H-Net Review [H-War]: Sandy on Wadle, 'Selling Sea Power: Public Relations and the U.S. Navy, 1917-1941'
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From: H-Net Staff via H-REVIEW <h-review@...>
Date: October 7, 2021 at 11:50:51 AM EDT
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Subject: H-Net Review [H-War]: Sandy on Wadle, 'Selling Sea Power: Public Relations and the U.S. Navy, 1917-1941'
Ryan D. Wadle. Selling Sea Power: Public Relations and the U.S.
Navy, 1917-1941. Norman University of Oklahoma Press, 2019. 316
pp. $24.94 (paper), ISBN 978-0-8061-6420-5.
Reviewed by James Sandy (University of Texas Arlington)
Published on H-War (October, 2021)
Commissioned by Margaret Sankey
From the Battle of Manila to the submarine hunters of the First World
War, the American navy experienced an unprecedented level of
importance, support, and growth during the first decade and half of
the twentieth century. In 1916, Congress cemented this expansion with
a mammoth ship-building agreement. How quickly things can change. The
end of the "War to End All Wars," the prospect of a lasting peace,
evolving military ideals, and the shift in American politics
threatened to return the navy to the dark and underfunded days of the
nineteenth century. As naval commanders and planners faced the
challenges of disarmament talks, technological innovation, and
attacks by the likes of Billy Mitchell, the branch had little
organizational capability or cultural foundation to control public
discourse or disseminate information. Ryan Wadle's Selling Sea Power
is an important work on the history of early-twentieth-century naval
public relations, focusing on the story of the American navy's
struggles to both control and disseminate publicity and information
during the challenging interwar years.
Covering the years 1917 to 1941, this book provides the first
complete chronological narrative of American naval public relations
efforts and apparatus leading into the Second World War. Wadle argues
that at the end of World War I and the peace that followed, the
"silent culture" of the US Navy along with the lack of internally
functional capabilities prohibited the branch from effectively
"selling" itself as the nation's first line of defense going forward.
Naval culture dating back to the Civil War, according to Wadle and
other naval historians, emphasized a "silent" approach toward sharing
information with the American people and therefore the navy could not
defend itself or its ambitious construction programs and the costs of
the 1916 ship-building program. The struggles of multiple naval
attempts to rectify this gap, first the Navy News Bureau, then the
Information Section of the Office of Naval Intelligence, and finally
the Public Relations Branch, highlight the complete dearth of naval
institutional and cultural capability to sell itself.
Organized into two basic sections, Wadle first covers the
chronological narrative of the period and the various offices and
institutions. Taking the reader from 1917 to 1939, this book covers
all the stumbles and setbacks the navy endured as it attempted to
wrest control of its image and more importantly its position as
America's first line of defense in a new century. The second half is
organized more thematically and discusses the various social and
cultural implications and influences the navy exerted during the
period. Of particular interest in this second half, Wadle outlines
the relationship between the navy and the burgeoning American film
industry. The Navy Department's Motion Picture Board made decisions
on whether to advise and cooperate with film directors and producers
in the name of or publicizing the navy itself. As Wadle shows, this
process was never made clear. Some films, like 1930's _Men Without
Women_ and 1933's _Pigboat, _were given navy advisors and assistance.
But as the situation in Europe changed over the course of the 1930s,
the navy became ever-weary of maintaining its secrecy. A once useful
tool in naval public image creation, films and newsreels received
much less assistance from navy officials as the decade came to an
In one of the most effective chapters, Wadle examines the
presentation of manhood and masculinity within naval recruiting
materials. In print pamphlets, recruiting posters, and film
newsreels, the navy tried to present itself as a place for morally
sound and upstanding young men. Combating decades-old stereotypes of
drunken sailors riddled with venereal disease, navy officials like
Secretary Josephus Daniels sought any avenue available to present a
new image of the navy and boost recruiting efforts during the early
1920s drawdown. While the navy found limited success in changing the
public perception of sailors and naval stations, the Great Depression
itself solved its recruiting issues, as the navy remained a steady
source of income for desperate Americans. This section is
particularly representative of Wadle's work as the concerted attempts
to shift public perception, regardless of effectiveness, highlight
the ongoing transformation of naval public relations efforts.
Wadle contributes to a rich historiography of the interwar navy and
its transition from a battleship-centric force to one prepared to
fight on the "three planes" of the ocean: the skies above, the
surface, and the depths beneath. More specifically, this book joins a
series of works discussing the history of American naval public
relations, offering the first attempt to cover the entire interwar
period and its implications. While it is unclear whether these naval
organizations ever reached their institutional goals, Wadle provides
a complete and exhaustively researched picture of American naval
public relations efforts from World War I to eve of Pearl Harbor.
_James Sandy is an assistant professor at the University of Texas
Arlington, where he teaches military and cultural courses. His
current research projects include a history of the Army Rangers, the
representation of warfare in American comic books, and the LRRP
program during the Vietnam War._
Citation: James Sandy. Review of Wadle, Ryan D., _Selling Sea Power:
Public Relations and the U.S. Navy, 1917-1941_. H-War, H-Net Reviews.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States
Re: Do machines add value?
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And Noel's story in a nutshell is a fantastic anecdotal validation of Harry Braverman's work --
FIRST the capitalist hires the worker's "labor power" and THEN the capitalist has to figure out a way to translate that POTENTIAL into ACTUAL labor --- This insight is the key to "class struggle at the point of production" and is WHY capitalism requires layer after layer of "management"!!! ----
(By the way, that is one of the reasons why the economists' supply and demand curves do not work in the "labor market." The mainstream economists even have figured this out and have come up with an idea called "efficiency wages" which is a wage above the so-called "equilibrium" wage because workers actually have to be BRIBED to work harder than they want to (the key to Henry Ford's so-called revolutionary idea to pay workers $5 a day) --- hence there is no such thing as an "equiplibrium" wage in the labor market ---
(this may by the way be another reason why Marx's idea that the wage "settles" at "subsistence" is devoid of empirical content --- capitalists have to pay through the nose to get workers to work harder than they want to which circles back to the idea that the amount of work actually done (some lefty economists have distinguished INTENSITY of work from PRODUCTIVITY due to different technology) is based on the balance of forces at the point of production.)
Thanks for sharing this Andrew ...
Re: Do machines add value?
Thirty-five years ago, production of an audio compact disc cost thousands of dollars. Now I can burn a CD at home for pennies. You have to include the variables of mass proliferation of a technology and production innovations into your thinking.
The Communist International, A Critical Analysis - Part III
Re: Do machines add value?
I feel that in a totally automated production system, the value embedded in the machines can be transferred to the fist product in the
production line. Unlike human labor, further addition of value to products is not possible. Hence overall, zero value is added by fully
Vijaya Kumar Marla
Re: Do machines add value?
Thank you, Andrew. Wonderful illustration.
Tom Walker (Sandwichman)
Stephen Gosch <stephengosch9@...>
How should we understand Afghanistan today? Is the Taliban the new ruling class? If so, what class do they represent? Or, is the Taliban a politico-ideological formation, in power because the past 40 years of warfare have destroyed the possibility of class rule?
What is the dominant mode of production in Afghanistan? It seems to me that in the rural areas, a type of tributary m.o.p. intersects with a type of kin-based (tribal-lineage) system, to adopt a framework used by Eric Wolf. But in the cities (Kabul, above all, but also in Herat, Kandahar, Mazar-e-Sharif and Jalalabad), where apparently millions of rural dwellers have recently fled, a very different situation must prevail. The presence of destitute newcomers, workers in small shops (?), petty traders, opium and arms dealers linked to international networks, a new salaried middle class tied to foreign funding must radically differentiate the the cities from the countryside. How to conceptualize this complexity?
Finally, does it even make sense to ask about an Afghan m.o.p., when the country is so embedded in the capitalist world system?
Any thoughts? Thanks.
Florida’s Republican Governor Awards Medal of Freedom to Che Guevara’s Assassin
Date: October 7, 2021 at 1:15:05 AM EDT
After Rodriguez ordered Che be shot, his hands were chopped off and shipped to Langley, but not before he stole the Rolex from Che’s corpse that was meant for the son of one of his compatriots in Bolivia
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis pinning medal on CIA assassin Félix Rodríguez on September 16, 2021., [Source: flgov.com
On September 16, 2021, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis awarded the Governor’s Medal of Freedom to Félix Rodríguez, the Cuban anti-communist counter-revolutionary who lives in Florida.
As a contract agent for the CIA Rodríguez helped locate and assassinate Che Guevara in Bolivia in 1967. Assassination is a political murder. The Governor’s medal allowed DeSantis to recognize Rodríguez as a “person who has made an especially meritorious contribution to the interests and citizens of the state, (and) its culture.”
Félix Rodríguez at his house in Miami with a photo of a captured Che in Bolivia. [Source: english.elpais.com]
As Milton observed almost four centuries ago, “the childhood shows the man, as morning shows the day.” Rodríguez shows us his character in his autobiography titled with characteristic bravado Shadow Warrior: The CIA Hero of a Hundred Unknown Battles.
He grew up as the only child of a well-to-do provincial Cuban family of Spanish/Basque ancestry. One of his uncles was a minister in the U.S.-supported government of dictator Fulgencio Batista, another was a judge. He spent time at the farm of his uncle where he rode horses and, at age seven, learned to shoot a rifle.
Fulgencio Batista [Source:Britannica.com]
At age ten he went off to military school, living with another uncle who was Batista‘s minister of public works in a big house in the expensive Miramar neighborhood of Havana. In seventh grade he left to attend a boarding school in Pennsylvania. His family opposed the July 26th movement even before Batista‘s dictatorship was toppled in 1959 by a popular revolution led by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. They moved to Miami after the revolution.
Leaders of the Cuban Revolution march at the head of a victory parade in Havana, 1959. Fidel Castro (far left) headed the rebel guerrilla army that brought U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista to resounding defeat. Che Guevara (center), was one of Castro’s three leading lieutenants and the key figure in the Latin American revolutionary movements of the mid-20th century. [Source: military-history.org]
At age 17 Rodríguez joined the Anti-Communist League of the Caribbean sponsored by Dominican Republic strongman General Rafael Trujillo to whom Rodríguez referred to as a “so-called tyrant.”
Rafael Trujillo [Source: wikipedia.org]
Thereafter, Félix trained in the Dominican Republic for an invasion of Cuba, but did not participate in the group’s failed 1959 invasion.
By now living in Miami, Rodríguez joined the Cruzado Cubano Constitutional, one of the many anti-communist groups in the city whose goal was to “begin military operations against Castro.” Rodríguez was made a platoon sergeant. He thought of himself as a “revolutionary,” spoke often of “honor” and “freedom” and dreamed of “liberating Cuba.”
When he graduated high school he was given an expensive sports car by his family and spent the summer chasing girls at the beach in Miami. He decided against going to college and instead forged his father’s name on an application to go to fight in Cuba.
In 1961, at the age of 21, Rodríguez volunteered to assassinate Fidel Castro. A spot was picked out for the murder at a location Castro was known to frequent. The young assassin tried three times to take a boat from Miami to Havana but the boat failed to show up and finally the mission was canceled. Rodríguez described himself as being “tremendously disappointed because I was a Cuban soldier. I considered myself at war with Fidel.”
Fidel with newspaper documenting plots against him by the likes of Félix Rodríguez. [Source:quora.com]
He was asked in 1987 by the independent counsel investigating the Iran/Contra scandal if he himself had tried to kill Castro with an exploding cigar. “No sir, I did not,” he answered. “But I did volunteer to kill the son-of-a-bitch in 1961 with a telescopic rifle.”
Rodríguez participated in the Bay of Pigs invasion of the same year. He infiltrated Cuba with a pre-invasion group. When the operation failed, he managed to avoid capture and fled to Venezuela and then back to Miami.
Scene from Bay of Pigs invasion. [Source: wikipedia.org]
In 1966 Che Guevara attempted to defend the Cuban revolution by extending it to other countries in Latin America, first Bolivia. Why Bolivia? It was Latin America’s poorest country, most illiterate, most rural, and most Indian. It was also the most unstable country in Latin America having gone through 189 changes in government since it became an independent republic in 1825.
Che Guevara in Bolivia, 1967. [Source:wikipedia.org]
Félix Rodríguez with former CIA Director George H.W. Bush in the White House. [Source:afrocubaweb.com]
Che arrived in Bolivia in early November 1966. His plan was to set up a camp for his guerrillas and once they were trained move his troops north to engage the weak Bolivian army. But his troops were discovered early and were on the run until a force of Bolivian soldiers, trained and armed by the United States, which provided everything from breakfast to bullets, encircled him.
It was Rodríguez, dressed as a Bolivian soldier, who identified the movements of the guerrillas. Che was wounded and captured. Rodríguez attempted to interrogate Che with no success.
René Barrientos [Source:wikipedia.org]
The CIA had a prearranged agreement with Bolivian dictator René Barrientos that, if Che were captured, he would be executed. It was Rodríguez, after speaking by phone with Barrientos, who gave the order. A Bolivian sergeant carried it out.
Che’s body was tied to the strut of a helicopter and flown to the nearby village of Valle Grande.
There he was laid out on a cement table of a hospital to accommodate photographers who were allowed to take pictures of Rodríguez’s trophy.
Che Guevara after his execution on October 9, 1967, surrounded by Bolivian soldiers. [Source:nsarchive.gwu.edu]
After Che was shot his hands were chopped off and flown to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, where he was positively identified. The CIA had had his fingerprints since 1954.
The operation to capture and kill Che Guevara was run right out of President Lyndon Johnson’s White House. When Che was killed the director of the operation, Walt Whitman Rostow, who had an office in the White House, wrote on White House stationery to Johnson that “the troops that we trained and supplied finally got him.”
Lyndon B. Johnson and Walt W. Rostow in the Oval Office. [Source:thoughtco.com]
Awarding an assassin the medal of freedom demonstrates the level of decadence to which the political culture of Florida has been dragged by the clout of South Florida’s counter- revolutionary Cubans.
In the years to come our hero of 100 unknown battles was to fight against those seeking freedom from oppression from Vietnam to Nicaragua.
Incidentally, Rodríguez took Che’s Rolex watch off the corpse and proudly shows it to admirers. Che had intended his watch to be given to the son of one of his compatriots in Bolivia.
Micheal Stephen Smith and his co-author Michael Ratner wrote the book “Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away With Murder” (OR Books). He is the cohost of Law and Disorder Radio on the net at lawanddisorder.org.
Michael can be reached at mssmith97@....
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William S. Solomon
Thanks for having a real discussion. Links to breaking BS are little more than amusing confusion.
If we define "value" as expended labor nothing can "create" value except human labor, so by that definition machines can only reduce value, since they reduce the need for labor.
If we got rid of all machines would would have more "value?" Our wealth is related to the amount we produce (and don't waste), no matter how, and the labor involved is a measure of how primitive our economy is. Re-defining "value" as expended labor was Marx's greatest mistake. No wonder it requires BS classes to understand the strange re-definition of "value."
Value should be the output; not the labor involved in the harvest.
Productivity is output/hour. That means that to preserve full-time wage-dependence capitalism must increase output in proportion to increases in productivity, or it could have increased wages for the remaining workers. Capitalism does exploit workers to the max, but producing is much as possible to stay busy (maximize Marxist "value") is exploitation of the goose that lays golden eggs. The exploited workers may survive hyper-activity, but our exploited world is already toast. And, must we ignore that increased wages tracking productivity does nothing at all for those unemployed by technology or those who are sick or too old to work.
A Catholic bishop claimed that overpopulation is not a problem because more work can always produce more wealth. Did he mean that work alone can "produce" wealth without any resource inputs? How did he forget about the harvest? Matthew 9:37 is so obsolete!
Re: Do machines add value?
In the Introduction to Modern Politics by CLR James, Noel Ignatiev put forward a fascinating episode of how machinery functions in the modern factory system < https://blog.pmpress.org/2019/09/02/introduction-to-clr-james-modern-politics/
Class struggle is a constant theme in the lectures. Whether talking about fifteenth-century Flemish city-states or twentieth-century Detroit, James stresses the class struggle as the force that drives history. When I met James, he asked me what I did for a living. I told him I worked in a factory. He said he regretted that he had never had the opportunity to do that. I naturally replied that his writings had helped me make sense of my own experience. Yes, he said, people have told me that, but I still wish I had experienced it directly. In order to illustrate James’ world view and as partial repayment for what he taught me I shall here recount some things I saw in twenty-three years as a worker in industry.
I once had a job operating a horizontal boring mill in a plant that manufactured punch presses, machine tools and die sets. My job was to bore holes and mill contours on large—often 6’ x 8’—steel slabs to be made into die sets to customers’ specifications. The mill was an old-fashioned, manually controlled machine, well built and originally quite expensive, capable of turning out high-quality work.
The plant operated on an incentive-pay system: each job was time-rated for the machine on which it was to be performed, and the operator received a bonus for all he or she managed to produce above the eight-hour norm. Jobs varied, but the bonus could account for as much a half a worker’s total wage.
In order to be fair to the employees on the bonus system—and the company was nothing if not fair—it was necessary to make allowance for the time spent outside of direct production, sharpening tools, loading parts on the machine (including waiting for the overhead crane when it was occupied elsewhere), filling the coolant tank and so forth. The allowances were recorded through red computer-coded cards punched in a clock.
When I started on the job, one of the veteran operators called me aside and explained the system. “You see those red cards?” he asked, pointing at the rack where they were stacked. “If the company won’t give you a raise, you take those red cards and give yourself a raise. That’s what they’re for.”
I took his advice and studied hard and soon became sufficiently adept with the red cards to assure myself several hours’ bonus most days. I remember one of the operators asking me what I considered the most valuable tool in my box. I held up a pencil.
To lower costs the company installed a new tape-controlled mill, able to do more or less the same work as the one I was on in about half the time. They then reset the standards, reducing the time allotted for all jobs, even those still being sent to the old machine. Our bonuses evaporated.
There were three of us on the horizontal mill, one on each shift. We petitioned for a return to the old rates. The company denied our petition. With the new rates, the most we could turn out, even with intense effort and trouble-free operation, was six hours’ production. Why should we strain ourselves to make the same hourly rate we could make by coasting? We slowed down.
As I recall, our slowdown was undertaken without a single meeting among the three of us. (Our different shifts meant we were never all together, although each of us saw the other two every day.) One of us—I no longer remember who—simply announced one day to the operator coming after him, “I’m fed up with this. I gave them an hour and a half tonight and that’s all I’m doing from now on.” The next operator followed his lead, and it became standard practice on reporting for work to inquire of the departing operator how much he had turned out and to do the same or less. After a few weeks we had established our own norm, around three quarters of an hour each shift.
Of course the company did not like what was going on, but without assigning a foreman to observe each of us full-time, how were they to know when a tool burned up and needed replacing or how long the operator needed to wait for a new one to be ground when the tool crib was out of the required tool or when the coolant in the machine needed replenishing or when the crane was occupied or out of order or the crane operator was on break—or any of the mysteries of a horizontal boring mill operator’s life, each faithfully recorded on a red card and entered into the computer that never lies?
Things went along for a while with us pretending to work and the company pretending to pay us, until one day the general foreman announced that since production on the horizontal mill was so low the company was eliminating one of the three operators. Since I was the newest, the ax would fall on me. I was offered a choice: I could take a layoff or I could retrain on the tape-controlled machine. I chose the latter and was soon third-shift operator. The other two horizontal mill operators continued their slowdown without me. Shortly afterward, the company transferred them to another department and sold the machine for a fraction of its cost to a salvage company.
The episode was a small example of Marx’s observation that the class struggle led either to a revolutionary reconstitution of the society or the common ruin of the contending classes. The three of us had destroyed that horizontal mill just as effectively as if we had taken a torch and sledgehammer to it. Although it remained physically intact and capable of performing the tasks for which it had been designed and built, it no longer existed as capital, the only form of value in a capitalist society
Re: Forbes Reveals Why The US Government Is Trying To Extradite Alex Saab
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I am an old man but I can still remember the days when the left and social movements were in solidarity and supported the struggles of the workers and most oppressed in countries and not corrupt businessmen. Saying that I would not support the extradition of Alex Saab to the US ( he has not yet been proven guilty of anything) who is suspected of very serious criminal acts, a possible perpetrator of significant acts of corruption, bribery, and money laundering valued up to hundreds of millions of dollars. He was named in the Panama Papers of using offshore companies in Panama for laundering money in 2013 from Colombia through the US.
To begin with I think the Forbes article exaggerates the role and the value of the Colombian businessman, Alex Saab as being a big fish. I think former Venezuelan military intelligence chief Hugo Carvajal ( awaiting extradition from Spain) has much more information on the workings of the Maduro administration after being part of it and working for the DEA at the same time according to some. Saab has been involved in businesses with the children of the president and first lady and that may be the reason he is being looked at and wanted also.
Saab has been involved with several projects starting in 2010 when Colombia and Venezuela were working with one another and he represented Colombian business who wanted to be involved with the projects providing portable housing back then and recent times he has been providing food for the CLAP food program ( there are no sanctions against the importation of food, medicines , medical equipment, or anything else that would have to do with products related to the humanitarian welfare of the Venezuelan population) and other projects.
I do believe Venezuela should be able to name anyone they want to represent them but Alex Saab was not named a diplomat until after he was arrested.
Sanctions have played a role in Venezuela ( oil sanctions began in 2017) and have caused some problems but mismanagement, government policies and corruption by many groups including many in the government and the right wing are also to blame.
The Maduro government is also to blame when he started to retreat from the goals of the Bolivarian revolution and started his class collaboration with the national and international bourgeois and it was his government's neo liberal policies starting in 2014 and the government paying of $110 billion in the debt that was due ( many on the left said to delay or cancel the debt at the time) and it was the workers and poor who payed for the readjustment and debt with higher prices and hyperinflation and shortages of most products.
Forbes Reveals Why The US Government Is Trying To Extradite Alex Saab - PopularResistance.Org
Alex Saab is “the key that unlocks the Venezuelan monetary mystery—that is, how a country facing sanctions from the US, the UK and the European Union—is still able to export things like gold and oil…and really the only man who can actually explain how the country [Venezuela] survives today,” according to Forbes.
The US would far prefer to just quietly extradite Saab to Miami, use whatever means necessary to extract sensitive information from him, and then warehouse him in the world’s largest prison system
uses the euphemism “under pressure” by US prison authorities as the means to force Saab to “shed light on Venezuela’s post-sanction economic network.” Saab already reports that his surrogate captors in Cabo Verde, described below, have unsuccessfully employed torture to try to break his will and induce him to betray Venezuela.
Washington-backed organisations allegedly plotting overthrow of Cuban government | Steve Sweeney | The Morning Star
Kevin Lindemann and Cathy Campo
Washington-backed organisations allegedly plotting overthrow of Cuban government
WASHINGTON-backed anti-government forces are plotting a new series of protests in Cuba over the next two months, according to information posted on a private Facebook group.
Mintpress News discovered that the organisations behind July’s riots in the capital Havana are organising a general strike for October 11, the day after Cuban Independence Day.
This will be followed by a series of nationwide demonstrations on November 20, according to the investigative news website’s report.
An announcement shared by Facebook page La Villa del Humour, among other groups, urges organisations and individuals to prepare for next week’s strike.
“We summon all worthy Cubans, lovers of freedom, their neighbours, their friends and their families to a national strike on Monday October 11,” the message says.
No single organisation or individual has been named as the organiser of the forthcoming action, and there are suspicions of US involvement as part of its longstanding operations towards regime change in Cuba.
Washington has pumped billions of dollars into subversive anti-government media operations for decades, and July’s protests were backed by a social media campaign with origins in the United States.
Next month’s demonstration is badged as “a peaceful march in favour of human rights and against violence” which will converge at the National Capitol building in Havana.
La Villa del Humour spokesman Alex Perez Rodriguez has struck a different tone, however, calling on Cubans to “hit the streets” until the government falls.
The group started as an innocuous Facebook page for residents of the town of San Antonio de los Banos, and is named after a local comedy festival.
But it soon became a forum for the exchange of anti-communist memes and the promotion of anti-government actions, with many of the frequent posters residing in the US state of Florida.
One prolific commenter even lists his employer as the Miami Herald, a notoriously anti-Cuba newspaper which has helped to agitate for regime change in Havana.
US efforts to oust the Cuban government have intensified in recent months, with $20 million (£14.7m) allocated from the House appropriations budget to promote “democracy programmes” and “free enterprise and private business organisations” in the country.
A similar amount has been gifted by the US government’s Agency for Global Media, which is used to spread anti-government propaganda in Cuba via media and online organisations.
During July’s protests, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez called for air strikes and other military intervention against Cuba in order to oust its government.
Re: The Communist International, A Critical Analysis - Part II
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In this second of your selections, Richard, Claudin writes:
"But what it is interesting to note here in this transposition of the
Russian model is Lenin’s grave underestimation of the influence of
reformist politics and the reformist mentality among the proletariat
of the advanced countries. I do not mean to say that Lenin
underestimated the wide extent of the reformist phenomenon, but rather
its depth, the firm roots that it possessed in the working-class
masses of the West."
The key factor that Lenin may have underestimated is the complete
dedication to defending capitalism of the reformist leadership of the
SPD. Writing in the late 1960s Claudin may have been unaware of the
November 10, 1918 secret arrangement between Friedrich Ebert, head of
the SPD and of the government (Chancellor) and General Wilhelm
Groener, head of the German Army. SPD leader Ebert collaborated with
the German military to violently crush the German revolution which, as
Lenin judged, could otherwise have succeeded (Ebert-Groener pacthttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebert%E2%80%93Groener_pact
). AFAIK the
first widespread international exposure of the Ebert-Groener pact came
with Sebastian Haffner's book "Failure of a Revolution: Germany
1918/19" first published in German in 1969.
There has been a huge amount of historical research on these matters
since Claudin published his history "The Communist Movement: from
Comintern to Cominform" in 1970. The essential work is Pierre Broue's
"The German Revolution 1917-1923" first published in French in 1971
(but not in English until 2005).
Broue describes how the SPD leaders fought aggressively and
successfully (relying on military veterans) to win majority control of
the first tentative national gathering of workers councils in November
1918. IMO Broue has a much deeper understanding of the role of
socialist leaders, party organizations, party members and the working
class generally in the outcome of the protracted revolutionary
situation in Germany than is manifest in Claudin's comment quoted
A couple of the publications which i have read that provide a better
understanding of the political situation then in Germany are: "The
Socialist Left and the German Revolution: A History of the German
Independent Social Democratic Party 1917-1923" (the left split from
the SPD which outgrew it numerically during those years) by David W.
Morgan, published by Cornell University Press in 1975 and Robert F.
Wheeler's 1970 University of Pittsburgh dissertation "The Independent
Social Democratic Party and the Internationals: An Examination of
Socialist Internationalism in Germany 1915 to 1923" published in two
volumes by University Microfilms in 1971.
Claudin mistakenly says that the key factor was the "reformist
mentality" among the working class but at least he does present
Lenin's contrasting view on the crucial factor of political
" Lenin was more than ever convinced that the hour of the ‘final
struggle’ had sounded; but there was a cloud darkening this horizon:
‘Europe’s greatest misfortune and danger is that it has no
revolutionary party.’ And without a revolutionary party the
revolution could not win.
and "In Europe, however, the conscious and organized agent, the
revolutionary party of the Bolshevik type, is missing. Unless such a
party is created, the fate of the world revolution is in danger."
Unfortunately Rosa Luxemburg had long held a spontaneist perspective
on revolutionary socialist strategy. She first exerted leadership to
organize a German revolutionary socialist party in December 1918. The
founding congress of the German Communist Party was held over New
Years Day 1919. Also unfortunately it was dominated by ultralefts who
voted down Rosa's perspective of participating in elections and labor
unions. Lenin was right. There was no revolutionary party in Germany
that could have, like the Bolsheviks, led a successful revolution.
Teamster Rank-and-File Reformers Are Making a Bid for Union Leadership | Indigo Olivier | Jacobin
Kevin Lindemann and Cathy Campo
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Re: The Communist International, A Critical Analysis - Part II
Thanks for resurrecting and drawing this long forgotten analysis to our attention, Richard. It’s remarkably prescient, considering that it was written in the early 70’s, when there was still a strong international workers’ movement and before socialism had virtually disappeared as a material force over the next four decades, finally putting paid to Bolshevik hopes in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution for its rapid spread to the the advanced capitalist countries.
The essay - at least, judging by the first two instalments - can’t be read as other than a repudiation of the theory of permanent revolution and the concept of the vanguard party. In this sense, it's a foreshadowing of the “neo-Kautskyite” criticisms of Leninist theory and practice being advanced by Eric Blanc and others on the contemporary left. Claudin approvingly contrasts Kautsky’s “penetrating understanding” of the Western working class’ attachment to bourgeois democracy and the nation-state with Lenin’s “underestimation” of both phenomena (though it’s not clear whether Claudin at this time was already a supporter of what he describes as the “opportunist" political conclusions which flow from that analysis). As he writes:
"This underestimation of the penetration of reformism into the Western proletariat was a symptom of theoretical shortcomings that were to have an effect on the political plane in the way that the new revolutionary party was created, the way its structures and mode of working were conceived and its tasks worked out. The root of these shortcomings can be found, it seems to me, in Lenin’s analysis of capitalism in its monopoly phase. As I have mentioned already, Lenin, like Rosa Luxemburg, and like Kautsky in his first period, saw world capitalism in the monopoly, imperialist stage as having reached a terminal situation. The world war, which led Kautsky to make a politico-doctrinal revision in which a penetrating understanding of the new structural phenomena of capitalism provided a foundation for opportunist political conclusions, had for Lenin the effect, on the contrary, of strengthening his belief...The economic and trade-union conquests won by the working class in the decades preceding the war are seen by Lenin almost exclusively as achievements that thrust capitalism helplessly towards the edge of its grave. He thus fails to see that, at the same time, they illustrate the capacity possessed by advanced capitalism to digest some of these changes and to use them as factors in ‘rationalizing’ its economic mechanism, while simultaneously increasing its capacity to alienate. This type of analysis leads him to describe monopoly capitalism not merely as transitional (alluding to the high degree of socialization of production) but also as moribund. It is this type of analysis that causes him to consider that a rapid radicalization process is going on amid the European proletariat, profoundly undermining the influence of the reformist leaders. The ‘betrayal’ by these leaders during the war and the disasters that this has brought upon the masses must bring to completion, provided only a revolutionary group of the Bolshevik type is present to do the work of enlightenment, the split which is bound to occur between the leaders and the masses."
Re: Do machines add value?
The critique of Value by the work of Anselm Jappe is also relevant here. Capital and Labor are two sides of the same coin. Machines do not labor, they consume and transform energy provided by humans who in return need to eat to get 'energized' to build and operate the machines. A machinic marxism is 'worthwhile' to investigate in times of drones, androids and robots. Maybe somebody can point to relevant secondary literature on marxism and machines. The fragment on machines was a departure from orthodoxy.
Re: Do machines add value?
Tom John, and Michael, Good discussion. I have to stop here. Obviously, a very big subject.
OK --- my last shot and then we will leave it to everyone else ---
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.
The rock increased the productivity of the labor --- it took longer (and maybe it was not as good a "product") before the group discovered the sharp-edged rock. That was the USE VALUE the rock created --- the increased productivity. But the USE of the rock did not mean that the ROCK itself produced surplus value --- to produce surplus value the "thing" that produces the surplus value must COST less than the value it adds to the final product. (and human labor is the only "element that is involved in production" [what the mainstream calls "factors" of production] that produces more than its value). All machines have exchange value --- and that is their contribution to the value of the product it produces with the labor --- It is Marx's contention that when the machine increases the productivity of labor, the rate of exploitation of that labor rises ---
basically what I'm trying to argue is that machines cannot be exploited as human beings can ....
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.
This is the USE VALUE of the machine ...
Marx wants to come into this situation and say the rock does not add any value.
NO --- it contributes to the value of the product it helps produce --- it's just that it contributes exactly what it cost
He breaks any connection between value and productivity and says tools add no value.
again -- the tool adds the value that it costs --- labor adds a value GREATER than it costs ...
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.
you are right on the first half but not on the second =--- yes, because of the equalization of rates of profit despite differences in the organic composition of capital prices of production are DIFFERENT from labor values for specific products --- this leads to the so-called transformation problem which either IS or is NOT solved by Bortkeivic (and Sweezy) and many others ---
The second part does a great job of explaining the source of profit --- the "bargain" at the point of production where capitalists can wring surplus value from workers except in VERY RARE circumstances (labor shortage, top of the business cycle, etc.)
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.
HERE I would probably agree though I haven't read that book --- I've always been sceptical of the solutions to the "transformation problem" ...but this is the PRICE theory failure of the LTV --
I think we've both exhausted our arguments --- thanks for your patience ---
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