Monday, May 22, 2017

Trump tells Israelis he just got back from the Middle East

The cultured erudite leader of the so-called free world telling people in a Middle Eastern country he just got back from the Middle East meaning Saudi Arabia.

I guess only Arabs and Muslims are Middle Eastern.  Israel is a European colonial settler state so he doesn't consider Israelis Middle Eastern I guess..

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Trump and US capitalism's Catch -22.

Top Building Trades Leaders Kissing Trump's Ass
Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

Is it an exaggeration to say that the US capitalist class is experiencing its greatest crisis since the Civil War?  No matter what one’s answer to that particular question, that truth is that the ruling class in the US is in a lot of trouble.

Despite all of Trump’s personal failings, the Predator in Chief is not the cause of this crisis; he is a symptom of it.  Serious representatives of capitalism are conscious of this but they are in a bind.  What can they do? Their system of governance, bourgeois (capitalist) democracy, is in peril.  Universal suffrage is supposedly a right in a capitalist democracy but there is a danger in such freedoms as the electorate, for one reason or another, may not select the favored candidate of the bourgeois themselves.

Still, this is the preferred way to govern for the capitalist class, it gives the illusion of freedom and, at the best of times, a certain social stability that allows for profit taking and capital accumulation. When and if bourgeois democracy breaks down, military dictatorship is another option but not taken lightly, and of course, fascism has disastrous consequences as history shows. The biggest fear of all, is a workers' revolt, the growth of socialist ideas  and the possibility of a democratic socialist revolution----the building of a genuine workers' democracy.

In the last election the situation was so dire, the dominant section of the US capitalist class couldn’t produce a candidate they liked.  In the end, they settled for the lesser evil and that didn’t work either. We have to digest that: they couldn’t get their candidate elected, so they got the buffoon Trump.  

Every day the US and world wakes up wondering what Trump did today.  Capitalism likes stability, it cannot function in this turmoil, owners of capital will not play the game. They would like to be rid of Trump, but there’s no easy way out, they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

It is not Trump’s vulgar sexist remarks that bother them, or that he’s a liar, or that he says bad things about Muslims. It’s that he is undermining their precious system, he is undermining bourgeois democracy, its institutions and it’s officials, especially the office of the president that Trump holds.

The dilemma they’re in is made clear in Peggy Noonan’s, column in the Wall Street Journal on Saturday. After the election, Noonan showed some optimism, calling on her class to rally around Trump----yes he’s inexperienced but help him govern.  But now, Noonan admits that Trump has “…produced a building crisis that is unprecedented in our history.”  

The legitimacy of bourgeois democracy is threatened by Trump as the Commander in Chief and Noonan warns him titling her Op Ed piece “Democracy is Not Your Plaything.”.  Whenever they use the term “Democracy” they mean capitalist democracy, fundamentally their right to buy labor power and the workers’ right to sell it.

“There is a sense that nobody’s in charge…” she writes, “….there’s no power center that’s holding, that in Washington they’re all randomly slamming in to each other. Which is not good in a crisis.”

Not good indeed. But what can they do?  To remove him, no matter which method, would undermine the system further as people will simply see it as the all powerful state intervening in the democratic process as Noonan explains, “…he was duly and legally elected by tens of millions of Americans who had legitimate reasons to support him. They believe the press is trying to kill him. “He’s new, not a politician, give him a chance.’” It will prove Trump right, he will be the victim, the "swamp" can't be drained.

That the world sees the U.S. political system “as a circus” is a frightening scenario.  It’s not the people Trump is firing that are the problem Noonan says, “He is the problem.” As many of us have said in the past, Trump has always had his own way, had everything given to him, money and the power that goes with it, the power to sexually abuse women, mistreat workers and fear no consequences. But being the head of state, and the most powerful state in the world, that is a different matter. He is the reason the state apparatus is dysfunctional says Noonan. Why would the most talented people step up to help and, “…enter a poisonous staff environment just for the joy of committing career suicide.”

So the US ruling class are stuck in this dilemma but they cannot sit idly by. They initially thought they could control him, rein him in, but it is clear that this is not possible. We can guarantee that the dominant theoreticians of the big bourgeois are meeting and discussing this on a daily basis.

There is talk of impeachment in the air and that Trump is maybe unfit for the office. Bloomberg BusinessWeek has a couple of not very favorable pieces on this subject in its latest issue.  The first approaches it from the point of being a CEO in a corporation and how his record holds up there. Not very well I’m afraid. “Appointing inexperienced relatives to important positions is not normally seen as good corporate governance” writes BW’s editor-in-chief.

Another BW columnist, Ramesh Ponnuru refers to the Trump Administration’s responses to the numerous accusations made against him, as “disorganized dishonesty.”, and that Trump has no “internal regulator, that other presidents, like most people have had”. An Administration that attempts to get the public to swallow a “false storyline may be fearsome;…”, writes Ponnunu, “….one that can’t maintain a false storyline longer than a day is merely pathetic.”  In fact, the situation is so pathetic that according to Pannunu, Trump’s own staff refers to him both on and off the record, “…as a petulant child, one who has to be kept from watching too much television or the wrong programs.” Ouch!

I apologize for the repeated quotes but it is important to get a feel for the crisis that the theoreticians of capitalism recognize they’re in. Ponnunu admits that the very cabinet Trump picked is not about to impeach him, “But this is also a president who can’t impose discipline on himself, let alone his administration, let alone our country; who’s easily bored, distracted; who’s presiding over crisis after crisis of his own creation.”

US capitalism is in an economic, political and brooding social crisis.

The Democrats are as concerned about the undermining of bourgeois democracy as their Republican kin and as the anti-everything-Trump party are hoping to cash in and make some major gains in the mid-term elections.  We may well see former SF mayor, the dashing millionaire Gavin Newsom, the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. The US capitalist class can then return to a normalized organized offensive against US workers and their competitors abroad.

We must also not lose sight of the fact that the next recession or slump is not far away.  US consumer debt balances hit $12.7 trillion in the first quarter and sudent debt is well over one trillion dollars, more than credit card debt:

The most recent reports indicate there is:
  • $1.44 trillion in total U.S. student loan debt
  • 44.2 million Americans with student loan debt
  • Student loan delinquency rate of 11.2% (90+ days delinquent or in default)
  • Average monthly student loan payment (for borrower aged 20 to 30 years): $351
  • Median monthly student loan payment (for borrower aged 20 to 30 years): $203

Corporate leverage, according to Gillian Tett in the Financial Times, is at $8.52 trillion 57% above the 2008 peak and the IMF reckons that 10% of US corporate assets are “struggling” to meet interest payments and 22% of companies “vulnerable” if the cost of borrowing money rises. Debt allows capitalism to go beyond its limits, to hold off a depression or slump temporarily, but at some point, like a stretched elastic band, it reaches a certain point then snaps back to normalcy or breaks entirely.

The Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky pointed out decades ago that the crisis of the working class is a crisis of leadership. That was true back then and it is even truer today. We witness it in the collaboration between the big capitalists and the heads of organized labor in driving down the living standards of workers under the slogan of competition. The consequences are defeated strikes and demoralization as workers feel there is nothing that can be done.

We see it with the betrayal of the so-called workers’ parties throughout the world, even those non-traditional parties like Syriza in Greece whose leaders called a referendum in which the Greek workers stated they wanted to fight the austerity measures forced on them by the Troika (EU, European Commission and the IMF) only to have Syriza leader, Alex Tsipras and the party capitulate 24 hours later.

It is impossible to say what will happen as this Catch-22 unfolds. The only thing we can say with certainty is that it cannot continue indefinitely. For working people, the Democrats, as always, are no real alternative. This party has no real program other than proclaiming to be the Anti-Trump just as Marine Le Pen described herself as the Anti-Merkel.  But as we have stated in the past, sometimes it takes the whip of the counterrevolution to force movements from below, to drive the working class  to fight back, in the process overcoming the obstacle of our own leadership.

Trump and his gang are that whip.  Even if they rid themselves of this buffoon, the whip won’t be put away, it will just be used a little more efficiently.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Working Class Perspectives. Just Talkin'

Trump's $110 billion Bow. Dancing for Dollars

Two of a Kind
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

The Predator in Chief is over in Saudi Arabia on behalf of the US arms industry and as the picture shows, a good time is being had by all. Trump sealed a $110 billion arms deal as one of US imperialism’s staunchest allies in the region (the Apartheid Zionist regime being the other) must be getting short of weapons of mass destruction due to its murderous assault on the poverty stricken nation of Yemen.

Trump was elated, telling journalists (from the fake or real news I don’t know) that this was a “tremendous day” that will bring “hundreds of billions of dollars of investments into the United States and jobs, jobs, jobs. So I would like to thank all the people of Saudi Arabia.”

Trump dragged country singer, Toby Keith along on the trip and he gave a concert apparently, although only men over the age of 21 could attend.  Many of Keith’s supporters may well refer to his audience at the concert as “Rag Heads” or Sand Ni%*ers as Keith is a pretty narrow minded individual when it comes to politics. He’s patriotic and proud which means he doesn’t question authority.  He also attacked the Dixie Chicks, especially the lead singer Natalie Maines.  If you haven’t seen it you should watch the movie “Shut up and Sing” it’s about that incident with the Dixie Chicks and Ms Maines, Keith doesn’t come close to this sister when it comes to courage and integrity.

It’s not quite clear if in his thanks to “all the people of Saudi Arabia” Trump included the young woman who was gang raped by seven men and received 100 lashes for it as a punishment. She appealed the punishment but got another100 added on. By appealing, she was attempting to "aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media", the judge said.  The woman’s original crime was driving in a car with a male who wasn’t a relative.  The lawyer representing her was also suspended.

Did Trump thank those Saudi’s who dare criticize the regime, or those who dare admit to being atheists which is designated as terrorism in Saudi Arabia? Perhaps the foreign workers from Nepal, the Philippines and Bangladesh that have been raped, murdered and tortured by rich Saudi’s that employ them.

Trump, Tillerson Wilbur Ross dancing with the Saudi's and salivating at the thought of the dollars

Don’t thinks so. Politics makes strange bed fellows as they say and the Saudi’s have a lot of money, no unions, a ruthless state machine that suppresses any dissent. The US arms sales are for national defense but also domestic oppression; the Saudi regime must be protected. The weapons are to ensure that the ruling class in Saudi Arabia, the main perpetrators of Islamic extremism, are safely in the drivers seat. The Arab Spring was also a warning to them and the US doesn’t want that oil wealth falling in to the hands of some crazy mass uprising wanting to democratize society to nationalize the oilfields and other crazy ideas.

It’s a great deal really. The US sells similar weaponry to the Zionist regime, another racist  regime in the area, but always ensure the Zionists have the edge, including certain technology that the Saudi’s don’t get.  Israel is a much more reliable ally, not because the US capitalist class loves Jews, just the opposite, but because of the potential power of the Arab masses, the Arab working class. The Arab Spring removed a few US installed and financed dictators in the area and it is this fear that makes Israel a better ally. The Arab regimes are too unstable and too hated by their own working class.

Trump’s talk of investment is hot air of course but what’s more absurd about it is when one thinks that hundreds of billions of dollars is paid to the US arms industry that could itself be invested in society.  More importantly, this wealth, in the form of weapons of mass destruction, is created by US workers.  The labor power, material and productive forces used in creating this product could be applied in a totally different way, in a way that would produce commodities and social necessities that aren’t used for mass slaughter and that aren’t produced for profit.

But that’s not how capitalism works is it. 

Brazil: at the end of its Temer?

by Michael Roberts

The news that Brazil’s right-wing President Temer has been caught trying to bribe politicians to keep quiet about corruption allegations increases the likelihood that he will be impeached by Brazil’s Congress this year.  Temer is already the most unpopular president in Brazil’s democratic history.  He only got into office by organising a ‘constitutional coup’ that ousted elected centre-left President Dilma Rousseff on the grounds of so-called ‘budgetary violations’.  An alliance of parties in favour of pro-capitalist measures to cut wages, social benefits and pensions took over Congress to back Temer.  Brazil’s stock markets and currency boomed and international capital returned to invest.

But now all these ‘reforms’ in the interests of profitability are in jeopardy.  Even though the neo-liberal policies adopted by the previous Workers Party presidents Lula and Dilma led to a loss of support among Brazil’s working class and their eventual demise, the Temer-led alliance has never commanded majority support and the latest scandal could see its end.

Where this will leave Brazilian economy and its people is difficult to judge – I look to my Brazilian readers to explain.  But here I can add that the Temer administration’s aim has been clear: to drive up the low profitability of Brazilian industry and capital by reducing the share going to labour; destroying trade union and other opposition trends; and turning to foreign capital for support.

The big reason that the Dilma government fell was the economy.  After the collapse of commodity prices from about 2011, Brazil’s economy dived into a delayed but deep slump.  And it is still in this economic recession.

But Temer and Brazilian capital, after ousting Dilma, were hoping that a general recovery in the world economy would spread to Brazil.  Things would turn around and enable them to cement their rule.  And there have been some signs of such a recovery.  Brazilian business has shown signs of more confidence.

Although commodity prices have not returned to the heady heights of before 2010, they have at least reversed a little from their deep collapse in the period up to the end of 2015.  Moreover, in the last year, it seems that the prognosis of a collapse in China and a slowdown in the US has not materialised.  And China and the US are by far Brazil’s biggest export markets.

Also, the economic recession has led to a large drop in imports of foreign goods.  So Brazil’s trade balance has improved.

And after significant ‘capital flight’ by rich Brazilians under Dilma, foreign investment has started to return to Brazil, given its pro-capitalist government.

One of the results of the deep depression was sharply falling inflation.  So, although wages for the average Brazilian family have stagnated or even fallen, in real terms (after inflation) they have risen, if only to the level of two years ago.

But unemployment continues to spiral as Brazil’s companies cut back on staff and public sector jobs are decimated.

The medium-term future for Brazil’s economy does not look bright, despite the recent optimism of mainstream economists and pro-capitalist politicians in Brazil.  It was a commodities boom that fuelled much of Brazil’s GDP growth prior to 2010.  The country’s share of global non-oil resource exports rose from 5 percent in 2002 to 9 percent in 2012.  Today commodity prices remain high compared with their historic averages, but the exceptional surge in both demand and prices has levelled off.

At the same time, both households and corporations remained burdened with significant debt.  Household debt has grown from 20 percent of income in 2005 to 43 percent of income in 2012, and high real interest rates (averaging 145 percent on credit cards) make this a heavy burden for consumers. On the government side, federal expenses increased from 15.7 percent of GDP in 2002 to 18.9 percent in 2013, mainly due to interest payments on debt. As a result, taxes have already climbed from 29 percent of GDP in 1995 to 36 percent in 2013, the highest level among Brazil’s emerging market peers. As a share of GDP, Brazil’s gross public sector debt is less than a third that of Japan, but its debt service costs are almost 15 times as high.

Above all, there is little sign that Brazilian capital can really develop the productive forces of the economy and its people.  Resource exports and credit-fuelled consumption have not translated into higher investment or productivity. Between 2000 and 2011, Brazil’s overall investment rate averaged 18 percent of GDP, below that of other developing economies such as Chile (23 percent) or Mexico (25 percent), and much below those of China (42 percent) and India (31 percent).

Brazil’s productivity has been almost stagnant since 2000; today it is just over half the level achieved in Mexico.

According to McKinsey, the global management consultants, more than half of Brazil’s population remain below a monthly income per head of R$560.  To cut this level of poverty to under 25% would require productivity four times as fast as the current rate. And there is no prospect of that under capitalism in Brazil.  That’s because the profitability of Brazilian capital is low and continues to stay low.

The profitability of Brazil’s dominant capitalist sector had been in secular decline, imposing continual downward pressure on investment and growth.  Sure, the overthrow of the military regimes and the rise in commodity prices turned round the fall in profitability for a while. But profitability now is still well below its best years in the early 2000s.

The graph below shows three indexed (1963=100) measures (M= Maito; Mar = Marquetti; P = mine based on Penn World tables and poly = smoothed average).

Even if Temer survives, Brazil’s ruling elite face a difficult task in imposing control over its working class and cutting public spending and wages, and thus attracting significant foreign capital.  The ruling elite is more likely to flee with its capital at every sign of difficulty.  So Brazil capitalism will be stuck in a low growth, low profitability future with continuing political and economic paralysis.  And that is without a new global recession coming over the horizon.

Friday, May 19, 2017

San Leandro: Local School Boards as Agents of the Big Business Agenda

Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

This is following up on a previous commentary about the San Leandro school board imposing taxes on working people, the poor and the middle class in order to maintain the public schools in their present dismal state.  There is no pretense at all that they intend to actually fight to improve and expand public education. They have absolutely no program, strategy of plan to throw back the present assault on public education.

What is happening here is happening throughout the country and the world. It is the generalized offensive against the working class, making the working class, the poor, the indigenous people, the rural workers pay for the crisis for the system.  Our fightback can start where we are but must always have a national and indeed international perspective.

Here is a flier Facts For Working People produced about this issue previously.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Reading Capital Today

by Michael Roberts

As we approach the exact date of the publication of Marx’s Capital Volume One 150 years ago (14 September), a host of conferences and books are coming out in the small world of Marxist study on the relevance of Capital today.  The symposium that I am organising with King’s College London will be on 19-20 September, just around the corner from the British Library where Marx did the research for his opus magnum.  But already there have been conferences in Greece on Capital; a conference in New York at Hofstra University, and next week, York University, Toronto.  All have a large participation by leading Marxist scholars.

And the books are also coming out. The first is aptly entitled Reading Capital Today edited by Ingo Schmidt and Carl Fanelli from two Canadian universities and includes contributions from various activists and academics covering the issues of class struggle, internationalism and the Bolshevik revolution, imperialism, social reproduction and the environment. But I’ll only comment on the specifically economic subject: the labour theory of value.

Prabhat Patnaik is emeritus professor of economics at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Kerala, India.  In his chapter, Patnaik argues that Marx’s value theory is not meant to explain relative prices between commodities.  The real purpose is to show that commodities priced in money reflect the socially necessary labour time involved in the whole economy.  However, that is as far as I can agree with Patnaik’s interpretation of Marx’s theory.

Patnaik seems to accept that there are two systems, one of value and one of price and that Marx’s transformation of value into prices leads to the total surplus value in an economy being different than the total profit.  This is clearly wrong as the work of scholars like Carchedi, Freeman, Kliman and Moseley have shown.  He also seems to think that Marx’s theory depends solely on commodity money (gold) and does not work or apply to fiat money (notes and reserves not backed by gold) – again a wrong interpretation.

It is true, as Patnaik says, that Marx argued that a rise in wages does not lead to inflation of prices as such, but instead to a fall in the share going to profit (see Marx’s famous debate with Weston, a British trade unionist, in Value, Price and Profit).  But from this, Patnaik seems to conclude that the fundamental contradiction in capitalism revealed by Marx’s law of value is that rising wages will squeeze profits (a profit squeeze theory).  There is no mention of how Marx’s value theory leads onto his law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall.  For Patnaik, Marx’s value theory appears to differ little from that of Ricardo (two systems of value and prices and the distribution of wages and profits as key to crises).  With this interpretation, Marx’s famous formula for the rate of profit (s/c+v) becomes irrelevant.

A more useful exercise for those interested in studying Capital today is to read the book itself.  And some great Marxist scholars have developed reading courses that can be followed to do so.  The most comprehensive is that by David Harvey, probably the most well-known scholar on Marxist economics in the world today – and one of our speakers at Capital.150 this September in London.   Indeed, David Harvey debated only this month with Patnaik on the latter’s current take on imperialism.

Harvey covers Volume One of Capital in detail here, as well as Volume Two and a recent set of lectures on his take on Capital today.  These lectures are compiled in written form in: A Companion to Marx’s Capital (Verso, 2010) and A Companion to Marx’s Capital Volume 2 (Verso, 2013).
Over the next few months, I shall try to critique Harvey’s and other scholars’ analysis as we head towards the Capital.150 symposium.  But you can see some of the differences that I and other scholars have already raised with Harvey’s views, particularly on the causes of crises here.

David Harvey’s contribution to understanding Marx’s great work has been invaluable.  But there are other readings that have also made an important contribution, if less well known.  For example, out in Los Angeles, Frieda Afary, a philosophy MA and librarian, has been conducting community-based readings of Capital throughout this year.

But perhaps, the most useful guide in reading Capital today is a new book by Joseph Choonara, A Reader’s Guide to Marx’s Capital (not published until July).  Choonara takes the reader through each chapter of Volume One with some clarifying analysis and relevant comment to help.  Choonara says that “It is designed to be read in parallel with Capital itself, with each chapter of this book consulted either before or after digesting the relevant sections of Marx’s work.”  The aim, unlike that of Harvey’s more comprehensive approach in his video lectures, is “instead to dwell on those areas that are the most vital to an overall understanding of the work and those that most often confuse, drawing on my own experience teaching Capital to left-wing audiences of students and workers over the past decade”.

For, in Choonara’s view, Marx attempted in Capital to see capitalism from the point of view of labour and aimed for a working-class audience.  Capital clearly does the former, but whether it achieved its aim of reaching working class readers is more doubtful.  Choonara’s guide can help here.

Choonara says that “Marx focuses on production in the first volume. The second deals with the circulation process, which is the way that capital passes through its various phases (production, but also purchase and sale). The third volume integrates both aspects of capitalism and so deals with the process as a whole, allowing Marx to explore some of the most complex aspects of the system.”  This is important, because the full story of capitalism as Marx sees it requires the reading of all three volumes (and what is often called the fourth – Theories of Surplus Value) as well as Marx’s earlier research notes compiled in what is called the Grundrisse.

This is important, Choonara comments, because “the interlinked nature of the project causes problems for those who just read volume one. This can potentially lead to a crude focus on production, in which issues related to the circulation of capital or questions such as finance and credit that are discussed mainly in volume three are overlooked. That said, it is helpful to see production as forming the foundation for circulation, and so Marx’s ordering of volumes makes sense.”  This contrasts with Harvey’s interpretation: “In this I take issue with David Harvey’s very influential reading of Capital, which tends to flatten down these different levels of analysis, treating them all as equally fundamental.”   Choonara goes on: Harvey’s “idea is that production and circulation should be considered as having the same explanatory priority in the analysis of capitalism, whereas Marx clearly feels that production is in some sense more basic than circulation.”

Choonara is not afraid to take a view on what Marx means, particularly in the more difficult early chapters on value.  In particular, he varies from Patnaik’s view on Marx’s view of money: “there is nothing in this analysis that precludes the replacement of the money commodity with symbolic representations or electronically created credit (the form taken by most money today). To understand this requires going much further into Capital, and in particular the sections on finance and credit in the third volume.”  This follows from Marx’s endogenous theory of money, namely that “more or less money would circulate according to the needs of circulation …. Marx’s argument is that the amount of money simply reflects the total price that has to be circulated and the speed with which it circulates.”

Choonara’s reading also shows that Marx did not have some ‘iron law of wages’, as argued by the classical economists Ricardo and Malthus, leading to the view that it was impossible to raise the real wages of workers by their own efforts as wages were determined by the value of the means of subsistence and the effect of productivity and capital accumulation on that.

Choonara comments: “One peculiarity of the subsequent attacks on Marxist theory is that this iron law is often attributed to Marx himself. The vehemence of Marx’s attack (on the iron law) reflects the fact that if the “iron law” were correct, then struggles over wages, and indeed the formation of trade unions, would be pointless, leading the socialist movement into a dogmatic cul-de-sac by isolating it from the real movement of workers.”

Recently, the eminent Marxist professor Michael Lebowitz seems to claims Marx did fall into this fallacy.  Lebowitz implies that Marx’s accumulation theory that workers cannot raise their living standards through struggle as the gains from productivity growth will all go to capital.  In Lebowitz’s words, Marx accepts the ‘Ricardian default’.

Yes, for Marx, “the rate of accumulation is the independent, not the dependent variable; the rate of wages is the dependent, not the independent variable”. In other words, the pattern of accumulation tends to drive the shifts in wages, not the other way round.  But changes to wages, emerging out of accumulation, can still react back onto the patterns of accumulation (Choonara).

And that perceptive mainstream economist, William Baumol, long ago showed that for Marx “wages need not be equal to the value of labour power… and the omission of any fixed equilibrium was deliberate because Marx wanted to show that workers have the power to raise wages substantially even under capitalism”.  Indeed, they could do so and actually alter “the historical and social element that enters into the value of labour power”, which is not determined by the iron law of nature or ‘subsistence’.

Indeed, that is the lesson of the struggle to lower the working day so comprehensively described in Capital.  As Marx put it: “The Ten Hours’ Bill was not only a great practical success; it was the victory of a principle; it was the first time that in broad daylight the political economy of the middle class [ie the capitalists] succumbed to the political economy of the working class.”  This was a gain for the value of labour power that was permanent, as is the 8 hour day in the 20th century – although only continual class struggle can preserve such gains.

There are many other useful commentaries by Choonara on aspects of Capital: on the nature of alienation, productive and unproductive labour, mental and material labour, complex and simple labour, on accumulation etc. But enough for now, for there will be more to follow over the coming months, as we consider the relevance of Capital, now 150 years old.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

San Diego: Solidarity Action for Activist Mavis Thompson

Mavis Thompson
The police have arrested and are detaining a local pregnant activist Mavis Thompson. They are upset because she went viral filming the police harassing homeless people. She has a 150k bail for an obstruction of justice charge. The bail for that Charge in San Diego is 20k. Her bail is over 7-times that amount. We cannot let them do to her what they did to Sandra Bland!!!

Action Items

Please call the DA at 619-531-4040
1. Ask for the prosecutor Laura Baggett first. If she does not answer leave a message.

2. Ask for Bonnie Dumanis. Leave a message with her secretary

A low income community member Mavis Thompson is being held at Las Colinas for an obstructing justice charge, case number CD271552.

We are demanding that she is released with charges dropped or released on OR. She is not a flight or safety risk. She is pregnant and we don't know if she is alive. She is a vegan so her unborn child is suffering due to this negligence. She is a mother. Her case seems to be overzealous prosecution because she is a woman of color. Her bail was raised because the bail bondsman gave her the wrong court date. She arrived on that day with proof she was given the wrong court date and was arrested. We are demanding the charges are dropped and Mavis Thompson is allowed to take care of herself, her children and her unborn child.

You can write to her and show your support through the SD who's in jail website

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The three thugs.

A picture is worth a thousand words. 
 Sean O'Torain.

Just look at them the three white male thugs. Exuding arrogance and lies and in the case of Trump stupidity.

Another movement in Russia against the Putin led Russian capitalist regime.

Women led march in Moscow for decent housing. 
Sean O'Torain.

In a recent article on this Blog we have reported on the movements that have been taking place in Russia and the countries of the former Soviet Union. These movements have been mainly against corruption and for more democratic rights and women's rights.

On Monday 14th of May a somewhat different type of demonstration took place in Moscow. This was against the proposed plan of the Moscow city government to demolish many of the large apartment block buildings in the city. The government promised to build new ones much further out from the city center and most crucially much further from the public transport metro system. The demonstrators made clear that they were on to the city's mayor and his multi millionaire backers.

They made it clear that they were opposed to being pushed into apartments way out on the outskirts and with no guarantee they would be any bigger than the ones in which they presently lived. They made it clear that they knew what was going on. The mayor and his cronies were going to build luxury apartments for the new elites nearer the city center and the metro system. This was what was going on. This demonstration was successful. The mayor dropped his plans. Putin came out in favor of the mayor's retreat. They were frightened by the working class composition of the march and demonstration. This was a victory for the working people in the apartments. What was also very significant was that this demonstration, according to an article in the New York Times, was organized mainly by women.

As we said in our previous article, a new movement has begun in the countries of the former Soviet Union and Russia. On democratic rights, on women rights, against corruption and now on the issue of having a roof over peoples heads. The new Russian capitalist class will be increasingly challenged in the years ahead and the movement that challenges them will be increasingly the working class and as these movements develop they will begin to seek a different way. Not a return to Stalinism. Not the present corrupt capitalism with its extreme inequality, but a third way.

With the correct leadership this will be democratic international socialism. This Blog has also been emphasizing the increasing role of women in the struggles internationally. This Moscow demonstration was part of this movement. We have pointed to the fact that 50% of factory workers in the world are now women. We have pointed to the women's marches in the US, the over 160 million people, mainly women, on a one day general strike in India. We have pointed to the movement of women also in India against the violence against women. We have also pointed to the movement of women in countries where so much of the world's clothing, footwear, and parts for computers are produced in sweat shops. A new movement is beginning to get to its feet.

PS. I suppose Trump will be sending messages of support to his buddy Putin, the representative of Russian imperialism.