Friday, September 08, 2017

Understanding the Crisis of Capitalism

UNDERSTANDING THE CRISIS

Civilization is undergoing a crisis of massive proportions. A crisis that is simultaneously social, political, ecological and economic. All these aspects, are of course, interrelated, but in the last instance are rooted in the system of economy which predominates. It is this crisis, often called the crisis of capitalism, that I chose to explore.

Before going any further, what is capitalism?

Defining the system is of the utmost importance, for without a clear understanding of what the system is, we can never get to the root of the problem. There is an assumption among naïve sectors of the left business itself, buying and selling, is capitalism. But this is not true. While market exchange and private property are necessary preconditions for the existence of capitalism, they are still not capitalism. Private ownership and exchange existed for at least 2000 years before capitalism. There are two aspects which make a system specifically capitalist. The first is the goal of production. In pre-capitalist systems the reason for an economic endeavor was consumption. Under capitalism, consumption is secondary, the primary goal is accumulation of capital. The second key aspect is the separation of the producers from the means of production, ie, wage-workers, not independent artisans or peasants. Thus a society of peasants and artisans exchanging goods is not capitalist but Simple Commodity Production (SCP) .

The difference between Simple Commodity Production and Capitalism can be rendered in two formulas; The formula for SCP is C-M-C. C is the commodity produced and sold, M is the money from the transaction, and C is the commodity bought with it. Thus the peasant sells his carrots, takes the money and buys cheese with it. The goal is consumption. For capitalism the formula is M-C-M1, M is the money capital advanced to create the commodity, C, which is then sold and a greater amount of money capital M1 is the result.

The perpetual augmentation of capital is the raison d'etre of capitalism. And when that augmentation slows down or stops, the system goes into crisis.

The capitalist economic system has undergone periodic crises, which vary in intensity and duration, approximately every ten years since the 1830s. Why this happens has been a point of contention, virtually since the first breakdown. There are several explanations. One is the “under-consumption theory” and the second is the theory of the decline in the rate of profit. Less known are the Kondratiev cycles

Under-consumptionism is based on the obvious reality that wage workers cannot buy all of the product they produce. In order for the employer to amass profit, the workers must be paid a good deal less than the wealth they actually create. This was largely offset in the past by the fact that wage earners were only a minority of the economically active. Farmers and small business people could buy up the products produced by wage labour. Much of the production was also for developing the means of production, i.e. machine tools, locomotives, ships, infrastructure and not simple consumer goods. Once the overwhelming majority of the population became wage earners and expenditure on means of production has become less important thru cybernation, underconsumption becomes a gnawing problem.

This is the fact lying behind all the talk of stagnation due to the “decline of the middle class” (high-wage workers) who are no longer in a financial position to purchase the great masses of consumer goods that they used to. Keeping consumption up thru deficit spending during a down-turn was also the basic idea of Keynsian economics. For Keynes, underconsumption was the key problem of capitalism.

The problem with underconsumption theories is they do not explain the periodicity of the crises. Lack of purchasing power is an on-going problem - like a running sore – but it cannot adequately explain why ever so often the system goes into near collapse mode.

The theory of the decline in the rate of profit is also rooted in something obvious. Capitalist production depends upon a regular rate of profit. If an industry becomes less profitable, capital will shift away from it. Should the entire economy become less profitable, investment rates will decline and the economy will stagnate. Less obvious however is the underlying cause for the decline in that rate of profit.

Production involves two basic things, 1. machinery, 2. labour power to operate/maintain those machines. In a competitive economy, the value of the machine will simply be passed on to the product as a fraction of the cost of that machine. The only “thing” that can produce more value than its own value is labour power. This, as we have seen above, is obvious – workers produce more value than they are paid, and if they did not they would not be employed. Wage labour is thus ultimately the profit producer, not the machine the labourer operates. Competition among firms leads to cost cutting. One of the most important of these, is eliminating labour power. Mechanization (and eventually robotics and cybernation) eliminates workers. This gives an edge for the first company doing this, but eventually all adopt these changes and profit rates will soon be the same for all companies. Thus, a “race” exists to replace labour with machine. In shrinking the productive work force, the rate of profit will thus have a tendency to decline, since labour power and not machine is the root of profitability.

The decline in the rate of profit is not absolute or linear. It can be offset by cheapening the means of production, shifting factories to low-wage countries, or violently beating down wage rates at home. There are problems with the decline in rate of profit theory. It is sometimes difficult to prove, indeed some political economists deny that it really happens. But this is not the key problem for this discussion. As with underconsumption theories, the decline in the rate of profit cannot adequately explain the periodicity of crises.

Kondratiev cycles (1) or “K-waves” are long waves, 40-60 years of alternating high growth and stagnation. The economy comes out of stagnation thru technological innovation, which raises growth and profitability. For example, the 1950s economy was based largely on petrochemicals, automobiles and aircraft. This began to go into the tank in the 1970s. A long period of stagnation has followed, to be supposedly replaced by info tech and green tech in the near future. Problems – while it explains long-term periodicity, what about in the short term? What does it say about the crisis of the 1980s? Or 2008? Which is cause and which is effect? Is it the rate of profit that determines the technology or the technology that determines the rate of profit?

How then can we look at the crisis if there are such limitations to the presumed explanations? Fortunately for us there is a school of political economists who have gone beyond the underconsumptionist-rate of profit dichotomy and created a new synthesis. This is the “Japanese School” of Kozo Uno, Makoro Itoh and Thomas Sikine.(2)

Uno sees the reoccurring crises as a matter of “overproduction of capital.” Capital expands during prosperous times, and old fixed capital is rarely eliminated. Expansion creates a rise in wages. Wage rises eventually cause a reduction of profits and an increase in prices of goods produced, not to mention a rise in demand for these goods bought by higher wages. This can bring about speculative stockpiling. Lower profits create a demand for money capital, raising interest rates. Lower profits in industry can also bring a shift of investment to speculative investments in bonds and real estate. The increase in interest rates is fatal to speculators, bringing an end to expansion and the beginning of crisis.

Collapse of speculation leads to a decline in prices of goods and credit situation deteriorates further. A chain reaction of business failures results. Lay-offs of workers lowers worker income and general wages, which it turn cuts consumption, further aggravating the crisis. Capital – in the form of plants, commodities and credit documents - are effectively destroyed. Loanable capital is plentiful, yet few can borrow. Eventually, some business owners will adopt new methods and processes in light of the destruction of fixed capital. The renewal of equipment helps restore the rate of profit and a new phase of prosperity begins.

The life cycle of fixed capital... furnishes a material basis of the periodic crises, in particular it is a decisive determinant of the circuit of business cycles, for the simultaneous renewal of fixed capital … is the starting point for every new prosperity phase.” Itoh 117

Thus the cyclic nature of crises are explained. And under-consumption, decline in rate of profit and to a large extent the K-waves, can be seen as aspects of the major contradiction, which is the over-production of capital.

Pretty clear, right? But if you think about it, this was not how the Depression of the 1930s ended. There was no “natural” restoration of production and prosperity, rather it took massive state investment and war. So too, the crisis of 2008 – which we are still in – has resulted in an astronomical amount of dollars pumped into the system – the state once more. But the Japanese political economists have an answer for that too. What I just laid out above is a pure theory of capital , or, if you like, a theory of pure capital – a capitalism which no longer exists. It is necessary for us to examine the historical stages of capitalism to comprehend the crisis.

Most of the 19th century, and mainly in Britain, there was a situation near to the ideal of a “pure” capitalism. While capitalism was always dependent upon the state (enclosing peasant property, stealing continents, destroying competitors, building infrastructure, shooting striking workers) during this period it was largely autonomous. Businesses were small by today's standards, fixed capital was relatively cheap, making it easier to set up a factory. Competition and the market were unencumbered. Workers were powerless and the employers could adjust their wages and hours more or less as they wished. Crises performed a function of eliminating the weak, were of short duration, and gave rise to new forms of production.

The growth of textile mills meant the need for transportation, giving rise to railways and steam ships. But this meant the increasing development of heavy, rather than light industry. Heavy industry, such as steel mills, locomotive factories, rolling mills and foundries, required massive investment, so joint stock companies came to the fore and individual capital could not compete. The demand for investment capital gave rise to investment banking and securities markets. Competition began to eliminate the smaller firms. The new monopolies could always limit output to raise prices or thru trusts “rig the market.” Hence market forces were now restricted. Crises – such as the Depression of the 1870s – were much more serious than before, due to lack of flexibility rooted in the much greater costs. A demand for the state to step in arose and “free trade” gave away to tariffs. State-sponsored war production and infrastructure grew in importance. States conquered other countries to control the supply of raw materials and markets. This period was known as the Age of Imperialism and terminated in the disastrous World War.

The logic of capital – competition, markets, minimum state intervention – no longer fully operated from the late 19th Century-on. And “If bourgeois economic policy cannot successfully 'internalize the externalities' present so the logic of capital may operate autonomously, then such an economy is no longer viably capitalist, no matter how desperately chremastistic [wealth-gaining, LG] activities are engaged in...the law of value [cannot] operate when political considerations so greatly effect outputs, prices, investment, trade flows and the mobility of labor.” Bell 205

When capitalism transformed itself away from the pure model, this meant the system could not ever develop autonomously. From now on, it needed something external to it. Hence capitalism could not last indefinitely. Decay and eventual collapse were inevitable.

Post-World War1 capitalism could not get itself out of crisis by itself. This required ever-more government involvement. Government R and D, macro-management of the economy, a managed currency, preserved but restricted capitalism. The “welfare state” and full employment policies of post WW2 Fordism were incompatible with labor power as a commodity. “War Keynsianism” - most especially in the USA, in which the government financed industry and R and D thru “defense” expenditure from the end of WW2 to the present, has had a major impact.

By the end of the 1960s market saturation and high labor costs cut into profitability and made manufacturing, especially in the US and Britain, uncompetitive. In both countries manufacturing went into decline. US manufacturing 1970, 24.3% GDP, 2015, 12% GDP In 1985 the USA produced 28% world's goods, 2016, 18.2% (3) Loss of profitability led to a drive to undermine the welfare state and off-shoring of production. The advent of neoliberalism in the late 1970s with its slashing of social services has to be seen in this light. Financial services were deregulated, leading to offshore banking, giving rise to an economy based on speculation in finance and real estate. This sector is now larger than manufacturing. Rather than productive capital we have non-productive speculation to which can be added rent-seeking thru the new forms of enclosure – intellectual property rights, GMOs, privatization of water and other natural monopolies, etc. There is the massive US debt, by which the US attempted to pull out of the 2008 crash by printing dollars and securities. By making the rest of the world accept what is actually worthless paper, the US is engaging in a form of tribute economy.

At the same time there has been a sharp decline in productive labor. A vast number of people are employed in a non-productive capacity, eg – most costs for a printed circuit come from non-productive labor. Innovation has to be continuous in a system where computers, phones etc change from year to year. Thus huge R and D costs and changing and retiring fixed capital. Bell 213

So what we have is a system that is largely non-productive, tribute-based, controlled by monopolies where the market does not really function and propped up thru the state by military expenditure and the money printing press. This is hardly the capitalism of the era of pure capitalism. All that remains of capitalism is the overwhelming predominance of wage labor and the incessant drive for accumulation. Other than that, capitalism is dead, and in spite of “libertarian” fantasies, never to be revived as a system.

We have been living – unknown to most of us – in a great transition out of capitalism for the last 100 years. Quite early on Marx and Engels saw how capitalism was transforming itself in a non-capitalist direction thru the joint stock company, state involvement and market-suppression. They felt this evolution would grease the track toward socialism. They were too optimistic, way too optimistic. Yes, the desire for a democratic economy does exist and always has. But the proponents of such change are a minority and divided by foolish dogmas and secular superstitions. Without positive change we can only get further breakdown or out and out collapse.

I have long been dissatisfied by the orthodox Marxist notion of feudalism as a natural mode of production transitioned out of slave society. Examining classical Egyptian, Chinese and Japanese societies, I see not a specific mode of production, but a reoccurring response to the breakdown of an empire or centralized state. Breakdown results in power fragmented among warlords, gangsters, local petty chieftains. Perhaps, in the absence of socialism, we are transitioning toward a contemporary form of feudalism with the corporation as a virtual principality and the CEOs as our lords and masters.

But all is not entirely lost. The major externalities that I have avoided mentioning before now, are of course, environmental. Capitalism in its decadence has brought us to the brink of destruction with global warming. For every self-styled socialist, there are probably ten people concerned about this massive problem. The only rational response is green energy and a steady state economy. Green energy can come about – is coming about – thru the democratic action of the population. That it is being developed and installed by mostly green capitalists is beside the point. It is happening because of external, (ie non-capitalist) forces. Ironically, there will be a great deal of growth to implement the green economy. (Retrofitting houses, building new enviro-friendly ones, electrifying rail, green energy etc) In building the infrastructure for the steady state economy, capitalism – or what is left of it – will have one last kick at the can. For steady-state means the last aspect of capitalism will vanish – endless accumulation for its own sake – and thus the capitalist system will become a museum piece along with the steam engine and the buggy whip.(4)



1. Nikolai Kondratiev, 1892-1938 Marxist political economist, a former Socialist Revolutionary, was an important member of the People's Commissariat of Agriculture where he developed a 5 year Plan for agriculture that did not entail forced collectivization. In 1925 he published “The Major Economic Cycles” where he laid out his ideas. After Lenin's death, Kondratiev was seen as an enemy by Stalin who eventually had him arrested. He was shot in 1938, about the time of the purge of the Old Bolsheviks. He was later rehabilitated by the USSR and his works published and translated.
2. One very positive move is their separation of political economy from party politics, in an attempt to understand what is really happening and not what your tendency wishes was happening. (neoliberal economists are apologists for the corporate status quo, social democrats are underconsumptionists, as are many “orthodox Marxists”. Left-communists favour the decline in the rate of profit.)


4. Does this mean capitalism will be replaced by socialism? I think if you have read this article, you will have realized that the world is a good deal more complex than 19th C thinkers thought possible. Other than the fact the system replacing capitalism will not be capitalist, who knows for sure? However, the mass desire for democracy at all levels of society would seem raise the possibility for a cooperative, self-managed socialism.


For further reading:

Paul Mattick, “Marx and Keynes”, “Economics, Politics and the Age of Inflation”

John Bell, “Capitalism and the Dialectic”

Makoro Itoh, “Value and Crisis.”

John Bellamy Foster, Fred Magdoff, “The Great Financial Crisis”

















Saturday, June 10, 2017

KENNETH REXROTH AND THE IWW, 1920-23


(Taken From Rexroth's "An Autobiographical Novel")
1. THE STORY OF JOHN LOUGHMAN
John Loughman volunteered to go up and talk for the strikers in the Montana copper mines. He got into Butte in the night in somebody's car, spent several days speaking four or five times a day. Anaconda was closed and the sheriffs posse and the company's nobles kept everybody connected with the strike from either entering or leaving. Loughman disguised himself rather superficially as a drummer-he was a hard man to disguise-and went up on the train, accompanied by a body- guard of Seattle and Chicago Wobblies scattered inconspicuously around the car. Two of the biggest got off first with Loughman immediately behind them. Two deputies came from between cars and without a word sandbagged them, and, in the next motion, pulled the porter's stool from under Loughman as he stepped down, and sand-bagged him. He woke up spread-eagled across the door of his cell, his hands and feet handcuffed to the bars and a pair of handcuffs with the chain tight across his throat. The sheriff had wakened him by putting matches between his toes. He said, "I'll fix you so you'll never talk again, you dirty Red bastard," and proceeded to ram a weighted night stick into his mouth until he had broken all but two or three teeth, broken the lower jaw in two places, and smashed the palate into the sinuses. They then stripped all his clothes off and threw him out into the desert. He walked to the nearest ranch house and got a ride back to Butte. None of the doctors in Butte would touch him, but after he had been patched up by a sympathizer, he went back to Chicago where a leading specialist was one of our group and carried a red card. This man did a complete job of restoration, a silver plate inside the roof of his mouth and an extraordinary set of lightweight dentures.
All this took about four months to heal, the strike was still on, and John went back to Anaconda. This time he got ofi the train in the center of eight men with springfield rifles. This was the generation of Wesley Everest, Frank Little and Joe Hill, and it's just an accident that these freinds of mine didn't get it too.
2. AS AN IWW ELECTRICIAN'S HELPER
One day a girl came in when I was alone in the office. She said, "Do you do locksmithing?" and I said, "Sure." She said, "Licensed locksmiths" and I said, "Yes, sure." "Could you change a lot of locks for us? Could you change them so that they all have different keys?'"Yes. Simplest thing in the world." And she said, "You'd have to do this at night. It's a big office building and we want all the keys in the office building changed." I said, "Fine." Dick came in and I told him what the girl wanted and he asked what was the building, and I said, "U. S. Five." He said, "Fellow worker, what have we got?" I looked puzzled and he said, "You know what it is, don't you?" "It's a group of insurance companies." "Yeah, I know, but they're big in this so-called industrial insurance business. They hire stool pigeons. One of the companies made a fortune off the Great Steel Strike. It is that industrial insurance outfit in that building which hired all the stool pigeons within the leadership of the Great Steel Strike, besides all the goons and plug-uglies, and right now they are hiring people on all sides for the coal war down at Centralia."
We went over with our kit that night, and the same girl, who was the secretary of. the manager of the building, let us in and left. The first thing we did was to go to the files of this one company, and there was the dope all right. It didn't take us long to find it. Later, Dick, who was handsome, always had a bottle of liquor in his hip, and was full of blarney, was able to find out from the girl why the locks were being changed. The place was being prowled by another detective agency and by the Department of Justice, which had apparently been unable to get its own trustworthy agents inside. Here was a file of both private and Federal stool pigeons, provocateurs, police agents, labor spies, the business. We got the same two girls, Angela and Liz, and we copied it all night for a week.
However, we were pretty naive in those days. The evidence we uncovered had a good deal to do with the split in the IWW at that time. Several people were quietly forced out of the IWW because of the evidence we uncovered. There were dossiers on agents in Bill Foster's Trade Union Educational League, which had been the ginger group of the Great Steel Strike, and on confidants of Fitzpatrick, the Ieader of that strike and of the Chicago Labor Council-an incorruptible individual and one of the finest men in the American labor movement. There were dossiers on agents in the United Mine Workers, the West Virginia Federation of Miners, the Progressive Miners Union, and the old Western Federation of Miners, intimate friends of Biil Dunne, the newspaperman from Butte, Montana, and leader of the Silver Bow Miners' Federation, who became a prominent Communist journalist and was eventually expelled with Browder. The ordinary trade unions and every conceivable radical sect had their stool pigeons-they were all there. Besides the documents on the employees of the insurance company there was material on every other kind of labor spy. They had to keep track: you couldn't have people going around shooting one another who were on the same side, although that is precisely what happened at Centralia that next year-possibly because parties unknown fouled up the records. They had dossiers on all the Department of Justice people and Pinkerton Detectives and Burns Detectives and all their competitors' employees. It was all there in a battery of filing cases. We could take care of our own and we gave the information to the regular Anarchist groups and to the Socialist Party and to the tradeunions. But what to do about the Workers' (Communist) Party?
Finally Dick said, "Well, I guess it's a workers' party. We'll go and see General Goosey. This was the Ukrainian Red Army general who had succeeded Pepper. He wouldn't see us, so we got hold of William BrossLloyd, the millionaire who was under indictment, having been arrested in the Michigan raids, and his lawyer, and we arranged an interview with Lloyd, the lawyer and General Goosey. Lloyd accused us of being police agents and stormed and raged at us and threw the stuff at us and threw us out of the place. The General sat, fat and impassive, and said nothing. We decided that they must all be employees of the Department of Justice. A few days Iater a woman at whose home I had met the General called me up and said, "Come over. I want to talk to you." She said, "You don't understand the position of the Party. The General can't talk to you about this directly, but we know all these people and we tolerate them. Many of them are double agents, the rest of them we keep track of and use for our own ends." Since the list included a sizable percentage of the leadership of the Communist Party, it was just a little difficult to see who was watching whom. p. 278

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

On Reading THE REACTIONARY MIND

1. On reading "The Reactionary Mind" by Corby Robin.
One interesting thought has to do with the "private life of power". The fear of extending rights to the masses is rooted in the realization that this would upset the personal relationships of power which exist in the family and elsewhere. And this is why political arguments can be so hostile - you are touching a personal nerve of power. Or as Corby puts it "Behind the riot in the street...is the maid talking back to her mistress, the worker disobeying her boss. The Right tried to keep democracy out of both both public and private, fearing one would lead to the other. Or as De Bonald (reactionary thinker) said " to keep the state out of the hands of the people... keep the family out of the hands of the women and children." (This also helps explain the misogyny and emphasis on authoritarian child rearing on the Right)

2. Reactionary Snowflakes – the Inventors of Victimhood (from The Reactionary Mind Corby Robin)

"Far from being an invention of the politically correct, victimhood has been a talking point of the right since Burke decried the mobs treatment of Marie Antionette" The right speaks of loss, ie the loss of skin privilege and male authority etc. p. 58
"All conservatism begins with loss, as Andrew Sullivan rightly notes, which makes conservatism... the party of losers" P. 59 "What is truly bizarre about conservatism; a ruling class resting its claim to power upon its sense of victimhood." P98 "Conservatives thrive on a world filled with mysterious evil and unfathomable hatred where good is always on the defensive." P. 173 MY COMMENT – this helps explain the obsession with communists under the bed, conspiracy theories and relates to its victimhood complex. It also shows the correctness of Lakoff's view that the difference between left and right is value based.

"Making privilege palatable to the masses is a permanent project... but each generation must tailor that project to fit the contour of the times... p100 Social hierarchies persist because everyone but the lowest "enjoys the opportunity to rule and be ruled in turn... each person dominates someone below him in exchange for submitting to someone above..." p225. COMMENT – this helps explain the persistence among the lower classes of racism and misogyny, not to mention the contempt by so many lower class people of welfare victim and the homeless – but there is an essential sado-masochism to this relationship. (Bullied from above, bully those below)


The Right, Ape of the Left (from The Reactionary Mind by Corby Robin)

(paraphrase) Reaction is forced in two directions 1. critique of the old regime 2. absorption of ideas from the left. The Old Regime is criticized for being soft, not its essential hierarchical and authoritarian ideas. P 43
The reactionary starts from this principle. "that some are fit to rule others and then recalibrates that principle in light of democratic change...p 18 "No conservative opposes change as such, or defends order as such. [They] ...defend particular orders, hierarchical... on the assumption... that hierarchy is order." p. 24 Recently David Horowitz (far-right demagogue) urged rightists "to use the language of the left... on behalf of their own agendas. Reactionary populism is "to harness the energy of the mass in order to restore the power of the elites." p.55 There is also a "dialectical synergy of left and right, the progress of the former spurs on the innovation of the latter."

MY COMMENT – Thus, by using and absorbing ideas of the left, a kind of right-wing populism and use of left ideas has been part of reaction from the beginning. We see this with the "King and Country" mobs in the 1790s in opposition to English Radicalism, and the slave owners paeans to "liberty". The right, in time, accepted parliamentary democracy, but began to use it to its own ends. Italy at the time of WW1 had a powerful syndicalist movement – Fascism declared itself "national syndicalist" and adopted the color black of the anarchists. Social democracy was popular in Germany so the fascists there called themselves "National Socialists" and adopted the color red. In the 1960s there was White Power, fascist ape of Black Power. While basic democratic rights such as freedom of speech, press and assembly were always regarded by the far right as examples of modernist decadence, today's fascists pretend to be the guardians of such freedoms and smother their verbiage with the language of rights and identity politics. But the end is always the same – maintaining authoritarian hierarchy, domination and exploitation.

3. Maintaining the Authoritarian Hierarchy (from The Reactionary Mind by Corby Robin)

With the Reactionary, who is a product of Modernity – power is not so much inherited as with feudalism – at least in theory - but is the product of struggle and conflict. The "natural proving ground of superiority" "Liberty as conquest" according to W. G. Sumner (reactionary liberal writer) Burke saw the need for "painful stimulation" for growth to exist. Violence and struggle were needed or as Robin states, "War is life, peace is death." for the reactionary. There is a definite fear of "softness". The true life consisted of competition and conflict or as Burke stated "Curiosity leads to weariness, pleasure to indifference, enjoyment to torpor."

The Right actually believes that the best rule (in the "natural" authoritarian hierarchy) and that real democracy means the destruction of civilization. This allows for the unlikely alliance of the "libertarian" who wishes untrammeled control of their work force with the traditionalist who sees the patriarchs heavy hand in the family. In more recent times, we have an article in the National Review August 24 1957, entitled "The South Must Prevail" which says, "The central question... is whether the White community of the South is entitled to take such measures as necessary to prevail... The sobering answer is Yes. - The White community is so entitled because... it is the advanced race."

COMMENT – What we see is the Right's fundamentally negative view of humanity. But paradoxically they think that the best way to deal with humanity's flawed nature is to put a minority of other flawed creatures in change of them. We also see with the emphasis on struggle and competition in Burke, the precursor of the later Right's doctrine of Social Darwinism. We see how the notion of "the best succeeding" leads implicitly to racism. But that is not all;

Examine the Right's fundamental attributes – authoritarian hierarchy, victimhood, Social Darwinism, racism, sexism, fear of "softness", the absorption of left languagewhat you find is that these are the same essential ingredients that make up fascism. We on the left are sneered at for seeing fascists in every conservative, but at least as far as the reactionary right goes, I don't think we are always that wrong given what we see in THE REACTIONARY MIND.

Mind you there is one omission in the book. and that is the kind of conservatives I grew up with – the "Red Tories" . These were pragmatists who were not against reform, nor the extension of democratic rights. Then the Catholic social doctrine that encouraged the formation of cooperatives and trade unions. Many of these people would become socialists or Liberation Theologists in the 1960s.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Thoughts on Triggering

In reading about BPD and childhood trauma, I came across the concept of "triggering". I understood this concept intellectually, but only recently understood how I too am triggered. Whenever I see, or read about, any abuse, bullying or cruelty, I go into a towering homicidal rage. (Internal raging, sparing friends and family, thankfully) Not that I would act upon that rage, for intellectually I know the perps are themselves "only a pawn in their game" , that bullies were themselves bullied, and the sources of our problems are structural, not personal. (Capitalism authoritarianism, patriarchy, institutionalized racism etc)

Cruelty triggers my subconscious – in a sense "reliving" my abuse as a child. I must emphasize the subconscious nature of this. When, for example, I see a cop beating up a demonstrator I do not consciously see myself as a child being assaulted by a bully, but it brings to the fore immense feelings of injustice and of helplessness. (I am sure that much of my dislike for Trump is because he is an archetypal schoolyard bully) And the rage? When you are a child you are forbidden to express your anger at the cruelty done to you. Authorities, whether parents, teachers or cops, will always make it far worse for you if you react with hostility toward their oppression. Thus, you learn to hold in your emotions, especially anger. But the repressed always returns. As an adult you will be prone to outbreaks of violent anger and not know why.

Will knowing this make you rage less? Sure would be nice. But here's something else I have learned – not from books – but experience. You are never cured. You come to terms with your abuse, you can forgive your abusers, knowing that they were victims as well. Therapy lets you HANDLE your problems and allows you to have a "normal" life. But the pain is always there.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Borderline - A Song About Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline - The following words and music by Larry Gambone, arrangement, instrumentation and voice by Maurice Soudre.


Thursday, January 07, 2016

Anna Delso

ANNA DELSO - Poet, anarchist, revolutionary and feminist, member; CNT-FAI, Mujeres Libres, French Resistance and the CSN


I met Anna at Librarie Alternative in Montreal in 1988 and was so impressed with this tiny woman with such immense revolutionary spirit. We would converse in French – not knowing any Spanish at the time and her modesty was such I had little idea of her background except for hearing she was in the Mujeres Libres. When she presented me with her book, Trois Cent Hommes et Moi, I found out that she just wasn't a member of Mujeres Libres, but its secretary, and that at age 16! Fleeing Spain after the defeat by Franco, she ended up in a concentration camp.
 
                                             Anna age 66

 Eventually free of the camp, she like so many Spanish revolutionaries, joined the French Resistance. By this time she was all of nineteen. After Liberation she and her partner organized a movement which united the CNT, the UGT, POUM, the Socialists and the Libertarian Movement in a united front against Franco's fascism. Moving to Quebec she was involved as a militant of the CSN in the textile industry. She was also a cancer survivor.  I lost contact with Anna over the years but am pleased to learn that she is still alive - at age 93! See also https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Delso

Friday, November 27, 2015

Anarchism and counter-culture podcast

This is the podcast of the interview I did for the CFRO program, Red Eye a few weeks ago. Discusses the Vancouver counter culture and anarchism as well as my book "No Regrets". See; 
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