Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Capitalist Meltdown

By now you've all see those adverts on TV begging for gold offering you a wonderful opportunity to exchange your unwanted jewellery for additional asset liquidity in these challenging economic times. These vultures entrepreneurs are everywhere: on TV, in shopping centres... in capitalist terms, everywhere. Now, you don't need me to tell you that this is a scam and that anyone who actually goes ahead with this is going to be woefully underpaid for their gold (they're better as a quick no questions asked market for stolen jewellery than anything else), but that's not the topic of this post.

Instead I want to look at the economics behind the transaction in Marxian terms. The intellectual poverty of bourgeois economics is exposed here, able only to tell us that the seller of the gold does so because s/he needs money, while the buyer of the gold does so for... more money. By applying the labour theory of value we can get a better idea of what's happening beneath the surface.

When gold is processed into jewellery socially useful labour is performed adding value to the end product. By melting down jewellery value is destroyed, this apparent madness is financially justified by the capitalist as it allows for the purchasing of (although not the creation of) large quantities of money capital.

The same drive to destroy value can be seen throughout the economy during a capitalist crisis. This process allows for the rationalisation of the market, overcoming the problem of overproduction. The necessary consequence of capitalist productive relations is that more commodities are produced than can be consumed (purchased). This abundance of value in the economy then needs to be destroyed; as far as methods of destroying value goes, gold vultures are preferable to a World War, I guess, although a public works programme wouldn't go amiss.

The Drums of War

The Daily Telegraph is often viewed as little more than a more respectable version of the Daily Express, but sometimes they even fail at that. Sure, this recent blog entry from Nile Gardiner uses complete sentences and appears to have mastered the art of punctuation, but does it mask its inherent racism more successfully?

“The Falklands conflict: tin-pot tyrant Hugo Chavez roars like a mouse against the British lion”

I guess not, he didn't even make it past the headline.

But what's that? 'Tyrant'? As in dictator? Surely not?

“It’s rather pathetic when a Third World dictator starts ranting and raving like a caricature villain from a Bond movie circa 1973.”

Huh, I guess being repeatedly democratically elected, having pushed through numerous democratic reforms, having an approval rating no British Prime Minister could dream of makes him a dictator. But this frequent Fox News pundit doesn't stop there:

“In a rather hysterical televised speech worthy of Saddam himself, the Butcher of Caracas and prominent state sponsor of terrorism declared...”

See he's like Saddam, let's emphasise that fact. As well as being a dictator (which he's not), and having used American WMDs to commit genocide against an ethnic minority in his own country (except he hasn't) and he was overthrown by the US (which he was... for two days).

But the 'Butcher of Caracas' couldn't be a reference to the Chavista violence which led to the coup which Fox News reliably continues to remind its viewers of could it, despite having been exposed as a fabrication repeatedly? Well, yes, but that's an understandable mistake to make, it's not like he claims to be an expert on international affairs...

Oh damn.

Now, some evil leftist bloggers may use the opportunity to point out that accusing Chavez of being a state sponsor of terror is an outright lie; sure these claims aren't recognised by all those other tin-pot coloured people countries, but at least the US have placed them on their recently updated state-sponsors of terror list... oh, oops.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Absurdity of BBC Impartiality

A man has been killed with malice and intent, the BBC reports this as a murder. It is revealed that Israel was responsible, suddenly the very nature of the death is transformed and it becomes a 'targeted killing'. This is the absurdity of the BBC's laughably named 'impartiality'; the severity, nature and name of the crime (it, of course, cannot be reported as a 'crime' now) is dependent upon the culprit.

Impartiality (standing in contrast to objectivity) will always, by definition, portray the guilty party with obscurantistly favourable language. A murder is a murder regardless of who was responsible.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Why Not?

The news that Phil BC of A Very Public Sociologist has defected from the Socialist Party to the Labour Party is likely to raise some negative response from those parts of the left where “Labour Party” has become a curse word interchangeable with “Tory” or “Dirty Bastards”. And it's certainly not like the Labour Party leadership hasn't spent the last sixteen years attempting prove those people right. But Phil's analysis of the Labour Party is one that I and most (big 'C') Communists can largely agree with.

This is what he has to say on the matter:

Thirdly is the question of the Labour party. For anyone concerned with socialist strategy and working class politics, how one deals with Labour remains *the* central strategic issue. Though I have blown hot and cold over the characterisation of Labour since being a SP member, but I never believed the party's settled position that it was a straight party of capital not fundamentally different from the Tories and LibDems. Aside from the formal affiliation of most of the major trade unions, there remain thousands of small scale links. For instance the majority of union activists who are members of a political party are in Labour. You'll find thousands of Labour party members in community-based campaigns too. Neither can you hide from the fact that despite some decomposition in Labour's support, its working class base remains stubbornly welded to it.

Like it or not (as the case is perhaps most likely to be) any working class political project which does not involve Labour may as well not exist, and any nationwide programme for workers' representation in Parliament begins and ends with Labour.

It is also true that the Labour Party, for all its sins (and recently they have been many) is a special kind of party: not only is it distinct by its very nature from the Bourgeois parties but it's structure and relationship with the labour movement as a whole makes it unique amongst the social-democratic parties of the Second International in Europe.

It is for these reasons and others that Phil BC should not be asked to justify his decision to join Labour, but those of us who deem themselves committed socialists and serious labour movement activists yet choose to remain outside of the Labour Party who should think carefully about our justifications.

I, as someone who has himself considered a similar move in the recent past, and drawing inspiration from Harry Pollitt and his “Why You Should Be A Communist” (1945) pamphlet have come to the conclusion that a Communist Party organising independently of the Labour Party (and also standing clearly apart from the ultra-leftism so prominent in the extra-Labour left) plays a vital role within the Labour movement, even if its destiny is not Parliamentary success or the glamour of Government. Much as a minor species can play a vital role within an eco-system, in which its demise could slay elephants, the absence of a Party which can put forward clearly and agitate for a programme of true working class politics, a party which can train, educate and indirectly influence young trade unionists and socialists, a generation of Labour Party activists can spring up who have little direct experience of genuine socialist politics, perhaps sensing the hollowness of the New Labour programme but not knowing the alternative.

This may seem an unrealistically grandiose view of the Communist Party, and I am by no means suggesting that the current CPB is capable of taking on this role, but many of the best and most prominent activists within the Labour Party and the Trade Union movement were fellow travellers if not outright former card holders.

It is in rebuilding a party which can take up this duty as its own, in a symbiotic (if not friendly) relationship with the Labour Party, which I feel I can play a role, and in which I feel I can do more good than I can as a fringe activist within the Labour Party.

Friday, February 12, 2010

For the lols

I haven't been posting too much recently but there's plenty of content coming up. I've prepared this comic to fill my absense:Yes, I know I have no artistic talent. So what?

(It appears the image is slightly too large for the frame, so click to enlarge).