Living The Dream with Marx’s Theories of Crisis

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This episode is a recording from Marx200 Brisbane of Dave’s (@withsobersenses) presentation on Marx’s Theories of Crisis .

Music by Stereolab

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Anti-Shorten: The ALP is still selling bullshit

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Bill Shorten, the leader of the ALP opposition, strode the stages of the National Press Club and delivered  a speech that The Australian described as ‘Corybn-like’ and a ‘populist pitch to low-income earners, unionists and left-wing voters’ (Brown, Chambers, and Additional reporting: Sarah Jane-Tasker 2018). But before we break out the red flags and rally around Comrade Bill we should pause and stop: for the content of Shorten’s speech was actually terrible, a continuation of the ALP tradition of class appeasement and compromise and wrapped in mystifications about the nature of capitalism, wages and class. It was the exact opposite of the approach that we need.

Those of us who want to overcome capitalism aren’t in competition with the ALP. The ALP is just another faction for capital in the political apparatus: it is one of our enemies. Our project and theirs are radically different. However, the ALP has a long history of sowing mystifications – that is reinforcing the ideology that strengthens capitalism. This is part of its historic role of acting to integrate the working class within capitalism.[i] These mystifications have two key claims:

  • That the ALP and elections can address the major sources of misery for the majority of people
  • That the causes of our misery are from errors or problems that can be solved within the boundaries of the capitalist mode of production.

Rather than being swept up in the appearance of some kind of radicalism or broadly pro-worker rhetoric it is necessary to be razor-sharp and expose all that is wrong with the approach of the ALP. As Humphrey McQueen has written the ALP is ‘fog-bound within capitalism’ (1977, 345). The point of critiquing the ideas of the ALP is not to change their minds but rather to help dispel the fog of illusions that threaten to cloud ours.

Continue reading “Anti-Shorten: The ALP is still selling bullshit”

Marx’s Textbook Ep.1: An Introduction to the Critique of Capitalism & of Economics

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This is the first episode of a new Living The Dream series entitled Marx’s Textbook. In each episode Dave(@withsobersenses) takes a chapter of a basic macroeconomics textbooks – in this case Littleboy (2013) – summarises the content and then presents how Marx can help us think about these issues and challenge the dominant assumptions. What we find is that Marx doesn’t just provide different answers rather he compels us to ask different questions. Each episode will only be approx. 30 minutes long and is aimed at helping people to understand and critique both capitalism and economics as an ideology. No prior knowledge of Marx or macroeconomics is required.

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Further reading: “Capital”after MEGA: Discontinuities, Interruptions, and New Beginnings

by Michael Heinrich

 

Littleboy, Bruce, et al.,. 2013. Macroeconomics : Principles and Practice. Asia Pacific: Cengage Learning Australia ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.uq.edu.au/lib/uql/detail.action?docID=1990996.

Living The Dream in the Trade Union Movement

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May Day in Wollongong circa 2000 photo by Sharon Pusell

In this episode of Living the Dream Dave (@withsobersenses) chats with Godfrey Moase (@gemoase) the General Branch Assistant Secretary of the National Union of Workers. Godfrey had a number of criticisms of our last show . We talk about these and Godfrey also addresses the broader strategic and tactical possibilities for anticapitalist struggle and how they relate to trade unions.

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You can find some of Godfrey’s writings here:

Other things we mention include:

Music by The Sweatshop Union

(This podcast was recorded as ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie drenched Queensland)

The (Ex)Secretary’s Speech: Jobs Plans, Unemployment And Illusions of the Future.

 

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Thus capital presupposes wage labour; wage labour presupposes capital. They reciprocally condition the existence of each other; they reciprocally bring forth each other.(Marx 1978, 33)

 

To my friends in the union movement I say this: Every worker needs a successful company. To the business community I say this: No company is successful without an engaged, energised and motivated workforce.(Howes 2014)

 

Introduction

 

This post was meant to be short and to the point – but it has really run away from me. The point of it is to use Paul Howes’ speech as part of a broader critique of the common-sense of the Left in Australia: that some kind of ‘capitalism with a human face’ is possible and that a set of policy options, specifically a jobs plan, could achieve this goal(Žižek 2000, 63). I want to show that Howes’ speech is the truth of such a claim and such a claim is both impossible and undesirable. Simply put such arguments fail to take into account the profound global crisis of capitalism. Thus the future such proponents imagine is a mystification. There is little chance of normality ahead of us, if by normality we mean the relative growth, prosperity and stability of capitalism in Australia post-WWII in both its social democratic and neoliberal forms.

 

This critique is aimed not only at the mandarins of the ALP nor the cretins of the centre-left commentariat but also at activists and the Far Left who continue to parrot such positions even if they add a radical gloss. There are no greater fools than those supposed anti-capitalists who believe that tailing social democratic illusions is a step on a torturous road to proletarian enlightenment. The truth is such a road never reaches its destination: it’s an endless illusion.

 

In discussions with comrades the use of various social democratic demands and slogans is often justified by an argument that goes this is where ‘the workers’ are at and we want to connect with ‘the workers’. However to my knowledge there is never any research that actually establishes this is what workers want, no mass investigation, no discussion groups, no militant inquiry: no one ever asks them their thoughts. Rather such an understanding is an assumption built on an ideological image of the working class that exists only in the minds of certain socialists. On the flip side these comrades who are workers themselves sublimate their own rebellious desires whilst hunting this ideological figment.

 

I also want to be crystal clear. My argument isn’t that we shouldn’t resist sackings, restructuring or privatisations or that we shouldn’t attempt to increase our wages and reduce our work. Far from it. My argument is against the idea that we can organise politically, focused on the state, to coordinate the generation of more employment as part of a return to some form of social democracy. Such a goal is neither possible nor desirable.

Continue reading “The (Ex)Secretary’s Speech: Jobs Plans, Unemployment And Illusions of the Future.”

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