As a description of a political leadership in the 21st century, the above title could be applied to the leaders of any number of countries addicted to the capitalist mode of production. Trump, Bolsonaro, Erdogan, Assad, bin Salmon, Putin or any number of other global southern leaders spring to mind. However, this week (3 March 2022) it was used by Martin Wolf to describe Liz Truss Kwasi Kwarteng and the latest gang of incompetent UK cabinet members. I have often heard the expression that ‘a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing’, particularly when it is in the minds of arrogant persons. This is because they often think their partial understanding gives them more wisdom than the average person. This danger has been evident for a long time within the British political class in general and among the last few Tory governments in particular,. However, this last week or so it has surfaced with a vengeance.

Nevertheless, although these particular elite representatives of humanity are certainly dangerous and perhaps bad, it is not actually madness that is being displayed by all the above named characters. It is the perceived class interests of the global rich which have clashed with the general interests of the rest of their populations. Historically all ruling elites have had to present their own particular interests as the same as the interests of the general population. In most cases they are definitely not. In the case of the UK this autumn, these interests have clashed sharply and crudely.

The new Tory gang of two were true to their class agenda in deciding to enrich the already super rich by cutting their tax burdens and letting them pay themselves as much as they see fit. However, being superficial dabblers the Liz/Kwasi crew did not foresee the repercussions of interest rate increases and the knock on effect of increased mortgage rates and payments. This decision then became a below-the-belt blow to the middle class mortgage holders in general and in particular those who are also Tory voters. In this case, the interests of the rich clashed too openly and savagely with the interests of the British middle class. Although, they have now done a mini ‘U’ turn on their supposedly mini budget, this will, not be enough to regain any misplaced trust they had within their own party, nor will it regain any misplaced trust the general public had in Tory governments. This particular conservative coterie from the UK ruling elite are dead politically even though like zombies they still haunt the corridors of UK power.

Their replacements whether from the left, right or centre, will fare no better for the little bits of socio-economic knowledge, spread – ever so thinly – across all the political spectrums of the capitalist mode of production globally, is insufficient for them to comprehend that the old/new game is up. The post Second World War political settlement of welfare capitalism in the west, has foundered on its own neo-liberal successes. In the UK Thatcher, with her privatise everything, delayed the inevitable by successfully representing the interests of the rich as being the same as the middle and working classes. British workers being allowed to buy their council houses and shares in privatised gas, electricity and water etc., made it appear that capitalism provided benefits for all. That short-lived mirage created by the pillaging of publicly created utilities, is now over. For decades, an inevitable rift has been growing between the interests of the rich and the increasingly impoverished majority made up of the working classes and the lower middle classes.

In addition, the new Liz/Kwasi gig (plus supporting tribute acts) think they are fooling the people with handing out cheques to help with fuel bills. In fact this money is going directly into the pockets of the beneficiaries of the private utility companies. All the help given to the poor and struggling (as with Covid payments) is actually on its way to help boost the incomes and profits of the already rich. In this way, working people, even when not working, are being cynically turned into rent collecting relay agents for passing on more public wealth to the already obscenely wealthy.

Meanwhile, the current global end-game – as long as it lasts – will be in the form of occasional sporadic growth in production and productivity where fewer and fewer workers will be capable of, but not able to produce more and more goods and services for which there will be fewer and fewer buyers. The super rich already have as many homes, planes, cars, and yachts as they need and are not going to buy more just to employ working people nor will they employ enough ‘domestics’ to compensate for all existing redundancies and those still to come. In many so-called ‘advanced’ countries the working poor and the non-working poor are already stood in long food bank queues and clutching hot water bottles at home to keep warm. Even those in low paid employment will not be eyeing up non essential goods of utility let alone those of relative luxury.

Although the rich and super rich stupidly think they are wonderfully successful when in fact – by their conspicuous consumption – they are actually more than just helping to ruin the planet, they are celebrating and encouraging it! Nevertheless, they are not so stupid as to invest in production ‘growth’, when there is no general economic basis for it. Even during capitalist determined slumps, there will always be a need for considerable economic activity to feed, house and clothe population majorities and this activity may fool those easily fooled (such as those in number ten) but not everyone. For a near subsistence level of economic activity is not the same as capitalist inspired ‘growth’, which requires substantial profits as its motive for production.

Furthermore, modern profit based production methods no longer need huge factories, massive office blocks, numerous docks and mines, thousands of small, farms – all staffed by hundreds and thousands of working people. So the employment numbers game has also changed in this regards also. There may be a few occasional hot spots of economic growth here and there in the future, but with the world in general facing air, land and water pollution, floods, fires, wars, terrorist attacks, extreme climate events, shortages in food, energy and redundant jobs, most people will be hunkering down and when not protesting will, where possible, do their best to just survive.

That most people are at least dimly aware that the post-war, welfare-state game of monopoly capital has changed was evidenced this week here in the UK. Some rich people publicly spoke out saying they did not need or want more tax breaks and that more should be spent on the poor. No doubt some of those along with their more astute political representatives are aware that close to starving people are capable of uprisings and rebellions when things get too bad. So the former may suggest accepting some reforms in order to avoid civil disorder and/or potential revolution.

But here again it is no longer about the banker dishing out more money and the rest of us throwing the dice in an attempt to buy houses and hotels to rent them out for a parasitic income. The monopoly board we are now being invited to play on has itself changed. The economic system is in existential crisis and the ecological imbalance and pollution of the planet means that more and more people are finding themselves stuck in places of deprivation and devastation not places of opportunity.

Roy Ratcliffe (October 2022)


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(That is the question!)

In the guise of two world wars (1914-18 & 1939 – 45); several financial crashes (1929 & 2008); Arctic to Antarctic global pollution (2015 – ?); a world Covid pandemic (2019 – 22); a world climate crisis (2021- ?); a world migrant problem (2015 – ?); a world food shortage (2022 – ?); and a coming global economic recession (2023/24), reality is once again demonstrating that history is no longer the independent history of nations, but world history. Even Putin’s one-nation, emaciated copy of Hitler’s Blitzkrieg bomb and blast Lebensraum land grab in 1939, although now close to collapsing, has triggered further global shortages of fuel and food and increased global poverty. As in 1938 one nations attempted annexation – also with grain fields in mind – becomes a world problem and world problems require world solutions. Not one of the nine crises noted above could be solved or even moderated on the basis of national politics.

Yet the political and governing elites in every country know of no other type of action than looking after their own class interests and persuading their own national electorate to support them in vain attempts at national revival. Typical in this latter regard is the newly formed tribute band of Tory (Thatcherite/Johnsonite) vultures occupying number ten Downing Street in the UK. Downing is an apt street name for ‘down’ is exactly the direction it’s successive occupants continue to send a majority of the population both young and old in the UK. In contrast the new crew are rapidly leveling-themselves-up by guaranteed state salaries, expenses, pensions and any shares they and their families may have trust-funded out of sight.

The confidence trick Truss and her gang of pillaging political pirates are trying to pull on the electorate is transparently thin. It is that by further enriching the rich in the middle of a deepening world recession, they will increase the production of goods and services. In their Truss’ed up amateur imagination this is supposed to create more sales, more jobs, more salaries and wages and more taxes. In theory when such top-up funding of the rich works (and it rarely does) it creates a so-called ‘trickle down’ effect. So a torrent of wealth at the top is supposed to ensure a few drips find their way to those at the rock bottom. However, a hoped for booming national capitalist economy – anywhere – requires a booming world capitalist economy, and there isn’t one.

Consequently, no astute capitalist, extremely rich or moderately rich is going to invest in production of anything if there are too few people on the world market able to buy the increased production. Consequently any extra funds the rich get given will be stashed away in ‘offshore’ savings or used for financial speculation. The only ‘trickle down’ effect ordinary people are likely to get over the next few years will be the kind that comes with ‘oops’ moments between the legs, as muscle control let’s go at the sight of an un-payable energy or rent bill.

The Hitler, mark two version, (Vladimir Putin) who in absolute control of an armed nation, this year demonstrated the massive contradiction between an economic system based upon global capitalism and socio-political systems based upon hierarchical nationalism. The national elites globally have all set up systems of governance where only the unity of combined masses of people can possibly stop a ‘leader’ from causing class wars, local wars or even potential world wars, yet these same elites also ban the masses from even protesting let alone organising to prevent yet another world war.

The rest of the world’s elites and their followers can do nothing to stop Putin except add to the existing climate destroying (and planet polluting) weapons capabilities of themselves and Ukraine and leave the Ukrainians to die defending their homes. The only checkmate to Putin’s threat of nuclear warfare, the rest of the world’s elites can offer, is to threaten their own nuclear retaliation in what could possibly become a world war three showdown.

Of course, radical problems require radical solutions and radical global problems require radical global solutions, but not of another world war kind. More and more people are coming to the conclusion that radical solutions are required, but these conclusions are being reached in the straight-jacketed context of nationalism. People are turning away disgusted at their traditional political elites and seeking radical politicians. But these radical left and right nationalist politicians, (from Trump to Bolsonaro and Italian Brothers etc.) mainly represent disaffected elements of the middle class and therefore, cannot solve international problems.

This is because, they are part of the problem of nationalism not part of an internationalist solution. It really is impossible to radically solve problems caused by a system you personally wish to govern and preserve it. Besides which, solving the main problems caused by the capitalist mode of production has already been variously tried by all nationalist politicians globally (left, right and centre) between 1945 and 2008. Not one of the political parties could solve them or they would have been solved already.

Only a mode of production based upon an international association of egalitarian communities could ensure that scarce resources were shared out so that everyone in every community had enough to survive adequately, whilst not undermining the quality and quantity of air, water, soil, insects, plants and animals. For these are the material foundations of all human activities economies and cultures. Proposing such a mode of production may sound Utopian and unrealistic but I suggest it is even more Utopian and unrealistic to hope that the present mode of production, governed by elites whose main purpose in life is to become richer, are even remotely capable of sorting the many problems we now face.

They prefer to carry on looking after ‘number one’ and building the rocket powered equivalents of Victorian ‘follies’ then crashing them into asteroids or to send people to Mars. They prefer to whoop and cheer for such arrogant and inhuman high level expenditure rather than whooping and cheering after making sure that every human being on earth has enough food, energy and housing to keep them safe, secure and content. And as the climate crisis deepens they would sooner self-indulgently explore other planets rather than ensuring the planet that has given them life retains a sustainable ecological and climate balance.

Fulfilling such a humane perspective toward all ‘life on earth’ maybe impossible at the moment and also be difficult to achieve at any future moment. However, it is the only logical way to ensure the long term survival of the human species and many other species, in a manner befitting highly intelligent organisms. Humanity has so much talent, energy and potential wisdom that to continue to use these attributes destructively rather than constructively will be a tragedy of unparalleled proportions. The history of previous empires spread over several thousands of years suggest that the elites in control of them continued to prop them up and absorb the benefits until the systems collapsed due to an accumulation of their own internal contradictions.

Those in control of the present empire of neo-liberal capitalism are likely to do exactly the same, whilst squabbling among themselves as to which geographical bit of the empire is to be the most dominant portion. Whilst it is true that ordinary people are fairly powerless at the moment to help revolutionise the mode of production, but we are not powerless to revolutionise our thinking. Being critical of the present system whilst proposing radical egalitarian-based inclusive solutions is itself a necessary prerequisite toward establishing (in practice) an alternative future – whenever a paradigm shift or system collapse allows it.

Roy Ratcliffe (September 2022)

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As one of the most extremely privileged human beings on earth parted these mortal coils – at one of her many luxurious homes here in the UK – it was possible to simultaneously witness the most abhorrent and degrading human spectacle imaginable. The entire official ‘establishment’ of the UK got down on its intellectual knees and all but grovelled emotionally at the memory of the pageant and palatial extravagance displayed during the life and death of Elizabeth the second.

The hypocrisy on show by the UK elite at this moment is already outstanding, and there are many more ritual events and indulgent eulogies yet to come. We only need consider the unnecessary deaths of ordinary citizens from Covid19, who warrant only a roughly painted heart shape on a bare whitewashed wall, and compare that with the present and coming funeral pomp and spectacle, to recognise hypocrisy in its most blatant Anglo-Saxon form.

The false pretense of virtue by the UK elite in all their various manifestations, (political, legal, economic, military, religious and media) has been starkly revealed by the death of a person whose family once –  in the distant past – designated itself as royal. These ‘royals’ are in fact human beings, biologically just like the rest of us, but who have lived their entire lives in the most extravagant parasitic luxury.

Moreover, that luxury is paid for by the taxes and rents of the poor and low-paid workers who are actually essential to the society they live in. In contrast, royalty, apart from unenlightened pageant and spectacle, are only actually essential to themselves. That is why most other countries in the world have told their royals to leave their palaces to the people and go and get a proper job and start to really ‘earn’ a living, rather than living off the efforts of others.

Furthermore, when comparisons are made between the few minutes of UK silent remembrance for poor young soldiers killed in defending royal privilege during two world wars and the servile hyperbola gushing from the trumpeting throats of the high and mighty, the level of disgust recently stimulated by party gate hypocrisy will hopefully be exceeded.

It is worthwhile remembering that no one in the UK voted to support a royal family and a royal estate covering multiple palaces, castles, houses and their extensive and exclusive grounds. These particular parasitic people were foisted upon us by appointment, activated by the type of aristocratic and political elite, who are now genuflecting over the death of a woman who had enjoyed a complete lifetime of utter indulgent privilege.

This current elite, knows the rest of us are facing existential crises of various magnitudes, yet they will now orchestrate an expensive funeral and celebratory events as a convenient distraction from their general self-indulgent incompetence.

This, as much as anything, sums up the complete social bankruptcy of the privileged classes, here and elsewhere and the servility of those who sheep-like bleat a thoughtless echo of elite cant and hypocrisy. Their socioeconomic system is collapsing around them, with essential insects, animals, plants air, seas and water either exterminated or polluted daily 24/7, all done in the process of maintaining systems of wealth and privilege.

The essential working people, who keep everything moving in the UK public and private infrastructure, are facing heating poverty, food insufficiency, job and home loss and illness, yet the elite here still prefer to put most things on hold whilst they loudly celebrate and humbly worship, the past and present ancient systems of hyper privilege. These are obsolete ‘traditions’ to which they now cling like fretful children clinging onto a comfort blanket or threadbare teddy.

Roy Ratcliffe (September 2022)

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Well another excruciatingly long pantomime of choosing a UK Prime Minister is over and the three ringed circus acts of political illusionists, intellectual acrobats and media clowns can get back to business as post-Covid19 ‘unusual’. Undoubtedly they are all hoping for (some even promising) an eventual return to pre- Covid levels of business as usual. The choice by the Conservative Party members of ‘Liz we Truss’, just about sums up the socio-economic consensus of all the left, right and centre parties of the political establishment in the UK and elsewhere. The contestants for this prime office in the UK only differed in minuscule details. Indeed, in the UK, Liberals, Labour, Tories and Greens all agree ‘economic growth’ is the answer to everyone’s woes.

Economic growth is the logical Emerald City mirage to which all political parties committed to capitalism wish to lead us. If the rest of us can be persuaded to follow them down the twisted, pot-holed road of economic growth, we are promised a bright future. Of course, as Liz Truss and her support team warn us; there will be some ‘pain and grief’ along the way, but if (as Dorothy told her ‘over-the-rainbow’ companions, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion), we commit wholeheartedly to the journey we will be eventually rewarded. Not necessarily with renewed hearts, brains and courage though. Meanwhile, the new-deal Dorothy’s in number ten, have promised to introduce measures to ‘take the edge off’ the painful journey.

Advised by the real life financial Wizards of Oz, the companions of ‘In Liz we Truss’ and her political supporters will therefore remove business restrictions, reduce taxation for the rich, provide grants, loans and handouts for their high finance and big business supporters and ease the burden on small businesses. Workers will have to become more efficient ( harder) and stop striking to keep their wages and salaries high enough to survive reasonably during the ‘painful’ journey ahead. Of necessity, these real life spreaders of illusions in number ten will also try to make sure the very poor don’t starve or freeze to death during the journey; because death rather poverty itself, is too embarrassing for wealth-saturated countries to become to visible.

Everybody else will once again just have do their best to adjust to another period of prolonged austerity. But that should not be a surprise, because haven’t we been on the same or a similar journey before? Didn’t a previous Dorothy ‘over-the-rainbow’ avatar named Margaret Thatcher, invite us to join her on a similar journey to another promised Emerald City some decades ago? Didn’t that ‘growth’ agenda also involved campaigns against strikes, for more economic growth by automation, for removing the regulation of what business and finance could do, for buying your own council house and for privatising all utilities.

I distinctly remember the invitation even though I personally rejected it! That socio-economic Yellow Brick Road, growth journey was supposed to lead to a wonderful bright Emerald City future wasn’t it? But wait! We never got there did we? And isn’t there now more low pay and precarious employment? Isn’t there more poverty, more crime, more drug dealing, more pollution in the air and on land and in seas? Is it not a fact that our seasides and rivers are more clogged up with chemicals, plastics and pharmaceutical products, than existed before we were marched down Margaret’s less than enticing version of the mythical Yellow Brick Road?

Isn’t it time we began to fully understand and accept that ‘growth’ under the system of capitalism means more and more production, more and more waste, more and more pollution, more and more climate change, more and more species loss, more and more ecological imbalance, more and more poverty, fewer and fewer well paid jobs, along with less and less security in our homes and around the world? Is it too much to ask of a species with so much brain power that it can do all sorts of amazing things to halt what it is doing daily and seriously study the bigger picture?

What humanity and the rest of ‘life on earth’ needs, is less growth, less wealth disparity, less production, less pollution, less climate change, less species loss. In other words the world and all its species need less capitalism. I suggest that it is time for not just a change in the political Dorothy’s, Lizz’s and Boris’s who click the heels of their polished footwear and invite us to keep going in their preferred direction. Is it not time for a change in a system whose elites keep insisting that in order to survive we need to constantly repeat previous journeys along imaginary Yellow Brick Roads, in the hope of some day encountering a benevolent wizard?

Roy Ratcliffe (September 2022)

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A frequent facile argument emanating from capitalists and their political supporters is that protecting the environment is too costly and will be detrimental to the economy. I heard it several times this August 2022, from a number of politicians and commentators on UK Radio and TV. Such facile opinions indicate a level of ignorance and self interest, which is breathtaking. In fact to state the reverse makes far more actual as well as logical sense. In other words, not protecting the environment will be detrimental for the economy! For it is a fact, obvious to anyone who seriously thinks about it; that without the natural world, that is to say without the inter-dependence of the inorganic material and organic material of the planet along with the myriads of species of ‘life on earth’, which actually make up the ‘environment’ – there would be no economy.

At their most basic level, economies are not fundamentally understood by reading economic treatise or considering reams of statistics. Nor are the primary functions of economic systems a means of making rich people richer. Although in the advanced capitalist countries those economies have been manipulated and distorted to do exactly that. However, beyond such distortions, successive economic systems are the way human beings have obtained the things they need to survive from the environment (ie from nature) and to reproduce their own species. The cycle of Nourishment, Rest, Growth, Reproduction, Ageing and Death (N-R-G-R+A-D) of each individual – within all species – depends entirely upon taking in and digesting organic and inorganic material produced and refined by other life forms existing within ecologically balanced global environments.

And, of course, at least since the time of the Cambrian explosion, the earth’s environmental balance has continued to evolve over many, many millions of years. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to ensure that this environmental/ecological balance – the foundation of all human economic activity – is protected by all of us and retained for the economic welfare of our current generation and for future generations. So whenever, we hear anyone placing the needs of the economic system in opposition to (or higher than) the need of protecting the environment, we are hearing a mixture of extreme ignorance and/or immense self-interest. Of course its often difficult to grasp the scale of the problem.

“Humans can’t truly grasp how much we have degraded the natural world because our baseline—our concept of what’s natural—shifts with every generation. For centuries, humans have been diminishing the natural world: the decimation of central Europe’s forests in the eighteenth century, the disappearance of grizzly bears from California in the early twentieth, melting glaciers in Switzerland, Iceland, and Peru in our current era. Today we live in a world that contains a fraction of the vast abundance of other species Earth once held…” (Erica Gies. ‘Water always Wins’ Section, (Human Blinders,) Chapter 1.)

So to assist those few who struggle with the complexity of modern economic and biological, class-based misinformation, the following is the environmental basis of all economic life on planet earth: Water vapour, having been drawn up into the skies by the heat of the sun, falls as rain (or snow) and ice melting in mountainous regions also conveniently lets water go were it flows naturally by gravity down rivers and streams into lakes and seas. In warm conditions, often during spring and summer, when any accumulated mountain snow and ice melts, this adds to the constant supply of water by precipitation. In normal times, this frequently occurs, just when it is most needed by plants and all kinds of ‘life on earth’. Water, essential to all life, tumbles down river slopes gathering minerals as it goes and floods valleys and estuaries, and enriching soils by mineral deposition.

Most of us tend to take all the above (and much more) for granted but we frequently overlook the fact that all of the above is done without any economic activity by any form of human or organic life and without any payment being made to anyone. This cost free climatic process of liquid and mineral dispersal is largely determined by the earth’s orbit round the sun and its rotation about its notional axis. The economic experts and capitalists neglect to make this clear when they eventually charge us for something that has cost humanity nothing or almost nothing to produce. The climate and environment is an active life-support system that planet earth donates to all ‘life on earth’ and it does so every orbit.

Furthermore, the sun shines at no cost and plants and algae absorb it as energy and they also absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide and with inorganic substances and photosynthesis grow and release oxygen back into it. Again all this occurs with no human effort and at no financial cost. In other words, as we shall see, the planet and organic ‘life on earth’ on a 24/7 yearly process continues to do the major part of the economic activity needed by humanity and other organic life-forms – gratis.

Consequently, for millennia, the bulk of ‘life on earth’ was, economically speaking, able to live and breathe for free. Even when humans started planting crops in fields or breeding cattle and sheep on farms, beyond planting and reaping or herding and slaughter, a combination of environmental ‘life on earth’ and the planets orbit round the sun enabled the cost-free growth and nutrition of all these ‘domesticated’ foodstuffs.

Moreover, the myriads of forms of ‘life on earth’ continue to thrive on this natural planetary support system and start to grow and develop, by themselves, thus providing their own cost free sources of plant nutrition. This organic plant nutrition comes in the form of grasses, leaves, nuts, fruits, roots, tubers and grains for insects, animals and humans to consume or utilise in other ways. Until all land was privatised, all that ‘life on earth’, needed to do for multiple millions of years, whether it was strong, weak or average, was to push down its roots into the soil, or get up on its legs, or oscillate it’s fishy tail or flap its feathered wings and collect this land-based or water-based nutrition and supplementary materials free of charge.

For hundreds of thousands of years of evolution, the hominid species, survived and prospered economically just by the easy task of waking up after resting and gathering what nature provided at no economic or financial cost to their communities. Consequently, for most people in pre-history, (and those globally prior to the bourgeois colonial period throughout history), getting enough food, water and shelter was never a convoluted struggle needing an 8 + hour work day to obtain them.

Therefore, rare exceptions aside, living was not a desperate struggle to survive. But now, in most countries, the bulk of humanity have to work all day (if they can get it) and pay landowners and other owner/rentiers to obtain from them (and/or their ‘agents’) the nutritional products, water and basic materials they need to survive. Moreover, millions of human beings in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, are barred from obtaining all of these basics even though these means are still being provided annually by the planet and the environment – for free.

So who first came up with the idea and practice that certain people could own huge parts of the planets ecological environment with it’s associated ‘life on earth’ support system and charge others for these cost free productions? And who came up with the idea and practice that such ‘owners’ (sic) of land and nature could permanently restrict access to it in general and even decide to pollute it or burn it down – if they so wished? Furthermore, was it the same class of people, who invented the myths that living on planet earth was a life and death struggle and that only the fittest had the legitimate means to survive and prosper?

The next article on this blog will examine some bourgeois intellectually constructed fictions, such as the assertion that planet earth – in the guise of nature – has made it a difficult struggle for ‘life on earth’ to exist; when clearly it  hasn’t. In this latter regard, the flawed hypothesis of ‘survival of the fittest’, and evolution as a result of the abstraction ‘nature’, ‘selecting’ which life forms will be the fittest to survive – as expounded in the petite-bourgeois ideology of evolution by ‘natural selection’, will be critually considered.

Roy Ratcliffe (September 2022)

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One of the most profound and insightful contributions Marx made to understanding the problems facing the human species was not derived from his detailed economic research in the 1850s and 1860s. It was by delving below the idealised surface categories of bourgeois political economy and after critically appraising Hegel in the early 1840s, that he identified humanity as having been alienated and estranged from living as a fully integrated social species. Moreover, during that early period, he concluded that humanity was a species originally at one with itself and with nature. His initial philosophical and economic analysis of the capitalist mode of production, revealed the following;

1, That most human beings were now alienated or ‘estranged’ from the results and purpose of their own productive labour. That what workers collectively produced no longer belonged to them but to their employer. 2, That land and nature was increasingly owned/controlled by individual land owners. Thus working people were estranged from their direct metabolic connection with nature. Consequently they were alienated from their natural/historic right to live from the land. 3, That instead of cooperating with each other to produce what they needed to live, most working people had now to compete against each other for employment. Thus they were also alienated from each other by this enforced competition.

In short; the original social solidarity of the human species surviving as a natural egalitarian community had been replaced by individual competition for individual survival within a hierarchical political community.

Marx pointed out that to overcome these three forms of historic alienation and estrangement, humanity needed to revolutionise their mode of production in order to 1, regain humanities fundamental social essence by collectively deciding what and how we produce the things we need to survive. 2, return to a positive, symbiotic (sustainable) balanced relationship with nature and 3, to return to the egalitarian social essence of the human species by socially or communally ensuring adequate, integrated and appropriate support for all individuals.

In this regard, we should note, therefore, that Marx was not responsible, either ideologically or practically for the alienated and alienating authoritarian societies set up by Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao and their equally misguided supporters. Indeed, revealingly, Marx (in his own words) was also “not a Marxist“. If anything Marx’s views were consistently revolutionary-humanist as can be discovered by studying his 1844 manuscripts and the Grundrisse. When digging deeper into the question of alienation, he started from first principles of a biologically based understanding and used the term generally accepted at the time – ‘man’ – to represent humanity as a whole. In doing so he correctly asserted that;

“Man is directly a ‘natural being’. As a natural being and as a living natural being he is on the one hand endowed with ‘natural powers’, vital powers – he is an ‘active’ natural being..a limited creature, like animals and plants. …But man is not merely a natural human being: he is a human natural being….Therefore, he is a species-being, and has to confirm and manifest himself as such both in his being and in his knowing.” (Marx. Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844. Third Manuscript. Section; ‘Critique of Hegelian Dialectic’.)

In other words being a human natural being meant that humans have the knowledge that they are inter-dependent species beings, made up of societies of social individuals – with limited natural powers. This means humans are dependent upon their collective intellectual and physical powers to survive and function responsibly. Consequently, human beings need to openly acknowledge and confirm this social fact and act and behave (manifest it) in full accordance with it.

And then referring specifically to capitalism, Marx elsewhere wrote the following;

“In this society of free competition, the individual appears detached from the natural bonds etc. which in earlier historical periods make him the accessory of a definite and limited human conglomerate.” (Marx . Grundrisse. Introduction.)

And in another context;

“The view of nature attained under the dominion of private property and money is a real contempt for and practical debasement of nature.” (Marx. On the Jewish Question. )

And, elsewhere;

“To make land an object of huckstering – the land which is our one and all, the first condition of our existence – was the last step toward making oneself an object of huckstering. It was and is to this very day an immorality surpassed only by the the immorality of self-alienation.” (Marx. ‘Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy.)

In other words, from Marx’ revolutionary-humanist perspective, it was immoral to make the first condition of human existence – nature (land and seas) – the object of forcibly buying and selling (huckstering). He considered it was a form of immorality surpassed only by the immorality of one part of the human species fully or partially enslaving the other part, or the species becoming a self-alienating species.

In researching the available writings of political economists at the time, (in the Grundrisse and Theories of Surplus value, around 1861/63) he decided to define the concept of production differently than most bourgeois economists. Not as an aggregate of individual activities but as socially organised and socially determined activity. Thus;

“The object before us, to begin with, material production. …Individuals producing in society – hence socially determined individual production – is, of course, the point of departure” (Marx. Grundrisse, Introduction.).

The results of Marx’’s economic studies finally appeared in nearly finished form in the three volumes on ‘Surplus Value’ and with the those which became known as Das Kapital. He only lived long enough to oversee the publication of the first volume of Kapital and his friend Engels published the second two volumes from Marx’s extensive notes. Having read all the three volumes of Kapital twice, I concluded that Engels was not as accomplished as Marx in economic understanding and saw the revolutionary task for humanity somewhat differently. However, having analysed capitalism in great detail, Marx recognised – among many other things – that mass city living was a serious problem;

“Capitalist production, by collecting the population in great centres, and causing an ever increasing preponderance of town population, on the one hand concentrates the historical motive power of society; on the other hand, it disturbs the circulation of matter between man and the soil, i.e., prevents the return to the soil of its elements consumed by man in the form of food and clothing; it therefore violates the conditions necessary to lasting fertility.” (Capital Volume 1, page 505. Emphasis added RR.)

And therefore because of this, the mass feeding of hierarchical mass societies, was a fundamental problem and also because it introduced a class based compulsion to dominate and exploit nature. Consequently;

“…., all progress in capitalist agriculture is a progress in the art, not only of robbing the labourer, but of robbing the soil; all progress in increasing the fertility of the soil for a given time, is progress toward ruining the lasting sources of that fertility…..This mode is based upon the dominion of man over Nature.” (Marx, Capital volume 1 page 506 and page 513.)

From these few quotes (and many others) it becomes clear that for Marx, the main subject of his thinking was humanity, and the objective was its internal re-balancing within its own species and an external re-balancing with nature. In other words, for Marx, humanity was the main subject and Nature (ie. ‘life on earth’) was the main object.. Although studying the following categories exhaustively, his main concern was not for economics, politics, history or philosophy. The latter areas of knowledge and practice, were necessary for a comprehensive understanding but the purpose of that understanding was completely different than that of the bourgeoisie. Das Kapital, Grundrisse, 1844 Manuscripts, etc., were the intellectual means for seriously understanding the capitalist mode of production and the need to overcome the historic alienation of the human species from its egalitarian social form and from nature. Thus he remarked that;

“Once society has has succeeded in abolishing the (ie. the current RR) empirical essence…huckstering and it’s precondition..and practical need humanised…the conflict between man’s individual  sensuous existence and his species existence has been abolished.” (Marx. On the Jewish Question. Emphasis added. RR.)

In other words, in class divided societies, the conflict between a persons existence precariously experienced individually and the necessary social character of humanity as a species, needs to be abolished. Once individual practical need has become fully humanised and recognised as the essential characteristic of human communities, competition and conflict over resources, will be ended. The existing de-humanised economic system where some human beings have far more than they need and some human beings have less than they need, needed to be abolished. And Marx then adds;;

“Only when the real, individual man re-absorbs in himself,  the abstract citizen, and as an individual human being – has become a species being in his everyday life, in his particular work, and in his particular situation – only when man has recognised and organised his ‘forces propres’ as social forces, and consequently no longer separates social power from himself in the shape of political power, only then will human emancipation have been accomplished.” (ibid)

Marx here points out that human productive forces are not individual forces but social forces which require multiple contributions from hundreds or thousands of individual human beings. That is the actual social content and reality of human production which needs to be recognised. This is a fact which is disguised by the individualised purchase and ownership of the means of production – through the medium of capital – and the individualised ownership of the results of that social production. Only when more of humanity consistently recognise that we are species beings – and act as such – will human emancipation be eventually accomplished.

Therefore, if Marx was correct on the solution to the problem posed by the capitalist mode of production, and I consider he was, then the historic task of modern humanity is to overthrow the the existing system and return humanity to its natural egalitarian internal relationships as social beings and restore its original symbiotic relationship with the rest of ‘life on earth’ or nature. However, the question then (and now) was who was capable and motivated enough among humanity to both advocate and carry out this revolutionary transition? The class that benefited from this alienation, the capitalist class and their supporters, had the power and influence to begin such a process but no direct incentive to even consider it.

However, European Capitalism had by that period created a world market in its own socio-economic image and with it a world proletariat. This world working class, due to their numbers, social position and persistent oppression were the only ones with the motive and means to actively consider this revolutionary transformation. The task of those who understood this need intellectually, therefore was not simply to interpret and understand the world as it was, but to go further and help change it. (as he noted in his ‘Theses on Feuerbach.’ in 1845)

The above noted historic task of ending the estrangement of humanity therefore resolved itself into helping the proletariat, first; by providing the intellectual tools to understand the capitalist mode of production (as in Das Kapital) and, second, how mass societies might be reorganised to produce the necessary metabolic needs naturally and return humanity to being fully socially active as species beings. As explained in the Gotha Programme; Grundrisse, Das Kapital, Civil War in France – Paris Commune etc.). Since workers at the time were congregated in factories, mines and fields by the thousands it was reasoned that they should be able to identify and communicate their common problems and recognise the need to act together to radically change the system. (Hence, the formulation, “Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains.”)

Using the socially acquired technological and scientific advances made during the capitalist mode of production, humanity could then ensure that adequate food, clothing and shelter was available for everyone working and by only working for a short duration of time. This would be a return of mankind to its social self and to nature. It is obvious that all the other species of ‘life on earth’ do not create elites who become rich whilst others work for them 9 – 5. Most other species simply produce enough to live comfortably. Humans once did so and could do so again. And in view of the earth’s finite resources, a return to a more naturally based economic way of living would not only correct the imbalance within humanity and between humanity and nature .

Moreover, a return to more ecologically balanced productive activities would leave sufficient time and opportunity for people to develop other interests and skills such as culture and knowledge. Proposing this theoretical perspective seemed a rational suggestion at that particular period of time (and even later) and therefore Marx put enormous efforts and many years of his life into analysing and explaining as many aspects of the problem for humanity as he could. He did so in the realms of economics, finance, politics, philosophy and history. However, in the real world of 19th and 20th century practice the actual circumstances did not conspire to cause that form of revolutionary transition to be fully understood or to occur, as was noted at the beginning of this part 1.

Yet the problem of reversing; ‘the supreme practical expression of all human self-estrangement’, (as Marx also described the current system of capital and wage-labour) still needs solving in the 21st century. The illusion that politics, religion, nationality and the state formations, around the world, represents ‘the people’ and thus represents the human species, still holds sway. And that illusion, although weakened, still needs dispelling. The arenas of Politics, Religion, Nationality and the State clearly represent the ‘filtered’ interests of a narrow ruling class based section of human communities and the species. It is a global class of elites whose members are daily instigating economic, financial, political and military measures which result in a war against nature, wars against other communities and class wars against their own citizens. Here again; no other species of ‘life on earth’ does that! No other species of ‘life on earth’ also commits genocide against other members of its own species or other species!

Meanwhile, the rest of suffering humanity is rendered powerless and divided while planetary life on all continents and in all seas, slides or sinks into existential crisis. As the task to end such wars within wars still faces humanity, we need to understand the extent to which this human self-estrangement (alienation) still persists and its knock on effects in the rising physical and mental disease cases among the human family. Furthermore we need to consider whether the actual means suggested by those in the 19th and 20th centuries (such as Marx and others) are still relevant.

So if Marx is essentially correct, in his analysis of ‘estrangement’ and ‘alienation’ (and I consider he was), the task of humanity remains to re-establish a synchrony within our own species and between us (humanity) and the rest of nature (ie. the rest of ‘life on earth’). As a species, we need to assist each other and nature to maintain a self-regulating ecological and environmental balance which is sustainable in the long run. But how to achieve this still remains a problem. The industrial working classes, are no longer congregated in huge factories, offices, warehouses, mines and fields and are no longer organised in huge trade unions. Even when they were, for the masses as a whole, class consciousness, never became much higher than obtaining satisfactory wages or salaries within the existing capitalist system.

The so-called middle-class political vanguards of the 20th century, who wished to change things and lead the exploited to better conditions, never went beyond faith in the ability of science and technology to increase the levels of industrial/automated mass production. To do so they retained the basis of wage-labour exploitation and the domination and exploiting of nature – all within a system ruled by a political hierarchy. Exploited and oppressed humanity, was urged at that time to dispense with one bourgeois political form of mass society alienation and exploitation – capitalism – and campaign for other petite-bourgeois mass society forms, such as communism, socialism and fascism. And of course, the wars within humanity and wars against nature continued. It should be obvious that simply, changing the name of an alienating and estranging economic system, does not eliminate alienation and estrangement. That requires more than a radically sounding name change.

It has been said, in regard to the 19th century, that Marx, was too enamoured by the productive power of scientific and technology allied to industrial methods of production, to anticipate that this same power would endanger the ecological balance of the planet. It is true that globally damaging the atmosphere, soil, water, climate and all life forms by industry and commerce was not then obvious and therefore insufficiently understood. Nor was the fact that the very powers of scientific and technologically driven production could actually undermine the foundations of the capitalist mode of production itself.

But that lack of understanding is still the case in the 21st century, when climate change, ecological damage and widespread pollution is common knowledge. If wide-spread pollution and extinctions were not sufficiently envisaged by Marx, he can hardly be blamed without also condemning ourselves. So the accusation of an excessively high regard for bourgeois inspired science and technology, by Marx is not strictly true. As we saw in part 1 above, after reading Liebig and others he concluded that the capitalist mode of production, would be self-destructive if left to pursue it’s own course.

Nevertheless, he did seem to assume that science and industry in the hands of a fully humane social species would adapt it’s production and methods to a more natural and sustainable relationship with nature. Such an outcome, in theory could solve the problem of exhausting natural resources just to keep forms of industrial ‘progress’ and ‘profits’ ticking along for the better off. But of course, that didn’t happen and such theoretical projections – no matter who makes them – are no guarantee of their practical implementation. Nevertheless, it was certainly the case that Marx was enamoured by the concept and practice of mass society living, because that is where he considered “real development begins”, for humanity. Thus he wrote;

“…mere hunting and fishing peoples lie outside the point where real development begins” (Marx. Grundrisse.; Introduction, section 3. Emphasis added. RR)


“Those ancient social organisms of production are, as compared with bourgeois society, extremely simple and transparent. But they are founded either on the immature development of man individually, who has not yet severed the umbilical chord that unites him with his fellow men in a primitive tribal community, or upon direct relations of subjection.” (Marx. Capital Volume 1 page 79. Emphasis added. RR.)

These two extracts suggest that Marx was not entirely immune to the bourgeois idea that humanity was on an imagined journey of progress from its mythical origins in family based, post-primate pre-history, through ancient city states and countries, on to modern capitalist nations and then even further to;

“…the great transformation to which the century is moving – the reconciliation of mankind with nature and itself.” (Marx . ’Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy’.)

The reconciliation of mankind with itself and nature was still the primary concern for Marx and should be for any really intelligent species, but the actual transformation still alludes us. Overall, these extracts suggest he considered that the ancient pre-agricultural forms of production were not just technologically different from the modern – but socially inferior. Also the term; “the immature development of man individually” seems to contradict his correct categorisation of humanity as an evolved and evolving social-species. Life on earth in the form of Hominids have been a succession of natural and socially evolved species before, during and after the long transitions to Homo habilis, Homo erectus, and Homo sapien. In fact, Hominids were a species of animal life which by their sapien stage had developed tool making, expressive language, intricate facial expressions, art, music and crafts.

By the hunter-gatherer stage of evolution, humans had refined all the above six categories of social life to a considerable degree. So in reading Marx critically and comprehensively we have encountered Marx, expressing something of a glaring contradiction. Capital and the bourgeois system of production were considered by Marx to have been combined in a progressive mode of production compared to previous ones, but at the same time capitalism was utterly destructive of the welfare and well-being of the bulk of humanity and potentially much of life on earth. Although we need to always remember, that Marx was no set-in-stone dogmatist and constantly updated his extensive knowledge as he did further research.

Furthermore, he frequently modified his ideas if new evidence came to light contradicting anything he previously thought and wrote. Plus we need to bear in mind that much of the material later published in the 20th century were unmodified notes of personal summary, clarification and alternative interpretation. They were written by Marx in the 19th century and were not meant to be published. We should therefore be cautious in condemning these provisional contradictions, but we do need at least to openly recognise them when we find them. Even the very best intellectuals are not hero’s or gods, but fallible human beings. Thus, for example, when we read the following extract, even his fervent admirers, I suggest, are required to point out its shortcomings and it’s linguistic links with 19th century bourgeois forms of prejudice.

“Since we may assume that pastoralism , or more generally a migratory form of life, was the first form of the mode of existence, not that the clan settles in a specific site, but that it grazes off what it finds – humankind is not settlement-prone by nature (except possibly in a natural environment so especially fertile that they sit like monkeys on a tree; else roaming like the animals..”) (Marx. Grundrisse. Notebook 4. Emphasis added RR.)

The first few lines are more or less accurate generalisations of hunter-gatherer and pastoral people’s, but the analogy of humans in fertile regions sitting like monkeys in trees or roaming like the animals are typical 18th and 19th century bourgeois inspired forms of exaggerated assumption and prejudice. It is prejudice based upon the fictional creation of imaginary alternative evolutionary categories of humanity called ‘race’. Sadly it is a form of pejorative discrimination against sections of the global human species which survives into the 21st century among some layers of modern society. But it was obvious then, as well as now, that monkeys in trees do not tell stories, create symmetrical flint tools or decorate caves and cliffs with art and of course four legged roaming animals do not light fires, make reed and wicker baskets or dance and sing around camp fires to complex percussive rhythms.

Interestingly, Marx clearly recognised that the prior servitude of the medieval labourer was the starting point for the development of wage-labour and capital, along with the capitalist and the capitalist mode of production. The change from one mode of production to the other he argued was merely a change in the form of the elite and this servitude. This change in the form (and not in substance) is an important observation, but it was certainly not the first case as he seems to imply when he stated:

“The starting point of the development that gave rise to the wage-labourer as well as the capitalist, was the servitude of the labourer.” (Marx. Capital. Volume 1 page 715.)

For the actual historical record indicates that the servitude of labour in Europe and the Mediterranean area dates back to the early forms of agricultural based, hierarchical mass societies of the Near and Middle East. And that was several thousands of years before capitalism, not just a few hundred years previously in feudal medieval times of peasant and serf servitude. Slavery, and other forms of non-free labour were structural parts of the hierarchical mass societies of Summer, Babylon, Egypt, Assyria, Persia, Greece and Rome. The actual embryonic starting points for wage labour and capital as forms of servitude was much further back in time.

Any substantive historical role-call of aggressive, conquering, enslaving city states and regional empires, will require a modification to the historical dating of the process which ended the natural, evolution of humanity as an egalitarian social species, respectful and considerate of each other and ‘mother’ nature. Furthermore, the forced transition between a naturally and socially determined egalitarian wandering hunter-gatherer human species to a settled hierarchical agricultural human species was not fully accomplished in the so-called ‘New Worlds’ of Africa and the Americas, until the 20th century. And there are still 50 or so pockets of intelligent, capable, sophisticated hunter – gatherers in the 21st century. (See for example, the entries in the ‘Cambridge Encyclopedia of Hunters and Gatherers’.)

So it was not actually the capitalist mode of production which first severed the original natural social bond between the human species and nature or created the existential antagonism between individuals within the human species. That had already been done. It was the formation of hierarchical mass societies throughout the near and middle east, four, five or six thousand years ago which severed these natural bonds for near eastern European humanity.

Indeed, the rest of the globe, with a few exceptions, continued with the traditions of relatively small socio-economic bands and tribes of hunter – gatherers and pastoralists until the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, when European based colonists and capitalists forcibly conquered and dispossessed or exterminated them. These pre-colonial global bands were naturally and socially inter-dependent human beings who were part of an entire and globally spread social species; and one with a wide variety of socially created and perfected skills.

Marx toward the end of his life began to do further research on this question which he recorded in some rare notebooks; (the Ethnological notebooks and the London notebooks,). However, these sources are difficult to obtain; Why? I only managed to borrow a rare copy of the first named before having to return it without being able to make extensive notes from it. Nevertheless, there are enough references to humanity and nature in his easily obtained published works. There is also considerable modern research on climate change, ecological destruction, pollution and poverty for subsequent generations of revolutionary-humanists to outline a clearer picture of the dislocation of humanities natural symbiotic socio-economic species essence and capitalisms destructive relationship with the rest of ‘life on earth’ or nature in general.

Already, there is considerable literature and knowledge with regard to the need for sustainable growth and ecological sustainability, but it must be said this knowledge has produced very few practical results other than tinkering with partial and temporary solutions to pollution and to ameliorate ecological damage. As long as capital, interest and profit are the dominating concerns of the hierarchical elites within modern mass societies all else will be addressed half-heartedly or neglected. Either the current system will need to be overthrown, as previous generations once hoped, or more likely, it will have to collapse around our future heads from its own internal contradictions.

In the meantime, scientific knowledge and technological expertise – even if it’s representatives wanted to – will be unable to prevent further alienation and extinctions. This is because nature and life on earth, from minute viruses and cells, to plants, insects, animals and humans, is far more sophisticated, far more intricate, far more inter-dependent than any human intellect can individually or collectively fully comprehend, let alone repair or replicate when exterminated.

Roy Ratcliffe. (June 2020)

[PS. I am currently at the stage of rough drafting a book looking in more detail at the changes to life on earth in general (and human created extinctions in particular), from the period when European humanity commenced living in hierarchical mass societies.. if any reader would be interested in reading the provisionally entitled chapters (see them below in brackets) and assist in making it suitable for publication and for a generally available and free download in 2023, please contact me at Or leave a means of contact on the comment section of this blog.

(Provisional contents: Introduction; Chapter 1. The non-organic elements; Water; Air and Minerals: Chapter 2,  Cells; the living building blocks of all life on earth: Chapter 3. Soil; the roots of most mineral nourishment: Chapter 4. Plants; organic food for most of life on earth: Chapter 5. Insects; pollinators, mini diggers and tiny protein lunches: Chapter 6. Animals; Vegetarians and Carnivores, the latter absolutely needing the former: Chapter 7, Humans; a) pre-mass society symbionts; and b) mass society parasites: Conclusion.) ]

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In 2020, the outbreak of the COVID19 Pandemic, forcibly demonstrated that the capitalist mode of production had not only created a world market in theory, but in practice had made its production, sales-distribution and pollution an integrated and interdependent whole. The whole globalised human life-support system in the 21st century, depended upon the ‘just-in-time’ arrival of components and raw materials in each nation or the system of production was in danger of grinding to a halt. Any delay or break-down in this interdependent supply chain and many people would not be able to eat, clothe themselves adequately, cook any food they managed to obtain, heat or cool their homes, acquire needed medicine’s and much else. For decades, capitalism had long outgrown the limitations of the nation state and had become fully global.

Prior to this 21st century demonstration of the fragile dependency of countries on long and expensive supply chains, it had at last been admitted, that the global climate, ecology, and resources were suffering exponentially, with lethal consequences from the same globalised industrial production and distribution. Moreover, problems; food shortages, financial melt downs, ecological destruction climatic changes and epidemics could no longer be combated locally or nationally. These facts indicate that the limits of capitalist production and distribution methods motivated by profits have been reached. Further expansion is neither physically possible or socially desirable. Any disruption or breakdown in its integrated system of production, distribution and consumption causes life threatening crises everywhere, not just in and around the location of the disruption.

Yet trying to keep this integrated system working, as most capitalists would like, invites further, pollution, ecological damage and climate change. The capitalist mode of production has plunged humanity into a socio-economic Catch 22. The contradiction between national based ruling elites trying to benefit most from controlling large sections of a global system of production, distribution and consumption, has long led to conflict between national elites resulting in two 20th century world wars. Yet this struggle is again manifesting itself everywhere in 2020. Elites, in China, Russia, US, Europe and UK, are currently seeking ways to gain economic, financial, military and political advantage over each other. Some by invasions others by one-sided economic of financial deals.

This problem of economic competition and the struggle of nations conducted by their elites, was partly understood by politicians of previous generations, some of whom came up with the idea of having planned economies on an international or global scale. It was felt that individual or oligarchical capitalists and capitalist countries should no longer be allowed to decide things for themselves and thus create international crises and essential supply breakdowns. The global capitalist system, they thought, needed discipline and planning.

The 20th century radical politicians who suggested solutions to the previous century of anarchy of  global competition fell into two authoritarian categories; Fascists and Communists. Both these political tendencies wanted a planned, integrated world economic and political system with themselves at the head of it. Hitler and Stalin tried for a time to achieve such a dream/nightmare before they were stopped after much killing and destruction. Yet their world government megalomania was not an isolated case. As we shall see, some notable characters of that 20th century generation even thought such a world system was an essential part of humanities historic ascent (!). For example, a Russian revolutionary intellectual, Leon Trotsky wrote;

Mankind is impelled in its historic ascent by the urge to attain the greatest possible quantity of goods with the least expenditure of labor. This material foundation of cultural growth provides also the most profound criterion by which we may appraise social régimes and political programs. The law of the productivity of labor is of the same significance in the sphere of human society as the law of gravitation in the sphere of mechanics.” (Essay on ‘Nationalism and Economic Life’. Leon Trotsky)

The first sentence reveals Trotsky as not only having abstract idealist formulations in his head at the time but essentially having the same view on production as modern neo-liberal capitalist economic experts – albeit minus the profit motive! According to Trotsky, the historic ascent of humanity involved creating “the greatest possible quantity of goods” for the least costs in labour – on a global scale. He even suggests that the bourgeois socially created phenomenon of productivity of labour is as significant to the sphere of social life as the natural phenomenon of gravity is to the sphere of mechanics.

Clearly Trotsky mistakenly thought that the real natural world, could be constructed so as to conform to the imaginary world constructed in his brain. Yet Trotsky obviously understood that this imaginary global economic scenario was also implicit in the general ambition of die-hard Fascists. He also endorsed the struggle that every ‘normal’ capitalist is engaged in; “...the struggle for the greatest productivity of labor.” Moreover, Trotsky also looked forward the;

“…progressive task of how to adapt the arena of economic and social relations to the new technology.” (ibid)

Yet, adapting “the arena of economic and social relations to the new technology” in the 20th century was done by all capitalist countries and by the authoritarians Lenin, Stalin and the later Bolsheviks in Soviet Industry, agriculture and warfare. Gulags, the unintended draining of the Aral Sea and the intentional killing millions of peasants and dissidents (including Trotsky) were the results of adapting economics to technology, during its Soviet implementation. Automation and artificial intelligence has now been adapted to the modern arena of economic and social relations and this adaptation is also killing people, animals and also damaging the planets air, seas and eco-systems.

Both the Fascist and Bolshevik ‘whole world in our hands’ ideas for the future of mass societies were based upon hierarchical control of economic and social production by ruthless sectarian political tendencies. The object of global control being to solve the anarchy spread by liberal versions of international capitalism. Such authoritarian control would be exercised regionally at first and then used militarily to conquer the world. Only then – after all the death and destruction done to accomplish it – the final task would be to feed the world according to the plans of an expert led, world economic forum. And, as Trotsky with his own whole world framework in mind, asserted;

“Only in the historic framework of world development can we assign fascism its proper place.” (ibid)

Really! The only way to assign a right-wing authoritarian form of world governance to its proper place, is to create a left-wing, authoritarian form of world governance? It is not hard to recognise that this notion of an historic ascent and world economic development based upon the greatest quantity of products – no matter who concocted it – was a bourgeois male fantasy to be imposed upon nature (ie. all life on earth) – if given the chance. It was the product of 20th century elite imagination freed of any regard for the holistic needs of human producers, and consumers.

It was also the product of an imagination lacking an evaluation of the already disastrous effects of industrial production upon other life forms, ecological resources, climatic change and air, sea and land pollution. Yes of course, humanity needs a revolutionary solution to the contradiction between production for mass societies, the current (and any future) disparities in wealth and the potential exhaustion of the resources used to achieve this production. But really! Simply by the greatest possible quantity of goods with the least expenditure of labor – under a different name?

In the future, complete self-sufficiency may not be achievable or even desirable for countries and people’s, but expensively transporting practically everything across oceans and skies and polluting everything as it moves is unsustainable. Indeed, more and more production of unnecessary self-indulgent stuff whether produced by clean (!) electrical or atomic (!!) energy is the opposite of what is needed for the future. A human species that wishes to be sustainable needs to get back to basics; ie. adequate individual, Nourishment, Rest, Growth and Reproduction, (N.R.G.R.) for all human beings (with the emphasis on adequate not ostentatious) and achieved at production levels which sustain the ecological and climatic conditions needed for the rest of ‘life on earth’ which supports us to adequately survive.

Roy Ratcliffe (June 2022)

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The much delayed full report on Party Gate and Pandemic Restrictions by Sue Gray has finally been published and predictably it does not reveal much more than most people already knew or had already guessed. Yet, this mis-named full report is not actually a full report as the civil servant Sue Gray admits. For, she writes;

“….once the police investigation had commenced. The Metropolitan Police investigation had primacy. I have taken the view that it would not be necessary, appropriate or proportionate to undertake any further investigation work…” (Point 16 of the section ‘nature of investigations’ page 5. PDF version )

So Sue Grays investigation into Partygate antics throughout the pandemic was self terminated and what we have now has been admitted to be a less than full report. However, it is still worth making some comparisons between what has been revealed about how the ‘establishment’ conducted itself during the pandemic and how the bulk of British citizens responded to the restrictions placed by the government upon everyone in the UK. Sue Gray, a career civil servant was anxious to support the general contention that the government and senior politicians were doing their very best in unprecedented and difficult circumstances. She writes that;

In particular, No 10 Downing Street and the Cabinet Office were at the centre of the Government’s response to the pandemic. Tight knit groups of officials and advisers worked long hours under difficult conditions…” (section 27 ‘Context’. Page 7. PDF version.)

This statement on ‘context’ fails to address the fact that a government policy document existed on how to systematically handle a pandemic. A pandemic of the resulting Covid19 magnitude had been anticipated since the previous SARS outbreak years earlier. This emergency policy document had considered and anticipated the responses needed if a pandemic should arrive. This comprehensive document was ignored, while this “tight knit group of officials and advisers” made regulations and recommendations up as they drank and partied their way through the months of restrictions and lock downs. Meanwhile the front line essential workers, ill advised and under-protected also ‘worked long hours under difficult conditions’, but sensibly and responsibly did not get drunk in “tight knit groups” at their place of work. Indeed, in the very next paragraph the author of the report feels the need to state the obvious.

“Those challenges, however, also applied to key and front line workers across the country who were working under equally, if not more, demanding conditions, often at risk to their own health. It is important to remember the stringency of the public health regulations in force in England over the relevant periods and that criminal sanctions were applied to many found to be in breach of them.” (ibid point 28 page PDF version)

Yes indeed; front line workers in hospitals, care homes, schools, super markets, and those staffing sewage works, transport services and much else, were working in much more demanding and dangerous conditions. Furthermore, front line workers were being paid a fraction of the salaries that those living it up in Downing Street and elsewhere. Nor were essential workers looking forward to “lots of fun” (as was expressed in a number 10, 14 May 2020, Internal Events Team memo. Reproduced on page 10). And regular drinking and bringing your own booze, whilst at the workplace performing essential work, was not on their agenda. Moreover, these essential workers were agonisingly staying away from celebrating (or even consoling) loved ones at birthdays, weddings and deaths. For;

Gatherings of two or more persons indoors and more than six outdoors were prohibited. An exception permitted gatherings that are reasonably necessary for work purposes“…(page 13. PDF version.)

The ‘Leaving’ Events.

What follows are just six Partygate extracts from the Sue Gray report, there are of course 24 in all, but these few give the flavour of the rest.  

“The event itself began shortly before 18.00 on 20 May 2020. It has been difficult to ascertain exact numbers in attendance, but it is likely that there were approximately 30-40 people in the garden.” (page 12. PDF version.) 

“On 18 June 2020 over 25 people gathered for the first formal part of the leaving event with speeches which took place in the Cabinet Room, including No 10 official (1), Dominic Cummings and Simon Case, the Permanent Secretary for Covid and the Pandemic Response in No 10.”(page 15.PDF version.) 

On 27 November 2020; “There were approximately 15 to 20 people in attendance, some of whom were drinking alcohol. As well as some people from the Press Office, a number of senior officials, private office staff and special advisers attended the event.” (page 19. PDF version.) 

“Approximately 20-30 staff gathered in the canteen at around 17.00 on 10 December 2020. Staff had been invited to bring their own refreshments, including a suggestion in the invitation that those joining should bring their own bottle.” (page 21 PDF version.) 

“On 17 December 2020 a leaving event for two No 10 Officials (³No 10 Officials (1) and (2)´) took place in No 10 in the Pillared Room. There were speeches, including from the Prime Minister and senior officials, and alcohol. Approximately 20 people attended. “ (page 26. PDF version.)

 “On 17 December 2020 a leaving event took place for Kate Josephs, a Director General in the Covid Task force, and an official from No 10. The event took place in the Cabinet Office in 70 Whitehall and was attended by 20 to 30 officials, including senior officials, from No 10 and the Cabinet Office.” (page 27. PDF version.)

It is interesting and informative to note that at this senior governmental level, ‘leaving’ events for employees, at the height of the pandemic, allowed unrestricted numbers of colleagues to say goodbye to people – still alive – as they departed from their jobs. In other words for them leaving celebrations went on as pre-Covid ‘normal’. These leaving events were complete with lashings of booze, bonhomie and more. Whilst at the ordinary citizen level, family members whose ‘leaving’ or in many cases final ‘departure’ was from life itself, were restricted to how many could visit them (often none) and in what manner (some through a window) their last goodbyes could be allowed.

An All Night Party.

A further ‘leaving’ event took place on 16 April 2021 and then turned into an all-night party.

Shortly before 21.30, there were over 20 people present in the garden, with a number of bottles of alcohol……Some individuals remained in the building and carried on drinking alcohol until the early hours. Exit logs indicate that some left after midnight and others between 01.45-02.45. Two members of staff stayed later still, with one leaving at 03.11 and the last leaving at 0.430.” ( Page 35 PDF version)

[200 party invites; getting drunk; sick on the floor; wine on the wall, being rude; a damaged swing: Oh yes! I remember such ‘freshers’ nights at university! I didn’t realise you could run the country at the same time though. RR]

Sue Gray’s Conclusions.

Among her eight conclusions I highlight just three.

 “2……that a large number of individuals (83) who attended these events breached Covid regulations and therefore Covid guidance.” (page 36. PDF version.) “5. I found that some staff had witnessed or been subjected to behaviours at work which they had felt concerned about but at times felt unable to raise properly. I was made aware of multiple examples of a lack of respect and poor treatment of security and cleaning staff.” (Page 36. PDF version.)

“5. I found that some staff had witnessed or been subjected to behaviours at work which they had felt concerned about but at times felt unable to raise properly. I was made aware of multiple examples of a lack of respect and poor treatment of security and cleaning staff.” (Page 36. PDF version.) 

“8. Many will be dismayed that behaviour of this kind took place on this scale at the heart of Government. The public have a right to expect the very highest standards of behaviour in such places and clearly what happened fell well short of this. It is my firm belief, however, that these events did not reflect the prevailing culture in Government and the Civil Service at the time. Many thousands of people up and down the country worked tirelessly to deliver in unprecedented times. I remain immensely proud to be a civil servant and of the work of the service and the wider public sector during the pandemic.” (Page 37. PDF version.)”


It is clear to anyone capable of and willing to join all the dots, that the picture of governance traced during the entire pandemic period has been one of political and bureaucratic self – serving indulgence. These elite characteristics have been combined with personal and institutional incompetence and matched with an inability to be honest and accountable for ones actions. Failures with PPE, failures with test and tracing, emergency cash doled out to business buddies, vaccine hoarding with false claims of its effectiveness, disrespect for ordinary working people, double standards with regard to Covid regulations, and when caught out – a denial of any transgressions.

The capitalist system is disintegrating and the ‘establishment’, (in politics, judiciary, police, civil service and military) have closed ranks and are in damage limitation mode – only admit what you have to and keep close to the money and perks. Occasionally saying sorry, pretending to be ‘humble’ whilst arrogantly staying in office – when exposed as the problem which is preventing community solutions – is the thick skinned reflex of the modern political and bureaucratic classes the world over. However, in or out of office, a political class, over reliant on alcohol, which is downed at every opportunity, seems to be a UK phenomenon.

But no one really needs to fake surprise at this litany of elite failure and arrogant privilege. It is merely par for the course. What the UK elite have exhibited this pandemic (and over decades) is no different in essence than what every elite has done in the global, mass society communities of the 20th and 21st centuries. It was the case pre-Covid, during Covid and will continue post – Covid. Indeed, this pattern of behavior has always been the case – in all hierarchical mass societies – both ancient and modern. Ever since these top-down mass societies began, there has been one rule for the rich (which includes the governing elite) and another for the poor and the working classes.
As long as we – the classes essential to the functioning of the modern world – put up with this system and continue blaming each other for our problems, this pattern will continue.

Roy Ratcliffe (May 2022)

For a copy of the full Sue Gray report see;

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The savage war ordered by Putin against the people of Ukraine has demonstrated that atrocities as barbaric as those perpetrated by all sides in the first and second World Wars of 1914-18 and 1939-45, are being repeated in 2022. Despite now a having a designated category of ‘crimes against humanity’, the 21st century world is as powerless as the ancient BCE populations to stop deranged individuals seizing control of political and military power and letting loose the dogs of war. This modern ability of elites to force a section of the populations under their control to seek, kill and destroy the citizens of another community, is a continuance of the actions of city states and empires dating back to the ancient middle and far east.

Since, the splitting of human communities into classes, several thousand years ago, the class that dominates and rules, has retained sufficient punitive power to ensure that all other classes obey them in all matters. This includes ensuring the obedience of decisions to forcibly conquer and control territory not under their immediate control. However, it is so much against nature in general and human nature in particular, for living beings to engage in mass murder of other living beings that even powerful elites are required to invent reasons to do so. However, unlike, Darius, Xerxes, Alexander, Solon, Nero, Hannibal etc., (his ancient counterparts), President Putin, was able to publish his reasons for territory grabbing in Ukraine on the Internet. And unlike the subservient slaves and peasants of those ancient empires we modern working class plebeians can actually read and understand them.

In his 18 page view of Ukraine and his justification for wanting control of it the President of Russia enlists his understanding of history and asserts that;

“Russians and Ukrainians were one people – a single whole…Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians are all descendants of Ancient Rus,….At the same time, both the nobility and the common people perceived Rus as a common territory, as their homeland.” (page 2)

First of all it is ridiculous to claim that even Russians are one people, let alone Russians and Ukrainians. It is common knowledge that the whole area from the near east to the far east has, over thousands of years, been settled by people from India, Asia, Persia, Assyria Arabia, Mongolia etc. Migrations on that continent went to and fro during the early formation of the regions city states and empires. Furthermore, Ukrainians are not descendants of Ancient Rus either. Ancient Rus is a descriptive historical term not a biological lineage and so Rus does not have descendants. Indeed, there is no community comprising of a one people, or a single whole peoples – anywhere on the planet – let alone on the Asian hot-house plateaux of competing and inter – breeding ‘civilisations’. The one people concept he uses is simply a by product of the 20th century degenerate invention of racial categories.

However, Mr Putin obviously views people as belonging to a ruling dynasty which has previously conquered, exploited and oppressed the native people’s land. For he notes that; “..both the nobility and the common people perceived Rus as a common territory, as their homeland.”. There is no evidence that the common people (the Kholopi or Smerdi) of ancient Rus perceived their existence in that way. The practice of powerful people privatising nature by conquest and then making the common people pay to use it and live on it, has been resented by local people since the practice began several thousand years ago. For example, during the 12th century the common people had to pay tribute to the representatives of the Tartar-Mongol invaders which was collected by Baskaks, the local Russian parasitic vassals. Peasants and serfs clearly did not consider Rus as a territory held in common or held for the common good.

Indeed, Russian history of that period (and later) is replete with “huge, widespread and fearsome revolts”. In the 17th century, 200,000 Cossacks, peasants and natives rebelled and “killed landowners and members of the prosperous middle class.” (Braudel, A History of Civilisations’. Penguin page 544.) there were literally thousands of peasant revolts over the following centuries. In a land where serfs were traded like cattle to the highest bidder at auctions, resentment against the elite was frequently boiling over. It was so bad that Czars of Russia were repeatedly assassinated and nobles killed by a severely discontented population. An attempted revolution in 1905 was followed by the Stolypin reaction and things got even worse. The novels of Tolstoy, Gogol, Chekhov, Pushkin and Dostoyevski merely scrape the surface of the brutalising experience of the ordinary people of Russia – but even these insights are ignored by the current President of Russia.

What President Putin is providing in this 2022 article is a view of history purely from the perspective of a ruling elite. Moreover, as is par for the course, it is an elite who only see what they want to see, hear only what they want to hear and read only what they want to read. His task and his supporters is to construct an historical narrative that ignores historical reality and serves to justify 21st century territorial land grabbing in Ukraine and the consequent atrocities.

His article continues with selecting a few items from the historical record of the 15th and 17th and 19th centuries, but nothing is selected which clashes with his view as an elite ruler who wishes to claim back people and territory which previous elites had lost – having stolen them from others in the first place. The fact that a Russian Czar, Peter the Great, tried to conquer Sweden and failed but managed to invade and conquer as far as Azov is conveniently ignored. Mr Putin then goes on to blame the Bolsheviks for allowing a degree of independence to soviet territories and for thus “robbing Russia” of historic territory. Clearly his words and actions indicate that territory and resources were (and are) high on his agenda and this is further revealed in a section on western interference. He writes;

“Along with that we are witnessing not just complete dependence but direct external control….This is also a disguise for the takeover of the rest of the Ukrainian economy and the exploitation of its natural resources. The sale of agricultural land is not far off, and it is obvious who will buy it up.” (page 15/16)

The author understands capitalism enough to realise that finance capital resources in North America, Europe and Britain are eager to snap up cheap sources of Ukraine’s fertile farm land and profitable industry and to obtain a crucial degree of “external control”, but he would prefer it was snapped up by Russian based capitalists for them to control. Incidentally this particular extract flags up a fundamental part of the economic basis of the decades of political and military stand off between capitalist Russia and the capitalist West. The question for both power blocs is how best to obtain control of these Ukrainian resources. Putin in his article also tries a bit of flattery. He wrote;

“We know how hard working and talented the people of Ukraine are. They can achieve success and outstanding results with perseverance and determination.” (Page 11.)

Now almost the entire world knows how accurate these two sentences are. By exhibiting determination and perseverance the talented people of Ukraine have achieved outstanding results and success in resisting the armed might of the Russian Federation. Not exactly the result the President of the Russian Federation hoped for. This next extract indicates that he can be wrong again as he clearly felt a Russian invasion force would be welcomed.

“….for many people in Ukraine, the anti-Russia project is simply unacceptable. And there are millions of such people. But they are not allowed to raise their heads. They have had their legal opportunity to defend their point of view in fact taken away from them. They are intimidated, driven underground. Not only are they persecuted for their convictions, for the spoken word, for the open expression of their position, but they are also killed. Murderers, as a rule, go unpunished.” (page 16.)

Mr Putin’s millions of pro – Russians Ukrainians – if they existed – did not raise their heads, but stayed underground to hide from Russian shelling and from possible rape and murder by Russian troops. And in fact the ones intimidated and persecuted for their convictions were actually Russian citizens who opposed Putin’s Special Operation in Ukraine. Furthermore, the mass murderers who so far have gone unpunished are now in fact many of the Russian troops. This whole Special Operation war with its mass graves and bombed out apartment blocks in many towns and cities will hardly have endeared Ukrainian people to Russia – even those Ukrainians who were originally supportive of Russia. What will the millions of people of Ukraine – now made homeless and displaced – make of Putin’s closing words in this article?

“I will say one thing – Russia has never been and will never be ”anti-Ukraine“. And what Ukraine will be – it is up to its citizens to decide”. (page 17.)

Incidentally, the political class of Ukraine may be no better than the hedonistic dilettantes presently damaging the economic and social fabric of Britain, Europe and America, but they have so far not invaded any other country nor tried to kill and maim defenseless citizens. In Ukraine there may be – as in every country in the world – a percentage of citizens who are sexist, racist, homophobic and even rabidly right wing, however, this fact cannot be used to justify what the Russian elite has perpetrated since February 2022 and before. From a revolutionary-humanist perspective even those among us who are mistaken and dangerous are still human beings and as such deserve to be treated humanely, not bombed out of existence, poisoned by Novichok or tortured, raped and shot in the back of the head.

Roy Ratcliffe (May 2022)

For Mr Putin’s full article visit:

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It has become clear to all those who are not blinded by bias, denial or propaganda that in Ukraine there have been serious and sustained ‘crimes against humanity’ perpetrated by the military forces of Russia. What is less recognised or admitted, is the fact that these acts and many more, are the product of all modern armed forces of which ever side we care to inspect. When NATO forces fought and bombed in Vietnam and Korea, unarmed citizens died from air force munitions and army atrocities as they did in the two World Wars of 1914-18 and 1939-45. In Ukraine in 2022, what is occurring again at the elite ‘official’ level (as occurred previously in Afghanistan and Syria) is yet another proxy war between two rival pro-capitalist powers contesting for regional domination. In this case (again) the West dominated by the US and Europe elites and the East dominated by the Russian elites.

Meanwhile, in the day to day fighting in Ukraine, two sets of mainly ordinary working class citizens, (conscripts or volunteers) are tragically killing each other. One set of mainly working class soldiers, under the nominal control of Putin et al, have been ordered to conquer Ukraine territory; the other set of mainly working class soldiers, under the nominal control of Zelensky et al, are doing their amazing best to prevent them. In this war the winners so far are the three sets of political and military elites, their joint economic system, their preferred arms manufacturers and investors – all of whom are safe at home or in military bunkers.

Meanwhile the losers – as in every war – are the working classes on all sides and not one of whom have anything to gain from killing each other to maintain an indigenous elite and a system, which even in peace time exploits them all mercilessly. Moreover, when at war, workers with guns and tanks – on both sides – are losing their lives and health. Their families, on both sides, are losing their husbands, sons and fathers.

Furthermore, the working class non-combatants in Ukraine, men, women and children who cannot get out of the way are also losing their homes, their health and their lives, whilst workers elsewhere are being taxed to pay for the munitions used for all this death and destruction. For working people war is always a case of lose, lose, lose.

Historically, what is happening in Ukraine is a repeating pattern of the invade and conquer model of community interactions instigated by the elites of all hierarchical mass societies. It has been so since the dawn of so – called ‘civilisation‘ in ancient Egypt and the middle east. So yet again at the instigation of a resource and power-hungry elite male, basic humanity has taken a back seat to elitist ideas of Nationalist superiority and its attendant power structures, profits and Jingoism. And not for the first time.

It is a matter of historical record that the more modern mass societies of the 18th and 19th century European colonial period witnessed its own litany of elite inspired outrages and inhuman treatment in Africa, Asia, North and South America and Oceania. Furthermore, the various 20th and 21st century invasions and proxy wars have their own high-tech versions of atrocities, torturers and crimes against humanity. Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay detention centre along with Extra-ordinary Rendition and the secrecy around them all indicate these modern examples are far from humane, non-profit making enterprises. The evidence suggests that mass societies from ancient to modern, have an inbuilt tendency to bring out the worst kind of inhumanity and destructive attitudes and actions – particularly among the elites within them – and this tendency reveals itself particularly during periods of war, but also in periods of peace.

However, this has not always been the case. The material basis for a negative cultural and psychological change within some sections of humanity seems to have been triggered by the transition from egalitarian based co-operative modes of production to settled agricultural – and now industrial modes of production. Once researched, the difference between the basic humanity of hunter-gatherer communities, (both ancient and modern) compared to that of settled, class-ruled, competitive, hierarchical, economic structures, is quite startling.

A nomadic, hunter-gatherer group, living by a day to day subsistence gathering and hunting life-style has nothing worth pillaging that couldn’t be obtained by less effort and personal risk, in hunting and gathering than by violence. This is why recorded hunter-gatherer violence (before Colonial intervention) was relatively rare and where it did exist, it was/is small scale, overwhelmingly the result of personal revenge arising from individual physical or emotional harm or damage done. Moreover,  there is no suggestion anywhere, that hunter-gatherer groups, prior to the colonial period, tried to egularly wipe each other out, by killing men, women and children in large numbers. Genocide only begins when mass societies become established and  when elites have gained sufficient control  of them to create an obedient force of armed men. Indeed, there is much recorded evidence that any surplus resources derived from gathering and hunting was/is given away rather than allowing it to rot or attract vermin. In fact successful hunter-gatherer locations globally prompted a culture of routine egalitarian sharing not hierarchical accumulation and grasping.

Nevertheless, it would also seem from the historical record, that wherever and whenever hierarchical mass societies come into existence, there is an undeniable inevitability that their elites, sooner or later, will wish to expand their territorial control of natural mineral, vegetable, animal and human resources. If the desired territory already has a system of exploitation, oppression and abundant wealth in existence, like Ukraine, then this makes it an even more desirable target for invasion and resource acquisition. Furthermore, it becomes clear after a detailed study of hierarchical mass societies that the inevitability of this territorial and expansion for resources is also irrespective of any difference in elite ideology, individual personality traits or particular modes of production.

For example in the ancient agricultural based world, numerous Pagan, Despot, Oligarch, or Democrat controllers of mass societies (in Egypt, Assyria, Chaldea, Persia, Greece and Rome) have all used armed force to invade and conquer territory and people and their resources. In the early to middle ages, European agricultural and commercial based mass societies, led by Judaic, Christian and Islamic elites have simply replicated – on a higher technological basis – the previous Pagan-led forms of aggressive military expansion.

In the modern industrialised capitalist world Liberal, Reactionary, Democratic, Fascist and Communist-led mass societies have done exactly the same. It would seem therefore, that this trait of aggressive acquisition by elites is inevitable not because humanity is naturally genocidal, violent and aggressive, but because aggressive acquisitiveness flows from a logic which emanates from the socio-economic structure of mass societies when these are dominated by those various types of elites.

Furthermore, in mass societies, as far as I am aware, there is no recorded example from ancient times to modern times of wars of aggression for territorial acquisition and enslavement being initiated by the mass of ordinary citizens. Wars are clearly not started on the basis of  citizen referendums to agree to invade, kill and steal. All aggressive wars past and present, have been initiated by elites who have prevented – by various authoritarian means – their own and other ordinary citizens from effectively opposing them – as Putin and most other national elites have done.

In the modern era elites have also given themselves the power to forcibly conscript their citizens to fight in wars which they initiate. In the First and Second World Wars conscripted soldiers on all sides who refused to fight were punished severely including on occasion being shot in the 1st by firing squads. Therefore, the opinion expressed by many people that war and mass killing is inevitable and that this propensity is a character flaw exhibited by the human species – in general – have not arrived at that opinion by reference to detailed historical or contemporary evidence.

Indeed, practically every human community in history and modernity has the humanist principle embodied in law or community moral codes that human beings should not kill other human beings and indeed the vast majority of human beings do not kill other human beings. Since not killing each other is a universal human principle arising from the natural essence of normal humanity stretching over millions of years of our species evolution, mass killing over a few thousand years begs an explanation. There must be exceptional circumstances arising within mass societies for elites of any religious or secular persuasion, to be able to override this general principle among themselves. Thus allowing them to use their powers of control (and influence) to promote wars in full knowledge that such military invasions require or demand the mass killing of members of their own community and others of their own species.

If humanity manages to avoid destroying the planet and its life sustaining ecological balance, over the next century it will obviously desire to continue to live in various forms of socio-economic groupings. However, it would be wise of them (and us when we can) to also permanently remove the hierarchical structures and elite control over individual and collective humanity. That is if humanity is to avoid many more repetitions of the tragic events spread over the last several thousand years. Sadly, such inhumane actions and events are tragically being repeated not only ad nauseum in Ukraine, but routinely all over the planet.

Roy Ratcliffe (April 2022)

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