[OPE-L:2835] Re: Zapatista's encuentro

Gerald Lev (glevy@pratt.edu)
Thu, 22 Aug 1996 18:48:18 -0700 (PDT)

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Massimo wrote in [OPE-L:2825]:

> 4. About the economic subgroup Fred and I participated. I disagree
> with Fred's description. Sure, we both agreed that the falling rate of
> profit is at the basis of neoliberal strategies. The difference is on
> the interpretation of the reason of this decline. For him was that it
> was "the objective dynamics of capitalism, e.g. mainly technological
> change with increased the composition of capital and the ratio of
> unproductive labour to productive labour". For me it was that these
> are not objective, external and lifeless dynamics, and therefore there
> is no POLITICAL USE in interpreting them as such. These dynamics must
> be interpreted as the end results of struggles and capital's counter
> strategies. Both struggles and capital's reaction occur in given
> circumstances and contexts. We should study these to be of any help to
> the political activity of emancipation. Thus for example, "workers'
> struggles for higher wages and less work" - which Fred says I have
> indicated as the cause of the falling rate of profit, is exactly what
> was at the basis of the process of restructuring of the late 1970s and
> 1980s, that is, what Fred's calls "technological change". These
> struggles occurred necessarily within given conditions of the division
> of labour, that workers were able to turn from an instrument of
> oppression into an organisational weapon (take for example wild cut
> strikes which strength derived from the Fordist organisation of work).
> It is clear that one of the main targets of capital's restructuring
> was the disruption of the Fordist factory in many areas. My main
> objection to Fred's interpretation was therefore this: what is the
> role of people in his interpretation of the falling rate of profit?
> The other CRUCIAL question is this: What is the political implication
> of an objectivist analysis such as Fred's? He gave us an indication in
> his conclusion which I hope I can summarise correctly: the problem is
> capitalism (with its objective dynamics), the solution is socialism.
> Yes but, Fred, two points. 1. how do we get to "socialism" if not
> through the activity of real human beings. And if this is the case,
> wouldn't be of central importance to understand the material
> conditions in which people work for capital and the limits and
> strength of their struggles against it? Isn't this the central human
> element of the "falling rate of profit"? Shouldn't we offer an
> analysis of these strengths and weaknesses in relation to given
> conditions of production and social organisations? 2. What is the
> future "socialism" if not something that we start to create in the
> present? And if this is the case, what does the statement "the problem
> is capitalism, the solution is socialism" tells us about the human and
> social CONTENT of "socialism". What does it tell to the indigenous
> populations which were hosting us? What does it tell to the self
> organised Italian workers present in our subgroups, etc. I DON'T MEAN
> here to say that Fred should have provided a detailed analysis of an
> alternative social organisation. Of course not. What I mean to say is
> that the human content of the future "socialism" is here and now in
> form both of a problem and an opportunity. As a problem it must be
> discussed in terms of the problems we face vis-a-vis capital, as
> mentioned in 1. and in this case, the "falling rate of profit" need to
> be interpreted in a way to include real people. As an opportunity we
> need to discuss forms of alternative social organisation with all
> sectors of the working class. And here, sine the aim is to transcend
> capitalism, the falling rate of profit has no role to play.

I am looking forward to reading Fred's response to the above and the
subsequent discussion.

Perhaps Fred and Massimo would consider sending us the papers that they
presented at the Zapatista meeting. I suspect that there is much more to
both theories than has been presented in Massimo's and Fred's posts and I
would like to see the issues discussed since both Fred and Massimo
evidently believe that the issues are extremely significant.

Fred and Massimo -- thanks for the reports!

In OPE-L Solidarity,