THE UK ELECTIONS 2019.

The results of the December 12 (2019) UK elections came as a surprise to many and a shock to some. The collapse of the vote for the Labour Party was perhaps the most shocking as well, as the size of the Conservative majority. A blame game was quickly started within Labour as scapegoats were sought to explain the demise of this once powerful, contender for political power. However, anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of Labour Party history might have anticipated this kind of outcome would happen – sooner or later.

This dismal result by Labour is just the latest twist in the downward spiral of voter confidence in this British version of left reformist politics. The explanation for this decline as well as its post Second World War high point, is to be found in its practical and ideological foundations. The Labour Party was founded on the basis of a compromise between social democratic ex-liberal members, disgruntled conservatives and upwardly mobile, trade union leaders. Individuals from these three political backgrounds dominated its various founding committees and funding sources.

Their common ideology was of solid commitment to capitalistic forms of exploitation of working people, tempered by reforms to cushion the more severe effects of the struggle between capital and labour. The promise of reforms attracted working class activists and over time millions of working class and middle-class voters, particularly after the experiences of the Second World War (1939-45). The activation of the Beveridge Reforms (Health, Education, Social Care, Pensions, Housing and Nationalisations) by a post-war Labour Government cemented this loyalty for generations of working and middle-class people throughout the UK.

However, the Labour Party remained a middle-class, progressive, but fiercely pro-capitalist party in terms of who controlled it’s powerful committees and it’s ideological position. When the post-war boom period drew to a close and British company profits were squeezed, the Labour Party leadership moved to support their capitalists. They did so by imposing wage limits and productivity deals upon working people and restricting Trade Union bargaining. This was seen by working people as one of many betrayals by the Labour Party, betrayals which continued under Blair and Brown’s New Labour.

It should be remembered in the context of decline that Scotland once voted overwhelmingly for Labour and support by Scottish working people just disappeared as it has now done in the North of England. The commitment to Labour by working people has progressively decreased, whilst the commitment to Labour of sections of the progressive middle-class has been largely retained. This explains the retention of Labour seats in the affluent south and losses in the impoverished north. It also explains the divide between Leave and Remainers in the Brexit referendum. Exceptions aside, working class people mainly lost out during the EU years, whereas middle-class people mainly gained.

In the UK, northern working class people witnessed the EU principle of free movement of labour and capital in the form of unemployment, food banks, dwindling public services and low pay, whilst southern middle-class people saw in the same EU principle, low cost domestic cleaners, casual agricultural labour, EU job opportunities and EU holiday/retirement destinations. Furthermore, when northern workers voted out of Europe and witnessed the Parliamentary Labour Party ‘remainers’ effectively preventing getting out, that betrayal was obviously seen as one too many.

It has been said by some commentators that Corbyn’s anti-austerity plans were too radical for voters, but my guess is that wasn’t the case for most working class voters. It was more likely that given all the previous failed promises by Labour, they just didn’t believe these new promises would be implemented. Voting Conservative in Parliamentary seats held by Labour for several decades, can only be realistically seen as part protest and part wish to have their exit vote honoured. I doubt it was a desire for a Boris-led form of Thatcherism or a British version of Trumpism

We need to remember that both sides of the referendum vote were wishing things to get better – or at least not to get worse. The one side by getting out, the other by staying in. The desire for things not to get worse or even to get better is, I suggest, the default position of most people. How they viewed achieving this desire was largely determined by what they had so far experienced. So blaming ‘Leavers’ for wanting the same outcome as ‘Remainers’ and vica versa is at best short sighted – at worst, divisive.

My guess is that the next few years will demonstrate that getting out of EU will not improve things for the majority in the UK. Moreover, those countries which have stayed in the EU will experience a continuing deterioration for the working classes. It’s already happened in, Greece, Spain, Portugal and recently in France. This prediction is based upon the fact that countries in and out of the EU are already over-producing goods and services, all have severe debt liabilities, are experiencing decreasing tax revenues, and increasing demands for benefits/services.

Furthermore, competition from large mass-producing countries, will inhibit the creation of well paid jobs in small countries. The UK is no longer the ‘workshop of the world’ and is now largely dependent upon financial services and funding international ‘bound-to-burst’ speculative bubbles. If one adds to this scenario the costs of reversing climate change, air and sea pollution, increasing safe waste disposal, extra flood defences, health and end-of-life-care costs, the obvious question arises; who will bear these costs?

The pattern of working class desertion of social democratic reformist parties is international precisely because the crisis of capitalism is international and because social democratic politics internationally has favoured middle-class voters over working class ones. The pattern of working-class voters turning to representatives of the right-wing ruling elite, such as Trump and Johnson, can only be temporary, because these elites also represent the rich few over the interests of the increasingly poor working classes. Instead, working people must actually rebel against all forms of elite politics –  or continue to suffer.

Roy Ratcliffe (December 2019)

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BEGINNERS GUIDE 10.

On Reformism.

Almost from its earliest beginnings, supporters of the capitalist mode of production, recognised its many benefits to them, whilst it’s huge downsides were recognised by the majority. When capitalism reached the industrial revolution stage, it’s ‘dark satanic’ failings became all too obvious. Pollution, poverty and pestilence for the masses, profit, privilege and prestige for the few. This extreme contrast led to various political tendencies proposing slight changes to the system (known as reforms) to reduce some of these negative outcomes.

The enlightened elite perspective became; Pollution yes – but not too much; Exploitation yes – but not excessive; Poverty yes, – but not starvation; Unemployment yes – but not permanent; Work related accidents and diseases yes – but with compensation and medication; Commercial warfare yes – but diplomatically moderated. Eventually, clean water and air acts; minimum wages legislation; legal entitlement to benefits (unemployment, child and housing); were implemented – as reforms – along with United Nations peacekeeping institutions.

The list could go on, but the reader will undoubtedly understand that even those limited 20th century reforms were mostly ineffective, that the symptoms noted have increased and also become global. The reason is simple. Modes of production controlled by elites can only be permanently reformed when the reforms benefit a majority of the elite. All others, particularly those which reduce the profits and wealth going to the elite, will be resisted, ignored, undermined, countered or exceptions granted.

Revealingly, the two world wars, (1914 – 1918 and 1939 – 45) noted in previous guides had their origins in the rivalry between capitalist nation blocs for control of markets and sources of raw materials. Whatever other rationalisations for these wars are offered in history books, (fictional and non-fictional) the nature of capitalist profit seeking, with industrial levels of production, required ever more markets to sell mass produced goods and ever more raw materials/energy sources to manufacture them. Despite the inauguration of the United Nations (peace-keeping) Organisation, armed conflict between capitalist economies for direct possession or proxy control of these resources, was (and still is) inevitable.

Nevertheless, between 1900 – 1945, after economic downturn, financial collapse, the two world wars and two major revolutions (Russia and China), a ‘new deal’, ‘citizen welfare’ section of the western capitalist elite reasoned that, ‘we must give the workers reforms or they will give us revolution’. Post second world war reforms and a reconstruction-driven boom period followed. Meanwhile the vanguard-led revolutions in the east, had turned into the surreal nightmares of Leninism, Stalinism and Maoism. That kind of authoritarian controlled revolution (plus the Fascist kind) was rejected by most western working people, white-collar and blue. Welfare reforms to capitalism seemed preferable and US lend-lease, defibrillated, European capitalism’s failing heart.

With the fear of revolution gone, the pro-capitalist financial elites of the later Thatcher/Reagan post-war era, guided the less profitable welfare capitalism into its neo-liberal phase. Thus humanity entered the ‘I’m leaving on a jet plane’ period of globalisation with its accelerated negative effects. Added to the ones listed above, were climate change, polluted seas and large-scale ecological destruction. Half a century after destroying much of the world with bombs, capitalism and its supporters were at it again – this time by excessive production, commerce and transport.

So capitalism has faced humanity with another existential crisis and surprise, surprise, it’s supporters have reintroduced the idea of reforming it!

Having progressively abandoned welfare capitalism as too costly and with a tame working and middle-class class hooked on the entitlement ethos of the right to consume ever more commodities, streaming services and holidays abroad, some pro-capitalist elites now suggest reforming capitalism into a eco-friendly condition. Green ‘growth’ is the latest mirage dangled in front of the influential middle-classes and those workers still entranced by conspicuous consumption, spin and deception. The hope is that capitalism, with some clever technological adjustments, can carry on mass producing far into the future.

This new, liberal extinction prevention vision for the future, is based on the following. That capitalism can continue creating profitable investment returns, with guaranteed salaries and pensions for the middle-classes, providing it churns out bio-degradable goods and services, using renewable energy sources and with tireless, non-waged, non-striking robots staffing factories, hospitals and care homes. When the rare minerals and earth elements required to manufacture such ‘brave new world’ technologies run out, then an even more deluded section of the middle-class (scientific) community are keen to send robotic space vehicles to dig out whatever is needed on the Moon, Mars or passing asteroids.

Currently, the capitalist systems advocates claim that it cannot afford decent wages, hospitals, schools, homes and care homes for everyone needing them now, let alone when the extra costs of producing future eco-friendly and non-polluting methods of mass production, transportation, consumption and refuse disposal are added to the balance sheets. And that is assuming capitalist industries of the future will do everything pollution free, regardless of the negative effects this will have on their profit levels. [Their past track record, even when heavily regulated, would suggest otherwise.] To my mind, imagining a future green Capitalism, with eco-friendly production methods is no further advanced intellectually than some early childhood musings, (rather than questioning), when told that the moon was made of green cheese.

Yet dozens of professors of science and astrophysics are jetting around the globe conferencing and planning future billion dollar (or Pounds or Euros) rocket propelled expeditions to excavate and return a few kilos of extraterrestrial, mineral-rich dirt. They seem to think this would be an economically viable activity for a humanity already on the verge of mass extinctions and ecological collapse.

I suggest that campaigns to reform capitalism, unless capable of triggering an anti-capitalist revolution, are nothing more than pie in the sky distractions. Advocating green-capitalism, is also an oxymoronic concept revealing that its advocates have sadly failed to understand how and why the capitalist economic and financial system of production will continue to dangerously mutate unless physically stopped.

Roy Ratcliffe (December 2019)

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BEGINNERS GUIDE 9.

On the Nation-State.

The term ‘state’ (or nation-state) is generally used to designate the various institutions, (parliaments, assemblies, legal bodies and enforcement agencies) created to govern countries. In every mode of production, representatives of the dominant class, along with their ideas, dominate the institutions of the state.

That is why nation-states are not neutral. Just as the Aristocracy (and their views) dominated Aristocratic state institutions, now the Capitalists (and their ideas) dominate the capitalist nation-state institutions.

States have numerous formal and informal connections to the citizens who live within their national boundaries. These connections operate through state laws, institutional practices and enforcement agencies. These links can extend to ex-Colonial acquisitions and past Imperial annexations, thus becoming broad and deep.

This mix of nation-state features represent a complex and often confusing interconnected network. However, the modern states relationships with its citizens can best be understood by considering two of its essential features. First; its sources of income and expenditure; Second: its political structure.

Sources of income.

It is obvious, that state institutions are not self-funding nor do they generate income by the production and sale of commodities. The states employees spend but do not economically earn or produce anything of non-state value. They obtain income from four primary sources; taxes and duties (which they impose), loans (which they attract) from individuals, groups, businesses and ‘aid’ from foreign governments.

However, the taxes of citizens pay for the bulk of the nation-states public buildings, its staff salaries, pensions and the grants they make. Payments, in the form of subsidies, benefits, grants, wages, salaries and interest payments, are re-distributions of money collected predominantly from citizens taxes, or from grants, loans and aid.

This bottom-up funding relationship between citizens and the modern state, gives rise to the idea that the states employees (bureaucrats, politicians, law enforcement agents etc.) ought be serving the interests of those who pay their salaries and pensions – ie the citizens!

So it often comes as a shock to tax-paying citizens when state employees are seen to be primarily serving their own narrow interests. Moreover, shock frequently spills over to anger when politicians and state bureaucrats use the states legal and penal powers against citizens who demonstrate against the policies of the states elite employees.

The spectacle of police using weapons such as batons, tear gas, pepper spray, Tazers and water cannons against peaceful protesters, can be a startling revelation to those, who through their taxes, have paid for the weapons used against them. The fact that they have contributed to the salaries of the uniformed ‘enforcers‘ wielding them, can also be a bone of contention when protesters are ‘kettled’, assaulted or imprisoned.

Furthermore, the fact that protesters taxes also go toward the salaries, expenses and pensions of the elite who ordered their rough ‘public order’ treatment can also be a shocking realisation. For in normal human transactions, if someone pays for a service, or contributes to the salaries of state employees they expect the needs of those who pay to be met.

Indeed, if we consider health and education services, we generally do get something we need for paying our taxes. The service in question may be above or below the value of tax-payer contributions, but this is still a ‘normal’ two-sided economic exchange. Citizens pay and normally expect to receive. That’s the economic form of social reciprocity. However, as we shall see parts of the nation-state are not a normal expression of social or economic activity.

Politics and the State.

Indeed, with regard to the state, there is frequently no reciprocity. Some state employees get money for doing nothing beneficial for the taxpayer. Others get extremely high salaries for judging and punishing unfortunate tax-paying victims of the capitalist system. Politicians and state officials get high salaries for doing nothing else but talk to each other – some for their entire careers! They also spend considerable tax-payer money on themselves.

When the political structures within nation-states are examined, the source of the huge contradictions mentioned above are revealed. Although the state takes money from practically everyone it can, it clearly does not serve everyone equally. Since the capitalist class, amasses great concentrations of wealth, it’s members can be (and influence) the employees of the state and elected politicians. Lobbying by industry, commerce and banking is more powerful, extensive and effective than any other sector of society.

Moreover, a majority of the officials ensconced in government (including those in Parliaments Senates and Assemblies, etc.) are drawn from the same groups who occupy elite positions in industry, commerce and banking – often from the same family. Therefore, political ‘lobbying’ is overwhelmingly the elite lobbying the elite on behalf of the elite.

This helps explain the way the taxes are apportioned (or eased) and spent. It also explains the political ‘revolving door’ of elite job swapping between finance, industry, commerce and government. The upper layers of the governing elite live in a wealth-saturated bubble funded by the ordinary citizens.

The real purpose of the nation-state elite is to perpetuate their own hierarchical positions at the top of the wealth pyramid whilst maintaining high levels of wealth inequality. When needing votes, they frequently employ a mantra of serving the public or national interests, but first and foremost they are serving their own interests.

In this regard, note the numerous examples around the globe of politicians and governmental officials deploying the most ruthless means of suppressing their citizens legitimate protests against austerity and poverty.

In practically every country, on every continent, the handling of the multi-dimensional crises of 21st century capitalism has provoked protest and demonstrations by the working, (and increasingly) middle-class, poor. Legitimate concerns have been met everywhere by uniformed men administering violent suppression and punishment simply for challenging the systems crumbling legitimacy.

Globally, politics amounts to – the nation-state versus the ordinary people. Why? The capitalist and pro-capitalist elite maintain order – with calculated violence – because it is their nation-state and their social order.

Roy Ratcliffe (November 2019)

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BEGINNERS GUIDE 8.

On Beneficial Association and Symbiosis.

There is a common, pro-capitalist distortion of what occurs in nature and society. A presumption exists that it is natural for elites to dominate and for the strong to rule the weak. However, not all human societies have been based upon hierarchical and parasitic class divisions. Yet since classed-based socio-economic systems now exist, they are often used to suggest that they must be ‘natural’.

Yet, nature does not create hierarchies nor rulers, just diversity. Indeed, in the natural world there are far more examples of classless beneficial associations (life-forms collaborating), classless symbiosis, (life-forms combining) and endosymbiosis (life-forms living within other life-forms) than there are of parasitism (life-forms detrimental to others).

Apart from rare mass extinctions, the prolific variety of life-forms existing and evolving over millions, perhaps billions of years, testifies to the fact that the planets eco-systems have been overwhelmingly beneficial to the initiation, maintenance and evolution of life.

Indeed, we now know that the smallest life-forms we can see, such as bacteria, lichens and fungi, etc., over millennia, have beneficially evolved both separately and together.

Moreover, with the invention of the microscope, it was revealed that there are living, sexually reproducing, co-operative plants and animals, previously invisible to the naked eye.

Originally, the relationships these microscopic living things (eukaryotic cells etc) had in the structure and functioning of all life of the planet remained something of a mystery. Early ideas were no more than imaginative constructions presented as biological fact.

Premature presumptions of knowledge occurred because, for decades, most biologists and naturalists were elite males imbued with patriarchal arrogance, class prejudice and a habit of dualistic thinking.

Even studying things they could see, most traditional ‘experts’ on the natural world merely confirmed their own male (often religiously based) prejudices. Some still do. This habit of only gathering favourable evidence is known as Confirmation Bias and is still a widespread habit passed down through the process of schooling.

Schooling is the inculcation of ideas, skills and attitudes which the elite wish the non-elite to have. The schooled are fed one-sided ideas by those in power ‘above’ them. They are then ‘examined‘ to ensure they will remember and never forget. In contrast, education, like good science, invites questioning, contrasting, de-construction and identifying contradictions.

When societies and nature are considered using unbiased methods, evidence is found that contradicts traditional understandings. For example; that women’s brains are not inferior to men’s; that the colour of a person’s skin does not determine how intelligent or relevant they are; and that nature is not entirely dominated by a fierce struggle for survival.

Once scientifically studied, numerous animals, birds, fish and insects are in fact found to co-operate with each other to their mutual benefit and only a minority of animals routinely kill.

Birds, fish and crabs, for example, clean parasites off larger fish, crocodiles, hippopotamus and lizards. Different species of animals graze together and alert each other to danger. Even bacterial organisms have been discovered beneficially associating. Furthermore, modern electron scanning microscopes reveal that the cells inside all living things, are made up of endo-symbiotic life-forms.

Such modern technology reveals that the microscopic life-forms which inhabit our bodies, such as mitochondria, plastids, cilia, gut flora etc., are (or contain) modified symbionts, whose ancestors once lived independently. Consequently, modern bacterial forms still share similar characteristics to those in our own internal cell structures.

Although we think of ourselves as a discrete species we are in effect an ensemble of millions of different living and co-operating cellular life-forms. As one evolutionary biologist, wrote;

All organisms large enough for us to see are composed of once-independent microbes, teamed up to become larger wholes. As they merged, many lost what we in retrospect recognize as their former individuality” (Lyn Margulis. ‘The Symbiotic Planet’.)

By abandoning Victorian patriarchal bias in ethnology, it also becomes obvious that for millions of years human groups existed as hunter-gatherers, pastoralists, animal herders and coastal fishers, all of which were insufficiently productive to support an elite.

Early human productive activity was therefore undertaken by (and for) the entire community – men, women and children. Moreover, food and necessary non-food products, were shared out among the community according to need, not to satisfy the greed of an upper class elite.

Outside of favourable agricultural locations, and for many thousands of years, most human groups, therefore remained, classless symbiotic communities. Most of them being matrifocal (female-centred) and matrilineal (parentage by female line).

However, those original patterns of shared benefits were overthrown when ‘civilisations’ were invented. Henceforth, armed elites forced slaves and agricultural workers to feed, clothe and serve them.

Yet, despite divisions and distortions, (maintained by the present war-torn, capitalist, system), humane and beneficial sensibilities still survive. Most of us still prefer fairness in relationships. The fact that under capitalism, this social preference for social symbiosis is not always upheld and people frequently feel ‘ripped off’ does not invalidate it’s evolutionary essence and continued desirability.

People can only feel ripped off, cheated, exploited or victimised as workers and consumers, because there is an underlying expectation that this should not be happening.

Therefore, the present stranglehold of the capitalist system upon humanity has not entirely choked to death the symbiotic essence of our species. Furthermore, co-operation and beneficial association frequently burst through the capitalist inspired norms of selfishness, competition, exploitation, prejudice and indifference – and not just among friends and families.

Latent forms of human symbiosis frequently emerge when people rush to support victims of floods, building collapses, fires, train derailments, famines, accidents and terrorist atrocities.

Disasters which bring out the best in humanity are actually revealing our underlying natural symbiotic essence. And of course, the current pattern of elite, profit-seeking form of capitalist production, is not the only way humanity can exist. Indeed, it needs rejecting – before its too late!

Examples of Disaster-Humanism indicate that symbiotic forms of sustainable production (and reproduction) are still in our species DNA and only need further activation.

Roy Ratcliffe (November 2019)

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BEGINNERS GUIDE – 7.

On Alienation and Addiction.

Previous beginners guides focused upon the economic structure and the ecological effects of capitalist societies. However, there are effects classed as emotional and psychological problems, which are actually bio-chemical body reactions to various stresses caused by the current socio-economic system. It has previously been pointed out that under capitalism the mass of workers have been separated from control of the main means of economic production and from the content and value they produce at work. This forced separation (or alienation) from a fundamental self-affirming form of human activity is a source of emotional upset and frustrations.

In general, species put as much physical and mental effort into securing their means of survival (food and shelter) as are necessary. The stop and start of this ‘necessary’ work was originally under direct individual or community control. Production stopped when enough had been produced. The documentary TV series ‘Tribe‘ fronted by Bruce Parry, illustrated that this pattern still existed in numerous pre-capitalist modes of production during the late 20th century. However, under systems of exploitation, such as capitalism, collective control of production was transferred to a separate class of owners/managers who determine what is enough. Furthermore, the general type and intensity of work for capitalist production, has become unnatural, repulsive and alienating.

Working for capital invariably involves long hours, stress, exhaustion, repetition, boredom, and often bodily harm. Working for capitalists has often become something to be individually endured rather than collectively enjoyed. Furthermore, even learning under capitalism is frequently stressful, depressing and isolating. It produces anxiety. Finding careers, jobs and a home for working people involves stressful competition. Conversely, lack of work under capitalism is also stressful, boring, demeaning and unhealthy. Capitalist domination of socio-economic activities has introduced multiple forms of ill-health, estrangement and alienation.

These numerous forms of alienation/competition/stress, create, resentment, anger, violence, intolerance, depression, illness and even suicides. Such symptoms effect all classes of capitalist societies, although the capitalist and pro-capitalists are compensated for what they endure. The symptoms noted above have spawned a whole range of professional workers (psychologists, psychiatrists, councillors, doctors) trained to treat the various symptoms as individual shortcomings, requiring 12 (or more) steps. Yet stress, emotional problems and illnesses are clearly more than individual phenomena in capitalist societies.

Nevertheless, when addictions are considered, the fundamental alienating contradictions and stresses at the heart of the capitalist mode of production are usually ignored. Many are classed as forms of individual physical or mental ‘weakness’. Gambling, mobile phones, computer games and shopping all have their share of allegedly ‘weak’ willed addicts. Even hobbies, sports training and religious sect membership can be addictive for some people. Is it not becoming obvious that some addictions are the body or brains method of coping with undesirable aspects of capitalist reality?

If we include addictions to political power, celebrity status and wealth accumulation, the list of addictions gets even longer. I suggest that addictions across such a wide range, presents itself as a social symptom not an accumulation of individual weaknesses. Furthermore, when drug addicts are asked what these addictions provide, an important connection to alienation emerges. Before addiction becomes habitual, escape from pain, stress, emotional hurt, abuse and boredom are given as reasons.

Overwhelmingly, hard-line addicts are coping with some extreme symptoms of alienation noted above. But, is addictive shopping not also a coping mechanism for some missing positive in people’s lives? Advertisements; ‘Because we are worth it’, tap into self-rewarding ourselves for feelings of worthlessness. Is habitual alcohol consumption not a means of coping with stress or a diversion from some ongoing unpleasant part of reality? Are the thousands of young people really addicted to computer games because they have individual weaknesses? Or are they perhaps entering a virtual world as an escape from harsh or empty realities of the real one?

In considering alienation, addiction and even some illnesses, is it not more accurate to conclude that it is the capitalist system, which is deranged and irrational, not those who seek regular solace from it? If we think about it, addictions and illnesses within capitalist societies could be rational or functional solutions to one form of alienating stress or another. Whatever, the side effects – addiction and illness in one of their forms – clearly works as a coping mechanism for millions of people. Perhaps, millions of ‘lone’ pensioners addicted to keeping the TV on 24/7 as a surrogate for the human ‘company’ they now sorely miss, are statistical reminders of the debilitating alienation at the core of capitalism.

Does this social level of understanding of the pressures within capitalism not explain why those who clearly know that their addiction is seriously injuring or killing them, find it impossible to stop? Is it not obvious that since, addicts cannot turn off the general or specific alienating impact of the capitalist system upon them, many will not turn off their addictive distraction – even if this means a shortened journey to death. Presumably, the less dangerous addictions also persist for essentially the same reason; that the alienating circumstances driving them also persist.

Interestingly, many early studies of pre-colonialist hunter-gatherer societies revealed a lack of economic and social alienation along with no widespread addictions. It was only when indigenous modes of production were destroyed by Colonialism and Imperialism and native populations were forced into the productive orbit of capitalism that debilitating addictions took hold. The alcoholic fate of numerous North American Indians and Australian Aborigines are the most widely known examples of such transitions from non-addiction to addiction.

Yet these, and other native populations effected, were not psychologically ill or emotionally unstable, before colonial invasions, nor after it. Like the rest of us – only more so – they were struggling with one or more of the forms of alienation spawned by the capitalist mode of production. Addictive behaviour initially offers a way to temporarily escape from capitalisms negative effects – as it still does for millions .

Roy Ratcliffe (October 2019)

For the long term health effects of stress and adversity see; ‘The Deepest Well’ by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris.

For addictions as symptoms of distress, see; ‘In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts’. By Gabor Mate`, pub. Vermilion.

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BEGINNERS GUIDE 6.

On Past and Present Labour.

It cannot be surprising that advocates of capitalism assert that economic production is totally dependent upon the investment of capital. Well, they would, wouldn’t they? However, that opinion advertises the superficial thinking among such apologists. It exposes an inability or unwillingness to look beyond the monetary surface of capitalistic economic activity. Despite the cliché and ‘Cabaret’ song; ‘money makes the world go around’ – it certainly does not. Appearances, (as with the sun appearing to go around the earth) often contradict reality.

‘Capital’ doesn’t make anything. It is merely an aggregated medium of exchange (ie money) used to purchase already created means of production such as buildings, machines, tools, raw materials and labour-power.

And, ‘Means of production’, whether simple or complex, are actually produced by workers applying energy and skills to various raw materials. Even digging out and processing raw materials for use in further production, requires the application of a set of tools (means) produced by labour in the past, and new labour in the form of digging. In reality, all means of production are the results of ‘Past Labour’.

NB. Under any social system, all production, including subsequent production, requires the coming together of ‘stored’ Past Labour and ‘expended’ Present Labour.

We know from earlier Beginners Guides, that under capitalism, the bringing together of these two separate stages, of production (means of production and labour-power) results – after a period of unpaid labour – in the creation of surplus-products. The value of these products or services – once sold – deliver a monetary return to the capitalist. So workers not only produce the means of production along with new products, but also create the surplus-products, containing surplus-value, which later becomes capital.

Beneath the illusion caused by the fetish status of money, and the complexity of the division of labour, capital only symbolises the monetised value of Past Labour. Indeed, consequently, ‘capital’ itself is the result of Past Labour – but stored in a socially agreed symbolic form – ie money! In further production, a part of this banked value and surplus-value – in money form – is used to purchase (not create) new means of production; whilst another part of it is used to pay workers their salaries or wages. In short; Past Labour enables Present Labour to continue to produce.

The relationship between Past Labour and Present Labour, described above is undoubtedly the original unity of the social productive process of humanity. It is only the intervention of ‘money’ and class divisions which help to obscure it’s fundamental connection. These, together with the hypnotic effect of ‘money’ can blind some professional intellects to exactly what is involved. To further illustrate this important point about production I offer the following general example.

If one day someone makes a fishing net out of material scavenged from a dump and puts it to one side until the following day. That object (the net) has clearly been the product of their past labour. If on the following day they take the net to the river or sea, cast it into the water and catch a fish, they have used their past days labour (the net) as a means of production along with their Present Labour of walking, carrying and casting, to produce a meal in the form of a fish. No money is involved!

This combination of past and present labour would also be the case if a group of people during one week constructed a boat, sails, nets, plus ancillary equipment and the following week used it to catch many fish. Past Labour (stored in the form of boat equipment) would have been used as means of production for the following weeks Present Labour of fishing. So before, beyond and after capitalism, production doesn’t actually need money or capital.

Despite the inability of those blinded by capitalist theoretical presuppositions, the real facts are indisputable. All productive activity is nothing more than the products of Past Labour being used by Present Labour to make (or in agriculture to plant and grow), what is needed or desired. As demonstrated above this fact becomes extremely obvious when production takes place outside of the complications imposed by the modern capitalist mode of production.

No matter how simple, protracted or complex the Past Labour has been, or the material form it takes, (ie from producing a loaf of bread, to making a Jumbo jet or launching a rocket to the moon) all current production requires the sequential combination of Past and Present Labour. And it is Labour which is carried out, not by the thousands of rich and powerful elites (nor the ‘capital’ secreted in their banks) but by millions upon millions of working people. To produce anew, workers actually only need a means of access to their Past Labour.

This fundamental  analysis is not taught in schools or disseminated in the media, because, most of the mainstream intelligentsia have never looked beyond economic text books or below the complex surface phenomena of social production. As with former religious elites and the sun’s orbit; unless challenged, self-serving assertions continue to distort our daily reality.

Those who have probed below this surface and capitalist ideological justifications have been generally ignored by the elite because such understanding reveals that the real producers of all wealth are working people. By understanding the underlying reality, rather than capitalist ‘spin’ and appearances, the huge differences in wealth between non-productive elites and workers is revealed as – shocking! Those who collectively create all the vast amounts of social wealth, (in whatever form) – also have the least of it!

Moreover, with this revolutionary-humanist level of economic understanding, the capitalistic underpayment, overworking and mistreatment of working people are exposed as bizarre historical injustices, needing radical redress. Add to that the pollution, ecological destruction and warfare the capitalist mode of production spawns and the case for a revolutionary-humanist transformation to a post-capitalist, ecologically sustainable, and humane based mode of production becomes all the more obvious.

Roy Ratcliffe (October 2019)

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SUPPORT THE KURDS!

Was anyone really surprised that Donald Trump, the current President of the USA removed military assets from North Syria, whilst sending more to Saudi Arabia? I wasn’t, because I didn’t buy President Trumps assertion that he wanted to disengage from costly foreign deployments. I reasoned that his assertion was a fig-leaf to cover his naked support for Turkey’s right-wing Islamic government. Mr Trump knew from his phone call with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the intent was to invade and colonise a section of northern Syria. So taking away US troops was giving the green light to Erdogan’s invasion. Does this make way for possible Trump Tower in Turkey, instead of Russia?

If you really want to cut military expenditure and reduce military casualties to a minimum then taking them out of all foreign countries and wars, not just some is how to do it. I was also sceptical when the President of Turkey announced he wanted to invade Kurdish held territory so as to provide a save haven for displaced people currently in refugee camps. There was clearly more to the invasion than that. It should be reasonably well known by now that significant sections of the Kurdish people have created secular forms of communities with real equality for women in all economic and social levels of society – including in the armed forces. In addition they have adopted policies to support cooperative modes of production, rather than capitalist ones and have pledged to promote ecologically sustainable living.

Thus the Kurdish people are doing the very opposite of what Erdogan and his pro-capitalist Islamic supporters have forcibly established in Turkey and wish to spread elsewhere.

It’s not hard to understand that the democratic, egalitarian, pro-feminist Kurds therefore represent the threat of a very good example of what is possible in the middle east and elsewhere. Indeed, the Kurds went even further than the above in promoting humanist values in opposition to religious dogma. They took a leading role in the struggle against the Islamic State when it was established in Syria. In fact they did more than most of us in the west. Women soldiers, alongside their male comrades, operated on the front line and fought to a standstill the throat-slitting, women-raping, soldier-burning, Islamic patriarchs of ISIS. What a wonderful example these people are – not only for those struggling against patriarchal kingship and dictators in the middle-east, but to all struggling humanity.

As the feminist author, Mona Eltahawy points out there is a considerable problem developing throughout the middle east.

“….regime-appointed clerics lull the poor across the region with promises of justice in the next world, rather than a reckoning with the corruption and nepotism of the dictator in this life, so women are silenced by men who use women’s faith to imprison them.” (Mona Eltahawy. ‘Headscarves and Hymens.’ Chapter 1 page 6.)

No wonder then that most right-wing pro-capitalist, religious and otherwise, have been happy (or content) to have the democratic forces of Kurdistan labelled as terrorists. And it is no wonder that the regime in Turkey wishes to eliminate them. This also goes some way to explaining why pro-capitalist and patriarchal elites everywhere have stayed silent or have dammed with faint praise the Kurdish Hero’s and Heroines in their battle against Islamic Fundamentalism. Recall also that a few years ago, on the back of a feeble and probably deliberately engineered coup, Erdogan’s forces ruthlessly tortured, murdered and removed all secular leaning democratic citizens in Turkey. Teachers, lawyers, authors, reporters, army personnel, state officials etc., we’re evicted from their jobs, communities and life itself.

Now Erdogan intends to do it all over again in Northern Syria. Ece Temelkuran, in her excellent book, on the demise of Turkish democracy, echoed the banality of evil characterisation of the fascist mentality. She reminds us that what happened in Turkey didn’t happen all at once but unfolded as a succession of stages each of which was regretted but not seriously opposed. She wrote;

“How and why Turkish democracy was finally done away with by a ruthless populist and his growing band of supporters on the night of 15th July 2016 is a long and complicated story………This is a historic trend and it is turning the banality of evil into the evil of banality.” (“Ece Temelkuran. ‘How to lose a country: The Seven Steps from Democracy to Dictatorship’. Introduction.)

So now instead of the ‘Me Too’ and Women’s Rights Movements, spreading across the East, we have hard-line religious patriarchy being rolled out across the region armed by the west’s arms suppliers. And this is being done with the active or passive assistance of economic and political elites in western capitalist countries. Moreover, this assistance is not only being implemented by the right-wing in these countries. Even liberal and democratic elites in Europe and the US do not want the example of an anti-capitalist, anti-patriarchal (such as the Kurds have introduced) to exist and flourish in Middle-Eastern countries. Hence their silence or crocodile tears over Turkeys new killing spree against Kurdish communities and their defenders.

It is important that elite manipulation and distortion of news and propaganda for Kurdish Independence and Self-Determination, to make out that it amounts to terrorism, does not go unchallenged. All those who are against patriarchy, capitalism and ecological destruction should speak out for the Kurds and demonstrate against the infringement of their human rights. The Kurds are not terrorists. In fact they are a brave section of humanity who are proving that another world is possible not only in words but in their day to day actions. They are at the forefront of the struggle for a revolutionary-humanist alternative to the capitalist mode of production and deserve our support.

Roy Ratcliffe (October 2019)

Recommended further reading:

Ece Temelkuran ‘How to lose a Country: The Seven Steps from Democracy to Dictatorship.

Mona Eltahawy ‘Headscarves and Hymens’

Abdullah Ocalan ‘Liberating Life: Women’s Revolution’.

PS. Below is a statement by the Kurdish fighters against ISIS. (RR)

PKK letter to the American people and President Trump

Turkish leaders believed, like so many tyrants throughout history, that they could crush the basic human desire for a free life with violence and terror. They branded us as terrorists and criminals and spent hundreds of millions of dollars to get other countries like the United States of America to do so too, even as their forces committed unspeakable atrocities in violation of all principles of international law. We signed the Geneva Conventions and asked for peace negotiations on various occasions since 1993, knowing that the war could end the second Kurdish rights were institutionalized. These efforts were ignored…As our movement and our people gave thousands of lives in this fight, the Turkish state that calls us ‘terrorists’ did nothing to stop the ISIS extremists that were terrorizing innocent civilians across the world. The Turkish state has attacked Northeast Syria with greater ferocity today than they ever did when ISIS plotted international attacks from territory just across their border. They have sent terrorist gangs affiliated with al-Qaeda to torture and murder the people who defeated ISIS. They see the simple articulation of Kurdish identity as a greater threat than the groups that targeted innocents in not only Sinjar and Kobani, but Paris, Manchester, and New York City… We are not guilty of terrorism; we are victims of state terrorism. But we are guilty of defending our people. We believe that the American people will be able to judge for themselves who the dangerous terrorists of this world are.
Posted in Anti-Capitalism, Critique, Fundamentalism, Patriarchy, Revolutionary-Humanism | Tagged , | 1 Comment