UNDERSTANDING ISRAEL AND PALESTINE.

The dynamic and tragic situation in Palestine is difficult to understand if the fundamental causes of the conflict are not adequately understood. From the perspective of the average working person, the intractable dispute between the Jewish settler state and the indigenous Palestinian people often seems confusing and senseless. Indeed, there is an almost unanimous effort from capitalist elites and their supporters in the west, to paint the situation in as complex shades as possible. In particular the known links between previous European colonialist enterprises in North and South America, Africa and Asia, and Israel are being deliberately ignored. Yet it is a fact that the state of Israel has been established by Jewish Zionists in almost an exact copy of the same way that European people previously established states in North America, South America, Africa and some parts of Asia.

In each of the above cases, after a period of time, the indigenous people’s of these continents and regions began to resist the unwelcome activities of the invading colonisers. The response of the colonists to native resistance was to begin the ethnic cleansing of the native people’s from the land – by all means they felt necessary! In North America the coastal Indians were pushed inland and later they and the Plains Indians (Blackfoot, Shoshone and Cree) were massacred and the remnants driven into reservations. A similar pattern took place in South America, where practically all the indigenous people’s (Quechuan Tupian and Panoan etc.) were wiped out by European weapons or diseases in order to allow Europeans to possess the entire continent. In Africa, eventual resistance by (Zulu, Maasai, Yoruba etc.) tribes and others a similar fate was meted out by the superior weaponry in the hands of the European invaders.

In each case, the native victims were blamed and demonised for this resistance to European colonial dispossession and certainly sometimes this resistance took bestial forms. However, the undoubted bestiality of the Christian colonists was denied or hidden and that of the resisters exaggerated for obvious propaganda purposes. Moreover, only a tiny minority of people at the time protested against this international level of genocide and they too were vilified, marginalised and even victimised for protesting over what was taking place. Yet a pattern of occupation, subjection, suppression and elimination of ‘people in the way of European progress’, was the basis of the existing nation states of North America, South America, Africa and Asia. Understanding this pattern of colonial expansion provides an explanation for the persistent and aggressive actions of elites in control of the state of Israel and also part of the reason why elites in charge of many other nations, such as UK, France, Italy, Germany, United States, Spain, Portugal, Australia, New Zealand, etc., are reluctant to condemn Israel.

They are all mostly still in denial about the treatment of the people who suffered at the hands of their own nation-building predecessors.

It is therefore, important to understand that the state of Israel and its supportive citizens is simply the last remaining (and as yet unfinished) example in such colonising processes. The final solution to the problems attached to the instigators of colonial expansion in general is when the indigenous population has been demonised and fully subdued and/or overwhelmingly eliminated. That was the case in North and South America and Australia. Furthermore, it is not sheer bloody mindedness and inhumane aggression which motivates such callous indifference to the human suffering involved in colonisation. Undoubtedly these symptoms exist among some sectors of a population, but they are not necessarily general. It is actually the unfolding logic of these expansionary enterprises that motivates and produces the aggressive actions on the one hand, resistance on the other and also motivates the silence, or complicity, of many Jews in Israel and non-Jews in the rest of the globe.

If a group of people decide to invade and occupy a country and to stay there uninvited and unwelcome, certain things follow. They need to take over enough land and resources to feed, clothe and house themselves and if ever more colonists decide to join the initial group, then ever more land and resources are needed. If the land and resources are limited or already possessed, displacement or destruction of the aboriginal people becomes a logical outcome. Moreover, the new-born generations produced by the first and subsequent colonists, have an attachment to occupied land as – home! From then on defending ones home and resources, becomes an existential reaction from both the indigenous people and the colonising people alike. Demonisation of both sides follows. Without a knowledge of the historical process of colonialism, the ensuing unequal struggle for existence in Israel and Palestine appears (falsely) to be one which both sides are equally responsible. It’s the Israeli occupation which is at the bottom of everything.

So the above outline, sums up the situation in Israel and what is left of Palestine. If we add into the above non-elite scenario, the fact that the governing elites in Israel desire more and more Jewish people to become citizens and thus need more and more land so as to sustain and increase the tax base needed for their own welfare and future wealth accumulation, then we understand the purposes for which the armed forces of Israel are being used. The additional ‘crime’ of the Palestinians in the eyes of many inhumane Zionists is that they have refused to be fully subdued and eliminated. They are still resisting and fighting back! Under the present system both sides, although massively unequal, are locked into a death spiral. This explains why the past 70 years of humane appeals and numerous United Nations Resolutions, to end the Israel – Palestine conflict on the basis of the existing capitalist system have failed. They will continue to fail and this is why the demonisation of Palestinians and their understandable resistance will continue.

What is needed is not only a revolution in thinking by the younger generation of working class Palestinians and Israelis, which would be welcome, but a revolutionary-humanist overturning of the existing mode of production along with it’s class distinctions and political forms of control. The resources of the region are sufficient – if equalised out – to ensure everyone has a decent home, food, water, housing and job – which is actually what is needed. That existential need will be unattainable on the basis of the present system in which an economic, financial and political elite absorb most of the wealth and leave the working classes on both sides to fight for the few remaining slices of cake or crumbs which are left. Working class people everywhere, white collar and blue need to side with the Palestinian oppressed but from a consistent anti-capitalist and revolutionary-humanist perspective.

Roy Ratcliffe (May 2021.)

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THE BRITISH LOCAL ELECTIONS.

In the middle of any existential struggle to survive, it is to be expected that more people who choose to vote in bourgeois democracies, would vote for those who are the most active in implementing solutions to problems faced by the electorate. The Covid19 pandemic has been a year of such an existential struggle to survive for most countries. Indeed in the UK the Covid 19 casualties have been 127, 000 dead and many thousands of variously injured casualties and still counting. The Tory government led by Boris Johnson has bungled many things, sleazed their way through dishing lucrative equipment deals to their rich cronies and demonstrated double standards with regard to self-isolation. However, compared to the Labour Party and its leadership, the Tories have been positively dynamic and have been rewarded for it by the election results.

Before proceeding further, it needs to be understood that the British electoral system is in the firm hold of two trends among the British Middle-Class. One historic middle-class political trend (the Labour Party) traditionally represented the patronising, do-gooding elements of the British middle-class. It often contained (and sometimes was led by) charismatic, energetic upwardly mobile, working class members. The other historic middle-class trend (the Tory Party) traditionally represented the self-interested middle-class, entrepreneurs and small business people. This party often contained (and was often led by) well-groomed Aristocrats. The ‘essence’ of the day to day exploitation of working people was not in dispute between thesee two trends, the only difference was whether the iron fist that repeatedly crushed working class citizens was naked or cushioned by a velvet glove.

That broad scenario is still generally the case, except that the leadership styles of both British parties had over a few decades, undergone a considerable change. The leadership of the Labour Party has progressively become more aloof, groomed and distant; the leadership of the Tory Party has become, less aloof, less groomed and less distant. It has reached a point in 2021 where the leader of the Labour Party is an aloof, hair-groomed, knight of the realm, Sir Starmer; the leader of the Tory Party ‘Bojo’ is a bonhomie, outgoing, joker with unkempt hair and similar manners. Not only are these two personas almost the complete opposites to each other, but they are opposites to their leadership predecessors. The Labour Party is now led by someone who is pretending to be a caring aristocrat and the Tory Party is led by someone who is pretending to be a caring ‘man of the people’.

Neither are trustworthy of course. However, with Boris you know what exactly what you get. We get a male-chauvinist, ‘Artful Dodger’, with his ‘got to pick a pocket or two’ associates lurking behind the Downing Street facade. With Sir Starmer you get what you see – next to nothing! The best I can reveal that he is a pro-Biden, vegetarian, Arsenal preferring, royal establishment supporter, but not much else. However, this difference in persona and dress style also corresponds to some extent, to the Party policy differences as to how to manage the multiple crises now facing the capitalist mode of production. The Labour Party rejected the Jeremy Corbin one – nation ‘Spirit of 45’ state expenditure reforms and has opted to drift into an ossified Blairite New Labour conservatism. On the other hand, the Tory Party rejected ‘Thatcherism’ (and via Teresa May) has now opted for a ‘clownish’ version of ‘one nation Toryism with the crucial addition of high levels of Labour-Party-type state expenditure. This is a tactic which has obviously worked – for now!

Unlike the popular media, we should also keep in mind that these (as well as previous) voting patterns do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the British Working Class, because so far only 35% of citizens have voted. This means that almost two out of every three people found neither leaders or parties were worth voting for. And this rejection of capitalist forms of democracy is not simply a negative emotional outcome. It at least means that an overwhelming majority (possibly 2/3) of British citizens after many decades, no longer have illusions in any form of bourgeois politics. The idea that voting for political elites will change things for anything better than what already exists has been progressively discarded. Even among those who still think voting is a rational form of activity, very few now have a sheep-like form of political party loyalty. The break with those two bourgeois voting illusions is a step in the right direction.

It is likely that the next change in consciousness, like previous changes, will be determined by the social and economic conditions which emerge from the current existential skirmish with the microscopic virus Covid19. The UK population already has a percentage of the population who wish to get back as close as possible to a version of previous capitalist normal. Undoubtedly, there is another percentage who wish to have a different more egalitarian form of capitalist normal. There is even a small percentage who wish to have a radical, more ecological ‘green’ capitalist normal. However, very few have – as yet – recognised that any form of capitalist future is as existentially threatening to humanity as any number of future Covid – type Pandemics. However, a glimpse of what form of capitalism is to come, has already been partly revealed.

A section of the capitalist and upper-middle class, here as elsewhere, have amassed further wealth due to the Covid lock – down period. The extremely wealthy are poised to invest their tranches of capital in various directions once workers are free of restrictions and can be put to work making profits for them. Another section will re-open their profit making enterprises with some obvious Covid-inspired modifications. One will be the rapid increase of home working for their employees. Where this occurs, this will transfer the costs of providing a working space, heating, lighting, cleaning and toilet facilities from the employer to the individual worker. A rise in the rate or mass of profit may result for some capitalists but it will result in a loss via more costs to workers. Yet another, modification to working conditions for workers will take the form of fewer employment opportunities and fewer work colleagues.

Another section of the previous employing class have undoubtedly been bankrupted during the Covid crisis and some have been forced to join the ranks of precarious workers. This will increase the numbers seeking employment at the same time as a decreasing number of job opportunities become available. Future unemployment, low pay and precarious employment, will threaten not only more peoples‘ health, housing (rented and mortgaged) but also homelessness and family break up. These changed circumstances for working people will impact upon their consciousness. Undoubtedly a struggle will ensue as to who or what will receive the blame for these unfolding circumstances.

The ruling elites and their supporters everywhere, will probably orchestrate (or support) a campaign to blame one or more of the global working-class victim groups. If the victims do not successfully counter this ‘blaming the victim‘ by pointing out the role of the capitalist economic system, it will be because they have not been assisted by those who have the time, the ability and the knowledge to do so. Now is the time to put sustained efforts into preparing a non – sectarian, revolutionary – humanist movement to intervene in those future struggles.

Roy Ratcliffe (May 2021)

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ON READING CAPITAL.

Perhaps one of the most daunting challenges facing anyone interested in the progress of radical economic thinking over the last two centuries are the three considerable volumes of Das Kapital (or Capital). These volumes are based upon the extensive research by the 19th century Revolutionary-Humanist, Karl Marx. Perhaps the first hurdle to overcome by many people is a commonly-held, but mistaken assumption. It is that what Marx wrote was in some way responsible for the authoritarian practices and attendant atrocities carried out by those such as Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao and their many sectarian followers. For, in the 20th century, in revolutionary Russia, China and elsewhere, these claimed to be acting in line with Marx’s thinking. However, Marx, as he once emphatically declared himself, (and from exhaustive research I can confirm) was definitely not a ‘Marxist’.

The second hurdle to overcome is the sheer length and complexity of Marx’’s detailed forensic work on Political Economy – Das Kapital! The three volumes of this particular research amount to 2,157 pages, the last two thirds of which (as with his previous Grundrisse notebooks) are mostly constructed from unfinished notes. In this particular case they were compiled by his loyal friend and collaborator Frederick Engels. As Marx noted about his economic researches, (in an 1872 preface to Volume 1); “only those who do not dread the fatiguing climb of its steep paths have a chance of gaining its luminous summits”.

Indeed, I suggest, having read it, that Das Kapital, should be an important intellectual foundation for any serious revolutionary anti-capitalist movement. So if any new, or existing, activists consider that they would like (or ought) to make the attempt to climb this particular anti-capitalist Everest of economic critique, I offer the following documents as a possible preparation for that task.

By entering the long Web links below into a search engine, compilations of my own notes and extracts taken from the three volumes of Capital, during my second reading of them some decades ago can be obtained. These notes reduce those steep paths from 774 pages down to 47 for volume 1; 523 pages down to 49 for volume 2; and 860 pages down to 63 for volume 3. Although this is a considerable reduction, (ie 2,157 pages to 159) I have tried to faithfully capture the dominant ‘essence’ of each chapter in each volume.

I have also made occasional comments (identified by the bracketed initials RR) linking 19th century events with contemporary examples. However, they (and the chosen illustrative quotations) remain my own individual perspective and selections. These much abbreviated inclines, may still involve passing through a number of complex twists and turns, but during the journey there are some spectacular Revolutionary-Humanist viewpoints and insights – as outlined by Marx.

Roy Ratcliffe (May 2021)

Link to notes on Volume 1. Capitalist Production:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX1vSj8AH6nIDQWOAn2zy4TsEx0UklA0hDlqpiFw1dZWft-jQSom8Dhhzzb6BbOOqJHIi9uZ3LS5ebp137/pub

Link to notes on Volume 2. The Process of Circulation of Capital:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vQbJR71iG-Y1ca6x4_ipm5P63prghA9w8THy31GGpyWmqm_t9eSfmlH419QShozuBK9l9Dk7c5i7QzM/pub

Link to notes on Volume 3. The Process of Capitalist Production as a Whole:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vTPKEaZC-_UkUGRYjyIb2v8BIrY8Uj963oy3EMfvWXRzjWoIHGbxgsj29l26ErBw8h7rVtg0ovaKKnp/pub

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‘LET THE BODIES PILE UP’

Whether or not Boris Johnson uttered the following sentence, “I would rather let the bodies pile upthan order another lock-down”, or something similar, back in August 2020, they do represent what has happened in the UK and elsewhere since the Covid19 epidemic morphed into a global pandemic. The figures speak for themselves. In the UK at least 127,000 bodies have so far piled up; in the US 574, 000 bodies; India 195, 000 bodies, and globally 3, 100, 000 bodies have piled up. Whether spoken or thought, the neo-liberal capitalist elite system has preferred to allow 3.1 million bodies to pile up rather than close down – or radically alter – its normal economic practices.

Indeed, ‘let the bodies pile up’ could well stand as a future epitaph on a monument or preferably a gravestone erected to the capitalist mode of production.

This article is too short to include an accurate assessment of all the human bodies which have piled up since the 18th century period of European wars for capitalist domination, including the colonialist period, the imperialist stage of world domination and the post Second World War period of localised wars, such as Korea, Vietnam, Iraq 1, Iraq 2, Afghanistan, Yemen etc. So let’s just remind ourselves of the bodies piled up due to two 20th century globalised wars between the two rival capitalist camps headed by Germany on the one hand and Britain on the other. The first World War (1914 – 18) an estimated 21 million dead bodies piled up; the Second World War (1939 – 1945), an estimated 70 million dead bodies piled up.

It should be absolutely clear that the last two or three generations of elites in control of capitalist countries would rather ‘let the bodies pile up’ than significantly alter their profit-based method of production. It is also clear that the new 21st century generation of capitalist and pro-capitalist elites are no different in this regard. So no matter whether they openly say (or in April 2021 deny saying it) that ‘let the bodies pile up’ that is exactly what is actually happening. So it must also be what many influential people, such as Boris Johnson are actually thinking if not saying. And all across the globe bodies continue to pile up in order to keep capitalist forms of ‘business as usual’ open. But we also know that business as usual capitalist competition is not only devastating human beings, it is also devastating the ecological basis of all life-forms.

The same week that the ‘let the bodies pile up’ phrase was revealed in the UK, another news-bite phrase was uttered – this time in the US. Joe Biden, in announcing a post-pandemic economic development plan, declared, ‘America is on the move again’. Revealingly, he emphasised that America on the move meant not just re-booting the internal capitalist form of production but also competing with China economically and militarily on the world stage and beating them. In other words, the massive overproduction of everything containing surplus-value (ie private profits from unpaid working class labour), is to continue in a more reinvigorated form. This on a sliding scale, is also essentially the same mantra coming from most economic, financial and political elites. These views demonstrate that the elites everywhere do not understand that they are part of the problem for humanity, not part of the solution.

Indeed, despite their obvious failures, the elites everywhere self-indulgently think they are the most important part of any future solution. More problematically, they have convinced many among the middle – class and working class to believe them. Consequently, large sections of humanity have not yet started asking the right questions, let alone envisioning appropriate solutions. Deliberately educated to rely on borrowed thinking handed down by ‘experts’ in the pay of capitalism, most people – as yet – think the current economic system is the best possible. They have bought the political message that despite the obvious mess in health, social care, housing, pollution, ecological destruction, climate change, unemployment and poverty, they should welcome the return to a pre-covid (Doctor Pangloss viewed) normal. Meanwhile the bodies are continuing to ‘pile up’.

If it is correct that only a changed reality can alter ideas and opinions which have been accepted as ‘normal’ and mostly ‘useful’ for a generation, then hopefully a change in thinking should  follow recent events. The new reality of a Covid19 infected, climate destabilised, polluted and extinction-prone economic system, sooner or later, should challenge and change what has been a normal and useful form of thinking for global citizens. However, it will take a critical – mass of people to actively challenge existing norms and then adopt new perspectives on economic and social activity, before masses of people will join a practical campaign. A campaign to change the mode of production to one which benefits the whole of humanity and the rest of the biosphere. Hence, the name chosen for this blog site and the motive for the ideas presented and developed in the new ‘Introduction to Revolutionary-Humanism’ (see below).

Roy Ratcliffe (April 2021)

By clicking on the long Web link below, (or by copying and pasting it into a search engine) a copy of a new document ‘An Introduction to Revolutionary-Humanism’ can be obtained at no cost. In 35 short chapters of explanation and criticism, it covers the many forms of exploitation, oppression and patriarchal prejudice which characterise the capitalist mode of production. The document builds on the original anti-capitalist perspective of Karl Marx – as it was before his firm revolutionary-humanist principles were ignored or suppressed by subsequent generations of sectarian dogmatists. Presented in what I hope will be easy to understand language, the chapters in the document are aimed in particular at anti-capitalists, humanists and eco-activists, but has also been written with an even wider and more general audience in mind.

If the web link fails to deliver then a copy of the document can be requested by email to royratcliffe@yahoo.com

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

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DEREK CHAUVIN AND DEATH’S IN CUSTODY.

The death of George Floyd at the hands of the police on March 2020 was clearly not first degree murder. The state prosecution in bringing the charge, the defence, the judge, the jury, the press and the political class all concurred on the fact  that the actions of the police officers in arresting and subduing George Floyd were not deliberately intended to kill him. His death was an unintended consequence of the routine, authorised, police intention to force a submission upon someone they became (or become) determined to arrest.

It is important to recognise that – as yet – the role of police officers in particular and law enforcement in general, is to enforce total  citizen submission to the authority of the state. The four-man police tag-team sent to  the scene of George Floyd’s arrest, tried a number of unsuccessful times to bundle him into the back of a police vehicle. He resisted. At this point Derek Chauvin took charge of the operation of enforcing George Floyd to submit to their demands. 

Recognising the difficulty of forcing a large unwilling  man into such a small space, officer Chauvin soon decided another tactic was necessary to enforce his submission to police authority. This tactic was implemented by manhandling him to the ground and officer Chauvin pinning him there ‘for as long as it took‘. Compliance, with every instruction given to him – to the letter – was required by the men in blue. However, it took 9 minutes and 29 seconds to achieve the level of preliminary submission that Derek Chauvin felt was necessary in this particular case.

Unfortunately for George and many bystanders, this amount of time was too long. Already handcuffed, a knee was placed upon one side of George’s neck, the pavement pressed against the other side of the neck,  another knee on his back, with other officers  holding his legs down, the new tactic was accomplished. As the video footage demonstrates this was a ruthless and reckless enforcing of an absolute submission attempt on a helpless victim. Eventually, after 9 minutes and 29 seconds, George’s struggle to breathe was over. Every living spark within him had been subdued – he died!     

Sadly, during this police initiated, one-sided, mixed martial arts event, there was no neutral referee present to step in and make sure the neck and back holds were released before the life was squeezed out of the now prone and inert body of George Floyd. Some concerned bystanders (including an off-duty first responder) tried to play the part of unofficial referees by pointing out he was helpless and the submission holds were going to harm him if maintained for too long.

But the police are taught that citizens have no rights to advise police or comment upon their conduct. Bystanders are seen as the problem – as Mr Chauvin’s defence lawyer later emphasised.

And this brings us to the real crux of the matter; beyond this particular event, the power of the modern state and its armed bodies of men versus the powerless citizens. It matters, little whether the power of the modern state is exercised in Africa, Arabia, Asia, Russia,  China, Hong Kong South America, North America or Europe, the relationship between the modern state and its citizens is essentially the same.       

Total submission to authority by anyone, guilty or innocent – to be achieved by whatever means necessary – is routine procedure for police officers and law enforcement regimes the world over. Deaths in police custody are nothing new because sometimes it takes extreme measures to make someone submit to a kind of authority which is admittedly biased, deeply prejudiced, possibly corrupt, frequently gratuitously brutal and more concerned with achieving performance levels of crime prevention, and self-preservation than achieving social justice.

So not surprisingly there is something revealing about the personification of law enforcement as witnessed on the face of Derek Chauvin. The filming of the event by a young bystander was the main reason why this particular death in police custody became subject to a criminal prosecution. It was just too blatant and too public to cover up the death in the usual officially internal manner. Hence the court case and the subsequent verdict of murder and manslaughter. But over the 9 plus minutes of  filming what was was expressed in the face and body demeanour of the officer who ended George Floyd life was revealing.

It has been said that during the 9 minutes twenty nine seconds, officer Chauvin’s eyes were cold and emotionless, his manner cool and collected, but I beg to differ. Face and body languages reveal much and we humans have evolved to judge even the most subtle changes. Over the nine minutes it was clear from Derek Chauvin’s eyes, facial muscles and arm movements that something of a change was occurring in his mind. From an initial concern in his eyes and his body posture that George Floyd should be physically prevented from turning on his side or sitting up, once this aim was achieved a noticeable change occurred.

When his victim was finally still, a subtle change of facial expression in Derek Chauvin happened. A degree of satisfaction now registered on his face and, no longer needing two hands and two knees he placed his left hand in his left pants pocket. He then looked up toward the bystanders as if to indicate publicly this successful submission. If you doubt this – carefully watch the footage again! I suggest he was so pleased with his victory over George (where the other more junior officers had failed) that he continued this position of domination despite suggestions from other officers and bystanders, that perhaps enough was enough.

He maintained this position of superiority and dominance until the paramedics arrived. However, when he finally stepped away from his helpless victim his victory became a pyrrhic one. He had won the battle to subdue George Floyd but having lost his humanity, he then lost his credibility and later his job and freedom. But the eventual legally sanctioned sacrifice of Derek Chauvin to the court of popular opinion, has not altered the essential bifurcation between the state elites law enforcement agencies and the people. Until the entire system is transformed, this unremitting strategy of elite-directed, class warfare will continue unabated (and mostly undetected) even if some new tactics are in the meantime adopted.

Roy Ratcliffe ( April 2021)

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AN INTRODUCTION TO REVOLUTIONARY-HUMANISM.

A new document.

By clicking on the long Web link below, (or by copying and pasting it into a search engine) a copy of a new document ‘An Introduction to Revolutionary-Humanism’ can be obtained at no cost. In 35 short chapters of explanation and criticism, it covers the many forms of exploitation, oppression and patriarchal prejudice which characterise the capitalist mode of production. The document builds on the original anti-capitalist perspective of Karl Marx – as it was before his firm revolutionary-humanist principles were ignored or suppressed by subsequent generations of sectarian dogmatists. Presented in what I hope will be easy to understand language, the chapters in the document are aimed in particular at anti-capitalists, humanists and eco-activists, but has also been written with an even wider and more general audience in mind.

If the web link fails to deliver then a copy of the document can be requested by email to royratcliffe@yahoo.com

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

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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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