with workers that are not employed by the company? A new form 
of  organization of the proletariat is in birth, out of a material 
necessity rather  than due to clever thinking. Here is the meaning of the 
proletariat evolving in  external collision with capital. The historic bond of the 
proletariat with  capital, as the production of material value, is being 
irreparably shattered,  with no possibility of employment during peak period of 
production. 
 
Cyclical crisis of capital merge with the evolutionary crisis of bourgeois  
commodity production. This process is called social revolution and is 
unlike  anything the world experienced in the past century.
 
WL




More information about the Marxism mailing list