Chapter 1: Some Facts of Life
The purpose of this pamphlet is to show that the capitalist social system is a dynamic and not a static organisation, having developed out of previous social systems. The historical role of capitalism was progressive insofar as the means of production, hitherto small and fragmentary in character, were welded into the gigantic productive organisations we know today. The social powers of production however are not under the control of society and the relations of production do not serve the interests of the producers, the working class. The social classes have been reduced to two, a property-less working class forming the vast majority, and a property owning capitalist class, the minority. The relations of production are anti-social because the object behind production is not the satisfaction of social need but the amassing of profit and the accumulation of capital.
This pamphlet is composed of the first and last chapters of the larger, and long out of print, work “State Capitalism: The Wages System Under New Management” Adam Buick & John Crump (Palgrave Macmillan) 1986.
Marx has been badly served by disciples who have succeeded neither in assessing the limits of his theory nor in determining its standards and field of application and has ended up by taking on the role of some mythical giant, a symbol of the omniscience and omnipotence of homo faber, maker of his own destiny.
If state capitalism is not socialism, what is? In other words, if state ownership and management of production does not amount to the abolition of capitalism but only to a change in the institutional framework within which it operates, what would be the essential features of a society in which capitalism had been abolished?
In this pamphlet we shall identify the essential features of capitalism and then go on to discuss state capitalism and the nature of the capitalist class. We shall be describing in Marxian terms, concisely but thoroughly, the economic mechanism and set of social relationships that constitute capitalism. We believe Marx’s analysis to be in general still valid even if, the institutional forms of capitalism have changed from those of Britain in the nineteenth century which Marx studied. We can assure readers who may initially find parts of this pamphlet difficult that if they
Confusion about banking operations and the power of bankers has been in evidence for a long time. It was known before 1848, and that year saw the publication of two works putting opposite points of view. One was Lectures on the Nature and Use of Money in which John Gray outlined a scheme which was the forerunner of the Social Credit Movement founded by Major Douglas in the nineteen twenties. The other was John Stuart Mill’s Principles of Political Economy which contained the following:
The Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia put the clock back in the sense that before the First World War the radical wing of the international Social Democratic movement was making progress towards positions similar to those of the Socialist Party in Britain but, after 1917, most of those involved were side-tracked into supporting the Bolsheviks. For many this was only a temporary dalliance, but the damage had been done.
2001, over a decade has passed since the fall of the Berlin wall, and the announcement then of the End of History seems now to be not just ideological, but beneath contempt. Open warfare returns to Europe, not as an isolated episode, but endemic like an ancient disease grown resistant to modern antibiotics. The global economy veers headlong into recession. Many of the political institutions of international capitalism (G8, IMF, World Bank) are more discredited, and protested against, than ever before. At the
The world we live in is a world of contradictions. The environment is in a state of decline, yet industry continues to pump pollutants into the atmosphere whilst non-polluting technologies are neglected. Thousands starve, while food stocks remain unused. We can communicate with strangers from all around the globe, yet no-one knows their neighbour. Automation could free us from labour, yet we are chained to the machine.
We are in the midst of a crisis that is world-wide. Every country feels its ravages. Millions and millions of workers are unemployed and in acute poverty. Everywhere there is discontent and a feeling of insecurity, and the prestige of even the strongest of governments has been shaken. All sorts of emergency measures have been hastily adopted, but the depression still continues. Working men and women who normally ignore such questions, are now asking why the crisis has occurred, what will be its outcome, and whether it could have been avoided. In some minds there is a fear, and in others a hope, that the industrial crisis may bring the present system of society down in ruins, and make way for another.
The idea that capitalism was in a final, its mortal, crisis dominated the first years after the Russian revolution. When the revolutionary workers’ movement in Western Europe abated, the Third International gave up this theory, but it was maintained by the opposition movement, the KAPD, which adopted the theory of the mortal crisis of capitalism as the distinguishing feature between the revolutionary and reformist points of view.
If a household gets a washing machine, you never hear the family members who used to do the laundry by hand complain that this puts them out of work. But strangely enough, if a similar development occurs on a broader social scale it is seen as a serious problem unemployment which can only be solved by inventing more jobs for people to do.
Why do you go to work? Is it because you enjoy what you do? Did you choose to work at what you do in the way you do? Would you do your job were it not for the money?
Written for the International Communist Party. Though Bordiga's vanguardist conception of the party is questionable, his critiques of councilism and so-called "workers control" are essential reading.
Compares the features of a Communist society to the visions drawn up by the syndicalists.