[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be momentarily dragged back to an outdated political form of property, but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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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