Re: [OPE-L] Keynes and Marx (German)

From: cmgermer@UFPR.BR
Date: Tue Jan 02 2007 - 15:26:04 EST

Your questions are all very challanging, and Iíll try to answer them:

>>  it is possible to argue
> that the alliance you suggest was not directed against finance capital but
> against the (revolutionary) socialist movement worldwide, at a time when
> the USSR had defeated nazism and the communists in the countries occupied
> by the Nazi army had been among the main forces that fought the invadors.
> Communism all over the world and the Communist parties in many Western
> European countries increased very significantly their political influence.
> Thus, it was highly necessary for the capitalist class to coopt their
> workers. <
> Claus:
> 1. Which Communist Parties could be considered to be revolutionary
> socialist  after WW2?

this is a very difficult and wide ranging question and I donít feel able
to answer it right now. But tt seems to me that such a specification is
not necessary to the argument I was making.

>> higher living standards (above the value of labour power) can only be
> temporary and localized and do not eliminate exploitation, and in fact
> relative surplus value must have increased strongly in the 'glorious' 25
> year period, thanks to the rapid development of the productive forces that
> you mention. <
> 2. The VLP can itself change over time and hence an increase in living
> standards can be something more than just temporary and localized.

It seems to me to be obvious that the VLP not only can but must change
over time, having a tendency to fall as a result of the increase in the
productivity of labor, causing the increase of relative surplus value. But
the increase of wages above the VLP is another thing, because it reduces
the surplus value and hence the rate of profit. Since the capitalist
economy goes cyclicly, it seems to me that it is sound to say that wages
are above and below the VLP correspondingly to the phases of the cicle.
Thus wages above or below the VLP are temporary. The extent of time which
each situation can last may vary, I agree. Again, in the context of my
post to Paul C., I wanted to emphasize the fact that wage and other gains
are not permanent and progressive towards socialism. Taking into
consideration the division of the world market into many different
regional situations, among them the distinction between the leading
capitalist countries and the peripheral ones, the localized character of
wages in relation to the VLP seems realistic.

>>  From a Marxist point of view
> the workers should not fight to become less exploited slaves, they should
> fight to free themselves from slavery. <
> 3. With all due respect, I think this is a sectarian formulation.  Of
> course,  we should oppose the wages system.   However, we should also
> support and participate in struggles for increased wages (and benefits,
> etc.)
> by workers.  The "fight to free themselves from slavery"  does not fall
> from
> the sky or result from proclamations which say "Socialist Revolution
> Now!".    Before workers can develop revolutionary consciousness they
> have to learn for themselves through their own struggles the meaning of
> the current system.  If we say to workers "don't fight to become less
> exploited" when they fight for higher wages, then we cut ourselves from
> many workers' struggles today and thus become spectators from afar and
> 'above' in the arena of class conflict.

I agree with you, and this is not what I meant. This is a very complex
subject in which I am not an expert, so let me be more specific about the
meaning of my sentence: first, behind it is a critic to the reformist view
of the transition to socialism, reformism meaning the belief that the
gradual and steady reduction of the degree of exploitation is a feasible
way to socialism; second, of course socialists have of necessity to
participate in struggles for increased wages and all kinds of rights. I
agree that this is an essential condition for workers to develop
revolutionary consciousness. My point is that there is a reformist and a
revolutionary way of conducting those struggles. The reformist way is to
isolate the struggles for immediate gains from the struggle for socialism,
believing (explicitly or implicitly) that those gains are permanent and
that socialism will come naturally as a result. The revolutionary way is
to subordinate the struggles for immediate gains to a systematic effort
for the creation of the conditions necessary to overthrow the capitalist

Maybe my phrase becomes acceptable with the addition of just one word:
ďFrom a Marxist point of view the workers should not fight JUST to become
less exploited slaves, they should fight to free themselves from slaveryĒ.

I would also remind that I was disputing Paul Cís opinion that the
increase in the living standard of the workers was one of the progressive
steps made possible by the suggested alliance between industrial capital
and the British workers against finance capital. When isolated from a
socialist movement, such a gain leads more probably to the cooptation
(does this word exist? I didnít find it in my dictionnary) of the workers
for capitalism than to raise their socialist consciousness.

>> full employment can only strengthen the position of labour against
>> capital
> in market terms, i.e., of the workers as sellers of labour power, but it
> weakens the position of socialism against capitalism. If there is
> employment for all, and higher standards of living, why fight capitalism?
> <
> 4. So, if there is full employment and rising living standards then the
> prospects for socialism are nil?  Are you implicitly making some
> assumption
> about the increasing 'decadence' of the capitalist system?

No, Iím not making such an assumption. In my opinion capitalism will come
to an end not through increasing decadence, but through increasing
development of the productive forces and the resulting development of the
class contradictions and the class struggle. But I think the class
struggle is a cyclical process, where the relative position of capitalists
and workers change according to a great number of circumstances. In times
of rising employment and living standards, corresponding to a phase of
increased accumulation of capital, ceteris paribus, the prospects for
socialism tend to be less favorable than in the opposite case. But I donít
think that this is a general rule, because there are other circumstances
in the determination of the relative class position. And again, the phrase
you quote refers to the context of the 25 golden years in England,
mentioned by Paul C.

> In solidarity, Jerry

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