BEGINNERS GUIDE – 22

Understanding Socio-Economic Forms.

The complexity of modern human societies is such that most people do not fully understand how they function at a universal economic level. Confusion is therefore understandable. However, complexity in general becomes easier to grasp when underlying features are reduced to simplified abstract (non-particular) categories. Once these essential elements are understood, complexity can be added later. Using such a method in what follows will hopefully help readers comprehend past, present and future possible modes of production.

Consumption and Production.

Consumption and production are relatively easily understood abstractions because all life forms need to consume organic and inorganic material (food, air and water) in order to survive. These materials need to be produced in order to be consumed. Production and Consumption are therefore not just related economic, (non-specific) abstractions but represent the interconnected basis of everyday life – including human life. The abstraction we commonly describe as ‘nature’ is the producer of food, water and air. Historically, human communities have learned how to interact with nature in the economic activity (i.e. work) of obtaining and distributing food, water and shelter to its members.

Work, (doing practical tasks), is therefore, another easily understood level of abstraction. Moreover, in any given society there will be at least the following four categories of people. 1. a percentage who are fit and able to work. 2. a percentage too old to work; 3, a percentage too young to work; 4, a percentage who are too ill or incapacitated to work. In the essential work of producing food and shelter, the last three categories can be considered as unproductive! That is to say they are unable to produce the essentials to live. Yet, until their circumstances change, such non-producers still need (at a minimum) to consume air, water and food. Most human societies have by various means ensured this was achievable.

Divisions of labour.

Over historic time, the percentages of these four categories have varied and additional non-productive categories have been added. The abundance of food and water within easy reach and the number of productive members available, has in general determined how many or how few ill, incapacitated, old and young people can be supported at any one time. However, with the development of technological tools, increases in the efficiency of food production have occurred and the need for productive members reduced. This left some members free from essential production to undertake other forms of useful social activity. For example, teachers for the young, nurses for the sick, carers for the old etc. In other words an extended division of labour developed.

A further degree of detail and complexity can now be added to this basic, but still abstract human socio-economic formation. For example, if for every one thousand (or million) members of a community, twenty percent are too old, twenty percent are too young, two percent are ill, two percent are incapacitated by injury or pregnancy and ten percent comprise of teachers, nurses, carers, entertainers, utensil makers etc., (ie a total of 54%) then logic suggests the following. For the community to survive, the remaining 46%, of productive members by means of equipment and favourable natural resources, need to be able to produce enough essentials for themselves and for the rest of the community.

Trading and leisure activities.

If by a further development of skills and technology, the productive members (in the above hypothetical case – the 46%) can create more than enough essentials for themselves and their community, then, other things remaining the same, the following could happen. Those working in essential production could either shorten the duration of their productive activity (and have more leisure), or reduce the numbers working productively. Alternatively, they could continue to work for the same length of time and use their extra surplus production to trade with other human communities (originally) by gifts or barter. All three alternatives could be explored by any dynamic human community.

Historically some communities have undoubtedly used surplus production of fish, meat, fruit and grain, to increase the extent of their cultural activities (gatherings/festivals/music/art etc), others to reduce the time spent in producing. Others have used surpluses to become accomplished river and sea trading communities. In early non-hierarchical societies, the choice of how much to produce, how to allocate human resources to various forms of activity and how to utilise any surplus production would have been the decision of the entire community using whatever decision-making processes they had developed.

Faced with any problems (famine, drought, flood, pandemic etc) they could then decide to allocate sufficient human resources to shielding some from the problems whilst others volunteered to address solutions. In short, as a community they could flexibly adjust their socio-economic activities to address any developing positive or negative circumstances.

Class divided societies.

A further level of complexity can now be added to the above abstract model of socio-economic development. If one section of such an egalitarian community – for whatever reason – armed itself and gradually (or even suddenly) made itself into a ruling and controlling elite strata, then much would change. By making all the main socio-economic decisions this elite could dictate how many people should do productive work, how long workers should work, how much of the surplus production the elite would keep for themselves and how problems would be tackled. Class societies would begin to for. 

Although, the above simplified linguistic abstractions describe no actual historical human community, once these basic inter-connections are comprehended, then social solutions to various problems became a community wide effort. Furthermore, it would not be too difficult to discover in historical, archaeological, anthropological and ethnological records, actual hunter-gatherer, pastoralist, herding and even agricultural communities which approximate to the lines of abstract development suggested above. Indeed, the 21st century neo-liberal phase of the capitalist mode of production, despite its many extra layers of complexity and socio-economic differentiation, confirms the validity of these abstractions.

Modern capitalist dominated socio-economic forms, merely demonstrate extra complexity woven into and onto them and have  disconnected such basic forms of human socio-economic collectives. Yet in the 21st century, we still have essential productive workers, who feed, clothe, house etc., and entertain themselves along with supporting the (ever more numerous) non-productive, political, cultural and administrative classes. And by increases in surplus production, modern complex societies still feed the sick, the elderly, the young and now with capitalist labour-replacement technologies, support for the unemployed. Although under capitalism, each of those ex-producers are supported at a substandard level.

Decision making.

In modern class divided societies – whether so-called democratic or not – the community as a whole no longer decide on how many productive workers are needed, how long they should work, what and how they produce, nor how much resources they and the young, old, sick and support-service workers should get. Instead, the capitalist and pro-capitalist elite, through control of the legal system and the law enforcement agencies of the state, decide on all the above – and much more – including how problems such as pandemics are handled! They also decide which governments we should trade our surplus with, whether corrupt (ie Saudi Arabia etc.) or not. Crucially, they decide on how much they should pay themselves from the surplus-production of wealth for engaging in their non-productive ruling activities.

At all times, in peace, war, famine, flood or pandemics, their particular and general ruling class interests invariably come first. By any humane or ecological criteria, it is clear that the capitalist economic system they fiercely uphold is not just extremely unfair but is impoverishing millions, destroying species, polluting land, sea and air and now stirring up and circulating lethal viruses. Metaphorically speaking, the ruling elites everywhere are assertively, even at times aggressively (ie Myanmar, Syria, Yemen), killing the habitats and golden geese (ie working populations) that lay the golden eggs that disproportionately enrich their lives.

Elite power and their consequent ability to determine the future of humanity needs to be ended. A new socio-economic formation needs to be created. Cooperatives and non-profit public services have indicated the organisational direction humanity needs to now take. Egalitarian control and ecological sustainability now indicate how and why we and future generations need to limit the quantity and determine the quality of what is produced and consumed.

Roy Ratcliffe (April 2021)

 

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REFLECTIONS ON THE 2020-2021 PANDEMIC.

 

By clicking on the link below I am assured (by google help) that access to a detailed document entitled ‘Revolutionary-Humanist Reflections on the 2020-2021 Covid19 Pandemic’, will be obtained. The document contains numerous condensed weekly or monthly comments covering many of the situations and concerns arising from the initial stages of the Pandemic in February 2020 through the spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter of 2020 until the Spring of March 2021.

It offers an anti-capitalist and Revolutionary-Humanist perspective and evaluation of the 12 months of Pandemic disaster for millions of working people. Hopefully it’s critical observations and reflections will help refresh memories and also to offset any undoubted local, national or international attempts to deflect blame for the thousands of unnecessary deaths, away from the pro-capitalist economic, financial and political elites. The establishments rationalisations and blame dodging will likely be a series of ommission,  unforeseen (sic) circumstances and fatalistic inevitabilities.

If the link below fails to deliver, then an email to royratcliffe@yahoo.com requesting the ‘Reflections’ document can be considered a reliable back up.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vSTMzKeeo0jIM0Gzin0RW16UWwjPl-OZsf-1SNHfbQxCR5U9fGwJrgHjkpregjPANHLvZL3XPfq6mSo/pub

Roy Ratcliffe (April 2021)

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BEGINNERS GUIDE – 21.

(Beginners Guide to Revolutionary Humanism 21.)

The Bourgeois World View.

In the 20th century, the French word bourgeoisie was often used to refer to the European capitalist and pro-capitalist class in general. It was this class that during the 17th and 18th centuries ushered in the capitalist mode of production. The relevance of using the term in the 21st century is that our world today is clearly a product of the capitalist mode of production. Furthermore, the ideological framework that developed in support of this ‘mode’ still dominates modern elites particularly in Europe. Moreover, global humanity in general is still dominated by the economic and financial operations of capitalism and most people are heavily influenced by ‘the bourgeois world view’.

Even faced with multiple viruses swarming along the network of capitalist commodity supply chains and killing millions, the daily economic basis of capital (buying and selling for profit) is a priority energetically protected by its pro – capitalist governing elites. Despite the heavy death toll, the Covid19 Pandemic is still being encouraged to spread by business as usual politicians and their support networks. So dominant is this bourgeois ideological hold on politicians and large numbers of people that efforts to ‘jump-start’ the virus-stalled world economic system – as it was formerly – is viewed as ‘common sense’. Bourgeois forms of exploitation, entitlement and conspicuous consumption have become considered as ‘normal’ aspirations.

Just as problematically, those who prefer the bourgeois world view over saving human lives also implicitly accept species loss, climate change, air, sea and land pollution, ecological destruction, global poverty and daily armed conflict. It seems anything bad will be tolerated rather than become reasons to challenge the capitalist system. Satellite producers are even making an orbital junk yard high above the planets atmosphere. It is clear, capitalism and its bourgeois elites recognise no limits to production either physical or moral. All the above 21st century problems and more to come, are simply the logical unfolding of the 17th and 18th century ‘bourgeois world view’.

Bourgeois ideology.

During its practical development, the ideology of the European bourgeois classes had to challenge and subordinate the previous religious views of the world. Medieval religious elites predominantly viewed the world through their mystical beliefs, according to which an invisible male God created the world and its many organic species in a matter of six days. This God was further imagined as overseeing that earthy creation 24/7, aided by his earthly representatives – the priests and later the Kings. This was an undoubted reversal of reality. The priests and Kings had their own earthly patriarchal purposes and merely claimed – as intellectual back-up – that these same purposes were those of the male God they chose to follow.

Economic and social control by priests and Kings was unsuitable for the emerging capitalist traders and producers. They required a more direct control of production and a more secular form of ideology in order to administer an extended world of buying and selling for profit. With the world as their intended ‘shopping mall’, they re-assigned God to control of an imaginary ‘department of heaven’; relegated priests to control of departments of ‘kneeling down and praying’; and royalty to palaces of ‘waving and bowing’. Then they promoted themselves to managers of the earth and all its species. From then on, improving the planet by ‘civilising’ it into a multitude of global business-opportunity nations became the duty and ‘burden’ of self-appointed bourgeois male elites.
Bourgeois expansion.

To enable this long term global trading project, the European bourgeoisie had to name and create a detailed description (and potential use) for each item encountered. Ocean voyages of ‘discovery’ departed from Europe and came across lands which contained “new caught sullen peoples” (as per Rudyard Kippling). These were Indigenous communities living on Islands and continents which they had ‘discovered’ thousands if not millions of years previously. Nevertheless, they and their habitats were not considered existentially valid until 17th and 18th century Europeans literally set eyes and feet on them. Naming the contents of the Old and New World (sic) and labelling them was – like modern bailiffs – also a preliminary act of intended confiscation and possession. Even the reckoning of time, was imposed upon local conventions in favour of European Greenwich mean time (GMT).

These ancient human cultures and non-human resources were forcibly incorporated into European empires of overseas territories. Adam Smiths (Wealth of Nations) inspired insight, “the whole world for a market” via “water/sea carriage” was being opened up. Bit by bit, most of the world was eventually controlled by Europe and since Europe was controlled by the bourgeoisie, the bourgeoisie effectively controlled most of the world. Everything, large or small, was examined and recorded within a catalogue or taxonomy. Hence, the naming and describing disciplines of Chemistry, Physics, Economics, Mathematics, Sociology, Ethnology, Anthropology, Astronomy, Geography and Biology developed alongside capitalist production and commerce.

Each ‘rationalised’ discipline functioned to bring as much of the world as possible into conformity with the languages, prejudices and profit-making world-view of the European bourgeois classes. By imposing European science, technology, time and languages wherever possible, a single bourgeois ‘civilising‘ narrative, made up of multiple strands, was woven into a global network of communication. The narrative was exported alongside commodities until it collectively embraced and dominated the actions, thought processes and the imagination of global humanity.

Land masses along with human heads and bodies were ‘scientifically’ measured, assessed and judged in a negative relationship to the assumed cultural and intellectual superiority of the European heartland and its pale-skinned bourgeois males. Once mapped, global land masses had lines drawn upon them and dependent or subordinate ‘nations’ were created. The ultimate European bourgeois mission was the transformation and shaping the world in accordance with their own preferred mode of production and prejudiced world view. Their practical task, utilising the developments maturing in science and technology, was to harness, control and improve on nature and its evolutionary development.

At the practical level, the bourgeois radical/revolutionary changes (always designated as improvements) imposed upon the ‘advanced’ (sic) countries by their anti-aristocratic revolutions, were then supplied and supported by extracting resources from the ‘New World’. First by means of Free Trade and Colonialism, then by Imperialism, this buying, selling, profit-based (‘advanced’ and ‘backward’) socio-economic model, was imposed upon the entire world. At a practical and ideological level the mission of the bourgeois elite in general was to make the world a mirror image of its own socio-economic development. Any other economic mode of production or any alternative cultural or social narrative was violently opposed or even physically eliminated.

Bourgeois profit-driven realities.

However, at a practical bourgeois production level, the dominant socio-economic motive was the continuous creation of private wealth for bourgeoisie accumulation and their desire for conspicuous consumption. The means of achieving this wealth was by the production of commodities and services using, slavery and wage – slavery to create surplus-value and profit. The profit motive required the most relentless and ruthlessly efficient production processes. However, these profit-driven methods were in direct conflict with nature and the evolution of the planet and humanity.

Thus, a dystopian contrast occurred between the ‘civilised’ pristine technological order existing among the up-town wealthy parts of urban living and the down-town slums and tin shacks of the poor. Those two outcomes became a universal symptom of 19th to 21st century bourgeois reality. The manicured lawns and pristine environments of the rich and famous were (and are) in stark contrast with the brown field sites, denuded forests, the polluted disorder of slag heaps and chemical overspills – all resulting from profit making for the benefit of bourgeois elites.

This re-shaping of the earth according to the ‘common-sense’ dictates of the bourgeois men and women who influence and control the capitalist mode of production, thus turned out to be a mis-shaping and un-balancing of the planets ecological and evolutionary development. So powerful and ingrained is the current hold of the bourgeois world view on humanity, that the end of the world can be more easily envisioned, than devising an alternative mode of production. However, for those not blinded by self-interest and temporary advantage, the bourgeois world view presents itself as one of progressive disorder and species extinctions which needs to be urgently curtailed.

Roy Ratcliffe (March 2021)

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POLICING AND PREJUDICE.

The decades (or centuries) old Caucasian prejudice against women and people of colour has again been spectacularly highlighted. In 2020, the spectacle of a US police officer immobilising George Floyd by kneeling upon his helpless body was flashed across the globe as a typical, but nevertheless outstanding, example of institutional prejudice and violence. On Saturday 13 March 2021, in the UK we had an almost parallel optic by a UK police officer, holding a female down on the ground whilst arresting and handcuffing her. A number of other women were treated similarly whilst attending what was a peaceful vigil.

The irony in this UK case was that the vigil was triggered by the murder of Sarah Everard, who the police suspect was abducted and murdered – by a male member of the police force. A further layer of irony was added by the fact that the police action occurred under the authority of Cressida Dick, the first female Commissioner of police in the UK. Any thought that a female in charge may have moderated how a female rights vigil – against male violence – was policed was mistaken. Patriarchy, prejudice and disrespect of all kinds is so woven into the institutional culture and regulatory methods of most – if not all – police forces, that this culture over-rides any other human rights considerations.

With regard to police prejudice and disrespect in relation to gender and colour, recall for a moment the fairly recent ‘selfie’ photos of UK police officers taken adjacent to the bodies of two murdered women of colour! However, the police are not unique in being seeped in patriarchal forms of prejudice. To a greater or lesser extent it exists throughout all male-dominated societies. Prejudice against women, people of different skin colour and class, permeates every institution, from the royalty, government, politics, economic, finance, education, law, military and even some aspects of family life.

Women are subject to discrimination, sexual harassment, violence and rape in everyone of the above areas of life. Males of colour and the essential workers of the ‘lower’ classes are also discriminated against and exploited in many of the above areas. Additionally, the patriarchal and patronising attitude to women is currently revealed in the treatment of female essential workers. They have born the brunt of the front-line struggle against Covid19 infection in hospitals, care homes and private dwellings.

In the UK, as elsewhere, up to seventy-five percent of all paid and unpaid health and care workers in most countries are women. Apart from a few weeks of hand clapping they were effectively abandoned by men in government and by every other male dominated socio-economic institution. In the UK none of the men within the ‘establishment’ or mainstream, have seriously protested against the paltry wage settlements offered by the government to those who had quite literally saved lives and comforted the ill at considerable risk to themselves.

Silence with regard to violence or sexual exploitation against women – epitomised by the murder of Sarah Everard – will also be the probable response by most men and even some women, such as Cressida Dick. The social silence by such ‘elevated’ women has been bought by their privileged positions within patriarchal institutions. Allowing a token number of ‘deserving’ women or people of colour or class, into bourgeois institutions is a means of moderating criticism over discrimination whilst maintaining prejudices and male domination.

This is why since the 20th century horror of the Yorkshire Ripper, in the UK, women are still living in fear of harassment, violence, rape and even death at home, work or when travelling between.

Another incident highlighting deep-seated prejudice recently occurred in the UK. Revelations by a royal prince and his American bride of mixed parentage, suggested a form of colour prejudice was operating within the British Press and the Royal Family. A question was hurled at one royal along the lines of; ‘is the royal family racist?’ Since only in an imaginary ‘virtual’ world are there such human categories as races, this question entirely missed the real issue.

The question should have been; ‘is the Royal family prejudiced?’ Clearly they are. Not only against people of colour, but of non-royal people in general. The royals are even deeply prejudiced against non-conforming royals such as Edward (with Mrs Simpson) or Margaret (with Snowden) and of course – Diana. The royal family are just the gaudy be-medalled apex of bourgeois elitist pretensions and are symptomatic of an all-embracing prejudice. They live off public money supplied either via tax-payer subsidy or by charging for land and property they have inherited or acquired. Having taken taxpayer cash they button their lips and turn a blind eye to the systemic exploitation of women and working people in the UK and the former colonies, who are the ultimate foundation of their extravagant life-styles.

Although the head royal is a female, she shows little concern about women’s oppression. Indeed, she has always been proud of the military men and their historical regiments who have unapologetically confiscated land and resources, raped, killed and terrorised women in all the former British Empire territories. Indeed, she ‘salutes’ them in an annual ceremony of mutual admiration and self-justification. The British Caucasian ‘establishment’ throughout its numerous layers is saturated with many forms of prejudice.

Such practical and ideological prejudice is part of the ‘muck of ages’ which Marx identified as being the challenge working people need to overcome in pursuing their own release from elite oppression and exploitation.

It is to be hoped that many more women will become active in asserting their rights as human beings and that more men will start to support their efforts in this endeavour. In this regard, I suggest it is not enough for men to defensively assert that ‘not all men’ are rapists and murderers. That is undoubtedly true! But it is also true that ‘not all men’ are engaged in supporting women’s rights or even actively challenging sexist jokes and other disrespectful attitudes to women.

Yet if only half the male population routinely spoke out about and actively supported women’s rights, then together with campaigning women – a critical-mass would develop – to such an extent that all women would soon start to feel protected at home, valued at work and safe on our streets.

Roy Ratcliffe (March 2021.)

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CONFUSION ON THE LEFT

A couple of points in recent articles demonstrated two perennial problems on the left. One was the desire for strong active government. The other was the use of quotes from Marx to support a political position that essentially contradicts Marx. They are as follows.

Left Dualist thinking.

This first example included a strong critique of capitalism’s neo-liberal stage from a working class perspective. It then went on to contrast the neo-liberal rhetoric of the ‘less state the better’ with the level of support for business from capitalist states. The neo-liberal rhetoric on competition was also contrasted with the actual amount of centralisation and planning big businesses undertook. The 20th century KeynesIan economics and centralised planning was then questionably extolled. It appeared the authors were making the case for big government solutions.

Two problematic assertions then followed. The first was that the “fight against racism” needed a “strong and active government”. The second assertion was that “fighting a global pandemic” also needed a “strong and active government”. It seemed they concluded that since capitalist governments around the world were failing to eliminate the virus of racial prejudice as well as the virus of Covid19 it was because of inactivity or weaknes. Therefore, something more was needed from future governments.

So from this particular perspective the solution to end racism and virus Pandemics, was to choose strong active governments, which would somehow eliminate both. Although a few of the existing strong active governments around the world have done better at controlling the pandemic than weak inactive ones, actually none have eliminated it or prejudice on colour, gender, sexuality and disability.

But that result shouldn’t be surprising. All big government – including strong active ones – are based upon a fundamental form of prejudice. It assumes that some human beings are fit to govern and others, particularly working people in general, are not. All other forms of prejudice stem from this primary practice of governance by elite classes. If the governing elites are predominantly of one particular gender, religion, ethnicity, skin colour or ideology then a pyramid of hierarchy and prejudice of the other identities will generally flow down the social ladder below the ruling class identity. That was historically so in all parts of the world and is still the case in the 21st century.

Moreover, the above idea of centralised planning by a strong government also springs from the material act of governing itself. Ruling elites always desire to plan and control as many resources as possible. Thats how they accumulate their wealth. The modern version of these concepts only became attractive to middle-class intellectuals when capitalism needed to open up the technical and managerial positions within the industrialised stage of its development.

The professional, managerial middle-class, (PMMC) which this economic stage required can lean left, right or centre politically. Moreover, in one or other guise, PMMC individuals and cadres helped initiate and occupy the managerial levels of societies as politically diverse as Fascist, Stalinist, Neo-liberal and Social Democratic. Such governmental regimes were extremely strong and active – particularly in keeping the working classes at work and producing surplus – value. The latter being the source of their governmental income and elite wealth.

Governments, strong or weak are the active authoritarian means by which elites force their particular distinctive form of exploitation and oppression upon essential and non-essential workers. In fact solutions to prejudice and virus pandemics require the opposite of strong active governance. It is local self – governing non-profit, eco-sensitive producing communities which are the future solution for humanity.

Working people need to actively challenge the idea of (and actively dispense with) strong active governments, not champion them. Only by a revolutionary transitional process away from hierarchies and strong government will humanity be able to end the muck of ages prejudices based upon colour, gender, age, sexual-orientation, disability and religion. Which brings me to the next recent left confusion.

Marx on Religion.

This second case was one of utilising the prestige of Marx to support a position of neutrality with regard to religion. These authors quoted Marx’s concept of religion as being the ‘Opium of the People’, but then wrote that Marx;

“…insisted on treating religion as a matter for the individual, strictly separating it from the state and public affairs.”

I will demonstrate below that this politicised assertion severely distorts Marx’s revolutionary-humanist perspective on religion. Whatever, the purpose of this literary distortion or omission, it is a case of withholding relevant information. After writing of the need for a “ruthless criticism of all that exists,” Marx adds, we;

“…have to make religion, science etc., the object of our criticism…religion and…politics…we must take these in whatever form they exist, as our point of departure….religion is a register of the theoretical struggles of mankind….our motto must be: reform of consciousness……by analysing the mystical consciousness…whether it manifests itself in a religious or political form.” (letter from Deutsch-Franzosische Jahrbucher. emphasis added RR.)

In the a ‘Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law’ which contains the above noted ‘opium of the people’ phrase, the following precedes it.

“The struggle against religion is therefore indirectly a fight against ‘the world’ of which religion is the spiritual ‘aroma’”.

This is then followed by;

“The criticism of religion disillusions man to make him think and act and shape his reality like a man who has become disillusioned and has come to reason,..Criticism appears no longer as an end in itself, but only as a means. Its essential sentiment is ‘indignation’, it’s essential activity is ‘denunciation’”. (Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law’)

One final extract from the many by Marx on religion.

“..we have once and for all declared war on religion and religious ideas and care little whether we are called atheists or anything else.” (The conditions of England. Past and present by Carlisle.)

So Marx – in his own words – did not treat religion as ‘a matter for the individual’. Nor did he separate it ‘from the state and public affairs’. Instead he advocated ruthless criticism, rigorous analysis of, struggle against, denunciation of, and an open fight against all religious and political forms of mystical consciousness. Anything creating illusions and virtual realities was to be openly and ruthlessly criticised.

I hope this demonstrates to new generations of oppressed and exploited blue and white-collar workers, that they should not automatically assume that those who appear to know what they are writing (or talking) about, are as thorough as they should be. Indeed, they frequently mislead themselves as well as others.

Roy Ratcliffe (March 2021)

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CORONA VIRUS PANDEMIC – 33.

Dead Epidemiologists’. By Rob Wallace.

This article is not a full review of the above book, but it does contain extracts from it. Subtitled; ‘On the origins of Covid19’ it is a collaborative work by specialists in Pandemics, Agroecology, Economics and Virology. It’s author identifies himself as “an evolutionary biologist and health phylogeographer. The many such technical references may indicate a potential difficulty for non-specialist readers.

Nevertheless, from a revolutionary-humanist perspective this book makes an important contribution in understanding the connection between Pandemics, the Capitalist mode of production in general and industrialised food production in particular.

In an early section, a list of 27 previous strains (or variants) of viruses is identified which governments and politicians have failed to recognise as part of a systemic pattern. The author notes that the Pandemic emergency itself is used as a ‘too busy’ excuse for not considering how capitalist economic structures in food production and commerce have unearthed the Covid 19 virus and enabled it’s global spread. Eg.

“…wet market and ‘exotic’ foods are staples in China, as is now industrial production, juxtaposed alongside each other since economic liberalisation, post Mao. …..ostriches, porcupine, crocodile, fruit bats, palm civets…All are treated as food commodities.” (in the section on Notes on a novel virus)

The author makes clear that the interface between huge intensive international agro-industrialised food production, factory farms and outsourced just-in-time local suppliers of livestock products are virus enabling pathways. This means that viruses can originate in many locations globally and be passed on to large-scale food processing factories across continents. The frequent pro-capitalist game of blaming the various places of origin for any virus outbreaks conveniently ignores the fact that the problem lies in the entire food production system, not in any one particular sub-location.

The source problem is further avoided and exacerbated by the fact that those employed by government to deal with outbreaks and their counterparts in academia (ie the “professional managerial class”) are simply acting to ‘clean up the mess after the event’. They also tend to accept existing capitalist economic values and practices rather than critiquing them. Campaigning to end the current pathogen prone system of food production is not even considered by this section of the middle class. In contrast, the author argues that;

Anyone who aims to understand why viruses are becoming more dangerous must investigate the industrial model of agriculture, and more specifically, livestock production….few governments and few scientists are prepared to do so.” (Interview section)

This is why so much mainstream government and media analysis of the Pandemic is based upon superficial considerations and on solving immediate Covid 19 infections. Yet even at this superficial level the preventative measures have been the epidemic equivalent of donning condoms after sexual intercourse rather than before. Ordering workers back into crowded factories and keeping factories open during Pandemic lock downs was not cutting off viral transmission. Eight hour shifts in enclosed spaces is ideal for viruses carried on aerosol droplets or other particles before being inhaled into workers lungs. Indeed the author suggests;

“Working people are treated as cannon fodder”. (and thus need to) “..find a way to wrestle operative command from the greedy and incompetent.”

Moreover;

Agri-business as a mode of social reproduction must be ended for good. Highly capitalised production of food depends upon practices that endanger the entirety of humanity….food systems (should) be socialised in such a way that pathogens this dangerous are kept from emerging in the first place.” (ibid)

The obvious government failures revealed when the Pandemic broke out didn’t just commence when it started in 2020/2019 but years earlier when the neo – liberal economic model of just in time supply chains were introduced and imposed upon countries. Indeed;

“The failures were actually programmed decades ago as the shared commons of public health were simultaneously neglected and monetised. “

But of course the whole point of commodifying and monetising everything possible – including public services – is to enable the owners of capital to reap the profits and interest from the intensive exploitation of animal, human, vegetable and mineral resources. However, the social and financial pollutant ‘side effects’ are passed on to everyone else. For;

“..the private control of production remains entirely focused on profit. The damages caused by the outbreaks that result are externalised to livestock, crops, wildlife, workers, local and national governments, public health systems and alternative agrosystems abroad.” (section: Covid19 and the Circuits of Capital)

Of course the greed for profit means that capitalist production must be constant and as rapid as possible. Industrial livestock rearing is no different and animals such as pigs and chickens are intensively reared and profitably ‘processed’ quickly from birth to slaughter and sale. Global investors know this and so with an eye to pig and poultry farming;

“Goldman Sach took 60% stock in Shuanguhi Investment and Development, part of the giant agribusiness that bought US based Smithfield Foods, the largest hog producer in the world. For $300 million, it also scored out-and-out ownership of ten poultry farms in Fujian and Hunan, one province over from Wuhan and well within the city’s wild foods catchment. It invested up to another $300 million alongside Deutsch Bank in hog raising in the same provinces.” (ibid)

Not surprisingly, American and European investors are deeply embroiled in their own and other countries virus-producing commodity chains. Intensive farming, in particular, not only destroys natural habitats, but the use of bio-chemicals as fertilisers or as animal medications, kills insects, damages gut flora and increases crop or animal disease transmission. It also creates continuous high volumes of waste material (and excrement) which of course are huge reservoirs for pathogen development and spread. For example;

“Whole counties in the United States are dedicated to the production of industrial food animals. …the state of Iowa, a centre for livestock and poultry production, is an epicentre for nitrogen, phospherous, and total solid waste. It’s North Raccoon , Floyd and Little Souix watersheds, home to 350,000 people,…host the waste equivalent of Tokyo, New York City and Mexico City combined….cutting Iowa’s clean rivers in half, polluting private water wells with nitrate and fecal coliform bacteria and producing nation – leading emissions in fine particulate ammonium nitrate, ammonium sulfate and hydrogen sulfide.” (section: The origins of industrial agricultural pathogens)

It is important to remember that Covid19 is not an isolated event, it is merely one newly identified symptom of a global capitalist system which is damaging air, water, sea, land and killing insect, animal and human populations. So until the capitalist system is changed, if this virus doesn’t get us, one or other of the symptoms probably will.

Roy Ratcliffe (March 2021)

[The book ‘Dead Epidemiologists’. By Rob Wallace is priced at £4.95p and available from online book stores and at MR online, via monthlyreview.org ]

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CORONA VIRUS PANDEMIC – 32.

Pills, Politics and Profit.

Have you ever wondered why the capitalist influenced medical profession prefers curing ills rather than preventing them? The reason is simple. More profits can be made from injecting vaccines than from preventing viruses. More income can be made from palliatives (pills) than from removing the causes of pain and stress. Medicines and vaccines which are prescribed for long term illnesses or recurring pandemics provide long term income streams and profitable returns on private investments.

The pharmaceutical industry, in particular, is capitalist profit-making on steroids. Pro-capitalist governments around the globe have been throwing money and resources amounting to billions at the pharmaceutical industry in a global effort to produce vaccines to immunise against the Covid19 virus. Yet no money or resources have been directed to preventing viruses from crossing the animal to human barrier. Clearly it is far easier for big Pharma to make profits from regular vaccine production than to eliminate viruses.

It is the pharmaceutical equivalent of capitalist builders deliberately erecting homes on flood plains, without flood barriers, in a period of rising sea levels and intensified rainfall and then when the house is swept away, telling you to ‘get used to it’ and offering to sell you another unit on exactly the same basis. From a humanist perspective, that makes no sense. However, it makes a form of inhumane capitalist sense to allow novel animal viruses to circulate among human communities and then use public money to supply us with yet another intravenous chemical.

Public Payment and Private Plunder.

And soak up public wealth they do. Pharmaceuticals even collaborate with public funded university departments to develop medicines and procedures and then patent them for profitable distribution. Nice trick that isn’t it? Get a tax-payer funded university departments graduates to do as much of the research as possible then patent the result for the benefit of a private company and its shareholders. Like other such public/private initiatives, the profits of private companies and a minority of shareholders are being subsidised by the majority of taxpayers.

But that is only half the problem with the interface of capitalism with health care. Curing patients with one – off treatments does two things to interrupt the cash flow of big Pharmacy. First, it cuts off the need for regular medications and second, it reduces the number of carriers able to transmit the disease to future patients. Hence there is no real capitalist incentive to campaign for preventative measures or create one-off cures. Indeed, it would really put the public purse in big Pharma’’s pocket if, in addition to turning their backs on virus prevention, pro-capitalist governments now made vaccination compulsory.

So it makes perfect sense to those who make money via vaccination pricks to keep producing and selling syringes and vaccines and update them when a virus mutates. So there is clearly no incentive for them, their shareholders or their elite friends in government to make a global effort to ensure viruses stay in their animal host where they can do little or no harm. Not only are governments pouring money into pharmaceutical companies, for vaccines, they are doing nothing to prevent new viruses from entering the human transport chain and clearly not enough to prevent existing ones circulating.

I think it revealing that there are no voices among the political and governing elite who are challenging this profit-based single narrative. This sole script of – vaccination is the only way forward – reveals that there is absolutely no intention by governments, politicians, medical professionals, bio-tech companies etc., of making sure that viruses, stay in their normal animal hosts, do not cross species barriers and are not allowed to spread far and wide. But this single-note tone poem by the elites (echoed by some on the left) also reveals more.

Deaths, Data and Dystopia.

Rather than change to a policy of virus prevention and elimination, the pro-capitalist elite in most countries are prepared to allow regular pandemics and repeated vaccinations to become the new normal. They prefer a dystopian nightmare of countries and communities coping with unemployment, climate change, pollution and a succession of death-dealing pandemics rather than change their preferred profit-based economic system. Using fear of the virus and the boredom of lock-down confinement along with a one note vaccine ‘saviour’ narrative, they hope the public will accept an alternative dystopia and dutifully offer up their arms for more and more jabs.

In the UK the elites only concern now is to work out how many infections and deaths they can allow before it becomes too self-defeating, too embarrassing or before people finally see through this cynical pro-capitalist strategy. It is the same strategy that political and military elites use when engaged in warfare. How many soldiers can be sacrificed to the ‘cause’ before the fathers, mothers, husbands and wives of these soldiers and humane citizens stir themselves to oppose the military action ordered by the governing elite?

The recent UK Covid19 normalisation strategy, (a staged return to capitalist profit – making) outlined in March 2021 reveals the mentality of the neo-liberal governing elite over here. The question they have openly addressed is; how many ordinary citizens can we afford to let get ill and die before we need to interfere again with our business as usual gig? Indeed, their ‘no more lock-downs’ strategy includes a cynical tactic. They are allowing a weekly gap between each phase of lifting restrictions. This ‘gap’ will allow them to examine the data on deaths and infections and in their executive offices, decide if these are too high to be acceptable or too crippling for the health service infrastructure and understaffed personnel to cope with!!!

Vaccine Nationalism/Imperialism.

Then there is the vexed question of vaccine nationalism and Imperialism. The government’s of the richest capitalist countries in Europe and North America representing less than 20% of the world’s population have purchased over 50% of available vaccine supplies. An attitude of me, me, me first – led by governing elites is rampant in the advanced countries. At the time of writing, 10 countries have already absorbed 75% of available vaccines and 130 countries have been left with none. According to reliable sources Astra Zenica and other vaccine producers are charging poor countries at least three times more than European countries to purchase each dose of vaccine.

Furthermore, the British and other involved governments have refused to lift restrictions on the vaccine formula and ingredients and thus denying poor countries the ability to manufacture the vaccine themselves. Apparently 2,400,000 (yes 2.4 million) Covid deaths globally are not enough to melt some capitalist, patent-protecting hearts. Another researcher suggest that international vaccine producers are currently charging between $6 and $75 per dose. Does this not stench of modern Imperialism?

Moreover, at the current rates of vaccination it could take six years to immunise everybody on the planet who wants to be injected. Bearing in mind that the planet is still interconnected, that the existing viruses are still mutating and that new viruses are still being released from animal to humans, the hope of a me-first strategy getting us back to any kind of pre-Covid normal is sheer Disneyland make-believe. Elite promoted ‘vaccine speak’ – echoed by various partially empty brain chambers – is meant to immunise us to concern about the unfolding brutal realities of late capitalism. Will it succeed?

Roy Ratcliffe (February 2021)

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CLASS STRUGGLES – 2.

Recent and future class struggles.

Previous to the Covid 19 pandemic, the brunt of the transfer from a welfare-state model of capitalism to the current neo-liberal model were born by the organised working classes. The export of production from Europe and North America, to low waged and low tax countries saw the progressive demise of traditional working class occupations. Large scale engineering, textiles, shipbuilding, docks, mining, automobile manufacturing and railway transport, all but disappeared. The decades of working class struggle to maintain jobs and income levels were undermined and defeated.

Austerity was the term commonly used to avoid exposing the relative and absolute poverty created by neo-liberal elites. Working people over subsequent decades learned to cope on benefits, low-paid precarious employment, or retraining for other jobs. Some started their own small businesses and/or joined the ranks of commercial, leisure or hospitality sectors. It is this latter class which are now bearing the brunt of the current stage of the crisis of capitalism. This is because this sector depends upon a sufficient number of daily or weekly paying customers to keep their individual businesses solvent.

Historically, this section of society neither worked for large, industrial, agricultural or commercial capital (workers) nor owned a big business (capitalists) and have been classed as a petite bourgeois class. This French derived term, refers to the class of self-employed small business traders. Successful members of this class generally enjoy better remuneration, job satisfaction and status than low-paid employed people, but are constantly threatened by big capital moving into their business sector and ruining them. For example supermarkets replacing local shops, individual coffee houses replaced by Costa, Starbucks chains, local pubs closing down when a Wetherspoons or another bar ‘chain’ moves into town, etc.

The socio-economic position of this petite-bourgeois class, thus gives rise to both a feeling of hostility and envy toward big capital. The economic situation of the petite bourgeois has been rapidly exacerbated by the 2020 Covid 19 pandemic. It is this class which are consequently, the main forces behind the global pressure to quickly end lock-downs everywhere. Their class struggle has also taken the form of public demonstrations and campaigns in the USA, UK and Europe, directed at shortening or lifting Covid restrictions. Assorted individuals from other classes have joined these demonstrations, but the main core and thrust of these campaigns is motivated by the social and economic position of the petite-bourgeoisie.

In contrast, the big bourgeoisie have been well supported by government handouts and have other means of putting pressure on governments. Many super rich are even getting richer during lock-downs so this class have yet no need of radical alternatives. Meanwhile, the working class (as a class) are existing on furlough, benefits or still using coping strategies. Consequently, the only class actively rebelling in the short and near term, are the small to medium petite-bourgeoisie. For example, a majority of the ‘rebels’ fired up by Trump and who then stormed the Capitol building on 6th January 2021, were undoubtedly from this petite-bourgeois economic background. (see link below)

However, without the support of the working classes or the big capitalists the petite bourgeoisie efforts at self – survival are doomed to failure. Although they would like to think they are essential, in a long lasting severe crisis, as Covid 19 has demonstrated, they are not essential to community survival, nor strong enough to endure it. As large capital formations weather (or ride) the storm and workers wait for something to trigger their revolt, most of the petite bourgeoisie will be forced to rejoin the ranks of the employed or unemployed working class.

Meanwhile petite-bourgeois class interest will continue to press for authoritarian political solutions to the crisis. In the past, they have looked for strong leaders who will implement measures to save their way of life. The class of individuals based upon small, private enterprise, is one of the dominant factors behind the rise of populist politics in North America, UK and Europe. However, their time is running out.

There is no easy political or economic solutions to petite-bourgeois problems. The historic trend of small to medium capital being squeezed out by large capital continues to be the logical direction of the capitalist mode of production. They can neither restore their previous economic conditions under capitalism nor satisfactorily exist in the current or future conditions now dictated by it.

Accordingly, they can either try to ally themselves with one or other of the political wings of the pro-capitalist class, dominated as these are by billionaire elites whose class interests are not the same. Consequently their only use in mainstream party politics is as voting fodder or bully boys to help crush any future working class discontent.

Alternatively, they could ally with the working classes and save themselves and their futures by changing the entire system and playing a positive role within it. The other side of that potential alliance, – the working classes – have both the responsibility and opportunity to begin to reach out, not only to the workers in the entertainment and hospitality sectors, but to the ex-industrial and commercial workers now hanging on to their own increasingly threatened self-employment and small businesses.

It is certainly not beyond the wit and wisdom of working people to suggest – to all people who work for a living – that a future mode of production with a decent, guaranteed, public-service level of income for all, with all the basic elements of modern living, is sensible and possible. This guaranteed income to be afforded by leveling down the billionaire, millionaire and other extraordinary high earning elite classes and by democratising all aspects of working and social life.

Such a programme benefiting workers in, entertainment, hospitality, leisure, essential and non-essential production and activities of ecological benefit to the local, national and global environments, would be immensely attractive to most rational adults. In particular it would be attractive to the millions of young people in countries and continents faced with unemployment, poverty and an increasingly polluted and ecologically damaged planet.

Roy Ratcliffe (February 2021)

[For an initial attempt at identifying the class identity of the Capitol rioters in the USA see mronline.org/2021/1/20/the-class-composition-of-the-capitol-rioters-first-cut ]

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CLASS STRUGGLES – 1.

The origin of economic classes.

A basic understanding of the economic origin of classes is of the utmost relevance to problems currently faced by humanity. It will help explain the motives and actions of modern global elites and those they rule. It also clears away the confusion caused by economic jargon and consequently reveals the underlying similarities between the ideologies of Neo-Liberalism, Socialism, Communism and Fascism.

For this general outline, the long evolution of humanity, can be usefully divided into two periods. The first (pre-history) stretches over millions of years and across numerous continents. It lasted until humanity developed a systematic form of writing. The second period (history) commences with symbols on tablets of clay, stone/stela, papyrus, vellum and later paper.

The invention of writing developed along with changes from hunter-gathering, herding and pastoral modes of production to settled agriculture. The latter enabled a regular surplus of grain production to be created along with fruit and vegetables. Regular surpluses removed the need for some community members to produce their own daily sustenance and therefore to specialise in other forms of activity, such as writing, pottery, music etc.

That way a socio-economic division between essential workers and other occupations was first established. By the Greek and Persian period of ancient history, forced, repetitive agricultural labour by slaves and semi-slaves had become the economic basis for the rise of towns and cities. On this foundation of ‘strong government’, successive ruling elites maintained possession of the main means of production and control of the lives of essential workers, who were then forced to produce such basic needs.

Control of means of production and labour, enabled historic elites to obtain a tithe or tax (a percentage) of everything produced. Regular surplus-production kept the elite (and other artisans) in the manner they directed. The historic separation of essential workers and other classes, also helps explain why history has been plagued by wars and class struggles.

Class struggles and uprisings occurred because slaves and semi-slaves (or later peasants, serfs, workers) resented being forced to work to support the elite. They would often rebel when compelled to work exceptionally hard. Wars were undertaken by elites to gain additional products and extra surplus-production from sources other than their local essential workers.

Although far more complex than earlier modes of production, capitalism is just a modern version of a society divided by class. This is revealed by the fact that essential workers are still required to work long and hard at repetitive boring tasks, for relatively little reward; and their surplus production is still used to support the capitalist/ruling class and other non-essential occupations.

Modern economic jargon such as capital, money, interest, rent, taxation, salaries, wages, productivity, division of labour, fiscal responsibility, banking law and custom etc., merely masks the underlying economic foundations of capitalist societies. These still comprise of an under class of essential workers whose labour supports an over class who make the rules and direct the administrators.

Of course, capitalism is based upon complex globalised industry and agriculture, so workers who are now essential cover many more occupational categories than previously. Daily essentials such as food, water, shelter and warmth are still needed, but the essential worker class has grown. Factory workers, transport workers, educational workers, building workers, health service workers, administrative workers, shop and warehouse workers, energy supply workers, communication workers, sewage and infrastructure workers, have now become essential.

Moreover, the conflicts between essential workers and those who rule over them have not gone away. Indeed, there are more.

The level of capitalist production now extracts more from nature than can be replaced and produces more goods and waste than can be sold or ecologically dealt with. The greed for wealth that the ruling classes and their middle-class supporters have is destroying the natural basis of all life on the planet. There is clearly a need to replace capitalism with something more humane and sustainable.

In the 20th century, the suggested alternatives Socialism, Communism, Fascism and Neo-Liberalism were all tried. They all tinkered with some symptoms of capitalism before reverting to the aggressive class-divided, strong government type. This outcome is not difficult to understand. These ‘isms’ kept the ancient economic structure intact. Each ‘alternative’ had either a Social democratic ruling elite, a Fascist ruling elite, a Communist ruling elite, or a Neo-liberal ruling elite.

Each political elite once in power selected the administrators it required along with a loyal pro-regime military and police force. These ‘forces’ made it difficult for essential workers to dispute or prevent whatever type of ruling class exploitation was in place. Moreover, the greater the numbers of the unproductive ruling, administrative and military classes, the harder and more efficiently those essential workers were forced to exert themselves to meet societies (!) needs.

The more pressure these superficially different political elites exerted upon their essential workers, the more the latter resisted – the class struggle in various forms continued. The extra production needed to support the various professionalmanagerialclass occupations also increased the mass of products, waste materials and environmental damage. Despite the different elite political ideologies, essential workers and other life-forms were still oppressed and exploited.

At face value, the political ideologies of Socialism, Communism, Fascism, and Neo-liberalism, appear to have little in common. However, beneath the sophistry and jargon of political and economic discourse, they have the same underlying economic purpose. They all desired to live off the surplus-production of essential workers. The various ideologies and the illusory categories swirling around the intellects of those political elites disguised this fundamental similarity.

A debt is owed to those activists such as Karl Marx, who forensically analysed capitalism and developed the revolutionary-humanist perspective. For this perspective revealed that the solution to the problems inherited, created and exacerbated by capitalism, was to end the historic separation of working people from the means of production and from decisions on how and what should be produced.

Consequently, an important stage in working class consciousness will occur when the mass of essential workers begin to question not only the remuneration levels of their society-supporting labour, but the very nature and ultimate purpose of their exertions. Such questioning of the purpose of class divisions in essential economic activity will also serve to distinguish between those who genuinely support working people in the historic need to found society anew, and those who resolutely do not.

Roy Ratcliffe (February 2021)

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GETTING BACK TO NORMAL?

Extinction. (The ‘normal’ for capitalism.)

In the 21st century, the capitalist mode of production has reached a stage which has undermined humanities metabolic basis of existence. In pursuit of profit, the natural ecological, environmental and atmospheric cycles of nature and the many species which live by a symbiotic relationship with nature, have been destroyed or degraded beyond repair. The planetary biosphere cannot be satisfactorily resurrected on the same basis as the previous 200 years of capitalist destruction. Agricultural land fertility, needed for crops to feed people, animals and insects has been been systematically exhausted. Many insect species needed to pollinate crops and other much needed vegetation, have been destroyed by chemical-assisted, profit-orientated agriculture.

Numerous animal species, robbed of their natural habitats, by profit-led extraction have become endangered or extinct. The seas, another store of nutrients, food sources and oxygenating plankton, have been acidified, polluted and over-fished beyond any natural cycle of replenishment. Science and technology has been progressively subordinated to the needs of capital. These two occupations have been directed to improving the pace and extent of resource extraction, commodity production and consumption. By unleashing an insatiable greed among elites for accumulating wealth, the normality of capitalist mode of production has progressively pushed all life on earth closer toward a series of mass extinction events.

The same business orientated (distorted) science and technology has astronomically increased the efficiency of production and has decreased the number of workers needed to produce these increased volumes. Consequently, ‘normal’ capitalism has progressively made redundant the very buyers it needs for its increasingly superfluous and polluting commodities. This evolution of production technologies has thus led to large-scale unemployment and two 20th century world wars between nations over sources of energy, raw materials and markets. In a self-reinforcing response to the 20th century armed conflict of national ‘capitals’, another branch of science and technology has perfected weapons capable of annihilating most human and non-human species.

So to capitalisms steady productive progression toward mass extinctions has been added a military capacity to enable a rapid mass extinction event. All the above are part of capitalist ‘normality’ .

Of the three main classes which have been established upon the basis of the capitalist mode of production, the capitalist classes, the middle classes and the working classes, the first two have been the ones who have guided and controlled the direction humanity has been travelling for the last two hundred years. Economic, financial, political, educational and military leaderships drawn from the ranks of the, upper and middle classes have managed to consistently steer humanity down the path which all but the wilfully blind can see is leading inexorably toward a series of extinction events.
Over the last one hundred years few from these two classes have seriously criticised the capitalist mode of production. Even the most astute have proved unreliable and have never proposed anything other than some self-serving temporary measures based on charity aimed at the poor.

Revolution. (The need for a new normal.)

The only class, from which could emerge the knowledge, commitment, energy and numbers required to transform the current mode of production to a fully socially beneficial mode, are the various sections of the working classes. And this is no wishful thinking. Under the impact of the Covid Pandemic of 2020 and beyond, the term essential workers became an outstandingly popular one. It was an almost universal recognition of the key role these blue and white-collar sections of the working class played in the existential maintenance of human life on the planet. It became glaringly obvious during 2020 that workers of all skin shades, (in some cases working night and day, often sleeping in corridors and lorries) again overcame obstacles in transport, health, education, emergency services, food and water supplies, energy provision and sewage and waste disposal services.

They collectively demonstrated that they are the actual foundation of all modern societies. All other forms of human occupational activity built upon these essential foundations such as; music, culture, arts, literature, sports, leisure, politics, warfare administration and governance whilst interesting or even useful, demonstrated that they are of less importance to the survival of human communities. Essential workers on low pay kept the essential foundations of societies functioning while most of the rich, famous (and those in the areas noted above) isolated themselves and stayed home. As individuals and as a class the elites among them never once appeared to reflect upon the wealth disparity between the low – paid essential workers and their own well – paid, less-essential occupations. With very few exceptions, the contribution most of them made during lock downs was to invent or purchase non-essential boredom-deflecting activities or invent new ways to increase their wealth.

The above (well broadcast) general description establishes the relative worth of the various classes and the usefulness of their occupational skills. Working people in essential services not only maintained existing societies in crisis, but their demonstrable ability to persist and innovate makes them essential to found societies anew. Upon the foundations laid by the world’s essential workers there needs to arise new attitudes and practical superstructures which value these workers and whose non-essential activities do not conflict with the interests of nature and humanity as a symbiotic whole. Although the pro-capitalist elites arrogantly consider the working classes are incapable of self governance, I suggest that is only a self – induced delusion due to their own blinkered class prejudice.

However, elite consciousness has recognised that the authoritarian discipline imposed on working people by the conditions of employment has been eroded by large-scale unemployment. They have also recognised that any former contentment and engagement during previous welfare-state capitalist forms has been undermined by the neo-liberal stage of social austerity. Therefore, over many decades the elites in government and those in all political parties, have strengthened laws and the states bodies of armed men to ensure authoritarian discipline can be maintained by force during any future form of civil unrest.

In contrast the consciousness of working people is as yet fragmented due to their place in the mode of production, their vulnerable exposure to personal crisis and their absorption of the elites dominant ideology. Nevertheless, working people are capable of transcending these occupational and educational shortcomings by experience and mutual support – particularly during a period of revolutionary change. This because radical transitions involve a rapid reversal in thinking and doing. Meanwhile, their consciousness surfaces in contradictory and partial understandings. For example, conspiracy theories and a lack of trust in authority exist among large numbers of working people and this has been condemned by many middle and upper class elites.

Such condemnations fail to recognise that working people tend to believe in elite conspiracies for obvious practical reasons. From childhood to adulthood, many have directly experienced lies and conspiracies at school, at work, in advertising and in politics. They know the elite (and those in league with them) frequently lie and they know they lie and conspire in order to fool or deceive working people. Indeed, concealing, altering or fabricating evidence, corruption and misconduct are endemic among capitalist society elites. So in a world of almost universal elite deception, dissimulation – and community destruction – workers will rationally and correctly demand of those who criticise them – just whose side are you on?

Going back to Blaming the Victims?

It is therefore rational for working people to assume that those in authority and with power (in whatever form) over them – until extensively proven different – will be at the very best economical with the truth and at worst, they will blatantly and repeatedly deceive them. So to criticise working people for not believing what they are told by democratic or non democratic authoritarians in power over them is a classic case of blaming the victims. To blame working people for believing – even unlikely conspiracy theories – is not only to deny their direct (and indirect) experiences under capitalism but also an attempt to shift responsibility away from those who actually do the conspiring on a regular basis.

Moreover, to blame working people or to describe them as insane or dumb, as some on the left have done, (over masks and vaccines, for example), is to side with the interests of the political and medical elite and Big Pharma. It is also to ignore that all these three categories have a proven track record of experimental, underhand and self-serving rushed chemical remedies, including tactics to silence any whistle-blowing critics. Such ill thought out attacks upon working people is to gravely disrespect working class knowledge and experience of the capitalist system. Those on the left who belittle working class intelligence and abilities or demonise their opinions have in effect helped the bourgeois world of authoritarian class superiority.

It should be obvious that the pro-capitalist elite wish to place responsibility upon working people for everything that goes wrong in capitalist societies. This tactic conveniently directs criticism away from themselves and their mode of production. So it would also be to capitalisms advantage if one section of the working class were to condemn and ferociously disrespect another section. That way any future potential working class uprisings could be levered in the direction of brutal and sterile civil wars. It would be even better for the elite if some among the workers own ranks were to help with the prerequisite efforts of disrespecting their views and sowing divisions among the multi ethnic working class. And unfortunately a few are already doing that.

Forward to a humane normal.

In contrast to spreading disrespect for working people with different views, the task of revolutionary-humanists is not to blame them for any asserted shortcomings or any emotional or situational inadequacies. The task is to put the blame firmly where it belongs. The capitalist system has created distorted, deformed and confusing life experiences for many millions of working people and that is a substantial part of the problem of modernity. The fundamental problem is certainly not the systems numerous and varied victims. The 21st century dichotomy of a crisis riddled system, resting upon the efforts of a working class which mainly produces and serves and a ruling class which mainly consumes and governs is not going to be resolved to the satisfaction of both these classes. It will be necessary to take sides.

The purpose of the revolutionary-humanist research of Karl Marx and those who understand and agree with his basic analysis of capitalism, is to support and assist the working classes to overcome all the illusions, delusions and self-defeating dualisms promoted by the pro-capitalist elite. This includes helping them resolve any other de-humanised results of their historic separation between the means of production and the purposes of future production.

Another world is possible – but not by continuing to blame the working class victims – who are the only ones capable of creating a better one.

Roy Ratcliffe (February 2021)

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