Monday, December 24, 2018

Michael D. Yates — Exploitation and Expropriation, or Why Capitalism Must be Attacked with Equal Force on Every Front

This essay is based upon arguments made in Chapter 2 (“Some Theoretical Considerations”) of my book, Can the Working Class Change the World?
Good article by Marxian Michael D. Yates

I would say that if it has any failing, it understates the dystopian effect of "capitalism" as a system that favors capital (ownership) over labor (people) and land (the environment). That kind of system, which takes many forms, e.g., classical economic liberalism and contemporary neoliberalism, is is a recipe for dystopia under the guise of "growth is always and everywhere good for everyone" because "a rising tide lifts all boats" (trickle down), so capital formation and accumulation must be prioritized over the other factors.

This is especially dangerous when economic liberalism identified with some form of capitalism overshadows social and political liberalism through regulatory capture at minimum to state capture at maximum. Presently, the danger is state capitalism. Beyond this lies the prospect of global corporate totalitarianism operating under the facade of a "rules-based" international order — with multinational corporations dictating the rules. The US elite is now committed to controlling this process.

What is to be done? "Socialism" as communistic totalitarianism was tried and found wanting. Marx gave only vague hints about what would happen after the fall of capitalism. There is no articulated plan on the table that has commanded attention. Was Margaret Thatcher correct in saying, "There is no alternative?" On the other hand, capitalism is in the process of imploding as the winners take all and the losers are getting restless—think torches and pitchforks. Exaggeration? At a meeting with corporate executives after the financial crisis, President Obama said, “My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”

The next system is not necessarily "socialism" as opposed to capitalism, which critics oversimplify and individualism versus collectivism. Rather, the preferred system is one that integrate all factors, social, political and economic, and one that also recognizes the historical dynamic involving the intersection of different cultures, as well as accommodating the interaction of traditionalism and liberalism without trying to impose either.

This would be an ecological solution that would recognize that the planetary system is a complex adaptive system subject to reflexivity, including learning from feedback, and emergence involving new challenges fresh from new opportunities.

With this recognition, humanity could work toward achieving ideal society progressively, with ideal society defined as maximizing positive factors and minimizing negative as an ongoing optimization project in which all are enlisted equally.

Exploitation and Expropriation, or Why Capitalism Must be Attacked with Equal Force on Every Front
Michael D. Yates | Editorial Director of Monthly Review Press

Here is a comment I made on Robert Paul Wolff's blog that is relevant here:

Blogger Tom Hickey said...
1. The so-called left is so blinded-sided by Trump derangement syndrome that most "leftists" have lost their minds and oppose everything that Trump does, even when it accords with their objectives. Adding to this is Bannon derangement syndrome by opposing any issue of national sovereignty based on opposing authoritarian nationalist populism, again regardless of whether it accords one's interests.

2. The so-called left cannot seem to distinguish between socialist internationalism based on worker solidarity and neoliberal globalization whose mission is multinational corporate totalitarianism.

3. The fundamental problem is "capitalism" broadly defined as culturally and institutionally favoring capital as a factor over labor (people) and land (the environment), based on capital formulation and accumulation being necessary for growth, which is good for everyone absolutely if not relatively because a rising tide lifts all boats (trickle down).

4. Progressives have failed to understand that a currency issuer that is sovereign in its currency in the sense of floating the exchange rate and not undertaking financial obligations in a currency it does not issue is able to self-fund itself by issuance, meaning that a such a government is always in the position of being able to put available real resources to use and also fund social welfare. The result is that progressive buy into the neoliberal version of capitalism that is prevalent because, in the words of Margaret Thatcher, "there is no alternative."

5. The chief power of America is soft power. America has been hemorrhaging soft power 9/11 owing to the pursuit of global hegemony in accordance with the Bush doctrine and the Wolfowitz doctrine that is resulting in spreading chaos and alienating the rest of the world. Ironically, this travesty is based on "spreading freedom, democracy and Western values." That facade has crumbled.

6. The strategic blindness on the part of the US and NATO leadership, along with almost total corporate media complacency, driven by an inordinate fear of Russia, driven by Russiagate and Russophobia, as well as the fear that China will overtake the US. Well, eventually China is going to overtake the US, just as a matter of numbers. So will India.

7. There is no longer a free press in the West, but a compromised press. It's no longer possible to distinguish "news" from government propaganda and intelligence services disinformation. The joke in Russia is that the present day press in Russia is like the press used to be in America, while the American press is like the press used to be under the USSR.

Each of these points can be elaborate with data and has been in the non-corporate media and on social media. The bipartisan establishment is characterizing this as either conspiracy theory or treasonous (Putin-bots).

December 21, 2018 at 10:40 AM
Blogger Tom Hickey said...
All of these issues are traceable to "capitalism" as the driver, "capitalism" being broadly defined as above, and especially the neoliberal variety that has enlisted the power of the state and media, leading toward multinational corporate totalitarianism as the basis for a world order in which the Anglo-American Empire rules through "capitalism." It's not even necessary at this level to get into Marxian analysis of capitalism. It's obvious at the superficial level owing just to prioritization.

What is needed as an antidote is a balancing of the factors with the priority given to people, but in the context of a sustainable ecology. The alternative is existential threat and risk of an extinction event. No brainer, that.

This reorganization will likely not take place without a raising of the level of collective consciousness through the working of the historical dialectic over time. Revolutions require the wherewithal for sustainable reform is more or less in place. That doesn't seem to be the case at present. So this is likely to be a more gradual evolutionary process, which is also consistent with Marx's analysis that a mode of production has first to exhaust its potential before a new wave rises.

The "metaphysical" materials (as Bucky Fuller called them) for a new system are still developing. Human metaphysical materials like knowledge and empathy, dare I say love, are unlimited. But they need to be developed and drawn on. Presently, humanity is drawing on only a fraction of those materials that have already been developed. (See economist and general systems theorist Kenneth Boulding's work, for example.) At the same time, the emergence of the Information Age suggest that a transition may be taking place similar to the transition from the Agricultural Age (feudalism) to the Industrial Age (capitalism). The outlines are as yet vague and the emergent challenges seem to be as great as the emergent opportunities. The take-away is that technological innovation results in the opportunity for greater leisure. The challenge then is distributing it.

In the meanwhile, probably the best that can be done is to call the on the left to get back on track and show them means for doing this. The first matter of business is showing progressives that they are undermining their own cause by buying into neoliberalism, which is based on "sound finance," which was suitable to a degree under the gold standard (fixed exchange rate). Rather, given the monetary system since FDR went off the gold standard domestically and Nixon shut the gold window internationally.

Abba Lerner's functional finance is presently the suitable fiscal policy, coupled with federally funded social welfare and infrastructure development, and a federally funded job guarantee, e.g., as proposed by Stephanie Kelton, who was Bernie Sanders chief economic advisor. Unfortunately, Bernie did not listen to her and an opportunity was lost. The Democratic Party is pretty much useless as long as it continues to embrace PAYGO in order to appear fiscally responsible in contrast to the GOP that has no compunctions about increasing military spending while cutting taxes on the rich. Nor is taxing the rich to fund government the way to go either. The rich need to be taxed more (progressive taxation) in order to reduce their political clout, which is in proportion to wealth. Even Citibank admits that the US again a plutonomy.

December 21, 2018 at 10:42 AM
Blogger Tom Hickey said...

The important thing thing for the left now is not to obsess on Trump and especially to avoid Trump derangement syndrome. It just increases the crazy. It leads down a blind ally, a tunnel with no cheese. It's also important not to get distracted by identity politics and intersectionality and lose sight of worker solidarity. It's also important not to let socialist "internationalism" distract from the useful aspects of national sovereignty that are still vital protecting workers, advancing social welfare, and promoting the general welfare and common good by fostering people's interests as fundamental to public purpose. Socialists internationalism must be distinguished from neoliberal globalization, which is a form of neo-imperialism and neocolonialism.

In other words, "keep your eyes on the ball."


1 comment:

Noah Way said...

"My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”

Wall St. sure took a beating under BO. Trillions in free money, no prosecutions let alone investigations. 'Too big to fail' has increased by an order of magnitude. That Politico article was a propaganda piece designed to show the public how tough BO was (not). His current rate for a speech to Wall St. is $400k. For comparison that is the annual salary of a sitting president.