Seven Left Myths About Capitalism

by G.B. Taylor

Occupy Wall Street has renewed hope for a left political renaissance by challenging economic inequality and the neoliberal discourse that legitimated it, and reintroducing the word capitalism to political debate. The “greed” of the “1%,” counterpoised to the hardworking, rule-abiding 99%, has emerged as the dominant political frame of OWS. Rhetorically powerful, the slogan’s elegant simplicity conceals as much as it reveals. The language of “corruption,” the betrayal of Main Street by parasitic Wall Street bankers, and nationalist appeals to “take America back” all express a deep confusion as to the nature of the current crisis. This often results in a highly personalized moral critique of capitalism rather than a systemic one.

The crisis wracking capitalism today cannot be understood as simply the evil actions of greedy bankers and the 1%. In fact, as Max Weber pointed out, unlike the ostentatious opulence of earlier economic forms like feudalism, capitalism actually has tendencies which check greed – for example how intra-capitalist competition forces firms to save and reinvest. Thus the logic of states wielding coercive external power in human form as armies and police is quite different from that of capitalism, wherein power is more difficult to pinpoint or assign personal agency to. Conflating these two modes of power leads to very different political demands and outcomes. Capitalist power acts not only or even primarily on us from outside, but through us, as worker and capitalist alike are caught up in an impersonal competitive imperative that would quickly bankrupt any turncoat bankers or CEOs who might suddenly take Occupy’s message to heart. Continue reading

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Capitalism: A Ghost Story

by Arundhati Roy

Rockefeller to Mandela, Vedanta to Anna Hazare…. How long can the cardinals of corporate gospel buy up our protests?

CORBIS (FROM OUTLOOK, MARCH 26, 2012)

Antilla the Hun Mukesh Ambani’s 27-storey home on Altamont Road. Its bright lights, say the neighbours, have stolen the night.

Is it a house or a home? A temple to the new India, or a warehouse for its ghosts? Ever since Antilla arrived on Altamont Road in Mumbai, exuding mystery and quiet menace, things have not been the same. “Here we are,” the friend who took me there said, “Pay your respects to our new Ruler.”

Antilla belongs to India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani. I had read about this most expensive dwelling ever built, the twenty-seven floors, three helipads, nine lifts, hanging gardens, ballrooms, weather rooms, gymnasiums, six floors of parking, and the six hundred servants. Nothing had prepared me for the vertical lawn—a soaring, 27-storey-high wall of grass attached to a vast metal grid. The grass was dry in patches; bits had fallen off in neat rectangles. Clearly, Trickledown hadn’t worked. Continue reading

Indian Conditions – Certain Concrete Issues: Draft Ideological Resolution of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)

10.1 In Indian conditions, our task to strengthen our revolutionary advance in this transition period, given the balance of forces shifting in favour of imperialism, requires concerted efforts to work for a change in the correlation of class forces amongst the Indian people to advance our strategic objective. This, in turn, requires the unleashing of powerful mass and popular struggles to sharpen the class struggle in our society in the concrete conditions in which we exist.

10.2 Parliamentary and extra-parliamentary forms: To achieve this task, the updated Programme noted: ‘The Communist Party of India (Marxist) strives to achieve the establishment of people’s democracy and socialist transformation through peaceful means. By developing a powerful mass revolutionary movement, by combining parliamentary and extra parliamentary forms of struggle, the working class and its allies will try their utmost to overcome the resistance of the forces of reaction and to bring about these transformations through peaceful means. However, it needs always to be borne in mind that the ruling classes never relinquish their power voluntarily. They seek to defy the will of the people and seek to reverse it by lawlessness and violence. It is, therefore, necessary for the revolutionary forces to be vigilant and so orient their work that they can face up to all contingencies, to any twist and turn in the political life of the country.’ Continue reading

Current Anti-Marxist Reactionary Ideological Challenges: Draft Ideological Resolution of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)

9.1 Following this shift in balance of forces in imperialism’s favour, we anticipated an aggressive all round attack not only ideologically but in all spheres against Marxism and Communism.

9.2 During these two decades, such trends have further intensified. These essentially attempt to reason that with the collapse of the USSR, there is a need to transcend Marxism. Hence, the theories of ‘revisiting’, ‘reassessing’ or ‘reconstructing’ Marxism have surfaced and are circulating in fashionable intellectual circles, influencing and confusing sections of the people.

9.3 Post-Modernism: Imperialist-driven globalization fuelled by global finance capital has spawned a whole new range of anti-Marxist ideologies and theories which are marked by the negation of all progressive, universalist ideologies. Theories of class convergence, disappearance of class struggle and the negation of the revolutionary role of the working class have been part of the bourgeois ideological armoury. To these is now added the current anti-Marxist theory of post-modernism. Continue reading

Developments in Socialist Countries: Draft Ideological Resolution of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)

6.1   In present-day realities, when the international correlation of class forces has moved in favour of imperialism, the existing socialist countries have embarked on a course of economic reforms to meet the challenges posed by international finance capital-led and driven globalization. With liberalization sucking all countries of the world into its vortex, these reforms are based on the integration of their economies with the international market. The manner in which these countries are meeting those challenges, in this period of transition, is an issue that requires serious examination.

6.2   Is this process of reforms resulting in the negation of socialism as measured by the people’s ownership of the means of production and the social appropriation of surplus as against the individual appropriation of it? In all these countries, negative tendencies have surfaced during the reform process like rapid widening of economic inequalities, corruption, nepotism etc. These have not only been noted by the ruling Communist parties themselves but visible efforts are there to tackle, contain and correct them. The main question that arises is: is this process of reforms leading to the emergence of an exploitative capitalist class that develops the potential to lead and succeed in a counter revolution in the future? Or, whether this process of correlation of these forces under current reforms, in today’s world realities, will lead to the consolidation and further strengthening of socialism? Continue reading

Unsustainability of Neo-Liberal Globalization and the Capitalist Crisis: Draft Ideological Resolution of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)

3.1   Such unfolding of imperialist globalization is, as we had analysed in our Party resolutions, unsustainable. Further, the 14th Congress resolution understanding that was reiterated in our Party Programme establishes the validity of Marx’s analysis of capitalism as a system that can never be either exploitation-free, or crisis-free. No amount of reform of capitalism can eliminate either or both of these fundamental characteristics as these are inextricably located in the very production process of capitalism generating its basic contradiction – between its social nature of production and individual nature of appropriation. This, in itself, negates all illusions spread by social democracy of reforming capitalism to have a ‘human face’.

 

3.2   The character and composition of labour – manual or mental (intellectual) – makes little difference to this process of exploitation. This exposes the fallacy of the argument that since the character of the working class (manual labour) has significantly altered in modern times from that of Marx’s time, and also, as the proportion of manual labour has significantly declined since Marx’s time, Marx’s analysis is no longer valid. As long as labour power produces in the capitalist production process, it is exploited and that is the source of surplus value and hence profit – the raison d’tre of capitalism. Continue reading

The Working of Imperialism in the Era of Globalisation: Draft Ideological Resolution of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)

2.1   The CPI(M), steadfastly upholding Marxism-Leninism and its inviolable tool of ‘concrete analysis of concrete conditions’, evaluates the working of imperialism in the present concrete conditions and its impact on India. The latter is of utmost necessity to work out the correct and appropriate tactics that will advance our strategic objectives.

2.2   Globalisation must be understood in its totality. The internal dynamics of capitalism, as Marx has shown, leads to the accumulation and concentration of capital in a few hands. It is on the basis of a scientific analysis of the development of this tendency that Lenin identified the emergence and growth of imperialism from the stage of monopoly capitalism. The Leninist analysis of the politics of imperialism – the last stage of capitalism – laid the foundations for correct revolutionary strategy and tactics for intensifying class struggles leading, for the first time in human history, to the triumph of the proletarian revolution – the great October Socialist Revolution of 1917. Continue reading