Re: [ox-en] Labor contradictions
- From: Stefan Merten <smerten oekonux.de>
- Date: Fri, 21 Dec 2007 18:54:26 +0100
Hi Graham and all!
3 weeks (21 days) ago graham wrote:
Stefan Merten wrote:
Hi Graham and Raoul!
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.
Sorry for my lack of English language.
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'.
Well, I do have no idea of what you are referring to. What I'm
referring to is probably best characterized as a materialist
perspective: The being forms the thinking.
If you spell this out to a situation like I imagine exists in China
then I could imagine that things we call class struggles in for
instance European history simply make sense in China because of the
actual being of these people. And I guess so far this actual being of
these people is only marginally influenced by peer modes.
So yes, I tend to think that given similar conditions of the
development of productive forces result in similar contradictions
resulting in similar struggles.
The opposite would be some idealistic view where the sheer existance
of for instance peer production somewhere changes something elsewhere.
I don't think this way.
But then - these are the extremes. Reality usually it not so extreme.
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
Coming from the anarchist side I know there were movements which had
different things in mind than 'really existing socialism'. Whether
those movements had a chance to overcome capitalism? Let me say it
this way: I think (only) today the conditions are mature because the
development of productive forces got that far. Univeralized digital
copy (aka Internet) being one of the technical artefacts here.
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.
I'm not saying it can't be different by some law of nature. I agree
that there can be influences - especially from peer modes to the
workers movement (because in the other direction I probably have to
little phantasy to imagine what could be learned).
The core question to me here is: Could peer production modes help
social struggles? In Germany for instance where we have high
unemployment and poorness on the rise I can not see where peer
production modes are adopted by those (also marginal) social
struggles. IMHO the reason for this is: Peer production has no special
appeal to the unemployed.
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)
Frankly I can not imagine this different from a big crash scenario.
That would mean a rollback way before capitalist features and thus a
destruction of the productive forces instead of a furthering resulting
in a sharp decline of any production.
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