CAPITALISM SINKS LOWER – 5.

The previous four articles in this series have outlined the many problems facing humanity caused by the global domination of the capitalist mode of production. Before considering future alternatives to capitalism, it is useful to understand why the Russian Bolsheviks around, Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin and the Chinese Communists around, Mao, created forms of state-capitalist authoritarianism that were almost a mirror image of Nazi version of Fascism.

The reason why right-wing and left-wing authoritarian outcomes were so strikingly similar, stem from the fact that mass societies governed by elites face essentially the same problems and are met with the same class-based solutions – compulsion! Elite governed mass societies need production to match the rhythm of a machine not the relaxed rhythm of nature or human nature. This fact is most starkly revealed by the statements and actions of two of the leaders of the Russian Revolution of 1917.

“Universal labour conscription is introduced. All citizens of both sexes between the ages of sixteen and fifty – five shall be obliged to perform work assigned to them..” (Lenin, Complete works. Vol 26, p 392. Emphasis added. RR)

“..the transformation of the whole state economic mechanism into a single huge machine,…that will work in such a way as to enable hundreds of millions of people to be guided by a single plan..” (Lenin, Vol 27, p 90/91. Emphasis added RR)

“..the principle of discipline, organisation, harmonious cooperation on the basis of modern machine industry and strict accounting and control..” (Lenin ibid p 163)

“There is, therefore, absolutely no contradiction in principle between Soviet (that is socialist) democracy and the exercise of dictatorial powers by individuals…unquestioning subordination to a single will is absolutely necessary for the success of processes organised on the pattern of large-scale machine industry ” (Lenin, ibid p 268/26 Emphasis added. RR.)

These quotations (and there are many more) clearly illustrate a common authoritarian solution to the functioning of mass societies dictated by an elite class. Workers are compelled to labour at essential productive tasks in a manner the elite decide. Lenin’s claim that Bolshevik leadership was in the best interests of working people is as false as Hitler’s similar claim. That both the Nazis and Bolsheviks included the term ‘socialist’ in their literature, party names and banners indicates a strategy of misleading uncritical followers. Lenin was not alone in this view.

“…we can have no way to socialism except by authoritative regulation of the economic forces and resources of the country and in the centralised distribution of labour power in harmony with the general state plan. The labour state considers itself empowered to send every worker to the place where his work is necessary.” (Trotsky, Terrorism and Communism. P 253. Emphasis added RR.)

The essence of mass societies.

So in any discussion of the future, the essential nature of the present capitalist mode of production needs to be considered. Capitalist mass societies depend upon continuously daily and even hourly production to sustain their populations. This is done using two forms of economic activity; productive and unproductive labour. Productive labour is the type work which directly produces more goods or services (in value terms) than it consumes in producing them.

Such productive forms of labour thus create surplus objects of production which can be used for other purposes; eg. to create income streams from sales such as profits and interest or to support those involved in unproductive forms of labour. Unproductive labour, however useful, does not create a surplus of exchangeable objects. (See article 4 of this series)

In addition, the capitalist method of production has greatly increased the general level and efficiency of all kinds of industrialised labour. Indeed, it has risen to such an extent that a smaller and smaller number of productive workers can produce enough to support an ever greater number of unproductive workers and other non-workers.

Productive workers fall into two important categories. First, there are those ‘essential workers’ who produce the things necessary for everyone’s survival such as food, water, clothing, housing, care, education, transport, medicine, energy for lighting, heating and cooking.

These essential workers not only produce profits for capitalist investors, but also supply the essential survival needs of all other citizens, such as teachers, nurses, doctors, social workers, politicians, police, military, royalty, capitalists etc. Second, there are non-essential workers who produce things which are not essential for survival, but which can be useful and also profitable to manufacture and sell. These exist in such realms as fashion, sports, entertainment, leisure, hospitality etc.

The capitalist motive for technological improvements to production has predominantly been profit seeking. This motivation not only enabled mass societies to expand, but also created serious social and ecological problems. Some people have become extremely rich, consuming disproportionally more products (and thus resources) than the poor and to use their wealth to influence politicians and others. Profit seeking has also created the incentive to mass produce endless streams of non-essential products, which exhaust the earth’s essential resources, pollute air, rivers, seas and cause waste products to go into land-fill, lakes and seas.

This class of capitalists have for decades successfully lobbied governments to ignore or dilute any proposals to restrict those activities leading to air and land pollution and deforestation. They will continue to resist radical and egalitarian changes to the ‘system’ for they have come to believe they are entitled to extract enormous wealth from the labour of working people and from the earth’s natural productive ecology.

The members of this class will stand in the way of any future form of eco-friendly progress which does not allow them to continually enrich themselves. Guided by a self-serving mode of thinking, they will do everything they can to maintain their system and thus engineer even more ways to create ecological destruction and climate change.

Humane alternatives are possible.

Yet, ‘saving the planet’ and proving that ‘another world is possible’, follows logically from what was described earlier. The exceptional productivity of labour power in the realm of essential production means very few workers are now needed to supply the masses of citizens with the basics of modern survival. Also many existing workers are already employed by non-profit public service organisations.

At least half the population in most capitalist countries are already employed by one or other of the public services – including the highly paid members of the government and civil service. This means they are not subject to the same profit motives and precarious employment terms and conditions as in the capitalist sector. The capitalist sector by definition will only do what is profitable, not what is necessary.

Furthermore, when profits cannot be made by capitalists, wages and salaries can be reduced or employment terminated. Pensions can also disappear overnight. Elsewhere, I have explained how Capitalist investment isn’t necessary to produce and circulate essential and non-essential goods, so I will not repeat that here. [See Link below.]

Public service versus private exploitation.

From a Revolutionary-Humanist perspective, the following is obvious. If in a transition to a public service mode of production, every working age citizen was offered employment with a public service organisation of their choice, on an average living salary, then work could begin on unprofitable – but urgently needed production. This could be cleaning up pollution, repairing bridges, dams, reservoirs, sea defences, sewers, waste disposal depots, upgrading and building, schools, hospitals, care homes and adequately staffing them. Planting trees and building affordable eco-viable houses could also be done.

Furthermore, the extra workforce voluntarily entering into the public service production of essential products and services could be employed in helping develop the most eco-friendly, non-polluting and non-wasteful methods of production.

In stage 2 of such a humane transition, (if not in stage 1) it would be sensible to address the ridiculous discrepancies in pay and power, between those on the lowest wages and salaries and those on the highest. It is already clear that in government, politics, education, commerce, banking and industry, those on pay levels ten or twenty times higher than the lowest are not ten or twenty times more intelligent, skilful or useful to society than those on the lowest. In fact the number of visible duffers in the highest ranks of society suggest that luck or good family connections have more to do with higher pay and status than operational ability.

The creation of a 21st century unified, non-elite, community based defence of humane living standards – for all – along environmental sustainability for the natural world, would be revolutionary. It could be a modern, humane version of the ‘Your Country Needs You’ called into being at the outset of the Second World War in 1939. The 1939/45 ‘national campaigns’ on both sides of the European war was support for rival elite privilege. In fact elites on all sides (Allies and Axis) enthusiastically created full-employment in agriculture, armies, navies, air-forces and munitions factories – all for the purpose of killing each others citizens. Over 6 million men, women and children died.

In contrast to such warfare and death, national based, full-employment, ‘community campaigns’ to help save the planet and vulnerable communities would be saving lives rather than sacrificing them. However, the elites in power will not willingly allow such a transitional change to happen. They will do all in their power to maintain capitalism (in any of its forms) and resist giving up their wealth and privileges.

Finally, at the risk of repetition, the ecology of the planet can no longer sustain mass societies based on the profit motive and humanity cannot exist humanely on the basis of extreme wealth for a few and poverty for the many. Unless stopped, the capitalist system will continue to trigger devastation either by overproduction, further climate change, more pollution and resource depletion, viral pandemics or further warfare.
Any future generations who survive such devastations will still be faced with the need to change the mode of production to ones based upon the needs of the majority and ecology not the greed of a minority.

Roy Ratcliffe (November 2021)

[Use the link below to view the chapters 8 & 9 on alternatives to capitalist production in the book ‘Introduction to Revolutionary-Humanism’. ]

https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vTgiCGN-50rGR9uOFKxOmWztx8_4v88kKMy3dHtlTGjZcC5wBQYKu3CXRlmUZcvtQegx-lzvWl83peo/pub

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CAPITALISM SINKS LOWER – 4.

As the capitalist mode of production developed, its members had to struggle against the social and economic domination of the previous feudal land-owning class. These aristocratic regimes and their Monarch’s, had long dominated the countries and people of Europe. In opposing aristocratic privilege and exploitation, the rising bourgeoisie promoted the rights of all male citizens to be free of feudal bondage and to have representation in governments The intellectual high point of this capitalist struggle, came with various political declarations of the ‘rights of man’.

In England, France and America, successful revolutions took place against the aristocratic establishment. Whilst not ridding itself of patriarchal prejudices and practices against women, members of the capitalist class did for a short time champion – at least in theory – the rights of all men. The ‘No Taxation Without Representation’ mantra was replicated by the bourgeoisie in England and America whilst in France they chose Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. However, perhaps the clearest expression of this short period of political ‘enlightenment’ was formulated in the American Declaration of Independence;

“ We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal….”

If that is judged to be the moral high point of the male-centred capitalist class struggle against feudal absolutism, its morality declined quickly. Such political declarations had from the start left out more than half the population from the equality equation (females and males without independent means) and they made absolute slaves of non – European people’s – both male and female. However, before considering the profit-led fictional bifurcation of the human species into separate biological categories and so-called racial types, we should consider the other divisive bourgeois invention – nations!

The invention of nationality.

Although capitalism is now international and even global, it’s origins and roots were, and to an extent still are, tied to specific territorial locations. During their development, the capitalist classes transformed the territories they progressively controlled into modern nation-states – complete with clearly defined borders. The purpose of the bourgeois nation-state was to be an authoritarian, repressive tool supporting and defending the interests of the capitalist class and their mode of production.

Because the capitalist mode of production was already authoritarian by design it was only necessary to modify the previous aristocratic/monarchical, might-is-right practice of governance, not abolish it. Feudal working for ’the man’ involved several days per week usually lasting from dawn to dusk. This was extended by capitalist employment practices to include six (or more) days per week and night time working. Furthermore, from the moment the worker steps into the factory, shop or office, he or she must do as they are told, and work at the speed and efficiency decided by the owner/manager. Henceforth, there was to be no wandering off in the woods hunting or gathering wood, or snoozing in the meadow, as earlier peasant workers liked to do.

In sharp contrast, the capitalist boss, or his or her avatar, became a de-facto industrial or commercial ‘sovereign’ and the economic process is governed more or less as the ‘boss’ pleases. Not surprisingly, therefore, when the capitalist classes deposed the previous top down monarchs they merely replaced a single sovereign power with a collective one! As the English philosopher, Edmund Burke had pointed out;

“….whatsoever power is given to the Soveraign, whether a Monarch, or a Soveraign Assembly, without which the Common-wealth cannot stand, such as is the power of War and Peace, of Judicature, of Election of Officers, and of doing whatsoever he shall think necessary for the Publique good.” (Edmund Burke. ‘LEVIATHON’. Page 292.)

So when lines were drawn on maps to delineate the territorial limits of the new capitalist states, the bourgeois “sovereign assemblies”, did just that! They not only decided what constituted the ‘public good’, but did whatever they thought necessary (torture, assassinations, genocidal wars) to pursue their version of it. So a varying degree of dictatorship (total or partial) is in the nature of capitalistic rule – even if it is relaxed from time to time. Elite state-controlled sovereign assemblies, capitalist and state-capitalist ones included, were never intended to serve the people; the people were always intended to serve the sovereign assemblies and the governing elites. However, in this case, those governed were no longer agricultural ‘village people’ but urban town and city proletarian masses.

O Neighbour, Where Art Thou?

The nationalistic drawing of straight lines on maps also produced other divisive effects upon humanity. Traditional communities (and sometimes extended families) were split up as borders were drawn between previously connected villages and even down the middle of rivers. For the first time in the millions of years of human history, legally fixed boundaries, with armed guards, were erected to keep some people in and others out of a designated territory. The people ‘inside’ becoming subjected to numerous state laws and taxes.

In this way a new bourgeois political form of human identity – nationality – was invented and imposed so that Burke’s ‘sovereign assemblies’ of capitalists and pro-capitalists could do as they saw fit. Common lands were enclosed, peasants turfed out of cottages, walls and fences put up. Eventually glorious anthems were devised and people taught to be proud of the nation they found themselves trapped in – no matter what crimes against humanity their ‘sovereign assemblies’ initiated!

Even more damaging to the common origin, morality and shared biology of the human species and the biosphere they all shared, the people corralled within the new national boundaries were taught to despise and even hate people living in other such manufactured ‘nation-states’. The fierce economic competition between national based rival capitalist elites to sell their commodities internationally was foisted upon, and culturally massaged into the neurons and ganglia of everyone under the control of their elite ‘sovereign assemblies’.

Patriotic fervour for the abstract term ‘country’ was elevated way above any rational concern for individuals of the human family or the planet we all depend upon. Nationalistic prejudice, and as we shall see, the politically motivated invention of ‘race’ systematically adulterated the understanding of our common humanity and our shared planetary ecology. The bourgeois sovereign assemblies had the power, by the use of state dictated conscription, to force citizens to take up arms against citizens of other nations and lands and to kill and main other members of their own species – in unprecedented numbers.

But this 20th century ecological and moral ‘decline of capitalism’, had not sunk far enough to disturb the conscience of the capitalistically inclined elite of Europe. They also decided to conquer the rest of the world and dehumanise it’s native inhabitants.

The invention of ‘race’.

The ideology of race required two fictions to be dogmatically asserted as facts. The central fiction of the invented category of race was that humanity consisted of biologically different sub-species which had evolved from some ancient hominid stock. To this central fiction was added a second; that certain skin colours and techniques determined which was the inferior category of human being and which was the superior. Dark skin was classed inferior, pale skin was classed as superior.

In the ‘scramble’ for Africa, for example, African skin was asserted as Black and European skin asserted as White. Neither assertion depicted reality, these terms were all fraudulent political fictions. No human being has black skin and no human being has white skin – and furthermore, there are no races! These nonsense concepts were bourgeois politically motivated metaphors for ideas justifying extreme prejudice and foreign conquest.

In the upside-down worlds, often constructed by bourgeois ideologues and those in their thrall, politically motivated distortions of reality are frequently asserted as truths. For example, militarised killing forces are described as peace-keepers; job training is labelled as ‘education’; a privileged class system is defined as ‘equality of opportunity’; wage and salary slavery is presented as ‘freedom’. More recently, according to petite-bourgeois political correctness advocates, a biological man can claim to be classed genderwise as a woman – if he so chooses. As capitalism economically, morally and ideologically degenerates, it drags others down with it. Clear biological and historical categories are dissolved away by the sectarian acid of political correctness.

Discrimination (based upon intolerance of human variation) wedded to the 19th century economic incentive to profit from trade, also led European capitalists to exploit much of the known world. Political fictions concerning ethnic identity and human difference became so embedded in European language and thinking that these invented fictions infected practically everyone educated in Western elitist values. Hume, Kant, Gobineau etc., provided extra intellectual and philosophical backing to forms of racist ideology which reached their abhorrent peaks (or rather depths) in ‘Heart of Darkness’ European Colonialism/Imperialism and the mythical Aryan roots of 20th century Fascist ideology.

Moreover, once the fiction of racial categories was uncritically accepted as fact, by victim and perpetrator alike, a further erroneous assumption followed. The brutality and discrimination epitomised by capitalist exploitation justified by its twisted racial ideology and openly manifested in the capitalist inspired Atlantic slave trade, was erroneously viewed – as a product of European biology and pale skin colour. This one-dimensional – black and white – virtual-reality version of humanity perpetuated the racist assumption that biology, not socio-economic structures, ultimately determine social position and intellectual attitudes.

The assumption of a European biologically determined motivation for prejudice and discrimination, also ignored the actual socio-economic foundations for, and motivation of, the capitalist mode of production. That is to say, the categories of – wage-slavery – and full slavery. NB. Historically, slavery and the politics of colour prejudice, was, (and in the contemporary world still is) practised by powerful elites – of all skin shades or colours! Forms of prejudice and discrimination between human beings are ideological manifestations of practices which arise within elite governed socio-economic systems. The continued use of race is merely an extreme example of how low and loose the language of elite inspired prejudice and discrimination has been allowed to sink.

The logic flowing from recognising that the invention of race is a fraudulent, politically motivated, bourgeois invention is clear. The use of the term, in any of its forms, in any setting, and by any person, without immediately pointing out its fictional origin and the lack of supportive evidence for its existence, is merely helping to perpetuate a dangerous and divisive, politically motivated myth.

Unless these two fiction-based ideologies – nationalism and racism – are consistently and categorically opposed and intellectually refuted, the consequences will be dire. Left intact, these two fictions will be used to misdirected the struggle for a future ecologically sustainable mode of production and consumption into a self-defeating conflict within the human species itself. As the practical and moral decline and fall of capitalism continues, any conflicts prompted by national or racial fictions will devastate humanity rather than refresh it; such conflicts will destroy ecological balance rather than reconstruct it; and they will annihilate essential species, rather than maintain or repopulate them.

An alternative, ecologically sound and humanist based mode of production is possible, but unless enough people begin to campaign and organise for one, then the decline and fall of the capitalist mode of production will either continue over several decades or collapse more rapidly through the actions of one or more of its many obvious contradictions.

The final, (fifth) part of this series, will consider how future mass societies will need to adjust their mode of production in order to maintain the ecological sustainability of humanity and all other life on the planet.

Roy Ratcliffe (November 2021)

[For further evidence that; “…races do not exist in humans” See ‘R W Sussman. ‘The Myth of Race’] [For a lengthy discussion of race and class see http://www.counterpunch.org/2020/07/03/class-race-%5D

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CAPITALISM SINKS LOWER – 3.

The two previous articles on the current decline and fall of the capitalist mode of production, dealt with the self – imposed economic pits the capitalist elites have dug in front and around the essential production and consumption of human communities. The articles also dealt with the insurmountable ecological barriers to continuous capitalist economic expansion posed by the physical limitations of the planet on which we live. Three sets of ideas, dealing with humanities overall troubled existence were also outlined. This third article will indicate the source and origin of past and present totalitarian ideas which emerge as hoped for solutions to the humanitarian failures caused by the capitalist mode of production.

However, before going further, we should perhaps remind ourselves that the citizens and governing elites of previous empires, whether, Persian, Egyptian, Greek, or Roman, never seriously doubted their system would survive nor saw the decline and fall coming. Yet all that is now left of these ‘magnificent empires’ are a number of statues, artefacts etc., and numerous ruins. Those historical systems also produced extraordinary wealth for a few, extraordinary poverty for the many and brutal forms of oppression for conquered peoples and slaves. This bifurcation of humanity in terms of wealth and power has been the model for ‘civilisations’ then – and now!

The elites controlling the various Imperial type nationalist empires of capitalism in the 21st century, are no different in this regard. They too maintain their present system regardless of the negative consequences to most people, ecological balance and all other life forms. Now, as then, a number of rational voices have expressed doubts about the sustainability of the system we live within (from Rachael Carson on) but these warnings too are either ignored or drowned out by the babble, of arrogant optimism and a readiness for aggressive military action.

Because the modern capitalist mode of production, is based upon a mass of working class labouring people spread across the globe, it is important to stress the following. It is the daily labour of the often poorly paid and housed working class which supplies all the essential needs of the capitalist and pro-capitalist elite first and foremost – and then their own. It is also clear that being born into an existing mode of production, means that the individuals of all classes tend to view the capitalist system as natural or logical, when it is purely historical. Those classes brought low by the system sink further into poverty and despair whilst surrounded by the ostentatious wealth of the elites.

Despite the obvious inhumanity and injustice of the present system, the capitalist and pro-capitalist elite, demonstrate an overwhelming concern and effort not only to maintain this system but to maintain its class based inequality. Therefore, when a sufficiently large economic crisis comes along to destabilise it, this causes a reassessment of political tactics within the governing ‘establishment’. For some individuals among the elites, the politics of ‘normal’ times is no longer suitable or reliable enough to sustain it. Furthermore, when the system periodically falls apart, these people invariably seek an authoritarian method to hold it together. In the past, firm authoritarian leadership has been the logical capitalist solution when ‘their’ mass capitalist societies enter a severe crisis.

The development of mass societies.

It is important to remember that as capitalism developed, it led to a general foundation and development of mass societies. The earlier period of local production for local small village and town use was replaced by large-scale production for mass consumption. This capitalist mode of production, was qualitatively and quantitatively different than everything that came before. Mechanically assisted, mass production for towns of many thousands and cities of many millions, required a different pace and rhythm to production from that of local rural life. Sudden interruptions to essential production for mass capitalist societies needed to be avoided because not only would profits cease if it was interrupted, but existential problems for huge numbers of people would occur.

Consequently, production – as a national or global whole – motivated by profit, needed to parallel, if not replicate, the working of an individual large-scale factory dedicated to profit. Thus under the capitalist mode of production a new mechanised and electrically driven pattern of general human existence has emerged. The more extensive mass capitalist societies have become, the more they need to resemble a machine regulated by time and it’s workers to resemble uncomplaining cogs located within an extremely large perpetual motion industry. Productive outputs, especially those which are essential to life, such as food, water and transport, need to be performed as regular as clockwork or the social system will potentially collapse from the ground up. Moreover, practically every adult in any mass society recognises (at least in part) that their actual survival requires that the entire economic system is continuously in operation.

Taken to its logical extreme, the 20th century ‘just in time’ supply and internet chains reflect the above noted need for the global capitalist mass economy to operate as if it were a continually functioning perpetual motion machine. Yet at the same time this capitalist logistics system demonstrates it’s unique fragility and superficiality. To sell us its myriads of non-essential profitable products and to compensate for our increasing loss of community through competition and alienation, the globalised capitalist mode of production must exert – as far as possible – total and instantaneous control of all aspects of life.

This includes controlling the main means of communication , which the capitalist elite develop to serve their interests and to make profits and influence the opinions expressed upon it. Alongside elite control of intellectual production, transmission and consumption, lies their control of raw material supplies, production of commodities and services, transport, sales and consumption, and the disposal of waste – in all its various forms! In each area, control is in the hands of capitalist or pro-capitalist elites! In the latter case, the lack of one key component (recently, fuel, computer chip, HGV drivers, internet connection, etc. etc.) can bring the whole national and global process to a potential standstill.

Moreover, it is this capitalist produced need for total economic and political control that is the material basis which gives rise to the emergence and re-emergence of totalitarian political ideas and action by elites. Tragically, those who lack clear alternative perspectives frequently follow this internal, mass society logic of capitalist authoritarianism and adopt thsee ideas also. As was the case a generation ago.

20th century totalitarianism.

During the last severe crisis of capitalism, (in the early to mid 20th century) a section of the elite preferred to promote right-wing authoritarian regimes (personified by the ‘strong’ men – Hitler, Mussolini, Franco); another section preferred strong left-wing authoritarian regimes (personified by the ‘strong’ men – Stalin, Mao, Tito); yet others preferred a more centrist authoritarian regime (ie a variety of authoritarian coalition male-led governments). Despite their many subtle differences, each of these three elite responses sought to retain privileged positions for the elite and retain a wage-slave existence for the working classes.

The lack a knowledge or understanding of the fact that another non-profit, secure mode of production, has actually emerged within capitalism, means that members of all classes in mass capitalist dominated societies, will again be susceptible to ideas of a totalitarian political solution. The recognition of the practical need to hold the inherited economic system together – to survive – spawns simplistic strong-leader hopes among all classes.

As noted above, in the 20th century severe crisis numerous members of all classes turned to either Bolshevism, Fascism, Maoism or neo-liberal coalitions as hoped for solutions to keep the system of mass societies fed, housed and clothed. So the success of 20th century strong man politics was not, as some bourgeois intellectuals presumed, and some still presume, because the masses were all so dumb they could be easily manipulated by their chosen leaders eloquence. No! The seeming logic of having to conserve mass production based capitalist societies simply overwhelmed the thinking of people of left, right and centre persuasion.

In this regard, it is important to recognise that to defend the capitalist mode of production, all those 20th century authoritarian tendencies were quite prepared to annihilate as many people as was necessary. They did so twice – by total war, (once during 1914-18 and again during 1939-1945). But then that’s what all politically ‘strong’ men in a crisis are programmed to do – even though the administrative structures they create may differ. Nevertheless, before they were able to thrust most of humanity into those mid 20th century apocalyptic abysses, these authoritarian saviours (sic) had to achieve two preliminary outcomes. First; they had to promise the working classes and the poor, a better future by being prepared to fight and die for it, and second; they needed to divide mass societies into hostile camps. They accomplished this outcome by utilising and amplifying the ideologies of nationality and race.

21st Century de ja’ vue?

However, although the 20th century state-capitalist forms, such as Fascism Bolshevism, Maoism, and neo-liberal coalitions did – after total war – restabilise the capitalist mode of exploitation and managed to partly feed, clothe and house mass societies (although very badly), all was still not well. The problems of alienation, exploitation, oppression of working people and relative overproduction crises not only continued but soon rapidly increased, from 1960 onward.

So within decade or so after this wholesale, 1939/45 total-war destruction, a crisis period of overproduction and internecine hostility began once again. During the late 20th and early 21st centuries in advanced capitalist countries, trade union workers were pitted against non-trade union workers for adequate pay; students were pitted against pensioners for adequate benefits; immigrant workers were pitted against indigenous workers for adequate jobs and housing; communities were torn apart.

Furthermore, in the 21st century, it has – at last – become glaringly obvious that producing for mass societies by the profit-based capitalist mode of production, is steadily and progressively damaging the essential ecological resources and environmental conditions needed to sustain the planet and all its life forms. To anyone not blinkered by self-interest, a less destructive mode of production needs to urgently replace the current profit – driven mode or the profit seekers (despite Cop 26 elite blah, blah) will simply urge the system on regardless of its foreseen and unforeseen consequences.

For several decades, the play sheet of divide and conquer has been routinely borrowed by the elites and the decades of low pay, unemployment and austerity have followed. However, this progressive planetary despoilation and degradation of toiling humanity has not been enough to solve the current capitalist crisis. So once again Nationality and Race are set to be the two main ideologies which elites will try to use to divide humanity and prevent a radical global transformation. These two ruling class ideologies will be critically considered in part 4 of this series.

Roy Ratcliffe (November 2021)

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CAPITALISM SINKS LOWER – 2

In part 1 of this article the current ‘locked in’ essence of class relationships within the capitalist mode of production was outlined. The fact that humanity is practically and ideologically stuck within its current socio-economic framework, means there is no imminent escape from the systems self-destructive tendencies. Too much production, too much ecological destruction, too much pollution, too much global warming, too much greed among the rich. In spite of every previous economic alteration or despite every natural barrier encountered, investment pressure for profit, combined with technological ingenuity has ensured these are either subverted or overcome.

Although some of capitalism’s modern elites are expressing concern (at a rhetorical level) at the state of the planet, the search for avenues of profitable production continue unabated. Agreements reached by elites, to reduce land, sea and air pollution are quickly watered down or quietly sidelined. Capitalist industry needs to plan its inputs and outputs, it thus needs total control of the human and natural resources at its disposal. Profitable trade comes before all other considerations. This, of course, is to be expected because profitable trade and wealth accumulation, are the foundation stone upon which the capitalist mode of production was built. They also remain the raison d’ être of all governing and politically active elites.

Barriers to Capitalism.

To the individual bourgeois imagination, wealth accumulation appears to be infinitely possible. However, economic activity is limited by the planetary resources available at each stage of its development. When Europe was saturated with capital it eyed the world. So the period of European Imperialism assertively incorporated the human and material resources of Africa and the middle-east into the global supply and sales chains of European capital. Capitalism was able to expand. But by the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, the problem of capital needing new avenues for investment returned along with another. Computer aided automation in low wage countries along with just-in-time global supply chains, had maximised both the extent and intensity of capitalist production.

In many cases the tendency of the rate of profit to fall has occurred. However, more importantly, the mass of profit demanded (or required) by all those who – directly or indirectly – live from it has had to increase. It has done so by the increase in the mass of commodities and services produced and sold at a profit. This why a pattern of territorial expansion followed by saturation frequently repeats. For in order to satisfy it’s increasing numbers of unproductive elites, capitalism needs to continually expand its areas of profitable production. It has already partly deforested the remotest jungles and dug minerals from the most out of reach places. So in the 21st century there is hardly anywhere left for capitalism to expand!

But that’s not the only barrier to expansion. As noted, the existing levels of global production and consumption, are polluting the air, sea and land, destroying key ecological species along with their environments and has dangerously changed weather patterns. The biosphere which provides everything all life needs is being continually degraded. In the present and future, the planet needs less production, whilst the elites and their system needs more. Moreover, there is in existence yet another economic barrier to expansion. If there are fewer well-paid workers (due to automation, increased production efficiency, low pay, etc.), the less purchasers there are to buy and consume the existing 20th and 21st century production levels – let alone more in the future.

This recurring gap between capitalistic production and limited consumption, known as relative overproduction, repeatedly leads to debt crises and financial instability. At the same time, under this system, the previously noted mass of profit values, have to be shared out among more low paid non-productive workers. This has already led to further wage, salary and pension reductions for working people in the public and private sectors. In the short term this will mean further conflict over resources within countries and between countries. And then we need to think about the long term!

Three dominant ideas to choose from.

Only three sets of ideas and practices connected with the history and progress of humanity have dominated human thinking for the last few thousand years. Each are totalitarian systems in essence. The first set are the monotheistic religious views of an imaginary male God who created the entire human species and through the medium of priests, clerics or Immans of imagined ‘chosen people’ will guide and direct humanity in various ways whether they like it or not. This set of ideas dominated the thinking classes from the late ancient period and throughout long the middle ages of Europe and the Middle East.

The second set of ideas are that people were descended from different ancient humanoid stocks and evolved over long periods of time into different ‘races‘. Of these ‘imagined’ races, the one which becomes the strongest and most intelligent (ie. the so-called superior one) would – and should – totally dominate the rest of the worlds so-called inferior races. This second set (racist ideas) are a convoluted outgrowth of the first. In this case the superior people were imagined to be ‘chosen‘ by their evolutionary characteristics and abilities, rather than God.

The third set of ideas which also gained an intellectual following suggests that the recorded history of humanity was one in which classes emerged within certain settled human communities and armed groups emerged who were able to rule and dominate the rest of their communities. Many of these ‘might is right’ Kingly warriors claimed have descended from gods and consequently by force of arms, totally determined the socio-economic composition of their own communities and their relationship (usually one of conquest and tribute) to other human communities.

With these three ideological perspectives in mind it becomes clear why the first two (religion and race) are championed and supported by capitalist elites in one form or another. This is because they designate and promote a unity of purpose and compatibility between the ruling elites and the exploited people of their own religion, nation or race. This allows blame for any difficulties or existential crises emanating from the economic system to be laid upon those of a different, religion, nation or race. In keeping with the need of ruling elites for total control, these ideologies are used to ruthlessly divide people’s. These ideas seriously attack and undermine the idea and practice of a single human species.

The end of Humanity?


During the 19th and 20th centuries development of ‘race’ theories, two different strands of thinking occurred. One determined by land-based and one determined by sea-based national elites. The different strands arose because different obstacles to Imperial type expansion were encountered. On continents, (eg. Central European expansion) the barrier to Imperial acquisitions was the need to defeat and conquer whole areas of already occupied territory defended by pale skinned people – some with modern firearms. Therefore, land based Imperial conquests would be extremely expensive before profits could be realised. With the exceptions of North and South America, (Pale-Face versus Redskin) these land based Imperialisms tended to come later.

The cost problem was much reduced by the sea-based Imperialisms of maritime nations such as Holland, Spain, Portugal, France and UK. For these capitalist countries the ‘start-up’ of an Imperial enterprise involved only a European office, a sea going vessel and the establishment of a small ‘station’ to be used as a foreign base of operations. The land for these often tiny outposts were defended by a dark- skinned people armed only with spears, wooden clubs and bows and arrows. The result was predictable.

This practical investment difference is why the racist ideology of sea-born Imperialist countries focussed more on accentuating differences of skin colour (light versus dark), religion (Christian versus pagan) and socio-economic (Hunter-gatherer, Pastoralists versus industrialists). In contrast the later racism of the central European Imperialist powers such as Germany and Russia focussed more on differences in ancestry (Germanic/Aryian versus Rus/Slavic) and Industrial town versus rural agricultural modes of production.

It is obvious that the invented ideological frameworks of superiority in religion, nation and race, pit humanity against humanity and ignore the economic mode of production upon which all human life is sustained and ultimately determined. Perhaps the most dangerous ‘family’ of ideas in the 21st century are those around the invented categories of nation and ‘race’. The fundamental question needing answering in the 21st century is as follows.

Are the problems humanity faces primarily caused by the current system of production, distribution and consumption or are they caused by the skin colour or head shape of the people globally staffing it? Seriously, the answer to that question will determine how the present and future problems are resolved.

Is there to be conflict and war between ordinary people used as cannon or bomb fodder as in 1914-18 and again in 1939-45, or will there be a collective struggle to change the economic system – which of course is – the capitalist mode of production? The immediate problem humanity faces remains, I suggest, is as Hannah Arendt concluded in her study of totalitarianism;

“..racism can stir up civil conflicts in every country, and is one of the most ingenious devices ever invented for preparing civil war.”

And;

“… no matter what learned scientists may say, race is, politically speaking, not the beginning of humanity, but it’s end…

(Hannah Arendt, ‘The Origins of Totalitarianism’.)

Roy Ratcliffe (October 2021)

[Part 3 of this series ‘Capitalism Sinking Lower’ will look at where the ideas and practices come from which lead to the development of totalitarian political forms as responses to capitalist crisis. A later Part 4, will consider nationalist and racist ideas which are currently used to falsely divide humanity into hostile nations and non existent races.]

Roy Ratcliffe (October 2021)

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CAPITALISM SINKS LOWER – 1

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VACCINATION, SELFISHNESS & CAPITALISM.

In an attempt to save the capitalist mode of production from its self-inflicted Covid19 Pandemic, politicians, media and many others have grasped at the flimsy straw of vaccination to temporarily keep the system afloat. Despite capitalist inspired exploitation, global warming, extinction of key species and widespread pollution, vaccinations are intended to allow business as usual to return to national and global economic activity. In the advanced countries, the advocates of this narrow-minded self-interested vaccination policy have also seized upon the concepts of selfishness and shame to fling at those who object in various ways to this one-sided, privileged-nations strategy of – vaccinate here first!

Those who refuse – for whatever reason – to be vaccinated against Covid19 are being targeted and accused, by politicians, medical experts, media pundits (and their myopic followers) of selfishness and of putting others at risk. However, as I will demonstrate, they have chosen a form of attack on the un-vaccinated which will rebound upon themselves and expose their own intellectual and moral shortcomings. Not surprisingly, those who are most vocal and vitriolic in their condemnation of the un-vaccinated are invariably members of advanced capitalist countries.

Pro-capitalist intellectual and immoral shortcomings.

A. It is a fact that the advanced countries of Europe and the West have selfishly kept control of the vast majority of the available vaccine resources and the formula for its production. This means the rest of the global human family have little or none. The indigenous national elites have done this in order to double (or triple) vaccinate their own citizens so these already privileged persons can return to holidays and leisure activities. These activities are engaged in for no other reason than the selfish, self satisfaction of the holiday makers and those of the shareholders and owners of profitable, sports, leisure and holiday companies. During a continuing Pandemic, this is both immoral and selfish in my view. But then selfishness is right at the heart of capitalist ‘means’ of production and at the centre of the vaccination programme in Europe and the West. Isn’t it?

B. Whilst, anti-vaxers have been increasingly vilified this summer and autumn for not helping save the capitalist system from its own destructive activities, something incredibly selfish was actually taking place openly. Elite athletes traveled the globe in highly polluting forms of transport for the selfish reason of getting personal ‘gold’ medals/cash prizes and/or reaping vast amounts of personal wealth through prize money and commercial deals. And, vaccinated or not, many will have shed viral loads of Covid to those close by. Other, elite persons had organised trips into space using highly toxic materials and wealth-destroying energy sources to get there. The billionaire class were indulging themselves in the selfish ambitions of being the first non – professional space pioneers. No one complained about these levels of gross selfishness.

C. Leaving aside the question of how these elites gained control of such enormous surplus resources; how selfish is it not to use them for things other than their own personal whims? Particularly when many care home workers and residents along with other health care human beings are in existential crisis. And how many rich people have immorally and illegally dodged tax payments in off shore havens for absolutely selfish reasons? Not one of these jumped up space jockeys or elite sports people spared a thought for our low-paid essential workers or those made homeless or partner-less by the pandemic ‘their’ preferred economic system released and allowed to circulate. Moreover, not one well-paid commentator in the mainstream media – to my knowledge – pointed out these and many other selfish, self-centred actions and activities of the elites in business, finance, sport, entertainment, media, politics and government.

D. But during the summer and autumn the media did frequently repeat the hypocritical mantra against those not vaccinated as being the ones selfishly creating problems for those wanting to get back to ‘normal’. In fact ‘normal’ should be accurately designated as; resource squandering, pollution creating, ecology destroying and poverty creating – ‘business as usual’. I have used the term hypocritical because I strongly suspect that a large number of those desiring their own double vaccination and the forced imposition of it on others is actually driven by their own selfish desires. For many people I guess going on holiday, eating out, clubbing, spectating at concerts and sports events – all without the inconvenience of quarantining, masking, distancing or ensuring adequate ventilation – are the driving concerns of their counterproductive entitlement consciousness and frustration.

E. It seems obvious to me that such irate anti-vax opinions are based largely on emotions and superficially plausible narratives supplied by an elite desperate to point the blame away from themselves and at someone else. Whilst human emotions are inevitable, superficial analysis and sparse or absent evidence are not. That just indicates laziness, reliance on borrowed thinking, and convenient confirmation bias. But I found it interesting and revealing that the self-serving narrative of ‘saving capital’ through vaccination was being repeated by some on the ‘left’ who through unfiltered emotion and clouded intellectual capacity, could no longer see the wood for the trees. Here is just one example;

If you have relatives, friends, co-workers, and the like who refuse for no good reason to get vaccinated, you should shun them. These people have already caused enough damage. Now, you can bet dollars to donuts, that when a variant is proven to be resistant to any vaccine we have, the anti-vaccine people will claim that this resistance proves they were right all along – despite the fact that they will largely have caused this to happen due to their selfish refusal to get vaccinated.”

This is part of an incredible example of tortured sectarian reasoning. Having immorally advocated the refusal of benefits, insurance, banning vaccination refuser’s from all social activities, arresting them, charging them, fining and jailing them, the above ‘left’ writer suggests these working class victims of the pandemic circumstances are the ones actually causing the damage. For this commentator, it is not the elite, whose system unearthed the virus, spread it along profit strewn just in time supply lines. From this ‘left’ view, it is not the elite who failed to contain it, failed to provide adequate personal protection, and were indifferent to the deaths of essential workers and the weak and vulnerable who caused our problems. Instead the anti-vaxers are targeted as the problem.

F. Yet the unmasked, complacent, double jabbed, careless revelers I have witnessed recently are probably infecting more people than masked, distancing and careful non – vaccinated citizens. If we sensibly ask just who are still putting other people in hospital with Covid 19, the answer is clear: It is those who are breathing Covid19 viral loads out – whether vaccinated or not – and are passing it on to other people.

Finally.

Furthermore according to the above emotionally charged, borrowed thinking ‘left’ analysis, (and many other such establishment opinions) it is not these elites and their system which should be arrested, charged or shunned, but those who have learned from direct and indirect experience not to trust government assurances, or who do not trust pharmaceutical companies eager for profit. Note that in the above left sectarian extract some anti-vaxers will be declared wrong even if they are proved right! How Orwellian is that? Furthermore, vaccination refusal for some says a lot about how untrustworthy governments have become. Many have decided to trust in an invisible God, rather than their visible representatives.

This phenomenon of the ‘left’ becoming authoritarian would be less important if it were not for the fact that the capitalist mode of production is once again in a general and multifaceted existential crisis. So in order to continue their rule, the elite need to divide any potential opposition. This type of left (sic) authoritarianism, is just what the capitalists need.

The last time such an existential crisis occurred (in the 1930’s) then many left-leaning shallow thinkers joined the National Socialist Party (the Nazis) of Germany or like Mussolini deserted the Italian Socialist Party and gravitated to authoritarian Fascism. Historical evidence indicates that so-called ‘socialist authoritarians’ can be every bit as dangerous to humanist based working people as right wing authoritarians. And as Kollibri terre Sonenblume recently wrote;

Joining the narrow-minded crusade against the unvaccinated……is just water carrying for the capitalist ruling class that is oppressing us all. Don’t do it! (www.counterpunch.org/2021/09/17/blame-the-oligarchs-for-the-covid-crisis )

Roy Ratcliffe (September 2021)

Also see Jim Kavanagh against vaccination passports in the ‘Danger to Society’ at the following link [ http://www.thepolemicist.net/2021/09/danger-to-society-against-vaccine.html ] This is an important contribution to vaccine and vaccine passport issues and is supported by considerable research evidence. RR

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COP-26 WILL BE ANOTHER COP-OUT.

The forthcoming international Conference of Parties (COP) to discuss limiting global warming, we can already say, will be a complete and utter cop-out. Despite decades of evidence of the dangers of overproduction, over-consumption and reliance upon fossil fuels, like other such pro-capitalist gatherings, little will be done. The coming Cop-26 event in the UK during November will pussyfoot around discussions of ‘symptoms’ whilst steadfastly ignoring the cause. Capitalists and pro-capitalist governments can only tinker with symptoms because they are in denial about the current mode of production – which is the underlying cause.

So dominant and entrenched is the ideology of ‘capitalism’ that even those among the middle classes who are critical of rising temperatures, pollution, floods, fires and poverty, remain unable to grasp that the existential threat to humanity is from the economic system itself, not just the dangers it continually spawns. Consequently, those at such Cop-26 events, will be locked into only considering a range of reforms – all of which confirm and depend upon the existing mode of production. The choice of technical ‘alterations’ or ‘adjustments’ discussed at Cop 26 will be between a few immediate token words and actions and more token measures to be implemented – decades in the future! None of these ‘adjustments’will reverse the present trajectory of human-led ecological devastation.

The reason it will not halt or reverse this trajectory is not hard to understand. The larger the mass of middle and upper class ‘better off’ individuals there are in any class divided society, the more overall production is necessary to satisfy the cultivated needs of their elevated station. The working classes, who provide all the essential (and luxury) services for all classes, are therefore required to work harder and continuously increase their productivity. However this increased productivity requires more materials and energy to produce the new products, more resources to distribute them and more resources to dispose of those products replaced by the latest ones. Yet the only resources available to maintain such cycles of present and future production and consumption are those still available on an already depleted planet earth.

The cycle of earth, air and water depletion due to present and future conspicuous consumption will not be altered or interrupted by productive methods which are less reliant on carbon and fossil fuel for their manufacture. Furthermore capitalist based science will not (and cannot) solve this problem of class divided modes of production. Indeed, science and it’s ally technology, has created the problems we face. Mass production, Plastics, and other Petroleum products, Nuclear weapons, Mass Air, Road and Sea transport are all the products of capitalist based scientific and technological innovations. Moreover, all of them were hailed by their inventors as solutions to past problems. These and many other past ‘invented solutions’ (Alfred Nobel’s dynamite to end wars, for example!) have become the problems faced by humanity.

The only solution to capitalist resource squandering and overproduction is to stop doing it. The solution to repairing the planet is not to scientifically find other things to overproduce or divert public attention into the fantasy of space tourism and planetary colonisation. Social problems can only be solved by social means. Science, technology and politics cannot solve them. These aspects of our mode of production are part of the problem, not part of the solution. They only ‘appear’ to be possible solutions to those who don’t probe beyond surface appearances. These are the modern equivalent of those who thought the sun circled the earth because it appeared to do so. Or those who thought the earth was flat because the horizon appeared straight. The bad news for humanity is that although flat and earth-centred believers are few and far between, nevertheless the vast majority of people are focused on appearances. Most people seem unable to see beyond the socio-economic surface of the capitalist mode of production.

The results of this general intellectual inability, will be that the token decisions taken at Cop-26 will satisfy some optimists, but business as usual will continue. People will continue to be encouraged to consume current and new products and services for the sake of the ‘economy. Actually it’s ‘their’ economy. Among the masses, the ‘entitlement’ generations of all classes, will expect and demand holidays abroad, along with extravagant nights out and walk, drive or fly past those homeless and unemployed as if there is no connection between the wealth of some and the poverty of others. Yet it is not the talents of individuals which deliver riches to a relative few and poverty to many – that too is merely an ‘appearance’. The underlying reality is that it is the current economic system which delivers these unjust outcomes.

During the current Covid19 pandemic, members of these same entitlement generations have proved they are prepared to accept a high level of unnecessary deaths of other citizens as long as they can continue to experience holidays, sports and entertainment. If they are not sufficiently concerned about the deaths of those who live in the same or neighbouring communities, then how bothered will they be about floods, fires, storms and famines experienced by those in different and foreign lands? That and the current Vaccine imperialist type hoarding and authoritarianism, are precursors of things to come. The elites and their supporters in the advanced countries want the current economic system to survive and prosper – by whatever means they decide is appropriate!

NB. Every elite who control a dying mode of production, turn to authoritarianism and to blaming the systems victims as a strategy to allow it to survive.

However, elites also need to convince a large proportion of the victims that the authoritarianism they espouse and implement is a benign form of concern for them. How well they succeed in getting the masses to agree to elite inspired authoritarianism and to accept the demonisation of those who in various ways oppose the capitalist system, determines the future struggle. In the 20th century, it was ordinary Jews, Slavs and Communists, who were demonised as the threat and thus Fascist means of authoritarianism were needed to combat and silence them. In the 21st century – as yet – it appears to be immigrants, anti-vaxers and extinction rebellion supporters who are to be demonised and suppressed. Finally, I suggest the outcome of Cop-26 in the UK will undoubtedly disappoint all those who are really concerned with the future of planet earth and the life forms dependent upon it.

Roy Ratcliffe (September 2021)

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DEATH and DEBACLE in AFGHANISTAN.

Despite some differences, the current situation in Afghanistan, resembles many other troop withdrawals from foreign territories by advanced capitalist countries of the west. The recent panic stricken airlift evacuation of people after the fall of Kabul to the Taliban, has been eerily reminiscent of the panic and disorganisation associated with the evacuation of Saigon in 1975. However, that too was nothing new. Leaving chaos behind has actually occurred in many other cases of western and European withdrawal after earlier invasions of foreign territories. Indeed, throughout history, ‘getting in’ is as destructive as ‘getting out’.

If in doubt of the above assertion, just check out the history of the Greek Empire under Alexander; the Roman Empire’s entanglement in the Middle East, before its decline and fall; or the British Empire’s efforts at getting out of North America, India and Africa.

Getting in.

The historic excuse for imperialist and colonialist invasions and occupations has always been ‘rationalised’ as for the benefit of the occupied people. It has been presented as bringing the benefits of civilisation or ‘true’ religion or peace (sic) when the real reason has been to benefit the invaders. The greed for tangible resource benefits such as oil, rubber, gold, diamonds, timber, land, slaves, trade routes or competition, has always been wrapped up in a verbal pretense of altruistic concern for the intended victims. After conquest, structures and institutions are put in place to administer the exploitation/extraction of the particular benefit associated with the country targeted in this way. The process involves encouraging local collaboration to assist in the resource extraction.

Getting out.

However, once that ‘benefit’ (however calculated) has reduced to the point of it costing more to stay as an occupying power, than to get out, then the subsequent confusion and mayhem of withdrawal are almost universal. The structures, including local bureaucracies, are not designed nor equipped to do more than enable imperial or colonial extraction. Therefore, these structures begin to collapse almost as soon as the occupying power loses the means or motive for maintaining them. Afghanistan is merely the most recent example of a common pattern of western military withdrawal from incursions within the continents of Asia, Africa, South America, and North America. The rapid collapse of the American and British supported Afghan ‘regime’ in 2021 was therefore predictable as will be the humanitarian crisis it leaves behind.

This is because the Afghan ‘administration’ was not an indigenous creation, but an occupiers client semi-state, with corruption running through it like a water mark indelibly stains paper. The ghost army which was created by the contradictions of this corrupt US backed regime never existed beyond paycheck numbers, so never really existed. Thus the real Afghan army when faced with a choice of risking their lives in order to defend the corruption, discrimination and authoritarian clients of US foreign policy, decided it was not worth it. So like the South Vietnam soldiers (and many others in such collapses before them) they decided to lay down their rifles, abandon their equipment and discard their uniforms and boots. The US governments empty justification for placing ‘boots on the ground’ has been Trumped and the boots probably just lie abandoned – yet again!

General Incompetence.

The incompetence of the elite sponsored US and UK withdrawals from Afghanistan should not have come as surprise either. The pro-capitalist elites have absorbed no lessons outside of those needed to secure their own personal interests and welfare. When they pulled out of Vietnam, Iraq and many other places of occupation, they did so in the form of a hasty, unprepared shambles, leaving chaos behind. Closer to home, the warnings of climate change, pollution and ecological destruction, have been sounded and ignored by governing elites for decades, yet the planet is currently burning and flooding all over the place. More recently elites the world over, had many years of advanced notice and warnings of a coming pandemic and completely bungled the preparation for, and handling of, that issue.

It should have not come as a surprise, therefore, that the warnings of Afghan diplomats and other ‘intelligence’ experts that if the US and UK elites didn’t plan a careful well-rehearsed exit strategy for Afghanistan, chaos would follow and many who had helped them would be left behind. And the complementary coincidence of a chaotic Afghan withdrawal during a chaotic global pandemic was illustrated by media optics. Packed to overflowing, streets of terrified crowds in heat-saturated queues and cramped planes left Kabul, with no masking, washing facilities and no social distancing. Despite an out of control pandemic, Covid precautions were clearly not factored into this withdrawal debacle.

This whole chaos at Kabul and other places in Afghanistan, is also an unnecessary and potential super-spreader event which together with the dominance of the Delta variant, is going to create an additional layer of problems. In any country accepting those desperate people leaving Afghanistan, the working classes will bear the brunt of any additional problems created by this unnecessary Covid problem on top of the current refugee problem, which is also on top of the current climate change problem.

Was it worth it?

Many voices have been raised about the costs of this Afghan occupation in money and lives and these questions have been conveniently pushed into the future. Former soldiers have asked whether their sacrifices were worth it, but of course the answer to this depends upon who determines ‘it’. If the advancement of humanity was the purpose, then deaths and limb loss were certainly not worth it, because the same fundamentalist Taliban regime has taken over yet again, with all that implies.

Twenty years ago, they were patriarchal fundamentalist opponents of secularism and feminist rights and they remain so. After all, it’s their ideological raison d’ etra! However, if the purpose of occupation was to serve the interests of the pro-capitalist elites, then the deaths and injuries suffered by the troops were worth it to them, because these elite interests have been served. For millenia, soldiers, employed by elites have always served the interests of those elites and never humanity as a whole.

All this should be obvious by now and should have been obvious before to all who are not blinded by self-interest into supporting the present system of production. The whole question of why so many men (and women) prefer a system of ancient patriarchal tribal governance, such as the Taliban etc., to modern secular so-called democratic capitalism is a metaphorical elephant in the room. The existence and resurgence of religious fundamentalism of all strains – Islamic, Jewish, Christian, etc. – in the modern world is largely a distorted protest against the way modern capitalism has developed and is administered throughout the world.

Patriarchy versus Patriarchy.

This religious fundamentalist opposition (Taliban, ISIS etc.) to what now dominates, takes the form of a deeply oppressive mode of governance. It is one in which aggressive males still dominate humanity in the East, in the name of worshiping a fictitious God, rather than the aggressive males now dominating humanity in the West in the name of worshiping ‘capital’. Humanity is certainly at a defining moment in its evolution. How our production is organised, how it’s results are shared and how we think about each other requires revolutionary changes if we are to survive to really become a wise and humane species. Afghanistan, as the metaphorical ‘grave yard of empires’ is yet another long-running example of the problems we face as a species, not an example of the way our manifold problems can be solved.

Roy Ratcliffe (August 2021)

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CORONA VIRUS PANDEMIC – 37.

The Danger is not yet over.

Optimists in Europe and North America are suggesting that the Covid 19 Pandemic is close to the end of its three act (lock down) drama. The vaccination programme has been interpreted by these optimists as the equivalent of the cavalry dashing onto the stage, saving the victims, and allowing the curtain to fall to the audiences applause. Pessimists, on the other hand, are anticipating that the current vaccination process is more in the nature of a temporary ‘refreshments’ interval and there are more tragic acts to follow on the national or global stage. In this latter regard an investigation of a recent Covid19 outbreak in the USA, revealed that;

“Almost 1000 people got infected, and the CDC investigation indicated that vaccinated folks were not only getting infected but also passing on COVID to ‘other’ vaccinated folks.” (emphasis added RR.)

If this evidence is replicated elsewhere, the logic is inescapable. Vaccination will not prevent catching Covid again, nor will vaccination fulfil the humanist desire to avoid it being transmitted to those already vaccinated or not vaccinated. In face of the delta variant and others, the only function vaccination will possibly play is to prevent personal critical illness and death. However, even this is not as uplifting as it is being made out. It has also been recently revealed that 90% of those hospitalised by Covid in an Israeli hospital, we’re fully vaccinated. The fact that fully vaccinated people in Israel needed to go to hospital means that those ‘breakthrough’ reinfections were (and can be) serious forms of illness. Moreover, the pandemic was bad enough when the first Covid 19 virus was being socially transmitted. Then, it reached an average of eight people, passed on from one infected individual. This latest delta variant appears to be transmissible to an average of 125 people.

Of course, the Delta version only surged after the social distancing regulations were relaxed and then removed due to increased vaccinations. This confirms the above noted fact that vaccinations have not prevented the spread of the pandemic and this critical illness level ‘spread’ has now accelerated among the younger generation. The jury is still out on the effects of what has been classified as ‘long Covid’. But because this virus is now adapted to get into most organs of the body and kidneys, lungs, heart, liver and brain, (and regardless of spike protein adaptations), it cannot be assumed that even moderate infection loads (suppressed by vaccinations or not) will not have long term health effects. Vaccination is therefore not sufficient to prevent infection and may not prevent long term illness. Only the lucky or the hyper-vigilant can avoid the worst effects of this increasingly mishandled pandemic.

Clearly, the new COVID mutations (including P618R) are not just producing more virus load in infected people (SARS-CoV-2; attains viral loads 1000 times greater than earlier versions). Furthermore, once exhaled and inhaled by those close to infected people, the virus is now better at avoiding the recipients immune system and replicating itself and/or mutating.

Dodging the Delta variant.

The lesson from avoiding the first Covid 19 variant was clear. If you don’t want to trust in luck or in pro-capitalist government advice then avoid close contact with those who have Covid. The greater the exposure to the virus you get, the sicker you will become. So if you are unsure who has Covid (or not) then the safest policy, whether vaccinated or not, is to consistently mask, distance, wash hands in all mixed situations. And to double mask, extra distance, ventilate rooms and wash frequently in any close and crowded situations. In the latter case a number of other preventive measures can be sensibly added to these. In view of the fact that the main entrance point of airborne micro-particles containing viruses are eyes, nose and mouth (in those with no skin damage) then the methods of prevention are obvious: Effective nasal sprays or creams, eye coverings, protective hand coverings and effective masks (doubled) are advisable in crowded, small un-ventilated spaces – if these cannot be avoided altogether.

Those who can only imagine life under capitalism will also advocate further vaccinations such as booster shots of existing vaccines and the development of further more targeted vaccines. Already three and four injections are being advocated by some professional microbiologists, medical experts, vaccine producers and politicians. One wonders how many more ‘jabs’ will they eventually think are enough? What they all have in common is that they have little understanding of the capitalist mode of production in which they live. Every short term thing possible, (such as vaccines) therefore, must be utilised (and people sacrificed) in order to keep the current capitalist method of production and consumption functioning.

However, short term capitalist based solutions will not work. The fact is that the current mode of production is doomed for at the same time as spectacularly creating and then bungling the handling of the pandemic, it’s representatives are also creating existential climate change, ecological destruction, pollution and poverty. These additional symptoms of existential damage and destruction are perhaps somewhere at the back of some professional consciousness, however, as yet these contradictions have not yet worked their way to the front of their minds. Consequently the dots which clearly connect all these symptoms have not yet been joined up in their professional consciousness. Until reality causes a general rethink in the way societies are run then it is up to individuals and communities to keep themselves safe.

Roy Ratcliffe (August 2021)

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EXTINCTION REBELLION.

Extinction is clearly occurring – but is rebellion enough?

Over a number of years, prior to the Covid19 lockdown, the activities of Extinction Rebellion had created considerable interest, not to mention opposition and condemnation. Some of their tactics were so disruptive to everyday life for many people, that criticism even emerged from people sympathetic to their concern of ecological destruction and climate crisis. That type of disruptive activism was encountering the same responses faced by public service employees and those in the private sector who by striking or demonstrating, interrupt the normal functioning of capitalist economic activities. In other words such disruptive activities make the oppression of working class victims of this damaging mode of production worse by interrupting their ability to travel for paid employment or for shopping.

Those campaigning against climate change (and many other ‘single-issue’ problems) have followed a familiar, but dead-end process, which will ultimately end in failure. The dubious freedom of one set of workers to pursue their own perceived separate interests whilst interrupting those of other working class citizens, has never been really effective. Despite the bravery, persistence and dedication of Extinction Rebellion activists, their focus so far has been extremely narrow (ecology), their direct targets (government) superficial. Their tactics suffer from the collateral damage their activist campaigns inflict upon other sufferers under the system. Climate change and ecological damage is a serious and existential threat to all humanity and it affects everyone irrespective of their political views or current voting patterns. However, this acknowledged fact does not automatically result in a greater mass of people organising together to press for change. An alternative perspective of change and tactics need to be devised.

Moreover, the notion of a ‘rebellion’ is also problematic for it hinges around the intention to ‘rebel’ just enough to make those in political power do what they have consistently failed to do for decades – if not centuries. In fact rebellions, as with uprisings, are predicated upon forlorn attempts to persuade or force those with power – within a socio-economic system – to implement policies which are against the class interests of the powerful. The dismal results speak for themselves. Politicians in local and national government have been lobbied for decades on pollution and ecological destruction, (not to mention poverty etc), but politicians left, right and centre in government, have done little or nothing over the past half century. The stubborn fact is that big money can lobby politicians far more effectively and reward them far more handsomely than climate campaigners or any other type of reformist campaign. Since its origin in the ancient Greek Polis, politics has been an intermediate problem, inserted between the interests of ordinary citizens and their ruling elites. Politics has never been a solution and it remains so.

In modern times, the political classes of all shades are pledged to uphold the current capitalist mode of production and it is the mode of industrial production with its private wealth accumulation motive which determines pollution, climate change and ecological destruction. It also determines how politicians relate to it. In this respect, Extinction Rebellion thinking has not followed the logic of elite economic domination and culpability further than this first intermediate political level. Such inability to think outside the capitalistic box becomes transparent once the aims and target of Extinction Rebellions demands are considered. Their ideas and actions are primarily addressed to the same political system that has nurtured and deepened the ‘extinction’ problem in the first place.

‘Extinction Rebellions’ 3 Founding Aims.


“1. Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency..”
“2. Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and greenhouse gas emissions…”.
“3. Government must create ..and be led by…a citizens assembly on climate and ecological justice..”

Let us briefly consider these three points.

The government must tell the truth.’ Two naive idealistic assumptions are expressed in this first aim. First, the concept of ‘truth’ is a slippery concept derived from religious ideology. In response we always need to ask ‘whose truth’? Second, governments are political institutions using methods and approaches, which are far from being fair or even rational. Indeed, politics is based upon bias and hidden evidence and all governments are founded upon secrecy and ‘establishment’ propaganda. So there is no chance of getting anything other than elite determined aims and outcomes. Even the ‘true’ (ie accurate) numbers of huge demonstrations and large petitions are routinely falsified and ignored.

The government must act now…to halt biodiversity loss and ..emissions….’ This too is a naive demand. For a start, political institutions do not control the processes of industrial production and distribution which drives biodiversity loss and toxic emissions so even supportive politicians cannot halt them. The capitalist mode of production and consumption in private and public hands is the source of both these symptoms (and many others) and the economic elite are more powerful and influential than the political elites they finance and support. Financial and economic elites have invested heavily in the current means of production and are not going to damage them let alone scrap them.

Government must create and be led by..a citizens assembly.’ Governments are never “led by” their citizens. As the Brexit and other antics in the UK Parliament and the US Senate budget setting, demonstrate, governments are able to find ways to avoid being led in directions they do not fully embrace. Consultations with citizens in general are invariably a sham to make it appear the public are involved in altering their opinions. The political class in the UK invited citizens to vote to leave the European Union and then failed to act upon it for over two years. And as we know climate urgency has been ignored for many decades. [Check out the 1960’s classic book ‘Silent Spring’.]

The missing socio-economic dimension.

Those academics and intellectuals who initiated the Extinction Rebellion movement, have failed to openly confront the fact that it is the capitalist economic mode of production which is the primary engine of environmental destruction, climate change and toxic emissions. Many thousands among the middle-class already know that so why do those in Extinction Rebellion withhold it and keep silent? Most of them also know that politics serves the needs and interests of the dominant pro-capitalist economic elites, so why stay silent on that question? They also know that it is not the ordinary worker and the poor who are causing global pollution and climate change etc. These symptoms are first-world creations via a mass production based economic system, driven by a powerful pro-capitalist elite whose incentive is profit and wealth accumulation. Consequently the decisions of those who are the wealthiest propel the consumption of more and more resources and thus create more pollution and ecological damage than millions of the poor.

I suggest two further factors have nurtured that middle class failure to identify capitalism as the problem. The first is the fact that Extinction Rebellion is exclusively an expression of middle-class environmental worry and parental concern for the future employment opportunities for their offspring. In general the middle-classes do not want to change the current economic system, because their position (spread across the middle of it) is either reasonably, or overwhelmingly, comfortable. It is only their own and their children’s future environment and employment which is considered a serious enough problem to make activists of them. The second factor is an inadequately analysed outcome of previous anti-capitalist politics which has immunised them against taking up a potential or actual revolutionary-humanist anti-capitalist stance.

Their own class-based mis-identifications of the Soviet Union and Communist China (et al) as ‘anti-capitalist modes of production’, loom so large as to represent an insurmountable intellectual barrier to their thinking. However, it should be obvious that in all areas of human endeavour many early attempts fail disastrously. Particularly when these are ‘led’ by those with the arrogance to think they always know best. As was the case with the state capitalist forms of the Bolsheviks and Moaists. In contrast, the wise approach to failure is to persist and rectify the manifold previous faults. It would seem that Extinction Rebellion’s failure to move on beyond capital is rooted in the failure of the middle-class intellectual to be radically critical and self-critical and give up their current stipends.

Politics – all politics – is of course, the problem, not the solution. But the solution to the existence of sectarian and divisive politics is to build social movements based upon openness and inclusiveness. The humanist answer for middle-class activists is not to become involved in existing politics or to invent a new form of politics nor to adopt the least worst existing form. The solution is to follow the logic of a humanist concern to save the planet – and not just for middle-class humanity, but for all humanity and other life forms. This logical extension of saving the planet would mean adopting an all-round humanist approach to all the capitalist inspired problems facing humanity, for these are many more than emissions and biodiversity loss. For such an aim, rebellions are insufficient means, revolutionary transformations are required.

The limitation of rebellions.

The type of rebellion Extinction Rebellion suggest is similar to the Arab Spring rebellions against various dictators. These ‘rebels’ also desired to convince a systems representatives which had created the problems in the first place to reverse their chosen path and start down another. Modes of production, as with many other systems of course do not do this, they conserve themselves until they internally collapse and an alternative emerges. Indeed, the capitalist mode of production has all but collapsed twice before. It was a collapse which resulted in two world wars, in which mass extinctions of people, infrastructure and natural ecology took place around the globe, but no satisfactory alternative emerged. Instead, the middle-class rebellious academics and intellectuals of that pre- and post-war period, (1920’s to 1950’s) in the west supported the systems attempt to reform and clean up the mess 20th century capitalist inspired warfare had made of the world in 1945.

So in many ways 21st century Extinction Rebellion is another case of a Radical Reformist Rebellion which urges the capitalist system to reform itself in order to survive. However this time the crisis is more extreme than the one in the 20th century. It is depressingly frequent that otherwise intelligent people fail to think things through or thoroughly study past experience before thinking they have arrived at a potential solution. The capitalist mode of production and it’s representatives among the elites are those elements which have created the climate and extinction problems we face. Asking them to stop doing what they are doing is the equivalent of trying to convince fully evolved predatory animals (such as lions and tigers) to suddenly become vegetarians.

Roy Ratcliffe (May 2021)

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