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

From: Dogan Goecmen (Dogangoecmen@AOL.COM)
Date: Thu Jan 04 2007 - 04:10:21 EST

_wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK_ (mailto:wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK) :

I was talking in  earlier emails about the history of political economy as it 
affected the then  existing labour movement. Since the 1990s the labour 
movement has had no clear  political economy of its own, having ceded ground to the 
Hayekians over the  role of the market and the need to restrict the role of 
the state in the  economy. This creates an intellectual vacuum that is both a 
danger and an  opportunity. The danger is that there will be no more than a 
revival in  Keynesianism, the opportunity is that we can establish a radical 
alternative  vision of 21st century socialism that goes well beyond the reforms  
of 20th century social democracy and also avoids the ultimately  fatal 
weaknesses of the Soviet model.
I agree with you that as socialists we have to do everything  in our power to 
avoid that there occurs any intellectual vacuum on our part. I  totally 
sypathise with what you say about the danger of a revival of  Keynesianism. And I 
am very well aware that our vision of the 21st century has  to avoid fatal 
weaknesses of the Soviet model, though we have to work out what  these fatal 
weaknesses were. Lastly, I am entirely on your side when you say  that our reform 
projects have to be much more radical than those championed by  social 
democracy in the 20th century, though we must not take this as an  absolute criteria 
because there might be situations which might require to refer  back to these 
reform projects. In any case our reform proposals must always be  accompanied 
by our long turm project or vision of the 21st century.
In this context I  think that whilst demands for a steeply progressive income 
tax and for a  shorter working week are certainly in the interests of the 
working class, they  suffer from the limitation of being much the same as what 
European Social  Democracy has done in the past. British and Swedish social 
democracy both  introduced steeply progressive income taxes. Chancellor Healey 
talked of  squeezing the rich until the pips squeaked with his high rates of 
income tax.  These income taxes even distinguished between ‘earned’ and ‘unearned’
 income,  taxing property income more steeply than earned income. French 
social  democracy  since the 30s made the restriction of the working week a key  
plank of its program. The enactment of the 35 hour week in France was  
certainly a progressive step and we could argue for its extension across the  
continent. However unless it is combined with stringent controls on capital  movement, 
there is no guarantee that it would reduce  unemployment.
Progressive income tax is originally a Marxist demand. Equally, the demand  
for shorter working day is as old as the labour movement. European Social  
Democracy adopted, though emptied in many senses (see New Deal policy in the  
States), these demands under the enormous pressure of the Soviet Union and  labour 
and socialist movements. Hayek was one of the first to recognise the  danger 
of these demands for capitalist classes and for capitalist system as  such. 
But I think that we have to take his observation that progressive  taxtation 
leads to the rise of a middle class. What Hayek does not say  explicitly but 
accepts imlicitly is that progressive taxation leads to the rise  and strenthening 
of the middle class because of the way they have been  implemented by social 
democracy who are as capitalist patriots as liberals and  conservatives. 
Socialists and labour movement in future have not only formulate  demands but also 
fight for the best way of implementation that accords to their  interests.This 
has been neglected in the past. In short, I do not think that  these demands 
are social democratic demands in essence. We do not need to  distance 
ourselves from them. But we need to reformulate them under the new  condistions in the 
21st century. 

Instead of these  sorts of measures we have to go back to Owen and focus on 
the basic wage/money  relationship and attack the institutions of money and 
wage labour with the  policies that we advance. Owen had the right idea in 
proposing labour vouchers  since so long as workers are paid less than the value 
they produce all the  other evils of capitalist society follow. This I believe 
has to be central  focus of our popularization of Marxist political economy. We 
have to bring  home to people how much they would benefit by were the full 
value they added  by their labour to paid back to them. To give an idea of  what 
it would mean, consider the fact that one hour of average labour in  Germany 
currently creates a  value of 32 Euro. This means that the purchasing power of 
a one hour labour  token would be the same as 32 Euro, and that the average 
pay (before tax)  would thus rise to the equivalent of 32 Euro per hour. How 
many people get  paid that well today?
I do not accept this dichitomy you seem to draw here. We can put forward  
these demands and still go to Owen, Saint Simon, Fourier and Marx, and attack  
the institution of wage labour as such. We have to remain dialecticians and  
think in terms of the dialectic of reform and revolution in Rosa Luxemburgian  
I do not agree with what you say about the demand that labourers should get  
the full value they add. I think this is illusionary just because it seems to  
rest on a concept of justice. This was the idea of neo-Ricardians and  
Proudhonists. From Marx's point of view this is wrong just becuase it does  not take 
into account that means of production must always be improved and  replaced. 
And it does not take into account that there will always be many other  
expenditures for infrastructure, transformation, communication leisure  
opportunities and so on to improve the public life. All these may amount to the  reduction 
from the full value workers add.
It is a great pleasure to have these debates because they help us a lot to  
clarify our minds before the next final historical sturm.

From:  OPE-L [mailto:OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU] On Behalf Of Dogan Goecmen
Sent: 01 January 2007 21:28
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] Keynes and Marx  (German)

I have difficulties  to follow this logic. The way you make the point seems 
to put us before an  alternative between Hayek and Keynes, between neoliberal 
parties and social  democrats. But are these two positions (parties) real 
alternatives we have to  accept? Or do we need to establish a third front that of 
real socialist  movement based on Marx's critique of political economy. Think 
of Owen. He  criticised Malthus and laissez faire policies. though he also 
developed ideas  about how to reform capitalism in favour of working classes. 
Particularly, in  his later writings he always referred to the concept of 
socialism to highlight  the fact that there is a needs for essential change in the 
property relations  of the means of production. The socialist and working class 
movement lost this  last mentioned project just becase they thought capitalism 
was reforming  itself and there was no need for revolutionary  changes.



In einer eMail vom  01.01.2007 22:10:14 Westeuropäische Normalzeit schreibt  

I would agree with  the point that you make below about co-option, but in the
process the  interests of finance capital and the colonial bourgeoisie had to 
take second  place.

But you should not deal with the state in the abstract,  abstracting from 
real political parties, their class basis and their  programatic aims. Keynes 
provided to social democracy a form of  political economy that enabled them
to at least carry out some  progressive measures. If you contrast the 
economy of Macdonald  to that of Atlee you can see the significance of the 
brought about  by Keynes.

Paul  Cockshott

-----Original  Message-----
From: OPE-L on  behalf of Dogan Goecmen
Sent: Mon 1/1/2007 8:30 PM
Subject: Re:  [OPE-L] Keynes and Marx  (German)

It is also necessary to take into account the  circumstances of the  class
struggle at the international level.  Doing so, 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


I find your remarks  above extreemly interesting. This is exacly the point  
that  explains the success of Keynesianism. This is also the point I was  
to make in the passage  below.

>> Der Keynesianismus, der ein  englisches Produkt  ist, ist auch in
>> diese Tradition  einzuordnen und sein Verhältnis zum  Marxismus ist
>> im  Lichte dieser Entwicklung zu sehen. Seinerzeit  musste schon  der
>> zynische liberale John Stuart Mill, der zuerst die  in  England
>> geboren Idee  des Sozialismus, zum Fremdkörper erklärte,  musste
>> unter  dem Druck der Straße, ohne seinen eklektisch liberalen   Geist
>> aufzugeben, an Marxismus Zugeständnisse machen. Doch  nach  der
>> Oktoberrevolution half all das nicht mehr. Da  musste  eine
>> konservative Theorie mit einem linken  'Anschein' erfunden  werden.
>> In der Wirtschaftstheorie  entspricht der Keynesianismus  diesem
>>  Bedürfnis.



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