Throughout this series, I have tried to draw attention to the overlooked fact that the many serious problems facing humanity are not simply products of the latest capitalist based mode of production. The bloated self opinions of the elite who manage and ‘mismanage’ capitalist social production for their own profitable ends, arise as the products of the hierarchical social system they are born into. The humanity of previous elites was no less distorted by their hierarchical systems. However, the speed and ferocity of the capitalist mode of production has outstripped by many times the speed and ferocity achieved by the ancient hierarchical empires of the middle East and medieval Europe. It has brought ‘life on earth’ perilously close to multiple extinctions of life’s foundations; ie., nurturing environments; complex webs of interdependent species; and the globalisation of air, water and soil pollution

This dangerous and inhumane trajectory of social production for elite wealth accumulation has merely been accelerated by the industrialisation of production achieved by the capitalist mode of production. However, its ‘essence’ of greed and avarice, has been there from the inception of hierarchical mass society formations. I have previously mentioned the ancient so-called civilisations of Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome as being one endless historical stream of destructive wars of possession and destruction between city states, regional empires and nations, yet this has not dented the commitment of the middle classes and the ruling classes to this form of hierarchical mass society living. .

It seems not to matter that the progress of ‘civilisation’ (sic) has involved regular episodes of conquest, genocide, enslavement and poverty within its own species, along with wholesale environmental and ecological destruction of habitat for most other species of life on earth. To the modern anthropocene obsessed middle class intellects, hierarchical mass societies, no matter how destructive they have been or become, never get a not-fit-for-purpose designation. Having, in its latest capitalist form, brought humanity and the rest of ‘life on earth’ to the brink of extinction, the best that the members of the ruling elites and the middle class want is merely to engineer a mythical ‘greenwashed’ civilisation.

This Part 7 article is much too short to detail a litany of past hierarchical mass societies actions and attitudes, but in researching for a much longer piece I came across the following two quotations. They both outline the effects these societies had upon their elite citizens. The first one is with reference to the upper and middle classes of Greece by, Thucydides, living roughly around 460 BCE. The second, also referencing the elite, is by a Roman Senator, Senaca four hundred years later. I was struck by the fact that each description – in a number of ways – could be applied to both and to the modern economic and political sections of the ruling elites and their media supporters, some 2,000 years later

“The common meaning of words was turned about at men’s pleasure; the most reckless bravo was deemed the most desirable friend; a man of prudence and moderation was styled a coward; a man who listened to reason was a good for nothing simpleton. People were trusted exactly in proportion to their violence and unscrupulousness, and no one was so popular as the successful conspirator, except perhaps one who had been clever enough to outwit him at his own trade, but anyone who honestly attempted to remove the cause of such treacheries was considered a traitor to his party. As for oaths no one imagined they were to be kept a moment longer than occasion required; it was, in fact, an added pleasure to destroy your enemy.” (Thucydides. quoted in ‘A Short History of Greek Philosophy.’ J. Marshall. Chapter Ten.)


“One man is possessed by an avarice which nothing can satisfy, another by a laborious diligence in doing what is totally useless: another is sodden by wine: another is benumbed by sloth: one man is exhausted by an ambition which makes him court the good will of others: another, through his eagerness as a merchant, is led to visit every land and sea by the hope of gain: some are plagued by the love of soldiering, and are always endangering other men’s lives or in trembling for their own: some wear away in that slavery, the unrequited service of great men: many are occupied either in laying claim to other men’s fortune or in complaining of their own….” (Seneca. To Pauline, ‘On the Shortness of Life.’)

We can only imagine what life must have felt for the 5th and 1st century working classes of slaves and semi-slaves attached to the land, mines and work benches of these hierarchical mass societies. We are left to guess, because working people’s experiences were rarely recorded two and three thousand years ago. However, we do not need to guess what life is like for the modern working classes of our current hierarchical mass societies. In the advanced capitalist countries with extensive super rich elites, there is homelessness, working and non-working poverty, deprivations in housing, food and fuel essentials, along with rising suicides among young people.

In the less advanced countries things are even worse and in all countries the working classes are continuing to face the worst effects of climate change, air and land pollution, along with extreme weather effects. In countries facing the armed interventions of any of the advanced militarised countries the recent example of the mass bombardment of Ukraine illustrates what it has been like this century for ordinary people in Vietnam, Bosnia, Iraq, Lybia, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Palestine. Consequently, as part of the 21st century challenge facing people with a humanitarian concern for the welfare of ‘life on earth’ in general and the planets ecological balance in particular, I suggested in Part 3 of this series, we should do three things.

FIRST, describe modern societies as they actually are, economically, socially, environmentally and ecologically without any elite friendly gloss or spin. SECOND, a campaign should be launched in which instead, of indifference and hostility to working class struggles, we should collectively begin to actively help, support and defend all citizens both economically and socially. More of us need to begin to function in accordance with our real world inter-dependent reality. A first stage for such a historical behavioral correction would be for those already aware of the above inter-dependence and the massive scale of the problems humanity faces to begin to openly advocate this and act in accordance with that reality themselves.

THIRD, the pattern of continuing in sectarian isolation from other like minded individuals and groups, needs to replaced by communication and cooperation. A further stage would be for increasing numbers of citizens to begin to demand of governments the modern equivalent of the 20th century ‘inclusive’ peasant demand for ‘peace, bread and land’. In other words a potentially revolutionary demand that not just our own particular sector of mass society be delivered from existential hardship, but that – as a priority – everyone in all mass societies, should have adequate food, clothing, housing and education – as a right!

Such a campaign would – at the same time – be a practical counter to elite attempts to divide the masses along the current (short-sighted) sectional interests. I now further suggest that in addition to those three suggestions above, the following should also be included:

FOURTH, to publicly accuse the elites of all shades in; politics, finance, media, commerce, entertainment, sport, and academia of disproportionately benefiting from the essential services and products which supply their water, power, transport, food, education, health, social care, sewage disposal, and mortuary services by the low paid working classes during each annual cycle of social production.

FIFTH, to publicly expose and shame, the middle – classes, who also benefit from the provision of essential services and products supplied by the low paid. These activities are the 24/7 efforts which keep the mass society systems afloat and functioning. However, this middle-class group keep quiet about their share of the social product and do nothing about the unfairness of the system to those workers they absolutely rely upon. If these groups actively threw their support onto the side of the low paid, their low pay salary and conditions campaigns would succeed. This would remove the need for essential workers to inconvenience anyone by striking when they are faced with their own increasingly inconvenient job losses, house repossessions or food and fuel deprivations.

Alongside such a campaign of exposure and shaming, the alienating harm caused by the divisions of society into classes, and endlessly repetitive 24/7 job occupations should be constantly highlighted. Human societies will not become humane societies as long as the divisions between ‘owners’ of the means of production and those who are compelled to slave away at them continues. Better salaries and wages for workers would still leave the majority at the mercy of alienating working conditions and the economic decisions made by those with ownership or control of the means of production. The productive forces and forms of social relationships have become over-developed to such a degree that in the control of a relative few motivated by greed, they have become overwhelmingly destructive.

For at least a generation now, global climate, ecological balance and all integrated forms of life on earth have been disrupted, distorted and devastated on the orders of a rich and powerful few. A single person or an oligarchical coterie can order space itself to be littered by toxic debris the near obliteration of forests; the extensive pollution of savanna’s and entire ecosystems. They can even order entire cities and regions to be blasted into nothing but massive piles of rubble.To save the planet and its life forms, the extensive socialised forms of mass society production require genuine socialised forms of ownership and control. In the absence of genuine social control, totalitarian tendencies, fueled by greed and rooted in the private ownership of land and resources, will continue to surface to the detriment of all life on earth.

Roy Ratcliffe (January 2023)

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The influencers.

Of course, those prone to totalitarian practices and ideas do not choose to see reality as it really unfolds, they only see it from their own needs and perspectives and wish to influence everyone else to see it in those same ways. For some, such reality blindness is perhaps a combination of confirmation bias and even wilful ignorance. Since vastly unequal social reality cannot be easily justified on its own terms, totalitarians, as Hannah Arendt pointed out in ‘The Origins of Totalitarianism’, often justify it on the basis of a ‘truer reality concealed beneath perceptible reality’ which can only be understood by an elect few (Plato’s shepherd leaders, left, right and centre) with imagined extra abilities far beyond the normal five senses and above average muscle density or brain capacity.

Hence the perceived self-destiny attributed to actual (or potential) totalitarian leaders (Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Trump, Putin, Xi etc) is to ‘ingeniously’ (?) lead, the masses and save the existing mass society (and its privileged advantages) from whatever threatens it. Where this arrogant certainty of deeper understanding and exceptional abilities of a leadership (religious, military or political) are accepted by the citizens of mass societies, then a corresponding complementary response can occur, in which the majority reluctantly or enthusiastically accept being sheep to be led and subsequentlwillingly or unwillingly accept this elite distortion of perceived reality.

By varying degrees, using persuasion, intimidation (or state enforcement) historical records demonstrate that many people can be ‘influenced’ to believe and act on the basis of being led by a self-appointed ‘saviour. That way the responsibility for serious thinking about the situation and any ensuing complex recovery strategy can be avoided and left in the hands of a group of individuals (usually self-serving charlatan’s), whose motives are unlikely to coincide with the interests of humanity in general, let alone suffering humanity in particular. But by then the die has often been cast – as it was in 2022.

The Invasion of Ukraine by the decision of the Putin-led Russian elite and the backing of Ukraine’s elite by the US elite has simultaneously illustrated the nature of elites using state control within hierarchical mass societies. At the same time the backwardness of many on the left has been revealed. It is a myth that the first casualties of war is the truth, that has always been a permanent casualty in peace time as well as war. The first casualties of war are a section of the countries own citizens who by state edict are chained to an elite military command and trained to kill their own species on command – the dogs of war – as they say – are released. The second casualties of war are the families of these soldiers who are abandoned to their own devices, whilst the third casualties are the ordinary citizens who must not protest and also foot the bill.

Elite directed wars start with this authoritarian/totalitarian leaning procedure against their own citizens and continues with the orders to kill the citizens already under the authoritarian direction of another set of elites. That is the reality of war – any aggressive war! Yet the left internationally is so bereft of clear thinking that it is currently split three ways. One set are influencers against the US and are supportive of Putin’s right (?) to invade; another set are influencers against Putin so are in support of the US supplying weapons and intelligence to Ukraine’s elite; another set are so confused they support neither side and stay silent whilst genocide continues unabated.

However, the strategy is clear from a revolutionary-humanist perspective. 1 We should all be opposed to our own elites, they have proved over many decades they are incompetent and dangerous to humanity and the rest of life on earth. 2 Bombing and killing civilians is an outrage and whoever is doing it should be condemned. 3 Soldiers killing soldiers is also a humanist outrage and should also be condemned. 4 The soldiers on both sides should be advised and encouraged to stop fighting each other and demand their leaders endorse a cease fire. 5 Each sides soldiers should be encouraged to organise themselves into battalion discussion groups to express their own views on what should happen next, including how repairs and reparations should be organised and structured.

If the above, (which has actually historically happened in the past) sounds utopian in 2022 then this merely shows how distorted human acting and thinking has become due to hierarchical mass society living. The current insane alternative of daily bombing and killing each others citizens on the instructions of various deranged elites, whilst the very fabric of the planet is disintegrating is the most extreme dystopian madness imaginable. Doing nothing but cheer on one side or the other or doing and saying nothing are all utter denials of our humanity and complete abdications of our better natures.

This confusion on the left is a tired repetition of the time when the leadership of the radical left, held a seriously mistaken opinion. Because some hierarchical mass society elites were anti-imperialist, they thought that these countries were progressive and should be supported. It was an ideology promoted by the Soviet and Chinese Communist elites for obvious reasons. The elites there wanted a viable hierarchical mass society on their own territory and needed to end the stranglehold of the advanced capitalist countries in order to do so. These so-called anti-imperialist projects were not undertaken by colonial elites so they could liberate mankind (or even their own citizens) but so they could effectively live off the surplus-labour of their own workers.

It started with Lenin‘s proclamation of the ‘Right of National Determination’ rather than advocating workers self-determination. It is obvious that ‘nations’ allow existing, (or elites in-waiting,) to form a loyal state apparatus and thus dominate the nation. That was exactly what Lenin‘s Bolshevik-led party and Mao’s Communist Party intended and implemented. This Party ‘line’ continued under Stalin who vigorously promoted the idea that the Communist Parties in each country should cease to be revolutionary and become loyal reformists and promote ‘friendly’ state relations’ with soviet state exploitation.

The enforcers.

So it was never true that some hierarchical mass societies were progressive and others not. All such societies were oppressive, exploitative and reactionary. They were capitalist modes of production with a loyal armed state to enforce the hierarchies wishes. They were simply at a different and earlier stage of capitalist development. This should by now be abundantly clear. Not one anti-imperialist hierarchical mass society has ended wage labour, elite privilege and compulsory compliance with elite determined state directives.

Yet some on the left have remained stuck in the mire of 20th century sectarian fairy tale dogma, where the US and UK were the Imperialists par excellence whilst Russia and China with their so-called workers states, were the imaginary champions of the working class. It was nonsense then and is doubly so now. Being anti-imperialist was then a surrogate form of appearing anti-capitalist whilst not being anti-capitalist at all – and it still serves the same function! Only ruling elite minorities need armed states in order to exploit, oppress and control the majorities, whilst egalitarian societies only need social and administrative committees.

A similar phenomena occurred by those on the left hypnotised by the word revolution. If some actual or hopeful hierarchical mass society elites opposed to foreign control called themselves revolutionaries and designated their conquest of power as a revolution, then a Pavlovian response kicked in. Some gullible people on the left simplistically thought it their duty to support a ‘revolutionary elite’ without ever bothering to analyse what was really going on in these countries. The ‘radical’ elites in Algeria, Egypt, Cuba, South Africa, Vietnam, etc., might not have been imperialist, but they were middle class individuals with an aspiration to lead a hierarchical mass society with themselves as the hierarchy.

Therefore they subsequently ‘established’ themselves in power and utilised armed bodies of loyal state enforcers and the workers were sent back to low paid wage slavery. Not one of those so-called 20th century, ‘progressives’ were more progressive than the welfare capitalist elite of the ‘spirit of 1944’ Britain. The latter also nationalised many industries, introduced free education and welfare and allowed extremely exploited workers to strike. But they also strengthened their state at the same time – and then progressively took back all these ‘reforms’, they tactically conceded after the Second World War.

In a period of existential crisis and totalitarian tendencies, the question arises as to what can be done, if anything, to break the links between the seven (or more) stages between existing bourgeois hierarchical neo-liberal mass society democracies and the emergence of bourgeois inspired totalitarian political forms. I suggest that one of the early pre-requisites of answering ‘what is to be done’ now is to recognise 21st century reality as it is, and not be content with a virtual or ersatz story book version of it. There is almost a complete failure to see that all forms of hierarchical mass societies, even those classifying themselves as liberal democracies, contain both explicit and implicit authoritarian tendencies. Part 3, of this series mentioned the challenges facing those who share a revolutionary-humanist, anti-capitalist perspective, the next, final Part (7) of this series will develop these further.

Roy Ratcliffe (December 2022)

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The ideology.

A link can be made between the totalitarian ideas maturing within thinkers in ancient hierarchical mass societies, through those in the middle ages and on to those in the modern era. Greek thinkers such Plato, Aristotle, the unknown Abrahamic monotheist narrators, Papal Catholic thinkers, such as Augustine, the Jesuits and on to Hobbes and Hegel, in the 17th and 19th centuries all developed ideas along such lines. The philosopher, Karl Popper, for example considered that Hegel represented a “missing link” between Plato and more modern versions of totalitarianism and he also connected this with the totalitarian tendencies in the Abraham religions, writing the following;

“The church followed in the wake of Platonic-Aristotelian totalitarianism, a development that culminated in the Inquisition…It is set out in the last three books of the Laws, where Plato shows it is the duty of the shepherd rulers to protect the sheep at all costs by preserving the rigidity of the laws and especially religious practice and theory, even if they have to kill the wolf, who may admittedly be an honest and honourable man whose diseased conscience unfortunately does not permit him to bow to the threats of the mighty.” (K. Popper. Open Society etc. RKP. Page 24.)

Note that the inquisition had its own ruthless version of torturing and burning for ‘crime think’. However, a more developed concept of totalitarianism was introduced into early bourgeois consciousness by Thomas Hobbes. He asserted the need for supreme authority to be given to one man in order to secure the peace and defence of bourgeois “industrie”;

“For by this authority…he hath the use of so much Power and Strength conferred upon him, that by his terror thereof, he is in able to forme the wills of them all..” (Leviathan. Hobbes.)

Hannah Arendt in her book ‘Totalitarianism’, also traces the roots of modern totalitarianism to Thomas Hobbes in his ‘Leviathan’ in which Hobbes argues that the sovereign power, however formed, has 12 absolute powers of life, death and opinions etc., over everyone it rules. She correctly distinguishes between dictatorship where elite rule is satisfied by the exercise of overwhelming power to actively promote the dictators own interests, and the much further extension of such power to include the absolute power over every action and thought – for the good of the system.

She reminds her readers that the prelude to the totalitarianism achieved in Hitler’s Germany and Stalin Russia was the colonial/imperial rule by Europeans of so-called ‘subject races’ in Africa, Asia and North and South America. Rule and exploitation of land and bodily labour was never enough for the insatiable greed of European wealth accumulation. Only total rule over thinking and culture including language and custom could ensure exclusive bourgeois rights over any other prior rights of conquered peoples.

The practice.

The British Empire was the most clear example of this transition from dictatorship to totalitarian rule where the conquered were required to be grateful for being conquered and however painful it became, be thankful for their subjection. They were required to learn to absorb and admire the bourgeois culture and alleged benefits of European capitalism. Those who rebelled were made an example of by graphically horrible means. (Just like Iran’s Islamic rulers are doing by this months public executions and Putin’s Iranian sourced drones have been doing for months on civilians in Ukraine) Furthermore, the ‘rectification of thinking’ is a logical step for totalitarian control as in 20th century Soviet Russia, China, North Korea and Iran. However, it should not be overlooked that;

“…totalitarian government is different from dictatorships and tyrannies; the ability to distinguish between them is by no means an academic issue which could be safely left to the theoreticians, for total domination is the only form of government with which coexistence is not possible. Hence, we have every reason to use the word ‘totalitarian’ sparingly and prudently “ (’Totalitarianism’ H. Arendt.)

Therefore, we need to monitor authoritarian tendencies and register how close they are to becoming fully totalitarian. For example, the existence of ‘criminals’ without having committed a real crime such as the ‘thought crime’ of Orwell’s 1984 and the Turkish imprisonment of teachers etc. in 2016 are examples of authoritarianism tending toward totalitarianism. The full suite of totalitarian categories include; one party rule, no freedom of association, no freedom of opinion or thought, no public expression of dissent, arbitrary arrests, assassinations, secret trials and summary executions. These are the usual indicators of the arrival of the final totalitarian stage of mass society governance. However, there are several stages before that final one. There are seven steps from being a ridiculous figure to a seriously terrifying autocrat in the estimation of Ece Temelkuran in her book ‘How to Lose a Country’ (from Democracy to Dictatorship in Turkey under Erdogan).

To understand the social dynamic involved, the following description of the situation regarding the masses in hierarchical mass societies needs to be considered. In a serious crisis of such societies, the desperate, discarded ‘I want’ something better individuals, begin to recognise their needs are common to many more and therefore often become the ‘We want’ something better collectives. These collectives become a potential revolutionary force, often described by the establishment as the ‘mob’ (or despicables) and are seen by themselves as the ‘real people’.

The needs of such ‘left behind’ ordinary people are actually social not political, but so habituated are the mass of people to thinking within a political framework, that they are easily persuaded to put their trust in some form of populist politician to improve their socio-economic position. However, populist leaders needs are different from their followers. The politicians needs are to gain political power, their followers needs are to improve their socio-economic situation. Once the politicians have gained power, the people are then invariably betrayed. In their eyes, the people become Plato’s sheep and therefore at the mercy of a radical political shepherd. Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao in the early 20th century, and later, Khomeini, Putin, then Erdowan, Bolsonaro, Trump, Sisi, etc., in the 21st.

There are many partially correct observations concerning totalitarianism and links, such as those noted above, but most authors seeking theoretical continuity between practices and ideas, miss the real material connection between the resurgence of these actions and ideas. The real material connection is the existence of hierarchical mass societies themselves during all ancient and modern periods. For example, one celebrated ruler, Ashurnacirpal, (approx 860 BCE) even openly boasted of his totalitarian brutality in the subjugation of those who rebelled after having been previously conquered. Thus;

“I drew near to the city of Tela. The city was very strong; three walls surrounded it. The inhabitants trusted to their strong walls and numerous soldiers; they did not come down or embrace my feet. With battle and slaughter I assaulted and took the city. Three thousand warriors I slew in battle. Their booty and possessions , cattle, sheep, I carried away; many captives I burned with fire. Many of their soldiers I took alive; of some I cut off their hands and limbs; of others the noses, ears and arms; of many soldiers I put out the eyes. I reared a column of the living and a column of heads. I hung up on high their heads on trees in the vicinity of their city. Their boys and girls I burned up in the flame. I devastated the city, dug it up, in fire burned it; I annihilated it.” (Standard Inc. , col. I. 113 – 118./ quoted in ‘A History of Babylonian and Assyrians’. By George Stephen Goodspeed. Section 168.)

It would not be difficult to furnish similar examples from the historical records of ancient Egyptian, Persian, Greek and Roman imperial periods of hierarchical mass societies. Even the Old Testament in Genesis 34; Exodus 32; Numbers 31 (10-18) and Isaiah 61 (12-16) demonstrate the same aggressive, acquisitive and punitive mentality by the nearly Israelites. It is also not difficult to recognise essentially the same thing being done to communities in the 20th and 21st centuries from a bomber a mile high or from a distantly located missile launch pad.

So in fact, the links between acts of totalitarian terror do not directly flow via a continuity between the ideologies of totalitarian iconoclasts but the link is through the hierarchical mass society form itself. This form of social living itself is authoritarian and totalitarian and thus continually gives rise to actions and theories about it which relate to it either negatively or positively. The positive supportive ones emanate predominantly from the elite beneficiaries of such societies and the negative views predominantly ( but not always) from the subservient sufferers.

Original Sin or material context.

Nevertheless, a fundamental confusion about motives arise when the logic of hierarchical mass society wealth accumulation is insufficiently considered and understood. Abstract terms, particularly among those whose thinking runs in predetermined political or religious grooves can be used to interpret conquest and violence as necessary – for a greater good. Yet there is no greater good than fully accepting the natural rights of humans, animals and other life forms to live in the utmost harmony possible. For example, it is not a natural or biologically inbuilt symptom of humanity to be nasty and horrible, as some suggest. The answer to the developmentof such aggressive behaviour lies in the type of society people live in. In settled societies as distinct from nomadic societies, far more wealth – in whatever form is considered wealth – can be accumulated than can be carried on human shoulders or animal backs whilst moving around.

Therefore, unlike early human societies, in settled mass societies, wealth accumulation is only limited by somewhere large enough to store it, the ability to obtain it and the power to retain it. Hence, the ‘grab and go’ armed military conquest histories of ancient Babylon, Sumer, Egypt, Persian, Greece, Rome and the European fuedal land wars and later colonial conquests. Such organised mass murders and pillaging do not occur prior to hierarchical mass societies. Among hunter gatherer societies there is simply not enough accumulated objects to steal and since it was (is) easier to gather and hunt than risk life and limb to raid what others have gathered or hunted, very little stealing and chopping off heads existed.

It also needs to be born in mind that, excessive inequalities in wealth and power in mass societies have always been viewed as unfair and largely resented, often accompanied by attempts to circumvent it or reduce it by one means or another. Consequently, in hierarchical mass societies where excessive wealth is appropriated by an elite, then that elite needs an unlimited extension of power to prevent any citizen attempts at wealth re-distribution. In calm periods, the elite needs only as much power as is necessary to accumulate and retain that wealth, but they also need the flexibility to increase that power if and when necessary.

Thus in ancient times when normal authoritarian control was insufficient, these were superseded by ‘extraordinary measures’ in the form of military crackdowns on civil disobedience or colonial unrest. These featured regularly in the ancient world and the modern Foreign Policies and Emergency Powers Acts are a similarly derived feature of the elites in Capitalist countries, precisely because wealth accumulation remains a conditioned feature of their entire lives. Consequently, total control is never going too far.

Roy Ratcliffe (December 2022)

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Ten points to ponder.

1 Hierarchical mass societies based upon capital, require continuous growth for both the return of the initial capital invested and the anticipated surplus-value realised as profit. 2 Capital and profit are maintained and sustained by the production and sale of commodities and services. 3 Furthermore, for growth in the 21st century, global capital requires a global supply and export infrastructure for raw materials and markets. 4 Since the change over from coal and steam to petrochemicals and electricity for production and transport in the 20th century, the commodities made from petrochemicals have proliferated.

5 To manufacture, plastics, synthetic rubbers, agricultural fertilisers, cars, ships, aircraft, clothes, phones, fridges, vitamin tablets, medicines, keyboard instruments, computers, television sets, cameras, bicycles, toys and thousands of other products, industries are now dependent upon petrochemicals. 6 This dependence is not just for producing the electrical energy to manufacture them by machinery but for the raw material they are actually made from. 7 Over many decades, this high production output has not only enriched the elites who control the means and mode of production, but has consolidated their control of the political system and the production of ideas supporting this system.

8 Moreover, the high energy obtained from relatively cheap to extract, fossil fuels and the machinery it now drives has not only increased the number of products manufactured but has reduced the number of people required to mass produce them. 9 Since its domination, petro-chemical fuelled mass production has serviced a global population rising from 2 billion (in 1927) to 8 billion (in 2022) in less than 100 years. 10 Despite the millions of years required for the fossilisation of former organic materials such as wood, coal, oil and gas, modern industrial technology is set to consume them as material and energy sources in a matter of centuries.

This high productivity boost from high energy sources such as oil, gas and nuclear has therefore become the self-defeating Achilles-heel of the whole profit based system.

In other words even without the side effects of pollution, climate change and ecological loss, etc., which emanates from burning fossil fuels, the consumption of raw materials and energy is exponentially faster than their original production. That is to say, faster than nature – the originator of all the organic sources of raw materials – can replace them! With 8 billion consumers groomed by advertising to want more and more products and gadgets, the available material to make them on an industrial scale will soon run out. That logic alone points to an end game for mass society production on a capitalist basis.

Furthermore, the obscure side effects of production cannot be ignored for waste product pollution, which causes ecological loss and climate change is continually creating problems during and after raw material extraction and during and after commodity manufacture. These waste product rubbish dumping places, (rivers, seas, atmosphere, quarries, valleys etc.) make the waste not only immediately harmful for life on earth, but some (including mercury, and nuclear) will exist for thousands of years before nature will be able to effectively neutralise them.

To boldly (or blindly) go!

The growing realisation of this problem has split the elites in control of advanced capitalist based hierarchical mass societies into two basic energy supply camps; the capitalist traditionalists and the capitalist futurists. The capitalist traditionalists are centred around the fossil fuel, climate denying lobby, whilst the capitalist futurists are centred around so-called ‘clean’ energy, green-future lobby. A virtual civil war between the two political camps exist in which by mixing a poisonous broth of distorted fact and deliberate fiction the two sides have set about assassinating the character of the others whilst successfully gathering support from many of their citizens and blaming the each other, rather than the system.

Fake news and ill thought out proposals now proliferate from every elite side. However, those battles of words are merely the early stages of deeper political crisis for both sides are also logically prone to totalitarian social control tendencies because they are both still committed to ‘capital ownership’, ‘wage-labour’ and to ‘hierarchical’ mass society forms. If ordinary citizens continue to support either of these elite tendencies or strategies (or any other such elite political tendency) they will create catastrophe and take down whole societies with them.

Moreover, if any present or future committed hierarchical mass society tendency gains power and they cannot persuade their citizens to go along with their way of dealing with problems they will, as in the past, use totalitarian methods of force and even civil war to enforce their will. Examples, already exist in North Korea, Turkey, Iran, Indonesia, Egypt, Syria and more are likely, with ‘supreme’ (!) leaders either in name or fact. Elites can do no other, as will be explained in Part 5.

Yet when all is said and done, all traditional or futurist energy tendencies are doomed to ultimate failure in sustaining the present mass society system because; 1, The traditionalists offer more of the same which means continued economic growth utilising petro-chemical fuelled mass production. Thus continued ice cap melting, sea level risings, climate changes, key species loss (particularly insects and soil micro-organisms) and civil unrest from vast wealth inequalities, will all continue; 2, The futurists are deluding themselves and their supporters.

The so-called clean energy is not really clean. Electric cars, wind turbines, wave energy converters etc., may not spew out fumes and detritus on our city streets or holiday beaches but fumes and detritus are being spewed out elsewhere where the lithium, cobalt and other exotic metals are being mined, where the batteries are being manufactured and where the oil for the plastic fascias, battery cases and tyres are being ‘refined’ (sic) and processed.

It is obvious that manufacturing products for hierarchical mass societies means massively using up raw materials and massively creating waste materials and gases. Also the global climate pattern of winds and sea currents, (even if they alter) will ensure these pollutants will be dispersed to even the most remote areas. Similarly, solar panels may not produce fumes and toxins in towns and cities, but their manufacture and eventual disposal do so elsewhere. Wind turbines and wave capturing machines have a similar raw material extraction problem as well as those pollutants exhausted during production and waste disposal.

The use of words such as ‘sustainable’, ‘ecological’ ‘and recyclable’ by left, right and centre political tendencies are meaningless lures to fool the naive into clinging on to hope in an elite-guided future. Even if energy itself were made independent of fossil fuels, the raw material from which capitalism manufactures its millions of commodities and thousands of services cannot be made independently of fossil fuels. This is because the other substitutes for petro-chemical based raw materials are the pre-fossil fuel materials of wood (now much depleted), metals, glass, slates and granites, most of which are finite and where still plentiful, also require expenditure of considerable energy to extract.

High energy mass production = Planetary Degradation!

Beneath all the nuanced rationalisations and elite generated hot air fantasies and polemics concerning climate change, lies an undeniable reality. Mass pollution, climate change, ecological destruction and resource depletion, are the results of high energy mass production and consumption – period! It does not matter what kind of energy is used to manufacture them or which elite hierarchical tendency controls mass production output. Making lots and lots of stuff, uses lots and lots of stuff and makes lots and lots of mess – period! Moreover, making lots of dangerous stuff makes lots of dangerous mess – also period!

Raw material extraction was one thing when the energy source was wind, water and human or animal muscle power, but is another when the mechanical digger, conveyor belt and chain saw is involved. Mass gatherings and ancient mass societies based just upon human, animal, wind and water power did exist from pre-history until 200 or so years ago. But in the past humanity did not continually mass produce commodities because of an endless greed for accumulating profits and the latest gadgets; they produced primarily for immediate consumption and were using low grade tools and relatively weak energy sources to do so.

At that pre-industrial point in human evolution, forests, animal reproduction and seas globally could just about keep up with replenishing the trees the wood cutters axe demolished; the animals a bow or spear could cull; or the fish the small nets could entangle. Likewise resource depletion by building huge Stone Circles, Pyramids, Palaces or Cathedrals would be spread over many decades or even centuries by large, slow moving human workforces using ropes and hand chisels. All that changed with the Industrial Revolution. In contrast, mass societies based upon high energy fuels, high efficiency machinery and an insatiable profit motive – no matter which political tendency governs them – are definitely going to be a relatively short – lived and exceedingly detrimental phenomena for all forms of life on planet earth.

The logic of the capitalist mode of production driving humanity on the equivalent of an economic, perpetual motion, suicide mission against nature and its own essential human nature, has been known since its socio-economic logic was forensically examined by Karl Marx in ‘Das Kapital’ the ‘Grundrisse’ and ‘Theories of Surplus Value’. Hence his hope that before the final, self-inflicted death agony of capitalism, the working classes would overthrow the capitalist elite and organise mass societies in a non – hierarchical way and organise production for egalitarian need.

Final points.

Yet so ingrained is a fetish type regard for hierarchical mass society forms, that despite Marx’s exhaustive research there is even an international trend of self-declared Marxists, who misusing elements of Marx’s analysis entirely agree with a plan of China’s ‘authoritarian’ leaders for just such a hierarchical mass society future! It contains the following eight points (abbreviated here) to enable their ‘vision’ of constructing a Green Ecological Civilisation, led – of course – by the Chinese Communist Party.

  1. Spacial planning. 2. Technical innovation and structural adjustments. 3. Sustainable use of land and resources. 4 Ecological and environmental protection. 5. A regulatory system to ensure conformity. 6. A method of monitoring and supervision. 7. Public participation. 8. A system of policy of planning, organisation and implementation.
  2. Anyone familiar with the disastrous and inhumane results of Bolshevik Five Year Orgplans and Orgbureas (also full of ‘convincing’ sounding words) set up under Lenin and Stalin’s leadership will recognise the bureaucratic centralised model of ‘Spacial Planning’, implicit (if not explicit) in the above list. Note that an elite, self-perpetuating ‘sovereign’ leadership has already drawn up the plan for everyone and will be in charge of planning and instructing. It will obviously continue ue to use a bureaucracy with police powers in order to ensure the implementation of this imaginary Ecological Civilisation.
  3. It is not surprising that the Chinese Communist Party came up with such a hierarchical top down idea, after all they never intended to do away with classes or allow the state to whither away or indeed to allow the masses to determine their own future needs and desires – as Marx insisted should be the case. But for some on the left to promote the above, says a lot about the atrophy of the radical left in the 21st century. The real revolutionary-humanist Marx on the other hand even in the 19th century perceived the problem attached to such ingrained political mindsets, writing;
  4. The political mind is a political mind precisely because it thinks within the framework of politics. The keener and more lively it is, the more incapable is it of understanding social ills …The more one – sided and, therefore, the more perfected the political mind is, the more does it believe in the omnipotence of the will, the more is it blind to the natural and spiritual limits of the will, and the more incapable is it therefore of discovering the source of social ills.” (Marx/Engels. Collected Works. Volume 3, p199)
  5. Roy Ratcliffe (December 2022)
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The recent outcry against striking nurses, ambulance drivers, paramedics, train drivers, teachers is revealing about the lack of social unity and a lack of intelligent thinking. The well paid media and politicians in particular are scurrilously trying to publicly embarrass low paid, struggling workers in essential services by pointing out people will be inconvenienced and might even die as a result of strike action. Let’s be clear, people are already inconvenienced and dying from low pay, precarious occupations, high food and energy costs, yet very little outcry against government austerity measures have been voiced by these same well paid voices.

The moaning, well paid, middle-class who patronisingly clapped for a few minutes during 2020 Covid19 lock-downs, would now be happy to see low paid workers and pensioners, slowly become homeless or freeze and starve to death as long as they are not personally inconvenienced. Considering that all the working and productive sections of our modern societies (including the middle class) are totally dependent upon each other for everything they do and everything they need, that indifference (and even current hostility) to economic and welfare struggles by the low paid is an enormous and myopic contradiction.

It ought not to be a matter of either passive indifference or downright hostility by the rest of us that teachers, nurses, doctors, firefighters, drivers, carers, power and sewage workers, etc., may not be in the best of health physically and mentally because of low pay, poor conditions and financial worries. When we need them – and everyone will need most of them at some time – we should want them to be in the best of health and focused upon the task at hand, not distracted or impaired by ill health, possible eviction or mental stress. Shame on those people that use workers services when they need them and then abuse workers when they don’t.

It also should be a cause for shame among the middle and upper classes that they treat people who provide their electricity; water; treat their sewage; staff their hospital wards, stack their supermarket shelves, drive their public transport (etc), as little more than forelock touching slaves. In other words they treat working people like slaves (wage-slaves) who should serve in silence and who should not assert their rights to have decent standards of living and working and be forcibly stopped if they ever do.

But of course their middle class class arrogance is impervious to shame and self criticism. Instead of blaming themselves for neglecting to use their considerable abilities and influences to improve the impoverished condition of the workers – essential to the functioning of all modern societies – they typically continue to blame the victims. Their me, me, self – indulgent life styles indicates their absolute inability to further the cause of humanity, including the struggling part of us.

The rest of us instead, of being drawn into joining the ruling elites (and their middle class dupes) counter-productive indifference and hostility, to the cause of working people we should begin to actively support and vocally defend all citizens both economically and socially. We need to function in accordance with our real world inter-dependent reality. Working people should support all the workers going on strike but also begin to demand of governments that the rights of all citizens to adequate levels of pay, housing, energy supplies, health and care services and old age retirement.

So let’s stop blaming the many, many victims of our current dysfunctional form of social living and start blaming the government and – blaming ourselves – for any indifference we may have shown for other victims of low pay, violence, and government inspired neglect. We either survive the coming economic and climate crisis together or we will sink separately.

Roy Ratcliffe (December 2022)


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In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, I suggested that mass society driven authoritarianism is currently having a considerable hold globally over many people. Totalitarian solutions are being increasingly adopted by the elites in control of hierarchical mass societies and this coincides with certain moods among some sections of the masses. The obvious strategy for the elites is to create a social and political alliance with those among the masses who currently wish to preserve the current hierarchical systems. This strategy is partially succeeding in many countries, as many workers and middle class citizens are voting for populist strong men or women. But that is only to outline the negative side of the dialectic operating within hierarchical mass societies. There is another.

The masses within hierarchical mass societies, although being compelled to compete with each other for jobs, housing and much else, are nevertheless living within the same mass societies! They share not only the same territories and neighbourhood’s, but also experience many of the same multi-dimensional elements of the unfolding crisis. This means the crisis prone areas of health, jobs, housing, social care, low pay, pollution and climate change will probably be paying them more than one visit. Since the present mass society, socio-economic systems are only designed to create profits they will be unable to solve social problems in each of those areas. Consequently, the elites in charge of each capitalist system will be compelled to bear down negatively upon almost all non-elite citizens in one way or another.

This means, the multidimensional aspects of the developing crisis have the potential to be made the source of a common social struggle to both defend and improve the conditions for all working people. Of course, this possibility is made difficult for at least two reasons. First, because there is neither a practical example of a mass society which benefits all citizens sufficiently nor a consistent and plausible description of what such a non-exploitative form of mass society living would look like. (And self-critically we anti-capitalists need to ask – whose neglect is that?) Second, the habitual forms of struggle in modern hierarchical mass societies (both successful and unsuccessful) have been predominantly sectional.

For at least 100 years each waged or salaried category; teachers, nurses, engineers, factory workers, doctors, public service workers, care workers, shop workers and transport workers, etc., have pursued their own sectional struggles and been largely indifferent to the circumstances and situations of other sections of society. Political struggles for justice have followed a similar pattern. For many decades struggles against oppression and exploitation in the advanced capitalist countries have also been conducted in a way which is an almost complete denial of the socially inter-dependent reality of our mass society way of living. Considering that all the working and productive sections of mass society are totally dependent upon each other for everything they do and everything they need, that indifference (and even occasional hostility) to economic and welfare struggles is an enormous and myopic contradiction.

I suggest the challenge for 21st century humanity based within hierarchical mass societies, is to correct this historic negation of the inter-dependent social evolution of our species. We need to begin to organise and act – as the social species we are – and be consistent with the actual inter-dependent way we live within our mass societies. Our ideas of struggle should reflect our inter-dependence and not ignore it. It ought not to be a matter of passive indifference to the rest of us that teachers, nurses, doctors, firefighters, drivers, carers, power and sewage workers, etc., may not in the best of health physically and mentally because of low pay, poor conditions and financial worries. When we need them – and everyone will need most of them at some time – we need them to be in the best of health and focused upon the task at hand, not distracted or impaired by ill health and mental stress.

Instead, of counter-productive indifference and hostility, we should begin to actively support and defend all citizens both economically and socially. We need to function in accordance with our real world inter-dependent reality. A first stage for such a historical behavioral correction would be for those already aware of the above inter-dependence and the massive scale of the problems humanity faces to begin to advocate this and act in accordance with that reality themselves. The pattern of continuing in sectarian isolation from other like minded individuals and groups, needs to replaced by communication and cooperation. A second stage would be for increasing numbers of citizens to begin to demand of governments the modern equivalent of the 20th century ‘inclusive’ peasant demand for ‘peace, bread and land’.

In other words a revolutionary demand that not just our own particular sector of mass society be delivered from existential hardship, but that – as a priority – everyone in all mass societies, should have adequate food, clothing, housing and education – as a right! Such a campaign with detailed examples would – at the same time – be a practical counter to elite attempts to divide the masses along the current (short-sighted) sectional interests. Indeed, given mass society reality, considering the interests of workers as separate is in fact a complete illusion. Countering Totalitarian Tendencies requires an accurate description of realities rather than a regurgitation of seriously flawed ideologies. On the radical left it requires a change to symbiotic cooperation rather than the continuation of sectarian divisions. Even if such a re-orientation should fail to attract sufficient numbers to eventually trigger an uprising or begin an ongoing social revolution, it would still be a considerable advance toward fully reviving the distorted and damaged social essence of our humanity.

Once upon a (totalitarian) time.

For it is a fact that those activists a generation or so ago who in the middle of a previous existential crisis, could envision no other forms of mass society living than authoritarian based ones, could only suggest alternatives to the form and content of the dominating authority – not its abolition. They were thus unable to campaign for non-authoritarian solutions and eventually trapped themselves into only opposing certain totalitarian forms and not all totalitarian forms. Thus, when Fascist totalitarian movements and ‘leaders’ surfaced in the early 20th century, the movements and ‘leaders’ opposed to fascist authoritarianism became communist, socialist or liberal democratic – authoritarians! For example, Bolshevik authoritarians took power in Soviet Russia, Maoist authoritarians took power in China and Liberal Democratic authoritarians took power throughout the Anglo-Saxon West.

The explicit and latent authoritarian mentality of mass society living, noted in Parts 1 and 2, blossomed during the 20th century and eventually could summon up only the above three authoritarian choices to appeal to the oppressed and exploited. Therefore, when, after vicious and brutal total war fighting, each of these choices eventually succeeded in gaining power between 1917 and 1923, their leaders simply continued with elite controlled exploitative and intensive wage-labour (at work); imprisonment and torture (in concentration camps or Gulags) for opponents; political assassinations for rival politicians (and for their own party dissidents); militarised forms of forced labour for additional mass factory production and forced conscription for mass fighting purposes; and, of course continued a ruthless pillage of natures resources.

A serious study of history, which goes beyond superficially understood labels of political identity, therefore reveals that extreme forms of authoritarianism ready to move in totalitarian directions, have more than one political mask for their elites to wear which helps disguise their hideously inhumane intentions. Consequently, in the current growing crisis for 21st century humanity, there is a serious danger that the misperception’s and mistakes of past generations will be repeated. Many of our contemporary activists still mistakenly see the phenomenon of fascist totalitarianism as having no direct ideological connection with the ‘norms’ of mass society modes of production in general nor the totalitarianism of National socialism’s and communisms in particular.

Worse still, some current anti-capitalists clearly do not recognise the essential social and economic identity between mainstream liberal capitalist and the state-capitalist hierarchical mass societies of 20th century Chinese and Russian ‘socialism’s in one country’. It seems for some observers, historically accepted political labels can serve to filter out any underlying problematic socio-economic reality. For these modern anti-capitalists, as with many of their 20th century counterparts, Das Kapital and the Grundrisse are perhaps a couple of thousand pages too long to consider undergoing a thorough economic education, before they start advising others which socio-economic way to turn. Perhaps, like modern college exam guides, pamphlet-ed short cuts in the 20th century were attractive, particularly to those who were moved by a macho urge to ‘lead’ the masses to some imaginary ‘big brother’ salvation.

So to sum up: In failing to unite against all forms of authoritarian mass societies in favour of egalitarian ones, suffering humanity in the past allowed itself to be divided up between different kinds of authoritarian/totalitarian tendencies and after mass murdering each other with a death toll of scores of millions, those surviving the genocidal conflict returned to a system of elite determined wage-labour exploitation and oppression. The academics merely labelled these hierarchical mass society systems as socialism, communism, social democracy or neo-liberalism and these were handed on to the next generation, along with increasing levels of pollution, climate change and ecological destruction.

The question now arises will the history of the 20th century be repeated in the 21st? For example, as the 21st century crisis deepens, will the variously oppressed and exploited, noted previously, line themselves up behind a Right wing authoritarian regime, headed by a future Trump type, a Left wing authoritarian regime, headed by a Xi type or some other populist authoritarian regime headed by a Putin, Bolsenaro or Le Pen type? Or will a new generation of activists, avoid (or step out of) the ideological straight jackets humanity has been gifted by past allegedly ‘strong men’ (sic) and join a new generation of workers in consciously avoiding a repeat of those previous tragedies.

Roy Ratcliffe (November 2022)

PS. The further looming tragedy resulting from basing capitalist mass society production on fossil fuels for both energy and for carbon based commodities has yet to enter the general consciousness of humanity. Spoiler alert: Even with 100% renewable’s, (highly unlikely) wind, tides and solar can only produce alternative sources of energy, they cannot produce alternative types of material for commodities. In the 20th century, plastics have largely replaced, wood, glass, and metal previously used in the mass production of commodities – and plastics come from oil. With a 21st century global population of 8 billion potential customers, are capitalists really going to give up mass producing and transporting commodities in order to give up on oil?

(Totalitarian Tendencies Part 4, is to follow.)

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The material basis of totalitarian tendencies.

Currently many mainstream commentators think that the main problem we face today in the advanced capitalist countries, is that liberal democratic politics is under extreme stress and severe attack by angry, misguided and misled mobs. But on the basis of the evidence abbreviated in Totalitarian Tendencies Part 1, it should be recognised that the current political turmoil is just a surface symptom of a much deeper tectonic type shift in the socio-economic foundations of hierarchical mass societies. I suggest that the current problems go far deeper than the democratic form of rule operating in some current mass societies. It is the hierarchical mass society form of living, producing, and consuming itself which is once again in a deep existential crisis. Furthermore, it is one every bit as problematic as the one occurring between 1910 and 1945. To fully grasp the significance of the surface political turmoil of 21st century hierarchical mass societies we need to understand the underlying socio-economic contradictions upon which all these systems rest.

Within all mass societies that contain extensive divisions of labour between their citizens, there are a set of underlying practical socio-economic circumstance which give rise to fundamental socio-political symptoms and dilemmas. First of all each individual citizen is in competition with other citizens for partners, jobs, housing, status and much else. Citizens of mass societies are simultaneously thrown together in large numbers, yet remain economically, socially (and even emotionally) separate; people are essentially alone whilst being surrounded by thousands. In hierarchical mass societies, these competitive economic and social divisions also produce a range of responses from indifference, through callousness, and onto hostility and even hatred. These have become ‘normal’ responses occurring between members of the same society, the same species and at times even members of the same family. That brief description is the fundamental existential dynamic for the masses in hierarchical mass societies. Yet there is another dynamic with regard to the hierarchy.

The elites, who dominate and rule hierarchical mass societies also face competition between each other, but in this case the competition is mainly over obtaining the benefits of the surplus production extracted from the masses. In pre-capitalist mass societies, that surplus production was generally in the form of a significant proportion of everything produced (a ‘tithe’ or tenth of everything) plus a supply of luxury goods and services. In capitalist based hierarchical mass societies the surplus production is transformed into a monetary form and appropriated as taxes, grants and gifts or credit, which is then used to purchase essential as well as luxury items.

But of course that is not the only dynamic. In all such class-divided cases, an increase in the numbers of elites means that the surplus production (or value) extracted from the masses must be increased to maintain (or increase) the average elite levels of wealth. There are only two ways this can be done. 1. To increase the productivity of the masses of working producers (by more productive working) or increase the proportion of wealth extracted from the masses (by higher taxes). 2. To increase the extent of the resources controlled and/or the number of working producers controlled (by direct conquest of territory and people or proxy control).

The above is the underlying socio-economic dynamic which fuels the recurring elite instigated armed campaigns to obtain pillage, tribute, conquest or imperial type control using a delegated elite. Such campaigns have continued from the very earliest ancient, pre-Common Era hierarchical mass societies of Sumer, Babylon, Egypt, Persia, Greece, and Roman Empires, through the Medieval period of European and Eastern Wars and the eventual establishment of the Islamic, Mogul and Ottoman Empires. The same elite motive operated in establishing the Hapsburg and Russian Empires, the British Empire, and the Western colonising expansion of the USA. Even the origins of the two 20th century World Wars, were also over which group of ‘allied’ elites would control the main sources of profit from global natural resources and global human labour. This shortened list, just includes the most recognisable, tribute grabbing, resource stealing, human enslaving and genocidal instances.

That this 5,000 year old history of elite ‘need’ (and greed) is a built-in dynamic of the hierarchical mass society form is not only evidenced by this long episodic inhumane history but by the fact that it’s impulse still operates within the 21st century. Its relatively peaceful international means is to export capital in order to exploit foreign labour or import cheap labour and exploit it in the home country. Both these ‘peaceful’ (sic) international trading strategies are in order to increase the rate of surplus-product or value accruing to the various elites. The extreme violent variant of obtaining surplus-production in 21st century is demonstrated in the Russian elites desire to annex the land and people of Crimea and Ukraine and the Chinese elites desire to annex Hong Kong and Taiwan. Ruling and exploiting one territory or human community is never enough for the type of elites born into and formed within successive hierarchical mass societies.

The fact is that no individuals in any mass society conurbation can provide themselves with food, water, clothes, shelter and warmth from their own individual efforts. Consequently, despite the severe levels of competition, exploitation, oppression etc., contained within them, each individual member needs their mass society to function – at least economically – in order to simply survive. These contradictory circumstances create a strong pressure to both conserve the individual against other individuals and conserve the existing social system, against other existing societies. Hence the phenomena of some of the masses volunteering to join in the ‘special military operations’ their elites justify as ‘defending the mother country’. Others have to be compelled by conscription.

Living in a hierarchical mass society which is alienating and oppressive, means individuals are living amid a huge and often crushing social contradiction. Hence on top of any occupational and environmental illnesses, within hierarchical mass societies, there is a steady stream of alcoholism, drug addiction, schizophrenia, psychotic levels of random and targeted anger, plentiful suicides and many other negative psychological symptoms.

For working class humanity in particular, being trapped within a modern hierarchical mass society form of living is, on a much broader and more universal scale, an analogue of someone living with an oppressive and aggressive partner. With no realistic alternative she or he might reason: “I know its horrible being here, but it is somewhere to live”! I know from direct experience that women’s rights campaigners in the 1970’s and beyond, needed to establish refuges and lines of practical support before some women could break free from a family commitment which was deeply dysfunctional and dangerously destructive.

Similarly, a worker in a sweat shop industry (or serving soldier) might express it thus: “I know this job will likely kill me but I and my family need the money”. I also personally know that shop stewards in such industries had to constructively deal with a workforce often divided on how to respond (put crudely; whether to strike or not to strike) when faced with atrocious working conditions.

So despite any successful workplace actions the threat to livelihood and self-esteem within a hierarchical mass society – in crisis – can actually lead some people to a desire for a strong leader to forcibly keep job and benefit competition (foreign or otherwise) under control and the system functioning. This can be a particularly strong symptom when a crisis begins and tensions and emotions run high. Moreover, such contradictory responses occur in politically diverse hierarchical mass societies such as those designated as Fascist, Liberal Democratic or Socialist. The reason becomes clear when it is born in mind that it is the lived reality of the mode of production which determines these eventual human responses, not the political labels used to describe them.

Obviously if mass societies are exploitative, oppressive and discriminatory then discontent will surface sooner or later no matter how it is politically defined or ‘spun’. Consequently, real life contradictions such as deploring the system whilst needing it to continue are to be expected. Therefore, particularly in a crisis, prematurely forcing an issue or imposing a demonised description upon working people – when they do not know who to trust and have not yet grasped the scope, scale and detail of what is unraveling or is needed – can be a tragic mistake. Such arrogant sectarian posturing (eg. ‘only we know what is true and what is false – about everything!’) should be avoided in the first place and challenged were it occurs.

Millions of people know that capitalist societies are unfair, unjust, unequal and unsustainable. Millions also know that the so-called 20th century established ‘socialisms’ also retained wage-labour exploitation, extreme physical coercion to conform, extensive social discrimination, high levels of hierarchical privilege for the party elite and the constant destructive devastation of nature. Therefore, in the absence of a humane alternative, many will reason that ‘their’ current societies need to be supported because they are the only places which allow enough of the population to actually survive. In such complex and contradictory circumstances it should be understandable, therefore, that some individuals will take longer than others (and may need time and contemplation) to break away from various commitments to an existing hierarchical form of mass society. Impatience with the masses slowly emerging perceptions and mis-perceptions of the nature of socio-economic crisis is seldom a positive characteristic.

From a revolutionary-humanist perspective, therefore, an element of conservatism, existing within working class communities does not necessarily stem from a deep rooted right wing, fascist style conviction. Indeed, it is more likely that a limited, but rational element of confused and contradictory thinking, can be predominantly at play. With regard to political confusion and modern totalitarian tendencies, it should not be forgotten that the 20th century form of totalitarian tendencies we now call Fascism was introduced and gained power in both Germany and Italy – in the guise of Socialism!

In both Germany and Italy, it was a ‘National Socialist’ (Nazi) political tendency which adopted a radical programme of rights for workers and consequently attracted a huge working and middle class following. Millions of working people on all sides were fooled and divided by their own confused thinking and misplaced loyalties into fighting each other in favour of competing versions of hierarchical mass society ideologies. This confusion was supplemented by a father-figure, hero worshiping trust in strong men such as Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin. Such confused thinking around poorly analysed political categories has arisen once again in the 21st century and urgently needs to be countered. A much broader and deeper historically accurate narrative needs to be articulated. Totalitarian Tendencies Part 3 (to follow) will continue offering these contributions toward such accuracy.

Roy Ratcliffe (November 2022)

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Totalitarianism and Hierarchy.

In terms of hierarchical mass society dynamics, totalitarian rule is merely a further extension of existing hierarchical rule. The one cannot be understood without understanding the other. Furthermore, state and non-state forms of coercion and compulsion are the means which allow the transition from one phase of authoritarian rule to the other. Without coercion hierarchies cannot continue to rule over a majority and in an existential situation, without extreme compulsion hierarchical control cannot be transformed into totalitarian control. Compulsion is also the glue which holds hierarchical mass societies together. This has been the case in both ancient and modern mass society forms.

Hierarchical mass societies, with their extensive divisions of labour, are at the same time the source of human ‘alienation’ and the cause of the multitude of struggles within mass societies. Elite prescribed rewards to individuals for what amount to social activities lead to economic struggles, social struggles, ethnic struggles, gender struggles, educational struggles, ecological struggles, national struggles, political and politico-religious struggles. These are all responses to the ‘normal’ functioning of hierarchical mass societies – including the present capitalist ones. Additional struggles over the rights of animals and those campaigns to ‘save’ this or that endangered species now cover practically every species currently alive on planet earth.

Although they are all fragmented, these human rights, struggles animal rights struggles and now climate struggles signal the growing discontent of citizens with the ruling elites who control the many global mass society formations. However, this plethora of 20th and 21st century struggles have not generally been seen by their campaigners as the particular symptoms of a common alienation experienced within all hierarchical mass societies. However, many elites have begun to understand the potential danger these struggles pose to the normal forms of social control. For when too many serious struggles take place, the ‘normal’ functioning of mass societies begins to break down.

Moreover, it is only when ‘normal’ levels of authoritarian compulsion cease to keep order in hierarchical mass societies, that hierarchies begin to extend their powers toward the totalitarian spectrum. This extension of powers is done in attempts to prevent a complete socio-economic breakdown or a potential revolutionary transformation of the mass society system. In country after country in the 21st century, the ordinary citizens of global humanity are beginning to resist the existential degradation of their animal vegetable and human communities. Implicitly, if not everywhere explicitly, the capitalist profit-led form of mass societies, is under critical review. At the same time ordinary citizens are faced with the re-emergence within the elites of totalitarian tendencies aimed at conserving the existing system.

Hierarchy in ‘normal’ times.

For generations, the absence of peace, justice and well being within ‘normal’ civilised societies, has ‘witnessed’ many religious believers being advised to, or coerced into, doing what no other life form would do; – passively bear whatever happens to them and turn the other cheek. All other species of ‘life on earth’ including most humans would sooner or later fight back or just move somewhere else. Indeed, those responses are the recurring strategies which often result in civil wars or emigrations.

One of the few active things religious officials encourage people to do when faced with common existential problems is to kneel down and pray to an imaginary invisible, all powerful man in an invisible unknowable (!) heaven. One other unnatural active thing some religions elites encourage is to disrespect other denominations religions and at times even kill their members, for religiously distorted views see these as rival worshipers of the same or a different God.

Perhaps predictably, given that the symptoms of alienation noted above are so pervasive, in the 20th century, secular versions of religious style patience and resignation to mass society alienation were also invented. A spectrum of physical and psychological ‘helpers’ expanded during the 1960‘s offering a range of services from drugs to surgery and from ‘counselling’ to ‘courses on well being. Just like religion, such prescriptions are all offered with the purpose of assisting the sufferer – purely as an individual – to ease the individual distress and pain of living within hierarchical social structures.

That so many problems and coping strategies exist within hierarchical mass societies points to something seriously wrong and unnatural with the hierarchical mass society social form. Yet despite the huge numbers of disturbed, discontented, disaffected, discriminated, disillusioned, dysfunctional citizens and endangered species, the type of remedies provided are all targeted at the individuals within them. This individual focus conveniently ignores the obvious social nature of the problems commonly encountered and at the same time serves to undermine the idea of individual sufferers combining with other sufferers to achieve better living conditions. However, that narrow individuated perspective cannot continue indefinitely.

The preferred elite solution to a modern authoritarian social system treating people consistently badly, is to undergo the individual medication or experience the individual therapy recommended and be thankful that their situation is not worse. Revealingly, where available, the drug and non-drug versions of therapy have been consistently taken up by individuals in all classes. This fact also highlights the depth and breadth of the problems built into the social fabric of hierarchical mass societies. Yet it is an obvious fact that in many cases, mental exercises to achieve inner well being do not really help. Talking things through or concept modification exercises for someone permanently, unemployed, homeless and living in a city centre shop doorway, or living with a partner who beats or rapes will not alter their reality or allow them to feel good about it.

Furthermore, even when considered in their most benign, current forms of hierarchical mass societies are authoritarian throughout the whole of their social fabric. The global response of elites using emergency powers to control citizen movements during Covid19 Pandemics indicates that in order to maintain them, hierarchical-led systems at all times are ready to adopt a totalitarian outlook and introduce extreme forms of control and violence if necessary. The experience of hierarchies becoming totalitarian are also reflected in the culture and literature of the First and Second World Wars. This transition occurred even in societies supposedly opposed to capitalist ones as Orwell’s ‘1984’ and ‘Animal Farm’ graphically portray.

The Elephant in the Room.

However, it often seems that only in science fiction stories is the logic of hierarchical mass society living portrayed as a morphing into a full blown Mad Max style dystopia. But the actual real-life alienated logic of ‘normal’ hierarchical capitalist mass societies is continually displayed in the taken for granted mass production and use of weapons of mass destruction – both in the case of conventional explosives and nuclear alternatives. There can be nothing more totalitarian than the fact that the existential end of practically everything we know can now be achieved – in real life – at the press of a certain button, by order of a political or military leader – without citizen consultation – even in supposedly democratic countries as well as dictatorial ones!

It is in the ubiquitous nature of predatory warfare perpetrated by all hierarchical mass society elites from ancient to modern that suggests this form of society is the originator of all such unnatural and nihilistic human common behaviors enumerated above. Yet amazingly pre- Atom bomb, industrial levels of human annihilation by warfare are invariably framed by mass society elites and their media echo chambers as heroic events to celebrate rather than as tragic socio-economic human failures to rectify. Humans are the only species of ‘life on earth’ that deliberately exterminate vast numbers of their own kind along with logging or spraying other species into forest or field oblivion. Yet so few people bother to point this out..

I suggest, that if we think about it, there is also something bizarrely schizophrenic about mass society elites who wear poppies and parade in stern faced, pomp and circumstance past memorials and cenotaphs to the millions dead in the wars their class started. For surrounded by huge personal wealth, they will coldly administer the reduction of wages, benefits and living conditions for millions still alive! And bizarrely many other people consider both these political actions as perfectly ‘normal’.

I hope the previous paragraphs will not be quickly passed over, but carefully considered, for what they contain illuminates practically all the unresolved contradictions now being played out within modern capitalist societies. This is occurring because in periods of extreme crisis, the fundamental socio-economic contradictions and their ideological expressions tend to surface with profound and violent intent. Indeed, often even the most intelligent and astute historical, social, economic and political commentators fail to understand the basic socio-economic contradictions of hierarchical mass societies or the nature of the pent up passions when they start to be forcefully expressed. The latter will be considered in Totalitarian Tendencies (Part 2.)

Roy Ratcliffe (November 2022)

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The current media discussions on what is described as the ‘cost of living crisis’, have been a confused mix of sense and nonsense. The sources of this confusion have been politicians and so-called financial experts, most of whom clearly do not know the difference between sense and nonsense in economics and finance. This article will hopefully dispel at least some of the confused platitudes which currently dominate media thinking. The nonsenses and examples are emphasised in bold.

That governments are powerless to effect prices and interest rates set by the financial markets. I have heard such blatant nonsense several times. Although the complete capitalist system needs ending it is still the case that the whole history of the capitalist mode of production, is littered with successful attempts by governments to regulate and limit what people dominating the money market could do to manipulate financial transactions. Furthermore, it was only the deliberate de-regulation of financial ‘services’ in 1989 that allowed a small number of well situated individuals to collude in a) setting a wider range of interest rates, b) to more freely speculate on future commodity prices, c) to issue as much leveraged credit as they saw fit. d) to set up more tax havens and launder money from dodgy sources. Consequently, in a monetised economy, the cost of living or the cost of buying things we need, including loans and mortgages, are not the results of some unstoppable natural force, like tides, gravity or seasons. In fact they are the results of manipulations and price setting by groups of key people located in various financial markets.

These key people can be prevented from doing this fixing and insider trading anytime governments want to. And indeed, when a crisis is big enough they do in fact curtail them. For example, no government would allow the economic, commercial or finance sectors, to negatively effect their own country if an enemy (human or virus) was preparing to invade. In such circumstances everything and every person would be subject to severe restrictions and controls from buying and selling to moving about. Just recall the Covid19 personal, occupational and transport lock-downs? It was the same in Europe during the two world wars of 1914-18 and 1938-45.

In crises of sufficient magnitude, financial markets as well as production in general are heavily regulated and controlled by governments. The reason why the elites controlling capitalist governments are choosing not to regulate and control the activities of the financial manipulators now, is obvious. The current stage of crisis, engulfing the working and lower middle classes, does not sufficiently inconvenience them. If it did, as it did for example in the 2008 financial crash and in the early days of the Covid19 pandemic, they would act decisively. In another example, during the 2008 run on the banks they stopped all financial manipulation dead by closing the financial markets and freezing all transactions except those designed to bail out their friends in the banking sector.

Our economy and finances are rather weak now, therefore we we cannot do as much as we would like to. I have also heard this a couple of times just recently from prominent politicians in the advanced capitalist countries of UK and US. I expect this pathetic rubbish will be repeated in other countries across the globe so let’s also tackle this absolute nonsense. First of all, the advanced capitalist countries are among the richest in the entire history of the human species. They are richer and more productive than ancient Egypt, Persia, Greece and Rome. Secondly, the modern elites have extracted wealth from their own working populations for hundreds of years. Secondly, during the colonial and imperial stages of expansion they extracted exorbitant amounts of wealth, raw materials and slaves, from numerous countries around the world. Thirdly, their countries now contain means of production which are the most efficient and productive in the entire history of humanity.

Fourthly, even during a period of the most deep recession and international economic and financial crisis, (between 1910 – 1945) the countries of Europe and America tooled up and produced enough food, materials and sophisticated machinery to fight two long wars, by air, sea and land. This latter example proves that abundant production is not determined by the so-called health of the financial sector, (which had totally collapsed in 1929,) but from the application human labour to the materials provided by nature. In 2022, the only thing lacking in UK, Europe and America etc., in order to provide everyone with decent sustainable food, clothing, housing, education, warmth and safety, is the will of the elite to employ people and available material to mass produce these basic ‘goods’.

The interest rates have increased and commodity prices have suddenly shot up causing cost of living increases. Political and media phrases such as above, are also being uttered as if such rapid ‘market changes’ are similar to an inevitable act of nature, like the jet stream affecting the weather. But of course market changes are not natural. What has recently happened is that some (usually male) combination of influential financial or commodity dealers and brokers in key positions have decided that interest rates or commodity prices should be higher. Such unchallenged and unregulated decisions can depend upon irrational panic, rational calculation or blaming an unconnected event, but either way they are deliberate human choices. The motivation for them has a direct relationship to how the finance sectors short or long term investment strategies are meant to pan out. Thus in reality;

“The risk of market collapse is amplified by regulatory incompetence and banker greed…Derivatives serve practically no purpose except to enrich bankers through opaque pricing and to deceive investors through off-the-balance-sheet accounting.” (‘The Death of Money’ J. Rickards. Introduction.)

In other words interest rate fixing, commodity price fixing, currency exchange rate offers and acceptances (swaps, etc.), are not inevitable like the sunrise and sunset, neither are they are necessary like food, water or heating. Indeed, they are not even desirable for the vast majority of citizens within capitalist societies. They are the results of deliberate manipulation by a few collegiate individuals located in key positions in a relative few financial institutions. Yet as we are now seeing again, the personal motives of these financial ‘dealers’, ‘brokers’ and ‘bankers’, are having crippling effects upon the mortgages, rents and heating costs of the rest of society. For those too young or who may have forgotten the last high profile austerity inducing ‘fixing’ and ‘trading’ episode during the years 2007 and beyond, below is a reminder.

The 2007 to 2009 financial crisis. Banks and other financial institutions, had been constantly leveraging borrowed money at one rate and lending it out at another rate, both of which the financial sector had decided was appropriate. Different forms of debt, credit cards, mortgages, student loans, were bundled together by a select few who estimated their yield and sold them to unsuspecting punters (institutional and otherwise) for an estimated value plus commission. These were particular instruments of greed, bearing no relationship to the actual production of new useful products. But then this is the case for most things in the financial sector. As an author and former employee of the Bank of England informed his readers;

“In real life financial markets, market makers are the parties that that are always ready to deal….Market makers are willing to quote prices (bids and offers) at which they will buy and sell”. (’The Bank of England and Government Debt’. W. A. Allen. NIESR. Pub.Cambridge University Press. Chapter 2.)

These ‘parties’ are actually privileged persons in the financial markets and are the market ‘fixers’ and have been so all through the 20th and 21st centuries. Although for much of that post war period, their manipulations were regulated and the scope of their activities was limited by law. It was the Big Bang changes and deregulation of this sector in the Reagan and Thatcher era of 1986, which allowed the proliferation of futures and massive debt speculation to mushroom. It was that which led to the spectacular and disastrous bubble-bursting’, banking crisis of 2008. And in this way;

“The collapse of the housing market (bursting of the housing bubble) and its crucial impact saw the end of the five largest US investment banks…..Lehman Brothers collapsed completely due to the same mistakes of too high leverage and an over reliance on unrealistic real estate assets. “ (’Financial Crisis: Bear Stern and Lehman Brothers’. L. Brinkmann. Introduction.)

Note, they caused the collapse of the housing market due to setting their own unrealistic assessments and leveraging (multiplying) the amounts at what they considered was an acceptable ratio. Soon after the collapse a partial remedy or ‘bail out’ was concocted by the political and financial elite called a ‘Troubled Asset Recovery Programme’. This programne cost the task payers colossal amounts of money and also ruined many ordinary peoples lives from businesses closures and job losses. The troubled asset programme was implemented to save the livelihoods and statuses of high-paid financial elite and their ‘too big to fail’ ‘money market’.

And then there was Libor. Libor stands for the ‘London Interbank Offered Rate’. This was manipulated by means of late night discussions and early morning phone or email contacts between certain privileged individuals in various banks who then suggested (offered) what the interest rate should be for borrowing between them for the coming days trading period. Once this interest rate was agreed by the most influential of the 16 or so key ‘insiders’, everyone else simply adopted the same rate throughout the global network. Here is a précis of how it then functioned. If a big trader has nominal control of billions of pounds or dollars and can use this to buy options at one price knowing it would go up by even only 1% or less and then sell it when it did, then quick profits would be made.

For example, a one percent gain on a million is 10,000, when it is of ten million it is 100,000 etc. This Libor rate setting not only enabled big monetary profits and commissions for traders, but since it was used elsewhere in the global finance sector it also negatively effected millions of people. A one percent rise in a loan or mortgage created by a handful of traders and brokers, might not seem too bad but a four or five percent rise prompted by such an internal clique could spell a knock on disaster for millions of people. This could only happen because;

“Libor was set by a self-selected, self-policing committee of the world’s largest banks. The rate measured how much it cost them to borrow from each other. Every morning, each bank submitted an estimate, an average was taken and a number was published at midday.” (’The Fix’. L. Vaughan & G. Finch. Chapter 1)

The above is a statement which hides as much as it reveals. In one particular case, which became transparent after the crash, one of these select people who was active in manipulating and fixing the market rate of Libor (in this case setting it low) to support his investment strategy, emailed one influencer friend as follows.

“I need you to keep it as low as possible, all right?”……“I’ll pay you, you know, $50,000, $100,000, whatever. Whatever you want, all right?” (quoted in ‘The Fix’ above.)

More often than not such ‘help me out buddy’ worked. If anyone doesn’t think this type of up and down price manipulating and palm greasing is still going on (out of sight and out of mind) in the offices and at the City desks in London or those of Wall Street New York, it can only be because they are naive or complicit in some way. Our elected officials with all their ‘revolving door’ access to information and research assistants can also only be one or the other – naive or complicit. Otherwise they could not suggest that our low-paid troubled human assets (ie. working class people) must now suffer rising prices and falling standards of living because some few in the ‘market’ want it this way. After the evidence provided above, that is obviously a lie.

Roy Ratcliffe (November 2022)

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Those who are hoping that the new boy on the UK Tory block, Rishi Sunak, will be any better than the last lot of Tories, will soon have to think again. Saving the UK from the worst economic storms ahead, or the planet from becoming even more degraded are the last thing on Rishi’s mind. Being ‘too busy’ to attend COP 27 is an almost complete give away and represents a feeble euphemism for being focussed on business as usual. And Rishi’s usual business is Finance Capitalism. He and his family have not got super rich by stacking supermarket shelves, staffing hospital wards or keeping the environment.clean. They have got rich by ruthlessly playing the existing political and financial system for their own calculated advantage and will try to stay rich doing the same.

Rishi’s time at Goldman Sachs bankers, (the ones who got super rich by catering to dictatorial regimes, engaging in futures speculation and selling the dodgy mortgage backed securities based on subprime mortgages that led the 2008 financial collapse,) has benefited him in numerous ways. Particularly in perfecting a barefaced ability to sell illusions to unsuspecting punters and now to gullible voters without any glimmer of conscience when the illusory bubbles bursts – as they did in 2008. The Finance Capital sector is itself a business world built on illusions spun in such a way as to fool the public. Most of the investment vehicles the bankers sell to the unaware are just paper promises and their inflated paper value can disappear as quickly as the numbers involved were printed on a financial instrument by a computer.

The vast majority of such ‘asset vehicles’ are fictitious in that they involve mathematical calculations, which bear almost no real relationship to any tangible assets. They are inflated paper promises called ‘financial instruments’ which are primarily designed to secure the salaries, expenses, fees and commissions financial sector operatives gain from their sale to those hopeful of a positive return. The similarity between the inflated paper promises of politicians printed in their election manifestos, is obvious. These too are also primarily made to secure the salaries, expenses and fees associated with public office. This similarity should already be obvious as the earlier promises of the Johnson election manifesto have already disappeared. Rishi’s promises will be next for the recycling bin.

Politics, Finance and even Religion have so much in common because they all deal in promises in the form of words and illusions rather than in the production of anything real. You are just required to believe the polished narratives they have perfected. For of course, money and words (sacred or otherwise) cannot directly create anything tangible. Even in the case of the investment of money, when it is not actually a fictional capitalised amount, the return of the amount loaned and the interest on it has to come from the financial or productive activities of someone else. The links between lenders, borrowers and reality may be intentionally obscure, but somewhere along the chain of transactions the value of the loan plus added interest is returned via the transformational application of human skills and labour to some form of valuable and tangible production.

Since money can only buy ‘things’ it can never be anything other than a claim on tangible forms of wealth. The financial sector is solely dedicated to amassing such claims whilst producing nothing tangible itself.

The origin of interest or profits on investment, is nothing more than a deducted portion of the monetised surplus-value created during capitalist production, which is passed along a chain of interconnected obligations back to the lender. The basis of this process, which rests upon productive-capital, is therefore ultimately the labour-power and spending power of working people. But Rishi and his ilk emanating from this sector haven’t understood this yet. They seem to think that financial manipulations are self-sustaining and more important than (and independent of) ordinary working people. But under capitalism no amount of money is of any use if there are few things to buy, and many things cannot be bought if not enough people have enough money to purchase them.

The capitalist system is built on production and profit from sales of commodities and services, not purely from finance.  The recurring contradiction between gross production and gross consumption is the unsolvable problem faced by the supporters of the capitalist mode of production. A post 1950’s solution has been frequently sought by governments and the finance sector which involves creating more purchasing power by extending credit and creating more currency. But credit only delays the need to pay and creating more currency only devalues the currency which then appears as price inflation leading to less purchases and austerity And neither solution solves the real problem.

Those finance sector participants who only understand the benefits of their economic system and not its problems, then focus on getting inflation down which continues a spiral of recessions which they and their governments have caused in the first place.

The vast amounts of monetary wealth and influence accumulated over many decades and controlled by it has made the Finance-Capital sector so rich and powerful that this wealth and power frequently comes to their aid. Finance capital not only influences industry and commerce now but also national governments. The ability of the finance-capital sector (banking, insurance etc.) to reward favours with grants, lucrative posts and consultancy fees makes it able to promote self-serving changes in government policies. Institutions such as the World Bank, the International Bank of Settlements, and International Monetary Fund are the global instruments of this sector. They and their proxies have conduits of influence reaching deep into industry, politics and governance.

If they are astute enough, they can even influence who is put onto ballot papers and election slates. Lower down the institutional pyramid of finance there are organisations (stock exchanges, Hedge Funds etc.) whose activities are also global. This includes investment possibilities, speculative opportunities and asset stripping manoeuvres. Financial institutions (developed from merchant bank organisations) also originate and circulate financial instruments known as Asset Based Securities (ABS’s), Mortgage Based Securities (MBS’s) and Collatoralised Debt Obligations (CDO’s) among others. This is the parasitic world Rishi and his backers are part of and it is the world they will return to when they have finished their present revolving door stint of self-engrandisement and lucrative office filling in government.

It is also the world which is creating the current financial instability and which is helping fund the present ecological destruction and detrimental climate change. The general 2008 financial crisis, triggered as it was by the collapse of the housing mortgage bubble in the USA, revealed the vast international network of financial instruments (ABS’s; MBS’s ; and CDO’S etc.) then (and still) circulating around the globe. Some people in the financial sector then had long suspected a looming problem and kept quiet about it. However, not even the expert regulators of these ‘instruments’, fully understood their complexity, the amount of leverage based upon them, and the magnitude of defaulting when the bubble burst.

The unravelling of financial speculation in 2008 demonstrated that financial crises, don’t remain within that sector. The 2008 crash caused bankruptcies in industry and commerce, redundancies, unemployment, as well as public sector shrinkage and austerity. This is because the ‘finance sector’ is connected to the general commodity and service money circulation system, the private productive-capital sector and the public sector. It is the tail grown so big that it now routinely manages to wag the dog. Any sizeable future crisis in the finance sector will instigate a general economic and social crisis and visa versa. The Finance Capital sector are probably quite pleased that one of their own has grabbed hold of power in the UK. Using this power may help to mitigate any eventual financial backlash and make it easier for them to be bailed out again. Welcome citizens of the UK to the world of Rishi Rich!

Despite their culpability, those in the financial sector were massively bailed out in 2008 and their losses made good or simply written off. This, as much as anything, demonstrated the power and influence of the finance sector over the economic and political classes. The election of Rishi Sunak to Prime Minister in the UK demonstrates this power to influence yet again. Few in the banking and financial sector – including Rishi then and now – thought they had done anything wrong and have continued doing what they did before. Consequently, another financial crisis lies ahead – only it’s timing is uncertain! Meanwhile, that sector carries on granting itself huge bonuses for selling unstable financial instruments, and naive speculators (including pension funds) within ‘the system’ continue to buy them. They also actively peddle political promises through their agents in the political sphere of capitalism and hope that we buy into those.

Roy Ratcliffe (November 2022)

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