Archive for the ‘Commodification’ Category

This year is Marx’s bicentennial.  He was born in 1818 (May 5).  And March 14 was the 135th anniversary of his death.

This year is also the 170th anniversary of the Communist Manifesto.

Below are some of the pieces we have run on Redline about Marx’s ideas, including pieces which showing their continuing relevance to understanding the world as it is and as it could be.

What is Marxism?

What is exploitation?

How capitalism works – and why it doesn’t

Two articles on Wages, prices & lies and capitalist crisis

4,000 words on Capital

Karl Korsch on “tremendous and enduring” impact of Marx’s Capital (1932)

Engels on Marx on the Working Day

Marx’s critique of classical political economy

Capital, the working class and Marx’s critique of political economy

Capital and the state

How capitalist ideology works

Pilling’s Marx’s Capital: philosophy, dialectics and political economy

How capitalism under-develops the world

The political economy of low-wage labour 

Whatever happened to the leisure society?

Pensions and the retirement age – the problem is capitalism, not an aging population

A nightmare in whiteware: the ‘teamwork’ system, exploitation and alienation

Value, price and the ‘transformation problem’ in Marx’s Capital

The transformation problem and Marx’s crisis theory

Productive and unproductive labour in capitalist society

The use-value of Marx’s value theory

Advertisements

May 5 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx.  Below we’re running a review of Francis Wheen’s biography of Marx.  The review was written when the bio first came out and is by a prominent British Marxist.  Its author probably did more than anyone else to re-establish Marx’s crisis theory in the English-speaking world, back in the early 1970s, and also both to re-establish the Marxist tradition in Britain on ‘the Irish Question’ and the imnpact of imperialism on the political outlook of the British working class and the Marxist approach to Labourism and the British Labour Party.  We’ve added a few more subheads and paragraph divides to break up the text.

by David Yaffe

The first short biography of Karl Marx could be said to have been produced by his great friend and collaborator Frederick Engels on 17 March 1883 in a speech heard by the ten other people gathered together in Highgate Cemetery for Marx’s funeral. It offers very clear guidelines to those who would take it upon themselves to write future biographies. Marx, said Engels, was before all else a revolutionary:

‘His real mission in life was to contribute, in one way or another, to the overthrow of capitalist society and of the state institutions which it had brought into being, to contribute to the liberation of the modern proletariat, which he was the first to make conscious of its own position and its needs, conscious of the conditions of its emancipation. Fighting was his element. And he fought with a passion, a tenacity and a success such as few could rival.’

So the appearance of yet another biography of Karl Marx, this time by the former Guardian columnist Francis Wheen,1 claiming that ‘it is time to strip away the mythology and rediscover Karl Marx the man’ (p1), should put us on our guard. For Marx the man cannot be separated from his real mission in life and the dedication and commitment that invariably accompanied it.

Faint praise

A biography like any other ‘commodity’ has to have a market niche. Another tabloid-style denunciation of the man and his works would have little mileage. Neither would a revolutionary vindication of Marx. Wheen knows his punters – he wrote weekly for them in The Guardian. They rejected Thatcherism and a Labour Party gone Thatcherite. They are disturbed by untrammelled market forces, corporate domination, financial speculation and increasing stress and insecurity at work. They are alarmed by environmental destruction and Third World poverty but want well-stocked supermarkets supplied by global markets. They want to see change but not (more…)

Pic: Rosa Woods/Stuff

by Don Franks

Delivering her pre-Budget speech to a Business New Zealand audience, Labour prime minister Ardern said business confidence was “the elephant in the room”.

Business confidence has apparently been low since the new government took office. A business confidence survey conducted by NZIER found businesses had become pessimistic about economic outlook for the first time in two years after Labour assumed office.

There is no need to worry.

Over the last hundred and two years, Labour has demonstrated a loyalty to capitalism that can’t really be faulted. During the 1951 waterfront workers lockout, possibly the most tense class standoff after the land wars in New Zealand history, Labour delivered for the class they have always answered to. “Labour is neither for nor against the watersiders,” party leader Walter (later Sir Walter) Nash declared.

The pattern of behaviour continued in later years, all down the line.

Following the stock market crash of October, 1987 capitalism was in trouble. State-owned enterprises started (more…)

Every week the French marxist workers’ organisation Lutte Ouvriere produces factory and other workplace bulletins that are distributed at workplaces all across France.  Each workplace bulletin contains news and analysis of stuff from that particular workplace and an editorial which appears in them all.  Below is a translation of the editorial from the April 23 bulletins.  This editorial deals with the railroad workers’ struggle and its wider political significance.  The Lutte Ouvriere website is here.

by Lutte Ouvriere

Almost three weeks into the strike, SNCF workers remain determined and the strike continues. Week after week, SNCF top managers keep announcing that the strike is losing momentum but, whether they like it or not, there were more railroad workers on strike on April 19 than there were on April 13. And a lot of those who took part in the demonstrations organized throughout the country on the 19th agreed with the railroad workers’ action. Youngsters who oppose university selection and retirees who oppose the drain that the CSG[1] inflicts on their pension were joined by workers from the public and private sectors.

In the town of Reims, the entire staff of a Monoprix supermarket quit work to join the local demonstration. In Limoges, workers who are threatened with being sacked from Legrand (manufacturer of electrical fittings) and from Steva (a metal stamping plant), were also in the street. And in many other towns, numerous workers used this day to show solidarity with the railroad workers and also to say that they’ve had enough.

French president Macron said that he isn’t “the president of the rich”, adding that the rich don’t need a president to defend them. True enough! The bourgeoisie (more…)

Gareth from the Otago Socialist Society is presenting and hosting a discussion on Wage Labour and Capital, Monday (April 30).

Written in 1847 by Karl Marx and published towards the end of the wave of European revolutions that began in 1848, Wage Labour and Capital is a short, accessible pamphlet that introduces the substance of Marx’s critique of political economy and capitalism.

While it was written a cebtury and a half ago, the principles of Marx’s thought presented in the text are very much applicable today.

5.30pm, Monday, April 30
Seminar room
Third floor
Dunedin Public Library
All welcome

Following a break after the substantial discussions on Imperialism in the 21st Century, the Imperialism Study/Discussion Group is moving on to Tony Norfield’s work on  the global financial system.  These discussions are being led by Tony, who recommends the following:

  1. Short article: https://economicsofimperialism.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/britains-financial-machinery.html

  2. Short article: https://economicsofimperialism.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/what-is-marxs-value-theory-worth.html

  3. Short article:  https://economicsofimperialism.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/capitalism-imperialism-profit-and.html

  4. Notes for a talk: https://economicsofimperialism.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/value-theory-finance-and-imperialism.html

  5. Video/audio of lecture: https://soas.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=76d81ed6-e831-44e1-bd14-931b381df70e

For this last item, the presentation, together with a Q&A session, takes a little over one hour, and it is possible to scroll through the presentation file used. (The only amendment I would make is that early on in my talk I wrongly said that Carlsberg was a Netherlands company, when it is Danish, and I should also have noted that Anheuser-Busch InBev/SAB Miller also had a US connection. I had other things on my mind at the time!)

The Imperialism Study/Discussion Group initiated by Redline is now moving on to Tony Norfield’s work on the global financial system.

At the same time, people involved in the study/discussion continue to chat about imperialism in the 21st century and, in particular, about the critique John Smith has made of David Harvey in relation to imperialism today.

Below is a note from John about the continuing debate with Harvey and his supporters on the subject and a follow-up note from Walter Daum, another participant in the study/discussion group.

From John:

‘Exploitation and super-exploitation’ — https://mronline.org/2018/04/14/exploitation-and-super-exploitation/ — is a small (literally, just 1400 words) further step towards what Ilyenkov would call a ‘universal concrete concept’ of contemporary imperialist capitalism, a mammoth task involving many volumes and people and debate; the quest for which has all along guided work on my thesis and then the book.

The article arose from a request on short notice for a short piece on the topic of ‘exploitation in the global economy’ from the Crisis and World Economy working group of CLACSO, a pan-Latin American academic social science network. The Spanish version is available from https://www.clacso.org.ar/grupos_trabajo/archivos/57_bole.pdf.

Help with their dissemination is much appreciated.

It has set in motion a little project: to (more…)