A New Group to Organize College Football Players Just Launched. Incredible Timing. | Hamilton Nolan | In These Times

Kevin Lindemann and Cathy Campo

Re: I repent for asking


OK. One last try. I think we should reject Marx's theory of value before ever getting into it because it gives a misleading account  of the way tools and machines increase productivity. Let's go back to a time before capitalism and markets. A hunter-gatherer tribe stumbles across some sharp, flaky rocks one day. Lo and behold, someone gets the idea that it would be easier to skin game and make pelts by scraping the hide with the sharp edge of a rock. The productivity of the tribe has increased by the introduction of a new technology. Socially necessary labor time has been reduced for a given quantity of production. Did the sharp rock add to production? Yes. The rock by itself couldn't produce anything, but in combination with  labor it added to the productivity of this new form of labor. And like the production and reproduction of labor power, the cost in labor time to produce the sharp rock results in an increase in production greater than could have been produced by using labor time in the old way at the lower level of technology. Marx wants to come into this situation and say the rock does not add any value. He breaks any connection between value and productivity and says tools add no value. This disconnect is why Marx's price theory can't work and why exploitation alone cannot give a full account of how capitalists make profit. I don't pretend to have worked this out on my own. I have taken most of it from Chapter 4 of Gavin Kitching's Karl Marx and the Philosophy of Praxis, which goes into more detail about how Marx mixes up his accounting categories of price and value.

Review of *The Dawning of the Apocalypse: The Roots of Slavery, White Supremacy, Settler Colonialism, and Capitalism in the Long Sixteenth Century*, by Gerald Horne | Rachel I. Buff | Science & Society

Kevin Lindemann and Cathy Campo


The Dawning of the Apocalypse: The Roots of Slavery, White Supremacy, Settler Colonialism, and Capitalism in the Long Sixteenth Century, by Gerald Horne. New York: Monthly Review Press, 2020. Paper, $19.00. Pp. 301.

I read this gorgeous, furious book while teaching the first half of the U. S. history survey: 1607–1877. This somewhat vertiginous convergence reframed my understanding of the foundations of this course. Horne rolls back the temporal scope of “Early America,” and in doing so, links the significance of world events during the 16th century to the foundations of imperial, racial capitalism in North America.

Attending to the foundations of white supremacy in the Americas and Europe, Horne convincingly connects the early origins of settler colonialism and slavery, stitching connections between hemispheric histories. As he describes the “apocalypse” of the title: “It is crucial to acknowledge that not only did Western European nations, especially England, rise on the backs of enslaved Africans and dispossessed indigenes, but that this too arrested development on a continental scale” (16).

White supremacy, for Horne, is always “the vanguard of settler colonialism” (147). Many readers will be familiar with Horne’s monumental archival labors in service of resurrecting the history of Black, brown, and broad left-wing movements in the 20th century. In over three dozen monographs, Horne crusades against the deliberate elision of the central role of the communist left in civil rights formations throughout the century. He is a fierce critic and skilled opponent of the historical profession’s tendency to blacklist and ignore this crucial past.

In this book as well as its recent antecedent, The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism: The Roots of Slavery, White Supremacy and Capitalism in 17th Century North America and the Caribbean(Monthly Review Press, 2018), Horne turns to examine the earlier foundations of empire and racial capitalism. Unlike much of his other work, these books are primarily secondary-source–driven. But Horne is that historian, as skilled in the pyrotechnics of historiographical revision as he is at archival spelunking.

Covering an array of cultural, technological, and military changes, Horne anchors the founding voyages of settler colonialism in the Americas in the global political economy of the 15th and 16th centuries. His approach to the historiography of the old world in this book is as indexical as his combing of archives in others he has written. The resulting narrative incorporates shifting political alliances among European, North African and sub-Saharan powers, as well as technological innovations such as the development of the armaments and nautical vessels that made exploration and conquest possible.

Mapping an interdependent and rapidly transforming world system at the moment of European expansion into the Americas and the transport of enslaved Africans into it, Horne paints a world teeming with religious and political rivalries; with fugitives, adventurers, and entrepreneurs. His account is thematically on point and rich with details. It locates, for example, the origins of the joint stock company, so central to the founding enterprises of British colonialism, in piracy.

Attentive to the consequence and scale of religious rivalries in West- ern Europe and the Middle East, Horne places crusades against Muslims as a key antecedent to the rise of settler colonial racial capitalism in the Americas; one less-attended strand of this book is the ongoing Islamophobia of Anglo-Protestant political formations. He documents the pillaging of long-accrued Catholic Church riches to finance the eventual ascendance of Anglo-Protestantism in North America. Horne writes: “For it was not just the plunder of rivals that provided London with the primitive accumulation of capital. The ongoing looting of Catholics continued apace” (110).

Horne describes a developing “pan-European” identity rising out of the hot flames of religious conflict over the course of the 16th century. Carried to the Western Hemisphere, this incipient pan-European identity outpaced the rivalries of the old world, replacing them with ascendant white supremacy. Consequently, this book situates the evolution of a broad white identity much earlier than is the scholarly consensus among many contemporary U. S. historians. Focused on the United States, historians like Matthew Frye Jacobson, George Lipsitz, and Dave Roediger attend the evolution of diverse European ethnics into “white” people over the course of the 20th century. These historians build on work by scholars such as W. E. B. DuBois, Kimberlé Crenshaw, and Cheryl Harris on the functioning of whiteness as property.

For this reader, Horne’s more global perspective on issues of whiteness complemented rather than contradicted the presiding scholarly treatments, making the development of white supremacy a long trajectory marked by par- ticular moments of crisis and insurgency. The downside of such a profound reframing, and possibly, the consequence of this book being primarily secondary-source–driven, is the loss of some historical specificity.

In documenting the rise of pan-European whiteness, for example, Horne traces the role of Sephardic Jewish communities fleeing Iberian inquisitions. While the issue of Jewish involvement in the slave trade has occasioned internecine historiographical conflict, Horne parses this charged issue quite sensibly. In his account, Jews in the 16th century appear as both fugitives from persecution and mobile denizens of diasporic networks necessary to their survival. Jewish flight from Spain and Portugal during the Inquisition, as well as their expulsion from England from the 13th through 17th centuries, resulted in the creation of transnational Jewish networks. In the context of European expansion to the Americas, these networks provided important knowledge as well as financial capital for the imperial project of settler colonial apocalypse. Horne places Jews in the Americas as part of emergent pan-European whiteness. While it does elide some of the complexities of anti-Semitism with regards to the formation of whiteness, Horne’s big-picture perspective offers a mostly balanced approach to this particularly vexed question.

Ever attentive to the power and possibility of resistance, Horne docu- ments the significance of collaborations between indigenous nations in the Americas and escaping Africans, in the form of marronage — communities formed of runaway enslaved people, both African and indigenous, often sheltered by local Indian nations — as well as outright rebellion. This important perspective is consonant with some of his 20th-century scholarship, such as the crucial Black and Brown: African Americans in the Mexican Revolution, 1910–1920 (2005). For Horne, such incidences of resistance shape local policies and hemispheric histories.

The ways settler colonialism and racial capitalism frame gender and power are both ubiquitous and little-noted in this volume, as are the origins of the current climate crisis. While Horne attends little to these important issues, his work provides direction for interested readers to explore.

In summary, this is a brilliant work that radically reframes the history of North America by placing the origins of whiteness at or before the arrival of Europeans in the Western Hemisphere. It’s a great read as well, keeping this reader burning the midnight oil on more than one occasion. I anticipate rewriting my survey syllabus with a much earlier start date.

Rachel I. Buff 
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

DOI: 10.1521/siso.2021.85.4.536

Re: Bond – is it still the same story?

Farans Kalosar

One could argue that good stories always end in dissatisfaction, thus demanding a retelling that is in some ways self-erasure.

Re: China: masses living with power shortages

Steven L. Robinson

Saw a piece on this subject a few days back on the Wall Street Journal. The reporting there was that the Vice Premier in charge of energy summoned the heads of power companies to a closed door meeting in Beijing.  The source claimed that the power company bureaucrats had their phones and other electronic devices confiscated before entering the meeting.

One outcome of that meeting appears to be a determination to ramp up domestic coal production and purchases of coal from overseas. Not good news for the cause of limiting CO2 emission.... among many other things.


On 10/06/2021 10:51 AM Cort Greene <cort.greene@...> wrote:

China: masses living with power shortages

Cort Greene

China: masses living with power shortages

Image: own work

Three northeastern provinces of China have endured weeks of power usage restrictions. This policy is set to continue, and has started to be applied elsewhere, though it remains most severe in the northeast. These provinces are the former industrial centres of China, which were ravaged by unemployment after the transition to capitalism. Now, they are being subjected to power restrictions that are wreaking havoc with public services and households alike.

Given China’s relatively swift recovery from the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and the CCP regime’s braggadocious talk of a ‘Great Revival of the Chinese Nation’ and an ‘End to Poverty’, how are these outages to be explained?

Why are there power shortages?

In fact, this policy to throttle power supplies had been foreshadowed. As early as this summer, people in some parts of China were experiencing power supply shortages and blackouts. Initially, they were not given any explanation. Only a few days later did they find out that this was the result of the state rerouting their electricity to supply industrial usage elsewhere.

The strain on the power supply in recent times is the product of a confluence of developments inside China.

Firstly, the price of coal used to fuel thermal power plants has skyrocketed. A major contributing factor to this is the ongoing clash between China and Australia. In recent times, the right-wing government of Australia under Scott Morrison has increasingly sided with US imperialism in their ongoing economic and political battle with China.

In 2020, Morrison further provoked China by joining with Donald Trump in calling for a “weapon inspector” style investigation of the origins of COVID-19 in China. As a response, China announced that it would ban coal imports from Australia in December 2020, which were worth over $14bn USD.

This move might have punished Australia economically, but it also led to consequences that severely affected China. As of 2020, over 70 percent of China’s power supply still came from coal-fueled thermal power plants. The sudden banning of Australian coal imports drove up the price of other types of coal, with coking coal prices rising by more than 1,000 RMB (around $155USD) per ton in a month.

This development created a chain reaction. Firstly, although many power plants are still state owned in theory, the state has no control over the coal market, and many power plants have been subjected to a slew of measures that make them more responsible for their own financing in the state’s bid to “marketise the energy sector.” In other words, the plants and the power companies have to stay afloat by generating profit from the market rather than getting the necessary resources allocated by the state.

As the coal prices skyrocketed, many power plants found that they’d lose money by generating electricity. On the other hand, it would be profitable for them to resell the coal in their inventory. This is a clear indictment of the irrationality of profit-based production, in which essential commodities are nothing but exploitable resources to line the bosses’ pockets.

Concurrent with the complications caused by coal prices, China’s relatively strong economic recovery from the global pandemic also drove the capitalists in other sectors to massively ramp up production in order to maximise their profits. The increased demand for electricity from these capitalists led the bosses in the energy sector to divert power away from the northeastern provinces towards more lucrative regions.

Finally, the CCP regime’s hamfisted and hasty implementation of a new renewable energy grid has also led to a shortage in the existing power grids, which in turn made the power supply unstable. This situation is described by an expert writing in China’s Energy (能源) Magazine:

In terms of annual power generation, without power restrictions, the available capacity of coal power is more than 80 percent of the registered capacity, while the output of wind power and photovoltaic is only about one fifth of the registered capacity…

During the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020), China's installed capacity of wind and photovoltaic power has entered a period of rapid development, which has been accompanied by a significant slowdown in the construction of thermal power. The proportion of thermal power in the newly installed generators went from 50.65 percent in 2015 down to 29.18 percent in 2020. Wind and photovoltaic generators crowd out the share of thermal power in new installed capacity, they were not provided with a correspondingly large enough amount of available installed capacity.

Obviously, we are in favour of greener energy production in order to avert the climate crisis. On the basis of a healthy workers’ regime and a democratically planned economy, making the necessary investment in renewable energy infrastructure would be a priority, and could be carried out with no detriment to the lives and livelihoods of workers employed by the energy sector, or those currently reliant on polluting energy sources.

However, the government’s crude and one-sided policies led to the newly built renewable energy grids that are not yet ready for use, while older plants are already getting shut down. This has left thousands of people without enough power to use.

In the final analysis, a catalogue of problems led to these power restrictions, all of which flow from the profit motive underpinning the marketised energy sector, and the narrow-minded mismanagement by the CCP.

Some local governments did not even bother to wait for orders from the central government, and simply took the lead in stopping residential power consumption, prioritising the key (and most-profitable) sectors of industry for access to the limited power supply.

A genuine socialist society faced with a power shortage would be able to limit unnecessary industrial production if necessary to supply critical sectors, without any loss in pay or jobs for the workers, while ensuring that people’s daily lives experience as little disruption as possible.

But China is not a socialist society or worker’s democracy. The CCP regime treats people’s livelihoods as dispensable, while the interests of the capitalists take priority.

Who suffers the consequences?

Before the blackouts, the government failed to take any action to explain or even notify the populace of these policies or the reasons behind them. Many people initially had no idea what was going on, and were taken aback by the sudden measures, which caused utter chaos across communities in the northeast.

Many hospitals were not given notices for the power shortages, and have had to rely on their own generators to scrape by, placing many lives at risk.

Shenyang blackout Image Fair UseShenyang during one of the blackouts. Some places don't even have power to run their traffic lights / Image: Fair Use

While some factories were kept open by rerouting power, many others faced outages. For example, a steel plant owned by the Liaoning Penghui Casting Corporation (辽阳澎辉铸业公司) suffered a blackout during production. The consequence of this unexpected blackout led to serious accidents, with 23 workers suffering gas poisoning.

Millions faced major disruption to their daily lives, and were even subject to life-threatening situations. Some people found themselves suddenly trapped in elevators, others lost the ability to contact friends and family, and many were unable to eat hot meals due to the blackouts.

One family had to resort to burning coal indoors to keep warm as indoor heating was gone, only to suffer carbon-monoxide poisoning as the ventilation fan of their building’s ventilation system was also shut down. Their lives were fortunately saved by their neighbours.

These power outages literally reduced many households to pre-industrial conditions overnight! So much for the ‘Great National Revival’. One angry resident took to Weibo to vent their frustration and place the responsibility on the state:

Any blackouts or power restrictions should have been done methodically and with a plan. This is especially true for workplaces in the industrial and mining sector. Sudden blackouts could cost lives!... If they (the government) kept on doing these disorderly blackouts, then the lives of ordinary people would definitely descend into chaos. I hope the power departments stop behaving like children!

The masses angered

It is clear from this saga that the CCP regime has a callous disregard for the lives of working-class and poor people in the northeast provinces. The state even took measures to redirect power from certain regions to guarantee the power supply of more “important” regions.

For instance, the brightly lit Shenzhen area stands in stark contrast to the bitterly cold and dark northeast. Shenzhen is home to some of the biggest corporations in China, among them Huawei, Tencent, and Evergrande. Here we would witness the differing treatment between the capitalist class and their interests as opposed to that of the working class during a time of shortage.

 news blackout Image Twitter“Welcome Home Meng Wanzhou! The great revival of the Chinese nation is already an irreversible historic process!” / Image: TwitterAs the latest power shortages ravaged millions in China, the CCP was busy celebrating the release of Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou, ending her house arrest in Vancouver following a deal reached with US imperialism. One internet user summed up the difference in attitude that the CCP state has towards the rich and poor:

...isn’t it strange that the people of the northeast have no water and electricity seems to be less important than a rich person returning home?

This episode reveals the utter hypocrisy of the co-called communist regime, which thumps its chest with nationalistic pride at the return of one of its favoured capitalists, while at the same time literally plunging millions of working-class citizens into darkness.

northern weibo Image WeiboScores of people from the Northeast were enraged by the omnipresent coverage of Meng Wanzhou’s return, while their own stories face censorship. Many ask: “why is it that we are the forgotten ones?” / Image: Weibo

A Great National Revival, or a Giant Contradiction?

As we have explained repeatedly elsewhere, China is on the verge of enormous instability, due to the contradictions inherent in capitalist production.

The criminal thugs at the head of the state, with Xi Jinping at their core, are attempting to resolve these contradictions through commandments from the top. However, on the basis of a capitalist market economy and profit-led production, these bureaucratic edicts not only fail to solve the problems, but also create even more crises.

This is the fundamental reason for the energy crisis that is taking place in China today. Under capitalism, private profit trumps all else, including essential human needs. The only solution is the establishment of a democratic economic plan, produced from the bottom up under a worker’s democracy.

This is how to effectively advance an energy transition plan sufficient to deal with the effects of climate change. The primary obstacle standing in the way of this workers' democracy to form is none other than the Chinese Communist Party regime and the capitalist class they represent.

Re: Bond – is it still the same story?

Patrick Bond

On 2021/10/06 17:41, Ken Hiebert wrote:
Really there is only one Bond movie that is constantly remade each year.

Um Ken, how about Quantum of Solace?

If James Bond met the CIA, a French water privatizer, a Bolivian fascist general intent on overthrowing Evo Morales... normally you'd say he'd be on their side (as would an MI6 norm)... especially against a feminist whose dissident parents were killed by said general, and against the campesin@s whose water gets privatized.

Well, for some reason, he goes lefty (this is 2010, after all, in the warm glow of Occupy).

And um, our team wins.

Review of *Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels, and Black Power: Interracial Solidarity in 1960s-70s New Left Organizing*, by Amy Sonnie and James Tracy | Chante Gamby | Chicago Defender

Kevin Lindemann and Cathy Campo

COVID Eradication vs. Toleration of Endemic Disease

Farans Kalosar

It's becoming obvious that the vaccines we have, though effective, are not, given the mutations raging among the unvaccinated and now breaking through into the vaccinated population worldwide, the polio- or smallpox-style magic bullet we had hoped for.  

WITBD?  Specifically--should/can the left, despite sectarian differences, unite around rejecting endemic-tolerance and come out forcefully for eradication? 

Fair warning:  The first of the citations below is from WSWS--not IMO a trustworthy source, but perhaps in this case a stopped clock  Since we are receiving multiple daily communications from the Communist Party (often very much worth while, and then again often the reverse) as well the virtue-signaling Manicheans and Presbyterians, why not the "David North" cult once in a while? 

I don't know anything about the Medical News site (second citation), apparently much read in what's left of Great Britain, so again be warned in case they turn out to be yet another pantomime horse.

The Communist International, A Critical Analysis - Part II

Richard Fidler

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

aaron s. amaral

Missing Louis more every day. 

H-Net Review [H-LatAm]: van Ommen on Berth, 'Food and Revolution: Fighting Hunger in Nicaragua, 1960-1993'

Andrew Stewart

Best regards,
Andrew Stewart

Begin forwarded message:

From: H-Net Staff via H-REVIEW <h-review@...>
Date: October 6, 2021 at 12:17:55 PM EDT
To: h-review@...
Cc: H-Net Staff <revhelp@...>
Subject: H-Net Review [H-LatAm]:  van Ommen on Berth, 'Food and Revolution: Fighting Hunger in Nicaragua, 1960-1993'
Reply-To: h-review@...

Christiane Berth.  Food and Revolution: Fighting Hunger in Nicaragua,
1960-1993.  Pitt Latin American Series. Pittsburgh  University of
Pittsburgh Press, 2021.  296 pp.  $50.00 (cloth), ISBN

Reviewed by Eline van Ommen (University of Leeds)
Published on H-LatAm (October, 2021)
Commissioned by Casey M. Lurtz

Revolutionaries who set out to radically transform societies often
encounter a range of obstacles that are difficult to overcome,
including a diversity of opinions about the shape society should
take, international interference, and a lack of financial and
material resources. More often than not, brief moments of
revolutionary optimism quickly devolve into long periods of
disillusionment and counterrevolution. In the literature on the
Nicaraguan Revolution (1979-90), international historians have mostly
grappled with the question of the extent to which one actor, namely,
the United States, was responsible for the ultimate failure of the
Sandinista revolutionaries to improve the daily lives of the
Nicaraguan people.[1]

By writing the history of the Nicaraguan Revolution--and the period
leading up to the Sandinista triumph on July 19, 1979--through the
lens of food, Christiane Berth's _Food and Revolution: Fighting
Hunger in Nicaragua, 1960-1993 _provides a new window onto
contemporary Nicaraguan history. She argues that a focus on "food and
its scarcity" can help us to better understand the "rise and demise"
of the Sandinista project (p. 5). The Somoza dictatorship, Berth
writes, was "severely weakened by the crisis of the Nicaraguan food
system in the 1970s" (p. 6). This weakness contributed to the growing
popularity of the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) in
the late 1970s. Similarly, in the late 1980s, Berth argues, after
years of civil war and scarcity, the Nicaraguan people were
"exhausted" as they "struggled to provide three daily meals to their
families" (p. 7). This lack of food security caused Nicaraguans to
lose faith in the Sandinistas' revolutionary project, convincing them
to vote for the opposition alliance in the elections of 1990 instead.

This is an ambitious book with multiple layers of analysis. On the
international level, the book argues that we should incorporate a
range of foreign actors beyond the US into the history of the
Nicaraguan Revolution, including international organizations, such as
the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO);
relief agencies, such as Cooperative for Assistance and Relief
Everywhere (CARE); and developmental projects of European
governments. Berth draws on an impressive range of sources and data
from archives in Switzerland, Germany, the US, Italy, and Nicaragua,
tracing how the daily calorie intake of Nicaraguan people fluctuated
over time. At a more grassroots level, _Food and Revolution_ urges
historians to consider the "consumer" as a social identity and
historical actor, demonstrating that the government's distribution
rules and focus on nationally produced goods often clashed with
consumers' individual desires (p. 9). Finally, the book makes the
important point that the Nicaraguan Caribbean should be better
integrated into contemporary Nicaraguan history. Considering this, it
was somewhat surprising to find an individual chapter at the end of
the book that chronicles the history of the Caribbean coast from the
1960s until the 1990s. Perhaps these stories could have been
incorporated into the book's otherwise chronological narrative.

The book achieves many of its objectives. It shows how international
actors tried to increase access to foodstuffs by introducing new and
nutritional products, such as canned food, powdered milk, and
corn-soy milk, into Nicaraguans' diets. It also demonstrates how
ambitious projects launched by international agencies and the FSLN
sometimes clashed with local realities, as Nicaraguans rejected foods
that they deemed tasteless or visually unappealing, such as brown
sugar or large beans (instead of the traditional small red bean). In
the 1980s, donated and imported Eastern European foods, for example,
mackerel from the Soviet Union, were often rejected by consumers.
Nicaraguans, it turned out, preferred other types of fish than
mackerel and meat was considered "more prestigious" than fish or
vegetarian meals (p. 140). Drawing on several oral history
interviews, Berth also shows how Nicaraguan women found creative ways
to deal with food shortages, as they invented new recipes and
participated in the Sandinistas' urban gardening campaigns to grow
their own vegetables.

Despite these illuminating anecdotes, Nicaraguan voices are not
always as present in the book as they could have been. I was left
wanting to read more about how the Sandinistas developed their food
policies. Why did Nicaraguan officials make certain decisions
regarding food distribution and agricultural reform? Throughout the
book, this remains somewhat unclear. In chapter 3, for example, the
author writes that "we do not know" how the FSLN evaluated proposals
by an international advisor regarding small-scale farming due to "a
lack of sources" on this topic (p. 77). Similarly, considering the
book's focus on the revolutionary consumer, I was expecting to read
more about what Joshua Frens-String has called "the daily experience
of revolutionary food politics" in Nicaragua.[2] A bit too often to
my taste, the Nicaraguan response to and perception of certain food
policies remains obscured. In chapter 4, for instance, the author
writes that "we lack sources" on how women responded to proposals to
cook more vegetarian meals (p. 109). Could further interviews with
former government officials and women not have provided us with--at
the very least partial--answers to these questions?

This book will be of interest to historians of Nicaragua, consumer
culture, and the global politics of hunger. Through its multilayered
analysis, it shows how the trajectory of the Nicaraguan Revolution
was shaped by a range of actors that scholars have not yet considered
in much depth, including relief agencies, European and Latin American
governments, consumers, and officials concerned with food
distribution and agricultural reform. As a result, it is a welcome
contribution to an exciting and growing academic debate in which
historians of Central America discuss how the international,
transnational, and local intersected and shaped the trajectory of the
Nicaraguan Revolution.


[1]. Robert Pastor, _Condemned to Repetition: The United States and
Nicaragua_ (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987); Roy
Gutman, _Banana Diplomacy: The Making of American Policy in
Nicaragua, 1981-1987 _(New York: Simon &amp; Schuster, 1988); Anthony
Lake, _Somoza Falling: A Case Study of Washington at_ _Work_
(Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1989); Lawrence
Pezzullo, _At the Fall of Somoza _(Pittsburgh, PA: University of
Pittsburgh Press, 1993); and William M. LeoGrande, _Our Own Back
Yard: The United States in Central America, 1977-1992_ (Chapel Hill:
University of North Carolina Press, 1998).

[2]. Joshua Frens-String, _Hungry for Revolution: The Politics of
Food and the Making of Modern Chile _(Berkeley: University of
California Press, 2021), 5.

Citation: Eline van Ommen. Review of Berth, Christiane, _Food and
Revolution: Fighting Hunger in Nicaragua, 1960-1993_. H-LatAm, H-Net
Reviews. October, 2021.

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

Do machines add value?

Tom Walker

This question hinges on what one means by value. Machines add to use values by enabling the production of more of them per unit of labour time. Machines add to the proportion of value that is appropriated by capital -- surplus value -- by reducing the necessary labour time required to produce the workers' wages. Machines add a part of their own value to the commodity as they are used up in wear and tear. First entry machines enable the innovating capitalist to appropriate part of the value that is produced elsewhere by selling below the normal price but above cost.

All of these factors produce a definite appearance of machines adding value. But value also has an historically specific and technical theoretical meaning for Marx's analysis. Within the category established by Marx, only socially necessary labour time adds value. This definition by Marx is void outside of the context of his global analysis of capital. Within that context, it explains a great deal. Socially necessary labour time, necessary labour time (individually), relative surplus value, and relative surplus population are all connected in a structure that resembles a tensegrity model. As with the tensegrity, if you remove one of the sticks, it doesn't really tell you much substantive about the structure.


Tom Walker (Sandwichman)

AUKUS crisis reaffirms pivot of US imperialism to the East

Cort Greene

Free to read - [Book] China: From Permanent Revolution to Counter-Revolution


AUKUS crisis reaffirms pivot of US imperialism to the East

Image: Defence Imagery, Flickr

The recent agreement between Australia, the UK and the US has caused a crisis in international relations. With France temporarily recalling its ambassador from Washington and China issuing a protest, the new agreement has upset feelings across the board. This deal, however, merely constituted one more step in a wider realignment among the imperialist powers.

The deal announced on 15 September included joint work on providing nuclear-powered submarines (without nuclear weapons) and long-range missiles to Australia. The US and UK are already using these technologies and have been collaborating on them for decades. Now they have begun sharing them with Australia. The deal also includes increased intelligence and cybertechnology cooperation.

It is no wonder that the Chinese government condemned the deal in strong terms – it clearly represents an attempt to counter Chinese military capability in the Indo-Pacific region. The Russian government objected on the grounds that the deal represents a breach of nuclear nonproliferation agreements, as Australia would now have access to weapons-grade uranium. Furthermore, the announcement has also upset the EU powers, primarily France, which had been left out of the negotiations. France now stands to lose tens of billions of dollars worth of submarine contracts.

The strength of the EU’s reaction seemed to take the US administration by surprise. It is evident that there was more to this than the loss of a submarine contract, even if it was a sizable contract. The real source of the friction was that the US didn’t feel the need to include them in the discussions.

When Biden was elected, there was an audible sigh of relief among European governments. Finally, they thought, the US would be governed by a President committed to transatlantic cooperation and NATO. Western imperialism would be reunited. Biden’s recent actions have shown that Trump’s foreign policy wasn’t a temporary blip, but part of a wider shift in the policy of the US ruling class.

Following the Second World War, US imperialism was preoccupied with countering the USSR. In its strategic planning, the battleground was to be found in Europe, specifically Germany. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the frontier moved eastwards, but the strategic priority remained the same. And consequently the troops and diplomatic effort remained in Europe.

On another front, the need to ensure a steady supply of oil for the world economy in general, and the US economy in particular, ensured a strong US presence in the Middle East. For decades the US meddled in the region, deposing left-wing leaders and supporting the most reactionary regimes and movements, such as that of the Shah of Iran and the various Gulf states.

Pivot to Asia

In the wake of the 2008 financial crash, the US ruling class started realising that their strategic priority had shifted. Their interests had become intricately tied to the Pacific region, and the South China Sea in particular. They have come to realise what the Chinese had realised: 70 percent of world trade flows through the South China Sea, and much of it is crucial to the supply chains of US companies. The (successful) attempts by the Chinese to militarise some of the islands in the sea were therefore a significant threat to US interests.

This new situation prompted Obama’s “pivot to Asia”, although his predecessor, Bush, had already taken some measures in this direction. The expansion of fracking in the US also helped by making the US independent of Middle Eastern oil. Trump’s clashes with China were just an extension of this policy, albeit conducted with all the brashness and clumsiness that characterise Trump. Indeed, the Democrats were often demanding harsher measures against China.

Joe Biden Image Gage Skidmore Wikimedia CommonsBiden’s recent actions have shown that Trump’s foreign policy wasn’t a temporary blip, but part of a wider shift in the policy of the US ruling class / Image: Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

In all this, Europe is being left behind. European governments increasingly feel like a backwater of world politics, and that’s not just a feeling. The centre of gravity has decisively shifted from the Atlantic to the Pacific, as Trotsky predicted a hundred years ago. China is, of course, central to this, but crucial parts in the supply chains are also played by Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.

US imperialism is increasingly seeing its most important allies in the Pacific region, not the European continent. Japan and Australia are at the top of that list. Of course, the US would like to remain on good terms with its allies in Europe, but its priorities have decisively shifted.

The European powers, primarily Germany and France, also take an interest in the region. For Germany, China is its third biggest export market and its biggest source of imports. France is concerned about the impact on its colonies in the region and is keen to pretend that it is still a first-rate power, when in reality it barely qualifies as second rate.

The AUKUS deal between Australia, the United States and the UK very impolitely rubbed French noses in this uncomfortable truth. Firstly, there was the fact that Australia didn’t see France as an ally, or French military technology, as sufficient. Secondly, France’s supposed ally, the United States, didn’t even bother lifting the phone and letting the French know beforehand. The French supposedly only found out about it through the Australian press. Macron’s opponent in the Presidential elections, Le Pen, claims that they must have known, but whether they actually knew or not, is a secondary matter. The insult lies in that the US didn’t officially inform them.

Clearly, in this instance, the US regards its relationship to Australia as more important than its relationship to France. As the chairman of the German foreign policy committee pointed out, the choice of the US as a partner for Australia was a logical one. The US was offering nuclear-powered submarines, and their military strength is far superior to that of France, particularly in the Pacific.

Nations and interests

The way that the US made its announcement was a massive humiliation to the French, and by extension to the European Union. It didn’t help that Biden invited the British along for an undeserved moment in the sunshine, at a time when the British and the European Union are at loggerheads. Nor did it help that this was apparently discussed behind the back of Macron at the recent summit in Cornwall. And, of course, matters weren’t made any easier by the upcoming election in France. Le Pen wasted no time in accusing Macron of being responsible for the humiliation.

No wonder that the European Union and the French expressed their indignation. The French recalled their ambassador for consultation and accused the US of betrayal. It is notable, however, that many EU governments didn’t join in the chorus. Presumably, they saw the writing on the wall. After a bit of grovelling on behalf of the US, the French government has agreed to discuss the matter. No doubt relations will be patched up after some concessions on the part of the US. French officials have said the US is attempting to repair the relationship in a “transactional” manner.

Still, this was the second time this summer that the Biden administration failed to involve its European allies in decisions. In Afghanistan, US allies were left scrambling after being presented with a fait accompli by Biden. At the time, the German government loudly protested. The Germans are particularly worried about another wave of refugees finding their way to the EU, threatening the stability of the union.

The priorities and interests of the US and the EU are diverging. According to EU commissioner Breton, “something is broken” in US-EU relations. Clearly, Trump wasn’t the only problem here. He was merely a crude expression of a wider process. Political commentators see this as further argument for a European military, and Macron has chimed in. At a recent press conference, Macron echoed this call, saying that Europeans “must see that for more than 10 years the Americans first focus on themselves and have strategic interests reoriented toward China and the Pacific” and that now Europans must “take our part in our own protection”. An EU expeditionary force to rival that of the US remains a pipe dream but the European bourgeoisie is becoming increasingly aware that it cannot rely upon the US military to defend its interests.

Biden halted Trump’s withdrawal of 12,000 soldiers from Germany, citing a new review of troop allocations, but that review could itself end up making the same recommendation. Clearly, if the US is to prioritise the Pacific, it needs to shift its military resources there. Europe seems a very suitable candidate for further cuts in troop numbers.

The US ‘pivot’ will have ramifications not only in Western Europe, but also in Eastern Europe. If the US no longer has a significant presence in Europe, how can it be relied upon to counter Russian influence? So far, countries like Poland have looked to the US to defend their interest, but with the US shifting priorities, can they continue to do so in the long run?

For decades, the German bourgeoisie has benefited from US military presence. Rather than waste their money and resources on military spending, they could invest their profits in industry and raise productivity. Now, the US (not just Trump) is putting pressure on the German government to shoulder more of the burden for the defence of Europe (primarily against Russia).

To claim that the alliance between the Western European and the US is over would be to exaggerate. But as Lord Palmerston put it, nations do not have permanent friends or enemies – they only have interests. And the interests of France, Germany and the US are diverging to a greater degree than in the past.

Arms race in the Pacific

US relations with the EU have taken a hit. Relations with China are getting worse. Inevitably, increased military presence of the US in the region, particularly the South China Sea, will provoke a response from the Chinese government. Like Germany and Japan, the Chinese government has spent relatively limited sums on its military, but these sums are increasing rapidly in line with the growth of its GDP. At the moment military spending is more or less increasing in proportion to GDP. But as the crisis intensifies in China, this too will change.

The focus of China’s military has shifted from defending its own borders, which is relatively cheap, to pursuing the interests of Chinese capital abroad, which is much more expensive. This “modernisation”, as the Chinese government calls it, is planned to reach completion by 2035. It includes new aircraft carriers, aircraft and naval vessels – everything that China would need to join that select group of countries whose armed forces have the ability to operate outside of their immediate vicinity. For China, this is first and foremost a question of the East and South China Seas, and secondly a question of extending its reach into the Pacific and the Indian Ocean. The present generation of aircraft carriers are suitable for the former, but not the latter.

china army Image Travis Wise FlickrChina is the world’s foremost rising economic power, which now is being reflected in its growing military power / Image: Travis Wise, Flickr

The need for China to increase its military power is going to increase as the crisis intensifies. As protectionism is rising, and competition for existing markets intensifies, so too will the need to protect these markets. This is what drives the arms race in the Pacific.

Incidentally, this arms race is extremely expensive. The contract between Australia and France was worth $90 billion. The new contract based on the AUKUS deal hasn't yet been worked out, but estimates suggest that each nuclear-powered submarine would cost around $5 billion (without factoring in inflation). It is hard to see this new contract being cheaper than that which it replaces. This spending, although much desired by Australian and US imperialism, is a complete waste of resources as far as the workers and oppressed of the Pacific are concerned. How many homes, schools or hospitals could not be constructed with this kind of money? It is clear that when they talk about there not being enough money, they are not talking about money for submarines.

The US is no longer the undisputed ‘world police’. In 1960, the US share of the world economy was 40%, today it is merely 24%, with China not far behind on 17%. The relative decline in economic power of the US eventually had to translate into a relative decline in its military and diplomatic power. This is what is now taking place.

In military terms, China remains a far cry from being able to confront the US directly. Nonetheless, it has the strength to begin flexing its military muscles in the South China Sea and a few other places. The relative decline of US imperialism will inevitably lead to increased conflict as other powers feel emboldened to challenge US domination in various parts of the world. China is the world’s foremost rising economic power, which now is being reflected in its growing military power.

No power can challenge the US directly, which is one reason why world war is ruled out. However, some nations are quite capable of asserting themselves against weaker US allies. A recalibration is taking place in world relations, with the inevitable consequence being proxy wars, military coups, airstrikes, drone strikes and civil war. Behind the glossy images of submarines and military contracts, lies the bloody reality of war for hundreds of millions of people around the world.

The AUKUS deal is therefore just another sign of the dead end of capitalism, and the misery that this dying economic system has to offer the world. Caught between the competing imperialist powers will be the masses of the world. The fate of Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria, Iraq and Libya will be the future fate of others. It is no more possible to ask these imperialist powers to respect ‘the rule of law’, human rights and peace, than a wolf can be asked to become a vegetarian. The arms race and wars will only end when capitalism is overthrown, and that’s the real task before humanity.

What America Owes Haitian Asylum Seekers

Dennis Brasky

 "The plight of the Haitians has been further complicated by decades of misrule,   corruption and brutality by a series of Haitian governments that received steady U.S. financial and political support despite egregious records on human rights."


Michael Posner

Michael Posner is a lawyer and human rights advocate who was assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor from 2009-2013 and is the director for the Center of Business and Human Rights at N.Y.U. Stern School of Business.

Last month, the Biden administration announced that it had cleared a makeshift tent camp where thousands of Haitians had congregated under a bridge linking Mexico and Del Rio, Texas. They had arrived there desperate to gain admission to the United States, many fleeing persecution in Haiti and seeking the protection of our asylum law. The administration’s unsteady response to this crisis has revealed, once again, the broken nature of this country’s asylum system. It also is a grim reminder of the longstanding U.S. tolerance of government corruption and the denial of basic human rights in Haiti.

Since the adoption of the Refugee Act of 1980, those who arrive at our border or have already entered the country are entitled to seek asylum if they can demonstrate a “well-founded fear of persecution” based on their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a social group. This law has roots in the Holocaust and U.S. commitments made after World War II to provide refuge to people fleeing persecution. But the asylum system has been hampered from the outset by political controversy and bureaucratic dysfunction.

Many of the Haitians who camped under the bridge in Del Rio had made multiyear journeys through Latin America and then to our southern border. Some were inspired to try to enter the United States now because of a misimpression that President Biden’s replacement of former President Donald Trump — and the Biden administration’s decision to extend temporary protected status to Haitians already in the country — signaled an opportunity for them to come here, too. Temporary protected status suspends deportations of Haitians already in the United States because of the current instability in their country. Like immigrants from around the world, these Haitians, including the many asylum seekers, are looking for a new home where they will find stability, better jobs and more security than their own country can offer.

Discriminatory treatment of Haitians is not new. Forty years ago, I was an expert witness in litigation in Florida where lawyers representing an earlier generation of Haitian asylum seekers successfully challenged the Reagan administration’s Haitian program. U.S. authorities at that time targeted Haitians arriving in Florida for mass detention, and intercepted Haitian boats in the Caribbean to prevent them from reaching this country.

Overseen by then-Associate Attorney General Rudolph Giuliani, President Ronald Reagan’s policy was deemed, in a series of federal court cases, to violate the U.S. constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process of law. When the plaintiffs asked one federal judge to release roughly 2,200 detained Haitians to give them a real opportunity to seek asylum, I appeared before the court and, with the American Immigration Lawyers Association, committed to finding each of them a volunteer lawyer.

The Haitian cases of the 1980s became a catalyst for broader reforms of the U.S. asylum system. Over four decades, under both Democratic and Republican administrations, our country developed a more humane asylum system that gave thousands of people who met the “well-founded fears of persecution” standard their day in court. These reforms were slow in coming and often imperfect, but they represented a good-faith effort by the federal government to abide by the spirit of the U.N. Refugee Convention, whose provisions the United States adopted when it ratified the U.N. Refugee Protocol in 1968.

When Donald Trump took office, he broke with this bipartisan history and sought to blow up the asylum system entirely, obliterating U.S. policy and principle as they apply to those who seek asylum from within America and to refugees, who seek similar legal protections while still abroad.

Among other draconian measures, Mr. Trump reversed the decades-old policy of allowing those who appear at the border with a credible fear of persecution the right to enter the United States to make their formal asylum claim. As they did in so many other areas, the Trump team also decimated the administrative capacity of the U.S. government to process asylum claims or resettle refugees brought here from overseas. When the Biden administration assumed office in January, it inherited a dysfunctional system made worse by Republican obstruction and shamelessness that continues to this day.

The plight of the Haitians has been further complicated by decades of misrule, corruption and brutality by a series of Haitian governments that received steady U.S. financial and political support despite egregious records on human rights. For far too long, Washington has sought to perpetuate the status quo in Haiti in the name of short-term stability. When I visited Haiti in 2013 as assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, every one of the human rights activists I met there echoed this theme. Rather than promoting democracy and human rights, successive U.S. administrations had actually emboldened corrupt government leaders, exacerbating the problem.


The Biden administration needs to prioritize human rights and democratic governance in Haiti, which are essential if the island nation is ever to escape its familiar cycles of domestic chaos and mass migration. Unlike Afghanistan or Iraq, where the United States had little history and scant leverage to promote political reform leading to democratic governance, in Haiti, U.S. influence is consequential. American financial aid and diplomatic efforts to promote reform should be directed at those within Haitian society who have a genuine commitment to human rights and the rule of law.

More immediately, the Biden administration should allow all Haitians who arrive at our borders and have a credible fear of persecution in their home country the right to enter the country to pursue asylum claims. And given the current instability and lawlessness in Haiti, even those who do not qualify for asylum should have their deportation deferred — an administrative remedy that would postpone their removal, at least as long as the current unrest persists in Haiti.

Haiti is often described by cynics as a corrupt debtor nation or worse. Mr. Trump reportedly mused aloud about why America welcomes any refugees from Haiti and other countries he derided with a vulgarity. He and others forget the role Haitians have played in our own history — for example fighting by our side during the American Revolution. As Barry Jenkins, the film director and screenwriter, put it in a tweet in July: “Hell, between the Haitians who got on boats to fight alongside colonists against the British during the Revolutionary War and the Louisiana Purchase forced upon Napoleon by the Haitian Revolution, WE owe THEM a serious debt.”

Bond – is it still the same story?

Ken Hiebert

Really there is only one Bond movie that is constantly remade each year. To give the impression of newness and change there are modifications made to keep up with actual changes in attitudes and ideology. What are the main elements?

* * * * * * *

Gitlin explains that the media’s promotion of dominant ideology can involve acknowledging a small amount of “watered-down” oppositional opinion in order to convince the public that their interests are being reflected: “The hegemonic commercial cultural system routinely incorporates some aspects of alternative ideology and rejects the unassimilable” (1979, p. 251).

H-Net Review [H-Africa]: Conz on Peveri, 'The Edible Gardens of Ethiopia: An Ethnographic Journey into Beauty and Hunger'

Andrew Stewart

Best regards,
Andrew Stewart

Begin forwarded message:

From: H-Net Staff via H-REVIEW <h-review@...>
Date: October 6, 2021 at 10:45:35 AM EDT
To: h-review@...
Cc: H-Net Staff <revhelp@...>
Subject: H-Net Review [H-Africa]:  Conz on Peveri, 'The Edible Gardens of Ethiopia: An Ethnographic Journey into Beauty and Hunger'

Democracy and human rights: China vs USA | Dee Knight | LA Progressive via Friends of Socialist China

Kevin Lindemann and Cathy Campo

Re: I repent for asking

Michael Meeropol

This is a good point ---

On Tue, Oct 5, 2021 at 9:52 PM <gilschaeffer82@...> wrote:
I should have added something about depreciation and capitalists fighting over the return from machines. Capitalists do fight over the return from machines. The capital goods sector produces machines to sell for a profit. They can make a profit because the capitalist making consumer goods sees that she can make more profit by using the machine than not.

BUT here you are referring to the USE VALUE of the machine produced to the capitalist who buys it.  Marx made very clear right at the beginning of Vol I that commodities MUST have use value in order to be considered commodities -- BUT -- the exchange value (which is of course what brings the producing capitalist surplus value) is determined by "socially necessary labor time."  (SNLT)  [apologies for saying the obvious --- I need to do this to remind myself!!] --- In other words, the "fight" over the return from machine PRODUCTION starts with the "exchange value" of the machine.   If the machine is extremely valuable to the capitalists who buy it, initially it will have a price above it's "cost of production" until competitors realize how profitable it is and enter the market.   (This is Joseph Schumpeter's argument as to how innovations drive the economy forward --- he argued that everything "new" enjoyed a temporary monopoly --- remember he wrote this in 1913 when the evidence of successful oligopolistic pricing was pretty slim --- In fact, economists STILL are arguing about how "like competition" our oligopolistic markets are!!!)   IN a world of competition (especially the 19th century variety that Marx was observing) even very valuable machines end up selling at the "cost of production" which Marx argues is based on SNLT.

These two capitalists fight over the price of the machine.

Only in the early phase of the machine's existence.   Competition will compete it down to the "cost of production"
Furthermore, the "price" that the consumer goods producing capitalist depreciates includes the profit that the producer goods capitalist made because his machine had the capacity to increase productivity.

YES -- very good, strong point --- but it does not negate the idea that you cannot get surplus value from utilizing a machine (remember the PRODUCER of the machine used living labor) --- the capitalist who buys the machine depreciates it at the cost he/she paid for it.

Since there is no way to determine precisely beforehand how much productivity will be increased by new machinery and reorganization of production, there is no way to value any of the productivity-increasing potential of the machinery according to some standard of socially necessary labor time.

AGAIN -- I think you are confusing the USE VALUE of the machine to the capitalist who purchases it --- (here I agree one cannot determine beforehand how much productivity will be increase --- and as per Michael Yates' comment from Harry Magdoff -- even AFTER the machine is being used, the precise increase in productivity caused by the machine is hard to measure because there is also the varying of the INTENSITY of the work done [that's why Taylorism was so important]) --- with the exchange value that accrues once competitors have entered the market and competed the price down to the "cost of production" which Marx asserts but actually (here I echo Joan Robinson) doesn't really PROVE is at SNLT.

Hence my initial offering that the LTV is "good" as a macro tool for understanding profit and growth and dynamics but "lousy" as price theory.
(Sorry to go on so long saying what many on the list will feel is obvious.  As I said above, I state the obvious to remind myself -- ) 

Re: I repent for asking

Farans Kalosar

On Tue, Oct 5, 2021 at 02:06 PM, Michael Yates wrote:
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.
Relief. Thanks.

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