Living The Dream in 2018


Welcome to 2018! In this episode Jon (@JonPiccini) and Dave (@withsobersenses) look into the swirling mists of the crystal ball of class struggle and try to work out what’s going on in 2018 and what happened in 2017. It’s a wide ranging chat about race, class, Invasion Day, strikes that didn’t happen and plebiscites. Will the experiments in radical social democracy continue to gain traction? What’s #changetherules all about? What plans do thinkers for capital have if any at all? Is capital accumulation chugging along nicely or is a debt fuelled financial crisis about to explode? What about bananacoin? All this and more!

Stuff we talk about includes:

Novara Media – Faultlines: Liz Fekete on Racism, Europe and the New Right

Ben Pennings – Buying Time To Beat Adani

Tony Birch – On Sovereignty

Endnotes – The Holding Pattern

IMF – World Economic Outlook Update, January 2018

IMF – Credit Booms – Is China Different

Humphrey McQueen – 150 years young Marx’s Capital

Uluru Statement from the heart

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3 thoughts on “Living The Dream in 2018

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  1. Another great episode. There’s a couple of things I’d like to comment on though, seeing as both of you clarified that you’d like to see what listeners have to say on the episode.
    I also feel this sort of skepticism towards decolonization and national liberation (I think this is the case with all ultraleftists, or people influenced by the ultraleft).
    I think that decolonization doesn’t provide a blueprint or framework for human emancipation; it instead looks to affirm the identity of the oppressed, rather than abolish it. Decolonization appears to me to want to raise the oppressed to the level of the bourgeoisie, rather than attempt to abolish the proletariat and private property. I think there is something odd about identity right now, and I think you guys summarized it quite well “everything with capital seems quite liquid at the moment, except for identity”. I think this potentially means that identity as a concept is something that’s actually quite compatible with capital’s logic (and therefore is reactionary from the perspective of communists).
    I think the actual aim of the decolonization movement is reactionary for Communism. I understand that Australia is a settler-colonial state, as Dave made the point (and he also mentioned it about not being similar to countries like America, with which I also agree), but I don’t think this enables a vulgar attitude of “all white Australians are petite bourgeoisie, therefore we must pursue decolonization”, as I’ve seen some Maoists and Third-Worldists claim.
    I think to a certain degree, that national liberation policy pursued by the Third International aided the counter revolution – I think Rosa Luxemburg was right to point out the inability to resolve the National Question in her work on Poland. This is a nice excerpt from her piece:
    “The formula, “the right of nations to self-determination,” of course doesn’t have such a character at all. It gives no practical guidelines for the day to day politics of the proletariat, nor any practical solution of nationality problems. For example, this formula does not indicate to the Russian proletariat in what way it should demand a solution of the Polish national problem, the Finnish question, the Caucasian question, the Jewish, etc. It offers instead only an unlimited authorization to all interested “nations” to settle their national problems in any way they like. The only practical conclusion for the day to day politics of the working class which can be drawn from the above formula is the guideline that it is the duty of that class to struggle against all manifestations of national oppression. If we recognize the right of each nation to self-determination, it is obviously a logical conclusion that we must condemn every attempt to place one nation over another, or for one nation to force upon another any form of national existence.”
    – Rosa Luxemburg, The National Question, 1909
    I think this is a similar situation in Australia, whereby 500+ different cultures of the First Nations would need their own nations, something that again (in my opinion) is totally reactionary for human emancipation.
    I think it’s encouraging that people are turning up to rallies to support invasion day, I’d also like to give my thoughts on some of what Dave talked about as “marxists providing clarification against the labour party…” or something along those lines.
    From the above article, I’d like to focus on the comments made by Rod Little, co-chair of National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples. He says the following:
    “Governments, successive governments, not just this current one, have not listened to our words and worked with us to find solutions so our people can live equally in this country.”
    I think comments like this are critical for Marxists. I think we should do something similar to what Marx writes in On The Jewish Question. I think the key for Communists is to show that there can be no equality in Australia whilst Capital dominates humanity. That the political emancipation of First Nations people can be developed into a universal communist aim, Communists should try to show that political emancipation cannot be granted without the abolition of private property and all of Capital’s negative characteristics. That this political emancipation is really a call for human emancipation. I think this letter helps illuminate things well:
    And the whole socialist principle in its turn is only one aspect that concerns the reality of the true human being. But we have to pay just as much attention to the other aspect, to the theoretical existence of man, and therefore to make religion, science, etc., the object of our criticism. In addition, we want to influence our contemporaries, particularly our German contemporaries. The question arises: how are we to set about it? There are two kinds of facts which are undeniable. In the first place religion, and next to it, politics, are the subjects which form the main interest of Germany today. We must take these, in whatever form they exist, as our point of departure, and not confront them with some ready-made system such as, for example, the Voyage en Icarie. [Etienne Cabet, Voyage en Icarie. Roman philosophique et social.]
    Reason has always existed, but not always in a reasonable form. The critic can therefore start out from any form of theoretical and practical consciousness and from the forms peculiar to existing reality develop the true reality as its obligation and its final goal. As far as real life is concerned, it is precisely the political state – in all its modern forms – which, even where it is not yet consciously imbued with socialist demands, contains the demands of reason. And the political state does not stop there. Everywhere it assumes that reason has been realised. But precisely because of that it everywhere becomes involved in the contradiction between its ideal function and its real prerequisites.
    From this conflict of the political state with itself, therefore, it is possible everywhere to develop the social truth. Just as religion is a register of the theoretical struggles of mankind, so the political state is a register of the practical struggles of mankind. Thus, the political state expresses, within the limits of its form sub specie rei publicae, [as a particular kind of state] all social struggles, needs and truths. Therefore, to take as the object of criticism a most specialised political question – such as the difference between a system based on social estate and one based on representation – is in no way below the hauteur des principes. [Level of principles] For this question only expresses in a political way the difference between rule by man and rule by private property. Therefore the critic not only can, but must deal with these political questions (which according to the extreme Socialists are altogether unworthy of attention). In analysing the superiority of the representative system over the social-estate system, the critic in a practical way wins the interest of a large party. By raising the representative system from its political form to the universal form and by bringing out the true significance underlying this system, the critic at the same time compels this party to go beyond its own confines, for its victory is at the same time its defeat.
    Hence, nothing prevents us from making criticism of politics, participation in politics, and therefore real struggles, the starting point of our criticism, and from identifying our criticism with them. In that case we do not confront the world in a doctrinaire way with a new principle: Here is the truth, kneel down before it! We develop new principles for the world out of the world’s own principles. We do not say to the world: Cease your struggles, they are foolish; we will give you the true slogan of struggle. We merely show the world what it is really fighting for, and consciousness is something that it has to acquire, even if it does not want to.
    The reform of consciousness consists only in making the world aware of its own consciousness, in awakening it out of its dream about itself, in explaining to it the meaning of its own actions. Our whole object can only be – as is also the case in Feuerbach’s criticism of religion – to give religious and philosophical questions the form corresponding to man who has become conscious of himself.
    Hence, our motto must be: reform of consciousness not through dogmas, but by analysing the mystical consciousness that is unintelligible to itself, whether it manifests itself in a religious or a political form. It will then become evident that the world has long dreamed of possessing something of which it has only to be conscious in order to possess it in reality. It will become evident that it is not a question of drawing a great mental dividing line between past and future, but of realising the thoughts of the past. Lastly, it will become evident that mankind is not beginning a new work, but is consciously carrying into effect its old work.

    In short, therefore, we can formulate the trend of our journal as being: self-clarification (critical philosophy) to be gained by the present time of its struggles and desires. This is a work for the world and for us. It can be only the work of united forces. It is a matter of a confession, and nothing more. In order to secure remission of its sins, mankind has only to declare them for what they actually are.”
    – Marx to Ruge, 1843
    I also think that right now it’s important for the formulation of a Communist programme, I think all of the so-called Socialist parties like Socialist Alternative and Socialist Alliance are blatantly opportunist (articles like What is Socialism? come to mind from the former). Not that I believe in fetishizing a party, but I believe that a Class Party of the proletariat is an absolute necessity for the development of the Communist movement.
    I also agree with the Comments about Dave about reading Capital, I am slogging through it myself and I think it’s an absolute necessity for Communists. I don’t think people are harsh enough on “Socialists” who don’t read Capital, and therefore provided ambiguous understandings of the Capitalist mode of production. I think the slogan of “worker’s control” is one such example, because you can have cooperatives that self-exploit the proletariat. Lots of people, like Richard Wolff for example, would argue that this is “Socialism”, we know that this isn’t true of course. Nevermind that in Chapter 3 of the Gothakritik that Marx notes that worker cooperatives are “are of value only insofar as they are the independent creations of the workers and not protégés either of the governments or of the bourgeois.”. I also think that you can point to stuff like Chapter 3 of the Communist manifesto, like the following, to debunk a lot of opportunist garbage on the Australian left:
    “A part of the bourgeoisie is desirous of redressing social grievances in order to secure the continued existence of bourgeois society.
    To this section belong economists, philanthropists, humanitarians, improvers of the condition of the working class, organisers of charity, members of societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals, temperance fanatics, hole-and-corner reformers of every imaginable kind. This form of socialism has, moreover, been worked out into complete systems.
    We may cite Proudhon’s Philosophie de la Misère as an example of this form.
    The Socialistic bourgeois want all the advantages of modern social conditions without the struggles and dangers necessarily resulting therefrom. They desire the existing state of society, minus its revolutionary and disintegrating elements. They wish for a bourgeoisie without a proletariat. The bourgeoisie naturally conceives the world in which it is supreme to be the best; and bourgeois Socialism develops this comfortable conception into various more or less complete systems. In requiring the proletariat to carry out such a system, and thereby to march straightway into the social New Jerusalem, it but requires in reality, that the proletariat should remain within the bounds of existing society, but should cast away all its hateful ideas concerning the bourgeoisie.
    A second, and more practical, but less systematic, form of this Socialism sought to depreciate every revolutionary movement in the eyes of the working class by showing that no mere political reform, but only a change in the material conditions of existence, in economical relations, could be of any advantage to them. By changes in the material conditions of existence, this form of Socialism, however, by no means understands abolition of the bourgeois relations of production, an abolition that can be affected only by a revolution, but administrative reforms, based on the continued existence of these relations; reforms, therefore, that in no respect affect the relations between capital and labour, but, at the best, lessen the cost, and simplify the administrative work, of bourgeois government.
    Bourgeois Socialism attains adequate expression when, and only when, it becomes a mere figure of speech.
    Free trade: for the benefit of the working class. Protective duties: for the benefit of the working class. Prison Reform: for the benefit of the working class. This is the last word and the only seriously meant word of bourgeois socialism.
    It is summed up in the phrase: the bourgeois is a bourgeois — for the benefit of the working class.”
    – Chapter 3, The Communist Manifesto, 1848
    Thanks again for another great episode, wishing you both a good 2018.

    1. I also forgot to add that I share this sense of impending doom regarding the ecological crisis. This is another point that I think Communists should be hammering home.

    2. Hi Darcy
      Thanks for the substantial and serious reply. I appreciate it and I’m glad you enjoyed the show.
      I will try to take up some of your points and questions in future shows.

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