Re: (OPE-L) Re: the secret by which the capitalist class maintains its power

From: michael a. lebowitz (mlebowit@SFU.CA)
Date: Fri Sep 19 2003 - 11:53:21 EDT

At 20:06 17/09/2003 -0400, jerry wrote:
>Previously I asked:
>4) Is it accurate to say today (i.e. re contemporary
>capitalism) that working-class division is the "secret by which
>the capitalist class maintains its power"?
>Mike L responded:
>         I'm afraid that I would say 'no'--- no more than in 1870 when
> Marx wrote his letter. The premise is that a united working class in
> itself would be sufficient to take away that power. However, insofar as
> the wage-form in itself is the basis for 'all the notions of justice held
> by both the worker and the capitalist, all the mystifications of the
> capitalist mode of production...' and insofar as the mystification of
> capital means that all social productivity and wealth appear to be the
> result of capital, there is a more fundamental reason for capital's power
> than the lack of organisation of workers. We have to remember why Marx
> wrote CAPITAL.
>There is another issue as well.  Even if the working class is united, the
>question remains:  unity for what?   In some historical cases, working-
>class unity might have been the "secret" by which the capitalist class
>maintained power.  E.g. the Peron regime in Argentina was widely
>supported by the organized working class yet it did not represent a threat
>to capitalism.  (Claudio,  Alberto:  do you agree?).   There can, for
>be class unity around  reformism or social democracy.

         I think this point comes back to the question of the 'secret'.
Even in the case where the working class has succeeded in 'winning the
battle of democracy', ie has captured the ability to govern, it obviously
does not necessarily constitute a threat to capital. In Beyond CAPITAL
(2003), I cite the Manifesto and propose:

>The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degrees, all
>capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all instruments of production
>in the hands of the State, i.e., of the proletariat organized as the
>ruling class; and to increase the total of productive forces as rapidly as
>possible' (Marx and Engels, 1848: 504).

>         The critical premise for the successful execution of such a
> programme, however, is that workers no longer view themselves as
> dependent upon capital. Until workers break with the idea that capital is
> necessary, a state in which workers have political supremacy will act to
> facilitate conditions for the expanded reproduction of capital (Lebowitz,
> 1995). The state, accordingly, remains entirely within the bounds of the
> capitalist relation and is its guarantor so long as workers look upon
> capital's requirements as 'self-evident natural laws.' (191)

         in solidarity,

Michael A. Lebowitz
Professor Emeritus
Economics Department
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6
Office Fax:   (604) 291-5944
Home:   Phone (604) 689-9510

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