Sunday, December 27, 2009

Wobbly Times number 39





CLASS DIALOGUE

Old leftist professor:

In this context, of organizing as a class, how

does one define "working class"? I always have

the feeling when I come across references to

"the workers," etc. that probably the writer

has an image in his/her head, that harks back

a half century or so and has no particular grip on
current actuality.
***************************

Wobbly:

The working class is made up of those men and women who make their living from wages. Most of the people in industrialsed countries are in the working class and not in the employing class or the landlord class. There are also people who sell their skills directly to a customer, kind of one on one, as opposed to an employer.

******************************
Old leftist professor:

Most workers today are _not_ blue collar.

So what are the "signs" of
class that one can organize around?

*********************************
Wobbly:


The basic dependency structure inherent in Capital is a good guide. Workers are dependent on employers buying their skills in the labour market. If workers don't make a sale of their skills to an employer, they will have a hard time making ends meet. They often become homeless after extended periods of unemployment. Sometimes they become eligible for government handouts of parts of the wealth they've already created and given over to the employing class in exchange for wages e.g. food stamps or in Australia, Centrelink payments.

***************
Old leftist professor:


At a highly abstract level of _capitalism_ as such

it is easy to define _working class_ and essential

to do so. But at a practical level of
organizing struggle it is probably not relevant.



*************

Wobbly:

I disagree. As Marx and Engels wrote back in 1848: "The proletarian movement is the self-conscious, independent movement of the immense majority, in the interest of the immense majority." I think that's a practical principle to operate with.


Listen up now. These figures concern the distribution of wealth (and therefore power) in the USA. Similar figures exist in every State where the wage system prevails.


Of investment assets 90 percent of Americans (the working class) own 12.2 percent. The rest goes to the top 10 percent. The top 10 percent are those people in the employing class, the landlord class and independent service providers e.g. lawyers and doctors who sell their skills directly to a customer without having that sale mediated by employment for a wage or salary at a corporation. The median household income in the U.S. is $50,000. Only 34% of U.S. households make more than $65,000 per year. The bottom 90 percent (the working class) have been saddled with 73 percent of all debt. In other words much of what constitutes workers' so-called wealth is connected to debt. Debt is slavery for many especially with egregious credit card companies taking people out with absurd levels of interest. Yet the corporate propaganda machine is strong and mighty. Have you ever received an inheritance? A large one? Probably not because only 1.6% of all Americans receive an inheritance larger than $100,000.

Wobbly Times number 38


SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS

The capacity for love
must grow beyond boxes
within which
it has been constrained
by the blockheads
of the world
the ones who want your power
your consent
Why do you give them away
forever and ever
amen

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Wobbly Times number 37


The queen of Australia
looked like a little old lady
in ice blue attire
as she peered out my TV
and told me 'bout how
war is peace and how sorry
she was 'bout climate change
happenin' and to pray to our mutual Lord up in heaven
who makes sure that the poor
appreciate our niceness and
Merry Christmas and good night
(blip)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Wobbly Times number 36



One aspect of the issue of stagnant real wages (see: Wobbly Times number 22) is the continuing commodification of wage-labour itself. The commodity sells best which sells most cheaply in the marketplace. As the skills necessary to reproduce Capital have become simpler, less time consuming to produce and reproduce, the value and fluctuating price of labour power has gone down for a majority of the class, while for a minority of it, the price remains the same or goes higher with the addition of greater skills to the worker. (However, it should be mentioned here that even if all the working class had Ph.d.s, the unemployment rate would remain about the same, even as the banter at the workplace might change to concerns over whether Foucault or Stephen Jay Gould had more to say about culture.)

Thus, on average, real wages have stagnated. Capital is not only exported to class ruled States which enforce lowered wage demands through coercion and terror,the movement of industry to pools of more cheaply priced labour power also makes the use of skilled labour amongst the majority of the working class in already industrialised nations superfluous. Thus, overall, real wages for workers as a class can stagnate in advanced, industrial, bourgeois democracies as the employed members of the working class are increasingly obliged to flip burgers or open crates at Wall Mart, shipped from dictatorships like China in order to make a living, as opposed to making steel, tires and cars.

Capital is wealth expressed as exchange-value; it is itself a commodity. Labour power is bought and sold as a commodity on the market, just as pork and beans are. The big diff is that labour power has the ability to expand wealth through creation of more commodities. The capitalist hires labour for wages (the price of labour power on the market) and keeps the commodities (goods and services) which the workers have created (aka wealth). These commodities can include constant capital e.g. machinery of production, circulating capital e.g. raw materials from nature like coal which go into the production process and money, which is used as a means to exchange commodities, to 'circulate' them. Money is circulating capital. Thus, money is also a commodity, a mutually agreed upon abstraction playing the universal equivalent.

After the working class creates the wealth, the capitalist has that wealth sold by wage-slaves in order to realise profit. Capitalists hire sales-wage-slaves to market the wealth they've appropriated from already employed wage-labour. Profit can't be realised unless the wealth workers create can be sold. This uncertainty about sale is what pro-capitalist spokespeople call, 'risk'.

Like all commodities, labour power has exchange-value embedded within it. Exchange-value is determined by the amount of socially necessary labour time bound up within it e.g. education.

BTW, if someone says that this labour theory of value has been proven false, you can always ask them how much wealth would be produced, if the workers of the world went on a week long general strike. The answer is zero. Wealth has to be produced to come into existence and it doesn't come into existence without employing wage-labour, unless you're using your money to buy/commodify nature for nature is the other source of all wealth.

The socially necessary labour time embodied in a worker's abilities, which is expressed as the exchange-value of labour, forms the concrete substance of skill. However, the exchange-value of any commodity, including labour power, is expressed in money aka price. Prices of commodities fluctuate with supply and demand on the market and the market is human beings with money perceiving what they can use, for whatever they deem is necessary i.e. what they can buy with the wealth, expressed as money in their pockets.

Most bourgeois thinkers only look at the demand side of the commodities to explain their conception of 'value' i.e. from the point of view of the consumer, not the producer. The 'effective' demand side is very important, as Marx explained a long time before Jevons, demand is an expression of the use-value of a commodity. If a commodity has no use-value, all the socially necessary labour time in the world will not make it into a saleable commodity and therefore, no profit could be realised from it.

In a classless society, production could be carried on for use and need and there would be no necessity for the expression of wealth to be measured by money. Wealth would be wealth, not an accumulation of commodities for sale with a view to profit.
In a classless society, work would be carried on by and for the association of free producers. There would be no need for wages, which are but the price of labour power, the price of yet another commodity. In a classless society, there would be no need for wealth to be fettered by exchange-value.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Wobbly Times number 35


THE VULGARISATION OF THE MARKET



What we gonna be

a piece of history

That forest

those trees

things of past years

These glaciers

those insects

things of the past

The penguin and polar bear extinct

They just can't last

The multi-coloured coral

with multi-coloured fish

shot in a barrel

of warmed water

killed during the rein of the commodity

Salty tasting tears

Wobbly Times number 34


WOBBLY HAIKU

Parading my ignorance
I admitted not knowing how to make sense of the war
I fought for freedom


What will you do to maintain dignity
in your old age
Don't ask


The sound of
new houses going up
Winter rain falls on a homeless man

Advertising executives
you are the slaves
of Advertising

He's in the garage
working on the car
to escape the wife and kids

Jets gulp clean fresh air
Chemically polluted 
rain falls

Insects feed on
dead kangaroo
Long red highway through the bush

Before the young woman
the executioner hesitates
for a moment

Red dust under my swag
the moon and stars in my eyes 
till dreams

A dove's feather
caught in dead leaves
wind moving one not the other

Stop cutting the flowers
The Buddha 
has enough now

Be a human
try not to kill too much
you really don't have to

Were it not for their power
our rulers 
would be irrelevant

Four Ibis fly across
dirty cirrostratus clouds
Sun breaks through a hole

Subjects create objects
Objects affect subjects' lives
Time flows on

Silently we stared into the headlights 
not knowing what to do.  
Train passes in the distance.


The equality of death
plagues each and everyone
even those with the most toys

Our equality at birth
is undermined
by our first diaper

Our muse speak 

softly
Commonsense roars in the background

Life is at least
love's political equality
or it is wasted


Trying to calculate desire
he lost all
interest

Gravity forces 
a violent collapse
Eruptions galore ensue

Orgasms die
on the vine
Neuroses bloom

She got a job 
and dreamt of freedom
He lost his job and dreamt of wage-slavery

The Gorgon blocked most of the light
at the mouth of the cave
Fear turned us toward darkness

The silence of a fatal accident
Sirens seduce 
from wave pounded cliffs

More and more
texts/calls for attention received from work
More and more sensuous life castrated

Abstraction rules
humans become inhuman
Objects unaware of their creators themselves

Orgasms with your lover
What is as close to perfection as
you'll ever get? 

Life is short
Death's forever
Enjoy the here and now

Three o'clock
in the afternoon
Werewolves howl under full moon

Waiting for the wealth
to trickle down
Pat put another coin in the pokie


Monkey see monkey do
Mirror neurons firing
on all fours

Catching flies on green

fields of dreams
Being twelve





Thursday, November 26, 2009

Wobbly Times number 33


What Politics Mean




Politics 101


Politics is the power to control or make other people do things in some way or another. Power is the first principle of politics.

Left and Right in politics: The major subtext revolves around the question of who is to own wealth
:

Where you stand on the left/right political spectrum relates to the division of control and/or ownership of property. Property usually comes in two different forms: land (aka Nature) and capital. Property is what most people call, "the economy". Property in this sense is not your underwear, your cat, your glass, your room or your personal belongings in general, including your car and home. Property is for example: a factory, an apartment complex, a TV station, a supermarket corporation, a small business, a coal mine, a pizza franchise, a petrol station, a bank. These places, unlike your home or your cat, are where wealth and more property are created.

Property is created by everyday people like you and me. Even if it is just land, property in this sense is the mutual recognition amongst people living in a society that this or that is owned and/or controlled by this or that person or group of people and is suitable for sale. The recognition that property is for sale is codified in laws of the State. Ownership and control of the property people create and own is political because it involves "The First Principle" of politics: the power to control people or make people do things.

Most property these days is created by employing labour and using its skills to produce commodities for sale with a view to profit. Employers hire workers to use their skills to produce goods and services, which they then own and sell as commodities for profit. In combination with the natural resources which exist and are owned as property and the various pieces of land and buildings owned by landlords, these goods and services constitute the wealth of society.

The wealth of society is measured by dollars. This means that a lot of useful activities and things are not counted as important i.e. they are not valued in money. For example: parenting has no exchangeable value, because that activity doesn't make anybody else money or, doing the dishes around the house or, mowing your own lawn. However, outside the home, a group of workers may sell what they are able to do to an employer who owns a pizza parlour. The employer buys their skills and time. This becomes their wage or salary in short, their way of making a living. Once their time and skills are purchased, the workers engage in the labour associated with making and delivering pizzas. The profit created by making and delivering the pizza belongs to their employer. The wealth, which is represented in the wages which the workers get from selling their skills and time to the employer, belongs to them.

Who has control over the wealth produced by workers is the question which defines peoples' political stance as being on either the left or right. The political position of the right is that the wealth employers accumulate should remain in their hands, to do with as they please. On the other hand, the leftist position is that the people who produce wealth should be allowed to at least have some ownership and/or control of the property they produce.

Most societies have a mix of ownership for this property/wealth. The government decides who gets what in this mix or, to go back to our first principle : the government has the political power to control or make other people do things in some way or another. In most modern societies, the government is based on the "rule of law". In democratic republics, the rule of law and the laws themselves are created and administered by elected politicians along with their appointed officials in the government's bureaucracy : for instance, the Ministry of Defence or the Ministry of Education or the judiciary e.g. the Supreme Court. In some democratic republics, some of the judiciary is elected by the people.

Democratic republics get the power to govern from the governed themselves. Everyone is supposed to be "equal under the law". The laws are made by politicians elected by the people and largely enforced by the acquiescence of the people to the law. This is known officially as, "The Rule of Law". It differs from the old "Rule of Kings", where the aristocracy was above the law--as they were officially sanctioned by God e.g. "Dieu et mon Droit". When anyone breaks the law, they are supposed to be met with the force/power of the government, that is, the people the government employs to enforce the law: the police, prison workers and the military. So, politicians represent the people who elect them. But first, they must be selected. The selection of politicians to run for office is a fairly complicated and expensive matter, but this is where the left/right control of wealth begins to tell as people who have control of more wealth, tend to be able to amplify their voices in the selection process more than people who do not have as much wealth.

Politicians and the political parties tend to represent either the right or the left. The key word is "tend", as none of the political parties or elected politicians are ever absolutely left or right. Politicians of the right will tend toward political decisions which end up being in the interest of the people with wealth/property, allowing them to retain control and ownership over what they have legally accumulated. Politicians of the left tend toward passing laws which result in a greater sharing of the wealth between worker-producers and the people who own the wealth which is being produced. Simply put, the further left a politician goes, the more wealth she or he will want to divert back to the poorer sections of the community and by extension, the working producers of the wealth. The more right the politician is, the more he or she will refrain from proposing or passing legislation which interferes with wealth holders. The rightist justification will usually be framed in a manner which makes it seem that more of the community will eventually benefit, if these property holders do more of what they do best : employ workers to create more wealth.

How does this left/right axis work out for us in everyday terms?

Let us consider taxes. Taxes constitute the money (the wealth) which governments take from employers and workers to hire the police, purchase land for schools, keep the military paid and pay the garbage collectors and health care workers in States where there is a functioning public health system. The question is: who should pay the taxes to fund these government services or should there be government services at all?

The left position would tend to keep these services in the hands of government and put the question of who should pay the taxes to support them in the hands of the representatives the people elect, but always with a tendency to have the more wealthy sections of the community pay proportionally more of the tax which is needed. The right position would tend toward keeping these services in private hands or pushing them there, if they're currently under public influence, to make them profitable and not part of the governmental system at all. For example, the more right position would be for education become a profit making business, whereas the more left position would be for education to be publically funded by taxing wealth and funneling that wealth back to the education industry. As a compromise between the left and the right, the government might settle on a position whereby both public and private schools are funded to some degree by taxes collected from the public as is the case in Australia at present.

Ultimately, the question of right and left boils down to, "Who benefits"? This is the second principle of politics. The right says that the best society is one where the legal owners of property are allowed to use their control to hire workers to make more wealth. The left says that the best society is one where the owners of wealth produced by workers are legally made to share their property with those producers.

Practical everyday questions and applications of left and right:

Do those people who work for wages and salaries benefit by seeing more of their wealth or their employer's wealth being taxed away to fund government services like: schools, roads, hospitals and fire protection?

Do the people who own property benefit by seeing more of their accumulated wealth being taxed away to fund government services like: police, military, prisons, roads and hospitals or should that burden be put in the marketplace for commodities to be rationed on the ability to pay?

What actually is necessary in a society, is a matter which revolves around the control of wealth and property. Who owns and controls property's disposal and who has the power to make the decisions in order to benefit larger or smaller portions of the society as a whole "by making people do things?"

Who controls these decisions and whom do those decisions benefit? The more these decisions benefit the vast majority of the people, the more the society is leftist. The more legislators direct the control and ownership of wealth toward the legal owners and away from the vast majority of wealth producers, the more the society is rightist.


"Who has the authority?"


The third principle of politics is based on the answer to this question, which is also intertwined with the two other principles of politics. If politics is the power "to control or make other people do things in some way or another" and is related to, "Who benefits" from the distribution of the wealth in the society then, who is it that has this power?

Answer: it is the people who control and own the wealth produced in society. To the degree that power and authority over the wealth of society is shared equally, the society is more democratic and self-managing. To the degree that the control and ownership of that wealth is concentrated in fewer hands, the society is less democratic, more authoritarian and bureaucratic. Another way to put this is to say, the more that political power in society flows up from the majority, because of their conscious desires for self management, autonomy and sovereignty, the more democratic the society is. But, the more political power comes down on the majority from individuals above them in order to manage them, "for their own good", the more bureaucratic and authoritarian the society is.

The way these three principals intertwine and intersect make each nation different. For example: one nation can be leftist to the degree that it shares the wealth created within its borders more or less equally, but at the same time, it can be authoritarian/bureaucratic in the way that wealth is controlled. It is also possible for a country to be rightist to the degree that wealth created by worker producers is concentrated in a few hands and not shared, but still democratic to the degree that those people living within the society are free to choose politicians to represent them and free to criticize these politicians--civil liberties remain in force. Other possibilities include societies which are both rightist and authoritarian-bureaucratic or leftist and self-managing and democratic.

If it makes things easier, think of basic politics as a graph, like the one at the top of this blog. In the graph, you would map libertarian socialism in the bottom left hand corner and libertarian capitalism in the bottom right hand corner. Fascism would be in the upper right hand corner and bureaucratic socialism in the upper left hand corner. Liberal capitalist democracy would be to the right of the centre point and the liberal social democracy on the left side of the centre point and up and down as the bureaucratic or democratic tendencies would allow.

One final matter on politics as it relates to the One Big Union. Whether a member of the I.W.W. votes or not is an independent decision: it is not a union matter. Some workers would prefer to concentrate their time on direct action in support of their class interests to the exclusion of voting. Others workers see a need to take the time to vote for candidates/parties who they see as acting in their class interests by diverting more wealth back to them via governmental programs like healthcare, more democratic labour laws and so on. In any event, the I.W.W. takes no postion on which political party, if any, to support and refuses all alliances with either poltical parties or anti-political sects. In this way, the I.W.W. steers clear of faction fighting and makes room for the creation of classwide, grassroots, democratic unionism. The One Big Union is for all workers.  Whether a worker votes left, right or center, the mode of production based on the wage system will remain.  A social revolution to abolish wage labour can only be enforced by the power of class conscious workers united for such a goal i.e. in One Big Union.  The self-organisation of more and more producers into the I.W.W. is at the same time the new society emerging within the womb of the old.
***************************************************

I.W.W. RESOLUTION of 1908, made by delegates to the Convention of the same year:


Political Parties & Discipline

Whereas, the primary object of the Industrial Workers of the World is to unite the workers on the industrial battlefield; and

Whereas, Organization in any sense implies discipline through the subordination of parts to the whole and of the individual member to the body of which he or she is a part; therefore be it


Resolved, That to the end of promoting industrial unity and of securing necessary discipline within the organization, the IWW refuses all alliances, direct and indirect, with existing political parties or anti-
political sects, and disclaims responsibility for any individual opinion or act which may be at variance with the purposes herein expressed.


Get your I.W.W. red union card now!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Wobbly Times number 32



THE BIG MACHINE or Your loyalty is just a commodity


I awoke to find
that I'd become
an isolated
appendage to a machine
Cost-efficiency took over my mind
Social relations became electrons
with conscious intent
(not always recognised as such)
and frequently
real humans became
mere objects
And me
my mind
populated by abstractions
without sensuous content
Alien world?
New beginnings?
Collapse?

Wobbly Times number 31


Personal


I am you

Identify

your being with

mine too

Pass some caring thoughts my way

make my dreams come true

Share and share alike

my friend

Don't go now

Don't be blue

for you and I

Identify

One and one makes two

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wobbly Times number 30


DON'T FEAR YOURSELF


Do thought crimes

make you guilty

My impulse is

to do it

but my conscience says

no way

Down that feel-good path lies nothing

other than destruction

But I must

I feel the urge

and so I go and do

whatever that I want

for brief moments

of my time

and when all is said and done

my conscience feels just fine

Goodness is much more

than altruistic acts

You can find it in your lusts

et entre nous

en Paris

France

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Wobbly Times number 29


DIALOGUE WITH A BLIND EYE


How could I come to your side

when your side advocates terror

murder

censorship

and oppression?

In the name of rationality?

When would I have peace of mind?

I know you don't care

Your blind eye is showing

It's cold

It's calculating

my worth

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wobbly Times number 28


Wild


Sexually charged power tensions

erupt

Volatile hordes roam the

landscape

smashing authoritarian aggression


Vitalised couples copulate voraciously

in buildings

outdoors

wherever they want

with anyone who wishes

Instinct and life are fused again

Dyonysian festivals abound

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Wobbly Times number 27


In this film, the masterful James Mason plays the plantation patriarch, a Big Daddy you wouldn't want to be owned by. This is undoubtedly THE BEST Film made about the era of slavery in the USA. It puts the sanitised, romantic "Gone With the Wind" to shame. "Mandingo" will make you uncomfortable even in your most comfortable seat. "Mandingo" is a mirror. See your reflection; it will scare the living bejeezub out of you.

This is a film about power. Racism is about power. When some people have absolute power over other people, they become sadistic and sometimes, the objects of their sadism become masochistic. Absolute power is always justified with ideological rationalisations become dogma, in this case the the dogma that black skin makes a person less than human. Power corrupts the individual's sense of morality. With power over others, one becomes more or less immoral, hardened to a subordinate's suffering. Self-esteem is generated by putting down the one perceived to be inferior and slaves were considered less than human, a notch or two down on the food chain. Slaves were treated as objects of power, like the organic results of animal husbandry, like the commodities you purchase and eat: cattle, pigs or sheep. Thus, having sex with a slave for a 'white' male owner was like breeding new animals for sale with a view to profit. 'White' females, of course, were not allowed to engage in this sort of animal husbandry with slaves. The patriarchal whisper one hears in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" becomes a murderous roar in "Mandingo".

In "Mandingo" we see the realities of absolute power's effect on the social psychology of a society. Even after more than a century of time, American society, especially the South is still scarred by the psychological damage which simmers under the surface of smiles, whiskey fueled tears and freshly mown lawns.

"Mandingo" is a must see. It's better than "Glory", although "Glory" would be an appropriate second on a double feature bill with "Mandingo". "Mandingo" is even better than "Burn" and much better than "Roots". The acting is superb. The screenplay is magnificent. The cinematography is choice. Yes, this movie is violent; but slavery was a daily violence on the lives of those who suffered it. Face it. Yes, there is sex in this movie: squirm in your seat as you feel a touch of titillation. Yes, there is abuse on all levels from pedophilia to outright murder. But the abusers aren't comic book level bad guys; they aren't Jokers on the set of "Batman". They are the ruling class of the Old South. Sometimes their humanity shows through. Sometimes bad guys are ever so well ensconced in the the rituals of polite society that they come across as the upholders of civilised behaviour. That they are also enmeshed in a daily life organised around the exploitation of those who produce their wealth speaks volumes about the quality of their humanity and our own social relations of power today.

Get "Mandingo" however you can. Show it to your friends. Discuss it after you see it. Get ready for the movie experience of a lifetime. Forget about "Basterds"; forget the demented, ultra-violent comic fantasies of Quentin Tarintino. Forget about the sanitized films of the Antebellum Age. See "Mandingo". See the hard truth about chattel slavery and then do some reflection about how power over others functions to generate a generalised state of dominance and submission in the social relations of the here and now, wherever you live on this planet.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Wobbly Times number 26


What I'd like to get across is that the revolutionary subjectivity/class consciousness which the Wobblies have exhibited over the years is what is needed to get the movement to progress towards more freedom, including chipping bits of surplus value and time off from the bosses' control--aka reform. The submissive position of many on the left vis a vis their own leaders runs counter to the class struggle for freedom and a classless society. One has only so much TIME in one's life to put energy into the movement. If one spends all one's time subsuming oneself to liberal reform agendas, one never sets the agenda. Thus, the 'class in itself' remains alienated from the 'class for itself' i.e. we remained ruled by Capital.

*******************************************************

"The functions fulfilled by the capitalist are
no more than the functions of capital - viz.
the valorization of value by absorbing living labour
- executed consciously and willingly. The capitalist
functions only as personified capital, capital as a
person, just as the worker is no more than labour
personified. That labour is for him just effort
and torment, whereas it belongs to the capitalist as a
substance that creates and increases wealth, and in
fact it is an element of capital, incorporated into
it in the production process as its living, variable
component. Hence the rule of the capitalist over
the worker is the rule of things over man, of dead labour
over the living, of the product over the producer.
For the commodities that become the instruments of
rule over the workers (merely as the instruments of
the rule of capital itself) are mere consequences of
the process of production; they are its products.
Thus at the level of material production, of the
life-process in the realm of the social
- for that is what the process of production is -
we find the same situation that we find in religion
at the ideological level, namely the inversion of
subject into object and vice versa. Viewed historically
this inversion is the indispensable transition without
which wealth as such, i.e. the relentless productive
forces of social labour, which alone can form the
material base of a free human society, could not
possibly be created by force at the expense of the
majority. This antagonistic stage cannot be avoided,
any more than it is possible for man to avoid the
stage in which his spiritual energies are given a
religious definition as powers independent of himself.
What we are confronted by here is the alienation
[Entfremdung] of man from his own labour. To that
extent the worker stands on a higher plane than the
capitalist from the outset, since the latter has his
roots in the process of alienation and finds absolute
satisfaction in it whereas right from the start the
worker is a victim who confronts it as a rebel and
experiences it as a process of enslavement. At the
same time the process of production is a real labour
process and to the extent to which that is the case
and the capitalist has a definite function to perform
within it as supervisor and director, his activity
acquires a specific, many-sided content. But the labour
process itself is no more than the instrument of the
valorization process, just as the use-value of the product
is nothing but a repository of exchange-value.
The self-valorization of capital - the creation of
surplus-value - is therefore the determining, dominating
and overriding purpose of the capitalist; it is the
absolute motive and content of his activity. And in fact
it is no more than the rationalized motive and aim
of the hoarder - a highly impoverished and abstract
content which makes it plain that the capitalist is just as
enslaved by the relationships of capitalism as is
his opposite pole, the worker, albeit in a quite
different manner."

("Results of the Immediate Process of Production" 1863-1866 Marx, Appendix to Capital,vol. I, Penguin ed., pp. 989-90)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Wobbly Times number 25



via Doug Henwood's LBO-talk.....Ed Hyman, Wall Street's favorite economist, features a poll asking who's been helped most by the Obama administration's economic policies:

large banks 62%
Wall Street 54
manufacturing firms 21
people who've lost jobs 15
average working person 13
small biz 11
my family/me 10

For once, Americans are dead on! Can Australians be thinking the same about Rudd's Labor Government?

**********************************


William Black, the government regulator who
fingered House speaker Jim Wright, John McCain,
John Glenn and other members of the "Keating Five"
for bribe-taking during the S & L crisis and is now a
prof at the University of Missouri, has been sounding
a similar note for some time. In April, he told
Bill Moyers that "the entire strategy is to keep
people from getting the facts..."

"[Moyers] Are you saying that Timothy Geithner,
the Secretary of the Treasury, and others in the
administration, with the banks, are engaged in a
cover up to keep us from knowing what went wrong?

"[Black] Absolutely....

"They're deliberately leaving in place the people
that caused the problem, because they don't want
the facts. And this is not new. The Reagan
Administration's central priority, at all times,
during the Savings and Loan
crisis, was covering up the losses.

"[Moyers] So, you're saying that people in power,
political power, and financial power, act in concert
when their own behinds are in the ringer,
right?

"That's right. And it's particularly a crisis that
brings this out, because then the class of the
banker says, "You've got to keep the information
away from the public or everything will collapse."

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/04032009/transcript1.html


see also the Citibank report on Plutonomy.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wobbly Times number 24




LAST DAYS OF EARTH (as we know it)

October Perth I

a fresh cool breeze
from last night's rain
blows through
clear blue skies again
green hued leaves
bleary reds of
bottle brushes
sweeping hints
of lilac blossom
brown seeds
tip from hats
of flowers
waving free
vibrating orange
and yellows too
wake yet
another spring
from winter's reign
shaking sleepies
from its brain




October Perth II




Spring is here


Cold then warm


Breeze and Sun


Cloud hides heat


and then flows on


flowers bees


the whole shebang




Promising blues skies


beckon me


Hope


Lust


Fecund


iSSSSSSSSSSSS


all there


in and out


of you


again

Friday, September 11, 2009

Wobbly Times number 22



Productivity is measured as a worker's average output of wealth per hour. You've all done very well! Your productivity has skyrocketed over the years. Congratulations!






source:
Workers productivity

International workers productivity comparisons
However....


Wages and Benefits: Real Wages (1964-2004)
REAL WAGES
1964-2004
Average Weekly Earnings (in 1982 constant dollars)
For all private nonfarm workers
Year Real $ Change
1964 302.52
1965 310.46 2.62%
1966 312.83 0.76%
1967 311.30 -0.49%
1968 315.37 1.31%
1969 316.93 0.49%
1970 312.94 -1.26%
1971 318.05 1.63%
1972 331.59 4.26%
1973 331.39 -0.06%
1974 314.94 -4.96%
1975 305.16 -3.11%
1976 309.61 1.46%
1977 310.99 0.45%
1978 310.41 -0.19%
1979 298.87 -3.72%
1980 281.27 -5.89%
1981 277.35 -1.39%
1982 272.74 -1.66%
1983 277.50 1.75%
1984 279.22 0.62%
1985 276.23 -1.07%
1986 276.11 -0.04%
1987 272.88 -1.17%
1988 270.32 -0.94%
1989 267.27 -1.13%
1990 262.43 -1.81%
1991 258.34 -1.56%
1992 257.95 -0.15%
1993 258.12 0.07%
1994 259.97 0.72%
1995 258.43 -0.59%
1996 259.58 0.44%
1997 265.22 2.17%
1998 271.87 2.51%
1999 274.64 1.02%
2000 275.62 0.36%
2001 275.38 -0.09%
2002 278.91 1.28%
2003 279.94 0.37%
2004 277.57 -0.84%



Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics




Your real wages have gone down, down, down since 1964. At the same time, your real productivity has gone up, up, up. You're being screwed fellow workers and you think you're so classless and free.

And the everyday solution to this robbery of your time, wealth and power?


The Four Hour Day with no cut in pay.

"Whether you work by the piece or work by the day, decreasing the hours increases the pay." Mary Steward, wife of Ira Steward the eight-hour day pioneer.

"So long as there is one man who seeks employment and cannot obtain it, the hours of labor are too long.'" Samuel Gompers, first president of the American Federation of Labor.

"Further steps toward a reformation of society can never be carried out with any hope of success, unless the hours of labour be limited, and the prescribed limit strictly enforced." R.J. Saunders, English Factory Inspector, 1848.

"The limitation of the working-day is a preliminary condition without which all further attempts at improvement and emancipation must prove abortive..." Resolution adopted by the First Congress of the International Workingmen's Association, drafted by Karl Marx.

"A nation is really rich if the working day is 6 hours rather than twelve. Wealth is disposable time, and nothing more." Charles Wentworth Dilke.

"The ideal working day of the future cannot be eight hours, for it must be essentially a progressive ideal."/ Sydney J. Chapman

Workers are hired for wages. The total wage bill for the workers hired amounts to less than the new wealth they create during their time at work. Time is the key. Over the labour time, the good or service which the worker is producing amount to more than the wages they are hired for on the labour market. Wages now amount to about 12% of the wealth workers are employed to create in the USA. Another way of putting it is that the wages paid to our class for creating the wealth of an 8 hour day amount to about 12% of the working day or .96 of an hour.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Wobbly Times number 21


Entre Nous Ma Cherie


Most of us

in the industrialsed world

face our banal lives

as REALITY

and tuck away

the fact that we

face nearly

instantaneous anilhillation

a souped-up holocaust

We also may be dimly aware

that millions of children

die each each year

for lack of clean water

(keep that one buried in your misanthropic id)

But

for the most part

our thought-time

is spent

wage-labouring

for the boss

or commuting

sometimes for hours

with TV

shopping and

texting inbetween

roaming past

another screen

sitting front another

Be at peace baby

Don't you worry

'bout a thing

and take good care of your kids


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wobbly Times number 20


Table 3: Share of wealth held by the Bottom 99% and Top 1% in the United States, 1922-2004.
Bottom 99 percent Top 1 percent
1922 63.3% 36.7%
1929 55.8% 44.2%
1933 66.7% 33.3%
1939 63.6% 36.4%
1945 70.2% 29.8%
1949 72.9% 27.1%
1953 68.8% 31.2%
1962 68.2% 31.8%
1965 65.6% 34.4%
1969 68.9% 31.1%
1972 70.9% 29.1%
1976 80.1% 19.9%
1979 79.5% 20.5%
1981 75.2% 24.8%
1983 69.1% 30.9%
1986 68.1% 31.9%
1989 64.3% 35.7%
1992 62.8% 37.2%
1995 61.5% 38.5%
1998 61.9% 38.1%
2001 66.6% 33.4%
2004 65.7% 34.3%

Sources: 1922-1989 data from Wolff (1996). 1992-2004 data from Wolff (2007).
Even though the USA has a democratic political system, the people who have the most wealth, also have greater power to express their political wills. Are the major stock, bond, and non-residential real estate barons running your nation?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Wobbly Times number 19



Winter's End
The bees are humming


around the rosemary


The Sun is warm


in ice-cold air


My garlic is sprouting


green rocket head


up through composted



ever ancient Australian soil


And I'm reading Carl Sandburg's


The People yes part 99


dressed in heat soaking black


beret Basque atop my naked head


dragonfly passing pollen


sipping nectar



me too


Dark


The Sun shrouded behind windblown clouds


nightshade on the mind


a hint of nuclear winter


makes my toes turn cold


Light


bright


white


The page regains its friendly hue


Sandberg speaks to me


to my way of thinking
echoes from a time gone by
and yet
here


Hope is with the general course of history


and the people make history


and tend towards freedom
as they stumble on


Friday, August 21, 2009

Wobbly Times number 18


Destination

In our brief passage through time
we leave our marks
if we try
Some just eat
drink
shit
piss and
wait for the inevitable
guaranteed outcome
Decomposition of the body
putrid mass turned fertilizer
we make the world anew
without our presence
Death becomes life
and life meanders
stumbles
crashes towards the end
again and again and again
We strive through love
to make a fucking connection
to reunite ourselves with our
self-replicating ancestors
microbiologal lives
in hot rocks
and steamy
prmitive swamps
amen
ah hell
most of us miss the mark
dominance/submission kills the spark
But
the Cambrian explosions
come and go
Meteorites hit the planets
Comets as well as asteroids
bringing amino acids
water and our bright futures
through the star dust Universe
Big Bang
banging on for 13.4 billion years now

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Wobbly Times number 17


The Limits of Control (2008)

A Bohemian conspiracy!




"Life has no value if four people are being killed every minute and in the final analysis, abuse wins the day." That is a rough translation from Spanish of a phrase very relevant to "The Limits of Control" which IMDb won't let me reproduce in the original because of 'spelling errors'. The great Mexican director,Pedro Infante filmed "La Vida No Vale Nada" in 1955. Might be worth checking out that film after watching "Limits of Control".

"Those who think they are important wind up in a cemetery – a handful of dust". Numerous characters repeat this sentence in Jarmusch's "Limits of Control". In fact, many sentences are repeated in "Limits...". "You don't speak Spanish." The answer is, "No." if you are on a secret mission and sitting at a café table with two cups of espresso. This is the intro you get in the assassin's game. Like Jarmusch's "Ghost Dog" our assassin is in to martial arts exercises. Like "Ghost Dog", he doesn't like mechanical, robotic like abusers.

Maybe abusers are CIA agents in Spain. More likely, Jarmusch's secretive base operatives symbolize worldwide power mongering abusers of life. Maybe, just maybe, there are people out there in the world, some maybe even who have taken psycho-active drugs like peyote, who want to demonstrate to these power mongering dominators that they aren't so powerful at that. 'Life is arbitrary" as the anonymous protagonist of the film played by Isaach de Bankolé says before he strangles the CIA Station Chief, played by Bill Murray, with an old guitar string.

Maybe, the limits of control are human beings! Oh, not human beings who use the various electronic trappings of identity of the modern world. Those human beings can be tracked and controlled. "No cell phones", says Jarmusch's protagonist. And what happens to those in the assassin's conspiratorial loop who use them? They are found dead or kidnapped by authorities who travel by black helicopter to secret bases in the Spanish bush. Yes, murder as a political weapon, human beings killed, even if they are beautiful and naked.

"How did you get in here?" Murray asks Isaach de Bankolé. "I used my imagination." And after all, as the French Situationists used to say, "Imagination is revolution." Imagination is also unpredictable, even arbitrary, so unlike machines or uniformed humans attempting to morph into androids in service to their rulers.

This movie is a secret operation. Think of it as an imagination-trip. Take it and be wary. Sometimes, it's not that you're paranoid, it's that they really are out to get you. Have a care. Don't let your guard down, even for one blissful second with a gorgeous woman. You're working now with Isaach de Bankolé. Let it happen. Let it wash over you. But remember the signs: two separate cups of espresso at one time at the café table;matchboxes (the ones with the boxer on the cover) swallow the coded paper which you'll find inside said matchbox after you've memorized the instructions for the next stop on your way towards ending abuse.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wobbly Times number 16


Carl Schmitt was a German Catholic authoritarian who hated liberal democracy and ended up supporting the Nazis. He was born on July 11, 1888. He was 29 years old when World War I ended in 1918. He didn't participate in the war.



Schmitt was disturbed by what he saw during the aftermath of 'The Great War'. What he saw was the breakdown of capitalist and aristocratic authority and with that decline, a transference of political authority from God to the secular, democratic State, a continuing assertion of working class interests, the expansion of democratic rights and the rise to power of the newly established Stalinist State in the wake of the Russian Revolution. To Schmitt's mind, these historical turns signalled a disastrous descent into decadence. Like his contemporary Heidegger, Schmitt feared an eventual victory of the working class and godless socialism in Germany and beyond.



Schmitt's solution to what he perceived as the decadence of the bourgeois democratic Weimar State was developed in his theory of political theology. Schmitt claimed that all moves away from a theocratically based State, such as those ruled by kings ('Dieu et mon droit') were steps in the direction of chaos, anarchy and the dissolution of civilisation. In the modern age, it seemed to Schmitt that the best cure for the decay of central, religiously sanctioned authority was fascism.



Fascism demands hierarchical, political obedience to the authority of the leader. What was demoralizing and decadent in the liberal democratic Weimar Republic was the lack of a 'Fuehrerprinzip' (leader principle). For Schmitt, the old feudal systems of kings invested by God had gradually been replaced by States based on the 'will of the people'. Thus, obedience to God's will, manifested through the sovereign king, had been replaced by a secular, democratic State of conflicting human wills and this was, in his view, the reason why Weimar was so culturally and politically decadent.



Hobbes' LEVIATHAN (1651) had profoundly influenced the young, reactionary Schmitt as had his authoritarian, Catholic upbringing. After all, the Pope was a kind of kingly servant of God who ruled his flock through divine authority and was infallible in terms of the orders he gave and actions he blessed. As for Hobbes, his philosophy argued that monarchy was the best form of government, the only one which could guarantee peace between human beings, who, if left to their own devices, would return to a state of Nature and a condition of constant war amongst themselves, for, as the BIBLE told him, humans were naturally sinners. Thus the need for authority, especially the divinely sanctioned authority of a monarch and Schmitt's own synthesis of Hobbesian philosophy and Catholic Church doctrine into 'political theology' was just the philosophy to fill that need. In fact Schmitt claimed that ALL political philosophy was at bottom based on theologically inspired notions.

Schmitt's views represent the roots of socially conservative, right-wing thinking: human nature is evil and ordinary humans need to be controlled by authorities who are not godless. His views coincide with the social psychology which is engendered within class societies, a social psychology which results in the social formation of an authoritarian personality character structure. Socialist humanists like Eric Fromm have developed a dialectically opposite position from Schmitt and reactionary philosophers like Heidegger. As opposed to right-wing, conservative thinking, Fromm found that human nature was instinctually connected to an urge for freedom, an urge which had to be continually tampened down within the political power hierarchies of class, sex, race and so on, so that the power of rulers and their ideas could remain in charge of the majority, the wealth producers of society, the working class of the modern world.

Carl Schmitt died on April 7, 1985. Like Heidegger, Schmitt never renounced his Nazi connected past.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Wobbly Times number 15


Wealth is power

Time is money

Political power is measured by the amount of others you can tell to produce wealth for you

Free-time is the true measure of a person's wealth

Freedom is having control/power over the wealth you produce

Friday, July 24, 2009

Wobbly Times number 14




Capitalist economists have no theory of capital. Where does capital come from? Most capitalist economists would say that capital comes from sales. Capitalists sell things on the market and people buy these things and voila! capital exists. If capitalists can't sell the stuff they own, no capital can come into existence. But, where do these things which capitalists sell come from?


They come from Nature and labour. Labour produces things and capitalists sell these things. Labour puts VALUE into goods and services and these goods and services are owned by those people who hire workers for wages. They sell these things at their value i.e. the amount of socially necessary labour time embodied in them. Labour time has to be in the commodity for it to have value. The value of commodities is not expressed in socially necessary labour time but by money prices. Money is the universal equivalent within whcih all commodities are measured. Money is itself a commodity. Money represents crystalized and crystalizing values being and potentially being produced within a class society. Thus, money itself is a commodity which is used to circulate commodities in markets, to sell them and is a measure of value which is created through the employment of workers producing goods and services during their eight or more hours of work. Prices are in turn subject to supply and demand in the marketplace. If there is not demand for the thing being produced, it has no use-value and cannot be sold for its exchange-value (the amount of socially necessary labour time embodied in it) and as the capitalist economist points out, no new capital/wealth comes into existence. So, the capitalist economist knows where capital is realized, in the sale; but not from where it originates, in the production process.


One exception to this rule of average labour time producing the wealth of nations, is Nature. Nature is not produced. Nature is there. If a capitalist owns some part of Nature e.g. a piece of land, the capitalist or landlord can sell that piece of land for a price which has no value. Nothing in the way of socially necessary labour time is embodied in some land which is owned within Nature by capitalists and landlords. On the other hand, some land does have average labour time in it in terms of buildings and the like. But lots of Nature is owned and sold for a price even though there is no labour time embodied in it, although the potential for producing wealth out of the owned land can and most often does come into play in terms of calculating the price of its sale e.g. mining interests.


So, there are two sources of wealth: Nature, as an owned commodity, and human labour time invested in the production of commodities which are owned by capitalists. The sale of a commodity legitimizes the need for it within the market. The market is a gathering of human beings who need goods and services. The market does not produce value rather, human beings validate the production of a good or service by consuming it, by expressing their need for the use-value embodied in the good or service commodity in the marketplace. They do this with their money.


What happens when the price of a commodity is way out of touch with its value? What happens when a commodity is selling for way more than its value?


We have seen what happens just recently when $8 trillion of housing wealth was wiped off the books of various holders. This is what a bubble is. It is a bubble because price has increasingly become separated from value through market speculation. A bubble is an inflated price with insufficient value to back it up. For example, when real estate speculators and bankers sell property wealth as collateralized debt obligations (cdos) and these cdos are backed up by home buyers with insufficient wages to pay off their property loans, the ones which have been bundled into said cdos, you have a bubble waiting to burst.


Wealth comes from labour and Nature, not from financial speculation and the consequent market manipulation of price. Wealth is created when M(money) is used by capitalist to buy C (capital) and has more wealth is produced M'(money) and realised after sale: M-C-M'. C is composed of fixed, circulating and variable capital. Variable capital is the labour time and skill purchased with money capital by people who own capital i.e. capitalists. Variable capital varies in the sense that a capitalist buys it for wages, after which the producer creates more value than what was expressed in her/his value. Labour is a commodity too, bought on the labour market. The price of labour time is expressed in money as wages. Capitalists own their money capital from selling the wealth which workers have created for sale in the marketplace earlier.


If wealth as measured in money is garnered from speculative bubble making, the middle C is missing or mostly missing and no new wealth is created by workers using the means of production (fixed capital) and elements from Nature e.g. coal, gas and other forms of circulating capital. What you have with bubbles is M-M'. You also have a lot of unemployment, suffering, poverty amidst plenty and lots of the other assorted social problems of the wages system.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Wobbly Times number 13




We're stressed in Australia! Hard to believe isn't it? How could we be stressed? We live in 'the lucky country'. Could it be wage-slavery getting us down? As it turns out, the answer is, "Yes".




Nine out of ten Australian workers attribute their high levels of stress to work. On top of the insecurities which abound about whether an Australian is going to be able to continue slaving away for the employing class (after all, how else to make a living than by having your boss buy your skills and time?), Aussies are also stressing themselves out by working overtime--FOR FREE!:


“A survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows that almost three million of the country's eight million employees regularly work extra hours and
most do not get paid for it.”


Don't organise with your fellow workers in the One Big Union. No, no, no, no, no. Shake hands with your boss and look wise. Class collaboration is the way. Listen to your pollies and responsible leaders on TV. They know what's best for you.








Saturday, July 11, 2009

Wobbly Times number 12


The current economic slump is rooted in the wages system. Under the wages system, a producer is obliged to sell his or her labour power in the marketplace for commodities for a price in order to make a living. Your skills are commodities as is everything else for sale within the capitalist system.
CEOs also sell their skills; but more often than not, CEOs already own so much wealth that they don't need their salaries to make a living. They make a living from the already accumulated wealth which they legally own and which they usually invest in stocks, bonds, real estate and other commodities, including financial instruments like hedge funds and other nations' currencies. Yes, money is a commodity too. Hence, CEOs are not workers; they are capitalists. Capitalists live from the wealth they appropriate from the workers through the everyday operation of the wages system. This appropriation is backed up by contract law: you sell your skills for a wage in exchange for the employer owning the product of your labour. Contract law is backed up by the power invested in the State: police, prisons, armies, navies and other forms of coercion.
Like all other commodities, the price of one's skills is tied to the amount of socially necessary labour time which is embodied in them. In this case, the commodity for sale is located in one's mind and body and expressed as skills. This socially necessary labour time comprises the labourer's exchange-value. The price or wage which the worker gets for his or her skills fluctuates around the value which is embodied in the worker's acquired skills. The fluctuation of the price/wage is determined by the supply of and demand for that particular skill set on the labour markets of the world.
Capitalists never buy (or employ, if you will) workers' skills unless they can make a profit from selling the product (good or service) which the worker (almost always in combination with other workers within an industrial division of labour) can produce. Thus, workers produce new values during the eight more or less hours which they are employed; all of which leads to the creation of new embodiments of socially necessary labour time, which in turn, always amount to more value than the value which workers' skills embody and sell for on the labour market. The price of the goods and/or services which are produced exceeds the wages which workers' skills are bought for. Capitalists make profits from selling these goods and/or services in the global marketplace for commodities. If there are lots of buyers, then more workers' skills are purchased. It there are fewer buyers then, fewer workers' skills are purchased and the unemployment rate goes up.
Meanwhile, workers' productivity has gone up, up and up over the years; it never goes down. For example, even though there are fewer workers producing new values in the non-financial industries of the USA today than there were in the 1980s, there has been a marked increase total output of goods and services. At the same time, real wages (wages adjusted for inflation) have stagnated. As productivity (output per worker) has increased, the socially necessary labour time embodied in the new values being created has dropped and with that drop has come a drop in the prices of many commodities, if one measures those prices in terms of real, inflation adjusted money. Still, the fact that workers' real wages have stagnated has had a profound effect on sales of new values being produced by them on the world market and that fact has led to insufficient demand in the market and to a consequent contradiction.
How to get the workers of the world, especially in the industrialised States to buy more of the goods and services they produce for capitalists to sell and make more profits?
Credit, loans and so on. Most workers have turned their union cards in for credit cards. It's no accident that 60% of the personal bankruptcies in the USA of recent date can be traced to credit card debt.
Where do capitalists invest all the wealth they've appropriated from their hired producers when it is apparent that the workers cannot produce sufficient demand?
Debt.
What if this debt has no value to back it up? What if there is no worker producing a concrete value to back up the debt which is being bought and sold on the world financial market? What if this debt, which promises huge percentage of return on investment, turns out to be empty of value? What if a bunch of housing is marketed to increasing amounts of workers who cannot afford to buy, except by incurring debt levels which their meagre, stagnating, real wages cannot absorb?
Investments by various capitalists go bust! An $8 trillion housing bubble has burst. Thus, workers must be laid off because they are too productive and cannot buy all the stuff that they can make. Workers can make housing. Workers can make all the things that they need; but they must lose their means of making a living because the wages system needs some structural adjustment.
Don't worry. Be happy wage-slaves. Study your horror-scopes and pray to your deities. The glaciers are melting and the system is broken. But just wait awhile and let the invisible hand of the market work and all will be well....for there's pie in the sky when you die and the banks are made of marble.