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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BOURGEOIS DEMOCRACY VERSUS FASCISM? – 3.

In parts 1 and 2, evidence was presented to demonstrate that the Fascist political form of authoritarianism, offered capitalist and pro-capitalist elites the means to merge economic authoritarianism with the state political form and add a third crucial determining element. The latter was to enroll shock troops for dealing with critics.

Ideologically, die hard Aryan Fascists considered themselves a superior nation and people, whilst other nations and people were morally and intellectually below them. However, with over six million unemployed, most Germans in 1932 were not necessarily attracted to National Socialism by its antiquated racist ideology. It was the promise of jobs and social benefits which interested most of them. Support was;

“.not because they were swamped by Nazi propaganda….(workers)…having seen what democracy had delivered, felt that it was time…for another system.” (’The Nazis: A warning from history.’ L Rees. Chapter 1.)

By ignoring such understanding, it has often been assumed that in countries where Fascism gained power, people were qualitatively different from those in countries which rejected it. In some cases a ‘banality of evil’ was extended to practically all who were seduced or pressured to support the Nazis. Yet many on the side which defeated Fascism, demonstrated a similar authoritarian-based prejudice.

Pans calling kettles black.

Those among the Allied allies, adopting such prejudiced views about German working people in general merely mirrored the intolerant and prejudiced superior attitude German Fascists adopted toward their Jewish, Communist and Slavic victims. I still consider it a bizarre contradiction that men claiming to be anti-Fascist could at the same time be extremely authoritarian, deeply prejudiced against ‘others’.

In those cases, a crucial level of self-criticism was being left out. Research into ‘The Authoritarian Personality’ (T.Adorno et al) and ‘The Authoritarian State’ or ‘State Capitalism’ (Neumann/Pollock) showed that the phenomenon was also present in western ‘Democratic’ countries. This uncomfortable fact needs to enlighten contemporary discussions on authoritarian attitudes. Authoritarian superior and intolerant assumptions within left and right sectarian groups also need to be recognised as part of the problem facing humanity, not part of a solution.

For, it is an indisputable fact that authoritarian practices and ideas of superior and inferior human beings reside in every culture. Indeed, superiority and authoritarianism are deeply rooted in the patriarchal religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. These ideologies are founded upon an assumption of male superiority, domination and discrimination of ‘other’ human beings.

For example, within patriarchal authoritarian ideologies and practices, women and children as well as other communities, nations, religions, skin colours are designated – in some way or other – as inferior to those pursuing or administering forms of authoritarian control. Consequently, the whole of bourgeois ideology and practice is replete with historical as well as contemporary forms of prejudiced discrimination and intolerance.

Metaphorically speaking, Patriarchy is not just the ideological father of male-centric monotheistic religions, but also the parent of Democracy, Fascism and Sectarianism – the three secular sibling sons, so to speak. Stalwarts of one or other of these three secular ideologies in the 20th century, controlled the capitalist mode of production in most countries around the globe.

Moreover, intolerance and prejudice are still widespread. What is rarely admitted – but understood by many women – is that most men (elite men in particular) have thinly disguised authoritarian tendencies. [NB; if in doubt, check out feminism and the ‘me too’ movement archives.]

Interestingly, many men can readily identify authoritarianism in other males but rarely in themselves.

Authoritarians de-humanise the ‘other’.

Extreme authoritarian political mindsets, such as those displayed by Fascist and other sectarian organisations, often go as far as fictionally demonising the ‘other’. Not only were all Jews discriminated against and fictionally demonised (as rats), but Slavs and members of rival political parties, were also de-humanised.

Practically everyone who did not wholeheartedly support the German Fascists were targeted, not only as enemies of the Nazi Party, but as subhuman (untermenschen) enemies of Germany. This phenomena was manifest internally as well as externally. In a notable example, left-leaning socialist members of the SA (Sturmabteilung) section of the Nazi Party, were even assassinated by their party colleagues in 1934 and the organisation disbanded.

Secular versions of authoritarianism gave rise to the attitude expressed as; ‘your either with us or against us’. Consequently, the ‘other’ must not only be labelled wrong and inferior, but possibly devilishly evil, twisted or insane and thus be unworthy of human rights, cultural standing, being granted any dignity or even being entitled to life itself.

Notably, this authoritarian and dualistic mode of thinking had previously infused the minds of Colonial and Imperialist era male elites and clearly existed on all sides during the Second World War. It was later re-enacted in Vietnam and later articulated by Bush when launching the ‘war on terror’.

Given the global domination of patriarchal ideology in its varied forms, it is not surprising that the same authoritarian mentality of ‘you are either with us or against us’ also became a hall mark of the ‘revolutionary’ (sic) left in the fledgling Soviet Union. It was eloquently articulated, by Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin and many Communist leaders – all of whom were authoritarian-inclined men who thought themselves vastly superior to everyone else. Russian, Anarchists, Socialists and Social Democrats and even critics within the Russian Communist Party itself, were consequently not thought worthy of being treating fairly or with dignity and many were expelled, outlawed, tortured or shot.

In the Soviet Union, as in Fascist Germany, disagreement with, and exposure of wrong-doing (whistle-bowing) by individuals was frequently classified as an act against the state. Trotsky was expelled and eventually assassinated after he had repeatedly spoken out. But is that sort of treatment not also the case in most democratic capitalist countries? Are critics not assassinated by democratic regimes and regimes friendly to democratic nations? [Jamal Khashoggy as a recent example.]

If we have the courage to be honest about our male gender, then we have to admit that damaging levels of authoritarianism, intolerance and prejudice are displayed daily by men everywhere.

The 21st century inhumane treatment of Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, etc., suggests they were considered by intolerant and prejudiced democratic elites not as flawed truth tellers, but as devious and degenerate enemies of the democratic capitalist state.

Of course, it is still commonly accepted that the authoritarian and intolerant way Fascists and Stalinists dealt with ‘enemies’ and ‘dissidents’ in Concentration camps, Gulags, Gestapo (or KGB) headquarters, was worse than the way the Democratic regimes headed by Bush and Blair dealt with them by extraordinary rendition, or in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. But apart from mass gassing – I suggest – not worse by a large margin.

Authoritarians need to ‘Divide to Rule’.

In addition to the failure of 20th century Democracy to protect working people’s livelihoods, there is another important point to consider in relation to the initial pre-war success of Fascism. Fascist authoritarians in Germany, Italy and Spain were assisted in gaining state power by the fact that the working classes in those countries allowed themselves to be divided against each other. By heeding their ‘leaders’ demonised descriptions of other workers, they subsequently fought each other mercilessly.

In Germany authoritarian Communist leaders also described ordinary Social Democratic workers as Social Fascists and vica versa. In Spain, Communist workers and POUM workers were urged by ‘leaders’ to fight each other – as well as Franco – as enemies. In Italy, Catholic affiliated Workers and Communist affiliated workers were persuaded to lay their hands on each other rather than on capitalism.

Clearly, a united front of working people against all forms of capitalist authoritarianism was needed in the socio-economic crisis of the 1920’s and 1030’s, but the barriers erected by left and right authoritarians; false labeling, de-humanisation, difference, assumed superiority/inferiority etc., became too entrenched to be surmounted.

Instead of listening to each other, many working people listened to political leaders and turned deaf ears and blind eyes on those with different views; instead of discussing, many followed advice to fight; instead of focusing on what they had in common, many were persuaded to focus on manipulated political differences.

True, the Second World War between two squabbling forms of authoritarian capitalism was won by the democratic form, but not before over six million people had been killed. In defense of their democratic authoritarian version of capitalism, the Allied elites conscripted their citizens and among other things used them to fire-bomb Dresden and atomise the non-military residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In the end were the Democrat elites really that much better than the blitzkrieging undemocratic Fascist elites who conscripted their citizens for similar inhuman purposes?

In 2021 and beyond, as the ecological basis of all life is steadily being destroyed by capitalist raw material extraction processes, and widespread production for profit is collapsing fast, all capitalist elites around the globe are requiring even more authoritarianism for their system to survive, not less. In face of this new systemic crisis of capitalism, bearing down upon working people, will different ethnic, religious, national, gender, age, sexual preference sections of the working classes still exhibit prejudice and intolerance against each other?

The 20th century tragically demonstrated what happens when the answer to these questions was yes.

It is to be hoped that the new millennial generations will have sufficient knowledge and humanity to avoid letting that 20th century ‘dark age’ experience be repeated again in the 21st.

Roy Ratcliffe (February 2021)

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CORONA VIRUS PANDEMIC – 31.

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Governments; not fit for purpose.

If 100,000 and 400, 000 Corona virus deaths are not enough to conclude that the Johnson Government in the UK and the Trump government in the US were not fit for purpose, then how many deaths are needed? Even less developed countries have managed the global pandemic with far fewer deaths than the UK and US. On the 26th January 2021, once again Boris Johnson stood in front of TV cameras and without any embarrassment inferred that he and his team had “done everything we could to keep the numbers down”. Only sycophants with something to gain from defending the government could possibly not protest against such dissimulation and distortion of global reality.

In a list of countries numbering over 200, the UK and US are among the top three of those which, through a mixture of incompetence, indifference, and neo-liberal economic dogmatism, didn’t do everything they could have done. The global statistics and every day facts in the UK and US speak for themselves. Medical practitioners and virus research scientists know that on far to many occasions their advice and warnings were either ignored, not taken seriously, not implemented fully or implemented too late. It is an insult to UK and US citizens intelligence to think that such self-serving political disinformation will be accepted at face value.

The type of questions raised by UK press and MP’s after Johnsons TV statement and on the following day (27th January) in the British Parliament were also revealing. Not one question was directed to how we should or could prevent more deaths. Practically all were directed at either ‘how soon can businesses re-open’ or ‘how soon can schools re-open so businesses can re-open’. In fact the very reasons for the high death rate – the repeated attempts to get back to business as usual – was being ignored. It is a blatant form of intellectual blindness or hypocrisy to bemoan the fact of excessive deaths in one breath, then in the next breath urge a return to the circumstances that created those deaths.

But this concern with business as usual and these and future deaths are secondary, does reveal that many governments are not fit for purpose. The Chinese government knew in December that there was a contagious virus circulating in Whuhan, but denied it and punished ‘Wi Wenliang, the Chinese whistle blower, then in January silenced the Chinese researcher who sequenced the Covid19 genome so others could detect it. The Chinese government elite too wanted business as usual so knowing there was a risk of contagion, they allowed the multiple millions of Chinese workers to travel home across China and the world for new year celebrations. The Pandemic was then well on its way.

Moreover, the west knew it. By early January 2020 the west and the World Health Organisation knew it because it had already been leaked to them. The Chinese government spokespersons continued to deny how contagious it was until it became too obvious to deny. At that point they insisted they had not previously tried to hide the problem. Even later they repeated the now classic international elite mantra that they; ‘did everything they could to save lives’. Exactly the same official pattern; denial, damage limitation and dissimulation, was repeated by practically every European government and almost every government in the South and West, including the USA. Capitalist elites are programmed to put business before life.

Capitalist economics; not fit for purpose.

The capitalist mode of production needs human beings for three essential tasks; 1, A regular supply of workers to produce goods and services; 2, A regular flow of people paying for goods or services; 3. Sufficient numbers of paying people to cover the costs of premises rent, service costs, business taxes and wages. Thus the pressure exerted by capitalists on politicians and society for ‘business as usual’ over the last twelve months is for punters – in enough numbers and frequently enough – to be out and about buying and consuming products, services or entertainment.

Hence, the pro-capitalist governments, early virus denial, inadequate border controls, too short lock-downs, government encouragement and incentives to spend and half-hearted testing and tracing. One year on and 100, 000 and 400, 000 dead is still not enough for the pro-capitalist elite to try something different.

Clearly the needs of capitalists are the opposite of what humanity needs, particularly when a highly contagious virus is unleashed upon it. In those circumstances people need to avoid going out as much as possible, avoid close contact with those who have the virus and an adequate health service to nurse to back to health all those who become infected. However, the Covid 19 virus is not the first to be unleashed on humanity by the capitalist mode of production in its insatiable destruction of land and habitats in every corner of the planet and it will not be the last if this system is not halted in its tracks.

But Covid19 and any other viruses lurking in rare and common animal species is not the only threat to a humanity from the dangers of capitalism. Air, water, sea, land pollution, species (and essential species) extinctions, climate change, sea level rises are all the results of capitalism’s insatiable lust for profits obtained by any means from any place. These are results which threaten to destroy humanity communities in large numbers. Another economic model is needed, which would enable humanity to defend itself against such catastrophes and as I have written before, the good news is it is something we are already familiar with. I will therefore risk repeating myself.

A future; fit for purpose.

In most countries of the world there are already two models of economic activity. One model is comprised of two spheres ; a) non-profit public service organisations and b) co-operatives. This model has been in existence for a generation or so and is so good that most of the governing elites and state bureaucracies choose to be employed by one or other of them. Parliaments, Congresses, Civil Servants, Army, Navy, Air-forces, Health Services, Schools, Universities, Social Services, Police Forces are all staffed by people whose salaries, expenses and pensions are not dependent upon the whim of the capitalist market. Their livelihoods are guaranteed, irrespective of fires, floods or even viruses.

If for example, every adult in every economically advanced country were adequately rewarded and employed on the same guaranteed permanent basis as those in the public sphere then the situation in any natural crisis would be vastly different.
There would be no economic need for non-essential workers to ignore or circumvent lock-downs. With sufficient protection, non essential workers could volunteer to work in support categories. With safeguards in place, small businesses such as shops and cafes could continue to operate with much fewer customers and provide a service of benefit to their local community rather than close up, face ruin and have to claim an undignified level of state benefits. Children and teachers could return to school when it was safe to do so not just so businesses could limp on.

To those who think this full employment policy alternative to production for private capital could never work I would refer them to the countries at war during the Second World War. It is true that practically every citizen in Germany, Italy, Britain and many in the USA were drawn into public (and government guaranteed private) service with guaranteed sustenance – for the most bestial of purposes – but purposes aside, it functioned as an alternative method of full employment and production.

It succeeded even though much of what was produced during wartime was wasted by exploding it into smithereens whilst flattening buildings and killing everyone in the vicinity. However, think how much more viable a united campaign against a 21st century virus would have been in each country on the basis of everyone being on a similar (and a more equally) rewarded employment basis as the elite?

If what has been outlined in the last five paragraphs were implemented in advanced countries then the model could be replicated in less technically advanced countries who already have some experience with public service and cooperative employment models. Their efforts of course could be encouraged and supported via non-exploitative internationalist efforts from those countries who had already piloted a total transition to the public service model. Humanity could have international brigades of peace Corp activists dedicated to ecological and egalitarian driven re-constitution of natural habitats and de-pollution instead of armies of death and destruction.

For those of us who wish to ‘have a dream’, in this Covid lock-down nightmare, at least it should be for all humanity and not just our own particular part of it. Since we are all now connected by advances in transport and communications we should use them for revolutionary-humanist support purposes and non-exploitative unity and not let political elites turn them into weapons of our own self-destruction.

Roy Ratcliffe (January 2021)

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BOURGEOIS DEMOCRACY VERSUS FASCISM? – 2

In part one of ‘Bourgeois Democracy versus Fascism?’ the general case was made that Fascism was a political means of merging capitalism’s intrinsic economic authoritarianism, with its social/public level of authoritarianism and by recruiting sufficient numbers of citizens was able to enforce this three-fold merger on the whole of society. The cases of Fascism in Italy, Germany and Spain differed somewhat but their extreme authoritarian essence was essentially the same. However, to demonstrate the connection in more detail, I have chosen case of German Fascism (Nazism) as illuminated by its founding Program, (in Italics) followed by comments. It begins;

1. The Program of the German Workers’ Party is a program of the age. Once the aims postulated in the Program have been achieved, the leaders do not intend to set new ones merely in order to render possible the Party’’s continuance through the artificial intensification of the discontent of the masses.”

“We demand on the basis of the right of self-determination of all people’s, the union of all Germans into a Greater Germany.“

“2. We demand equal rights for the German people with other nations and the abolition of the Peace Treaties of Versailles and St German.”

3. We demand land (colonies) to nourish our people and to settle our surplus population.”

4. None but members of the nation may be citizens of the State. None but those of German blood, whatever their creed, may be members of the nation. No Jew, therefore, may be a member of the nation.”

“5. Those who are not citizens of the State may live in Germany only as guests and must be subject to the Alien laws.”

“6. None but citizens of the State shall be entitled to decide as to the leadership and laws of the State. We therefore demand that all public appointments of whatever kind, whether in the Reich, the States, or the municipalities, shall be held by none but citizens of the state. We oppose the corrupt parliamentary method of filling posts solely according to considerations of party, and regardless of character and ability.”

The first paragraph, hints at the underlying economic problems by mentioning “the discontent of the masses”. But the combined six points establish the basic authoritarian requirement of capitalism. In this case, the German nation-state will be the main unit of establishing territory and citizenship and (by using fabricated concepts of blood and race) points 4 – 6 define who will be first class human beings and who will not. It also clearly states in point 3 that expanding its authority beyond its current borders (exploitation of foreign peoples) is intended.

“7. We demand that the State shall make its first duty to ensure employment and a livelihood for citizens of the State. If it is not possible to support the entire population of the State, then foreign nationals (non-citizens of the State) shall be expelled from the Reich.”

“8. All further immigration of non-Germans who immigrated into Germany after August 2nd, 1914, shall be compelled to leave the Reich.

9. All citizens of the Reich shall possess equal rights and duties.

10. It must be the first duty of every citizen of the State to perform either intellectual or physical work. The activities of the individual must not conflict with the interests of the community, but must be carried on within the general framework and for the benefit of all.”

Bearing in mind the period of massively high unemployment in Germany at the time, points 7 to 10, are clearly aimed at appealing to the German born blue-collar and white-collar working classes. This was a clear strategy for ideologically attracting a broad working and lower middle – class membership. Next;

11. Abolition of unearned incomes.”

12. In view of the enormous sacrifices of blood and treasure that every war demands of the nation, personal enrichment through war must be regarded as a crime against the nation. We therefore demand complete confiscation of all war profits.”

“13. We demand nationalisation of all businesses already amalgamated (trusts).”

“14. We demand profit-sharing in big concerns.

Points 11 to 14, demonstrate a need/desire, in a time of capitalist crisis, to include an element of anti – capitalist rhetoric such as confiscation of war profits, nationalisation and profit sharing. These points would also have been attractive to many among the German working class at the time. Then comes;

“15. We demand a large-scale development of provision for old age.

“16. We demand the creation and maintainable of a healthy middle-class, immediate communalisation of the large department stores, and their lease at low rates to small traders. Most careful consideration for all small traders as regards deliveries to the State, the Provincial Governments or the municipalities.

17. We demand land reform adapted to our national requirements, the passing of a law for the confiscation of land for communal purposes without compensation. Abolition of mortgage interest and prevention of all speculation in land.”

The Nazi leadership in points 15 to 17 are still appealing to working people by promising old age pensions, support for the local mom and pop shops and businesses. In a move to entrap the lower middle-class, the program also intends to abolish mortgage interest payments. Confiscation and ending land speculation had the same target audience. Furthermore;

“18. We demand ruthless war upon those whose activities injure the common interest. Base criminals against the nation, ursurers, profiteers, etc., shall be punished with death, whatever their creed or race.

“19. We demand that Romania Law, which serves the materialistic world order, shall be replaced by a German Common Law.”

Here we have another inclusion which seeks to shield workers and lower middle – class individuals from profiteers rip-off traders and petty criminals who often plagued their lives and others who “injured the common interest.” Then;

“20. In order to enable every capable and industrious German to obtain a higher education and occupy a leading position, the State must provide for a thorough development of the national education system. The syllabuses of all educational institutions shall be adapted to the requirements of practical life. The school must inculcate the idea of the State (science and citizenship) with the dawning of intelligence. We demand that specially talented children of poor parents shall be educated at the expense of the State, regardless of class or occupation.”

“21. The State shall raise the standard of national health by protecting mother and child, by prohibiting juvenile labour, by promoting physical efficiency through compulsory physical training and sports, and by the most far-reaching support of clubs engaged in the physical training of the young.

Free higher education for bright kids would definitely appeal to upwardly motivated working class and lower middle – class parents. State provision of maternity care would certainly have sounded as attractive in 1920 as it did in the UK and Europe after 1945.

“22. We demand the abolition of the mercenary army and the formation of a National Army.”

23. We demand that the law should combat the deliberate political lie and it’s dissemination in the press”. (Only German financed, owned, edited and non-offensive newspapers to be allowed RR)

Authoritarians prefer a national army (point 22) rather than a citizens army or a mercenary one, because the latter two are unreliable. Mercenaries, can do their own thing; citizen armies can turn against authority. Authoritarians seek security.
Nowadays, ‘political spin’ and mis-leading propaganda is to be expected daily. So point 23 outlaws ‘fake news’. Next:

“24. We demand freedom for all religious denominations in the State, unless they endanger the existence thereof or offend against the morality and moral sense of the Tectonic race. The Party stands for positive Christianity, but does not bind itself to any particular denomination. It combats the Jewish materialistic spirit in us, as well as outside, and is convinced that our nation can achieve permanent recovery only on the principle of: COMMON INTEREST BEFORE SELF-INTEREST.

With organised religion having a considerable hold over people, attracting neutrality or support from religious elites would count as a ‘blessing’. Finally:

25. For the realisation of all this, we demand: the creation of a strong central Reich Government. Absolute authority of political central Parliament over the entire Reich and it’s organisations in general.” e formation of Diets and vocational Chambers to implement in the individual Federal States the general laws promulgated by the Reich. The leaders of the Party promise to fight ruthlessly for the realisation of the above Points, if necessary staking their own lives.” “Munich, February 24 1920.”

The words ‘absolute authority‘ indicate the essential element of extreme forms of authoritarian capitalism. It matters little to the analysis offered here (and in part 1) that like all other promises made by politicians, those made by the National Socialists of Germany (Nazis), we’re never meant to be fully kept. Even if they were no more than ‘baited hooks’ to catch members and press them into service of the authoritarian elite, they, (and the actual promises delivered) worked sufficiently for the Nazis. It only remained for the non-Nazi millions to be sufficiently divided among themselves to be ineffective in changing the mode of production and therefore stopping the authoritarian mutation from a capitalist democratic form to a Fascist form.

Roy Ratcliffe (January 2021)

In ‘Bourgeois Democracy versus Fascism? – 3’ (to follow), I will consider two questions. 1) Were the vast majority of German workers and citizens who joined the ranks of Fascism, blood-thirsty, sub-human demons, just waiting to steal, torture and kill? or; 2) Were they average, naive human beings who had been economically and culturally conditioned to obey authority, repeatedly misled and eventually terrorised into conforming?

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