Date   

Re: I repent for asking

gilschaeffer82@...
 

It is true that machines can't operate themselves and need labor to run them, but that is a different question than whether machines "add value" greater than their embodied labor and materials. It is possible to say, of course, that all of the value of productivity made possible by the introduction of new machinery in combination with new labor is "added" by the labor alone, as Marx does, yet it is the addition of the machine that is the cause of the additional productivity of labor, even when the actual skill level of the labor that operates the machine declines. I doesn't make sense to me that this process is just the machine "giving up" the old labor put into it. Such a formulation mischaracterizes where the dynamism of capitalism comes from.


Kellogg workers on strike

Gibbons Brian
 

Put aside yer Froot Loops and Frosted Flakes

https://www.facebook.com/pg/BCTGM/photos/?ref=page_internal

Brian Gibbons


Re: I repent for asking

Michael Meeropol
 

Here I have to disagree --- even with the great Joan Robinson --- the machine makes no contribution to production without a worker to work it (even automation involves throwing switches) --- you said it yourself --- the machine increases the productivity of the workers --- (reducing the amount of "socially necessary labor time" to produce one unit --- that's the numerical definition of a productivity increase --- more production per unit of labor --- LESS LABOR per unit of output) --- the value added by machines is the depreciation calculated every year (not the depreciation utilized for tax purposes ) based on its costs.   Labor and capital "fight" over the division of the product (the capitalist buys the machine and then depreciates it till it's value is zero --- though often it's scrapped before it "uses up" all its value because of newer and better machines displacing it) --- the owners of the machines do not "fight" with themselves as to who gets the return ....



 

I have never understood how Marx could believe that machines just release the value of the labor stored up in their production when the whole point of the capitalist investing in machines is to increase the productivity of future labor. This change in the productivity of labor over time not only makes it impossible to come up with any fixed measure of average labor time, as Joan Robinson pointed out long ago, but also makes the value of machines like labor power: they add more to production than it takes to make and maintain them.
_


Marjorie Cohn : Human Rights Attorney Sentenced to Prison After Winning Case Against Chevron

Charles Keener
 


In a move calculated to shield Chevron and deter other lawyers from suing giant corporate polluters, U.S. human rights attorney Steven Donziger was sentenced on October 1 to the maximum of six months in prison for criminal contempt. Donziger, who had won a $9.5 billion judgement for his Indigenous clients against the oil giant for polluting the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador, refused to provide Chevron with his confidential client communications. Before his sentencing, Donziger spent two years on house arrest wearing an ankle bracelet and confined to his home.
“When the next book is written touting the American judicial system as one built on the rule of law, that shows the ways in which the rule of law prevailed over powerful and moneyed interests,” Donziger attorney Ron Kuby told Truthout after the sentencing, “I can assure you the Donziger case will not be included.”
U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska — a leader of the Federalist Society, a group dedicated to getting conservatives on the bench and promoting a radical right-wing ideology (and which is financially backed by Chevron) — was hand-picked to try the contempt case. She found Donziger guilty of six counts of criminal contempt. As Preska sentenced Donziger, she stated, “It seems that only the proverbial two-by-four between the eyes will instill in him any respect for the law.”


Re: I repent for asking

gilschaeffer82@...
 

On Tue, Oct 5, 2021 at 03:00 PM, Michael Meeropol wrote:
Hi all --- as someone who is NOT a strong student of all things Marxist, I have always thought that the Labor THeory of Value was NOT USEFUL as a price theory but EXTREMELY useful as a theory of capitalist dynamics --- that the idea of surplus value as the key to profit remains profoundly valuable --- 
 
I do think that when Marx argues that the wage "settles" at "subsistence" and that is why there IS surplus value he is contradicted by "Marx" (yes, the same person) who admits that "subsistence" has an "historical and moral element" --- and thus it is an INDEFINITE value --- Result:  the rate of surplus value depends on the strength of the classes who meet at the point of production --- and there are times when the rate of surplus value is "too low" to create a high enough rate of profit to encourage investment --- result, periodic "crises" (the famous business cycle that has been measured incessantly --- most appropriately by Wesley Clair Mitchell and his greatest living exponent, Howard Sherman [my collaborator on one of his textbooks together with his son Paul] --- but there have never been really good theories of WHY they appear to be periodic.   WHich brings us back to the indeterminacy of the rate of exploitation --- sometimes it permits a high enough rate of profit to stimulate the accumulation of capital and sometimes it does not which interrupts the accumulation of capital.

On Mon, Oct 4, 2021 at 11:05 PM <fkalosar101@...> wrote:
Barry--The labor theory of value and a few of the other things I was trying to talk about are pretty basic to Marxism, 

 

 

I have never understood how Marx could believe that machines just release the value of the labor stored up in their production when the whole point of the capitalist investing in machines is to increase the productivity of future labor. This change in the productivity of labor over time not only makes it impossible to come up with any fixed measure of average labor time, as Joan Robinson pointed out long ago, but also makes the value of machines like labor power: they add more to production than it takes to make and maintain them.


Re: Nicaragua’s new way | Becca Mohally Renk | The Morning Star

Louis D Armmand
 

Thanks for this article. 

Hard to find good information from the "kept" press on Central America.



On Tue, Oct 5, 2021, 11:46 AM Kevin Lindemann and Cathy Campo <kklcac@...> wrote:


Nicaragua’s new way

The neoliberal Nicaragua of the ’90s is unrecognisable from the Nicaragua of today, writes sustainable development worker BECCA MOHALLY RENK

Monday 04th Oct 2021
Nicaraguan farmers

IN 1999 when I first came to Ciudad Sandino, a city of 180,000 located just outside Managua, Hurricane Mitch had recently created 2.7 million homeless people in Nicaragua and Honduras. 

The neoliberal government had pocketed the aid that came into the country. Ciudad Sandino had received 12,000 hurricane refugees who were living in black plastic tents, but those who had been living in Ciudad Sandino for decades weren’t in much better shape: most houses were walled with scrap wood and plastic. There was only one paved road in the city. 

Neighbourhoods had only sporadic access to water, no sewage system and most homes weren’t connected to the electrical grid with its frequent blackouts. 

The only hospital sat empty with no medicines or supplies. Children had to bring their own desks if they wanted to go to school. 

Very few people had formal jobs and farmers rented land to large agribusiness because they couldn’t afford to plant their own fields. 

The neoliberal Nicaragua I’m describing is unrecognisable from the Nicaragua of today. In just 14 years since the return of the Sandinista government in 2007, extreme poverty has dropped by 23.4 per cent. 

How has this been done? The Nicaraguan government has implemented a new model of development.

Healthcare: Nicaragua has built 21 new hospitals and remodelled 46 more. It has built or remodelled 1,259 medical posts, 192 health centres and 178 maternity homes. 

Additionally, it has equipped 66 mobile clinics made from converted articulated trucks confiscated in drug busts; in 2020 these mobile clinics provided nearly 1.9 million consultations. 

All this, combined with the school lunch programme which guarantees a hot meal of beans and rice to 1.2 million primary school children daily, there has been a 46 per cent reduction in chronic malnutrition in children under five and a 66 per cent reduction in chronic malnutrition in children aged six to 12 years old. Infant mortality rates have been lowered by 61 per cent and maternal mortality rates by 70 per cent.

Education: In 2003, the average Nicaraguan had 3.5 years of schooling; only 30 per cent of those starting first grade were expected to finish 6th grade. Now, youth with no schooling at all has dropped from 24 per cent to 4 per cent. Rates for passing grades have increased from 79 per cent to 91 per cent and the population with a university degree has risen from 9 per cent to 19 per cent.

Housing and land:Construction and improvements on 158,000 low-income houses and delivery of 427,434 land titles. An area equal to 31 per cent of Nicaragua’s national territory has been deeded to 314 indigenous communities in non-transferrable legal land titles.

Basic services: In 2007 there were rolling blackouts and 80 per cent of Nicaragua’s energy was generated from oil. Today 80 per cent of Nicaragua’s electricity is produced using renewable resources and electrical coverage has risen from 54 per cent to 99 per cent. Access to potable water in urban areas has risen from 65 per cent to 92 per cent, in rural areas from 28 per cent to 55 per cent. 

Infrastructure: Nicaragua now boasts the best roads in the region, having doubled the mileage of paved roads, paving new nearly 2,000km, repairing another 2,000km. 

Agriculture: $548 million has been given in credits to small farmers, benefiting 25,700 farmers per year. Nearly 6,000 new co-operatives have been established benefiting 318,000 members; Nicaragua now produces 90 per cent of its own food.

Creative economy: Small businesses account for 70 per cent of employment; 23,345 small businesses have been formalised, meaning those workers are now paid benefits and will be eligible for a retirement pension. 800,000 women have received loans representing $18 million per year at 5 per cent annual interest. 

Gender equality: According to the Global Gender Gap Report, in overall gender equality, Nicaragua has gone from 62 out of 153 countries in 2007 to number five worldwide, reducing the gender gap by over 80 per cent. Nicaragua is number one in the world in women’s health and survival, women’s educational attainment, and women cabinet ministers, and is number three in overall political empowerment of women. 

In the last 14 years, Nicaragua has become an example that the whole world urgently needs to follow: a model of equitable, green, pro-people development.

Becca Mohally Renk is originally from the US and has been living in Nicaragua for 20 years working in sustainable community development with the Jubilee House Community and its project the Centre for Development in Central America. 




Re: I repent for asking

Michael Meeropol
 

Hi all --- as someone who is NOT a strong student of all things Marxist, I have always thought that the Labor THeory of Value was NOT USEFUL as a price theory but EXTREMELY useful as a theory of capitalist dynamics --- that the idea of surplus value as the key to profit remains profoundly valuable --- 

I do think that when Marx argues that the wage "settles" at "subsistence" and that is why there IS surplus value he is contradicted by "Marx" (yes, the same person) who admits that "subsistence" has an "historical and moral element" --- and thus it is an INDEFINITE value --- Result:  the rate of surplus value depends on the strength of the classes who meet at the point of production --- and there are times when the rate of surplus value is "too low" to create a high enough rate of profit to encourage investment --- result, periodic "crises" (the famous business cycle that has been measured incessantly --- most appropriately by Wesley Clair Mitchell and his greatest living exponent, Howard Sherman [my collaborator on one of his textbooks together with his son Paul] --- but there have never been really good theories of WHY they appear to be periodic.   WHich brings us back to the indeterminacy of the rate of exploitation --- sometimes it permits a high enough rate of profit to stimulate the accumulation of capital and sometimes it does not which interrupts the accumulation of capital.

On Mon, Oct 4, 2021 at 11:05 PM <fkalosar101@...> wrote:
Barry--The labor theory of value and a few of the other things I was trying to talk about are pretty basic to Marxism, 


Re: I repent for asking

John A Imani
 

<< I wouldn't go nuts worrying about that when humanity has so many more pressing problems to deal with--most of which require a lot of work that will not go forward as the capitalist engine of destruction shakes itself to bits.>>

Agree.

Quite often when the question as to how much work is available the question of the 'sharing' of work is raised. 

The ‘sharing of work’ is an old concept. More recently it has been put forward in the “30 for 40” demands. Here in 2019. And here in 1973. But it all goes back to the early 1930’s Townsend Plan that was so popular that FDR initiated Social Security in 1935 to forestall it.

The Townsend Plan instead of sharing hours would have retired every American over the age of 60 who would then get a stipend from the government of $200/month. The only stipulation was that the money had to be spent completely in that month. The idea was to generate purchasing power to increase 'effective demand' that is desire for a good or service backed by the purchasing power to buy it. The one month stipulation was to increase the 'velocity of money' so that produced commodities would not sit on the shelf but be bought at an upbeat tempo to ensure their quick sale and hence the need for increased production.

This was in the depths of the Great Depression and huge numbers were out of work. It was thought and it was so that the production of a given amount of goods could be accomplished by a smaller workforce but without work how can one 'effectively demand'? So overproduction of goods (which Marx says is always accompanied, indeed preceded by, overproduction of capital, i.e. the increasing of the means of production) brings about a relative overproduction of workers.  See Marx' quote below.

Townsend's idea came at the same time, indeed it preceded it, that Keynes published “The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money” in 1936 in which he wrote "If the Treasury were to fill old bottles with banknotes, bury them at suitable depths in disused coalmines which are then filled up to the surface with town rubbish, and leave it to private enterprise on well-tried principles of laissez-faire to dig the banknotes up again...there need be no more unemployment."  His point was that government could stimulate employment and hence demand but that such employment should not be in areas that would compete with a private sector that was already suffering from massive overproduction.  But both Keynes and Townsend were preceded by Marx, esp so in Capital Vol 3, Chap XV. Or Henryk Grossman’s “The Law of the Accumulation and Breakdown" written 1926-29.

Here is the problem with all of these schemes:

They all have a fundamental underpinning which is a fundamental flaw: they all assume that there is only so much work to go around. Thus you get “30 for 40” or retiring aged workers to keep them from competing with younger workers for that limited amount of work. Look around you. Are there not things that need to be done? Bridges, homes, parks, schools to build? The problem is not that there is not enough work, the problem is that there is not enough work that can be done at a profit. This is the fatal flaw of capitalism.

Assuming a favorable view of “30 for 40” automatically makes you anti-migrant; continues the deformation of the economy so as to produce a profit; places limits as to what humankind can accomplish by limiting the amount of work that can be done; and continues the growth of a “relative overpopulation” and hence unemployment of workers, etc.

I’m ok with “30 for 40”. I have no objections to retiring workers at the age of 60. Or 55. Or 50, etc. So long as when we make these demands, we make these demands as transitional demands. Demands pointing out that while there is so much to do and so few who are doing it that there ought be both work and plenty for all. Transitional demands pointing out that the limit to capitalism is capitalism.

As regards migration of labor, there is a secret about work. A secret that is revealed every time a worker is hired by a capitalist: the worker brings more to the table than he takes from it.  He adds more value than that of his wage.  Hence the secret that is profit.  Humans are the only perpetual motion machines, the only machines that put out more than what goes into them. We ought be welcoming to all those who come here to work.  Economic migration will only end when real foreign aid from the West is sent South and East so as to un-deform their economies--from emphasis on single-export crops economies of scale, e.g. coffee, bananas, etc for the West’s benefit--back to the natural multi-crop local economies only now to be aided by Western tractors, fertilizers and seeds and know-how.

“But where is the money going to come from?” The answer to that question is another question: “where did the money (1 ½ trillion dollars) given by the Bush/Obama regime (no ‘s’) to the banks and giant corporations in the still ongoing ‘Great Recession’? And these lame thoroughbreds are still feeding at the trough of QE and low interest rates. Where does that money come from? From the fiat sleight-of-hand and legerdemain of the Central Banks: the Treasury prints bonds which they sell to the Federal Reserve which pays for the bonds with money created (printed) out of thin air.  Money which is then spent by Congress with the check written by the Treasury.  Inflation?  If workers’ wages, salaries, pensions, welfare, etc were (up to a certain point) indexed to the inflation rate, then inflation is the rich man's problem.  All indexed inflation would do would be to devalue the holdings of those who already got the money, i.e. partial expropriation via inflation.

There is a world out there just beyond the horizon. A world that can and must be created where human needs and human desires dictate the kinds and amounts of work which we will perform. “30 for 40” (and other such schemes) are cessions to the legitimacy of capitalism.

We don’t just want more. We want it all.

Overproduction of Capital

Over-production of capital is never anything more than overproduction of means of production — of means of labour and necessities of life — which may serve as capital, i.e., may serve to exploit labour at a given degree of exploitation; a fall in the intensity of exploitation below a certain point, however, calls forth disturbances, and stoppages in the capitalist production process, crises, and destruction of capital. It is no contradiction that this over-production of capital is accompanied by more or less considerable relative over-population. The circumstances which increased the productiveness of labour, augmented the mass of produced commodities, expanded markets, accelerated accumulation of capital both in terms of its mass and its value, and lowered the rate of profit — these same circumstances have also created, and continuously create, a relative overpopulation, an over-population of labourers not employed by the surplus-capital owing to the low degree of exploitation at which alone they could be employed, or at least owing to the low rate of profit which they would yield at the given degree of exploitation.” https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/ch15.htm

JAI


Nicaragua’s new way | Becca Mohally Renk | The Morning Star

Kevin Lindemann and Cathy Campo
 



Nicaragua’s new way

The neoliberal Nicaragua of the ’90s is unrecognisable from the Nicaragua of today, writes sustainable development worker BECCA MOHALLY RENK

Nicaraguan farmers

IN 1999 when I first came to Ciudad Sandino, a city of 180,000 located just outside Managua, Hurricane Mitch had recently created 2.7 million homeless people in Nicaragua and Honduras. 

The neoliberal government had pocketed the aid that came into the country. Ciudad Sandino had received 12,000 hurricane refugees who were living in black plastic tents, but those who had been living in Ciudad Sandino for decades weren’t in much better shape: most houses were walled with scrap wood and plastic. There was only one paved road in the city. 

Neighbourhoods had only sporadic access to water, no sewage system and most homes weren’t connected to the electrical grid with its frequent blackouts. 

The only hospital sat empty with no medicines or supplies. Children had to bring their own desks if they wanted to go to school. 

Very few people had formal jobs and farmers rented land to large agribusiness because they couldn’t afford to plant their own fields. 

The neoliberal Nicaragua I’m describing is unrecognisable from the Nicaragua of today. In just 14 years since the return of the Sandinista government in 2007, extreme poverty has dropped by 23.4 per cent. 

How has this been done? The Nicaraguan government has implemented a new model of development.

Healthcare: Nicaragua has built 21 new hospitals and remodelled 46 more. It has built or remodelled 1,259 medical posts, 192 health centres and 178 maternity homes. 

Additionally, it has equipped 66 mobile clinics made from converted articulated trucks confiscated in drug busts; in 2020 these mobile clinics provided nearly 1.9 million consultations. 

All this, combined with the school lunch programme which guarantees a hot meal of beans and rice to 1.2 million primary school children daily, there has been a 46 per cent reduction in chronic malnutrition in children under five and a 66 per cent reduction in chronic malnutrition in children aged six to 12 years old. Infant mortality rates have been lowered by 61 per cent and maternal mortality rates by 70 per cent.

Education: In 2003, the average Nicaraguan had 3.5 years of schooling; only 30 per cent of those starting first grade were expected to finish 6th grade. Now, youth with no schooling at all has dropped from 24 per cent to 4 per cent. Rates for passing grades have increased from 79 per cent to 91 per cent and the population with a university degree has risen from 9 per cent to 19 per cent.

Housing and land:Construction and improvements on 158,000 low-income houses and delivery of 427,434 land titles. An area equal to 31 per cent of Nicaragua’s national territory has been deeded to 314 indigenous communities in non-transferrable legal land titles.

Basic services: In 2007 there were rolling blackouts and 80 per cent of Nicaragua’s energy was generated from oil. Today 80 per cent of Nicaragua’s electricity is produced using renewable resources and electrical coverage has risen from 54 per cent to 99 per cent. Access to potable water in urban areas has risen from 65 per cent to 92 per cent, in rural areas from 28 per cent to 55 per cent. 

Infrastructure: Nicaragua now boasts the best roads in the region, having doubled the mileage of paved roads, paving new nearly 2,000km, repairing another 2,000km. 

Agriculture: $548 million has been given in credits to small farmers, benefiting 25,700 farmers per year. Nearly 6,000 new co-operatives have been established benefiting 318,000 members; Nicaragua now produces 90 per cent of its own food.

Creative economy: Small businesses account for 70 per cent of employment; 23,345 small businesses have been formalised, meaning those workers are now paid benefits and will be eligible for a retirement pension. 800,000 women have received loans representing $18 million per year at 5 per cent annual interest. 

Gender equality: According to the Global Gender Gap Report, in overall gender equality, Nicaragua has gone from 62 out of 153 countries in 2007 to number five worldwide, reducing the gender gap by over 80 per cent. Nicaragua is number one in the world in women’s health and survival, women’s educational attainment, and women cabinet ministers, and is number three in overall political empowerment of women. 

In the last 14 years, Nicaragua has become an example that the whole world urgently needs to follow: a model of equitable, green, pro-people development.

Becca Mohally Renk is originally from the US and has been living in Nicaragua for 20 years working in sustainable community development with the Jubilee House Community and its project the Centre for Development in Central America. 




Re: I repent for asking

Michael Yates
 

It wasn't aimed at you at all, but at the concept of productivity. I remember a left Keynesian on another list saying that he was planning on being more productive. I don't know what this means and it plays into the capitalist notion that we had better keep our noses to the grindstone, for the benefit of society as a whole. Ha, yes, I had to show how productive I was every semester. It was amusing to see the CVs of my colleagues. Every talk they gave to a local club was on it. But I was surely not directing anything at you thought your post was great.


The Communist International, A Critical Analysis - Part I

Richard Fidler
 

https://lifeonleft.blogspot.com/2021/10/the-communist-international-critical.html

By way of an introduction…

The soviet seizure of power under Bolshevik leadership, in October 1917, surprised many socialists outside of Russia, particularly in Western Europe where the tendency was to anticipate socialist victory through the election of a socialist majority and parliamentary adoption of the kind of program outlined by the prominent Marxist intellectual Karl Kautsky in The Road to Power.

A numerical minority in Soviet Russia – as confirmed in the Constituent Assembly elections immediately after the soviet victory – the Bolsheviks thought that under the newly-established “dictatorship of the proletariat” (the capitalists being excluded from any legal possibility of retaking control of government) they could, over time, win majority support among the peasantry, about 80% of the country’s population, through eliminating the landlord class and providing government support to the new peasant economy while strengthening the working class’s leading role through industrialization and state planning.

The Bolsheviks, however, were convinced that their regime could endure only if socialist revolution soon ensued in the more developed countries of Western Europe. Their highest hopes centered on Germany, where many workers were seeking to recover from their country’s defeat in a war supported by the leaders of their mass Social Democratic party. A socialist victory in Germany would provide needed assistance to the new soviet regime in Russia. And it was imminent, they thought.

The Bolsheviks were therefore quick to initiate the formation of a new global revolutionary formation, the Communist International, or Comintern, aimed at replacing the reformist and pro-imperialist Socialist International. The Comintern’s debates and decisions in the early years, as documented in the excellent volumes translated and edited by John Riddell and Mike Taber,[1] shaped the contours of revolutionary Marxist politics throughout the 20th century and indeed since, although as an organization the Comintern failed to supplant Social Democracy and fell victim to authoritarian Stalinist monolithism early in its history.

Socialists today still debate the path to governmental power and the process of transition to an alternative socialist system, a task made even more urgent in conditions of impending climate catastrophe under capitalist rule. They can learn much from the experience of the Communist International.

A half-century ago, Fernando Claudín critically assessed the record of the Comintern in his two-volume work The Communist Movement.[2] A long-time leader of the Spanish Communist party (PCE), Claudín had broken with other party leaders in the 1960s over conflicting perspectives for the country when fascist dictator Francisco Franco died. While they called for a “democratic revolution” initially limited to abolishing semi-feudal and other backward institutions, Claudín and his supporters thought conditions were ripening to mount a broad opposition platform oriented toward socialist revolution in the Spanish state. Claudín was expelled from the PCE in 1964. He later evolved toward the Social-Democratic PSOE in the post-Franco transition, and died in 1990.

His major work, authored in the early 1970s, was critical, inter alia, of the early Comintern’s failure to appreciate the strength of electoralist and parliamentary illusions of workers under late capitalism based on their democratic conquests such as the achievement of universal suffrage. In my opinion his analysis offers many insights into the challenges facing the early Communists and the strategy and tactics they adopted while he faults them nevertheless for often failing to question some fundamental assumptions.

The following is the first of four extracts I have scanned from Chapter 2 of his book, entitled “The Crisis of Theory.” The book is long out-of-print, although a few copies may be obtained from antiquarian book outlets. The other extracts will follow soon. I have omitted many of Claudín’s often lengthy endnotes and added a few of my own, which I have initialed.

- Richard Fidler


[1] See the multivolume series edited by Riddell in the collection The Communist International in Lenin’s Time (Pathfinder Press), followed by the proceedings of the Third and Fourth Comintern congresses and related plenary sessions, available from Haymarket Books.

[2] Subtitled From Comintern to Cominform (Monthly Review Press, 1975). Part One, “The Crisis of the Communist International,” was translated by Brian Pearce. Part Two, “The Zenith of Stalinism,” was translated by Francis MacDonagh.

Full: https://lifeonleft.blogspot.com/2021/10/the-communist-international-critical.html


Pandora Papers

Ken Hiebert
 

You can make a donation to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
ken h

https://checkout.fundjournalism.org/memberform?org_id=icij&installmentPeriod=monthly&amount=10&campaign=701f4000001A4kF


Re: U.S. aims for China-Vietnam split, but ‘divide and conquer’ strategy is failing | Amiad Horowitz | People's World

Ken Hiebert
 

Art Young says of John Riddell, "As those of us who have known and worked with John over the years can testify, John's sudden embrace of the "Chinese road to socialism" and of the policies of President Xi Jinping and the Chinese CP marks a radical shift in his outlook. His public exposition of these positions is quite recent. I hope that with more time, he will explain why he has changed his views."


I looked at John’s website.  You can follow the evolution of his views here.

ken h


H-Net Review [H-Disability]: Hewitt on Fink, 'Forget Burial: HIV Kinship, Disability, and Queer/Trans Narratives of Care'

Andrew Stewart
 



Best regards,
Andrew Stewart

Begin forwarded message:

From: H-Net Staff via H-REVIEW <h-review@...>
Date: October 5, 2021 at 9:53:54 AM EDT
To: h-review@...
Cc: H-Net Staff <revhelp@...>
Subject: H-Net Review [H-Disability]:  Hewitt on Fink, 'Forget Burial: HIV Kinship, Disability, and Queer/Trans Narratives of Care'
Reply-To: h-review@...

Marty Fink.  Forget Burial: HIV Kinship, Disability, and Queer/Trans
Narratives of Care.  New Brunswick  Rutgers University Press, 2020.  
214 pp.  $29.95 (paper), ISBN 978-1-978813-76-2.

Reviewed by Jessie Hewitt (University of Redlands)
Published on H-Disability (October, 2021)
Commissioned by Iain C. Hutchison

Marty Fink's Forget Burial incorporates often-neglected histories of
caregiving into the history of HIV activism by linking early
experiences of the epidemic to more recent narrative accounts of
caregiving within queer and trans communities. As a media scholar,
Fink puts a wide variety of sources in dialogue with one another,
often to convincing effect. In the process, they highlight how
archival investigations and curatorial practices have the potential
to create intergenerational bonds and provide caregiving models for
queer/trans people who did not personally experience the early years
of the epidemic.

Central to Fink's investigation is the insistence that disability
forges community. Interdependence is a fact of life for disabled and
nondisabled people alike, but individuals with HIV in the 1980s and
1990s were particularly attuned to the ways the state, the medical
establishment, and the prison system all exacerbated their isolation
and stigmatization. Chosen families, on the other hand, provided care
and also received it in ways that exposed the cruelty of official
neglect and indifference. As Fink explains, "I apply HIV histories to
contemporary narratives about gender and disability: rather than
trying to cure disabilities and eliminate bodily differences, HIV
narratives offer queer and trans models for taking care of each other
when we experience institutional harm" (p. 5). While the actions and
inaction of those in power dehumanized queer/trans people with HIV,
communities of care celebrated and reinforced one another's humanity.

By focusing on caregiving as a form of activism, Fink centers the
actions of queer/trans people of color, which have often received
less attention than more spectacular types of public protest
associated with majority-white activist groups. One salient example
involves reframing the origins of safer-sex efforts in the 1980s.
While some safer-sex initiatives eventually garnered official
support, campaigns sanctioned by the state implicitly sought to
discipline queer and trans bodies by focusing on abstinence and/or
pathologizing promiscuity. Conversely, grassroots sex education
invented "safer sex as a caregiving response to HIV.... Creating and
sharing medical information therefore became a form of care, and the
distribution of this knowledge happened on the community level,
bringing together lovers, professionals, and friends through the
process of creating access to sex education" (p. 40). The activism of
DiAna DiAna, a Black woman who began to provide safer-sex education
and free condoms in her South Carolina hair salon in 1986, serves as
a revelatory case in point. While DiAna's efforts were appreciated
within her community, Fink argues that she was regularly blocked from
receiving state funds due to institutional racism.

Fink thematically links numerous types of primary sources in the
process of constructing their argument. This is one of the book's
strengths. Yet I often found discussion of the words and deeds of
historical actors more compelling than the literary analysis. For
example, Fink argues that disability kinship communities formed
during the early years of the HIV epidemic provide anti-capitalist
and anti-racist models for prison abolition. The thrust of this
argument focuses on Octavia Butler's 2005 vampire novel, Fledgling,
and Jamaica Kincaid's caregiving 1997 memoir, My Brother. While the
exploration of these works is suggestive--particularly in the case of
Fledgling--the experiences of HIV-positive individuals ensnared by
the prison system is less thorough. Of course, as Fink points out,
the isolation produced by incarceration makes it very difficult to
uncover these stories.

Forget Burial is well worth reading. The most successful parts of
this book take the reader inside the kitchens, bedrooms, prisons, art
galleries, and hospital waiting rooms where people laughed, fought,
loved, and sometimes died together. Fink makes a strong case that the
early years of the HIV epidemic provide models for living joyously
and communally despite the myriad ways capitalist institutions leave
individuals to fend for ourselves. In the process of "unburying" the
stories of historically marginalized people, Fink rightly and
eloquently depicts disability as a generative force.

Citation: Jessie Hewitt. Review of Fink, Marty, _Forget Burial: HIV
Kinship, Disability, and Queer/Trans Narratives of Care_.
H-Disability, H-Net Reviews. October, 2021.
URL: https://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=56289

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States
License.



Eric Williams and the Tangled History of Capitalism and Slavery | Gerald Horne | The Nation

Kevin Lindemann and Cathy Campo
 



Eric Williams and the Tangled History of Capitalism and Slavery

The Politician-Scholar

Illustration by Joe Ciardiello. 

Before he became a celebrated author and the founding father and first prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Eric Eustace Williams was an adroit footballer. At his high school, Queen’s Royal College, he was a fierce competitor, which likely led to an injury that left him deaf in his right ear. Yet as Williams’s profile as a scholar and national leader rose, so did the attempts by his critics to turn his athleticism against him. An “expert dribbler” known for prancing downfield with the ball kissing one foot, then the other, Williams was now accused by his political detractors of not being a team player. Driven by his desire to play to the gallery—or so it was said—he proved to be uninterested in whether his team (or his nation, not to mention the erstwhile British Commonwealth) was victorious. 

What his critics described as a weakness, though, was also a strength: His willingness to go it alone on the field probably contributed to his willingness to break from the historiographic pack during his tenure at Oxford University, and it also led him to chart his own political course. Williams, after all, often had good reason not to trust his political teammates, particularly those with close ties to London. Moreover, he was convinced that a good politician should play to the gallery: Ultimately, he was a public representative. And this single-minded determination to score even if it meant circumventing his teammates, instilled in him a critical mindset, one that helped define both his scholarship—in particular his groundbreaking Capitalism and Slavery—and his work as a politician and an intellectual, though admittedly this trait proved to be more effective at Oxford and Howard University than during his political career, which coincided with the bruising battles of the Cold War.

A new edition of Capitalism and Slavery, published by the University of North Carolina Press with a foreword by the economist William Darity, reminds us in particular of Williams’s independent political and intellectual spirit and how his scholarship upended the historiographical consensus on slavery and abolition. Above all else, in this relatively slender volume, Williams asserted the primacy of the enslaved themselves in breaking the chains that bound them, putting their experiences at the center of his research. Controversially, he also placed slavery at the heart of the rise of capitalism and the British Empire, which carried profound implications for its successor, the United States. The same holds true for his devaluation of the humanitarianism of white abolitionists and their allies as a spur for ending slavery. In many ways, the book augured his determination as a political actor as well: Williams the academic striker sped downfield far ahead of the rest and scored an impressive goal for the oppressed while irking opponents and would-be teammates alike. But his subsequent career as a politician also came as a surprise: Despite his own radical commitments as a historian, as a politician Williams broke in significant ways from many of his anti-colonial peers. For both reasons of his own making and reasons related to leading a small island nation in the United States’ self-proclaimed backyard, Williams as prime minister was hardly seen as an avatar of radicalism.

Eric Williams was born in 1911 in Port-of-Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago, then a financially depressed British colony. His father was far from wealthy, receiving only a primary education before becoming a civil service clerk at the tender age of 17. In his affecting autobiography, Williams describes his mother’s “contribution to the family budget” by baking “bread and cakes” for sale. She was a descendant of an old French Creole family, with the lighter skin hue to prove it.

Despite his humble origins, the studious and disciplined Williams won a prized academic scholarship at the age of 11, putting him on track to become a “coloured Englishman,” he noted ruefully. His arrival at Oxford in 1931—again on a scholarship—seemingly confirmed this future. There he mingled in a progressive milieu that included the founder of modern Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta, and the self-exiled African American socialist Paul Robeson. It was at Oxford that Williams wrote “The Economic Aspect of the Abolition of the West Indian Slave Trade and Slavery,” which was later transformed into the book at hand. In both works, but in the book more decisively, Williams punctured the then-reigning notion that abolitionism had been driven by humanitarianism—an idea that conveniently kept Europeans and Euro-Americans at the core of this epochal development. Instead Williams stressed African agency and resistance, which in turn drove London’s financial calculations. He accomplished this monumental task in less than 200 pages of text, making the response that followed even more noteworthy. Extraordinarily, entire volumes have been devoted to weighing his conclusions in this one book.

It would not be an exaggeration, then, to say that when Williams published Capitalism and Slavery in 1944, it ignited a firestorm of applause and fury alike. His late biographer, Colin Palmer, observed that “reviewers of African descent uniformly praised the work, while those who claimed European heritage were much less enthusiastic and more divided in their reception.” One well-known scholar of the latter persuasion assailed the “Negro nationalism” that Williams espoused in it. Nonetheless, Capitalism and Slavery has become arguably the most academically influential work on slavery written to date. It has sold tens of thousands of copies—with no end in sight—and has been translated into numerous European languages as well as Japanese and Korean. The book continues to inform debates on the extent to which capitalism was shaped by the enslavement of Africans, not to mention the extent to which these enslaved workers struck the first—and most decisive—blow against their inhumane bondage.

Proceeding chronologically from 1492 to the eve of the US Civil War, Williams grounded his narrative in parliamentary debates, merchants’ papers, documents from Whitehall, memoirs, and abolitionist renderings, recording the actions of the oppressed as they were reflected in these primary sources. The book has three central theses that have captured the attention of generations of readers and historians. The first was Williams’s almost offhand assertion that slavery had produced racism, not vice versa: “Slavery was not born of racism,” he contended, but “rather, racism was the consequence of slavery.” To begin with, “unfree labor in the New World was brown, white, black and yellow; Catholic, Protestant and pagan,” with various circumstances combining to promote the use of enslaved African labor. For example, “escape was easy for the white servant; less easy for the Negro,” who was “conspicuous by his color and features”—and, Williams added, “the Negro slave was cheaper.” But it was in North America most dramatically that slavery became encoded with “race” and thus, through its contorted rationalizations, ended up producing a new culture of racism. 

This thesis was provocative for several reasons, but perhaps most of all because it implied that once the material roots of slavery had been ripped up, the modern world would finally witness the progressive erosion of anti-Black politics and culture. This optimistic view was echoed by the late Howard University classicist Frank Snowden in his trailblazing book Before Color Prejudice: The Ancient View of Blacks. Of course, sterner critics could well contend that such optimism was misplaced, that it misjudged the extent to which many post-slavery societies had been poisoned at the root. But this sunnier view of post-slavery societies was spawned in part by the proliferation of anti-colonial and anti–Jim Crow activism in the 1940s and ’50s.

Williams’s second thesis hasn’t stirred as much controversy, but it also exerted an enormous influence on the scholarship to come: He insisted that slavery fueled British industrial development, and therefore that slavery was the foundation not only of British capitalism but of capitalism as a whole. To prove this claim, Williams cited the many British mercantilists who themselves knew that slavery and the slave trade (not to mention the transportation of settlers) relied on a complex economic system, one that included shipbuilding and shackles to restrain the enslaved, along with firearms, textiles, and rum—manufacturing, in short. Sugar and tobacco, then cotton, were ferociously profitable, adding mightily to London’s coffers, which meant more ships and firearms, in a circle devoid of virtue. Assuredly, the immense wealth generated by slavery and the slave trade—the latter, at times, bringing a 1,700 percent profit—provided rocket fuel to boost the takeoff of capitalism itself.

If Williams’s first thesis has been critiqued by subsequent historians and scholars, who have found its apparent optimism about the ability to uproot racism misguided, his second has been largely embraced and bolstered by subsequent scholars, including Walter Rodney in How Europe Underdeveloped Africa and Joseph Inikori in Africans and the Industrial Revolution in England.

The latter, in fact, goes farther than Williams does. Inikori argues that before the advent of the slave trade, England’s West Yorkshire, the West Midlands, and South Lancashire were poorer regions; but buoyed by slavery’s economic stimulus, they became wealthy and industrialized. Similarly, in the period from 1650 to 1850, the Americas were effectively an extension of Africa itself in terms of exports, buoying the former to the detriment of the latter. More polemically, Rodney portrays Africa and Europe on a veritable seesaw, with one declining as the other rises, the two processes intrinsically united in a manner that echoes Williams. 

The scholarship that followed Williams’s book also pointed to something that Williams missed in his account of the entwined nature of capitalism and slavery: The intense feudal religiosity that characterized Spain, Protestant England’s inquisitorial Catholic foe, began to yield in favor of a similarly intense racism—albeit shaped and formed by religion, just as racial slavery shaped and formed capitalism. As the historian Donald Matthews suggested in his book At the Altar of Lynching, this ultimate Jim Crow expression of hate—often featuring the immolation of the cross, if not of the victimized himself—was also a kind of religious sacrament as well as a holdover from a previous epoch in England’s history, in which Queen Mary I (also known as “Bloody Mary”) burned Protestant foes at the stake during her tumultuous and brief 16th-century reign. In the bumpy transition from feudalism to capitalism, there is a perverse devolutionary logic embedded in the shift from torching presumed heretics to torching actual Africans.

Nonetheless, Williams’s most disputed thesis was his downgrading of the heroic role of the British abolitionists. In his telling of their story, he argued that naked economic self-interest, more than morality or humanitarianism, drove England’s retreat from the slave trade in 1807 and its barring of slavery in 1833. Like The New York Times’ 1619 Project, this part of Williams’s argument pricked a sensitive nerve in the nation’s self-conception. In 2007, on the 200th anniversary of the official banning of human trafficking from Africa, the British prime minister and the monarch presided over a commemoration that sought to foreground Britain’s abolitionism, not its central role in the muck of slavery’s repulsiveness. Instead of focusing on the United Kingdom as a primary beneficiary of the enslavement of Africans, they refashioned their once formidable empire as the very embodiment of abolitionism. 

This sleight-of-hand at once evaded the continuing legacy of slavery’s barbarity and undermined the question of reparations for the country’s crimes against humanity. The evasion eventually led one Black Britisher to argue that the plight of descendants of the enslaved in the UK was reminiscent of the movie The Truman Show, “where you know something is not right but nobody wants to admit it.”

When it comes to Britain’s subjects in North America, Williams shows how 1776 led to a disruption of the profitable chain of enrichment that linked the 13 colonies and the British Caribbean. The resulting republic, he said, “diminished the number of slaves in the empire and made abolition easier”—which is difficult to refute, though Williams curiously omitted the salient fact that the republic swiftly supplanted the monarchy as the kingpin of the African slave trade. Williams also illustrated how, in this void, the unpatriotic settlers who had broken from the British Empire were busily developing ties with the French Caribbean, heightening the profitability—and the exploitation—of those enslaved in what became Haiti. It was a process that would backfire spectacularly with the transformative revolution sparked in 1791; indeed, this was the revolution that led to abolition. (This thesis was explored in even greater depth in The Black Jacobins, by Williams’s frequent political sparring partner and fellow Trinidadian, C.L.R. James.)

Despite the convincing evidence that Williams deploys to make his case, this particular thesis is still routinely ignored by many contemporary historians, who argue that the abolitionist movement was ignited instead by the rebellion of 1776 and its purportedly liberatory message, often citing Vermont’s abolition decree in 1777. But as the unjustly neglected historian Harvey Amani Whitfield observes in The Problem of Slavery in Early Vermont, the language of this measure was sufficiently porous that even the family of settler hero Ethan Allen was implicated in the odiousness of enslavement. (More to the point, the decree could easily be seen as a cynically opportunistic last-ditch attempt to appeal to Africans who were already defecting to the Union Jack.)

In Capitalism and Slavery, Williams also stressed the agency of the enslaved and their role in abolishing slavery—“the most dynamic and powerful” force, he argued, and one that has been “studiously ignored.” Early on, Williams demonstrated, the enslaved sought to abolish slavery through insurrection, murder, poisonings, arson—“indolence, sabotage and revolt” was his descriptor of these actions—and he charts how these acts of militant resistance made their way back to London as well, where many took note and realized that lives and, more importantly, investments could be jeopardized. “Every white slave owner in Jamaica, Cuba or Texas,” Williams wrote, “lived in dread of another Toussaint L’Ouverture,” the true founder of revolutionary Haiti and the grandest abolitionist of all. Rather than accede to this “emancipation from below,” the British government, prodded by British abolitionists, opted for “emancipation from above.”

Williams’s masterwork is so rich with ideas and historical insights that it still speaks to today’s historiography, but in ways that have seemingly eluded many contemporary practitioners. For example, in his focus on England’s so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688—which unleashed a devastating era of “free trade in Africans,” as merchants descended on the beleaguered continent with the maniacal energy of crazed bees, manacling Africans and shipping them in breathtaking numbers to a cruel fate—Williams anticipated the illuminating contribution of the British historian William Pettigrew in his insightful Freedom’s Debt.

Part of the problem is that today’s historians are so siloed, narrowly focused on an era, such as 1750-83 or 1850-65, that they remain oblivious to preceding events—even ones as momentous as 1688, 1776’s true precursor. These scholars mimic the uncomprehending jury in the 1992 trial of the Los Angeles police officers whose vicious beating of Rodney King was captured on tape. Instead of allowing the tape to unfold seamlessly from beginning to end, sly defense attorneys exposed the jury to mere fragments and convinced its members that the disconnected episodes hardly amounted to a crime.

Indeed, just as slavery drove 1688, it assuredly compelled Texas’s secession from Mexico in 1836 and then—finally—the failure of 1861. And yes, along with the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which sought to restrain real estate speculators (including George Washington) from moving westward to seize Indigenous land, forcing London to expend blood and treasure, slavery was at the heart of 1776. As with many earthshaking events, the lust for land and enslaved labor drove the founding of the republic.

Williams also anticipated one of the more important scholarly interventions of recent decades: He offered an early account of the “construction of whiteness,” a subject written about in the enlightening work of David Roediger and Nell Irvin Painter, among others. The slave trade, Williams argued, “had become necessary to almost every nation in Europe.” As a result, a new identity politics of “whiteness”—militarized and monetized—had to emerge in order to justify the subjugation of continents and peoples and the gargantuan transfer of wealth to London, Paris, Copenhagen, Lisbon, Madrid, Amsterdam, and Washington. No insult to Brussels intended, but the formation of the United States was little more than a bloodier precursor of the European Union, manifested on an alien continent with a more coercive regime.

Inevitably, this cash machine of enslavement and the way it racialized humanity did not disappear when slavery itself was finally abolished. The legacy of racism persisted in Jim Crow, then in outrageously disparate health outcomes and the carceral system. There is no more illustrative example than the hellhole that is Angola State Penitentiary in Louisiana, which inelegantly carries the name of the region in Africa that produced a disproportionate share of the US enslaved—and thus today’s imprisoned.

Unfortunately, all of the jousting that Williams had to do with the mainstream of British and US historiography, which tended to downplay slave resistance while failing to think critically about capitalism as a system, prevented him from forging a larger political framework in the book that would have strengthened its historical insights. Encountering his discussion of the still-astonishing influx of enslaved Africans into Brazil in the 1840s, the uncareful reader could easily conclude that British nationals were largely responsible—and not US citizens. Perhaps understandably, Williams, who languished under the British Empire’s lash for decades, directed his ire toward London more than any other place—much in the way that James, his fellow countryman, focused intently on London’s malign role in subjugating revolutionary Haiti and hardly engaged with Washington’s.

Ironically, when he finally entered politics, Williams—who had so successfully broken from the pack on the soccer field and in his scholarship—managed to achieve only lesser results. Although Karl Marx, in Chapter 31 of the first volume of Capital, prefigured him in treating slavery in the Americas as essential to the rise of British industry, Williams was no Marxist—even if many of his peers in the Pan-African movement were decidedly of the socialist persuasion. This was true not only of James but of another Trinidadian, Claudia Jones, a former US Communist Party leader who was deported to London and became a stalwart of Black Britain (though she is better known today as a foremother of intersectionality). Jones was part of a circle that included Nelson Mandela and his successor, Thabo Mbeki, both of whom had been leading members of the South African Communist Party, as well as the similarly oriented founding fathers of postcolonial Africa: Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah; Angola’s Agostinho Neto; Mozambique’s Samora Machel; Guinea-Bissau’s Amilcar Cabral. All of these leaders were more than willing to receive aid from Moscow in order to combat their North Atlantic foes. Nonetheless, both Williams and those to his left still tended to see 1776 as the start of an “incomplete” revolution.

On this, there is much to dispute, and one might start by comparing the outcome of 1776 to the 1948 implantation of “apartheid” in another USA: the then Union of South Africa. Apartheid was founded with the central goal of uplifting the Afrikaner poor (akin to the “American dream”) while grinding Africans into neo-slavery (they objected strenuously, as did their counterparts in 1776). Decades earlier, the Afrikaners, who were the descendants of Dutch immigrants, had fought a putatively anti-colonial war against London, then sought to gobble up the land of their sprawling neighbor, today’s Namibia, not far from the size territorially of California and Texas combined, just as the Cherokee Nation was expropriated by Washington. Thus, as with 1776, the launch of apartheid South Africa could be deemed an “incomplete” revolution that somehow forgot to include the African majority—or was this exclusion and exploitation central to such a draconian intervention?

For his part, Williams the politician was forced to reckon with many of these knotty matters, in particular as they pertained to the purposefully incomplete process of decolonization and the rise of new forms of empire. As prime minister, in order to court the United States’ favor, he was derelict in extending solidarity to its antagonists in Cuba and neighboring Guyana, where Cheddi Jagan would be joined by Jamaica’s Michael Manley in seeking to pursue a noncapitalist path to independence.

Williams’s tenure as prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago extended for nearly two decades, from 1962 to 1981. But the presence of oil on the archipelago attracted the most vulturous wing of capital, further limiting his aspirations. As in Guyana, tensions between the various sectors of the working class—one with roots in Africa, the other in British India—were not conducive to anti-imperialist unity, hampering Williams’s ability to forge a sturdy base. Incongruously, though he did as much as any individual to assert the primacy of enslaved Africans in modern history, he ran afoul of the Black Power movement in his homeland, which—not altogether inaccurately—found him too compliant in dealing with the intrusive imperial presence in Trinidad. Yet despite being hampered by a divided working class and a proliferating Black Power movement that often regarded him with contempt, Williams was able to hang on to office, though he lacked the political strength to solve the persistent problems of poverty and underdevelopment.

The scholar whose X-ray vision detected the role of enslaved people in the innards of capitalism and empire was seemingly felled by both when the moment to confront their toxic legacy arrived. Even so, the failings of Williams the politico should not be used to vitiate the insights of Williams the scholar. As slavery-infused capitalism continues to run amok, we must, like an expert diagnostician, finally develop an adequate history that can drive a comprehensive prescription for our ills.

[Gerald Horne is the author of books on slavery, socialism, popular culture, and Black internationalism.]



The Final Words of Louis Proyect! Check Out Our Movie Commentary on HERO!

Andrew Stewart
 


Why Are Major Unions Undermining the Progressive Strategy on Reconciliation? | Jeff Schuhrke | In These Times

Kevin Lindemann and Cathy Campo
 


Re: Short rants are no excuse for ranting

Farans Kalosar
 

You should consider taking your own advice.  


Re: I repent for asking

Farans Kalosar
 

On Mon, Oct 4, 2021 at 04:35 PM, Michael Yates wrote:
Fuck productivity. Harry Magdoff always said there was too much productivity, especially since it meant more useless goods and services. I get sick of some leftist academics going on about how some time off will help them be more productive! Doing what, exactly? Besides, it really isn't even possible to measure productivity for most employment in any meaningful way. 
If this is directed at something I said, I'm not a leftist academic.  I went through the Ph.D mill, after which I took a hatful of community college computer courses and became a technical writer and business analyst.  I spent forty years in the IT racket and was forced into retirement at age 72 on savings and social security--no pension, but substantial savings. I get tired of the "leftist academic" smear, especially when launched by leftist academics. It's like the "septuagenarian" smear when indulged in by septuagenarians. My apologies if you were not directing this at me.  

As I understand it, capitalist "productivity" means the amount  of profit you can extract from the surplus value of labor--calculable if I've got this right as the difference between what you pay the working sucker and the amount of profit you realize on their work. Of course the management lust for "metrics" is a nightmare.

I always made a point of signing on for an hourly wage on somebody's W2, never piecework, "on-demand" work, or (when I could avoid it) those bullshit 1099 jobs where you are supposed to be working on a fixed deliverable or series of deliverables as an independent contractor under your own supervision, but wind up working de facto on an indefinite hourly basis on an employer's premises and reporting to a supervisor for work assignments.

That way, when crooked assholes wasted my time to show how important and busy they were, I got paid for it.  My weekly reports were masterpieces of obfuscation--such and such an imaginary percent done on this and that--and when the bastards laid me off, since I was on W2, I could and did collect unemployment insurance.  Luckily my "skill set" was in some demand, so I never went more than five months between jobs and managed to hang onto the ones I did get sometimes for years. The last one lasted seven years, and i even got benefits.

But hey--I'm not a worker, just an "arrogant academic."  Fuck that goddamned shit.


fyi

William Solomon
 

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