Re: [ox-en] Labor contradictions
- From: graham <graham theseamans.net>
- Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2007 13:01:58 +0000
Stefan Merten wrote:
Hi Graham and Raoul!
Well obviously I'm not speaking for Raoul at all, though I'd like to
hear what he says too.
If I understand the both of you correctly then you are puzzled by
phenomenons where labor society is on its rise - instead of its fall
as for instance I suggest. If I remember right then your main examples
are from China where the labor society certainly gets bigger.
I think 'puzzled' is the wrong word; it seems quite comprehensible.
I have one point and one question about this. The point is that of
developments not happening at the same time. Capitalism came into
being in Europe and it took two centuries to make it the dominant mode
of production world-wide. Or even more than two centuries if the
developments in China are understood as the extension of capitalism
into not yet conquered areas - which is certainly a valid point of
So at least that in different parts of the world there are different
stages of development at the same time seems to me the normal case and
therefore I'd distinguish these types of contradictions from others.
I do not believe this contradiction is separate from the others, but
integral with them. The whole idea of different stages of development
applying to different countries at different times sounds like a
throwback to Rostow and the CIA 'take-off' theory from the 1960s. Or
like one of the pseudo-justifications of Stalinism: 'I know it's painful
for them, but they have to pass through their period of primitive
accumulation before they can hope for a real future'.
Another way of seeing this:
The defeat of the European/US working classes in the 1980s was partly
achieved by closing down manufacture and moving it elsewhere; in
particular to China. So the Chinese working class is not a historical
throwback which will eventually catch up, it is OUR working class,
making the physical goods on which we - and especially peer-producers -
depend. You cannot solve the bread-roll problem ignoring China; China is
another name for the bread-roll problem. China is also the point where
the ecological consequences of production are coming to be most intense;
and so the place where it is most urgent that these problems are solved
(socially, I mean - not through a technical 'fix').
Stefan Mz writes very much as though the old style socialist movements
inevitably failed because the only possible outcome of those movements
was 'really existing socialism'. I guess you are likely to agree with
this, and so to think that there is no way an industrial-based socialist
movement in China can do anything but reproduce a failed past. I am not
so pessimistic and do not see why such a movement should not be
different in the context of peer production.
The question is as follows: If you imagine a decline of capitalism how
would it look like?
I never learned much about Lenin but IIRC he expected the private
capitalist monopolies being the germ form for societal production -
which today looks much like wishful thinking. However, in such a
vision contradictions like those sketched above are probably less
Would you expect such a decline as a process in harmony - i.e. without
contradictions? If so do you have reasons to think so?
I already discussed this question with Stefan Mz. I believe capitalism
is declining, to be replaced either by a new form of society which is
dictatorial but not capitalist (without the capitalist freedoms of
contract, trade, property ownership, thought etc) (and in this sense
China could be part of the future, not the past); or by a new form of
society of which peer production gives us a glimpse.
Having seen Iraq and possibly soon Iran you'd have to be pretty
optimistic to hope for a 'harmonious' decline.
Contact: projekt oekonux.de
Contact: projekt oekonux.de