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An essay on the present evolution of the Capitalist socio-economic system before descent into Chaos About the triumph of selfishness and Human stupidity.
This is basically the foreword I have written at my first attempt to publish this booklet, naturally it has been updated and altered during the following years. ******* Partly because of inclination and partly because of circumstances, I believe that I have acquired an inquisitive mind. I am not sure whether for me this has been a gift or a curse. Often I have considered lucky those people who live by instinct, without questions, and let life to take care of itself. Because of this inclination and because whenever I had a discussion about politics and the economy with friends, workmates or anybody else the discussion always ended up like in a vicious circle with the first questions or objections being asked all over again. For this reason, about ten years ago (1970s) I started writing a sort of an essay with the purpose of delineating my personal opinions on the problems that were plaguing our society at the time; I tried to explain the connection that those problems had with the current economic philosophy and with the nature of Capitalist economy; I intended to stop wasting time and breath
arguing each point that I was making and instead give them the booklet to read. At the time, the Cold War was at its peak and that, more than the social and ecological problems, was the main concern. Today, the danger of a global nuclear conflict between the capitalist West and the Soviet Union has disappeared, as the Soviet Union no longer exists. The first experiment of creating a new socio-economic organism directed by Humanistic ideals of fairness and justice has been made to fail. This attempt probably was doomed from the start; born from a destructive war and revolution in a society still under-developed and still with a feudal mentality, opposed from within and from outside, surrounded by countries with governments determined to crush it in its cradle, it was compelled to acquire a siege mentality. In such an environment, it was bound to develop into a dictatorship. As it is the consequence of every dictatorship, it eventually produced a new privileged class and it became corrupt, the people lost their innocence and their belief in the ideals for which, in the beginning, they were prepared even to give their life. This first failed experiment was not in vain. It produced reactions in the rest of the world that forced the insensitive Capitalist establishment to limit their exploitation of the Human resources under their power, or at least to pay lip service to the same Human ideals that the Socialists were aspiring to. I hope that the experience of this first failed attempt will show the pitfalls to be avoided, and will show us a more enlightened way to be adopted in the next attempt that, I am sure, will eventually take shape (1980s).
I am so sure for two main reasons: one is that I believe that what is good in Human nature will always manage to survive. The Human condition, those ideals of fairness, justice and kinship on this small and fragile planet Earth, cannot have completely disappeared. The second reason, and the more compelling, is that those problems that I ventured to analyze ten years ago are still present more than ever, aggravated and compounded. Today the connection between our ecological and social problems and Capitalist economic philosophy is ten times more evident than it has been in the recent past. The eunuchs of the Media, understandingly, are not prepared to risk their jobs by publicizing what should be obvious to anybody with a bit of intelligence and common sense: that Capitalism has come to the end of the road. There are a few journalists who still have some honesty and self respect and are timidly starting to hint at the hopelessness of Capitalist economy to solve the problems that it itself is creating. The threat of global nuclear war has receded; but, in its place, the senseless trade war that has been going on all along is intensifying. More contenders are coming into the battlefield. They are the ex socialist countries, that by adopting Capitalist philosophy, the "philosophy of the merchant" - to buy and sell as the only condition of survival - they are forced to indebt and castigate themselves to be able to compete on the saturated world's market. As all other developing and underdeveloped countries are already doing the same, it has become a senseless competition between Nations to throw each other out of work. So far all the answers to the problems created by the saturation of capitalist economy have been unconvincing and superficial. The solutions offered have been ineffective. The reason is that at present every investigation about the causes of our social and economic troubles has stopped short of a deep search into the
essence and nature of our socioeconomic organism. This is not a coincidence. It is a conscious attempt to hide the real origins of our problems by those who are in a commanding position and, therefore, are mainly responsible for them. It is the same as an unconscionable power had set the terms of reference to limit the scope of any inquiry into our social and economic problems only to the superficial appearances and the secondary causes. But it is evident that the real causes of our decline can only be found deep within the nature of our system. In this essay I will attempt to explain in general terms my notion of the essence of our economy and its relation to the present situation. In this sort of an essay I will only deal with the main rational concepts and capitalist logic. Detailed evidence can be seen in our everyday lives; also it is readily available in books, reports and other literature that I have come across over the years, and, together with my life experiences, form the basis for my assertions. I do not claim originality, most of what I will say has already been said, and in a better form. In this analysis are the conclusions that I have reached after many years of reflection. A person's thought is the continually changing product of a long process of experiences and of a long process of assimilation of previously accumulated knowledge. A process that starts long before one's birth. In my particular case, as I have little memory for detail, I have forgotten the origin of most that I have learnt and has found a place in my mind. I acknowledge that I am not the prime origin of my thoughts, I stress that many sentences I have used belong to the authors of the books that I have read; they are the best expressions of ideas and they cannot be improved. Moreover, I am aware of my ignorance and bias. Before I start, I want to make a very important point: it is far from my intention to blame capitalist businessmen entirely for the
problems that we are facing today. At present, they are the actors that have been cast to play the villains in the drama of Human life. As much as they may be the main determining factor in the evolution of capitalist society, they are themselves enslaved by its economic necessities, and they also will eventually become the victims of the system. They are Human beings and their actions and attitudes are reinforced by the natural laws of Capitalism and human imperfection. It is only when they attempt to perpetuate at all costs a system that has become obsolete and destructive that they become dangerous. We are all potential capitalists as we live within a capitalist organism, and we are bound by its forces in our daily struggle for immediate survival. Everybody must have witnessed at some time how the poorest person or the most staunch supporter of Labour, when becoming a businessman or coming in possession of wealth, will gradually or even suddenly assume the attitudes of a capitalist and, when put to the test, will become a conservative. It is my opinion that, as Adam Smith pointed out over two centuries ago, that ".....the evils come from the system, not from the character of the men who administer it...", but also I believe that because of the nature of capitalist business competition those who reach the top generally are not necessarily the most intelligent and honest but rather are the most selfish, cunning, ruthless and insensitive human beings. I think that, in the main, this is true. Nevertheless they must be prevented from destroying this Planet that so far has been suitable to Human life. I hope that the reader will keep this in mind right through the discussion, no matter how vilified the capitalist "merchants and manufacturers" may seem to be.
Here I will talk about ourselves Human beings locked in a socioeconomic organism in its final dangerous stage of evolution.
FOREWORD 2009 Updated 3 September 2009. Now it is 2009, and I would like to point out that this short booklet has gradually taken form in my mind during the 1960-1970 and eventually was written in 1980; therefore many ideas and statements were formulated during the times of the Cold War, the struggles of Capital and Labour when the Unions and the Labour party in Australia were still militant and Neo-colonialism was rampant in the underdeveloped countries after World War II. Many ideas and statements therefore reflect what was happening in those times; nevertheless, as it will be shown in this booklet, the nature and mechanism of the system has not changed. Capitalism, as it happened to every previous system before it, inexorably is progressing by its unstoppable natural momentum towards its demise; if no rational alternative is urgently found, chaos will ensue with ecological changes that may not be favourable to Human existence as we have experienced so far on this Planet. In the 1980s I tried to get this booklet published, but as I am not an academic I did not get any support. Not surprisingly once I was told that they would not consider publishing a book against Capitalism as they were capitalist merchants themselves. Now I am getting on and I am getting close to find out if number 42 is really the answer to the “question of Life, the Universe and Everything”; therefore before I depart, as I would like to make a small contribution towards saving this small Planet (laugh), I am taking advantage of the Internet and forward this sort of an essay
in every possible direction hoping that enough people with a lot of mental stamina or a good stomach may actually read it. The book is free to read, to download and disseminate in any form. Of the few people to whom I gave the book to read none actually managed to read right through it; they all succumbed to total mental exhaustion by the time they got to chapter III or thereof; I do not blame them, it also happened to me. I feel sorry for them because they will have missed the few jewels that certainly can be found within the booklet’s copious BS. For this particular reason I have moved Chapters I, II and III to part IV at the end of the book; another reason is that because I am not an Historian my brief description of a subject that requires a thousand volumes must be very subjective and inaccurate. To me, having seen and experienced a lifetime of change, the opinions and assertions that I am presenting seem quite rational and obvious but I fully realise that the majority of younger people, having been born in the present Era and having been molded into consumerism since their birth, they are bound to take the present situation for granted; they cannot even imagine that a better alternative to Capitalism would have been possible under more favourable circumstances in the past; they cannot even imagine that a better alternative not only is still possible in the present, and easier to achieve given the progress in technology, production and general education, but it is imperative and essential if they want to survive in a better society on a Planet still supportive of Human life. The book is a real brick; the sentences are too long and there are too many repetitions, the main reason is that I tried to write each chapter so that it would make sense and stand on its own; to do that in most chapters I had to mention again and again the same basic natural features of the Capitalist system to explain why the
capitalist socio-economic organism has been and still is evolving in such predictable ways. This booklet derives from the mind and heart of a person that because of genetic factors, education, environmental circumstances mostly beyond his control, has managed either because of inclination towards fairness, or because of fear of retribution, to follow the better rather than the worst instincts of human nature. Having an inquisitive mind, a certain ability for looking from different points of view, for trying to understand the logic of cause and effect and the dynamics of action and counteraction but also a great capability to completely forget all names, dates and specially all the small but interesting details that were an important part in the formation of my opinions, all I was left with has been a wide but fairly accurate assessment of the main substance of most situations; like looking from the distance at what is happening on this planet , our Earth . Therefore my lack of memory for details has been a curse and a blessing at the same time. Having been a tradesman most of my working life I have acquired a certain practical common sense and if my head may often be in the clouds, my feet are always firm on the ground. I cannot really call this work an "essay" because there are no notes or detailed references as I have mostly assimilated most of what I've read in my lifetime, also most of my opinions are primarily based on my diverse life experiences. Looking at all the progressive sites on the Internet one realizes how many intelligent, educated, and eloquent people there are analyzing the present World's situation; browsing on the Internet I came across an essay in five parts entitled "Global Power and Global Government" that I thought is quite brilliant in the presentation of facts and clear logic supported by hundreds of
notes and references. Exploring the site (Centre on Research for Globalization) further, I found it to be quite vast and well organized, a treasure chest of information and progressive writings. Therefore I would like to recommend to anybody who may appreciate my effort in writing this bare essay to visit www.globalresearch.ca and there one will find much information that may be missing in this booklet. Unfortunately bright talented writers and researchers, many young and full of energy, will add to nothing unless a catalyst is found to unite them in a concerted effort to translate this virtual Internet revolution into a real life mass movement of people with computers and also people without computers who are the great majority of voters. This will require a lot of organizing, footwork and hard work amongst the people to awaken them from their consumerism induced stupor. salterre
Outline of the Essay Endgame, a Manifesto. PART I The natural laws and mechanism of capitalist production. Chapter IV– The Evolution of Western capitalist society. Chapter V - The essence and origin of capital Chapter VI - The capitalist cycle of production and its basic elements. Chapter VII - The market. Chapter VIII - The essence of competition. Chapter IX - Competition in the market and the law of demand and supply. Chapter X - Labour power - the living commodity. Chapter XI - The natural antagonism between capital and labour, profits and wages. Chapter XII - The capitalist and profit. Chapter XIII - Capitalism and the philosophy of selfishness. Chapter XIV - The mechanism of capitalist expansion. Chapter XV - The social and economic effects of capitalist expansion.
The present stage of capitalist evolution. Chapter XVI - General outline of the present stage of development. Chapter XVII - Export or perish. Chapter XVIII - The armament trade. Chapter XIX - Overproduction and market saturation. Chapter XX - Consumerism: the development of consumer credit. Chapter XXI - Consumerism: advertising. Chapter XXII - Consumerism : planned obsolescence. Chapter XXIII - The transnational corporations and their influence on the world economy. Chapter XXIV - Clues about inflation. Chapter XXV - Unemployment. Chapter XXVI - Capitalism, impediment to further progress. Chapter XXVII - The sophistry of separation and the influence of the media. Chapter XXVIII - About superficial assumptions.
A catalyst Movement. Chapter XXIX - A simple philosophy. Chapter XXX - Present situation in relation to economic and social change. Chapter XXXI - A new society. Property, Time and Value Work and leisure. Democracy, Democratic process. Education, The media. Policing. Chapter XXXII - Future prospects. Chapter XXXIII - The democratic option.
Chapter I - Organisms and societies. Chapter II - Social organisms. Chapter III - Socioeconomic systems.
SOME READINGS AND REFERENCES.
ADAM SMITH The Wealth of Nations. KARL MARX and FREDERICK ENGELS Capital Vol I. The Manifesto of the Communist Party 1848, Selected Works. MAO TZE TUNG Selected Works. DICK WILSON Mao the people’s emperor. CHARLES DARWIN The voyage of the Beagle. A.E.LEAKEY Origin of the Species Abridged. TERENCE BYRNES Adam Smith, Malthus and Marx. SIR ALEX CAIRNCROSS Inflation, growth and international finance. C.E. DAVIES The emergence of Western Society. MILTON FRIEDMAN Free to choose. ROBERT HERLBRONER Business civilisation in decline. J. HUTSON From penal colony to penal powers. LEONARD G. LEWIN Report from Iron Mountain. FRANK MAINSWORTHY Economics, What went wrong. RALPH MILIBAND The State in capitalist society. JOHN STUART MILLS Utilitarianism, Essay on Bentham. VANCE PACKARD The naked society, The hidden persuaders, The people shapers, The waste makers.
AYN RAND The virtue of selfishness, Capitalism the Unknown Ideal. PETER ROBINSON The crisis in Australian capitalism. R. REICH The greening of America. R. SMITH The economics of the cold war. ANTHONY SAMPSON The seven sisters, The Money Lenders. ALVIN TOFFLER Future shock. RICHARD J. BARNET & RONALD E. MULLER Global reach. E.F. SCHUMACHER Small is beautiful. J.K. GALBRAITH American capitalism. N. HARRIS Of bread and guns. SUSAN GEORGE How the other half lives. F. A. HAYEK The road to serfdom. WILLIAM BLUM Killing Hope, Rogue State. ANDREW KEVIN MARSHALL Global Power and Global Government. WWW.GLOBALRESEARCH.CA Centre on Research for Globalization. TONY KEVIN Crunch Time.
OUTLINE OF THE ESSAY
This book has thirty three chapters divided in four parts. In the first part, I will try to explain my notion about the inner essence of the capitalist economic system, its natural laws and mechanism, and how these cannot be altered without changing the system completely. These laws and mechanisms are the natural result of a particular environment, they were naturally suited to that environment; that original environment do not exist anymore and they cannot rationally function in a different situation. In the second part, I will try to show the relation between capitalist economy and our present social and ecological problems. I will try to show how the natural laws and mechanism of capitalist economy are producing unnatural and irrational results when applied in the present environment of saturation: an environment which is almost the opposite of that in which these laws and mechanism have developed and could function in a rational way. In the third part I will attempt to explain my point of view on ways by which we could evolve towards a more rational society. I will also try to explain a simple philosophical basis that could be a catalyst for people of different backgrounds who have the same basic interest in a meaningful survival. In the fourth part of the booklet I will try to put into perspective the background stage on which the Human race has evolved: a small planet in one of the solar systems in a galaxy in the
Universe. On this planet, Human societies have evolved, and capitalist society is one of them: a brief moment in the history of Humanity. This brief analysis represents in essence my personal point of view on the nature of our present problems. I hope it may be a contribution to further and wider discussion.
THE ENDGAME -
Chaos or Renewal
Capitalism has reached the final phase of its evolution; inevitably it is degenerating towards an unpredictable end, as it has been the case with every previous civilization or socio-economic organism that has evolved and eventually disintegrated in the history of the Human race. In this final stage those who are in power (as it has been the case of those who were in power towards the end of all previous civilizations) are doing their utmost to keep the sick organism alive even as it has become a threat to wholesome existence on this planet. Unfortunately our mercantile capitalist Establishment, with their stranglehold over the Mass Media and their command over all the powerful State and private instruments of coercion and investigation, have been successful in insuring that no better alternatives are explored or promoted outside the capitalist socioeconomic system which is the basis for their wealth and power.
They have been successful in convincing everybody that there is no alternative to Mercantile Capitalism. To persons of intelligence and honesty It should be evident that in the present saturated environment it is impossible for capitalist economy and society to continue to evolve in a progressive and rational form. Why? Because Capitalism during its development has fundamentally changed the environment that was the condition for its inception and evolution; gradually over time it has created a new environment in which, because of its nature and the lack of further space for expansion, it cannot function and grow any longer without damaging and irrevocably altering the environment that has been the condition for the beginning and evolution of the Human race. The problem is that there are no intelligent and at the same time honest persons within the ruling class of the present corrupt Establishment; no such person could possibly become part of the Establishment and survive. Capitalism depends on continuous development, mindless consumerism and waste to keep going, but this is what has brought us to the present state of stress and saturation; to continue will spell disaster for our existence on this small Planet. Twenty years ago the capitalists won the Cold War. They have won the first round but they have not solved the conditions of poverty and injustice that have caused those revolutionary Movements to develop. For twenty years since their victory they have been conducting a relentless mopping up operation and they have succeeded in suppressing and denigrating all the progressive Movements of the nineteen and twentieth Centuries. Now because of the continuous misinformation by the capitalist media and the superficial attitude of the majority of people it is considered stupid to believe in Humanistic-Socialism, in
International Brotherhood and friendly Cooperation between Nations within a socially and ecologically scientific PlannedEconomy; these are considered the ideals of fools, lefties, bleeding hearts, greenies etc. In fact only the consolidation and realization of such progressive ideals could promote the revival and enrichment of the Human race on this Planet. Now we have a never ending Hot War against terrorism; this is in fact the continuation of the Cold War on a different level, religious, nationalistic or a combination of both, caused by the same conditions of poverty and or injustice; moreover beside these social problems we also have caused hazardous ecological breakdowns that no system based on the whims of selfish investors in the Stock Markets of the World can possibly solve. The failures of the socialist experiments are paraded to deter any further movement in that direction; all their negative features are publicized, mostly out of historical context, all of the many positive features are completely ignored and no mention is ever done of the sabotage, interference, even murders perpetrated to destabilize the economies of those third World countries that were trying to free themselves from capitalist neo-colonialist exploitation. The Soviet Union was made to fail, but in fact if we consider the backwardness and feudal mentality of the Russian people before and after the revolution, the lack of any democratic tradition, the ravages of the first World war, the years of civil war after the Revolution, the disaster of the second World war, the sabotage and continuous military threat from the powerful capitalist coalitions of the military powers of the U.S. and Western Europe, the mindset of the Soviet leaders formed during deadly revolutionary struggles and the necessity to waste resources for defence during the arms race, then the achievements of the Soviet Union during a sixty years state of siege should be considered extraordinary: it is surprising it lasted that long.
It was the Soviet Union that lost, not Socialism; but the baby was thrown out with the dirty water; let us just consider the ugly rise of Nationalism and extreme Religious Fundamentalism after the demise of the International Socialist experiment. The dumb socialist leadership were either blind or were compelled by circumstances beyond their control to follow the developed capitalist West in a race towards Consumerism which they could not possibly win, instead of taking a completely different course towards a new ecologically sound progressive economy. Both in Russia and China they had an open slate on which to build their energy, their cities and infrastructures with a Rational and Humane plan; how much in front would they have been now, but they missed their chance. Globalization with nationalistic capitalist competition for markets and resources and more intense consumerism can only mean Global rivalry and war; now the Soviet Union has become Capitalist Russia, Communist China is Capitalist China. Only Globalization within International Humanist Socialist Cooperation would make sense in the present alarming ecological situation. There is no effective organized opposition to the present Establishment’s determination to continue at all cost on the capitalist road: mercantile competition for business development and control over resources must continue; one hundred Nations enslaved to work harder and sacrifice more to throw each other out of work, to produce an ever greater quantity of commodities that must become obsolete in a short span of time and end up increasing the pollution of our planet. Of those people who were against Capitalism and were defeated, having lost hope, some have turned towards extreme Racism or Nationalism, some have embraced fundamentalist Religion, most have become cynical consumers in a global consumer society, those that are oppressed with no redress and, in frustration,
become rebels against injustice or poverty are driven to desperation are considered terrorists and are denied their Humanity. Most of the former progressive leaders have become capitalist politicians, therefore they have become corrupted and they have no alternative but to find hopeless capitalist solutions to all problems. Regarding those courageous people that were the heroes of the mass movements for Human rights and against Neo-colonialist wars in the sixties, where are they now? They are older and probably also disillusioned with the present apathy and indifference of the majority of the people that are hopelessly enslaved by consumerism; most are still very active against the Establishment via the internet, writing books, conferencing and, in the main, speaking to the converted, mainly middle class progressives with computers who also are captive by the comforts of capitalist middle class. They are tolerated by the Establishment, even given good jobs, as long as they do not pose any real threat to the Establishment and they serve as a demonstration of the freedom of speech and democracy inherent in the capitalist system, a refined disguise behind which is a ruthless mercantile dictatorship. They are no threat to the System because there is no mass popular movement behind them, they either have no specific programs for transformation or their programs are completely unrealistic; moreover for them the disappointment of a first “still born” failed experiment of a socialist system has been enough to give up entirely on the whole Socialist idea. By overtaking the Feudal system Capitalism was a progressive force that gave impetus to many freedoms and the blossoming of the Renaissance, notwithstanding its natural aggressive nature
and penchant for ruthless exploitation, but in its final stage it has become criminally dangerous, an impediment to real progress. At present, to maintain its cycle of production in which the point of sale is the supreme overriding concern, Capitalism must continue to develop and consume at all cost, it must transform all human beings from a tender age into compulsive consumers and must keep them in a permanent state of want no matter how much they already have. Notwithstanding all its energy in production the capitalist economic system over the time of its existence has not been able to provide steady meaningful employment and security for all the inhabitants of this Planet, there always have been crises, wars, rebellions and repressions; Insecurity has now become endemic. The obvious result of its natural basic morality of blind selfishness and greed has produced unimaginable luxury and extravagance for some against the most degrading misery for a majority of Human beings. Moreover, as Karl Marx has lucidly pointed out one hundred and fifty years ago, Capitalism has turned all human relations, even the most intimate, into money relations; the bankers, the handlers of money have become our masters. Because of this malicious gene in the capitalist nature, because of the accumulating effect and dynamic nature of capitalist competition in the market of life and because of insecurity and the fear of unemployment, the most natural straightforward Human rationality has gradually been perverted and now in this last stage of the Mercantile Age, without openly admitting it, we must follow the perverted capitalist logic that follows: - the logic of a saturated Market. The natural rationality and logic from the beginning of Human evolution was to try to satisfy all needs in a community and make everything to last as long as possible; this was possible while the Planet was still underdeveloped and there was not yet enough
production to satisfy the effective demand. Now with the advance in technology the supply of commodities is overtaking the effectual demand notwithstanding the development of consumer credit and advertising; therefore abundance for Capitalism has become a curse. Capitalism cannot satisfy completely any legitimate human basic necessity; to satisfy it would mean the end of an industry, the end of investment and employment in that industry. For example Capitalism cannot satisfy completely the demand for housing so as to make everybody happy by lowering rents and inflation: because housing has become an investment there must always be a demand, satisfy the demand and the housing industry would collapse: unemployment of capital and labour would be the result. This goes for every field of activity in the capitalist system because everything must be done through private capital investment for a sale and a profit, be it housing, transport, education, medicine or anything else…The uninterrupted continuation of the cycle of production for sale and profit not the complete satisfaction of the needs of a society is the main purpose of the mercantile system: if there are no needs they must be created. If there is no market because people are at rest, people must be shaken up, an artificial market must be created. We have reached a stage now that when they make a swindle they call it a Product. It is no good for business to make anything simple and efficient; there are more parts and profit in complexity than simplicity. No good for business to employ transport or anything else that does not use fossil fuel; therefore we must have suburban wastelands instead of livable centres of human habitation with efficient public transport ; People must waste a big portion of their life just travelling to and from work.
Capitalism needs a permanent pool of unemployed people to maintain a sense of insecurity to keep the workforce submissive and to keep wages down. Just by eliminating these obnoxious features by speeding the development of what is really important and prolonging the life of commodities that are not important we could save half of the materials and energy that we are using at present; this is not possible under Capitalism, the nature of the system is to sell not to save. Capitalists must prefer 'ignorance' and misinformation to keep the population amenable to their own interests, therefore the studies of History and the Humanities in schools and universities have been slashed, but the combination of ignorance, aggressiveness and insecurity is a mixture that produces prejudice, hate and crime. Worst of all, Capitalists prefer the ultimate folly - a war with no end, rather than to face and accept the reality of their own obsolescence; they promote an environment of competition, mistrust and fear between Nations to maintain employment and profits for the capitalist military industrial complexes.
What must be done.
Capitalism must be defeated soon because the Time for ecological rescue is running out. A catalyst organization with a basic philosophy must be created to unite all groups that have similar aspirations. A mass Movement involving the participation of all the people from the ground up must be set in motion.
Set Ecological and Human standards for all activities of farming, heavy industry, transport and small business production. All legitimate activities and business should be allowed as long as the set standards are observed. Within all industries there must be also a standard setting public enterprise. Adopt the Golden Rule as social Norm. Uphold the Spirit of the Law. No secrets, Complete Openness. Definite detailed plans for transformation must be made by people with knowledge and experience. The timetable for the transformation should be within a generation. Eventually a system of credits and exchange of work times and materials values must be devised to maintain all social and personal productive activities running smoothly and efficiently. The projects must be made in a way that minimizes the disruption in people’s lives during the transformation. Farming, food production, housing, education should be the priorities. Farming is paramount as it is the basis of Life, therefore fair contracts and agreements should be made with farmers and their organizations. Expand Universities and all Technical Colleges to train those people who are made redundant from obnoxious industries being dismantled. Look after our Earth, Explore the Universe and aim for the Stars. Salterre
THE NATURAL LAWS AND MECHANISM OF CAPITALIST PRODUCTION. *************
CHAPTER IV THE EVOLUTION OF WESTERN CAPITALIST SOCIETY. ******** Looking at the last few thousand years, we can easily recognise the main economic systems so far by which Man has procured or produced the necessities needed to sustain his own life within a group or a society. In part IV we can observe the evolution of Human societies from the simple primitive communistic socio-economic organism to the
primitive democratic communities, to the more complex civilisations with slave economies. But in this essay we are mainly interested in evaluating the original factors in the evolution of Western European society after the fall of the Roman Empire; from the slave economy to a Feudal economy and then to the Capitalist socio-economic organism. The early Roman Republic became powerful partly because of the hardiness, public spirit and loyalty of its free citizens farmer soldiers. It later became rich because of the many slaves and mercenary armies; but, in the end, this increasing dependency on slave labour and expensive mercenary armies became one of the causes of its decline under the pressure of more primitive and warlike nations from the North and the East; Rome to defend its borders had to keep on expanding until exhaustion. During its golden age Roman rule and arms had allowed the Mediterranean nations to experience a long period of internal peace. Land and sea travel had become safer, therefore facilitating the spread of the new and revolutionary philosophy of Christianity. Its ideas about Human equality found a fertile ground amongst a multitude of slaves. We should not be surprised that the early Christians were persecuted more than any other alien religions by the Romans. Christianity was a peaceful but revolutionary movement as it was undermining the basis of the established Roman economy and society they were preaching against slavery and violence. A freed slave very seldom could go far from his former master. A man had to work to be able to live therefore a freed slave without land often would become a servant or a sharecropper on his master's estate; although he was still dependent, his status was improved. Moreover towards the end it became easier for many slaves to run away back to their tribes. As the Empire became
increasingly burdened by taxes and bureaucracy, most of its citizens lost the interest and the will to fight for its survival. Eventually, because of incursions from migrating barbarian Nations, inland communications became disrupted and central government became impossible. Many provinces and towns became isolated and had to come to terms with the barbarians who became more powerful and eventually overcame all resistance. In time, as Roman society disintegrated, the invaders imposed their rule over most of Europe, while at the same time they fought amongst themselves for the control of the best regions. Europe became a melting pot in which different nations and cultures were struggling to settle and adjust. This situation developed over a few centuries the Dark Ages, a period of friction and assimilation. During this time most towns and communities became isolated and were enclosed within strong walls as there was no security in the countryside for farming and trade. Force of arms became the law. But people had to survive; therefore, by necessity, within the limits of their culture and primitive technology, they found a way of producing and living adapted to such a precarious situation. Gradually by compromise, new kinds of social and economic relations took form, compatible with the new environment and the new requisites for survival. Feudal economy evolved from the shambles of slave economy, and was influenced by the barbarians' primitive laws and customs intertwined with the philosophy and traditions of Christian institutions. The early feudal system had a decentralised subsistence economy. Almost every town and hamlet was a self sufficient entity. There was little trade between them, and production was
primitive and slow. Because of isolation different customs and dialects developed into separate cultures and languages. In the larger towns artisans and merchants joined into their respective Guilds and Corporations to regulate every aspect of production and trade, to protect themselves against the competition from within their own and from other towns and districts. The feudal state was decentralised and power was balanced between the king, the feudal chiefs, the Church, and the burghers of the larger towns. The king was the head of the State, he was supposed to rule by the right and will of God, therefore, he was crowned by the head of the Church and had to appease the religious institutions. The king had to delegate power to the Church and the feudal lords, and he depended on their loyalty. These, in their turn, through their vassals ruled on the king's behalf over the lands entrusted to them and over the people who inhabited them. The common people could not leave the place of their birth. They farmed the land allotted to them, and, moreover, they had to work for their feudal superiors and serve in their armies when required. In the earlier troubled stage of the Middle Ages this situation suited both the lords and the serfs: the stronger was the lord and his castle, the safer were the common people from incursions and raids; the more just and generous the lord was towards his subjects, the more he could depend on their loyalty during his frequent quarrels with the king or the other feudal neighbours. Eventually, after much turmoil, feudal society and economy crystallised into a precariously balanced system in which the feudal lords were trying to be as much as possible independent from the king, and the burghers in the towns were striving to become independent from the lords. For the time being the king
and the people of the towns became natural allies as they had a common interest to curtail the power of the feudal lords. Gradually, the kings with the support of the towns became more powerful and asserted their supremacy over large parts of Europe. A degree of stability returned over the countryside. Agriculture and trade began to prosper again, and, with a rise in production, accumulation of wealth became possible. Some of the new wealth was used in new ventures, but most was expended within the courts and entourages of the kings, wealthy feudal lords and merchant families. This was the stage of the Renaissance: art and science started to flourish again. In this situation, the power of the feudal nobility and the system of feudal economy began to lose ground as the environment that was the reason for their existence was gradually changing. The beginning of a new system of production and exchange, and the need for new social relations, began to appear. This was the beginning of Capitalism. From the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries Capitalism began to develop in the merchant city-states of Italy situated at the crossroads of East West trade. But from the fifteenth century, after the discovery of the sea routes to the East Indies and the discovery of America, the centre of mercantile power shifted from the Mediterranean region to the Atlantic coast of Europe. During this time the new system grew within the existing feudal society. But the limitations of this society were an impediment to capitalist expansion. Permanence was the basis of feudal economy and society: the conservation of old laws and customs; the restrictions on scientific thought by an ossified centralised religious institution; the serfs bonded to the land; the rules and conventions of the Guilds and
Corporations which stifled competition; the absolute rule of blood nobility; personal property held in trust for the King. The new capitalist system of production, on the contrary, was based on continuous competition and change. It depended on continuous innovation, new ideas and new technology. It needed a mobile workforce that could leave its place of birth and move freely to the new factory towns. It required a political power structure, or law making process in tune with mercantile requirements and open to whoever had wealth and ambition: moreover, capitalist personal property had to become absolute and inalienable. The nobility generally despised the new rich merchants and manufacturers, their former servants, but they appreciated their wealth and their usefulness, and they could not ignore their power for long. The Reformation gave justification and strength to the rising mercantile class, and freed the bankers and money lenders from the religious restrictions on usury and profit. In England and other parts of Europe the process of change began early. The nobility gave way, not without a struggle, to the new economic forces. The capitalists obtained their share of political power, and the nobility survived becoming capitalists themselves. In France, on the other hand, the establishment remained intransigent. The King, the nobility and the Church held fast to their privileges and refused to allow any changes to the feudal political structure, denying to the merchants and to the rest any meaningful participation in the process of decision making. For trying to hold back the times, they lost their heads in the French revolution a capitalist revolution. To sum up, this was the historical environment from which Capitalism evolved: undeveloped Western Europe just emerging from the barbarism of the Middle Ages; the growth of the towns, improvement of communications and farming implements; the
Reformation, the relaxation of the laws against usury, the development of merchant bankers; the Renaissance, art and new scientific thought; the Mercantile Republics and City States; the ability to produce a surplus of commodities that could be safely transported and exchanged, this allowed the growth of the division of labour which in turn raised production even further; the changes in agriculture, commercial farming replacing subsistence farming; the enclosure of land and the expulsion of small tenant farmers, forcing an exodus from the country to the towns where they became available labour power for the development of industry; the discovery of new sea routes and new continents; the formation of large kingdoms and the polarisation of national identities; men of arms became less important in relation of men of industry and trade. This was not just a point in history, but it was a process that took shape unevenly over the centuries. Within this process the embryo of a new system of production and exchange began to evolve, and with it new political forces and a new culture began to emerge. What made this process possible was an empty expanding environment and an expanding population, plus a situation of almost total scarcity that required to be overcome and satisfied. For the merchants there was a growing potential to gain from local and new far away markets, and the potential of innumerable new commodities that could be produced to satisfy these markets. It was this fertile expanding environment that was essential for the birth of Capitalism. It is evident that an increasing availability of markets has always been the main requisite for capitalist production and expansion. If personal self interest and the acquisition of wealth were the main motivation and objective for the capitalists, the satisfaction of market demand was the original means by which they proposed to promote them.
From the beginning, we can observe a special feature of Capitalism which is the basis on which the system rests: it is the trust of the manufacturer, the merchant, the State in the banker, the manager and manipulator of their money. Most important of all, we can observe how in the hand of the banker, because of this trust, money becomes a commodity in itself: a special commodity that can be created like an illusion. An illusion that spurs people to produce more, and it is by this extra production that the illusion becomes a reality. Therefore, the banker can create more money, a letter of credit, a promissory note, a greater illusion, a greater gamble that in turn is translated into more commodities, and so on. In this chapter I have tried to observe in a short but wide profile the accelerating development of Human history in just one region of our planet; I have tried to observe the main changes in Western Society and economy; From the imperceptible and slow evolution during the primitive stages, to the fast changes of the Industrial Revolution. It is evident that the world has never stood still. What becomes obsolete and an impediment to Human survival and progress must give way, and let the process of evolution continue. It should also be evident that Capitalism has evolved from a situation of scarcity, slow production and great opportunity for population and market expansion. As the system has evolved it has developed its own laws and a mechanism that were especially suited to this early situation. It has now almost completely changed the environment of its birth, the environment in which it could develop. That early situation no longer exists, and capitalism has become obsolete, it can no longer rationally function, it has become wasteful and destructive: an impediment to further meaningful Human progress.
In the following chapters I will endeavour to show the evidence for these assertions.
THE ESSENCE AND ORIGIN OF CAPITAL ACCUMULATION. ******** Before we start examining the main features of the present economic system it is important that we consider first what constitutes a capital, and what have been the most important factors in its accumulation and rapid development during the last three centuries. Adam Smith (l723 1790) in his analysis of Capitalism explains that capital is a previously accumulated stock of goods and commodities being employed to produce more commodities. Capital stock is anything which has the potential of commanding or buying labour. For example one could accumulate enough food, clothing, tools, or their equivalent value in money to maintain or pay one worker to work and produce commodities for one year; this stock of materials or money can command a quantity of labour, but it produces nothing to his owner if it is left idle. This
capital can produce a profit and grow only by the employment of labour to produce commodities that can be sold for profit on the market. For simplicity sake, without entering into philosophical arguments, we could say that capital is a quantity of previously accumulated materials, or their equivalent value in money, being used in production. This should be enough for the scope of this discussion. Let us now have a brief look at the origins of capital and the main reasons for its rapid development during the last three centuries. In his analysis of the capitalist system (An Inquiry Into The Nature And Causes of The Wealth of Nations), Adam Smith is mainly concerned with the explanation of its natural laws and mechanism as they had evolved. But he makes a few statements which leave no doubts about what he thought was the origin of capital accumulation. He simply states that before the division of labour and further accumulation of capital "there must be a previous accumulation of stock." He states that previous to the appropriation of the land and accumulation of stock the produce of labour belong wholly to the labourers, they had no masters or landlords to share it with, but "....this original state of things could not last beyond the first introduction of the appropriation of land and accumulation of stock....As soon as the land of any country has all become private property, the landlords, like all other men love to reap where they never sowed and demand a rent even for its natural produce....As the accumulation of stock must, in the nature of things, be previous to the division of labour, so labour can be more and more subdivided in proportion only as stock is previously more and more accumulated.... "
The land in itself can be considered to be the primordial capital because it provides subsistence, and, therefore, whoever owns the land can command labour. The appropriation of land was one of the main factors which opened the door to the accumulation of capital and the division of labour. Without it Capitalism could not have developed. Another essential factor in the development of Capitalism after the appropriation of the land by a minority, was the consequent forced exodus of the majority of peasants from the land their only means of subsistence. The result was the division of the population into proprietors of land and capital at one end, and destitute free labourers at the other. The peasants under the feudal lord, although they had the status of serfs, were his wards. In theory, he was responsible to the King and ultimately to God for their well being. Moreover, the lord in theory had no more right than his serfs over the land entrusted to him; the King had the ultimate right over the land. This relation and feudal covenant was broken: the law about property was changed and property over the land became absolute. The feudal masters took possession of the land repudiating all responsibility towards their labouring serfs; they were set free from their bondage. The freed serf had to look after himself in a world where the land had been fenced off and had become private property. Without the use of the land for his subsistence he could only walk along the roads looking for work wherever he could find it, looking for a benefactor willing to employ him. It was and still is the degree of one's control over the land and the other means of production that determines one's degree of freedom and equality. How did this separation of the labourer from the land and the means of subsistence come about?
The story that most capitalists sycophants are always keen to tell about the accumulation of wealth and the origin of capital is that...in the beginning all people had the same opportunity, but only a few industrious people by hard work and sacrifices became rich and wealthy; the rest were less industrious and wasted their opportunity, therefore they became poor; eventually the poor to survive had to depend on the good will and generosity of the rich to be allowed to work for them in return for the price of their subsistence. If we accept this story we must believe that only ten percent of the world population are honest hard working Human beings, while the rest is composed of lazy idiots; and in this number we must include most of the geniuses, inventors, explorers, etc. who very seldom were good businessmen. It is not so much intelligence, wisdom, education or hard work but it is mainly the cunning and business sense of the merchant that are most essential for material success in capitalist society. In reality the fact is, as Adam Smith stated, that the appropriation of the land had to be effected and the separation of a mass of people from it had to be under way before capitalism could develop further. Amongst all the factors that we have mentioned earlier, in the evolution of Capitalism from feudal economy, there are some that deserve to be mentioned again. The basis of the strength of the feudal lords against their rivals had been the number and loyalty of their subjects. But, with more stability and peace, they did not need any more a big population on their domains. At the same time a revolution in technology and the opening of new markets was causing a revolution in agriculture. It became more attractive for the feudal lords to change the use of the land from open field subsistence farming to large scale commercial farms, and to enclose large tracts of land for pasture and sheep grazing to supply the growing woolen industry.
There is plenty of historical evidence about this process. While it increased agricultural production and wealth, it increased also the poverty of a large part of the population, and their dependence on industrial development. This did not happen at once, but at different stages in different parts of Europe. It was this process that was the basis for the accumulation and development of capital. Not the idyllic tale of hard work and self denial of the capitalist apologist, but a documented story of greed, ruthlessness and misery. This is generally speaking and with few exceptions the genesis of capital. Eventually, the wiser and more liberal capitalists themselves had to devise laws to limit the degree of exploitation of the common people, even laws to protect children from the greed of their employers and the necessity of their destitute parents. In Europe, Capitalism had to wear a Christian mask; but the mask was dropped without shame by the capitalists in their dealings with colonial nations of different race and religion. Further evidence that the accumulation of capital could not take place without abundant cheap labour is found in the fact that in North America, where land was cheap and available to all, a nation evolved of strong and independent small farmers. Large commercial landowners had to use slaves, and industrial capital did not develop to great extent until after the Civil War. Only on the eastern coast of the United States, the staging area of European migration before its march towards the West, we see some early industrial development, and the wages of labour, there, were well above those in Europe. To overcome the problem of the scarcity of wage labour in parts of Australia, Wakefield's plan of systematic colonisation was adopted by England in the nineteenth century: the price of land was made artificially high to force poor migrants to work for those
who had capital, at least until they could save enough to buy their own land. Capital needs labour, if labour is scarce it must be created either by denying the use of the land, and therefore the means to be independent, to the majority of people, or by forced labour and immigration. Generally speaking, a man may become modestly rich and comfortable in his lifetime by his own hard work and sacrifices, but only by employing directly or indirectly the labour of other people to produce more value than they are paid in wages, or by the forced labour of slaves, could large capitals be produced and accumulated. This is, in the main, how capital evolved from the appropriation of the land and from the early stocks of the merchants and usurers of the Middle-Ages.
THE CAPITALIST CYCLE OF PRODUCTION AND ITS BASIC ELEMENTS. ******** As we have seen in the previous chapter, the appropriation of land was one of the essential conditions for the development of the capitalist system. All the land became the property of a minority and of the Crown. This appropriation was the main origin of the accumulation of capital. The majority of people were left without any land therefore they were left without the means of supporting themselves. They had to find employment for wages wherever they could find it. In theory it could be said that Capitalism is a socioeconomic system in which those people who own capital, by employing the labour of those who do not, produce commodities and services which they sell for a profit in the market of Human society. The capitalists compete against one another in the production and in the sale of the commodities. Those who are successful in selling their products will make a profit which they may use as they please. But, to become more competitive and to survive in the market, they must use a part of their profits to increase their working capital to improve production. Capital, to produce any profit must be invested. Idle capital is not worth any more than the ink on a ledger. This seems to be a simplistic explanation of the capitalist system of production; but, in reality, the most complex situation, when
broken down in its component parts, can be reduced to similar simple terms. The reason is that every situation derives from the same simple laws that we will try to examine in this part of the discussion. Of course, there are different forms of Capitalism in the World. These have been determined by different environments and different historical and cultural backgrounds; but if we keep these factors in mind, we will find that the laws and mechanism of the system are much the same. Let's look separately at the different elements in the spiral of capitalist production. Capital is the first element, end we have discussed some of its main aspects in the previous chapter. Then we have labour power, without which capital cannot live. In the process of capitalist production, labour is considered like any other commodity; but it is also a Human being who can be forced to the labour market only by incentives or by necessity. This is the main reason why we cannot separate the study of economics from the study of History and sociology, and this is why our present 'dry rationalist' economic experts in the service of our blindly selfish business class are making such a mess of our society. Another element is the competition between capitalists to lower the cost of production. This is the dynamic element which does not allow them to stop or rest in their expansion, their search for new methods of production and new markets; Continuous expansion and development that in the end must lead to saturation. Then we have the commodities and labour markets. And, finally, we have profit. This is the most important element for the capitalists in the spiral of production. It is the main motivation and purpose of all their activities, and without profit
most capitalists would rather let society to disintegrate; all their patriotism would quickly evaporate. Each one of these elements has its own particular nature and force. Capital and private property contain the essence of capitalist strength. In labour is deep rooted the antagonism of alienation, and the latent power of the majority of society. Competition is the dynamic spring of expansion and the force which determines both the creation and the destruction of wealth. In individual personal profit are the seeds of ruthlessness, greed and short sightedness. The interaction of these forces in the process of production and in the markets of society produces definite trends and contradictions which are natural to the system. These forces direct the development of capitalist economy and society; they cannot be controlled or suppressed for long. They always manage to surface and direct the course of the economy, independently from the wishes of society in general or of those who seem to be in control. We could say that in the system there are elements that could be considered to be almost mechanical: these function in a predictable way. They form the main part of the mechanism of the system with definite laws and logic, the market and competition are two such elements. Profit and labour power are different from them in the sense that they are closely related to Human beings. In this respect they tend to follow a twisted path: their reactions are more difficult to foresee because, although they are motivated by the instinct of survival, they are affected by our Human passions and our ignorance, with all their variations of prejudice and fear. Therefore, we should start by examining the features of the capitalist market, the stage towards which all activities gravitate.
THE MARKET. ******** The capitalist market has no definite place, form or time. It is everywhere in the world, and goes on all the time. It is anywhere anything is sold or bought, where deals and contracts are being made and profits or losses are produced: the markets, the stock exchanges, shops, bars and restaurants, boardrooms and bedrooms. Anybody in the world who wants to buy anything at all, and has the means to pay for it, will find his counterpart: somebody who is eager to satisfy those needs and wants for a price and profit. In this capitalist market most people are buyers and sellers at the same time. The market is not really a place people are the real market; People who are potential customers and traders because they have something of value to each others to exchange. This
excludes the poor people of the world whose work is not needed, and, consequently, are pushed aside or ignored. Therefore, in the context of capitalist economy, the market consists of those people or countries that have the means to pay for commodities and services, or that have anything else of value to the capitalists that can be exchanged for those commodities and services and produce a profit. Their demands can be satisfied because they have the means to pay. This is what capitalist economists call the "effective" demand, opposite to the "absolute" demand which includes those who cannot pay and for this simple reason cannot be satisfied. Our fashionable 'dry' economists only consider the "effective" demand in the market. Poor individuals and poor countries cannot be considered to be a market in the capitalist sense. They are the beggars outside the scope of capitalist production, and they will stay so, dependent on charity, until the capitalist may find in them something of value to himself by which he can make a profit. This is the first reason why, while Capitalism today can overproduce, over-supply and over-satisfy the effectual demand of those who are already rich, it cannot satisfy the absolute demand of the poor and unemployed people of the world. Rather than give the surplus products away without a profit, it is forced to cut down production or to waste its productive forces in some other way. It cannot be stressed too much how important the market is to the capitalist in the spiral of production. All the profits flow from the market. This importance is reflected in the status and the salaries of marketing and advertising managers and consultants in the hierarchy of capitalist business; they seem to be more important than scientists, engineers and production managers. Production is subject to the "effective" demand of the market.
The market has evolved naturally from the needs of Human society. In primitive economies, people traded their products and wares by direct barter. In the more complex economies, money is used to facilitate trade, and money represents the value of the commodities produced. Therefore, the use of money in trade is still in essence a more practical form of barter. In the early stages, money was itself a commodity: something that was of general and practical use and in great demand, like metals, cattle or salt, their value being easily related to the value of other commodities. Money is a Human invention, a product of our ingenuity. But in our mercantile socioeconomic system the early concept of money has been perverted. We think of money as something above everything in life, not just as a medium to facilitate trade. We have become so much enslaved by our own invention that we have lost our sense of perspective, even to the point that in a rich land people may be forced into idleness and poverty because there is no money, we must mortgage our souls and birthright to borrow it. To suit the interest of a minority, money, a useful medium that facilitates production and exchange, has been turned into a commodity the most important commodity of all, even more important than labour. This is an illusion, but we believe so much in this illusion that it has become a reality. Like a psychosomatic illness it is all in the mind, but its results and effects are real and devastating. For over three centuries we have been gradually conditioned to accept as the law of Nature the peculiar logic of the merchant class, a minority in our society, and by blindly following this logic we have gone past the limits of rationality. The direction of our economy has been determined by the preposterous pretence that for our own good everything must be subjected to the law of the
merchant. We are trapped in a deadly game of make believe in which the merchant makes the rules. World bankers today are not trembling so much for having to lose their loans to the developing nations, but more because of their fears that their trick of confidence may be found out, and their irrelevance may become manifest. It is unfortunate and also tragic that we may never find a rational solution to our present problems. How can a generation of Human beings, born and bred in a madhouse environment, recognise sanity and common sense? For the transient and doubtful benefit of a section of society who unconsciously has promoted the mercantile concept of money, we are now sacrificing entire generations. And those wretched people who have no money at all are often the most fanatic believers in this illusion. There is a passage in Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations" that capitalist economists have forgotten: ".....the real price of everything,....is the toil and trouble of acquiring it....What is bought with money or with goods is purchased by labour as much as what we acquire with the toil of our own body. That money or those goods indeed save us this toil. They contain the value of a certain quantity of labour which we exchange for what is supposed at the time to contain the value of an equal quantity. Labour was the first price, the original purchase-money that was paid for all things. It was not by gold or by silver, but by labour that all wealth of the world was originally purchased....." In the feudal system the market was regulated and strictly controlled, but, as capitalism developed, a free enterprise market began to take shape. Unfortunately, the ideal of free competition in a free market, that Adam Smith defined and advocated in his analysis of Capitalism, could never become a reality. Greed, ignorance and fear have
been too strong, and free competition without restraints (?!) inevitably leads to confrontation and war. In the good old days of free enterprise, during the Industrial Revolution, the law of the jungle took over: the strong and powerful took all the freedoms, and the weak were enslaved or destroyed. Given the dynamic nature of competition, a free market cannot remain free for very long. It is a contradiction, and it will remain an illusion.
THE ESSENCE OF COMPETITION. ******** It is not within the scope of this discussion to deal with the competition for survival which exists in the world of Nature (the law of natural selection). The competition we will discuss in this booklet is that between Human beings. Although it originates from the same natural law, it has assumed different aspects and different qualities. The competition of living organisms like animals and plants takes place in a natural environment. It seems to be completely instinctive, without the Human handicaps of greed, ignorance and hate. If living things, other than Humans, have no consciousness, then their competition must be motivated by pure and simple natural instinct, not ignorance. If, on the contrary, they are conscious beings, then it could be that their consciousness may even be complete and they may be motivated by a greater wisdom than ours. But this is only an hypothesis. It seems to be evident that Humans, whether by the act of a superior Being, or by natural evolution, or by a fortuitous chance, from an instinctive state they have become conscious of themselves and their environment. But it is also evident that this consciousness was very limited and cloudy. It was the beginning of our questions and our attempts to answer them. The answers, mostly incorrect, that we gave ourselves, have influenced the course of our development. It could be said that in acquiring our imperfect consciousness we became ignorant and we lost our instinctive wisdom. If this was the case, we must endeavour to acquire the knowledge which may give us wisdom without having to revert to our
primitive form of life. This may take a very long time. Therefore, our prime task is to ensure the continuation of Human life so that in the future we may be able to find out about ourselves and the reason for our existence. This digression may help to explain my opinion that competition in our present contrived socioeconomic system, outside the world of Nature, instead of promoting the fittest for survival, may actually promote the fittest for destruction. Because of our ignorance and our lack of wisdom, the successful survivors in the narrow artificial world of capitalist society may not have success in surviving in the wider world of Nature. In Human society, competition is a contest for survival. Its form and intensity are determined by the type of the society and the economy. When there is ample space and opportunity for everyone, competition can be contained within ethical and even friendly terms; when someone is about to lose, one can survive by moving to other areas or other fields. When there is ample opportunity for expansion, there is little competition. But one of the main features of capitalist economy has been an uncontrollable growth, and now, with space and opportunity continually decreasing, competition is continually increasing. When the possibility of defeat becomes apparent, the contest becomes a question of life and death. Therefore, it becomes more ruthless, and gradually it overtakes all ethical or moral considerations. In the fight to survive from day to day, Humanity's future prospects become secondary. The logical final result of this contest is open or hidden warfare, and war has no limits. One of the contestants may win, or all may be ruined and become losers. If only one winner remains, then competition stops all together. If the contenders, rather than face
ruin, compromise and come to terms, real competition stops, and, only the appearance is maintained by fictitious forms. In our economy there is always the pressure to compete, and at the same time the necessity to come to terms. In short, we could say that competition is a contest between opponents that gradually develops into ever more intensive stages. As the prospective result is the eventual victory of one of the contenders and the defeat of the rest, the ultimate stage of competition is war. The higher the stakes, the more ruthless and unethical will be the means that will be adopted by the competitors. The alternative to this last stage is the termination of competition: the contenders, rather than risk destruction, come to agreements or buy each other out. As we have said before, in the last stage of competition all moral and Human considerations become impediments, and, consequently, it is not necessarily the best and the more honest contenders, but rather the more ruthless and cunning who may win the contest for survival in capitalist society. It seems to be evident that in our competitive society ethical standards are under continuous pressure, and continually tend to deteriorate. What may not be permissible at one stage may become a virtue later on: the society will tend to become increasingly hard and divided, people will become isolated. While competition in a natural environment may be beneficial towards our survival, it may become suicidal in an irrational situation fraught with a doomsday technology. These are brief and general considerations on the essence of competition; this is a common sense appraisal that our 'free market' economists seem to have replaced with their illusion of the fair and "even playing field" of the "free market".
Next we will try to examine the competition in the market within the cycle of capitalist production.
COMPETITION IN THE MARKET AND THE LAW OF DEMAND AND SUPPLY. ******** As we have seen earlier, it is in the nature of capitalist economy that capital must continually chase after profits. When a commodity is scarce and, consequently, is in great demand, some people may be willing and able to pay more for it. Therefore, the producers can raise their prices and make more profit from their sales. This is the main cause of what economists call "demand inflation." Such a situation attracts more capitalists to invest their capital in the production of such commodity. Eventually, with the consequent rise in production, the demand becomes satisfied and prices and profits begin to fall. At this stage the competition of the capitalists to stay in business to
produce such a commodity becomes more intense. In their efforts to lower the cost of production, they are forced to find new methods and new technology to produce cheaper and in greater quantity. Thus they aggravate their own problems by creating an oversupply of that commodity. Prices and profits fall even further, and in the end it becomes unprofitable for some capitalists to continue production. Capital begins to fly away from this field of activity. Some capitalists are ruined by competition, some shift their capital to other fields where there is a scarcity, a greater demand, and profits are higher Therefore, as capital continually chases higher profits, it continually moves from one field of production to another where there is a greater demand. This continuous fluctuation of capital from one point to another causes a continuous fluctuation in the production of commodities: from under production and scarcity to over production or abundance, with consequent fluctuation of prices, higher when there is a scarcity, lower when there is a glut. The Japanese capitalists have perfectly understood and taken advantage of this law. As they, contrary to our capitalists, have a long term plan for their economic development, instead of playing monopoly with their savings, they have invested heavily all over the world in the development of the production of those commodities and raw materials of which they are lacking. Now they have 50 percent interest in mines all over the world; they have created a glut, from these mines they have imported stockpiles of raw materials. Now they can sit back and when the contracts are re-negotiated they can dictate the price that they will pay for the raw materials. They can watch mining companies from different countries undercutting each other, increasing production, trying to obtain concessions from their governments,
cutting down their work forces to maintain their diminishing profits (this was in the 1970s, now the Chinese are trying to do the same). By creating a glut, they have created a buyers’ market; they may get small profits from their investments, but they are getting an enormous advantage by the lower price of the raw materials essential to their economy. Now they are doing the same with other commodities. In a saturated competing market the sellers are at the mercy of the buyers. What will the sellers do next to overcome such an intolerable situation in which they find themselves? In a free market, prices are supposed to continually fluctuate from above the cost of production to below the cost of production. But, in the long term, their average should come close to the real cost that Adam Smith calls the natural price of commodities: "..Market price is regulated by the quantity brought to market and the effectual demand. When the quantity brought falls short of the effectual demand, the market price rises above the natural; when it exceeds the effectual demand the market price falls below the natural; Natural price is the central price to which actual prices gravitate...." This, in general terms, is the law of demand and supply which is the natural and self regulating mechanism of the capitalist market. The law of demand and supply is also the mechanism which automatically regulates the type and quantity of commodities produced, and their share and distribution amongst the various sections of society. . When a commodity is scarce and in great demand, its price increases, therefore, it is the ability to pay for the commodity, not
real need that will automatically determine who will be able to acquire it and who will have to go without it. It is the effectual demand or the ability to pay, that will also determine which type of goods and services will be produced in preference. Consequently, expensive buildings, luxury goods and services for the richer sections of society may have the priority over the necessities of housing, health and education for the rest of the general public. Without any plans, the capitalists while chasing higher profits are continually attracted towards producing those commodities which are within the effectual demand of those who can pay for them. Without any malice, the real needs of a society may never be satisfied if there is no profit for the capitalists. This is one of the general causes why the rich tend to become richer and the poor tend to become relatively poorer there is more profit in producing luxuries for those who can pay, than in producing necessities for those who cannot. As we have seen before, as soon as the demand becomes satisfied and there is overproduction at one point, profits start to decrease and capital, therefore, starts flowing away from this point to another field where there is a higher demand and higher profits. In this way, with all those fluctuations, capitalism manages to keep satisfied the effectual demand for all kind of commodities and services required by those who can pay for them. Most of this movement of capital takes place through the banking system and through the stock exchange markets. There, the capitalist investors, speculators and gamblers shift their savings or shares from one point of production to another where they think the profits will be higher. So far we have considered the law of demand and supply as it would apply in a free market, but, it seems evident, there is not
such a thing as a completely free market. In fact, monopolies, cartels, trade unions, business and professional associations, have developed to control production and the commodities and labour markets. Their objective is to bend and exploit the law of demand and supply for the benefit of their particular sections of society. It is the interest of each individual in the market to buy as cheap and to sell as dear as possible. When the capitalists enter into competition, they cannot stop, they are forced to escalate, and they must end either by winning or losing the contest, or, alternatively, by coming to terms with each other and limiting their competition. Generally speaking, this is what happens most of the time. Continually harassed by competition, the dream of the capitalist is to become the only producer and the only seller in the market. While he professes his faith in free enterprise and the free market, to be able to survive he is eventually compelled by competition either to eliminate or to join the opposition. As a buyer of commodities he clamours for free competition amongst the producers, at the same time, as a producer, he must do his best to reduce or eliminate the competition. This natural tendency to form protective associations has always been present. Some of the bigger capitalists by forming monopolies, cartels, corporations, they can control the quantity of certain goods that are produced or brought to market, and they can set their prices to "what the traffic can bear", which means the highest price possible without destroying the market. The control of production and of the market increases the opportunity for maximising profits. A monopoly that controls production has a great advantage, but one that controls the markets (the selling outlets) is in a much better position because it is in the middle between the producers and the public. By controlling the selling outlets, a monopolist can force the
producers to deal on his own terms. At the same time, by rationing the supply to the consumers he can force them to pay the highest prices that they can afford. In his dealings, the only brake to his exploitation of the producers and the public is the consideration that he may kill the gooses that lay the golden eggs. In reality, free enterprise and free competition in the market are a contradiction because in the end they must lead to monopolies or agreements. This is one of the reasons why capitalist governments, notwithstanding their commitment to no interference in economic matters, are forced to intervene with laws and regulations designed to protect some capitalists from the monopolies or unfair practices of the others. But, in the end, most governments become the captives of the economic power of the big monopolies and corporations. Those capitalist economists and politicians that advocate deregulation would do well to examine the records of the reasons why regulations were adopted in the first place in the years past. Complete free enterprise and competition eventually lead to the law of the jungle. The nature of the system compels the capitalist to try to become a monopolist and to eliminate the competition which cuts into his profits and threatens his survival in the market. It should be evident that the same pressures and logic of the commodities' market also apply to the labour market. The law of demand and supply applies equally to labour power because, in the capitalist system, it is a commodity like any other to be bought and sold, and used in the production of profit. Unfortunately for the capitalists, it is a commodity which is embodied in Human beings it is a commodity that can act in its own defence.
All workers, from the labourer to the scientist, are very much conscious of the law of demand and supply. They know that when they are in abundant supply, the price for their labour must decrease, even below the poverty line during a recession. Consequently, most working people join into trade unions or political and professional associations to try to bend the law of the market in their favour. They try to keep their numbers down, and they join forces in their disputes against their employers. It could be said that the professional associations of lawyers, doctors, architects, etc. are fairly successful monopolies, most trade unions, on the other hand, are not very successful. In the market, those who have the advantage extol the virtues of free enterprise and competition; those who have not will cry about unfair play and will ask for protection. It was from their position of advantage and technological superiority that, during the previous centuries, the industrial countries with their gunboat diplomacy advocated and 'enforced' free trade on the undeveloped countries of the world. The Opium War against China is a typical example of the type of free trade practised during the Industrial Revolution in the good old days of free enterprise. In conclusion we could say that the dynamic combination of competition in production and in the market is the main mechanism of capitalist development and expansion. From this mechanism originate the compulsion towards monopolies and corporations, the accumulation of capital in ever fewer hands, the explosive development of technology, and, in the end, the saturation of the market, and the transformation of the economy from the servant of society to its ruthless taskmaster. One more contradictory feature which derives from the law of the market is the logical preference the capitalists have for an environment of abundance where they buy their raw materials
and labour, and an environment of scarcity where they sell their commodities. They need a continually expanding environment: an increasing number of people rich enough to buy their products, and a great number of people poor enough to be willing to work for them. Capitalism to survive needs to maintain the environmental factors that brought it to life; the nature of the system will prevent Capitalism from satisfying all the needs of society, no matter how rich and productive its forces may become. No sooner a need may have been satisfied another one must be created to stimulate the market. The market is no longer a means to satisfy the needs of society. The sway of the merchants over the last three centuries has perverted the situation: Human society must be sacrificed to satisfy the needs of an economy oriented primarily to satisfy the needs of their mercantile class. If everybody had enough and was satisfied, the capitalist would not be able to increase his sales and continue to make a profit, and he would find difficult to get anybody to work for him: the complete satisfaction of the needs of the society would put him out of business and his workers out of work. Mercantile Capitalists needs consumers who must be rich enough to buy the products and at the same time poor enough to be forced to work to produce them; therefore within the capitalist socio-economic organism the natural cunning of the merchants has resolved this contradiction by letting the people buy the products by putting themselves in debt. Whether this situation is good for Humanity or the Environment is another matter.
LABOUR POWER THE LIVING COMMODITY. ******** Profit making is the main purpose of all capitalist activity in the capitalist cycle of production. But to obtain this end, the capitalist must invest his capital by employing labour in the production of goods and services to be sold in the market. It would be hypocritical for the capitalist to complain about the risks he is taking for 'the benefit of the public' and to expect unreasonable returns for his alleged troubles. Nobody is forcing him to start a business, this is what he likes to do, and by this trade he earns his living. If he did not invest his capital either by himself or by lending it to somebody else, eventually he would have to find another way to survive. It is self interest, not concern for society that drives the capitalist to employ labour. He will discard the labourer as soon as he has no more use for him, and he will decline any further responsibility for him.
Labour is the origin of all wealth, and, as it has been essential for the first accumulation of capital, so it is essential for the continuation in the production of all profits. It is Human labour in the first place that transforms inanimate materials into commodities and services, and it is labour which takes them to market. Therefore, the capitalist must employ labourers. By labourers we intend anybody, whether a manual worker, tradesman, people in the professions, etc. who works for wages, salary, or on contract. The capitalist does not buy the labourers, this would be slavery. He just buys their labour power for a definite amount of time, at a definite price. In cold economic terms, labour power for the capitalist is a commodity not very much different in substance from the labour power of an ox or a donkey. Its price (wage, salary, etc ) is subject to the law of demand and supply; but labour power, which is the most important of all commodities, is also a Human being who, although he may not have any business sense, may be more intelligent and sensitive than the capitalist who employs him. Moreover, a Human being can only be forced to the labour market either by incentives or by necessity. Since the beginning, the capitalist have appreciated the importance of the labourer more than the labourers themselves. John Bellers (1654,l725) pointed out that the richest man, if he had no labourers, would be just a labourer himself, "... and as labourers make men rich, so the more labourers there will be, the more rich men. . . . the labour of the poor being the mines of the rich." Bernard de Mandeville (1670-1753) was even more explicit: " . . . .it would be easier, where property is well secured, to live without money than without the poor; for who would do the
work ?" He goes on defining what has been the dream of the capitalists from the beginning to the present day: - a multitude of "labouring poor ", not so miserably paid that they may rebel, nor so well paid that they may not be continually in need to be employed; always in plentiful supply to fulfill the needs of armies and navies, and always kept in blissful ignorance, contented with their lot. This philosophy has determined the industrial, economic and social policies of the capitalists in government. As we have seen before, one of the main conditions for the development of capitalist economy was the improvement of the methods of cultivation, the enclosure of great tracts of land for pasture, the gradual appropriation of all cultivable land, including most of the common land, by the nobles and the wealthier landlords. This gradual process, together with the displacement of the primitive "cottage industries" by the advance of technology, set free most of the rural population from the country to the towns; a growing labour army in need of work, ready to satisfy the needs of an expanding capitalist industry. Without any land, the people had to find work in the new factories in order to survive. Few people would work for a master if they had the opportunity to work for themselves and be self sufficient. To attract such people, the capitalist employer would have to raise the conditions and the wages of labour, and, consequently, lower the profitability of his invested capital. This is one reason why it is essential in capitalist economy that the land be almost completely the property of a minority or of the Crown, and that its price be relatively high, in order to compel the majority of the population to work for wages.
In a large country, during a depression, if the land was cheap we could see an exodus of unemployed people from the towns to the countryside. This would be a very effective method of decentralisation; but would the capitalists be happy to see a part of their reserve of unemployed labour disappear from the market? Adam Smith stated that labour, not gold and silver, is the origin of all wealth. He stated that labour "was the first price, the original purchase money that was paid for all things." There cannot be any doubt about this; therefore, labour is itself real capital because it is the origin of capital; therefore we could say that people are capital because they possess labour power (or labour potential). The people and the land are the real capital of a country. We could say also that unemployed people are wasted labour power they are wasted capital. Unfortunately, the majority of workers, whether labourers or professional people, have very little consciousness of their potential, and the capitalists have a vested interest in keeping them as confused as possible. Adam Smith's assessment of the labourers, ".. those who live by wages", is still valid today : ". . But though the interest of the labourer is strictly connected with that of the society, he is incapable either of comprehending that interest, or understanding its connection with his own. His condition leaves him no time to receive the necessary information, and his education and habits are commonly such as to render him unfit to judge even though he was fully informed..." The capitalists naturally believe that money and property are capital and Human labour is only a commodity that cannot be utilised without first acquiring capital. Having obtained supremacy, the capitalists in two centuries have gradually convinced the population that there cannot be life without capital; they have imposed on society their own particular mentality and
values - the particular logic of the merchant class has become the law of the land. Capitalists resent the fact that in the production of profit they have to depend on such an unstable and intractable living commodity as labour power, a commodity that can fight for its own protection. Therefore, they have been competing with one another to eliminate labour from the process of production; but this trend will produce the necessity to eliminate "people" as they become redundant and become a burden to those who are still employed. Today, with new technology and industrial robots, capitalist businessmen may succeed in realising their wish; but this achievement will either precipitate the collapse of capitalism or it will push the system from the present stage of irrationality into a new stage of complete madness. What good is it to a society to increase production by automation if the majority of the people will not be able to buy the products because they will be out of work? Will these products be sold on foreign markets if the foreign countries are either in the same situation trying to sell their own products, or are too poor to buy anything at all? This is probably one of the reasons why in this country during the eighties all the money saved by cuts in government spending and wages restraint was squandered by our entrepreneurs in playing 'Monopoly' in the stock market and by conspicuous consumption. Merchants are not as stupid as our politicians are. Why undertake the hard and risky work of investing the country's capital to modernise our industries and increase production with the uncertain long term prospect of some profits in a saturated and lop-sided world market, when, with the help of fools in government, with the incentive of an indiscriminating 'negative gearing' tax saving device, with the help and cheers of their castrated economic experts and mignons in the Media, they could
get rich quick in a gamble of double or nothing in the world's stock markets ??? They could not lose, at every raise of the stakes some of the country's capital stuck in their pockets. Why is it that these business geniuses are buying any Media stocks, even if not very profitable, as soon as they can if it isn't because whoever controls the Media has the politicians in his pockets?
THE NATURAL CONFLICT BETWEEN CAPITAL AND LABOUR PROFIT AND WAGES. ******** As we have seen, labour power is subjected to the law of demand and supply; but the worker, as a Human being, cannot bear to be subjected to, and demeaned by such ruthless and impersonal law. We find in Adam Smith's analysis a basic and clear explanation of how this law is supposed to work in respect to the labourers - the Human commodity in capitalist production: The cost of labour is the cost of producing a labourer; it is the cost of his subsistence or the expense of maintaining the labourer alive while he is working. When the society is expanding there is more demand for labour, this causes a rise in wages (the price of labour) and in the standard of living for the worker, consequently, his children are better fed, and more survive to become labourers themselves. When there is an oversupply of labourers, or the society is in decline, the real wages and the standard of living of the workers start to fall; therefore, children are undernourished and their mortality increases. Eventually labourers become scarce; if the demand for labour increases, then their wages and conditions will start to rise again until the time when they become too numerous, and so on. Obviously this is pertinent to Adam Smith's eighteen century. If it was not for social services and modern medicine, by this law the number of labourers would naturally and automatically adjust to the requirements of capitalist economy. In this way, wages were supposed to fluctuate sometime above and sometime below
the level of subsistence. But a concession had to be made, eventually, for the propagation of the race of labourers. Adam Smith in his analysis stated that "...there is however a certain rate below which it seems impossible to reduce for any considerable time, the ordinary wages even of the lowest species of labour. A man must always live by his work and his wages must at least be sufficient to maintain him. They must even, upon most occasions be somewhat more; otherwise it would be impossible for him to bring up a family, and the race of such workmen could not last beyond the first generation ..." This was probably the first tampering with the law of demand and supply in consideration of the worker. Nobody could deny that the mass media, in most capitalist societies, is directly or indirectly influenced by business. All we hear from comments and editorials about our continuous industrial troubles is a persistent cry of surprised dismay about workers' greed and unions' disregard for the public, the Nation and the economy. These complaints give the impression that antagonism between labour and capital, or workers and employers, is something alien to the capitalist system. They Create the impression that antagonism is something imposed from outside and that it could be easily overcome with a bit of common sense. The fact is never mentioned that our socio-economic system is based on competition, permeated by selfishness, aggressiveness and, evidently, also hypocrisy. Conflict and antagonism are integral part in the nature of Capitalism. Since the beginning there has been hardly a day without confrontation and conflict in one place or another. Veiled or naked force, blackmail and repression are the main features in the
history of capitalist development; it would be enough to mention the excesses of the Industrial Revolution in Europe, and the savagery of the slave trade that went on for centuries. What are the main reasons for this conflict between capital and labour? The most important reason for this conflict lays in the core of the system, in the nature of capital and labour. Both profits and wages must ultimately come from the price of the commodities sold. Because of competition, the capitalist will try to lower the cost factor of wages and maintain the margin of profit in the price of the commodities he sells. Quite naturally, the wage earner will resist this pressure and will try to maintain the level of wages rather than profits; consequently, there has been a continuous struggle between capital and labour, profit and wages. Adam Smith explains the principal reason for this antagonism. In his analysis of the system he states that the price of a commodity is composed by three main parts: the cost of labour, the cost of rent or interest, and profit. In the same way, the total sum of the prices of all commodities produced in a country (the Gross National Product) is also divided in three parts: wages, rent, and profit. These are "....parceled out among different inhabitants of the country, either as the wages of their labour, the profit of their stocks or the rent of their land..." From this basic situation derives the never ending squabble about the division of the 'national cake' amongst the classes of society. Adam Smith gives us a classical description of employer - labour relations as they were two and a half centuries ago; in essence they were the same as they are today: ".....What are the common wages of labour, depends everywhere upon the contract usually made between those two parties, whose interests are by no means the same. The workers desire to get as much, the masters to give as little as possible. The former
are disposed to combine in order to raise, the latter in order to lower the wages of labour...." He continues describing the factors that have determined industrial relations to this day: employers have the sympathy of the law and the police, they can combine easier, they can last longer in a dispute, they can influence public opinion. The labourers seldom have the support of the law, the police and the media, their associations are restricted or prohibited, they cannot last very long in a dispute and, therefore, "... in order to bring the point to a speedy decision, they always recourse to the loudest clamour, and sometimes to the most shocking violence and outrage. They are desperate, and act with the folly and extravagance of desperate men, who must either starve, or frighten their masters into an immediate compliance with their demands...." Generally these conflicts end in stalemate or compromise, and eventually they erupt again. The battles and skirmishes continue but the war is never completely won by either side. When the economy expands and the demand for labour increases, the workers have a certain advantage, which they promptly lose as soon as the economy slows down and there is unemployment. Since the capitalists have a commanding position in the economy and the society, they have different ways to depress the real wages of labour. When a wage rise has cut into their profits they can raise their prices, and the rise in wages is nullified. The government can raise direct and indirect taxes, it can cut social services, and it can raise the price of public utilities. Seldom there have been laws and tribunals to control prices, but there always have been plenty of controls on wages. Some sections of the workforce that are employed in vital or privileged positions in the economy can take advantage of their situation and obtain for themselves good wages and conditions.
They should not be blamed for being selfish in a system in which individual selfishness and aggressiveness are considered to be virtues without which there can be no success. But the majority of the workforce is not so lucky. Ours is a free for all and everyone for himself socioeconomic system in which everyone must take full advantage of any opportunity to grab a piece of the 'national cake', or be left with the crumbs. There should be no surprise that those who have strong elbows and those who have knives get the bigger slices. Another cause of conflict between capital and labour is the contention about how much the capitalist is supposed to get, and how much the labourer is supposed to give in return for his wages. There always has been a contention about the quantity of flesh blood and soul that the capitalist employer believes he has bought from the worker, and the quantity that the worker believes he has sold to the capitalist. As these quantities and values can never be defined and priced, the capitalist, under the pressure of competition, and the worker trying to survive and improve his life, have endeavoured to get as much as possible from each other and give each other the least they can. Another important reason for conflict is that the majority of wage earners are and feel alienated; even in the developed industrial countries where the material standard of living of the workforce has dramatically improved since the Second World War. There was a great economic expansion during this time, and the workers of these countries were already well organised to take full advantage. Moreover, with the advent of consumerism, they became consumers in a consumer society. It is evident that families with more than one income, and those people employed in privileged industries and services, enjoy a high standard of living in capitalist society, comparable with that of the middle class. But at present an increasing number of the
workforce is being pushed backwards as the economy is contracting, the unemployed being excluded from a meaningful participation in the life of the society. These people are becoming more and more alienated even if they are not conscious and do not clearly understand the real causes of their predicament. In the ancient slave economies slaves were the personal property of a slave owner; therefore, he had an interest to keep them alive, whether they were working or not, as long as they had a market value. In the feudal system, the serfs had their plots of common land therefore they were self sufficient. But in capitalist society the workers when out of work become real paupers. They have to be maintained by public funds. The capitalist employer must keep them alive only while they are in his employment; when they are not, he has no interest in them nor any responsibility towards them. Thus could be described the general situation of many workers in capitalist society: they labour ( if they have a job ) with tools that do not belong to them, on materials that do not belong to them, to produce goods that do not belong to them and often will never be able buy; they have no real say on what they produce or on matters which affect their lives and that of their families; no matter how much they are doing, they have never done enough; they have no security for the present or for the future; when they become old, sick or redundant they are dumped as a burden to society. They feel that they are expendable, but they cannot get away because they are fenced in by the private ownership of the land and of the other means of production. Like gray donkeys, they are forced to work day in day out, and they are lucky if they happen to like the jobs they are doing. If one has a family, one seldom has any money left for relaxation and enjoyment. No matter how much his employers through the media exhort him to work harder, and talk to him about teamwork, the Nation, the Economy, etc. one has a feeling that
he is only a number, and that he is just kept alive so that he can go back to work the next day, if one is lucky to have a job, and so that he can raise a few children to replace him when he is too old to work. Alienation is more accentuated in some countries than in others The reason is that each nation has developed in different circumstances and environments. There are different combinations of temperamental and historical backgrounds. Each case could be explained. Japan is one example: there the relations between employers and employees, mainly in the bigger companies, is more close and cooperative than in the West (1970). In Japan, during the last century, the feudal establishment consciously and willingly decided to transform their feudal economy into a capitalist system of production. Therefore, Capitalism in Japan still has some of the features of the Japanese feudal system: some paternalistic relations remnants of the feudal hierarchy and social castes with their reciprocal covenants and responsibilities. In Europe, the capitalist class evolved mainly from the often despised class of merchants, usurers and artisans of the Middle Ages, who often were bonded serfs themselves and had no such feelings of paternalism or responsibility towards the rest of their countrymen. For many reasons the attitudes of employers and workers of different countries may be different, but the pressures of capitalist economy are the same, and in the end will produce similar results. Competition on the world's market will naturally tend to reduce the working conditions of the workers in most countries to the minimum denominator.
Because labour power in capitalist economy is considered a commodity, the capitalists must try to keep its cost to the minimum. Therefore, from the beginning they had to suppress all workers' organisations; their leaders were sent to the gallows or to penal colonies. Many laws were enacted to regulate labour relations, to tie the hands of the workers, to punish employers for raising wages above set levels, to punish workers even harder for accepting such rises. In the industrial countries it took a long and hard struggle for the workers to improve their conditions. But in many capitalist dictatorships labour repression is still the same or even worse than in the early stages. The necessity to keep wages down is ever present; it is all we hear in the capitalist media. It seems evident that, no matter how many times the capitalist has promised to the 'working poor' the benefits and leisure that should come from hard work and technology, he is impotent to fulfill this promise, notwithstanding all his best intentions. Any improvement has to be seized from him. He is pressed by competition, the law of the market, and the drive to maximise his profits. Moreover, he cannot remove the element of want and necessity completely from the majority of the workforce. This element is an essential part of the mechanism of capitalist production: it is mainly necessity that drives the worker to seek employment under any conditions. If he is well paid, as soon as he can afford he will slow down, he may become insubordinate, he may retire or stop working for a master. These forces compel the capitalist in the course of his business, no matter how gentle and good natured person he may be in private life, to resist the attempts of his employees to obtain better wages. He is compelled to prefer, and sometimes to create, a situation in which the supply of people in search of work is in
excess of the demand for their services, even if this may mean a slower economic growth and a lot of misery for a lot of people. The capitalist, therefore, must oppose labour unions and workers' political parties that give strength to the labourers. He must also be unsympathetic towards social schemes and unemployment benefits that diminish the workers' necessity to seek employment under the worst wages and conditions unemployment benefits interfere with the law of demand and supply in favour of the worker. The capitalist must also prefer a situation in which the basic commodities, like food and rent, essential for the subsistence of the labourer, are dearer; this lower the real wages of labour and gives the capitalist an advantage, as Adam Smith observed two centuries ago "...wages are high in cheap years, and low in dear years, so that masters commend dear years. Masters of all sorts, therefore, frequently make better bargains with their servants in dear than in cheap years, and find them more humble and dependent in the former than in the latter. They naturally, therefore, commend the former as more favourable to industry....." These are some of the antagonistic features deep rooted within the nature of capital-labour relations in capitalist society.
THE CAPITALIST AND PROFIT. ******** Every trade and profession performs a definite task within a society. A tradesman, for example, by working with tools and different materials produces all sort of objects; he knows how to make things, and in this way he earns his living. A merchant or a banker works with money, they know how to manage money and make money with money; it is a trade like any other, it is a way of life, a way of earning one's keep. In practice, no section of society is more important than another and can stand completely on its own; and it is more likely that a 'maker of things' will survive on its own by somehow continuing to produce, than a middleman or non producer. Every tradesman, businessman, professional person, etc. acquires particular attitudes of mind, which are partly related to and influenced by the trades and activities which provide them with the means of their subsistence. They see life and the world around them in relation to themselves and, therefore, also in relation to their occupations. Often, these attitudes are reinforced by living in a closed environment and in close contact with people of the same profession and trade; often, as attitudes are handed down through many generations, they
are reinforced and become strong traditions, especially if the trades are materially successful. Generally speaking, these different groups of people, with their different incomes, levels of education and attitudes, form the various classes within the socioeconomic organism; some may be related and have similar interests, some may have conflicting interests. The capitalists are one of such groups in the society. From ancient times until the Middle Ages, within the slave and feudal economies, artisans, merchants and money lenders formed the lower classes of society, below the priests, the warriors and the patrician nobles; often they were slaves or emancipated serfs trading for their masters. The land and the force of arms, not money, were the main sources of wealth and power. During the later stage of the Middle Ages with the discovery of new markets and new methods of production the class of traders and money lenders began to assume an importance that they never had before. In an expanding world, trade and finance became very important. Merchants, bankers and manufacturers became the nucleus around which Capitalism grew and expanded. By handling everybody's money they became financiers to all kind of enterprises, lenders to Kings and Kingdoms, for peace and for war. They dealt with capital in the form of money, they earned their profits and fees not by hoarding it but by lending it away. The dream of the bankers, therefore, is to have the whole world indebted to them. Today they have very well succeeded and, it seems, they may have gone too far. During the last two centuries, they gave the imprint of their merchant class mentality and attitudes to the growing capitalist society. They influenced and supported the ideal of freedom,
especially their own freedom, equality, especially their own equality, and their form of democracy, capitalist democracy. They promoted and financed the struggle against the nobility and the feudal establishment. The way of thinking and attitudes of the merchant class, the old traders and money lenders, became the philosophy of capitalism. It is by the law of the merchant that nothing can be produced, moved or consumed without a capitalist making a profit. Every aspect of life, even the most natural and intimate, must be subject to the law of the merchant, to a contract, to a sale or purchase, to some deal for a profit. The merchant has transformed the world and has moulded it to his own image. Production for simple convenience, benefit or usefulness is not possible any more unless there is a profit to be made by a capitalist or a dealer. As they are in charge of an important function in the life of the capitalist organism, they have done what any other section would have done in their place: they naturally took advantage, and now they hold the rest of society to ransom, if there is no profit for them the rest can go to hell. It is a big bluff, but few people understand it. As long as there is profit the most miserable and destructive activities can take place; and if there is no profit the most Humane and beneficial things will never be done, even if the materials and manpower are available and are being wasted. Important things need to be done for the survival of Mankind on this planet, there is ample wealth of materials, millions of people with great potential are rotting in idleness. Yet nothing may be done if there is no profit for the capitalists in these things. Moreover most people, having been brainwashed into idiocy by the influence of merchant logic during the last two centuries, are prepared to accept the concept that a war of destruction may be
necessary and beneficial; there are profits to be made, and capitalist economy can function again. How many people today, faced with the problems of the saturation of capitalist economy, think of war as a solution to the problem of overproduction? The law of the merchant has been imposed on Humanity. It is now deeply established and it is not even questioned any more. Madness has become normality, it has become normal to be mad. Capitalists are Human beings and they cannot be blamed entirely for the faults of the system; in the words of Adam Smith, "...... the evils come from the system, not from the character of the men who administer it...." They did not invent Capitalism; as Western society evolved, they evolved with it. In a new environment, they found themselves in a commanding position and, naturally, they took advantage. They become dangerous when, out of self preservation, they go to extremes to maintain alive an economic system which, having become obsolete has become also regressive. But it is in the nature of things that, within any society in our history, people who are in command seldom will relinquish their power and privileges without a struggle. Amongst them there are always some extremists who would risk total destruction rather than accept change. Social classes have more to do with the way people earn their living and the size of their incomes than with any other factor. Only a small percentage of people in our society are businessmen, and anybody with the right attitude could try to become one. But to succeed and stay in business one must assume the mentality and logic of the capitalist merchant. His motto must be 'business is business' or business come first; a capitalist businessman not only must never do anything for nothing, but he must always try to get in return more value than he gives out.
Most people, at one time or another must have observed a gradual change of attitude and behaviour in a friend or an acquaintance who has just started a business. Sometimes the change can be quite rapid, like when a tradesman who has been working for wages starts to work on a contract or subcontract basis and becomes self employed. It could be said that many capitalist businessmen have a dual nature: one when they are away from business, and one which they must wear when they are involved in the competition and hassle of the market. It is a natural feature of the system that, while the capitalists are forced to be stingy with the productive Human and material forces which they employ, they can be lavish with themselves and with those who provide services for their pleasures. Amongst all capitalist businessmen, the bankers and the merchants of the corporations are the most powerful; they handle the deposited profits and savings of capitalist society, including their own capital. Today, the big banking corporations and the International Monetary Fund, which they indirectly control, hold the purse strings of most countries in the world, and they dictate economic and social policies to those Nations that are indebted to them; Thus far have evolved the bankers, usurers, merchants and manufacturers of the Middle-Ages. What is profit? The capitalist insists that it is not a recompense for his work of organising and supervising the employment of his capital; for this work he draws a salary like his employees. Besides, if profit was the recompense for their labour, some capitalists would get nothing because some do not work at all. The capitalist maintains that profit is the remuneration for the risk he is taking by investing his capital. Some say also for the service they are doing to society by providing work. They are so
convinced of their importance that they believe they are never repaid enough for their merits. But, whether there is risk in their investment of capital or not, it is a risk which they must take in order to get anything out of it. They know very well that if their capital is not invested and brought to life by labour, it would produce no profit. They know that if all their capitals were deposited in the banks and were not lent out and put to work, they would not get one cent of interest out of it. Nobody is forcing them to invest their capital; it is their desire and their necessity, it is the way they earn their living. It is immaterial to try to define the abstract concept of profit, or whether it is right or wrong. It should be enough to understand that the merchant, generally, makes his profit by buying commodities and selling them on the market for more that he has paid for them. The manufacturer makes his profit by employing the labour of other people to produce more value that he gives out in wages. The capitalists can do this because they own most of the land and the other means of production; therefore they have a commanding position in the society and the economy. The workforce is their captive: it depends on them for employment, as we have seen earlier in the essay. It is natural that they take full advantage of the situation, and they go to extremes to preserve the system which provides them with power, even when it has become obsolete, an impediment to further real progress and a danger to Human existence. The trouble is that they have succeeded in convincing the majority of the public that the interest of the capitalists is the same as the interest of society. This capitalist assumption is contrary to the facts. Adam Smith already over two centuries ago, in his analysis of the system, explained this divergence of interests. Regarding the
capitalists, "those who live by profit", he clearly exposes that they are a class of people whose interest seldom coincides with the interest of the rest of the public and the society as a whole. Their interests are often the opposite of those of the society and, therefore, we should be very suspicious of all their proposals and their advice because these come "...from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the publick, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it." From book I to book IV of his analysis Adam Smith often criticises the early capitalists, and blames them for the negative features of the system; so much that a reader may easily form the opinion that the system could have been better without them or, at least, without their interference. Naturally, this is a contradiction; how could Capitalism have developed without the capitalists? In his analysis, Adam Smith even states that merchants and manufacturers should never be allowed to become the "masters of mankind "; this was the wish of a great optimist. It was inevitable that they would eventually control capitalist society. Today, the worst of their kind are in power, the money merchants, those who profess the philosophy of Ayn Rand and the economic theories of Milton Friedman. It would be absurd to accept the proposition that for the continuation of a socio economic system the majority of people should sacrifice and suffer most of the time to promote the interest of a minority. We could not say that a society was prosperous and progressive if the majority of its citizens were living in material and spiritual misery: a society means the majority of its members. One of the flaws of Capitalism is that because of its nature, that is the pressure of competition, the instability produced by fast
change, and because of narrow individual selfishness, nothing can be of long term; turnover must be accelerated, profits must be maximised, nothing can be left still, there is no time to think further than the next financial report. As intelligent and as educated the capitalists may be, Capitalism and long term wisdom do not mix. It is this short sighted, short term, sectional interest of the capitalists that clashes with the real long term interest of Human society. There is another source of conflict of interests between the capitalists and the public, which is at the core of the system: competition eventually drives the capitalist to become a monopolist, despite his professed belief in free enterprise. Monopolies may suit some businesses and raise their profits, but they are not in the interest of the public, and it is the public which constitutes the society. As we have seen before, another divergence between the interest of the capitalist and the rest of society is the antagonistic nature of the relation between profit, the reward of capital, and wages, the reward of labour. As both the capitalist and the labourer always try to maximise their rewards, they come into conflict with each other. In this respect they have conflicting interests. Therefore, as wage and salary earners are by far the majority in relation to those who live by profit, it is evident that they constitute the majority of the society, and, in the words of Adam Smith, "....what improves the circumstances of the greater part can never be regarded as an inconveniency to the whole. No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable. ......The liberal reward of labour, therefore, as is the effect of increasing wealth, so it is the cause of increasing population. To complain of it is to lament over the necessary effect and cause of the greatest publick prosperity....."
The most striking evidence of conflict of interest is shown by the early colonial trade. When the merchants' greed was not restrained by religious, racial or national considerations, their exploitation was ruthless and naked: it produced large profits for the companies, but ruin and slavery for the colonial societies. Most capitalists naturally try to make us believe that it is their interest which closely coincides with the interest of the entire society. They promote the assumption that it is only as a consequence of their profits that society will eventually benefit and prosper. Therefore, they propose that all section of society but themselves may be called to make sacrifices in order to produce an economic environment in which the investment of their capital is most profitable. This is the reason why, while they are in a controlling position, they are forcing the rest of society to accept as condition for its survival the 'economic necessity' of mass unemployment, the dumping of young generations, the waste and contamination of irreplaceable natural assets; in short, the submission of everything to capitalist economic necessity, that is the requirements of the capitalist merchant.
CAPITALISM AND THE PHILOSOPHY OF SELFISHNESS. ******** Western Capitalism has evolved for more than three centuries, and during the time of its expansion it has been a progressive force in many fields. It brought a degree of personal freedom to the populations of the industrial countries, and it instituted a democratic system of government adapted to capitalist requirements, but with a constitution that hampers or prevents qualitative changes. The bourgeoisie needed the help of the masses of peasants and workers to wrest power from the nobility; the peasants serfs and workers, in their turn, opted for the 'liberty, equality and fraternity' of the bourgeoisie and against the oppression of the obsolete feudal system. But Capitalism, notwithstanding its proclamations of freedom and democracy, has never obtained complete respectability, nor the justification of a definite ideology. Because it could not break down completely some of the old Christian and Human values, it had to apologise and pay respect to ideals and institutions which were incompatible with capitalist business. It had to try to combine and disguise its blind selfish nature by a sort of hybrid union with Christianity by a
hopeless attempt to marry its own values with those of Christ; hence the inherent hypocrisy of capitalist apologists and the emptiness of those religious institutions which accepted such hybrid union. Capitalism's drive for expansion is hampered while it has to pay at least lip service to Christian and other Human values. Because these values cannot be associated with open or veiled exploitation of man by man, they produce a sense of guilt and the need to justify actions which cannot rationally be justified, especially to the new generations, including the capitalists' own children. Because of the present world situation, the capitalists have never felt like today the necessity to have their own philosophical basis, and, in this way, to be free from the impediment of values which are alien to the nature of the system. Some sections of the main religious institutions are beginning to distance themselves from capitalism. They are beginning to qualify their alliance and support; therefore, the capitalists have been forced again to find an ideological crutch to support and justify their values. Some apologists of the system have tailored, out of some old and well worn rags, a philosophical coat of sort to suit the narrow minded selfishness and presumptuousness of the modern capitalists, who are no different in essence from the old merchants and master manufacturers that Adam Smith often berated and sometimes vilified in his analysis of the capitalist system. This new philosophy breaks away completely from the old Christian values. Its motto is not Christ's "love thy neighbour", but Cain's "I'm not my brother's keeper". It puts selfishness, with some obscure qualifications, on the altar of capitalist worship, together with the gods of
Money and Material Success. There is an upsurge of 'Right wing Christianity' that practically puts business before God, and whose high priests are in fact ex commercial salesmen. Concepts and opinions that in the past could only be whispered are brought into the open with all the trumpets of modern advertising. A book is written about the "Virtue of Selfishness" another about "Capitalism, the unknown Ideal". In these, capitalist businessmen are depicted as the salt of the Earth, as Atlas supporting the world on his self sacrificing shoulders (?!), all those who profess or practice altruistic or Humanistic, not to mention socialist principles, are painted as subversive and evil, a danger to western values and civilisation. As a scientific support for their doctrine, they twist Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection, or the survival of the fittest, to fit the present unnatural environment of capitalist economy and society. They equate the natural instinct for survival with blind selfishness. Capitalists are convinced that selfishness was, is and forever will be the nature of things and, consequently, the law of nature; this is their genesis: in the beginning was Selfishness, therefore, Capitalism. On the economic side, this miserable doctrine is a nostalgic and hopeless attempt to turn social and economic history back to the time of the Industrial Revolution, when Capitalism was unfettered and rebel workers were transported to penal colonies. The capitalists seem to forget completely that early situation was precisely the origin of the present one. They extol the virtues of free enterprise and free trade, as during the Industrial Revolution, but they forget the misery and the excesses which brought about bloody revolutions and government controls. They seem to forget completely that history has progressed since then. They seem to ignore the development
of trade unions, socialist movements, the results of two world wars, the formation of socialist countries, overpopulation in the world, overproduction and saturation of the markets, pollution, etc. Their idealised notion of early Capitalism has more to do with the nostalgia created by Hollywood movies than with documented reality. Their assumptions are quite superficial. In fact, with few exceptions, free enterprise and trade have never been a reality, except in the sense that capitalist merchants 'freely' robbed the people and the lands they dealt with. Capital accumulated and prospered more from the blood of slaves and the sweat of child labour than from the individual hard work of capitalists. Their philosophy promotes the belief that capital, not labour, is the origin of all wealth. From their point of view, the capitalists assume that it is in the interest of the whole of society to make capital investment as profitable as possible. To this effect, they propose that all controls over production, planning, safety, the environment, minimum wages, should be removed; that the government should never interfere in economic matters, that it should only be concerned with defence, law and order, the protection of private property, and acting as referee in the squabbles between those capitalists who may have conflicting interests. In this way capital investment would become more profitable, more people could be employed, more taxes would be paid to the government, and, consequently, the economy and the society would prosper. Their conclusion is that it is in the workers' interest to cooperate with their employers as partners in the economy towards the 'common good'. But because of competition and the other factors in the nature of the system, this idyllic partnership has seldom become a reality.
The workers had always to be on their guard, and without their protective organisations they would be lost. If we examine this partnership proposition more closely, we would find that the capitalist has a big advantage, he is not pressed by immediate need, and he is motivated by the prospect to increase his own personal wealth; while the worker's main incentive is his immediate survival, fear of unemployment and poverty. It should be evident that the worker is in reality a captive at the discretion of the capitalist. This is not a strong foundation for a good and long lasting partnership. Such relation could only be described as the partnership of a master and servant. Another flaw in the proposition is that, because of competition, an increase in capital investment may not produce more employment of labour, but rather a more intense use of machinery and automation. Moreover, in the present situation of overproduction and saturation of world markets, the worker is compelled to compete against the cheaper labour of the developing countries. In fact, to produce profits for the capitalist to stay in business, he would have to resign himself to accept a cut in real wages; if he cannot compete successfully, he will soon find himself unemployed and abandoned by his partner. The partnership would collapse, his employer would pack up and invest his capital in a developing country where labour is cheaper and he could make a profit. In such partnership between capital and labour, in the present situation, we usually see the capitalist increasing his wealth and his lifestyle, while the worker is reduced to accept a lower standard of living. The first extol the `virtue of selfishness', can avoid making sacrifices, and justifies his often successful attempts to avoid taxes. The other is exhorted to be 'altruistic', to make sacrifices for the common good (?) of the Country; he has no security, he has no chance to avoid taxes, but when he becomes old, sick, unemployed, or just tired, he is treated by the
capitalist like a beggar, a bludger or a failure, a burden to the economy and to the taxpayer (?). Who would accept such a partnership, and a philosophy which says in fact: work hard and tighten your belt to increase wealth for the master, because the more food there is on the master's table, the more chance there is that some leftovers may fall for you under the table. This is the philosophy of the `man and servant', of the 'master and dog'; and, in my opinion, it is only fit for whoever has the mentality and attitude of a servant or that of a dog. Only foolish and servile people would accept the capitalists' maxim that, for the same economic necessity by which the capitalists clamour for more profits and personal gain, the workers should make sacrifices, the sick, the old and those out of work should lose even their dignity. There are many fools who believe that there is no alternative but to accept this logic. They have been made to believe that anything that is against Capitalism is against God and Country, against Freedom and Democracy. This is the philosophy promoted by the merchants, and only the cunning and sophistry of the merchants could have persuaded the public to accept it. The merchants, "an order of men whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the publick", today rule the world; and what Adam Smith had dreaded and warned against two centuries ago, that they should never become "the rulers of mankind", has come to pass.
THE MECHANISM OF CAPITALIST EXPANSION. ******* So far we have considered separately the main elements in the capitalist cycle of production: we have briefly discussed the main natural forces and natural laws which derive from them. Now we should be able to understand more clearly the mechanism of capitalist expansion, which, once put into motion, has gathered such momentum that no force on Earth could have stopped it until it had exhausted all the forces and altered all the factors and the environment which have brought it to life. We have seen that the capitalist is motivated by the prospect of profit; competition in the market compels him to continually attempt to lower the cost of production by keeping wages down and or by replacing labour with new machinery. We should understand by now that the capitalists can never stop for long to enjoy the fruits of their success in raising productivity. As soon as one slows down he is in danger of being overtaken by the competition. Therefore, they are compelled to chase their own tails in a race from which they cannot easily withdraw (Marx). The process of capitalist expansion started very slowly during the Middle Ages, but, during the last two centuries, it has accelerated and gained momentum to such an extent that it has almost completely changed the face of the Earth, and it has shaken Humanity out of its slow pace of evolution. Changes have been brought about so fast that the Human race has been thrown into confusion, incapable to fully adjust to ever new situations. While still blinded by our ignorance, today we are forced to choose between different alternatives, one of which may bring about our complete destruction.
Adam Smith, in the eighteenth century, could not have foreseen the extent of this expansion. But Carl Marx, a century later, was in a better position to study the capitalist system of production as it accelerated its development during the Industrial Revolution. His analysis, in "Capital" and other writings, is still basically valid today, except for those new factors and developments in the present stage that no Human being could possibly have foreseen one hundred and fifty years ago. In the last of a series of lectures entitled "Wage Labour and Capital", which he gave in December l847, we find a very accurate description of the mechanism of capitalist expansion and evolution. These are the main points: a capitalist to be able to compete, must produce and sell more cheaply. To produce more cheaply, he must raise the productive forces of labour. To raise the productivity of labour he must reorganise and streamline his workforce, use new technology and machinery; in short, he must adopt more efficient methods of production. If he succeeds in producing more and cheaper commodities, he must sell more in order to obtain the full benefit of his increased production; therefore, he must find new markets and new outlets, selling his commodities at a price slightly lower than his competitors. For a period of time he will have the advantage. But soon the other producers will adopt the same or newer methods of production, and, eventually, he will find himself in the same situation relative his competitors as before his improvement in productivity; the only difference being that now there would be overall higher production, and the markets would have been expanded.
Consequently, to be able to stay in business the capitalist must continually try to raise the productivity of his workforce and his machinery, and also try to find new markets: ".. however powerful the means of production which a capitalist brings into the field, competition will make these means of production universal, and from the moment when it has made them universal, the only result of the greater fruitfulness of his capital is that he must now supply for the same price ten, twenty, a hundred times as much as before. But as he must sell perhaps a thousand times as much as before in order to outweigh the lower selling price by the greater amount of the product sold. . . . this mass sale becomes a question of life and death not only for him but also for his rivals, the old struggle begins again all the more violently the more fruitful the already discovered means of production are. The division of labour and the application of machinery, therefore, will go on anew on an incomparably greater scale..." The capitalist is forced to continually expand, to adopt new technology of production. He cannot wait until the opposition has found a way to come on top, he must keep on improving his productivity and replacing his machinery even before they have been fully utilised. The instruments of production become more and more expensive, the small capitalist cannot compete against the bigger ones: "...If we now picture to ourselves this feverish simultaneous agitation on the whole world market, it will be comprehensible how the growth, accumulation and concentration of capital results in an uninterrupted division of labour, and the application of new and the perfecting of old machinery precipitately and on an ever more gigantic scale.... "
This expansion, caused by the law of the market and by competition, eventually produces a situation in which monopolies and corporations must develop: "..... It is self evident that the small industrialist cannot survive in a contest in which one of the main conditions is to produce on an ever greater scale, that is, precisely, to be a large and not a small industrialist. " Finally, as the continuous increase in productivity overtakes the capacity of the market to absorb the increasing quantity of commodities, " . . .there is a corresponding increase in industrial earthquakes, in which the trading world can only maintain itself by sacrificing a part of wealth, of products and even of productive forces to the gods of the nether world: in a word, crises increase. They become more frequent and more violent, if only because, as the mass of production, and consequently the need for extended markets, grows, the world market becomes more and more contracted, fewer and fewer markets remain available for exploitation. “In this way, the capitalist socio-economic system, moved by this almost mechanical law of capital and technological expansion on this small Planet, must eventually reach certain natural limits beyond which it can only continue in an artificial and irrational form.
THE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC EFFECTS OF CAPITALIST EXPANSION. ******** So far we have observed briefly and in general terms the natural laws and mechanism in the expanding spiral of capitalist production and development. What follows is mostly from K. Marx writings. It should be evident that this spiral, as it developed, has thrown aside or eliminated all impediments which stood in the way of its natural expansion. "Ancient values and traditions have been cast aside. Old virtues have become vices, old vices nave become virtues".
Capitalism could not expand within the limits of feudal values, customs and politics; therefore, it had to replace them with its own. The capitalists, while struggling for their own freedom, could not deny the freedom of the rest of society; they had to proclaim their support for the general idea of Human liberty. The capitalists, while struggling for equality with the nobility, could not deny these rights to the rest of the population; they had to proclaim the ideal of general equality, not so much before God but before money. Capitalism needed a plentiful and mobile work force; therefore, the serfs were freed from feudal bondage, and were pushed towards a different kind of servitude. Capitalism needed literate workers to work in the factories; therefore it had to promote a minimum level of education for most of the population. The capitalists had to have a say in the process of government and decision making, therefore, they organised their political parties against the conservative feudal establishment. With their mastery of the press and the professions, and the support of the rest of the population they gradually took over the State. They instituted a capitalist democracy with a capitalist constitution. They needed to expand trade and find new markets; consequently they went to every corner of the Earth. In so doing, they brought all nations face to face, and forced them, on pain of extinction, to adopt the capitalist system of production and exchange. Old dormant societies and cultures have been shaken from their slumber.
With the development of transport and communications, space and time have been reduced. The world has become a melting pot in which all races, nations, cultures and religions are being forced to face one another and solve the problem of coexistence or amalgamation. While we are still ignorant and confused, already the embryo has emerged of a 'global' economy, a 'global' society and culture. The capitalists during the last three centuries have gradually remolded the world and society to their own image. They have promoted their own merchant class values and logic as the unchangeable laws of the land: their world is the world of the merchant, in which everything must be subject to the law of profit as it was the law of Nature. The capitalists, while they are complaining about the deterioration of basic Human values and of the family, are commercialising all aspects of Human life and, therefore, are undermining and destroying these same values. All relations have been reduced to 'money relations'. Motivated by the search for profits, and compelled by competition, in their irresistible drive for change and innovation, they have broken the natural links between the generations: the experiences of one generation become obsolete even before the advent and establishment of the next. Only the technology which brings them profits is allowed to develop, consideration for the future of Human kind are secondary and incidental. Because of competition, technology is brought hurriedly on the market without much thought about long term social and Ecological consequences. The speed of change has overtaken the capacity of society and of individual Human beings to adapt to continually new situations, and this is producing all sort of negative features in our lives: insecurity, confusion, insensitivity, breakdown in Human
communications, etc. Material success has become the only measure of personal value. Even the gangster, if successful, is glamorised and respected, and today he probably divides his time between crime and legitimate business. The honest man is derided and called a 'sucker'. Individual selfishness and aggressiveness are essential qualities or virtues for success in capitalist competition; consideration for other people and good nature are handicaps; yet everybody is complaining and asking why people are becoming more and more insensitive and ruthless, lacking feelings and compassion. In all important issues, questions of principle have become secondary and subjected to money considerations there is a progressive bastardisation of Human society. The rule of the bankers, merchants and manufacturers today is almost complete. They influence the media, the law and justice, the army, the State and the majority of the public; capitalist democracy is in fact the disguised dictatorship of a minority the capitalist class. The academic world, with few exceptions, is in the payroll of capital. People working in the professions have a place in the middle class of capitalist society. As critical as they may be at times about the present world situation, they are not allowed, and do not dare, to challenge directly the basis of the capitalist system: blindness and hypocrisy have become prominent features in capitalist society. It is the nature and mechanism of the system which are producing most of the problems that we are facing today. Karl Marx was not far from the truth in his assessment of capitalist economic and social development. In his terse and concise description of capitalist evolution up to his time over one hundred years ago we find already present all the main features of saturation and crisis that are so evident today: diminishing
markets, ever faster technological change, wasteful consumerism, a widening generation gap, etc.. It should be evident that our present problems are not temporary, they have started long time ago; they are the direct results of capitalist evolution. As we continue to follow the capitalist philosophy so the problems increase and become compounded. Like all preceding socio-economic organisms, civilisations and cultures in Human history, capitalism is a natural stage of Human development, a development which has always been and still is affected by our original ignorance. A combination of historical factors has brought Capitalism to life; it has evolved from previous organisms, and it has overtaken and displaced them as they became obsolete. Today it has reached the limits of its natural development, it has changed the environment that has brought it to life, and it has become obsolete itself. Now it is in decline and it has become an impediment to further progress. Our present problems cannot be cured within the system that is causing them. In the nature of free competition, the law of the market, the drive to maximise profits and wages, we find the causes for the development of monopolies, corporations, unions and associations which render impossible the capitalist dream of free enterprise and free trade; we find the causes for the explosive expansion of productive forces and technology, the saturation of world markets, the disregard for social and ecological harmony. In the nature of capitalist production we find the causes why there must be at all times an abundant pool of poor people in search of work ".....the labour of the poor being the mines of the rich..... " In the nature of capitalist property relations we find the causes why the abundance of capitalist production must be wasted and will never be shared with equity within society; we find the causes
for the continuous antagonism between capital and labour, and we find also the causes for greed and the alienation of a mass of Human beings. Finally, to preserve a 'double standard' social system in which a minority is motivated by the incentive of profit, which is an increase in personal wealth, and the majority is motivated by the fear of unemployment and misery, the capitalists must attempt to limit the degree of education and information to a level which does not produce the capacity for objective thinking within the general public, and does not stimulate a deeper questioning of the system.
THE PRESENT STAGE OF CAPITALIST EVOLUTION.
CHAPTER XVI. GENERAL OUTLINE OF THE PRESENT STAGE OF DEVELOPMENT. ******** Since the Industrial Revolution Capitalism has evolved and expanded at increasing speed. From Europe it has spread throughout the world, affecting and being affected by the different environments and cultures. The capitalist socioeconomic organisms that we find in South America, for instance, are different from that in Scandinavia or other parts of the world, but all these different forms are variations of the same main theme. Technology has revolutionised the economy and society. It has created entirely new factors which are influencing in almost unforeseen ways the direction of our evolution. The productivity of capital and labour has risen to a degree that was never thought possible. Consequently the 'effective demand' has been overtaken and the 'markets' are being saturated. At the same time capital has become concentrated in the hand of relatively few 'transnational' banks and corporations. Their investments are spread throughout the world, and consequently
there is often a divergence between their interests and that of the countries in which they operate. Countries that used to be a market for the products of the industrial Nations have been industrialised. They have become producers themselves and are keen competitors in world trade. To overcome the absurd problem of overproduction and a lagging demand for commodities, the logic of the merchant has devised the scourge of consumerism, with the public and the developing Nations of the world as their victims; these have become dependent, enslaved by debt for generations to come. Because of the overcrowded situation in the world market and the desperate state of indebtedness of some developing Nations, the trade war, which has always been a natural feature of capitalist economy, is growing in intensity. The local industries of every Nation are crying for protection, advocating a policy of isolation, while the transnational bankers and Corporations, with capital invested all over the globe, are advocating the elimination of all trade barriers. They are advocating the institution of the 'Global Factory' and the 'Global Supermarket' (Global Reach). Their dream is the supernationalisation of Capitalism, and, in its defence, the super nationalisation of its armed forces; the United States attempt at World hegemony and transformation of the NATO into their policing tool is proof of this present situation, the excuse for the general public is the never ending War on Terror. As Capitalism has developed, it has produced opposing and counterbalancing forces. Trade unions, political parties and revolutionary movements have sprouted from the resistance of the alienated or exploited classes of society. These forces are important factors in the evolution of the socio-economic organism, and they are themselves continually evolving.
Because of technological progress in production, the size and the social composition of the workforce has changed. Most have become 'consumers' in a materialistic 'consumer society', they have cast off some of their former poverty but they have lost the proud radical spirit of the nineteenth century. The number of productive workers has decreased in relation to that employed in the service industries and that employed in the growing State and private bureaucracies. Objective consciousness is being blurred by the pervasive influence of the capitalist oriented mass media and education. Some of the most unfortunate sections of society are becoming more conservative in their attitudes than those who exploit them. But, as the merchant economy is slowly deteriorating among the pollution and social sickness that it creates, new opposing forces are emerging from every level of the social structure. Innumerable groups and movements are growing; their aim is to change or to escape from the present socio economic organism. At present, consumerism is not sufficient any more to take care of the over productive forces of the capitalist system. An increasing portion of energy and resources must be wasted in the production and marketing of arms. This waste has become an important part of capitalist economy, essential to keep in motion the cycle of production and profit making. Many countries are defaulting on the repayment of their debts. The bankers can do nothing but to keep on lending them more money to prop up their faltering economies in order to maintain the illusion of the soundness of the capitalist banking system, and prevent a loss of confidence and a general collapse. We can witness capitalist governments using public money to rescue failing financial institutions, corroborating the business attitude that 'their profits are private, their losses are public', with the
awareness that the alternative would be the collapse of the capitalist economy and consequent chaos. This is, in short, the general situation in the present stage of capitalist economy. We will try to examine all these points in simple and general terms. We will try to understand their relation to the original natural laws and mechanism of the system. Before we proceed, we should look at the confused picture of capitalist economy in the world today. As an attempt to see through the maze of combinations and contradictions, we should try to pry apart each of the component elements from their entanglement, and look at them separately, examine their main essential features, and then we should try to imagine what will happen when we scramble them back together. To this purpose, we must adhere to the general aspects, forgetting for the moment the many variations and exceptions which would render a simple and short analysis impossible. The variations and exceptions are real and important enough, but they do not contradict the main essence of the present situation. To start, we should first consider the main economic elements that are the interconnected parts of a capitalist economic system. Then, to this simple sketch, we should add the new elements and factors to complete the picture. As we have seen earlier, a Country or Nation is an organism composed by a large group of people who usually have a common historical heritage, common culture or religion, and usually live in proximity within a definite geographical region. There are some exceptions: people who try to maintain their original national identity while they have been scattered in different parts of the world, but their life is not generally easy although it may be successful.
In capitalist countries most productive activities, mainly those which are profitable, are performed by private businessmen, companies, national and international corporations and monopolies. All these productive activities may be grouped in three main branches of production: The 'Primary Industry' which is involved in agriculture and the extraction of raw materials. The Heavy and the Light Manufacturing Industries, which are concerned with everything small or big that is manufactured, whether in a small workshop or in a large industrial complex: The 'Service Industries' comprising the private and the public infrastructures which facilitate the functioning of the productive industries and the distribution of their products. The more important services are the retail industry, transport, banking, insurance and public utilities. Some of these industries in the economy may have opposing interests. One reason is that they all are trying to sell their products to each other as dear as possible, and buy from each other as cheap as possible within the competition of the market. For this reason all businessmen and companies tend to join into different associations and chambers, which in fact are businessmen unions, to protect and promote their particular interests. It should be superfluous to say that the corporations are conglomerates of companies with interests in every branch of the economy. Capitalist businessmen constitute a very small portion of the total population. The rest, whether employed on salaries or wages, constitute the workforce; their interests, while closely connected with the prosperity of the industries in which they are employed, are at the same time in antagonism with their immediate employers because of the basic natural contradiction between
capital and labour, profits and wages. Therefore, while the workforce may be united by its own general overall interest in relation to its immediate employers, it may be often torn apart by the opposing interests of the different industries. Now, to this general description of social and economic forces, we must add some new elements that must complicate further the conflict of interests between and also within the different industries and groups in the socioeconomic organism of a country. One is the influence of the transnational corporations that have no permanent national interests or loyalties. Another is the armament industry. Of all these industries and productive activities some are directed to the home market, some are directed to the export market and some to both; therefore, often they have opposing interests: exporters, for example, usually prefer a low exchange rate that makes their products cheaper on the world market, while the local producers prefer a higher exchange rate to protect their local market from foreign competition. The international corporations are usually not affected by this and other particular factors; as they play over the whole globe and they can take advantage of various national differences. We could try now to mix and superimpose all the activities that have been mentioned so far, as they take place and interact in real life; but I believe that it is almost impossible to have a clear picture of the situation. Moreover, these are only the main activities and to these we should also add the important cultural, political factors that influence the behaviour of different peoples. All we can do, in the absence of a powerful computer with a suitable program, is to try to imagine in one picture the essential concept of all this activity and hope to get as close as possible to reality.
EXPORT OR PERISH.
******** Towards the end of the Middle-Ages, at the very early stage of capitalism, production was slow and most of the manpower and capital of a country was employed in producing the essential commodities required for home consumption. Generally speaking, little was left for export. Almost the total potential of capital and labour was expended within the country. With the advance in technology, the productivity of capital and labour started to increase: production was becoming capital intensive, machinery were replacing people. Given the nature of the capitalist system, if only a part of the workforce is needed to produce the country's total requirements, it means that the rest would be out of work and, consequently, would not receive any wages or salaries. Without any income, they would be reduced to poverty and, most important of all, for capitalist economy, they would not be able to buy any of the commodities produced by that part of the workforce still employed. Therefore, another percentage of labour and capital would become redundant, and more people would have to join those out of work. In theory, and also in practice, the result would be that capitalist economy would gradually shrink and eventually collapse. This is the problem of overproduction in capitalist economy, a problem which would seem absurd when there are still a lot of poor people in the society. It is caused by the continuous competition amongst the capitalists to increase the productivity of capital and labour. Therefore, to maintain the essential growth in investment and to prevent stagnation, the surplus capital and labour in the industrial countries was channeled towards export. But today, as more and more countries are becoming industrialised and are in a similar situation, they have all become involved in an absurd trade war in the saturated world markets.
This war has become a question of life and death for many countries in the world, hence the cry: "export or perish!" A country lacking in natural resources must by necessity import a lot of raw materials and in return export manufactured goods. Its life and growth naturally depend on the success of this trade. Such a country normally would have just a small primary industry, barely sufficient for its own consumption. For such a country the cry "export or perish" is real and natural enough in the context of capitalist economic production. Such country would be a traditional importer of raw materials and exporter of manufactured goods. But for a nation with a wealth of natural resources and with a fully developed manufacturing industry, a situation in which it must export at all costs to be able to maintain its economic growth and full employment, must be very complex and full of problems. The ideal would be to be able to export without having to import anything that can be produced at home. But, in fact, the payments for exports are not only in money but also in commodities from abroad. If it exports farm produce and raw materials, it will have to import machinery and manufactured goods, some of which will be competing in the home market against the goods produced by the local manufacturing industry. This situation may suit the exporting companies and corporations in the primary industries. It may also suit the merchants and traders whose profits are not determined by the origin or the nationality of the commodities they trade with, but by their cheapness and quality. Evidently this is not favourable to those that are involved in the manufacturing industries having to compete against cheaper goods from abroad. Therefore, we find one section of business clamouring to lower the national trade barriers to let more imports in so as to be able to export more, while another section is clamouring to raise
national barriers with tariffs and other controls on imports to protect their home market from an invasion of cheaper foreign goods. The logical capitalist answer to this problem is to urge the manufacturing industry to become more competitive in the already extremely competitive and saturated local and world markets. Local business are urged to lower the cost of production and raise the productivity of labour as much as possible, “....but the productive power of labour is raised, above all, by a greater division of labour, by a more universal introduction and continual improvement of machinery..." The most likely result will be an increase in the number of the unemployed. To this effect, the industrialists, while pestering the government for tariff protection, export bounties and lower taxes, they urge their work force and society at large to work harder and accept a lower standard of living in order to produce cheaper goods in competition against countries which are natural and traditional manufacturing exporters, or countries where the wages of labour are several times lower than at home. They urge that we must sell in a saturated world market where the number of competing countries, more or less in the same situation of having to export or perish, is growing every year. These exhortations often come from the same business and corporations that have controlling interests and investments in the manufacturing industries of the foreign countries against which their workforce has to compete. If patriotism is not enough to induce the worker to work harder, there is always the prospect of unemployment plus the competition of imported immigrant labour, for whom any pay and conditions are better than those in their home countries. No need to say that the main promoters and beneficiaries of such immigration of cheap labour in time of unemployment are no one else than our 'patriotic' national and international capitalists.
From the smaller underdeveloped countries to the biggest and more technologically advanced, some to pay their debts, some because they have no natural wealth but have a developed technology, some because they have too much of both, some for any combination of these reasons, they all must export or perish. As they all are trying to export more or less the same commodities, and, as their number is growing in the world markets, a senseless trade war has developed between Nations. We witness the absurd spectacle of the rich people and the rich countries of the world trying to flog to each other goods and services of which they all have too much already. At the same time, the majority of their countrymen who are producing all those goods and services must go without, and often must accept cuts in public health, education and old age security. Why? Because, once we have subjected ourselves to the capitalist law of the merchant, we are not allowed to produce anything unless it is to be sold for a profit: if we can sell we live, if we cannot sell we die. The intensifying of the trade war is one of the symptoms of the capitalist sickness. The outcome of this war is that the rich are still getting richer and the poor are still getting poorer. It is a silly and tragic contest among Nations to throw each other out of work. Now, to complete the picture of this world wide trade war, over this messy sketch of over one hundred countries involved in this pseudo nationalistic fight for survival in which the majority must be losers, we must superimpose the important element of the 'transnational' corporations. As they are themselves engaged in the trade war against each other and against any of the other nationalist participants, the resulting picture must confuse the mind. Because they involve with their ramifications and connections most industries in most
countries of the world, the supposedly nationalistic nature of the trade war becomes confused and unreal, one cannot say any more with certainty whom one is working or making sacrifices for: whether it is for one's own country, for the opposition or for the transnationals; of one thing one can be sure, that, if one has a poorly paid job or one is not working, he is not sacrificing for himself. The transnational corporations hover everywhere over the world wide theatre of war, picking, choosing and generally taking advantage of every situation. Therefore, besides being transnational they have become 'super national'. They may lose in one place but they may win in another. They can win in a country where the people are losing, and, in balance, they are probably the only winners in this senseless trade war. This trend has been growing for over fifty years; it is called Globalisation it is an attempt to create a Worldwide market without national barriers and with universal commercial regulations that advance the vested interests of business and corporations; possibly under the dominance of the United States and NATO as its enforcer in case of trouble. Such, in my opinion, is one of the confusing aspects in the present unnatural stage of capitalist economic evolution. Since the thirties, Capitalism has developed in an irrational way; every new device to keep the economy from stagnating could only have a temporary and limited success. The trade war is one of the results of overproduction and market saturation in relation to the effective demand; a situation which is threatening capitalist economy and is twisting and corrupting capitalist society.
THE ARMAMENT TRADE. ******** It is fitting that at least a short mention should be made about the armament industry, because of the importance it has acquired in the present stage of world economy. It is a drain of public resources and public money for the private profit of some business and corporations. It is also a debilitating factor for the struggling economies of the developing Nations. The beginning of the arms race can be traced to the beginning of our history. In ancient times, with primitive technology and materials, every man, tribe and nation could fabricate their own weapons.
With the development of technology and mass production, mass wars became possible. The manufacture and the sale of arms became a big and profitable business for some sections of the capitalist class in the industrial countries, and a source of employment for a section of their workforce. During the 'cold war', with the polarisation of forces in the capitalist and socialist fields, and with the simmering unrest of the emerging Nations trying to adjust after the breakup of the colonial empires, the arms industry has assumed a great importance in the world economy. To give an indication of the importance of the arms race to an industrial country, nearly fifteen percent of the economy of the United States is related to defence and the armament industry for home and for export. Could the United States' capitalist economy stand the trauma of total disarmament? Would business and corporations which profit from arms production and have influence in government, be interested in permanent peace? What would happen to the workforce directly and indirectly employed in industries related to the arms race? We can see clearly the connection between Capitalism and war There are no rational plans, nor interest, in capitalist ruling circles to facilitate a transition from a war to a peace economy, especially in the present stagnant market situation. In a planned or guided economy, at least in theory, such transition would be beneficial and could be effected, because the right to work and the sharing of available employment could be guaranteed. There cannot be such guarantees in a capitalist economy because of the reasons that we have examined earlier in the second part of this discussion. One is that there cannot be
long term planning, another is that a continuous state of uncertainty and fear of unemployment are an essential part of the mechanism of capitalist production. Another reason why the arms race is so important for an industrialised capitalist country is that, in a saturated market environment, an escalating and wasteful arms race offers very good opportunities for investment and expansion of capital. The public is taxed to pay for armaments: arms are the ideal commodities because they continually become obsolete, in war they are quickly destroyed, therefore they continually have to be replaced. These are the main reasons why, in the nature of capitalist economy, most capitalists are moved to prefer the waste and potential dangers of an armament industry rather than the elimination of poverty and insecurity, which would diminish the prospect of war. Capitalism today is kept in motion by the profits of the merchant, the wants and fears of the worker, and the waste of the products. The arms race, therefore, is an ideal activity for a number of business and corporations. In the end, it is always society at large that pays for the arms race, especially the poorest sections, because they are deprived of essential commodities and services that could otherwise be available to them. In the industrial countries the public pays either through taxation or, if they are not in that bracket, through the reduction of resources that could be used for public utilities. With the armament industry, some sections of the work force are provided with employment and some businesses have an opportunity to make a profit. Therefore, there is a pressure for the maintenance and expansion of the industry. It is a new organism,
interacting with the others, within the larger organism of the Nation. This new organism will try its utmost to perpetuate itself and, if possible, to grow, as it seems to be in the nature of all living things. This is probably another reason why NATO has been kept alive and still growing after the demise of the Soviet Union. It would be interesting to know just how much of the arms race and the cold war were justified by real threats and how much by the machinations and lobbying of powerful vested interests that profit from the politics of fear. The same economic necessity which compels all producers to 'export or perish', today applies also to the producers of arms. A very keen competition has developed in this field of export amongst all industrial countries. The main victims of this trade are the populations of many developing nations that are still in a process of adjustment and in turmoil after the trauma of colonial and Neocolonial interference. These people, besides having to pay for weapons they cannot afford, they are also often subjected to their devastation. To pay for these arms, or to repay the debts incurred to purchase them, these countries have to sell their produce and their raw materials at low prices on the depressed world market, and this will further depress the markets. The populations get no benefit in return, and remain destitute. But some merchants and manufacturers are growing fat on the profits of this trade; some governments in the exporting countries congratulate themselves for achieving a favourable balance of trade, and having provided work for their own population. This is the morality of the merchant. What is the justification for this trade in fear and death? It is mainly capitalist economic necessity: There is profit to be made, capital to be invested, employment to be provided, and these reasons justify everything. Business is Business!
On the personal and moral question, the capitalist merchants and manufacturers of arms say that it is not their responsibility; they claim that all they do is to satisfy a demand for goods and services; Granted, but so do their cousins - the pimps and the criminals.
OVERPRODUCTION AND MARKET SATURATION. ********
We must try to keep in mind that when we are talking about overproduction, abundance and saturated markets we are talking only in relation of the effectual demand of those who have the means to pay. The poor people and the poor Nations of the world are naturally excluded from the capitalist cycle of production and exchange, unless they have been allowed to indebt themselves. In this case, as well as being poor, they may also have become desperate as they have become enslaved, in the grips of capitalist bankers and merchants. As we have seen in the second part of the essay, Capitalism must expand. It is in the nature of the system: the capitalist appropriates a part of the value produced by his employed labour, this he calls his profit; a part of this profit is used to improve his life style, a part must be added to the capital already invested to improve productivity so as to be able to compete and stay in business; therefore, more investment, more production, wider markets, more turnover and profit, and so on. During the last two centuries, with this spiral of development, moved by the basic laws and mechanism of capitalist production, the capitalist economic system has reached the limits of our planet earth. Turning in circles, pressing against the boundaries that contain it, Capitalism seek desperately to recreate artificially, even against Nature, the conditions necessary for its continuation. In my opinion, the economic crisis of the thirties was the culminating point of the natural development of Capitalism in the West; it was the beginning of the stage of saturation. There should have been a change towards a democratically planned rational economy. But the establishment was too strong in relation to the progressive forces, a peaceful change was denied,
Fascism developed instead, and eventually the Second World War gave a new life to the sluggish capitalist economy. From the thirties, we can observe the development of new economic devices designed to give the ailing system a new lease of life. These devices are unnatural and irrational, but they are the logical capitalist solution to a saturated environment. One of the main conditions for the birth and growth of Capitalism had been a situation of scarcity, an empty world, an empty market. In such an environment, Capitalism had developed and expanded, producing not so much luxuries, but essential, useful commodities. Because of their obvious utility, the main form of their advertising was their sturdiness and their lasting qualities. There was competition not only in producing cheaper but also durable commodities. Thrift and parsimony were still considered to be virtues, as they were not yet an impediment to capitalist development; to indebt oneself to buy commodities was considered a shortcoming. While there was plenty of space for capital expansion, the system developed naturally, slowing down its pace during its periodical crises but starting back each time of its own accord. Eventually, Capitalism had to reach a point of real crisis, because at the same time that production was rising, it was becoming more difficult to find new markets. Capitalism was obliterating the main condition of its development the environment of scarcity that had been its cradle. Having exhausted the condition of its birth and natural development, Capitalism, to survive, must find artificial means by which to recreate that essential condition.
In general terms, the main feature in the thirties at the beginning of the present stage of saturation was that some capitalists had been too successful. They had concentrated most of the wealth in their own hands: they had the goods and also the money. They stood at one end, proprietors of all fixed capital, the means of production, and also proprietors of all the accumulated finance demanding to be invested. The 'effectual demand' was lagging behind the ever faster development of the productive forces. On the other end, the mass of the population could not constitute an expanding market: the wages of the 'working poor', who in fact were the origin of all that wealth, were just enough to keep them alive and able to work. They had no money to spare to buy the surplus of goods which they had produced but did not own. Figuratively speaking, on one side stood the capitalist class with the factories, the goods and the money; on the other side stood the rest with nothing else but their empty hands. The capitalists could not use all his surplus goods themselves, evidently there is no profit in that; they could not give them all away, as it is not in the nature of the merchant to do anything without a profit. He could not raise the wages of the workers to enable them to become a market; competition would not allow it and, besides, it would have been the same as giving the products away. It seemed like a chronic sickness had set in. The spiral of capitalist development had come to a grinding halt and capitalist society faced its own ruin. Before the capitalist class stood the mass of the people, idle and hungry; Already, in the East, workers and peasants had dealt a deadly blow to capitalist and feudal society, and they had taken their destiny into their own hands.
Capitalism faced the danger. The merchant had to make its 'mercantile' system work: it had to provide employment for the mass of the population or face a possible revolution. Therefore economic theories which allowed limited government intervention in the running of the economy were partly adopted. Moreover, new economic trends or devices, akin the logic of the merchant, began to develop to stimulate market demand. In the following chapters we will examine briefly the more obvious of these devices. They derive from the logic of capitalist economy, the logic of the merchant. But, while they may be logical in the context of Capitalism, they are utterly irrational in the context of Human life on this small planet, as they contain the elements of waste and pollution and are promoting negative features in our society. The first of these market stimulants, in my opinion, was the growth of consumer credit in all its various forms. The second was the growth of 'high pressure advertising', to convince people to buy more, whether by cash or credit. The third was the appearance of 'planned obsolescence' to shorten the life of the products. Actually, these three devices are the interconnected components of what today is called 'consumerism', which is the almost enforced consumption of as many goods and services as possible. This is the most important device in the artificial creation of a continuous demand in the capitalist market place, a demand that is essential for the survival of the system. Consumerism is the main immediate cause for the waste and depletion of energy and resources in the world. It is the main cause of pollution, and also the main reason why the rich people and the rich countries are becoming richer and the poor are becoming poorer.
We will look in some more detail at 'consumerism' and its effects on the societies of the developed industrial countries. These societies are indebted to the point of saturation, they have become obsessed with material consumption and they are degenerating. Having become dependent and enslaved by a consumer economy, they have lost sight of their future. The same is the case for the poor developing Nations of the world. As they could not afford to buy the products of the industrial countries, they have been extended vast amounts of credit. Therefore, being deeply in debt, they have been reduced into a state of economic bondage. The greater part of their resources, instead of being used to improve their own situation and standard of living, is being siphoned out to the already bloated industrial countries, mainly as interest payment on the loans they have received. With this handicap they have little chance of improving. Only their small ruling elites are living in luxury, while the majority of the population is in misery. The gap between the rich and the poor Nations is widening, just as Karl Marx had pointed out over a century ago: ".... Just as the bourgeoisie have made the country dependent on the towns, so it has made barbarian and semi barbarian countries dependent on the civilised ones, nations of peasants on nations of 'capitalists' , the East on the West". Today, he would have used different words; He would have said the South on the North, and he would not have made the distinction between barbarian and civilised, because, as we know now, there is no difference in substance.
CONSUMERISM, THE DEVELOPMENT OF CREDIT. ******** With the development of credit for the majority of consumers, capitalist economy found a temporary and partial solution to the problem of overproduction and surplus capital. The capitalist, with the dexterity of an illusionist, has played the greatest confidence trick in history on the gullible, ignorant mass of society. This device shows the natural business cunning of the merchants and the typical logic that follows from the laws and mechanism of capitalist economy. To put it in simple figurative terms, the capitalist was not going to raise the wages of his employees to allow them to buy the surplus of goods which was produced; but he would instead lend them the money to enable them to become a market for his wares. The poor 'donkeys' were very grateful, and the capitalist, using a little ink on his ledger, killed two birds with one stone and put in motion again the stagnant cycle of capitalist production and accumulation; This time with even more energy and speed than before.
There was profit to be made on the sale of the goods, and, in the same transaction and for the same commodity, an extra profit for the loan of the money. But this was not all: by this stroke of the pen on the credit side of his ledger, the capitalist merchant forged a new chain for the worker. It is a chain of gold, but much stronger than the old one. To buy a commodity on credit is like a chain that the worker willingly puts around his neck: not only he has to sell his present daily labour power, as in the past, but he also sells his future labour. He commits a certain amount of his working time for a certain number of years to repay the debt he has incurred for the purchase of a commodity. With this new economic device the person in debt, by selling his peace of mind and his little independence, shed some of his former material poverty, but by mortgaging his future he is forced to work harder and produce more. For a time, the accumulation of profit almost doubled for the merchant and the money lender, and the worker, even if materially a little better off, became less proud and more submissive: A part time slave, chasing his own tail on the capitalist treadmill. In essence, as we have seen, the capitalist must get in return more than he gives out. With consumer credit he gets a profit for the commodities he sells, and a profit for the credit he advances. But no matter how many deals and convolutions the invested capital is subjected to, and no matter how many capitalists are involved, all their profits, as everything else, must ultimately come from the sweat of the working man. Therefore, it should be evident that while the labourer is allowed to buy more of what he produces, he also must eventually work and produce a lot more. Yet, the majority of people are very grateful for being allowed to get into debt. They have been made to believe that if it was not
for consumer credit we would have nothing. This is quite true, but only in the context of capitalist economy and merchant logic, not natural common sense. This, in very simple terms, is the main essence of 'consumer credit', one of the elements which constitute the scourge of consumerism. Consumer credit for the general public began to develop in the thirties, and it became widespread after the Second World War. During the period after the Great Depression Capitalism had lost credibility; therefore, at the same time as consumer credit was developing, there was a shift from a 'laissez faire' capitalist economy to a degree of government intervention to reduce unemployment and improve the standard of living of the population. It was a compromise between a free enterprise and a State controlled economy. In some countries this trend developed through a democratic process, in others through fascist dictatorships. The boost that consumer credit could give to market demand could only be of a short duration. It should be evident that sooner or later one must stop buying on credit, or one will become over committed. If this occurs, then such person will have to stop buying anything but the bare necessities until he is out of debt. Therefore, after a buying spree on credit there is normally a long period of under consumption. It should be obvious that to be in debt it is to gamble with one's own future, because when one sells his future labour to buy commodities, one has no guarantee of future employment or good health; hence the fear and insecurity, whether conscious or subconscious, that derives from being in debt. A society in debt is an insecure society, and many of the major social ills and frustration derive from this new device in capitalist economy.
Many people of limited means, after struggling for years paying for the necessities of modern life, will swear to never put themselves in debt again. They will put up with their old fridges, TV sets, etc. for as long as possible, and live a more peaceful life without having to worry all the time about monthly repayments. Such a trend, which the merchants call 'consumer resistance', is too dangerous for a consumer economy to be allowed to set in. Therefore, a two pronged attack has been mounted against this public resistance; an attack that is going on relentlessly all the time to maintain artificially the market demand: putting people in debt through advertising and planned obsolescence.
CONSUMERISM, ADVERTISING. ******** There is a difference between the straightforward advertising of a product's objective qualities and specifications, and the present pervasive pushing of commodities and services without consideration for truth and social consequences. But such is the present attack on the minds of the general public by the 'merchants of dreams'.
Having saturated the markets and exhausted all known forms of competition but open warfare, the capitalists are reduced to steal customers from each other and try to reduce the public into consumption addicts. To stimulate sales, every commodity must become an ideal and a symbol: every superfluous or even obnoxious thing must become a necessity, a question of life and death to possess. We must find the elusive end of the rainbow, and the obtainment of sublime happiness behind the purchase of every commodity. The act of buying had to become a festive ceremonial of self satisfaction and achievement. With this assault on their minds, the public, beginning with the children, is being reduced into a state of moronic stupidity: actors in a world of make believe in which the only reality and the ultimate purpose is the sound of the cash register in the capitalist market place. Behind the sparkle of the shopping centre, behind the glitter of the shop windows, and behind the artificial plastic smiles of the advertiser and the salesman, society is becoming harsher and more insensitive. Moreover, as at a tender age a person cannot separate reality from fiction, it is the minds of children that are being irreparably devastated by this assault by the capitalist merchants and his servants : 'The Hidden Persuaders' (Vance Packard). The task of the 'hidden persuaders' is to convince everybody, including themselves, that we should buy everything that comes into the market; that this is what we want and is in our interest to do. These are some of the more evident results : the change of the Human race into a race of compulsive consumers by keeping every man woman and child in a state of continuous imbalance, never satisfied for long with what one has just bought, always desiring something else, in a continuous state of want and imaginary scarcity, feeling always poor, no matter how rich and
bloated one may be; All this for the main purpose of creating and keeping alive an artificial unnatural market for capitalist production. As a state of almost general and permanent indebtedness creates social problems, as everyone except the capitalists will agree, a state of continuous want and frustration, especially when the majority of society is not in the position to be able to satisfy all these new wants, must cause personal and social pressures detrimental to good human relations. The result is a society of people who are all acting a part, living for unobtainable dreams, always dissatisfied no matter how much they may have, all being busily absorbed in a competitive rat race in which all individuals are drawn apart from one another. Everybody is chasing after dreams represented by commodities the wealthy with the attitudes of paupers and misers. But even advertising, like consumer credit, can only give a limited and temporary boost to a faltering capitalist economy: there is a limit to what people can spend and borrow; moreover some people cannot be fooled all the time and sooner or later they may realise how stupid they have been made to look. Consequently, another more effective device had to be found to keep the cycle of production in motion and the profits coming in: this new economic stimulant is euphemistically called 'planned obsolescence'.
CONSUMERISM, PLANNED OBSOLESCENCE.
******** As we have seen, advertising has developed into a socially obnoxious feature of capitalist economy. It is like a drug being pushed on the public to make everyone a craving compulsive consumer. But just in case that advertising may not be effective on some sections of the public, or just in case that some people may resist the pressure and drop out of the rat race, the capitalist has devised a method by which he uses his servants, science and technology, not to produce goods that last, but goods that fall apart or break down after a scientifically determined short space of time. Many of these commodities are made in such a way that they cannot be taken apart and repaired. As new commodities continually invade the market, because of competition between the capitalists, so they quickly disappear from existence not long after they have been bought. This new economic device is euphemistically called planned obsolescence. Its prime purpose is the same as advertising, but it is more like a weapon than a drug a weapon designed for the systematic destruction of commodities. Therefore, it is far more effective than advertising in forcing unwilling customers towards the market place. It is the quintessence of the waste of labour power, energy and resources, and the consequent despoliation of our environment. Moreover, planned obsolescence nullifies the advantages to society that should come from the rise in production, because while the cost of production and consumer goods has been decreasing in relation to our incomes, we are forced to buy the same goods far more often than before, as their life span has been shortened.
While most products are cheaper than in the past, we are forced to buy them more often. Therefore their use is just as expensive as before if not more. The capitalist, without giving us a choice, has instinctively decided that we should have 'planned obsolescence' because, as he explains, given the fast technological changes there is no point in making things that last. The public, they say, must have the best and latest commodities as soon as they appear on the market, and, besides, it is planned obsolescence which provides a lot of people with work. It is difficult to find fault with this logic which springs from capitalist economic necessity: the necessity of the merchant in a saturated market environment. It is the new problems of endemic overproduction and market saturation, that Adam Smith and Karl Marx would have considered absurd, which create the necessity to continually clear the markets for new commodities, to maintain in motion the cycle of capitalist production: investment of capital in the production of commodities, their sale in the market, realisation of profit, increase of capital, more investment in production of commodities, and so on. As Capitalism finds more and more difficulty in finding new markets for increased production, turnover is accelerated in the existing markets by limiting the life of the commodities being sold. In this way the rate of production is maintained. The public is not the end, it is just a necessary incidental in the process, to be manipulated to suit the needs of the mercantile system. We witness, today, the complete perversion of rationality and common sense: not an economy suited to the needs of society, but a society sacrificed to the needs of an obsolete economy.
We must remember that the word "consumption" has assumed a new meaning since Adam Smith's times. In that age of scarcity the word implied the use of commodities for their utility; and waste was considered a sin. Today, consumption is mainly related to the act of buying in itself with little consideration for usefulness or benefit, and has the connotation of waste. This is what Adam Smith stated should be the rational intention and purpose of an economic system: "Political economy . . . proposes . . . first to provide a plentiful revenue or subsistence for the people, or more properly to enable them to provide such a revenue or subsistence for themselves...." But today, in the present unnatural stage, Humanity and the planet Earth are being sacrificed to the economy for the momentary self interest of the modern merchants and manufacturers and their entourage, at most twenty percent of the world population. Another wasteful and polluting device to increase investment and profits is one certain aspect of the retail industry. It mainly has to do with "packaging"; packaging can be convenient and is an important part of salesmanship, but it is also a mean of "adding value" to the commodities and forcing the public to buy more than it needs and also to buy a lot of plastic, paper and cardboard that it does not need at all. For the capitalist businessmen it is a new opening for investment of capital; a new profitable industry which transforms natural resources into a pile of rubbish. This is a short and general description of one of the new aspects of modern Capitalism : 'consumer credit', 'high pressure advertising' and 'planned obsolescence', these constitute what today is called 'consumerism', a word which, personally, I resent and despise. To accept such a denomination and such a situation, of being a consumer in a consumer society, is to accept the gradual
transformation of Human beings into creatures with a big mouth at one end, a large anus at the other, and no brain in between, all clean and 'whiter than white', sitting on a heap of waste and smelly effluent which once was a beautiful planet, our Mother Earth. It should be evident that the scourge of 'consumerism' is the main cause for the waste of energy, raw materials, labour power, and the systematic destruction of our environment; and consumerism is the direct result of the irrational and inequitable development of modern Capitalism; I said 'inequitable' because while a minority of the world population and their pets over-consume and waste, they also suck materials and resources from the under-developed parts of the world where entire populations live in poverty and millions succumb to starvation. To conclude this subject, we must consider another contradiction, arising from the development of consumerism, that cannot be resolved within capitalist economy: while the workforce, which constitutes the majority of consumers, is being pushed by the advertising industry on behalf of one section of the capitalists to buy more and more, they are at the same time subjected by another section to a continuous pressure to produce more and more, and to continuous attempts to lower their real incomes and buying power; forcing them into debt if they want to buy anything more than their subsistence. Having devised the philosophy of "The Virtue of Selfishness ", the apologists of Capitalism would have today the unenviable task of inventing also the philosophy of 'The Virtue of Irrationality'.
THE TRANSNATIONAL CORPORATIONS AND THEIR INFLUENCE ON THE WORLD ECONOMY. ******** Another new aspect in the present stage of evolution of the capitalist system is the supra nationalisation of the world economy, brought about by the development of the transnational corporations. During Capitalism's early stages, capitalist businessmen were competing against one another mainly in their own national local markets. As Capitalism expanded, in the rush for foreign markets and raw materials, they found themselves competing against the capitalists of other industrial countries, often under the political and military protection of their respective governments. A race began to develop amongst Industrial Nations for the control of those parts of the world that were still undeveloped or weak.
This nationalistic competition for markets and resources was one of the main causes of friction and jealousy between Nations. It was also the cause for many wars during the last two centuries. The gradual development of monopolies, cartels, and now the transnational corporations has to a great extent eliminated the nationalistic features from capitalist economy. Therefore, the probability of all out warfare between capitalist Nations has been almost eliminated. The inextricable links of the corporations and world finance transcend all national boundaries. Capital has no nationality. As we have seen earlier, the development of monopolies, cartels and corporations was inevitable. The nature of capitalist production and competition promotes the accumulation of capital in ever fewer hands as Marx had stated over a century ago: ".....That the small industrialist cannot survive in a contest one of the first conditions of which is to produce on an ever greater scale, that is, precisely to be a large and not a small industrialist, is self evident". The next logical consequence of the accumulation of finance and technology in the hands of few corporations is their diversification in different fields of activity, and their expansion throughout the world. Their political power grows in direct proportion to their economic power. There is a deep analysis of the present development of the corporations in a work entitled "Global Reach" by Richard J. Barnet and Ronald E. Muller. The authors explain many important aspects of the corporations and their influence in world affairs and on the lives of individual persons. What the transnationals are promoting today is a trend towards the integration of capitalist economy under their effective control, and mainly for their own maximum profit.
They have lost almost completely their original national identities and loyalties. They have become international in their organizations; they are conglomerates that unite capital and technological knowhow from all the industrial countries of the world. They view the world as one entity as a global field for their activities. One of the main effects of the transnational corporations on the world economy is the transfer of entire industries and production from countries with relatively high wages and standard of living to countries with abundant cheap labour still unspoiled by long union traditions. This transfer of production to depressed areas of the world has been a feature of capitalist economy for a long time. It is part of the general drive to increase the productivity of capital and labour. But in the early stages, for many different reasons, this mobility was not always easy or possible. This movement of productive forces became more accentuated after the Second World War, mainly from the United States to Europe and Japan, then from these countries to all parts of the world. This was not by any means a one sided push by the international bankers and corporations, it was also the desire of the developing Nations to be developed, even by the corporations. This great exodus of industry is having a worldwide leveling effect: it tends to produce unemployment and to reduce the wages and standard of living in the developed countries, and, at the same time, it increases the level of employment and, if the corporations are not too greedy, also the standard of living of the underdeveloped countries. There is possibly one exception to this exodus of industries from the developed countries. For reasons of national security, the armament industry is kept at home while some others are
exported. The arms industry, therefore, may tend to assume a great proportion of the internal economy of such countries. The world wide equalising effect of the transnational corporations could be considered beneficial towards uniting the Nations of the world, if it was planned and intended for the benefit of the whole of society. It is unfortunate that most of our clever business leaders are so narrow minded and lacking in wisdom; the main purpose of this transfer of production is the immediate vested interest of the corporations to maximise their profits on a global scale. To this end they must take more than what they give wherever they are and wherever they go. Their philosophy is still the 'mercantile' philosophy, and their means is still a destructive consumerism. By changing the motivation of their executives and the programming of their computers from consumerism and waste to usefulness and conservation, the transnational corporations could become the embryos of a worldwide rationally planned economic system, as they are already autonomous organisms with self sufficient planned economies. It is because of their capitalist nature and the saturated market situation, which they are themselves aggravating, that instead of Human progress, often they bring more hardship to the populations of the industrial countries, and even more hardship to the Nations which are trying to become industrialised. Instead of uniting the world, they are frightening most countries into the economic, social and racial antagonism of the trade war. What has happened in Europe since the World War II is partly the result of capital losing its nationalistic identity. Immediately after the war, during the reconstruction, the US corporations invaded the whole of Western Europe with investment capital. They did not discriminate between any countries; They instinctively built economic bridges across all
nationalities; They helped to weaken the pre-war nationalistic features of capital and so they facilitated the advent of European capitalism; Therefore national geographical boundaries became impediments to the flow of capital, commodities and labour. We can see this trend all over the world, but it is not rationally planned with the benefit of the Human race and the planet Earth in mind. Therefore we may end up with several economic blocks competing against each other with great consequent dangers. There is also a possible hidden danger in the development of the transnational banking corporations in particular: whichever corporation or Nation that acquires control over a great proportion of international finance can use this power to tax the rest of the world for its own particular benefit and its own purpose.
CLUES ABOUT INFLATION. ********
At this point we should consider one of the most important features in the present stage of capitalist development; this is the constant upward pressure of inflation sometimes coupled with endemic unemployment (1975-1983). Inflation is not new to the capitalist system, nor is unemployment, but they seldom occurred together (1980s). It is evident if we look at prices increases or the value of money over the last two centuries that there must be natural factors deep within the mechanism of capitalist economy that produce inflation. It has been a constant feature of the system since the beginning. It is very difficult to pinpoint the prime causes of inflation, because in a vicious circle causes and effects often become confused with one another. From what we hear in the mass media, we are made to believe that rises in wages are almost exclusively to be blamed as the cause of inflation Even Milton Friedman, the mastermind of monetarism and the author of its master plan "Free to Choose ", clearly states that rises in wages are not so much the cause but rather the result of inflation: A statement that his followers ‘freely choose’ to ignore. If we trust Adam Smith and his analysis of early capitalist economy, a rise in profits and interest will tend to boost inflation more than a rise in wages: ".....in reality high profits tend much more to raise the price of work than high wages...." He goes on explaining that an increase in wages raises the price of commodities only in arithmetical proportion, while the same increase in profits will cause a rise in geometrical proportion. He Continues by noting that: "...our merchants and master manufacturers complain much of the bad effects of high wages in raising the price, and thereby lessening the sale of their goods
both at home and abroad. They say nothing concerning the bad effects of high profits. They are silent regarding the pernicious effects of their own gains. They complain only of those of other people...." We have fairly accurate statistics about the average level and the fluctuations of wages, but seldom are we told about the level of profits; possibly because it is very difficult to ascertain. But even on this respect Adam Smith comes to our help. He states that, although profits are difficult to verify, there is in the economy an indicator of their general level. He states that: ". . . It may be laid down as a maxim, that wherever a great deal can be made by the use of money, a great deal will commonly be given for the use of it; and wherever little can be made of it, less will be commonly given for it. According, therefore, as the usual market rate of interest varies in any country, we may be assured the ordinary profits of stock must vary with it, must sink as it sinks, and rise as it rises. The progress of interest, therefore, may lead us to form some notion of the progress of profit......" If we accept this maxim, we can guess that, as interest rates have increased during the recent past, so must have profits, if not for all capitalists at least for most, or for the bigger ones (1980s). Evidently there are many factors which promote inflation, and any one or any number of them could be at work at different times. But there are some basic factors which are always present. Going back to the law of demand and supply, we can be sure that, because of the ever present compulsion to control the supply of commodities and the market, the price of the commodities will linger much longer above than below the " natural cost of production ". Consequently, over a length of time, the average price of commodities, although gravitating towards, will seldom coincide with the cost of production, but will stay slightly above it. This feature is built into the mechanism of the system.
An increasing and excessive demand for goods and services tends to create what we call 'demand inflation'. This type of inflation is not caused by an increase in the cost of production, but by the natural expectation to maximise profits during a situation of scarcity. We should not be surprised if capitalist businessmen never complain about this type of inflation: it is good for their profits, and profit is the kingpin of their merchant economy and the centre of their philosophy. This type of inflation is seldom publicised and deprecated in the mass media. In contrast all we hear about are endless complaints about 'cost inflation' and the cost of labour in particular. But demand inflation and cost inflation are, in essence, the same. In the first one, the capitalist takes advantage of a real or artificial scarcity of commodities to increase prices and profits, and this, we are told, is O.K. In the second, the working man takes advantage of a real or artificial scarcity of labour to increase his wages, the price of his work, and this, we are told, is catastrophic for the economy and society. The capitalist has many justifications for this double standard, but they only prove that Capitalism is a double standard socioeconomic system: what is good for the capitalist is good for the economy and society, what is good for the worker is not. Increasing demand for his commodities is the great dream of every capitalist, but this situation usually produces an increasing demand for labour as well, and this, while it is the dream of every worker, it is also a nightmare for the capitalist. This is a contradiction and a great dilemma in capitalist economy. Here is a typical example from an article in the Sydney Morning Herald 15 February 1992, at the lowest point of a recession "that we had to have" to cut inflation; here the Minister for Finance warns about the danger of rekindling inflation, deriving by proposed extra government expenditure to kick-start the economy and to relieve unemployment: "..It was crucial for the Government to convince
financial markets that inflation would be kept under control, despite increased Government spending....Mr. Willis said a large drop in the exchange rate would force the Government to increase interest rates. The Government would then have to "squeeze the economy hard to make sure you don't have it" (high inflation), and this would mean "a lot more unemployment..." This is a great dilemma and contradiction: capitalist governments are reluctant to lower unemployment for fear of inflation. Unemployment tends to lower wages and the cost of production, but also it reduces the effectual demand for commodities as the buying power of the workers is being reduced. Therefore it creates more competition amongst the capitalists, lower profits, and some go broke. If the capitalists can sell overseas the goods that their home market cannot buy, well enough; if they cannot, then there is no solution to their problem within capitalist economy. Then, wages and also prices must be regulated as it was done in fascist Italy and Nazi Germany before the war. Capitalists are always in favour to regulate wages when there is no unemployment, but they will never accept regulation on prices. Obviously, they are not in favour to regulate wages when there is unemployment because, in this case, they can force wages down further than any regulation. All types of speculative activities tend to create demand inflation. We should remember how speculation on land and buildings during the seventies and the eighties was one of the main causes for the increase in the cost of land, construction materials, dwellings as well as wages. Another cause of demand inflation is that whenever anyone succeeds in controlling the supply or the distribution of commodities through cartels, monopolies or secret agreements, one will set the prices to " what the traffic will bear ", that is the maximum that customers are able or willing to pay, as Adam
Smith stated: "....the price of monopoly is upon every occasion the highest that can be got.." It is the obvious scope of monopolies, cartels and corporations, or any capitalist for that matter, to be able to control the supply of commodities to the market or at any stage of production in order to raise their prices and their profits. This is nothing else than the purposeful creation of demand inflation. As we have seen earlier, 'cost inflation' is in essence very much the same as 'demand inflation'. These are two different names for what is basically the same thing, except that one refers to the capitalist, the other to the worker, and the capitalist and the worker have a different relation to the means of production. In capitalist economy labour power is considered to be a commodity that is essential for the production of all other commodities. Therefore, every increase in the cost, or wages, of labour increases the cost of the commodities produced. But the law of demand and supply forces the labourer to try to improve his conditions whenever there is an increase in the demand for labour; this is the only time when he has an advantage and any chance to improve his standard of living within capitalist economy. He knows very well that when the demand for his services decreases, he will be promptly pushed backwards; his employers will have then all the advantages, which they will not waste in their continuous drive to maintain or increase their profits while they are pressed by competition. The unrelenting pressure for higher wages is natural within capitalist economy, the same as the continuous drive for higher profits. Evidently the capitalist has the advantage. The labourer must be on the defensive most of the time. Except during economic expansion when workers have some leverage, most wages demands are determined either by an increase in the
productivity of labour or by the continuous necessity to maintain the purchasing power of wages against inflation. What the capitalists complain about all the time is, in essence, the continuous struggle of the workforce to keep up with the cost of living, and their resistance against the employers' relentless attempts to extract more production from them without a relative increase in wages. There is nothing that influences a push in wages and inflation more than a rise in the price of essential commodities and services like food, housing, transport, etc., the means of subsistence for a worker and his family, which is the cost of producing and maintaining a worker. Capitalists do not whinge so much for the acquisition and maintenance of their machinery as they do for the acquisition and maintenance of their worker Human beings. Today, with new machinery and efficient storage systems, even staple foods and once perishable commodities can be stored and released at will; essential commodities can be subjected to monopoly control. The Stock and Futures markets have an important influence on the cost of living; entire crops are bought and sold over and over again even before harvest. In the end, if prices are not profitable, the produce can be stored and a situation of scarcity can be artificially created until prices will increase enough to allow the last speculator to make a profit. There are worldwide cost pressures over which individual countries have no control, for instance the price of foreign oil. But even in this respect, as the capitalists have a commanding position in the economy, they manage to pass downward cost factors of this kind most of the time, forcing those at the bottom to bear most of the burden. Rises in taxation are also a cause of cost inflation, especially taxes on essential commodities. These should never be taxed,
but, unfortunately, taxes on necessities produce more revenue than taxes on luxuries. In the present stage of capitalist evolution, some factors of cost inflation, which were insignificant in the past, have been accentuated by the changes in the structure of capitalist economy. There is the increased burden of social services and unemployment benefits which were minimal in the past. There is the waste of energy and resources that has to be paid for by society. Another of these new factors is the proliferation of services both public and private. As technology and automation have been advancing, the workforce directly employed in production has been decreasing in relation to that employed in the service industries. There is some control over services provided by the State, because they are subjected to some public scrutiny. Some of these services are essential to promote and maintain a healthy society; some are for the benefit of industry and commerce, they provide for the general needs of the economic and social structure; some are for the protection of private and public property. But government services or 'government bureaucracy' are only a part of the total overhead of capitalist economy. There is no Public scrutiny or control over the 'private bureaucracy' of the system. Banking, insurance, commercial institutions, property law, advertising, etc. are the overhead in the system of capitalist production. Therefore they can be considered to be the private, much duplicated, bureaucracy of capitalist economy. But, thanks to the mass media, this aspect is never publicised.
There are two bureaucracies: government and private, but what we hear most of the time is complaints about government bureaucracy; We never hear about the other, and its effects on prices and inflation, nor about the proliferation of those services which cater for the rich's more expensive life styles and for their increasing needs for security. There are new service industries coming to life all the time, They strive for self preservation and expansion, as it is in the nature of all living organisms, and they tend to promote the environment which has brought them to life. One of these for instance is a new growing private army providing sophisticated security services to protect the persons and property of the wealthy from increasing organised and petty crime. Private and public buildings have been transformed into virtual fortresses with guards and expensive electronic security systems. The cost of all these services, essential or superfluous, must in the end come from profits or wages: they must be added to the cost of production. But as labour must ultimately provide for all revenue, wages, rents and profits, it is the working man who eventually must foot the bill. Another service industry which has expanded out of all proportion is the retail industry. Vast and expensive new shopping complexes, like temples to the art of selling, have been rising beside the traditional 'main street' shopping centers. Their cost, the piped music, air conditioning, side shows, etc. must be added to the cost of the commodities being sold in them. Inflation breeds inflation. If retail outlets increase in numbers, but the buying power of the public remains the same, it means that the overhead costs will increase in relation to the volume of sales. If the rate of profits and wages has to be maintained, the price of the commodities must rise. But this rise in prices will lower further
the volume of sales, while the overhead costs remain the same. Another price increase becomes necessary, and so on as in a vicious circle. This trend which is a symptom of the saturation of the economy has been going on for many years. As less people are needed in production, more and more people become involved in selling and other services. The economy has become top heavy; a contracting productive work-force has to carry an ever expanding unproductive load. There is a hidden cause of cost inflation which is little publicised and is related to the present stage of capitalist evolution. Because of the development of automation, production has become capital intensive and the factor of wage labour is diminishing. This is one of the reasons why sometimes we have inflation and unemployment at the same time. In the past, when production was labour intensive, if the volume of sales dropped, production was curtailed by sacking a part of the workforce. As sales and production diminished so did the cost of wages, and the cost of commodities at the point of production was not affected to any significant degree. But in a situation where production is capital intensive, where automatic machinery is mainly employed, or when there is a heavy debt burden, if a drop in the demand for commodities occurs, the capital invested in equipment and machinery and other overhead costs remains nearly the same; there are no workers to be sacked, as they have been replaced by the machines. The overhead cost will remain almost the same as when there was full production, and this cost will have to be divided amongst the fewer commodities being produced and sold. Technology becomes cheap only when it is used on a large scale to full capacity to produce and sell a great quantity of goods.
Another cause of inflation is the factor of high interest rate, or the high cost of borrowed money. Interest, the same as profit, adds up in geometrical proportion in the overall cost of production and the price of commodities. There are many reasons for high level of interest in the present stage: governments borrowing to finance their expenditures, speculation, pyramid borrowing, high interests to attract foreign investment, concentration of finance in few hands, defaulting on large debts, etc. The main underlining reason is that after three centuries of mercantile influence we have accepted the aberration that money is a commodity in itself, more important than labour, not just a means to facilitate the exchange of all goods and services. We live in a merchant socio-economic organism, and no one has more status than the merchant of money. We have accepted the false premise that nothing can happen without money, and we have turned it into reality. Now we are prisoners of this mercantile assumption. Another important cause for inflation is the increasing cost of armaments and defence that must be paid by taxes. And to conclude we should also consider the influence that consumerism has on inflation. Consumerism puts more pressures on the workforce to seek wages increases. These pressures are exerted in different ways; by putting people in debt, it increases for them the real cost of commodities, that is what they have eventually to fork out for them; by shortening the life span of commodities, it indirectly increases the cost of living; by needling everybody with high pressure advertising, it increases their desires for more commodities than they can afford with their present wages. These are only clues and logical deductions about some of the main causes of inflation, but I believe that they are very close to the mark.
UNEMPLOYMENT. ******** We have already touched in passing on the subject of unemployment. We have seen how it plays a very important part in the mechanism of capitalist production. Fear of unemployment is one of the main motivations that compel the working man to compete for jobs, and to submit to any wages and conditions rather than to be left out of work. Without the prospect of unemployment this fear tends to disappear, and the workforce becomes too strong and independent for the capitalist comfort. Capitalism needs a permanent reserve pool of cheap labour for production. At the same time it needs consumers with money to spend or with reasonably secure employment prospects that permit them to buy on credit. This is one of the main contradictions in the present stage of economic evolution. Employment levels seem to follow general patterns determined by profitability and convenience for capital investment, whether in relation to national local markets or in relation to the world as a whole. These are the main factors that have determined the establishment of centers of industry and commerce: large and relatively wealthy populations constituting a growing market; a plentiful supply of skilled and unskilled labour, availability of raw materials and sources of energy; ruling elites or governments
which favour the establishment of capitalist industry and commerce; closeness to trade routes that link markets and sources of raw materials. Western Europe was the part of the world where capitalist industry and commerce first started to grow. There was a plentiful supply of labour, because at the same time when industry was beginning to grow, many people were forced out of the feudal lands and they were attracted towards the new industrial centers. For centuries this was the pattern in the developing industrial nations: growing populations in the cities, a continuous supply of country people to feed the needs of the growing industries. In the past, when an industry became established, it could not be moved easily to other areas. Industrial centers had an aspect of permanence and stability. But, in the quest for profits, mobility has always been essential; nothing can stand still, nothing can be left to interfere with the freedom of capital. If capitalist industry could not be moved, then the workforce had to be moved to it; when local labour was not suitable, or was unwilling, then immigrant labour or even slaves had to be procured. As capitalist industry and commerce established themselves and became concentrated wherever the best conveniences and opportunities were available, various employment patterns developed in different regions of each country. Some areas became industrialised, with increasing opportunity for employment, while other areas remained undeveloped. The latter became a reserve of cheap labour and cheap produce for the former. Generally speaking this was the pattern of industrialisation and employment in most countries. The same pattern can be observed if we look at the world as a whole some countries where the general environment was
favourable became industrialised, and some other countries remained undeveloped and depressed. Directly or indirectly, unemployment has been an important factor in the history of capitalist development: even for the most industrialised countries, a steady supply of unemployed people or migrants has always been readily available. During the recent past, as technology has revolutionised production, communication and transport, capital has acquired a great mobility. Therefore, industrial and employment patterns have started to shift. Nations that recently have acquired independence are trying to build their own industries, and it does not take very long today to build a new industrial complex anywhere in the world. Industrial plants that were built yesterday may become obsolete overnight. As the technology of production is changing very fast, it is sometimes more profitable for capital to abandon a long established plant that is becoming obsolete, and build an entirely new one somewhere else in a depressed area where labour is cheaper and unspoiled by old union traditions. In this way a new trend has been set within each country and throughout the world: industries are disappearing from long established industrial areas, and they are reappearing with new technology in the more depressed regions of the world where there is unemployment and capital investment is more profitable. As we have seen earlier, the transnational corporations have greatly accelerated this process which is leveling employment patterns throughout the world. This process is very clearly explained in "Global Reach", a book that was mentioned earlier. It is stated there that ".... the United States trading pattern is beginning to resemble that of underdeveloped countries....., having exported some of its
industries to the export platforms of Hong Kong and Taiwan ", it is importing now more and more manufactured goods that before were produced at home. To pay for these imports, it has to export more and more of its "agricultural products and timber". Moreover, unemployment is rising and the gap between rich and poor Americans is widening. To compete against imports produced by cheaper labour in modern factories built by the corporations in foreign countries, American Workers are accepting cuts in wages and conditions, and many of these transnational corporations are dominated by very 'patriotic' American capitalists. This trend is going on throughout the world, and as it is leveling out the high employment patterns, without greatly improving the low ones, unemployment is becoming endemic in the developed nations as it is in those that are underdeveloped. If we add to this general trend the effects of automation and the gradual saturation of the markets, the picture becomes even grimmer in relation to future employment prospects. Unemployment in the present saturated situation seems to produce a trend towards more unemployment. First of all, people have less money to spend. Moreover, those who still have a job work harder and become more productive. As the fear of being thrown out of work increases, competition and antagonism among the workforce also increases, racial prejudice is accentuated by insecurity. More work is done by fewer people, and thus the chances for employment diminish even further for those who are out of work. In the public service sector the situation used to be slightly better until privatisation, outsourcing and bonuses became the trend, civil servants became upstaged by private “consultants”. Employment there used to be more secure, amongst other reasons because whichever government was in power, it could
not afford to create too much enmity towards itself within its own instrumentalities. Generally speaking this is not the case anymore. Another factor which increases unemployment to a certain degree is the trend towards subcontracting to the workforce all work that was previously performed by wage labour. Each tradesman becomes his own task-master, he produces several times more than when he was working on wages. He becomes involved in a race against the other subcontractors, his former workmates, and also against himself. He also begins to disregard safety and working conditions that previously he may have considered essential. To sum up, unemployment has always been a feature of capitalist economy and an essential part of its mechanism, but its level has varied from time to time and from place to place. Several times in the past, Capitalism has faced the danger of revolution because of high levels of unemployment and poverty. In the decades following the First World war, it was saved by the intervention of Fascist dictatorships; then by the turmoil and destruction of the Second World War. After the war, before the concern about ecological degradation began to appear, during a period of reconstruction and great expansion people believed that Capitalism and technology would solve the problems of poverty in the world by providing employment for all; a promise that Capitalism, because of its very nature, can never fulfill. During the last two centuries, 'the right to work' has become the most important issue and expectation in western societies. But this is only a recent development. Before the advent of Capitalism in the West, this concept did not exist. It was the 'right to life', whether openly proclaimed or not, that was the main natural aspiration of all Human beings in all previous Ages; By no means
was it a right that was always granted and respected. During the Middle-Ages, in the Feudal system, this natural primordial aspiration to live was assured to the mass of the people by their chartered rights to the use of the land for their own subsistence. For the feudal serfs and peasants the right to life was intimately connected with the right to work the land and to share its produce. As the capitalist system of production developed in the West, with its own concept of 'absolute private property', the use of the land was denied to an increasing number of the population. By denying them the ancient 'right to the land', they were also denied the right to live. Therefore, some found work in the growing industrial centers, but for some there was nothing left other than squalid idleness, banditry, transportation to penal colonies or the public workhouse. As the land became the private property of a minority, to find work somewhere else became the only way to survive for the great majority of the population. The 'work ethic' became the rule, and the concept of the 'right to live' became the concept of the 'right to work'. Capitalist "rationalists" today are denying the validity of such a right. But in capitalist society the right to work is equivalent to the right to life, and this right is paramount. It is in essence the right to self preservation and self respect of every Human being. No system in the world can deny this right for very long. If any social system cannot fulfill this basic aspiration, it has no right to exist it must be replaced. It is evident that Capitalism is failing to provide employment and a meaningful existence for an increasing section of society. The economy has become obsolete and regressive. Capitalist apologists have begun to question the concept of the 'right to work'.
One sign of regression, pertinent to the subject of unemployment, is that, while only two decades ago the young generations were presented with views of progress and opportunity for all, today their education is being curtailed, and from a tender age, while at home they are conditioned to grow into compulsive yuppie consumers by TV advertising, at school they are being prepared to accept as almost inevitable a miserable life of unemployment and poverty or, alternatively, some regimented form of conscripted menial labour. There is so much competition for young people in schools to eventually get a decent job in a harsh labour market that many lose hope and become despondent. This is just one of the signs of capitalist regression, a topic that will be examined in the following chapter.
CAPITALISM, AN IMPEDIMENT TO FURTHER PROGRESS. ******** Capitalism has long ago reached the limits of its natural development. No matter how glittering and powerful it may look in appearance today, it has no substance, no real purpose, and it holds no definite prospects for the future. Its natural economic laws and mechanism cannot rationally function in the new environment which it has helped to create.
Therefore it is evolving in an increasing irrational and dangerous way. Space and opportunity for further capitalist development are decreasing fast, and the limits of Human tolerance have been reached. Humanity is on the verge of madness. Capitalism has become an impediment to further Human progress. It is forcing the Human race backwards, and, consequently, it has lost the right to impose itself to the world. These are the reasons. Capitalism's economic laws, which were naturally tuned to overcome an environment of emptiness and scarcity, cannot function in a new environment of saturation and plenty. Capitalist economy is a machine devised to produce 'plenty', but for Capitalism plenty becomes a curse. Because of modern science and technology, themselves part of the capitalist machine, what is plentiful and free, like the Sun, the Air, Seawater, may become a danger to the very existence of capitalist economy. What is simple and easy has little market value therefore Capitalism has a vested interest in 'complexity'. The capitalist merchant will have to solve the problem of making what is simple, easy, plentiful and free, his private property or subject to his control so as to be able to make it marketable. It would be interesting to know how many times, so far, simple solutions to our social and economic problems have been overlooked or even suppressed in favour of more complex and more ineffective ones, only because these were more profitable to the vested interests of the capitalist establishment. How many inventions may have been bought out and stored away because,
by eliminating the waste of labour and resources, they would have threatened capitalist economy. 'Permanency and conservation' will diminish market turnover, therefore, Capitalism has a vested interest in 'waste and destruction'. Waste and destruction may follow the logic of capitalist economy, but they are irrational and criminal in the context of Human survival. Is there any definite border between irrationality and madness? The real question is how far we have already gone in that direction and whether we still have left enough common sense and the capacity to judge what is rational and what is not. Will the new generations, born in a madhouse social and ecological environment, recognise the wrongs and the damage that we have done to ourselves and our planet? Will they accept the madhouse situation as normality? Capitalism depends on 'unemployment and want' to fight inflation and to raise profits. Therefore, it will never completely solve the problems of unemployment and poverty. Instead it produces the greatest wealth for some and the most abject physical and spiritual misery for others. Educated poor and educated unemployed people are a threat to the existence of an obsolete and corrupt society. Therefore, Capitalism has a vested interest in 'ignorance and misinformation'. It prefers to deal with ignorant unemployed people and moronic criminals rather than with educated revolutionaries. What will happen to a society where the establishment is ignorant because it does not want to know, and the rest are ignorant because they are not supposed to know? Is there any border between ignorance, prejudice and hate? Humanities, history and social sciences are being discouraged in capitalist education because they are considered to be unproductive; commercial
technology, marketing and advertising are promoted; what kind of society will develop if we take Humanity out of the Human beings? Capitalism upholds the virtue of 'selfishness' and personal gain, but this is what puts the capitalist businessman and the criminal in the same category. Is there any clear border between legitimate business and organised crime? Or is it only determined by the degree of cunning and power of those who make and administer the law? Is it more criminal to bash a man to rob him of his wallet than to make millions of children miserable through advertising, unhappy with what they have, to get at the wallets of their parents, and make them unhappy as well? Labour is a troublesome commodity for the capitalists in the process of production; Therefore, Capitalism has a vested interest in 'machines'. Technology is gradually replacing the workforce, but every person out of work is one less consumer on the market. This means that the capitalist must consume more himself. Therefore, there is a trend in the economy to produce more extravagant luxury goods and services than essential commodities, as it is more profitable to produce luxuries for those who have money to spare than to produce essential goods for those who have not. So the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer. More people, to find employment, are being attracted to the personal service of the rich and their entourage. While a few years ago domestic servants were hard to find, now more and more people must throw themselves at the chance of servile employment; 'servile and parasitic' activities are the only growing occupations in the economy, and a proud Nation tends to become a Nation of servants.
As the capitalist establishment's lifestyle becomes more extravagant in contrast with the needs of the majority, so its need for security increases. This is another growth industry. At the other end, as technology is making the labour force redundant, poverty increases and social services, always considered a burden by the capitalist, become inadequate. A growing number of people will have to forego the right to work, the right to basic necessities that were considered inalienable only a few years ago. With no prospect of work, the future of entire sections of society is subjected to the logic of an obsolete and perverted economy. The wealth of the country and the livelihood of its people are in the hands of gamblers in the stock and futures markets: they are at the mercy of the private personal interests of secretive international financiers and bankers who are not elected but have power over the elected governments of the Nations. The promotion of individual selfishness plus ignorance and poverty is a mixture that produces frustration, vandalism and insensitivity. Lack of purpose and lack of ideals breeds escapism and drug addiction amongst the young generations, poor and rich; and organised crime is taking advantage of this situation. Long ago 'organised crime' had gained unofficial acceptance as a provider of services, and today it has become an accepted part of the capitalist establishment, with its own capital invested in legitimate and illegitimate business. It shares with its blood relations, the capitalists proper, the office blocks, the luxury hotels, the holiday resorts, the glamour of the media, and the technology of capitalist production. Organised criminals are amongst the staunchest supporters of the capitalist system because crime is the quintessence of selfish personal self interest and free enterprise without the restrictions
of ethics or morals which, in any case, are very thin in capitalist economy today. There is evidence of a natural alliance between big business interests, extreme right wing associations, organised crime and powerful government enforcement agencies in the defence of Capitalism and what they call "freedom and democracy". They seem to surface together everywhere in the world in support of the most oppressive capitalist dictatorships. There is another negative and regressive feature in capitalist economy today. While in the early stages planning may not have been possible or necessary for capitalist expansion, today, in the present saturated world situation, planning and guarantees of employment are becoming essential for any future progress. But the nature of the capitalist system of production precludes any rational planning and, even more, any guarantees of employment, as we have seen earlier. There is no long term rational plan of production and use of resources. There is no guarantee of security of employment, nor provisions for alternative occupations when an industry becomes obnoxious, obsolete or has reached the limits of its growth; for example, to prevent unemployment in the timber industry we are compelled to continue cutting our forests until there are no more left. Every individual, therefore, for the sake of his immediate survival, must strive to keep alive the industry or organism of which he is a part. This applies to all organisms within capitalist economy, whether they are good or destructive. It seems to be evident that most people who have vested interests in, or whose livelihood depends on any dangerous or obnoxious industries, are the most strong apologists, or even violent supporters of such industries.
Another feature of capitalist society, deriving from the lack of rational planning and guarantees of employment, is the unconscious perversion of social and personal interests. The instinctive natural interest of every organism, and every individual within it, is the perpetuation of the environment that promotes its growth, and which is the reason for its existence. Therefore, generally speaking, in a situation when there is little opportunity for alternative employment, health workers, preoccupied about the source of their incomes, would have an involuntary vested interest in the existence of sickness; policemen would have a vested in the existence of general crime; people who make a living by working for charity organisations would have a vested interest in the existence of poverty and misery; union officials would have vested interest in the existence of industrial turmoil, and so on. These instinctive unconscious interests can be very strong because they are related to the instinct of immediate survival. Therefore, they can exert a great restraining influence on otherwise genuine attempts to solve our problems once and for all. This general rule and this pressure apply even more when great gain or great loss of wealth and power are involved. We do not have to look far to see the evidence of these regressive features in the present stage of evolution. Faced with the prospect of losing their employment, as we have said before, working people in many countries are forced to accept cuts in wages and living standards. As we have already seen, a worldwide trade war is going on in which the workers of different countries are battling to throw each other out of work. But this absurd battle, by cutting the buying power of wages, can only further decrease market demand.
The following paragraphs are a 1980’s description of the Hayek – Friedman Monetary Free Market philosophy that we have seen lately debunked. Finally, the most evident sign of regression are the economic and social policies of our present conservative world leaders. To save capitalist economy they are attempting to bring about economic and social conditions that were relevant two centuries ago and could not possibly improve the present situation. It seems to be evident that, towards the decline of any obsolete and corrupt socioeconomic system in our history, we find at the top leadership either persons who are intelligent but corrupted, or persons who are honest but not intelligent either intelligent crooks or honest dunces. The simple reason is that if a person was honest and intelligent at the same time, he would have nothing to do with an obsolete and corrupt system, he would just try to change it and, therefore, he would not be allowed to reach the top. If such a person would try to patch up such a system, he would eventually end up either becoming corrupted himself, or being broken like a fool. This would only confirm the general rule that he was either corrupted or a fool, pushed to the top for a brief moment, towards the end of an Era. If we look at our capitalist and political leaders today, they seem to be a sorry sight as far as wisdom goes. They seem to represent the worst features of the merchant philosophy, plus a narrow minded perception of the present world problems, and a rock hard presumption that God is on their side (this was written in the 1980s but there is not much difference now). It is difficult to imagine a more dangerous combination of attributes in people who have the power to blow the world apart. But it is their economic programs that are the most definite signs of regression.
They seem to realise that capitalism has come against some insuperable problems, and it cannot go much further. Not knowing what to do, and not wishing to give up, they seem to have acquired the strange notion that capitalist economy could continue to expand for ever if they could recreate the conditions that had been favourable to its birth and early development. In other words, they have the nostalgic assumption that, if they cannot go forward and the present is full of troubles, all could be fine if they could turn the clock backward, to the good old times when Capitalism seemed to work so well. They want to revive Capitalism by trying to re impose those features which they believe were prevalent at the beginning and during the Industrial Revolution. Their main argument is that today wages are too high, and that the capitalists are too much restricted by governments, unions, social and ecological considerations, etc. Therefore, by eliminating all these restrictions, capital could be free to expand further and the capitalist socioeconomic organism could survive. In short, their aim is to put 'capital above all', and make the need for profitable capital investment the overriding and overruling consideration above everything else. Today, this has become more or less the main economic object of all the main political parties in the capitalist and also socialist countries. Whether Liberal or Labour, Republican or Democratic or even Socialist, their main cure for our national economic and social problems is to undercut the opposition in the international world markets. To this effect they urge the workforce to make capital investment more profitable for the capitalists, that is, to increase the productivity of labour.
By now we should know what this means, and how hopeless it is in the saturated world market, where over a hundred countries are already sacrificing their populations trying to do the same! These regressive features are real and are not exaggerations. They are the logical results of keeping artificially alive a system that is already rotting. It should be evident that Capitalism, from a progressive force, has become an impediment to any further Human progress. The positive features that Capitalism may have had in the past are now turning into destructive trends. Capitalism has become a spoiler; as it continues to evolve it produces continuous changes and technological improvements, but these changes, instead of becoming beneficial, they turn into nightmares. For example, years ago some wise people recognised the impact that technology, overproduction, saturation would have on society. They advocated some rational solutions like shortening working hours, lowering the retirement age, paying more attention to the quality of life. The capitalists resisted, they derided and belittled such advice: nothing was done. One of their apologists (Alvin Toffler's Future Shock) could only suggest that society could only accept and try to adjust to the rapid changes! Now technology has overtaken us, and fewer hours are being worked overall anyway; but, while older people are being flogged to work until they are “eighty five percent incapacitated” and pension age is being extended, young generations are rotting in idleness and despair. Therefore, the goodies that capitalism produces turn into poison for society. Adam Smith pointed out two centuries ago, unfortunately to no avail, that we should beware of the advice of merchants and manufacturers; he was speaking of monopolists in particular, but
it applies to all capitalists when their vested interests are threatened: ". . like an overgrown standing army, they have become formidable to the government, and upon many occasions intimidate the legislature. The member of parliament who supports every proposal for strengthening this monopoly, is sure to acquire not only the reputation of understanding trade, but great popularity and influence with an order of men whose number and wealth render them of great importance. If he opposes them, on the contrary, and still more if he has authority enough to be able to dwarth them, neither the most acknowledged probity, nor the highest rank, nor the greatest public services can protect him from the most infamous abuse and detraction, from personal insults, nor sometimes from real danger, arising from the insolent outrage of furious and disappointed monopolists.." Today it is done through the Media. In conclusion, in its terminal stages, Capitalism can be compared to a dangerous cancerous growth an uncontrolled growth of living cells which destroys healthy tissues and organs, eventually killing the body organism in which they have developed. Greedy cells that grow in an irrational uncontrollable way at the expense of the rest; Such has become Capitalism, to the letter. It must keep on growing even when it has reached its natural limits. Therefore, this growth, instead of being progressive, becomes unnatural and destructive. When it stops and eventually it starts to shrink, the immediate livelihood of every individual inside the organism is at stake. Consequently, motivated by the natural instinct for immediate survival, every individual will strive to keep the rotting organism alive, even when it should be obvious that without a radical change it will cause the degeneration and destruction of all.
Are not our modern cities come to resemble very accurately a cancerous growth? They are emitting smelly and sickening fumes, mountains of rubbish and stinking effluent, like pus, is flowing out of them, and they hot up in an increasing paroxysm of movement and activity within the bitumen and concrete crusts of their rising and sprawling buildings. Have we Humans become the obnoxious and dangerous viruses that produce these sores? Have we Humans become the virus which is destroying this once beautiful and healthy living cell: our Mother Earth?
THE SOPHISTRY OF SEPARATION AND THE INFLUENCE OF THE MEDIA. ********
Capitalist apologists seldom explain the capitalist socioeconomic organism as a single entity in which all factors and groups are closely interrelated. They prefer to promote the concept of entirely separate entities, each one performing a specific task for the good of the Economy and the Nation, as the 'Economy' and the 'Nation' were separate abstract concepts. This philosophy suits the capitalists in their promotion of the double standard maxim that they need profit and personal gain not so much for themselves but for the well being of the 'Economy' and the 'Nation', and the workers must produce more and make sacrifices not for the capitalists but for the 'Economy' and the 'Nation'. This way of thinking also makes it possible for them to blame any particular section of society or of the economy for all the problems, without having to question the basic faults of the system as a whole: we never hear the word Capitalism mentioned whenever there is a problem in our socio-economic organism. In fact, what we are being told all the time is that the capitalists are always willing to do their duty to increase their profits and personal wealth for the Economy and the Nation, but it is the selfish workers who make trouble by refusing to do their duty to make sacrifices for the Economy and the Nation. (1970s) We know very well who is blamed in the media most of the time for our economic problems: the power hungry Unions, the greedy workers, the 'socialist' Labour party and Government bureaucracy; businessmen are always the victims. It is a very effective trick to separate all sections and aspects of life in the society: the business community, the bureaucracy, the investors, the taxpayers, the public, the unionists, the family man, the man in the street etc. as they were completely abstract concepts unrelated to one another, but each of them being
separately connected to the abstract concepts of 'Economy and Nation'. For example, how many times we hear in the media that the unions have no concern for the good of the community and are sabotaging the economy. It sounds like union officials have no relation to the workforce who, with their families, makes up the greater proportion of the population, and, therefore, are the main part of the community, the economy and the Nation. By this logic of separation, a person during his working hours is a worker and nothing else, when he is on strike or any other union activity he becomes a unionist, when he commutes he becomes the traveling public, at home he becomes the family man, when he is shopping he becomes a consumer and nothing else. These attributes are true enough, but the way they are used in the media creates the impression that a unionist, for example, may not also be a family man, a commuter, a consumer, a member of the public, etc. all at the same time. To suggest in the mass media that a person may have all of these attributes at the same time, would require an explanation on why such a person would engage in activities that would seem detrimental to himself as a family man, as a commuter, a member of the public, etc. Such explanation may be too complex and difficult, and possibly too revealing for the capitalists' comfort. Often we use philosophy to justify our actions. Therefore it suits the capitalists sometimes to adopt the idealist philosophy of separation, especially for their propaganda and their book keeping. They would not risk using it in their business.
The fact that it is difficult to express ourselves without isolating the different aspects of a complex situation or concept only shows our intellectual limitations and the primitive stage of our languages. For this reason the capitalist mass media is very effective in promoting support for Capitalism. Its logic is simple, superficially convincing, and it does not require much thought from lazy people or from people with busy lives. It uses elements of truth, and through superficial deductions it arrives at superficial assumptions. These, while appearing reasonable and truthful, have little real substance. Moreover, as they are simplistic, they are difficult to challenge because reality is much more complex and, therefore much more difficult to explain to people who may have no time or inclination to think deeply and objectively. So far, such people are the majority in a society. Eventually they may realise the shallowness of their assumptions when the realities of life overtake them and become obvious to most. But then it is usually too late to prevent the destructive consequences of their mistakes. A typical example amongst the many in history is what happened in Germany before the Second World War. There the majority of the population was made to believe the Nazis' superficial assumptions. These suited the people at the time, they were easy to believe, and they were reassuring. Only when it became too late, people began to realise their monstrous mistake. Suddenly, those people who had been persecuted as traitors of the Fatherland became the heroes of the Resistance. But Germany and the world had already paid dearly for the promotion of those assumptions.
How much responsibility can be laid on the German capitalists who financed, and on the middle class and on the media that helped to promote the Nazi movement? There should be little doubt that without their help and their passive complicity Nazism could not have succeeded. Today, Capitalism is in the same situation in the world as a whole as it was in Germany before the war. Capitalists are acting exactly in the same way; they are favouring or actively promoting extreme conservatism, and if not in words at least in deeds they are supporting or condoning the most ruthless right wing dictatorships. Extreme conservatives during the Cold War were promoting the philosophy of the first nuclear strike that a nuclear war could be won by striking the first blow. They also promoted the idea that it is better to be dead than red, and the mass media has been an accomplice in this promotion. Only strong public opinion can prevent ecological and social calamities, and the influence of the media is vital in its formation. Therefore, the bosses of the media must bear a lot of responsibility for the plight of society. As a recent example, in Australia, during the last twenty years or so they have relentlessly exhorted the government to embrace the dry economic philosophy of the "new right": - monetarism, deregulation, reduction in government spending, tax incentives for private business, restriction of union activities, etc.. Like lemmings we have followed the same economic policies that the U.S. and England had implemented ten years earlier. We followed Milton Friedman, Reaganomics, and Thatcherism even when the miserable results of their philosophy had already become evident. Now that we are economically and socially almost bankrupt, in fact a slave Nation, the eunuchs of the Media, like the Ross Gittins and others, are acting innocent (1980s); they
pretend that it wasn't them that urged and blackmailed the naive or the self seeking politicians in government to implement the interested editorial line of their masters in the media. Now they are at it again, pontificating about the economy and peddling the same hopeless line. So stupid and forgetful is the public! In a dictatorship the media is controlled by the government, it must support the ruling political party. This shows how important is the control over the means of information for any ruling class; but this rough and simple directness becomes completely transparent and counter-productive when the ruling elite becomes corrupted and is lying. In 'capitalist democracies' the situation is different, much more complex, and it varies in different countries. The media is part of free enterprise. Newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, the film industry, etc., they are an assortment of businesses run for profit. Regarding their political leanings, it is natural that, as free as they may be, their allegiance and ultimate interests lay with the capitalist system. Moreover, the media not only depends financially from its readers and viewers but also from the advertising needs of business interests. Whether it is owned by millionaires or by shareholders, it is subjected to capitalist conservative considerations. Moreover, it doesn't make much difference whether the media is all in the hand of one businessman or it is split between many ; they all believe in the same philosophy and, on the important issues, promote the same editorial line. When the media outlets are owned by different businessmen we are confused into believing that it is free and democratic! When was the last time we have seen or heard a strong debate between media outlets about different or opposing economic or social alternatives? It would be better if the media was owned by just one entrepreneur;
it would be less confusing and at least we would be clear where the editorial sermons were coming from. The public media, like the BBC, ABC, RAI etc that were supposed to present all facts and points of view - Left, Right and Centre -, after decades of conservative government interference have completely dropped the Left part, therefore all we have is either Centre, Right and extreme Right slanted news and comments influencing public opinion. No journalist in the capitalist media is directly forced to follow the establishment's line, but everybody knows that one cannot go too far from it without risking his job. Consequently, for self preservation, they must accept some 'self imposed' limits. These limits sometimes are stretched very far but, as with capitalist economists, they must stop short of a deep inquiry into the core of the economic system, or short of blaming Capitalism directly as the main cause of our economic and social problems. If we overlook commercialism, sensationalism and advertising, which is not easy, the media in capitalist democracies is very prolific, entertaining and informative; although very much inclined towards bad news as "bad news are good news" for profits. The capitalist political line is maintained not by printing direct lies, which is counterproductive in the long run anyway, but by a selective and subtle feeding of news and information set to support the editorial leadership; also by the use of appropriate words and adjectives to put the news item in a good or bad light to suit the editorial political line. This manipulation varies in intensity depending on the importance of the issue at stake. This subtle slant in the media is not enough to fool an inquiring mind, but it is enough to sway that fickle twenty percent of the public that makes up the fifty one percent of the votes. Because of its subtlety and its indirectness it is more effective than the direct propaganda of a dictatorship, as it induces most people to
believe that it is their own independent opinions that are reflected in the media instead of the other way around. Therefore, it is effective enough in the long term to produce in the majority of people a sort of vaccination against anything which is contrary to Capitalism. The few anti capitalist weekly papers have no impression on the general public. Very few people would like to be seen buying or reading such papers, so strong and pervasive is the general atmosphere of disfavour, even antagonism, towards anything that may be associated with opposition to the capitalist system. There is no need to say that this atmosphere has been created over the years by the capitalist oriented mass media and other forms of communication and entertainment. It follows that in practice even in allegedly democratic countries where there is not a strong and popular progressive movement with its own media outlets, the objectivity of the information reaching the public is not much better than in a dictatorship. In the first because of misinformation, in the second because of censorship, the public seldom comes into contact with news that are opposed to the ruling trend. The public is never presented with objective reality, and so, helplessly and tragically, masses of Human beings who have no interest or reasons to be against each other, succumb to suspicion and hate and are set to destroy one another. Another example of the power and bias of the capitalist media can be seen in the continuous shift to the right in the political scene. With its subtle relentless pressure the media can influence a section of the public and, with the passing of time, it can condition to a certain degree most of the rest, eventually even the more intelligent and inquiring people.
When there are two political parties, the conservatives by reflection are reinforced in their beliefs as public opinion is turned more and more 'antisocialist'. The more progressive Labour party, chasing votes and having little influence over the media, is forced to compromise and forego its ideals to gain some support from the capitalist press, and votes from the public. Its professional politicians, therefore, prostitute themselves and betray the people who elected them by making deals with self seeking media bosses and entrepreneurs. So, gradually over the years, a proud party which started with a socialist platform becomes apologetic about its own name, let alone the word 'socialism '. The tragic thing is that the society as a whole has lost the choice of a distinct alternative. At the elections, the only choice is between two similar social and economic prospects. For the superficial person this is democracy, but in practice this is the disguised dictatorship of the capitalist business class. Both parties are committed to capitalist economy; but our economy has been thrown to the wolves of the world's market and is affected by global factors beyond the control of our business and political leaders and, moreover, it cannot be harnessed in its decline. Therefore, no matter which one is in government it will end up discredited and with the economy and society still in a mess. Eventually, when both become discredited, and the public confused and cynical, a third party will emerge with the cast offs of the other two: Naturally it cannot be a radical party to the left of the two main parties where it is needed, as the capitalists who own or influence the media would not tolerate such a movement. This new party will squeeze itself in the middle, if there is any space just another safe horse to run for the capitalists.
With this trend, as Labour continually shifts to the right, the moderate Liberals lose their political platform and are thrown into confusion. They are left with no other alternative than to join the ultra conservatives while the Labour party is under constant threat of disintegration. These three parties, all capitalist oriented, will engage into a three cornered electoral minuet for a number of years, while society continues to slide into deeper troubles, accompanied by the orchestra of the capitalist media blaming everything and everybody else but the main real cause of our present problems Capitalism itself. It is tragic to see how the United Kingdom, the United States and other supposedly democratic countries are in this respect no better than the one party 'banana republics', nor better than what was the Soviet Union. The people of these countries have no real choice; they have no alternatives to Capitalism. All their political parties have become almost the same: they are different only in form but not in substance. They are all subjected to the same capitalist economic forces, to obsolescence and degeneration.
ABOUT SUPERFICIAL ASSUMPTIONS.
******** It should be obvious, in this terminal stage of capitalist evolution that what began about two hundred years ago in England as the Industrial Revolution has become today an Industrial Explosion encompassing the whole planet Earth. In this world-wide competitive scramble to develop at all costs, the only consideration is short or medium term profit. In the competition to win the trade war, any cost or long term investment in social well being and ecological considerations is being evaded. The possible destructive results of the reckless use of science and technology in the hand of desperate merchants cannot be foreseen. The merchant class is the least class of society that should be in charge of the destiny of this planet in the present situation; yet, after the failure of the first socialist attempt to create a more Humane and rational socio-economic organism, they are completely in charge. Never before they had such power: now they dominate the United Nations and they command the military power of the West under NATO; this power they have already collectively used in the destruction of the Yugoslav Federation, the Gulf Wars and now the forever War on Terror . But more powerful of all their armies is their control over most of the Media because it is through the Media that they are able to convince and steer the rest of the society to accept the philosophy and vested interest of their class as the law of the land. Why would Mr. Murdoch, the "stinker" of the capitalist media, go to Eastern Europe soon after the collapse of the socialist dictatorships to buy into the media outlets of those countries?
The Merchants, this small class in our society, have proclaimed themselves to be the defenders of freedom and democracy: these are the same people who believe in the philosophy of selfishness. As we have seen before, strong public opinion seems to be the only force that could prevent extreme conservatism from risking the complete degeneration of society and of the environment, but public opinion is very much influenced by conservative capitalists. It seems to be evident that most people have come to believe without question the capitalist assumptions disseminated through all the means of information and entertainment. The subtle and pervasive spreading of half truths, biased opinions and superficial concepts has created an atmosphere of suspicion and hate towards anything that may threaten the capitalist system. Opponents of capitalism are being de humanised or made fun of; they are painted either as "evil creatures" or as "bleeding hearts", "trendies", "lefties" etc. In general terms, the main trust of capitalist propaganda rests on one main assumption that Capitalism is good for progress, and that every other alternative is either evil or impracticable; that there is no alternative to Capitalism as the only system which promotes 'freedom and democracy'. On this assumption many people are even prepared to persecute those who disagree. Therefore, we should try to examine the objectivity of these assumptions and see if they warrant the risk of social and ecological disintegration. First of all, the capitalists maintain that we have no other alternatives available other than Capitalism or Socialism as it has evolved so far; therefore, even when admitting that Capitalism has some faults, they point out that the alternative is much worse. Consequently, we must bear with Capitalism whether we like it or not, the only thing that we can do is to try to improve it.
Most people are satisfied with this assumption, and they do not even think that Socialism could have succeeded in a different environment than the one where it started, or that other alternatives can be found. This is a negative attitude. But capitalists do not think like this in the course of their business, they are always willing to try new methods and schemes to make profits. They only choose to promote this negative attitude in the public to protect their interests when Capitalism is being questioned. We must remember that the capitalists, or any ruling establishment for that matter, always have and always will discourage and obstruct the development of any viable alternative to their own economic system. They have all the interest and the power to do so. Moreover, why are they so worried about Socialism if they are really convinced that it is so inefficient and it has no future? Why did they go to such extremes to prevent its birth and sabotage its development? Should we accept the superficial capitalist assumption that there cannot be alternatives to Capitalism, and deny ourselves the opportunity to find one? Another point which is promoted very successfully is that Capitalism is 'Democracy”. But our type of democracy is more an illusion than a fact, and it is not by any means a feature of all capitalist countries. In fact it is more the exception than the rule. There have been several kinds of societies in history that had some elements of democracy, and the primitive communal societies, where private property did not exist, were probably the most democratic of all. There is a close relationship between property and power. Communities where property was evenly subdivided amongst the citizens were fairly democratic, but as
soon as property accumulated in a few hands democracy disappeared. Complete democracy has seldom been allowed to develop in the world. Even in ancient Greece, the 'cradle of our democracy', democratic rights were only the privilege of a few thousands citizens property owners, and the Greek socioeconomic organism rested on the work of many thousands of artisans and slaves. Our present kind of democracy was born in the Medieval Communes and City States. It was the democracy of the early merchant traders and artisans; it evolved with Capitalism, and it is suited to the system it is the democracy of the merchants, in which their class by their capitalist Constitutions have all the advantages over the rest. But, as it evolved with Capitalism, now it is degenerating with it. Real democracy presupposes a general level of education oriented at promoting rational independent thinking, a complete freedom of information, and a system of elections which does not favour wealth or deception. Can we honestly say that our democracy conforms to these requisites? Our democracy is allowed to exist as long as the capitalist class has the advantage, can command fifty one percent of the votes, has the power to make it difficult for any party that threatens their interests, or as long as all the main parties are capitalist oriented. But as soon as there is a real threat to their power, they change the rules of their democratic game. They will support any dictatorship, even the most oppressive, as long as it is in favour of capitalist business. It was capitalist interests that helped the establishment of fascist regimes in Italy, Germany, Spain and China after the first world war; after the Second World war it was Turkey, San Domingo, Viet Nam, Argentina, Greece, Brazil, Chile, Salvador, Nicaragua and other Asian, African and South American countries where behind
the 'gorillas' of the army juntas was the shadow of property owners, bankers, businessmen and corporations. The capitalist media likes to publicise and exaggerate the degree of oppression and repression perpetrated by communist regimes, but they completely avoid mentioning the oppression and repression perpetrated in defence of mercantile capitalist establishments not for humanistic ideals but for selfish personal greed. Without mentioning the exterminations, cruelties, robberies during the centuries of mercantile colonial expansion, just read William Blum's documented story of capitalist repression during half of the last century. Socialist countries may not have had our kind of democracy, but they certainly did not have the monopoly of repression in the world. Therefore, it may not be in the nature of Capitalism to be democratic, and in the nature of Socialism to be undemocratic, but rather it may be the result of many variable factors and many different historical circumstances. One of the main factors may be that any ruling class can afford to be democratic when it feels safe, and it becomes undemocratic when it feels threatened. Therefore, different forms of democracy are allowed to develop and exist within different organisms as long as they do not threaten the established order. There are different determining features in the nature of different organisms. But, at least in theory, an economy based on the common ownership of the means of production should be more conductive towards a democratic society than a system where, in the words of Karl Marx, "the necessary condition for the existence of the private property of a minority is the nonexistence of any property for the immense majority of the society".
The main problem with the planned economies of the socialist countries was that, because of their original backwardness, their revolutionary beginning, and the continuous opposition from within and outside, they were forced by necessity to concentrate all economic power in the hands of a central government. The constant threat and ostracism from outside promoted in these countries a sort of siege mentality, which in turn favoured the establishment of a tough and dumb leadership rather than a moderate one, and forced them to dissipate a great amount of their resources on armaments instead of peaceful projects; Therefore the development of entrenched elites and corrupt bureaucracies. Another important reason for their failure was that in most countries the social awareness of the population was not ready for radical changes that were promoted by inexperienced revolutionary minorities supported by the still backward Soviet Union determined to have a ring of friendly regimes around their borders. By the time some of the leaders decided to democratise the system it was too late. By then the socialist bureaucratic establishment, as in any dictatorship, had ossified into a corrupt amoral ruling class. This caused the majority of the people to become cynical about those ideals for which in the beginning they would have made any sacrifice, they also became despondent and lazy as they did not have incentives to work, nor the fear of unemployment, as we have in capitalist society, to goad them to work. At the same time the capitalist “West” was undergoing a cycle of extraordinary economic expansion that gave strength to the working people and made them able to achieve better material and social conditions. The allure of consumerism made the comparison with the struggling “East” even starker.
Capitalist apologists like to claim that Capitalism is freedom. This is quite true for those who believe in Capitalism, no matter how poor and restricted they may be. But to claim that Capitalism is freedom for all is a completely false assumption, which, unfortunately, many people have been conditioned to believe. What is freedom? In real life, as far as we know, the abstract concept of absolute freedom does not exist and this word is being abused very much. One of the main restrictions on the absolute freedom of each individual is the freedom of the others, and often the freedom of one is the slavery of many. Freedom must be defined and specified in relation to objective actions or subjective feelings: freedom to do or not to do, to feel free or not. Freedom can be a state of mind, a question of choice, a question of faith or belief. Sometimes what is freedom for one person can be oppression for another, depending on their attitudes and inclinations. How can we explain that in many struggles and wars in our history just as many people died on one side as on the other, both fighting for their freedom? People think of liberty in relation to themselves and what they like or do not like to do, in relation to their own subjective values and attitudes, but most of all in relation to whether they are allowed to live or not. Life is Life, even in different societies: there may be different environments and different sets of rules, but in the end all peoples are Human beings, they must live, work, love, raise children, laugh, cry, and finally die. In capitalist society, the amount of freedom of action and movement of every individual person depends a lot on the amount of property and money one owns, and on how good a job one has within the economy or the government. This applies more or less in all modern industrial societies, even if the rules and conditions may be different.
In every society there are people who are ambitious and want to lead, and people who are happy to go along and follow, as long as they are allowed to live a decent life, and their children are not denied the opportunity for a better future. There are two main freedoms that people are struggling for in the world today: one is the freedom of the merchant to exploit, the other is the freedom of Humanity from being exploited. By the philosophy of the merchant, only if one has something to sell one has the right to survive, and only if one has the capital or the money to buy them, one has the right to use the natural resources of this planet. Therefore, at present there is a clash of interest worldwide between capital and Man; between the law of the merchant and the money lender on one side, and the law of Nature on the other. In this struggle there is no question of nationality, race or culture. These, for international capital are only ploys and disguises. There is a contest for 'freedom' between Capital and Mankind. Amongst the allies in the capitalist camp we find some of the most intolerant right wing associations and religious bigots, including the Klux Kluk Klan, we find organised crime, secret service organisations that have become a law in themselves, and also we find every one of the capitalist dictatorships around the world regardless of colour, creed or nationality. Only a superficial and naive person could sincerely believe that it is everybody's freedom that these groups worry about, especially if we consider that most of these people believe in the philosophy of selfishness. Why did the United States always intervene directly or indirectly in favour of capitalist interests against societies trying to lift themselves from poverty and oppression? Which was in reality Mr. Reagan's "Evil Empire"?
The freedoms that Humanity should strive for are the freedom from unemployment and poverty, insecurity, ignorance, pollution, and, above all, war. Should we believe without a deep scrutiny the superficial capitalist assumption that they have the monopoly of freedom for the whole of the Human race? The business establishment, their entourages and their capitalist economist always expound the doctrine that governments should not meddle in the management of the economy and the society. They state that everything should be left to private enterprise; that capitalist entrepreneurs, with profit in mind and competing with each other, can provide cheaper and better services to the public than the government can. Therefore, most government functions should be performed by private business for profit, only what is not profitable to them, like for example providing for the poor, should be left to the government or to charity. They hate to see the government spending public money on anything that has not the purpose of helping or promoting their vested interests. They hate the government bureaucracy that is not at their service, or is there to regulate them and to protect the public. Yet, they have their own bureaucracy, bigger than the government; what is the proliferation of banking, insurance, advertising, civil law, etc. if not a vast, expensive, non productive bureaucracy of capitalist business? In fact, to leave functions that are important for the whole of the society and should be performed by a government responsible to the society, to capitalist entrepreneurs and to the law of the market could be very costly and disastrous. For example, let's look at the Health Care systems in Canada and the United States: in Canada there is only one Health Insurance scheme run by the Government, it covers all the population, the administration cost per each dollar is very low, for example the
cost of paperwork is one cent in the dollar; In the United States there are 1500 Health Insurance companies and still 30 million Americans are not covered, the cost of paperwork is 10 cents in the dollar, the cost of running this private enterprise army is astronomical as each of the 1500 companies must spend for their administration, marketing, advertising etc.; moreover, one of these companies has been charged with fraud and another 35 are under investigation. Of course all these companies are providing profits and a lot of non productive work for a lot of people, but this is little comfort for those who are sick; So much for replacing government bureaucracy with private enterprise bureaucracy. Another example of private enterprise efficiency is what happened in Australia and, to a lesser extent, in other countries which have adopted the same capitalist philosophy: in 1983 a Labour government came to power; to keep the Media on side it became very friendly with big business and started listening to their advice; after a few months this government dropped most of their Labour Party policies and principles and started gradually adopting and implementing the "rationalist economic philosophy" of their business friends: deregulation of banking and the money market, privatisation, removal of controls over investment, cutting of government spending, control on wages but not on prices. Since 1983 real wages fell nearly 15 per cent; with the billions of dollars saved in wages, the billions saved by cuts in government spending, plus many billions of dollars borrowed from foreign sources our free enterprise businessmen, instead of investing long term in building the productive capacity of the country, they started chasing quick profits playing a game of monopoly in Australia and around the world. Since the 1987 stock exchange deflation most of these business captains that had been praised and admired by our politicians, by the media and, consequently, by the general public went broke.
In 1983 Australia had a foreign account deficit of about 17 billion; after only eight years, during which our capitalist free enterprise businessmen were given a free hand, our foreign account deficit has reached about 150 billion dollars, moreover, instead of having something to show for such indebtedness, most of Australia's manufacturing industry has been dismantled, destroyed after being thrown to the wolves in the "level playing field" of the world market; moreover half of the best industries that were left had to be sold to foreigners: - our entrepreneurs could not service their debts, other Australian companies did not have the money to buy them out, therefore they had to sell out to foreign investors. On top of this, the country is in recession, ten per cent of the work force is out of work with consequent social degradation. A country that is not industrially self sufficient, that is half owned by foreign capital likely to be withdrawn whenever another country may offer better prospects for profit, that has a foreign debt of 150 billions, such country is not an independent country, it is a Nation of servants, a "banana republic" as the Placido Domingo of the Australian economy liked to say. All this in the short time of eight years during which our businessmen were given a free hand; One could not ask for more efficiency! I have just pointed out some of the differences between the easy to believe capitalist assumptions, and a possibly more objective assessment. The doubts on the accuracy and honesty of these assumptions should be so strong that any reasonable person should think very hard before committing himself and his future generations to the perpetuation of a socio-economic organism that can only degenerate more and more into hopelessness, violence and destruction of the environment. In conclusion, we must never let ourselves be confused by the assumption that there is no other alternative beside Capitalism or
Socialism as they have developed at present. There is no valid reason why we should not find alternatives. We must always remember that the economy must be subject to the needs of a society, not the other way around. If an economic system cannot any more serve the needs of the majority of the population then it must be changed. Moreover, we should always remember the warning given two centuries ago by Adam Smith about the claims and advice from the capitalist class: " .....it comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the publick, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the publick, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it." It seems to be obvious that there will always be a need for merchants in our society, as they perform the task of facilitating the exchange of goods and commodities in our complex industrial socioeconomic organism; they should have their say, the same as all other groups in the society, but they should not be allowed the power to subject all considerations for Human development to the particular vested interests of their class.
A CATALYST MOVEMENT.
A SIMPLE PHILOSOPHY. ******** After reading this discussion so far, some people may agree, if they were not already convinced, that capitalist economy has become obsolete and is a danger to our survival. This should be evident to the majority of reasonable people. But the main question that must now come to our minds is 'what can we do about it'. All over the world, concerned people are joining into different movements with the purpose to solve our social and ecological problems. But most of these movements seem to be fighting windmills, as they are expending all their energies in different directions against the effects rather than the deep causes of the present problems. This is certainly better than doing nothing, but it is not effective enough in the short time that we may have available. What is needed, in my opinion, is a catalyst movement with a catalyst idea based on a simple philosophy that can be easily understood and accepted by the majority of society. This could unite most people in an effort to transform capitalist economy. The following is my contribution to such an idea, this is the main line of my thoughts.
The Human race is handicapped by its ignorance; ignorance and presumption have been the main negative features in our history; Ignorance and Presumption had much more to do in determining our development than the little knowledge that we had about ourselves and the Universe. We became ignorant when we became conscious Human beings. But this original ignorance was not a sin, nor was it culpable. We fail ourselves only when we do not do our best to acquire knowledge, and when we, in our ignorance, become presumptuous, especially when we risk destruction because of doubtful assumptions. Different Cultures have developed in different parts of the world, separate from one another, unknown to each others. Therefore, we have acquired different attitudes, languages, customs and religions. These differences have been mainly determined by distance, by geographical and climatic environments, besides many other factors. No Human being on this Earth, as far as we know, has had anything to do about the choice of his parents and about the place and environment in which he was born. Therefore, excessive pride and prejudice about race and nationality are signs of ignorance and presumption. Only yesterday, because of isolation and ignorance, the races and Nations of the world hardly knew each others. Today, by the development of Capitalism, communication technology, transport, etc. we have been brought face to face while our minds are still obscured by ignorance and presumption. We cannot avoid each other even if we wanted to; there are no empty spaces left, and for the first time we are forced to solve the problem of coexistence on this Earth once and for all.
Different Nations and Cultures torn by fear and suspicion, crowded on a small planet a little speck in the Universe. We need time to learn about one another. But because of nuclear and ecological dangers time and space are running out. There is no doubt that we have much to learn from one another. In different ways we all have something of value to offer. If we are willing and have an open mind, we could strive together towards a better society, a society with many forms and beautiful varieties. Outwardly we may be different, but deep down we share the most important Human aspirations, and we are bound by the same basic laws of Nature. We will not survive if we let ourselves be blinded by our original ignorance, by our presumptions and prejudices. We cannot survive if we persist with the philosophy and attitudes of personal selfishness and antagonism. While we possess the technology of nuclear destruction, we cannot continue to act like troglodytes. Thanks to the advent of Capitalism and the development of technology, we never had in our history a better chance for 'global peace' and `global progress'. There is so much to be done, and yet we may blow our chances and possibly also destroy ourselves. If we do, it will only be because of our stupidity, and we will have proven that the Human race was nothing more than an obnoxious mutation a virus on the face of the Earth; In the Universe, the judgment will be that a creature which called itself "homo sapiens" lived on a small planet for a few thousand years; this miserable creature would have been outlived by all other forms of life that it had considered inferior a definite evidence of its stupidity and presumption. We need time. We must stop or at least slow down for a while and learn more about ourselves and our environment, solve our
present problems, decide where we want to go, and then proceed towards the future. During the last two centuries, after the slumber of the MiddleAges, Capitalism has forced Humanity into a breakneck race without any real thoughts about consequences, and without a real purpose. We have left nothing untouched, Man or Nature. We cannot continue this race for ever. So far only one third of the world has been fully developed into "consumer societies" and it is still developing further by draining resources from the rest. We can already clearly see the damage that we have done to the planet. Let's think now what would happen to the environment of this planet if the remaining three thirds of the world succeeded in their attempts to develop into consumer societies, as the industrial nations have done; nobody can deny them the right to do the same as they did. Just let's try to imagine Asia, Africa, South America all producing and consuming like Japan or the United States - and yet, this is what they desperately are trying to do. Neither the developed nor the underdeveloped countries of the world can stop this race. Why? Simply because, by the very nature of capitalism, investment of profits in the production and sales of commodities must continually expand: Therefore there is no way that Humanity can solve this quandary within capitalist economy outside a world-wide fair and ecologically sound planned use of resources. So far we cannot fix what we have done wrong within our present system, let alone plan for the future. We have brought about destructive trends that may be irreversible. We only start to worry afterwards, when the ravages of our mistakes are upon us. Our ignorance is not a sin; we seem to have been destined to evolve in darkness. But today, even if we are still ignorant, at
least we have begun to open our eyes and see ourselves in relation to our planet and the Universe. Moreover if ignorance is not a sin, to close our eyes and our minds, to refuse to learn, to persist in our mistakes is the worst disservice to ourselves and the world of Nature of which we are a part. When we are in doubt, and this should be most of the time, we should rather err on the side of safety than on the side of recklessness. Why should we be continually pushed on without knowing where we are going? Our Earth should have a few more millions years of life if we allow it; therefore, Humanity has plenty of time, there should be plenty of time for our children. We need time to sort out our social, economic and ecological problems on a world scale. This is the most important point at present. But Capitalism does not allow us to slow down and think about the future. It is an uncontrollable force that must expand and keep on feeding at all costs. When it has reached the physical natural limits of its expansion, which on this small planet are becoming more obvious every day, it starts to feed on itself , it tends to destroy in order to start again and keep on going. We cannot allow this to continue because our survival is at stake, and there cannot be compromise on this point. Capitalism, during the last few centuries, has brought us very far. But, as we have discussed earlier in this booklet and we can see every day, it cannot progress naturally any more. It has become an impediment and also a great danger to Humanity. It must be discarded; this is not a question of philosophy, religion or politics, it is a question of natural common sense.
As we have said before, Human beings of different Races, Cultures and Religions are finally facing one another, and there is no more space to try to avoid contact. We are still influenced by suspicion, prejudice and hatred, the products of our ignorance. Now we must make the choice either to survive together or to perish together. The first thing that we must do is an act of humility: an admission of our ignorance about each other and about our environment. Then we must find a common ground by concentrating our attention on the basic essential aspirations and the natural laws which unite us as a part of the Human Race. We must, for the present, stop arguing about those differences that have developed because of our separate developments. These differences in Cultures, Religions, attitudes, as important as they may be, are not insurmountable. Often they are the product of conjecture, of dreams and assumptions. Today they should be losing importance in relation to the dangers that we are facing. What is common to every Human being within any Culture, Religion and environment is the natural instinct to survive, to improve his life and the prospects for his future generations. Every philosophy originates from this simple starting point, and develops according to the requirements of the different factors and necessities of the different environments, and also according to the level of understanding about ourselves and the natural forces which surround us. Terefore, we should go back to the basic features which unite Mankind. We could argue but we cannot fight about the rest of our beliefs. We are still ignorant and, therefore, each of us could be right or each of us could be wrong. The truth about our existence and the Universe may become clearer in the distant future, if we grow in understanding and wisdom. This is a continuous process that may take innumerable generations.
Every generation is a link in this process of evolution. We have the duty to promote the continuation of this process, and when Humanity will have found the truth about the Universe and the reason for its existence, we will be there. This is why, in my opinion, the continuation of wholesome life on increasingly superior levels of understanding is the prime task and duty of every Human being. Therefore, it should be obvious that anything that promotes the continuation of Human life should be encouraged, anything that threatens it should be prevented. The problem is that, because of our ignorance, we may not be able to judge what in the long term may be right or wrong. Therefore, it is important that we are careful and that we take time in our decisions. In our progress we must leave ourselves a way open for retreat and, unless it is inevitable, we should avoid promoting changes which may be irreversible. As we have said, the first basic aspiration of every Human being is to be able to live a meaningful life in the present, and in the future through the survival of the following generations. In general terms, the 'Golden Rule' is the primordial natural law by which Humanity has tried to ensure its survival. 'Do not do to others what you do not want to be done to yourself': This is enshrined, directly or indirectly, since ancient times in every philosophy and religion. It was a form of natural insurance against the excesses of violence and destruction. Even if it has not stopped murders and wars, it has acted as a brake against the worst Human instincts; whoever has transgressed this law has been disapproved by the majority of Human beings. The ancient rule of 'an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth' was the Golden Rule in reverse: 'if you do to others what you do not want done to yourself, then it shall be done to you'.
The Golden Rule is an ancient natural law. Christianity brought this law a step further: 'it is not enough to abstain from doing wrong to others, one should love one's fellow Human beings'. What Christianity preaches is almost impossible for many; therefore the “Golden Rule” should be paramount: it does not require Love, but at least it requires Justice. Most Human philosophies and religions since ancient times have professed a strong faith in goodness and justice, and Mankind, no matter how bad things may have been at times, has always admired honesty and virtue. Therefore, it is evident that Man has always aspired to be good, notwithstanding all his faults. But at present, most people have been conditioned to believe that Human nature is basically bad and selfish. This is one of the main arguments in the armoury of the capitalist apologist. When all his arguments in favour of Capitalism have been defeated, he likes to assert that Man is selfish by nature and, therefore, no system based on cooperation and good will is possible. This is a general human attitude to think that everybody is like oneself; by the merchants' logic, only Capitalism can work because it is based on selfishness, but blind selfishness is the root of malice. The promotion of this doctrine is malicious and dangerous because it conditions people to accept as normal the worst features of Human nature. It also creates the absurd situation in which everybody believes that he is good but that everybody else is bad. Consequently, everybody becomes distrustful and cynical and gradually begins to act against his better instincts: people reciprocally reinforce the negative side of their nature, while the best side is gradually suppressed. Honesty and virtue are derided, in capitalist society they become the handicaps of the "suckers". In fact, man is neither bad nor good. Man is motivated by the natural instinct of self preservation, and the pressures of immediate necessity are stronger than the considerations for the
future. Given a chance, Man will rather be good than bad, but he will do whatever he thinks is necessary for his immediate survival; at times he will kill, at times he will cooperate with other Human beings, whatever he may think will promote his survival. Necessity will mainly influence his behaviour, but his subjective perception of his necessity is determined by his level of understanding, which so far has been mainly his level of ignorance. Since Man has acquired his imperfect consciousness he gradually has lost his instinctive innocence, and his instinct for survival has been affected by his imperfect perception of himself and his natural environment. Therefore, his instinct has developed in different, often negative and twisted forms. The fear of scarcity and famine in a harsh environment has promoted the features of 'greed and covetousness', and the mutual fear of strangers and the fear of the unknown have promoted the suspicious and aggressive features in Human nature. But this is only one side of Human nature that the capitalist like to publicise so much. There is a better side, and this is the more prominent in the majority of the Human Race: there is love, self sacrifice for loved ones and for ideals, good humour, compassion, etc. There is more joy in being loved than being hated. There is more fun in loving than hating. There is more satisfaction in being useful than being useless. There is more harmony in singing together than screaming at each other. . . . Actually, if we consider our struggle for survival in a primitive environment with the heavy handicap of our original ignorance,
fear, prejudices, it is evident that the better side of our nature has so far managed to surface and eventually take over most of the time. For every bad person in our history there have been a thousand good ones, for every bad deed there have been a thousand acts of love and compassion. Man wants to be good, but he is not allowed because of his ignorance and fears. So far, in all his attempts, he has not been able to create a social and economic environment that will fulfill his aspiration. That Man has never given up trying is enough evidence of his good intentions. Capitalism, in its present stage of obsolescence, is aggravating a negative environment that accentuates the worst features of Human nature: to be good natured is not profitable in capitalist society. Even as I think and write about these ideas, I can feel the scorn and derision that most people today would show for such feelings. But it seems to me that if a person is not allowed to be good he cannot be completely at peace with himself. If we can avoid a complete breakdown of what is good in Human society, in time, with more knowledge and wisdom, we can be confident that we will be able to build a better social and economic environment that may promote the best side of our nature. We must never give up trying. To sum up in a few words: Human societies have developed separately from one another, therefore they have assumed different forms and evolved into different Cultures; But their basic necessities and aspirations are the same. Now we have been forced face to face. We need time
to learn about ourselves and about our environment. Capitalism is rushing us, it does not allow us to slow down and think, it has become regressive and dangerous. Therefore, it must be replaced. All Human beings of any nationality, religion and race, to be able to cooperate, must concentrate on the basic features and aspirations that unite the Human Race. We must learn about one another and find the reasons for our outward differences. From this starting point we could begin to build for the future, with an uncompromising unity of basic principles and essential directions, but also with an immense variety of experimentation and outward forms. Admission of our ignorance, Humility before Nature and the Universe, Open mindedness, A continuous effort to seek knowledge and wisdom, Good will to cooperate towards Human survival at increasingly higher levels, These, in my opinion, are the simple requisites for a new beginning. These are the main attributes of 'people of good will'.
THE PRESENT SITUATION IN RELATION TO ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL CHANGE. ******** After the financial meltdown, Capitalism is on the ropes and like during the Great Depression the opportunity exists to finish it off and start a new Era of real progress; unfortunately there is nobody to take on the challenge. There is no sign of a well organised radical opposition; the progressive Left is in complete disarray: the virtual capitalist dictatorship is in full control and armed to the teeth (NATO), they will try to patch up their economy for the benefit of their establishment no matter how much the cost will be to the rest of the population and to the Planet. The leaders that believed and or adopted the economic philosophy that brought about the collapse of capitalist financial bureaucracy are still in charge and they will try to save Capitalism at all costs; how? By promoting more development and more
consumerism in the capitalist Global Market, the main factors that have brought the Earth to Ecological Meltdown; to save their skins comes first, Global Warming comes second. They are still dreaming about the capitalist Global Market but as politicians they will be forced, directly or indirectly, to bring the factories back to their voters if they do not want revolution in their own Countries; therefore more isolation, more nationalism, more racism and a new more stupid and more deadly trade war to throw each other out of work. Where is the Progressive Left? They have given up completely on the Socialist Ideals; they have been blinded by the temporary success of capitalist economy and by the failure of the Soviet Union, a first attempt under extremely unfavourable circumstances to create an alternative to the capitalist system. Where is the Left now? They all have become consumers in a consumer society, most have become part of the middle class, “chardonnay” socialists, corrupt centre-left politicians, hippies have become yuppies, the few small Left political parties have been infiltrated by secret security agents that are “facilitating” the small groups to be ineffectual or by agents provocateurs intent to ruin the movements’ reputation in the eyes of the public. I have explained my opinion that the transformation of the capitalist system into a rationally planned or guided economy is essential for the solution of our present social and ecological problems. But a society and its economy cannot be separated, they are one entity. Therefore, economic change means also social change. This raises the question about what would be the essence and the form of a new socioeconomic organism. A new economy, to be of general benefit, cannot be artificially devised and imposed on people. It must be the result of natural
forces, of necessity and natural evolution; at present, necessity has become the main motivation. The majority of society must feel and understand the necessity for change, it must also agree on the new general direction it should take. The desire for change will generate from a situation that is becoming intolerable and irrational; the direction will be shown by the movement that will be able to put in practice its philosophy and demonstrate to the people the benefits that it brings to those who embrace it. People will not change unless they can see a better alternative that is working; people will not jump in a vacuum or in the dark, unless for them life has become no better than death. Therefore, only a new socioeconomic system for which the basis and embryo already exists within the old society, and has the strength to overcome all the injustice and violence that the old establishment will throw at it, will have the chance to grow and prevail. Moreover, it must be an improvement on the old organism for the greater number of people, it must offer spiritual as well as material advantages, and it must offer a better guarantee for the healthy survival of Humanity. In the present chapter we should consider briefly the main objective features in the present situation. Then, in the following chapters I will try to explain in general terms my opinion on what kind of society and economy could be promoted in relation to these features, and also on some ways by which such transformation could be brought about. To have an idea of the present situation in relation to economic and social transformation we should consider three main points: the desire and the movement for change, the potential of the productive forces, and the general political situation in the world. The Human Race has been affected by continual change. During the last two centuries capitalism has accelerated the pace of our
evolution, unfortunately more in respect to science and technology than in respect to our wisdom. Today, the desire for renewal is evident throughout the world, but it manifests itself in many different and opposite forms in many parts of the Earth. In the western capitalist countries most people realise that there is need for change, but there is no unity of ideas nor everyone is prepared to go to the same extent to promote it. The traditional division between social classes in relation to evolution or revolution is not any more the same as in the past. People who are involved in progressive movements come from every section of society. Increasingly they come from the middle class which, at the same time, is materially affluent in capitalist society: most have lost their integrity, they are not likely to start rocking the capitalist boat. With the advent of modern technology, the workforce employed in production has gradually diminished in relation to that employed in the service industries. Working class radicalism has almost disappeared, most people have no deep consciousness about the important issues which affect their future; they are mainly concerned with their immediate survival which depends from the preservation of the industries in which they are employed, no matter whether they are good or bad. In our consumer society, families with more than one income, workers who receive high wages, and those who are self employed often are more conservative than the capitalists themselves, because they can enjoy a high standard of living. Because of poor education and the influence of the media, conservatism has become the trend, even amongst some of the poorest sections of society, the unemployed and alienated. Those who are better off may look with sympathy at those who are poor,
but their sympathy will gradually turn to suspicion and resentment when the poor become restless, a drain on their incomes and a threat to their jobs. Most of the Trade Unions have lost their former anti capitalist radicalism. Their leaders have become an accepted part of the establishment, intent to perpetuate their position of power, and contented to maintain, if they cannot improve, the conditions of their members within the framework and the requirements of the capitalist system. In the final analysis, notwithstanding this capitalist victory, the competition in the world market will intensify, with more poor countries undercutting each other; desperate to attract foreign investment to develop their industries, to increase production to be able to pay their debts. The situation has definitely changed since the Financial Meltdown in 2008; the faults and the destructive nature of Capitalism in its final stage of evolution are clearly evident to anybody with a bit of honesty and common sense. It is my opinion that the technology of production in the industrial countries, and also in some of the developing countries, has reached a level that, if used in a rational way, could eliminate poverty throughout the world. But at present, because of the nature of the capitalist system, this great potential is being wasted mainly in a senseless economic war for the benefit of a minority of people that already have too much.
The main economic problem in capitalist society is the problem of overproduction in relation to the effectual demand, and Capitalism cannot deal with it in a rational way. Under the present system, because of competition and insecurity people who are caught in the rat race of the capitalist spiral of
production are compelled to produce faster and faster; if in a new more rational and humane socio-economic environment the factors of competition and insecurity are removed, people may become more relaxed and they may slow down. But this may not be a bad change for the majority of Human beings. This slowing down would be more than compensated by The rationalisation of direction and purpose; By the rationalisation of production to eliminate excessive duplication of products and spare parts; By the elimination of "planned obsolescence" and the lengthening of the life of the products by adopting forms of 'modular production'; By the elimination of obnoxious products; By the utilisation of all labour potential that today is being wasted in forced idleness; By the utilisation of science and technology not for the destruction but for the conservation of energy and resources; By the utilisation of clean natural energy; By the elimination of the arms race and arms production; By a new feeling of purpose and participation that could release the power of thought and inventiveness in most Human beings; By reducing the main causes of hopelessness and conflict, it would also diminish the expense in crime repression; Moreover, by slowing down the present rat race, the generations would be allowed to re establish their natural links, and this would also allow those people who are slower, to catch up and to participate in the life of the new society.
Unlike the situation in Russia and China before their revolutions, the material basis for the development of a planned or guided economy in most parts of the World already exists. The change from private ownership of the corporations to public ownership and the change of orientation of social production from consumerism and private profit to conservation and social profit could be possible without much inconvenience to the great majority of Human beings. Most likely a rationally planned economy would rather require a slowing down of production rather than a desperate increase in sacrifices for rapid industrialisation like in the ex Soviet union and China. Moreover, the increasing number of people who are out of work and are alienated from the present society may be quite prepared for such a change, they have nothing to lose. Even in the developed countries now life has become unstable for the majority of the population; there is no security of work or housing. How can one rise a family on quick sands; more and more people seem to be on edge. These people are a threat to the capitalist establishment. Our ruling elites are well aware of the danger, they will try to avoid a situation in which a great number of the population may become restless; they will keep the majority of the poor in a state of stupor, just above the level of desperation, with lotteries and sport, as the Roman populace was kept with distributions of wheat and games in the Circus. At the same time, the capitalist establishment will have to build more jails, increase their security forces, and train the police and the army for anti-riot and anti-terrorist duties. That section of the population that is better off will not oppose effectively the gradual institution of repressive laws and regulations, allegedly for the protection of the minority in the society. The capitalist system,
therefore, will gradually become more repressive as well as more regressive. For these reasons, it seems evident that it is essential to find new means to promote and accelerate our economic transformation. To conclude, I believe that the need for change has never been so strong, and that the material requisites for the success of a new economy and society are now available. What are needed are the belief that it is possible and the will to begin working to achieve it.
A NEW SOCIETY. ******** We cannot deal here with all the details of a new society. These are the concern of every individual person or group of people, They will have to decide for themselves what these details will be. These depend on many factors which are pertinent to different situations, environment, Cultures, etc. that have evolved in different parts of the world. I do not have in mind a monolithic and regimented society. This would not be possible nor, in my opinion, desirable. Here we will try to deal with the general basic principles that can be accepted by the majority of Human beings because these principles are obvious, and because they have been the underlying aspiration of Humanity for a very long time. These simple principles could form the guiding line for a new world wide and multiform society. While the practical details are the concern of every individual and of every different group of people, and, therefore, they may assume many different forms, there should be no compromise on the few simple but essential guiding principles. The starting point is the present situation of Human relations and understanding, the situation of the productive forces, and the general aspirations of most Human beings. From this point we should try to see which principles could be practical and could be accepted by the majority of people. We should keep in mind that, at this stage in our history, we do not have much choice or time to argue about sophisms and secondary issues.
It is evident that we must adopt a new way of thinking and a new way of living if we want to improve our chances of survival. We must remember that Human beings have not always thought in the same way. Over the centuries, as our perceptions have changed, we have altered our way of thinking and our attitudes. With Capitalism we have adopted the mentality of the merchant, and today it is the mentality of the merchant of the worst kind the merchant of money. If we want to survive, it is essential that we endeavour to shed this mentality. The first prerequisite for a new society should be that we should drastically reduce the power of the `Merchants and Businessmen' who now directly and indirectly rule our world and have subjected our future development to the particular vested interest of their class and to the uncertainty of their gambles. Free enterprise should not be eliminated, but it should be allowed only within a worldwide framework with guidelines and standards formulated by all sections of the socioeconomic organism. This plan of production and development should be devised with the long term Human advancement in mind: Human considerations should be paramount, science and technology must have a supporting role. Free enterprise and competition could be allowed within these limits: the tasks and activities of production could be tendered out as long as the entrepreneurs could perform these tasks to the specifications and within the social conditions laid out; otherwise the tasks would be performed by the society through Public Utilities. Private property of the means of production, production for the personal gain of a minority, and selfish competition are the main features in capitalist economy. Within this system most people, to earn a living, must compete against one another to be able to work for a minority of people who own capital. This form of social organism is obsolete, today it cannot fulfill the needs and
aspirations of the majority of Human beings, and it is promoting the worst features of Human nature. A new economy cannot be based on production for individual personal profit, destructive consumerism. We cannot allow exploitation of man by man, and the antagonism of capitalist unlimited competition. On our small planet production must be rationally planned for the need of the whole society in harmony with the environment. We must produce by cooperating with each other, and priorities should not be determined by what is profitable to a minority, but by the real needs of the society. Farming and food production should be the first priority, then housing, education and health, and then, in order of importance, everything that makes life worth living. We should promote those principles that favour the development of a most efficient economy based on cooperation, at the service of, and compatible with, a free multiform and progressive society an economy serving the liberty of all the people, not just that of capitalist businessmen.
A new society - Private property. Time and Value.
Before we proceed further, we should discuss the issue of private property, the "sacred cow of the capitalist class", and the pillar on which Capitalism rests. Here we will discuss the private property of the means of production, not our homes and other personal things that we may own.
To own the house or the flat in which we live does not make one a capitalist, we all must live somewhere and, besides, we should not have to pay through our noses for such a necessity of life: necessities should not be made objects of personal investment for personal profit. We must make an important distinction between the property of the means of production which affect the whole of society, and the personal property of those commodities which make individual life comfortable. The concept of "absolute individual private property" is particular mainly to the capitalist system. Capitalism could not exist without it. The concept of property, land property in particular, evolved and changed with the evolution and changes of Human societies; at the beginning it did not even exist. At the beginning the use of the land belong to those who could defend it, and in essence it is the same today. At the beginning the land was used in common by the primitive families and tribes. As the population increased and civilisation evolved, the concept of private property evolved too, but it was seldom absolute, and it was always ultimately dependent on the ability to defend it. The primordial right to anything was the 'Right of Might’: behind all laws, customs and rights, including the right to property, is the capacity to enforce them, the willingness to accept them, and transient common convenience. In Europe during the Middle Ages there was the land tenure of the Barbarian Nations; before the development of Capitalism, there was the feudal form of land tenure entrusted to the nobility by the King, but everybody had some chartered rights to the use and produce of the land it was the right to life. Eventually the nobility
took possession and most of the peasants living on their lands were forced to leave. With Capitalism, property had to become absolute: there would be no incentive to accumulate land and wealth if they could arbitrarily be taken away by force or by decree. Therefore, the capitalist concept of property had a beginning in our history; it is not the "eternal concept and the sacred cow" that we have been made to believe, but it has come about with Capitalism and with Capitalism it will go. The "absolute private property" of the capitalist is very expensive to society as a great part of private and public bureaucracy is continually employed in its maintenance and protection. In a new society, therefore, we should distinguish between the main forms of property: The inalienable ownership of our personal possessions related to our personal freedom and individuality, The public ownership of the means of production that affects the whole of society and The ownership of productive land. We should consider the property of farming land separately from the rest of the means of production for two main reasons: one is that, because it concerns the growing of food produce, it is the most important issue to be resolved, from which the success or the failure of any society primarily depends; therefore, it is the key to a successful and peaceful transition. The second reason is that it involves special people, those farmers who grew on the land for generations, love the land and make it productive. In the developed industrial societies, the farmers are in a minority compared with the people that are working in the manufacturing
and service industries, and who are living in the large industrial cities. Yet, together with all the other activities associated with farming, they are the most important people in a society because they are closer than anybody else to the real source of life without which the cities, with all their industries could not exist. Their labour on the land produces the primary fuel for Human life and energy. If a farmer can grow enough produce to feed and keep alive a number of families beside his own, he has multiplied his labour power the source of all wealth. In figurative terms, of the people who are kept alive by the work of one farmer, one could become a builder, one a teacher, one a doctor, etc. This is the basic difference between a simple subsistence society and one that can grow and flourish. This is only possible because the land and the work of Man have produced a surplus of food for the expansion of Human life and Human activity. It is the task of the society as a whole to promote the life of useful people, and to discourage the establishment of parasites. At present, productive land is owned either by farmers living and working on it, or by absentee companies, agribusiness corporations and investors. In the case of companies, it should not be difficult to change the nature of the land tenure from private ownership to public cooperatives. The managers and farm workers on the land, as long as their livelihood was not threatened and was improved, would probably prefer to be working for a society of which they are members, rather than for unknown shareholders and gamblers in the international stock market. In the case of farmers working on their own farms, if they love the land, they should be the ones who husband it. If so they wish,
they and their children should own it as long as they like to make it productive. To this effect they should be provided with the best help and facilities, and their status should be commensurate with their importance to the society. Their value and their remuneration could be determined by free discussions and contracts between the farmers, their associations and the rest of the society. The main principles about the land are that farming is the most important industry in a society, that the land should be farmed by those people who love it and understand it, and that such farmers should be comfortable and secure for generations, or as long as they wanted to be productive farmers. But, in the new society, there should not be absentee landlords, hoarding or speculation of land and no one should hold more land that one family or a cooperative of farmers are able to farm. Regarding the support and recompense for each section of the society performing a task or function in the economy, there should be a list of priorities parallel to their importance in the functioning of the socio-economic organism. For example, if farming is considered to be first in importance, logically it should receive first consideration in the overall plan or guide of production and distribution of commodities, plant and equipment. “TIME” (kronos - ?) could be made the standard measure regarding the assessment of the value of labour, the products created by labour and consequently the cost of production and entitlements of every individual in the society Today, with the speed and power of computing, the exact time taken to produce any commodity from conception through every stage of production and finally to distribution could be calculated; Therefore the total value of all production in the society would be equivalent to the sum of all the time spent in working by each individual in the society.
The time of one's life is equally precious for each individual person; therefore everybody would be entitled to a quantity of commodities whose time to produce is equivalent to the time a person has spent working. Some consideration should be given regarding the danger, difficulty and discomfort of some type of work, also to the ease, pleasantness of other type of work. The accrued value that a person has not spent should be accounted as Credit to that person.
A new society - Education.
Considering what we have said so far, it seems to be evident that in a new society these pitfalls must be avoided if the society has any hope to remain democratic for a fairly long time. Therefore, education should be oriented to develop in every Human being, since school age, the power of independent inquiring thinking This is essential for a really democratic society. Because of the continually increasing volume of information and knowledge, it has become impossible for any individual person to master all there is to know. It would be difficult for anyone to attempt to become a specialist in every field of knowledge. Education from early age should be oriented, first of all, to develop the power of objective thinking and social consciousness through the study of Human history, social sciences, Arts, Cultures and Religions, and through a general basic knowledge of all other sciences and technology. Every person should have the duty and should be encouraged to reach such level of education. This would promote wider contact
and understanding between people, and should diminish one of the main causes for the existence of social classes - the difference in the level of education and culture. The next role of education should be to provide specialisation, research and experimentation in every field of knowledge, in cooperation with the rest of the society and in harmony with its guiding principles. Education, as one part of social life, should help to produce conscious healthy Human beings able to think for themselves. Next, it should provide the means and facilities for those who want to specialise in any field of knowledge. A general principle should be that Humanity comes first, then technology at its service. For leadership, excellence in both fields should be the ideal. It is my opinion that the great majority of Human beings have the potential to reach a high level of education and Human awareness. Some are slower than others, some develop sooner some later, but at the end, within the difference of a few years, all can reach a high level of understanding. As it is today, children are already being separated into different social levels when they enter primary school. Coming from different backgrounds, compelled by an artificially set timetable and strict schedule, those who are slow are stunted for life. They are placed in lower categories and, by the time their intellect opens up and expands at a later stage, it is too late for them to catch up. They may already have acquired a sense of inferiority, and they may have developed mental blockages to protect their egos. Moreover, unless they come from a wealthy background, the timetable of their education cannot be extended. This is a personal tragedy for many young people, and a great loss of talent for the whole of society.
There should be no stigma or shame in being a slow learner; time can make up for slowness. In fact, some of the greatest geniuses were slow students; they succeeded because of exceptional circumstances or exceptional will power. How many young people with latent talents have been wasted because their intellect developed later, and they did not have the fortune of exceptional will power or favourable circumstances; How many of them are now intelligent criminals who, in a different society, could have been good and outstanding citizens? For all these reasons Schools, Colleges, Universities etc. should be expanded and be readily available to anyone seeking to improve their education at any stage of their lives.
A new society the media.
The media and other means of information should complement the role of education, but they should be completely independent from any other influence The reporting of news should be objective, and, for the sake of objectivity, the proportion of bad news to good news should be in relation to their proportion in real life and in relation to their importance. As we do not know definitely how the Human brain works and is influenced, we should be very careful about the exaggerated dissemination of unnatural, putrid and gory news items which dull our sensitiveness even if for some reason they attract our morbid curiosity. Today sensationalism is rampant because it boosts profits, and what otherwise would be extraordinary and unusual happenings becomes accepted as commonplace. Much is stored in our brain's
memory banks, in our subconscious, to be activated later on in some uncontrollable situations. In the same newspaper, T.V. station, etc. space for editorial comments and opinions should be allotted to all points of view, whether they represent the main trend or opposing ones. In all Media information outlets the "Right of Reply" should be implemented: the reply should be in the same frame or page and format as the original statement . A continuous dialogue and even argument about extreme opinions should go on in the media all the time within the same paper, T.V., etc. so that it would be difficult for any person to avoid being informed about all points of view. The media should be completely independent from the interference of those in power, those who own it or those with executive positions in the society, but it should be responsible and motivated by high Human values. I cannot say what kind of democratic mechanism should be devised in relation to the running of the media. It is my opinion that the media should act as the conscience of society, reflecting all its doubts and turmoil, investigating and looking in every dark corner and also should be a watchdog of democratic rights, rather than an instrument of propaganda for those who are in power. In the new society, no point of view or new social movement should be suppressed in the media, as odd or different they may be from the existing trends. As a guarantee for progress and change, every new idea must be allowed to be expressed and debated. If it is good and promising it will gradually gain ground and develop, if it is no good it will not grow and it would fade away for lack of support.
A new society Work and Leisure.
It is evident that Human beings since the beginning had to work to feed, clothe and house themselves in order to survive. To work is an essential part of Human life. If someone does not work, it means that someone else must be working for him. In previous Ages, in a sparsely populated and primitive world, people could subsist individually within or without their simple socioeconomic organisms. But with the advent of Capitalism, the development of industry, complex technology, and with the appropriation of land as the personal property of a small number of people and private companies, the majority of the population has come to depend for its livelihood on finding employment within the private and public sectors of capitalist economy. The most important requisite for Human dignity and self respect is to be able to earn one's living by one's own work and efforts within a society. Dignity and self respect are destroyed when a healthy person is forced to depend on the greed or compassion of others, on begging, stealing, etc. in order to survive. Capitalist economy and society, except in a few countries for relatively short periods of time, has never been able to provide meaningful employment for all able bodied people. In our modern industrial world, the process of production in every field has become a social process. No longer can an individual person stand on his own; the attitude of individualism promoted by the capitalist Media has become just an illusion for most of the population. Every individual person depends on the others for the production of every commodity, including the necessities of life. Everything is produced, transported, stored, distributed, etc. in different stages, by different people in different operations;
Therefore, whatever affects one stage or one individual in the process of production, affects directly or indirectly everybody else. While production has become increasingly social, performed by and affecting a great number of Human beings, the land, the factories and equipment, the materials at any stage of production, the finished products and their distribution outlets, all these are the personal private property of a small number of people, companies and corporations. This is one of the main contradictions in capitalist economy and society. It is a non elected minority who may not have any other qualifications than business cunning and exceptional selfishness, and not the elected government, that in the end, by their right to their own property and their control over production, decide on economic and social policies which affect the great majority of the population. In their decisions, the increase of their personal property and wealth is their main motivation; the benefit to the rest of society is incidental. The following are obvious facts: Everybody depends on his own or somebody else's work for a living; At present, economic production has become a complex social process while the means of production and the products remain the private property of a minority; In a modern industrial society we all depend from each other's performance, but we are under the illusion of being independent; moreover, a great number of people are being denied the right to work and, therefore, the right to a meaningful existence. In the new society every person should have the right and the duty to work and to participate in the life of the society. Their dignity and their self respect depend from this participation.
As we have seen before, since the beginning every Human being had to work to be able to live; therefore, the time of every person's life is divided between work, rest and leisure. The Proportion in which it is divided depends on the facility or on the difficulty of procuring or producing the necessities of life. This proportion has varied during different stages of our evolution, and it varies in different environments and climates. In certain climates and environments Human beings did not feel the necessity to accumulate provisions; these could not be preserved for very long, and the environment itself was a constant store. In other climates and environments, to accumulate and store food was a necessity of life; But in every case, even if in different ways and to different degrees, Man had to make an effort to survive. Therefore, as in our complex environment we are all dependent on each others' efforts to produce the necessities of life, we could be more productive if we would cooperate with one another; this cooperation could only be made possible by the public ownership of the more important means of production, and by a democratic participation in the decisions concerning what and how commodities should be produced and shared. We should understand the plain fact that the life of every person is divided in two main parts, an amount of time that one must dedicate to social production (production is already social), and an amount of time that one can dedicate to leisure and personal development. The more efficient and productive the time employed in social production would be, the more time and material could be available for rest, enjoyment, learning, and other projects for the future of Mankind.
As our time is divided between social production and leisure, so should property be divided in the public property of the means of production and the private property of our personal belongings. If we want to be part of the life of the society, then that part of our time employed in production must be encompassed by our duty to work and our social responsibilities, the rest of our time is the time of our individual liberty, limited only by the `Golden Rule’. In the new society, the task of production should be reduced to the simple technical question on how to perform it in the most Humane, most rational, most efficient and least wasteful way possible in harmony with our environment. Once we have performed in cooperation the practical task of producing the means of our physical survival, we should be free to spend the rest of our time in the way we are inclined. This is a very simple concept, and it is not a pipe dream because this is a positive feature of Human nature. It is what rational people do most of the time. Most families or groups of people who have some work that must be done, usually try to organise themselves so as to do it as quickly and as efficiently as it is possible, so that when it is finished they can either all sit down and have a good time together, or go away separately and do their own things. Of course, often there is argument and attrition, but this, as we are imperfect and ignorant creatures, is part of normal life, and never more than in capitalist society. As technology has increased and will continue to increase our productivity, our competition for the means of subsistence should diminish. It is only Capitalism that, while it has almost solved the problem of producing in abundance the necessities of life it must keep on promoting an environment of want and competition
between Human beings, because, as Adam Smith has pointed out 250 years ago, not the satisfaction of Human needs but production of private profit is "the ultimate end and object of all industry and commerce". Capitalist apologists like to assert that cooperation between Human beings is not possible because, besides being individually selfish, they need incentives to work and produce more. In their opinion, only capitalism can provide such personal incentive: of course, they must be thinking about themselves because the main incentive the working man is allowed most of the time is the fear of losing his job. While they preach that because of selfishness cooperation is not possible the capitalists never stop urging the working man to cooperate with them by making ‘sacrifices’ for the Economy and the Nation. The capitalist assertion about cooperation is superficial and has no real ground. Human beings prefer to cooperate when they like each other and when their lives depend on cooperation. Never more than at present there has been such a pressing necessity to co-operate: but the nature of the capitalist system, the nature of competition, is not conductive to Human cooperation, nor to good Human relations. The new society must promote an environment that will reduce the fears that Human beings, in their ignorance have of each others. There can be better practical incentives to work than the greed for profit and the fear of unemployment. The following could be one simple and positive incentive to produce more and save materials in a non competitive society: any person or group of people who find a way to facilitate production or to save materials and energy without lowering the standard and quality of work, should be entitled, if so they please, to an amount of `time off’ equivalent to the time they have
caused to be saved in one year; after that, the advantage should accrue to the whole community and society. This is only one of many possibilities. In this way every person would have an incentive to use his imagination and ingenuity without causing jealousy amongst the rest. On the contrary, the rest would have an interest to see anybody having success in facilitating production because, after the first year, the benefits would be shared by all. We all are proud of a clever friend when we know that his cleverness is likely to improve and not threaten our lives. In this way, a successful innovator would be more likely to earn the respect and admiration of his peers rather than their apprehension and jealousy. Another principle related to life and work in the new society should be that production should be organised in such a way that as humanly as possible every individual person or group of people should be engaged in occupations compatible with their temperaments and their natural or acquired abilities. This would tend to promote a more harmonious working atmosphere and more productive participation. Those productive activities that, for different reasons, may be shunned by the majority should be shared by all; alternatively they should be left as punishment to be performed by those who transgress the "golden rule". Every activity in the social process of production is of equal importance towards the overall performance. The scientist, the tradesman, the labourer, etc. all share in the process of social production, and they all depend on each other for the best results. Therefore, a system of sharing in the performance of menial chores should be promoted in conformity with this principle. This would also serve to diminish the tendency that Human beings, in their ignorance, have to become arrogant and presumptuous. In
an educated society, the status of an educated labourer should not be too much different from that of an educated scientist. Education has a very important role to play, and we will expand this point when we will discuss education in relation to the democracy of the society. Moreover, each person in the society, young, old, male or female should have the opportunity to improve one's education or specialisation in any subject and also to apply for a different occupation any time one so desires. Therefore all schools, universities and technical colleges should be always open or provide night classes or internet facilities for such persons. There should be recognition and rewards for excellence and for positions of responsibility, but not extravagant as in capitalist society. There is a saying that "if you pay peanuts you get monkeys"; it may be true but I also believe that 'if you pay too much you get selfish, greedy, dishonest, untrustworthy and aggressive pragmatists (pragmatists = people without principles = bastards)’; it doesn't rhyme but it seems to be true if we observe what kind of political and business leaders we have had lately, and how much good they have done to the country. Monkeys could not have done worse. The best reward should be the feeling of having performed one's duty to the society and to oneself as part of the society, or the feeling of having been useful, or the feeling of having earned the respect and admiration of one's team and community, or the feeling of comradeship after a task well done which enhance the well being of all. To sum up, these are the main principles of life and work: Humans always had to work, and work can be the best tonic for the Human body and spirit;
There must not be exploitation of Man and Nature; we must accept that work is a common necessity, and we should try to make it enjoyable; We all have the right and the duty to work; only if we are physically alive and healthy we can pursue our individual personal activities, spiritual aspirations, etc; We must coordinate our productive activities in the most efficient, less wasteful, most Humane way in harmony with our environment; production is social; we all have the right and duty to participate; the better we perform our duties in production, the more time we would have available for our personal freedom to pursue our inclinations and aspirations. As we have said before, there are two main types of property: public property of the important means of production which affect the whole of society, and the inalienable individual ownership of our personal belongings. In the same way, there is an amount of our time that we must give to social production and social duties, and the time that we can spend as we please. In social production we should accept the 'self discipline' required by cooperative concerted action, as we do for the capitalists, and for lesser security, under the present system. In our time of leisure, nothing should constrain our personal freedom but the Golden Rule. In the new society nothing is given freely to those who are able to work. As work must be shared, so are the products. The rights of every person come with the performance of his duties to help and participate in the social process of production.
By slowing down the pace of the economy, by sharing in the work and eliminating the more obnoxious elements of capitalist competition, those people in the community who are slower or are handicapped should find easier to catch up and participate in the life of the society. Those who are able and healthy should become more inclined and would have more time to be helpful.
A new society democracy.
We call our Western societies democratic societies. We equate Capitalism with democracy, although some of the most ruthless dictatorships in the world are capitalist. Capitalism, it is true, in some countries has freed the mass of the population from feudal bondage. The capitalists needed a workforce that was free to move anywhere it was required. They had to promote the idea of freedom and equality to assert themselves against the absolute power of the feudal nobility. But once they had obtained a place in government for themselves they were satisfied, and certainly they were not keen to make it easy for the rest of the population, which constituted the majority, to obtain the same democratic rights as themselves. Therefore, at first, the right to vote at elections was very limited, and it took a long and often violent struggle for the workforce, including women, to obtain the right to vote, to form associations and Unions. But even the universal right to vote at elections is just not enough to make a society a really democratic society. There are many factors which can nullify all democratic principles, make a mockery of the election process, and frustrate all peaceful movements for democratic change. There cannot be a real democracy if the majority of society is not educated to objective and independent thinking.
There cannot be a real democracy if the means of information and persuasion are directly controlled or indirectly influenced by the establishment or by the vested interests of just one class. There cannot be a real democracy if the elected representatives are allowed to become an entrenched profession. There cannot be a real democracy if the executive branches of government, the law, the police, etc. are directly controlled or indirectly influenced by the establishment, and have become themselves a social class with a vested interest in conservatism. All these undemocratic features are, to different degrees, a fact of life in our so called democracies. In our society, education for the majority of the population is limited, and it is oriented mainly to the needs of the industries within capitalist economy. It is certainly not oriented to educate the population to independent inquiring thinking, but rather to accept without question the ‘status quo’, and the principles and philosophy of the establishment as the ‘law of the land’. The media is in the hands of businessmen and, therefore, as much as it tries to be objective and impartial, on the most important issues it must instinctively lean in favour of Capitalism. Even if it is often outspoken and critical about our economic and social problems (an attitude which also promotes better ratings and sales) it never questions the essence of the system. At most it advocates ‘band aid’ remedies which do not threaten the establishment, and are within the limits of capitalist economy. Because of ignorance, biased information and a long history of inefficiency and corruption in private and public life, the majority of the population has become apathetic and cynical towards politics and politicians. Political power is delegated to professional politicians whether they are party or union leaders, in government or in opposition.
They are more interested in being re elected than to risk their positions and incomes by being too honest or by offending the establishment that controls the media. Because there is no limit to their terms of office, most of them become ossified and entrenched. They stay on until they reach old age, and even those who were elected to oppose the establishment eventually tend to forget the reason why they were elected in the first place. The majority become themselves a part of the elite, more an instrument to stunt than to promote movements for change. These professional politicians have the power to appoint the executive heads of the bureaucracy, the judiciary, the police, etc. Most of these officials come from the middle class, and those who do not, soon tend to join it. Therefore, conservatism pervades all the higher levels of the capitalist structure. Everything in ‘capitalist democracy’, including the constitution, is aimed at preserving the capitalist system and to retard or prevent change. This situation breeds frustration and, in times of crisis and pressing need for change, this frustration turns into desperation and violence of one kind or another. Violence breeds violence and so on; therefore, this pseudo democracy step by step turns into an oppressive regime.
A new society democratic process.
With general education oriented towards independent thinking and social awareness, and a media which is objective and open to all ideas and opinions in the society, what is needed for a really democratic process is a mechanism which would hinder the entrenchment of elected or appointed officials in positions of
power, and would prevent their gradual detachment from the mass of the people and the main life of the society. It is not for me to devise such a mechanism; I can only express an opinion on what the main principles could be. First of all, there should be a maximum limit of time on the tenure of office, after which all elected and appointed officials should go back to their previous occupations. Those who held office could not be re elected again for a set period of time; but so that the talents of those who have excelled in office should not be wasted, they could participate in a part time advisory body or council. The length of tenure of office could be a total of four years: two people elected at two years distance and serving at the same time, could intercalate every two years; such a system has already been experimented seemingly with success. It means that at all times there would be four people in any position of importance, two in charge and two gaining experience. Candidates aspiring to official positions should be subjected to a test by an independent body to assess their competence and their social awareness, basic Human and social education being essential. The public then, by vote, could pick their representatives and officials from the group of successful candidates. This should ensure that elected officials would be both competent and popular. While the privacy of the personal life of every individual and public official must be respected, there should not be secrecy in public life or in any activity affecting the public and society. In an educated society, people should not be treated like fools who cannot be trusted or expected to understand why and how decisions are made. In public life, only persons who have something to hide or are not sincere must favour secrecy about activities that affect the public.
The thinking process, the logic and specific data by which we arrive at decisions that affect the society, and all records of this process, must be open to all people. The destruction or shredding of documents should be considered a crime. Nobody is perfect, and mistakes are often inevitable. Therefore, mistakes made in good faith with good intentions should not become a personal stigma. Regarding the overall structure of the society, the direction of consensus and power should flow from the individual in the smaller units and communities, and from these to the larger organization of the society. There should not be compulsion on small self sufficient communities from the larger organizations self sufficiency means independence. Participation in the larger Society should be by free will. Self sufficient communities should not be subjected to interference, except in circumstances when their behaviour is damaging to the environment or to society as a whole. The `Golden Rule’ should apply to the relations between the communities and the wider society as it applies to the relations between individuals. Small communities must decide for themselves the degree of their participation within the larger organization of the society. This probably would be related to the degree of their self sufficiency. The independence of small social units and communities is essential because they are the embryos of possible alternatives. This would allow the development of a variety of organisms, essential for the evolution of a pluralist democratic society.
A new society - Policing.
It would be naive to believe that all economic and social problems would be eliminated in a new society. Some problems may disappear quickly, some may linger for a time, and we can be sure that some entirely new problems will arise sooner or later. We must always be vigilant and prepared to deal with them. If the new society could be really democratic and open minded, if it could allow the birth and existence of new ideas and movements, and if it would allow the development of those movements that are progressive, then such a society would have built in a mechanism for a conscious and continuous slow evolution, and the need for policing and repression would tend to diminish. Human beings are neither completely good nor bad, and the new society will not change that. All that we can do is to promote an economic and social environment that will favour the development of the good rather than the negative features of Human nature. To this effect education and, above all, example are of primary importance. It seems that there will always be some need for preventing and policing crime, and for reforming or punishing those who violate the Golden Rule. As a guarantee that the power that this task involves should not be abused, it should not be entrusted to persons that may become entrenched and corrupted. The best guarantee for personal freedom and Human rights is that they should be guarded by each and every individual in the society, under the supervision of elected competent councils or committees. Nothing comes freely; in one way or another we must pay with our own efforts for every improvement in the society, including the guarantee of our liberty.
It is my opinion that policing should never become a way of life for any person in a democratic society. Therefore, we cannot delegate the care and protection of our liberty to any entrenched professional minority. Every person in the society in turn, at one stage or another, should give some of his time to the task of policing, whether within one's own community or within another. This could minimise the obvious danger that an entrenched professional force could pose to a democracy. This could also be an incentive for those who are temporarily entrusted with the task of policing to treat the public as they would like to be treated themselves when not on such duty. Similarly, the public would have the same incentive in regards to them.
FUTURE PROSPECTS. ******** At present we are facing dangers that we never had to face before. It seems that, in our blind greed and presumption, we have put our societies and natural environment under unbearable stress. Humanity is at a crossroad.
There are two main prospects for the future, and within these two prospects there are many different possibilities. One of the main prospects is that the course of our evolution may continue to be determined by the same irrational and destructive philosophy of our capitalist establishment, given the fact that they have almost absolute control over the means of persuasion and coercion; and even more significant, they have a total grip on the economy and the means of production. Moreover, by having accepted the inescapable logic of Capitalism, the mass of the public now depends on the geometrical progression of further capital development and increasing consumerism for employment and day to day survival; therefore, we have locked ourselves into a course that will sooner or later take us to complete social and ecological degeneration. The second main prospect is that natural common sense may prevail and that we may manage to evolve towards a more rational and wholesome socio-economic organism without too much bloodshed and disruption. This second possibility presupposes that there must be a growing world-wide movement for Humane and rational change. It seems to be obvious that without such a movement the first prospect of violence and chaos will become a reality because: More uncontrolled capitalist development and consumerism will lead to increasing ecological degradation. More greed, inequality and alienation will lead to more violence and social disintegration. There is in the world today a widespread but very loose and fragmented movement towards a better society. But unfortunately most of the organisations which form this movement still believe that they can obtain their aim without changing the capitalist system.
Therefore they are expending all their energies and courage in fighting the effects rather than the primary cause of our ecological and social problems, which is Capitalism itself. Moreover, after what we have seen of the ex socialist countries, one would need a lot of courage to advance the cause for a planned or guided economic system. Ultimately, if these movements are really sincere, they must realise that to become effective they cannot isolate themselves from the primary economic factors that are causing the problems that they are trying to overcome. Therefore, besides trying to confront the effects, they should also point clearly at the primary causes of the problems and, most important of all, they should offer a practical alternative to those people and their families whose livelihood depends from those obnoxious activities that should be discontinued. To ignore the primary causes would be like trying to dig holes in the sea; eventually it would lead to frustration, a lot of people would lose heart; for those remaining, the act of opposition in itself, and not the ultimate result, would become the main aim and hobby. We must offer a positive solution, a practical alternative plan or guide for a new world economy and society that would eliminate the main causes of ecological and social degeneration. This new alternative, to appeal to the majority of Human beings, must study to avoid the obvious faults of both the capitalist and socialist systems. It must have definite principles, they must be put into practice, they must be made to work, and they must be seen to work. The embryos of such Movement already exist and the transformation of capitalist economy and society could now begin, even if it would be very difficult. There are different ways by which it could be effected: In my opinion there are three main
possibilities, and I will try to outline them in general terms in the order of their desirability, not their probability. The first one would involve a voluntary and conscious transformation of capitalist economy and society with the participation of the more enlightened sections of the establishment. The second would involve the growth and gradual development of a new economy and society from within the old one in the same way as other societies, like Christianity for instance, have evolved in our history. This second alternative could be associated with the first and could be promoted at the same time. The third possibility is not an alternative that we can choose. It is a protracted process of revolutions and repression in different places at different times with different intensity, with all the Human tragedy and cruelty involved. This has already been going on with different intensity, but it will become more intense if any one of the two previous alternatives is not allowed to develop or it is repressed. Seldom in history a radical social and economic change has been promoted and accomplished by en entrenched ruling elite by its own accord. We could cite the conscious change of the economy and society in Japan during the nineteenth century, and there the feudal elite itself, who promoted it, was the main beneficiary. Today there is one very slight hope that such a change supported or promoted from the top, may be possible in capitalist society. At least there is a chance that a sizeable section of the middle class and a section of the managerial class may be enlightened enough to see the necessity for a transformation, and may see the long term advantage that such a transformation could bring to the society, including themselves and their own children. These are some of the main reasons
The present problems are threatening everybody, regardless of social class. At present, many of the capitalists' own children are suffering because of the degeneration of capitalist society. Wealthy people are facing increasing threats to their persons and property therefore they are forced to isolate themselves within complex security systems. An increasing number of people at the top levels of our society are insecure because of the rising pressure of competition and fear of unemployment. They are confused about the future, and many may already realise that there are no rational solutions within the existing system. It is possible that Fascism may become a threat again. As it has proved to be a scourge for Humanity, many capitalists may be reluctant to accept such an alternative to save the system. They know that in a new society their knowledge and organising experience would be important and appreciated in the rationalisation of a complex industrial economy. By promoting a new society and participating in its economic organisation, they would ensure a place for themselves relative to their ability. There are probably more factors that could convince a section of the establishment that a change is inevitable and desirable, and that it would be better for everybody if it could be brought about in a peaceful and positive way. One of these factors is the thought about the alternatives of violence and de humanisation that the whole society would be facing if it was denied a peaceful transformation.
In any way, we are already continually changing; but within our present system these changes come in twisted ways and they produce negative results. There are no class, religious, national or racial limitations to be a person of good will. All that is needed is natural common sense and a sincere desire for personal regeneration within a more harmonious society. Now a peaceful planned economic transformation could prevent the hardship of economic disruption inherent in a violent revolution. Our present managers, by their experience in organisation, by their influence over the media and over the public, they could facilitate the transformation of our economy and society. Such conscious, programmed transformation could be effected over the period of a generation, our capitalist economy being transformed one section at the time in the most Humane way possible. People who would be displaced from obsolete or obnoxious industries would be offered compatible alternative occupations or further education and retraining. The young people coming out of school would readily take their position in the economy of the new society. No one would have to fear unemployment or a loss in the standard of living during a peaceful planned transformation. There would be no need for anyone to be idle, there would be so much to do and there would be such enthusiasm and excitement for the young generation; this may restore the natural idealism of youth. This may be just a dream, but the fact that it may never have happened on such a scale in our history does not mean that it
could not happen in the future. On the small scale it happens all the time, within families, within groups of friends, within small communities and organisations. Why could not this happen in the larger family of Humanity? The capitalists are continually changing and transforming their businesses, and the politicians are continually changing the conditions of life for the public; they call it "restructuring", "rationalisation", etc. and they do not care very much about what happens to the unemployed and to their families. They say that it is an economic necessity: that it is for the good of the country; how much would they scream if it was done to them. No change is impossible for them when it concerns their profits, but they tell us that it is impossible when it concerns the public interests of a society. Today, with our advanced production and communication technology at our service, motivated by the pressing necessity to save our children's future, and with a simple philosophy resting on basic Human Principles, a positive transformation could be possible. The material requisites are now available. We need to revive the conscience of honest people and to fire the idealism and enthusiasm of the young. The second way by which we could achieve the transformation of our society is to gradually create a new economy and a new society from within the old one, but it would be a slow frustrating struggle. Once the main principles are agreed upon, we should start to put them into practice wherever we are and within any particular circumstance in our existing society and economy. Early Christianity was a radical social and economic Movement. It was mainly for this reason that it was persecuted, and it is still persecuted today whenever it practices its early basic principles within societies based on the exploitation of man by man. In
Human history, Christianity is only one example of a new socioeconomic organism that grew from within one that was degenerating. In the present situation, people of good will and determination should join and form communities wherever they are. They could develop in their own way, in relation to each particular situation. Every community should try to complement and support the others, united in a worldwide movement. If they follow the main principles, even if in different ways, the results should be similar: there should be a great variety of experiences and forms, but the essence should be the same. Individual motivation would be of relative importance if all would follow the same main principles, and all would seek to achieve similar results. If we sincerely want the same things, that is to become better Human beings in a more just and peaceful society with a more Humane and rational economy in harmony with nature, then it would be of relative importance whether some people are motivated by religious beliefs and love of God, some by love of Humanity and Nature, most by the desire to survive in a better world. There are many persons of good will in all levels of society and in every field of activity, and there are a great number of people out of work, discarded from capitalist economy, who are reduced to a meaningless existence. y forming new communities, these people could find in cooperation new ways to improve their lives and new feelings of participation and purpose. There are many ways by which they could cooperate. By combining their resources and their imagination, by using any means at their disposal, they could start their own economies
partly connected to, or independent and in competition with the existing one, but always related and complementing other communities that have the same principles; Good examples are the early kibbutz in Israel and the popular organizations in the Basque region of Spain. Whether in industrial or rural areas, gradually, from humble beginnings, they could grow in size and purpose; They could acquire land, factories, they could join into contracts with existing farming associations or individual farmers etc. As capitalist economy is contracting, they could gradually take over, putting into practice in the process of production the principles of cooperation, elimination of waste of labour and materials, etc. Therefore, in these new communities, technology would become a servant, and the use of industrial robots and the computer would become an advantage instead of a threat to the working people. Unfortunately it will not be easy and as the problem of Global Warming requires an urgent solution; this attempt could only be effective in conjunction with the first one. As soon as such movement will start to grow, it will tend to erode capitalist economy. Therefore, it will attract opposition and even repression from the old establishment and society, as it happened in the past whenever there were attempts to form similar communities. Opposition will take many forms, from indirect laws and regulations to curtail and hamper their development, to outright violence. Opposition will come from many different sections that have an interest in the continuation of the old society. The ruling elites will be forced to drop the pretence of democracy, they will have to adopt a position of open injustice, and this will cause violence and a polarisation of society.
People who are working and have a place in the old society will feel threatened by the growth of the new Movement. Therefore it is important that alternative employment and wholesome existence must always be available for them within the new economy and society at any time they may decide to join it, as they are threatened to be discarded from the old. If they see that the new society is more secure and more fulfilling than the old, and if they see that they are welcomed within the new communities, they may lose the interest to fight for an unjust and lost cause. As much independent each community may be, they all must be related and always be in touch with one another. Moreover, it is essential that they actively cooperate and coordinate their actions worldwide on those issues from which Human survival depends, mainly peace and social and ecological harmony. It is important that such a strong Movement should start soon because there is always present the possibility that an ecological, or nuclear, or chemical, or biological disaster may suddenly cause chaos on the planet. In the aftermath of such eventuality, if any possibility is still left for survival, any group that may still be organised would have an advantage. Therefore it is essential that there must already exist the basis of a Movement for a new more rational society, whose embryos are disseminated all over the Earth. If the first or the second of our alternatives will not materialise, or if after materialising they will be repressed, then the third possibility will become inevitable, whether we like it or not. Frustration promotes desperation, and desperation produces desperate actions. There are always people prepared to give their life to promote that of their children, there are always people with hot temperaments prepared to risk their life rather than submit to injustice, there are always a number of people for whom
revolution of one kind or another has become a way of life, there are always people who will accept any sacrifice to promote their ideals. A mass of people is not always needed to start a revolution. Revolutions are usually started by minorities in a desperate economic or social environment. The majority of people are gradually drawn in by gravitation and by force of events. Most social revolutions start peacefully but eventually end up in violence: tit for tat, they gradually escalate. In a desperate social environment, revolutionary minorities can never be completely eliminated: sooner or later they will form again. Ideas cannot be repressed as long as the situation that has caused them to grow continues to exist. Displaced or misplaced people will always try to change the existing socioeconomic environment and form a new one in which they can fit. While they are only small minorities they are not a great threat to the established order, but when a great number of people are being displaced they become an irresistible force for change. Ruling elites are very much aware of this, and they are very carefully monitoring the percentages. From history, this seems to be the general nature of social change and revolution. It seems to me that the best way by which we can avoid the tragedy of revolution or terrorism is to make sure that either the first or the second of our main peaceful alternatives for a transformation of society are successful. We must understand this important point, and accordingly we should make every effort to succeed.
THE DEMOCRATIC OPTION. ******** Let's assume that a majority of people of a country have become convinced that capitalist economy must be replaced, and, consequently, an anti-capitalist political organisation with a program of drastic economic changes is democratically elected to government. From historical experience, whenever this has happened in the past, several things are likely to happen: first of all, while the anti-capitalist party in government has the nominal political power to formulate new laws to implement its programs, the real power still remains in the hands of capitalist business and its class. Business still commands the important mechanisms of the economy, through the private ownership of the means of production, banking, transport and the Media, through their class influence over the commanding elements of the justice and legal system, through their influence over the command structure of the army and the police which for a long time have been trained and used more to defend private property and the establishment than the rights of the common people. Therefore, a powerful minority in opposition can frustrate most attempts of a progressive government to implement the reforms for which it has been elected. They will use any means at their disposal to protect their vested interests: withdraw their capital, close factories or curtail production, take the government to the High Court for infringement of the constitution, as most constitutions of capitalist democracies have been formulated with the main
purpose in mind to enshrine the supremacy of the right of private property and free enterprise above all other rights. Naturally all these actions are earnestly supported by the Media. Moreover, as the economy is connected to the international capitalist finance and commodities market, most foreign investment would soon be withdrawn causing even more disruption to the country. The result of this strong opposition to a democratically elected government is that, while the existing capitalist economy is disrupted with consequent decline in production and increase in unemployment, the alternative economic reforms to replace the old economy are not being put in practice: they are compromised, delayed or halted all together; a part of the public becomes disillusioned, and the government, which was elected by a majority, now is only supported by a minority. If the government still insists in trying to enforce the new laws and reforms, for which it was elected, by adopting strong measures against the opposition, then it is in real danger; it will be accused of being dictatorial, and the capitalist establishment in opposition, with the support of the courts, the police the army and the Media will have an excuse to overthrow the government. Their professed motive will be the rescue of democracy and the Nation. This is what happened in the world nearly every time a progressive party was democratically elected to government. It shows that any establishment which controls the real avenues of power will never willingly relinquish those powers to their democratically elected opponents: when they direct the orchestra their opponents are expected to dance to their tune, but when it is their opponents who are directing they refuse to dance. From this fact of life we must assume that it would be futile for any progressive organisation to try to change the capitalist
system by trying to get elected to government unless it has the support of a very great majority of the population including the middle class, the police and the army; in addition all its supporters must have been made conscious of the difficulties and possible temporary hardships, its plans for reform must be ready in every detail and also there are practical plans to overcome all eventual economic, constitutional and foreign financial obstacles. Moreover, only a country which can be self sufficient in raw materials and have a fairly advanced industry and technology would have a chance of success. How could a transformation begin? Now let's assume that such organisation with a great support from all sections of society has been elected. Evidently there would be a lot of professional people amongst its supporters, people with experience in organisation and management, in all industries and the media; people capable of undertaking successfully a complex program of reform. During the years in opposition such organization, if smart enough, would have prepared detailed projects to be implemented without much delay. First of all Schools, Universities and Technical colleges should be expanded to take care of all people that would be displaced by such great projects of reforms so that they would not suffer and they would be able to learn the new skills and experience needed in the new industries that will develop. At the same time the new government should reform the media. Without involving the question of ownership, profits and competition, it should remove the political advantage that media ownership conveys to any particular class. To this effect the government should come out and say: We are for real democracy, we are for a real political "level playing field; anybody can own media outlets, but, as the first
requirement of real democracy is that the people should be fully informed about all points of views on all issues, each outlet must provide editorial space for all points of views in the society. Next it should be made clear to capitalist businessmen that the new laws will be enforced in the same way as the business establishment enforced their own laws when they were in power; moreover, the Spirit not the letter of the Law will be enforced. Next it should be made clear the fact that National public debt is better than National foreign debt. There could be advantages in foreign investments in specific areas if it was guided by the consideration of the long term benefit to the whole of the society, and it was not allowed to take control of our industries and resources. Even if some of the profits would end up overseas, several benefits would accrue to the Nation. It is sheer madness to relinquish all controls over foreign investment, to deregulate the banking system and let business entrepreneurs, who always will be motivated by narrow personal self interest, to take charge of our foreign investment and borrowing without any national guide or long term goal. There is always somebody who benefit from any business deals and activities. Evidence are the billions of invested and borrowed money that have disappeared without trace in Australia during the eighties without having left any real benefit to the Nation as a whole: Switzerland and the Bahamas come to mind . Some people have done very well: wheelers and dealers and all their expensive private bureaucracies, legal, managerial, logistic, public relation, advertising and general hangers on. These people do not care whether they make their fortunes buying or selling, selling foreign assets or selling their own country or their countrymen.
These are true international businessmen, they are monopoly players on the world's money and commodities markets; they can live as well in Sydney as in London or Paris. If they are caught cheating or if they go broke they still are left with a few millions in their pockets. What they lose is mostly their investors' savings, and these investors and the rest of the society are left carrying the debt. All this really doesn't matters if we take the point of view of the modern businessman in the present world situation; the concept of nationality disappears completely in the play of the "global factory" and the "global marketplace". When we depend on foreign borrowing or foreign investments to develop our economy we are mortgaging part of our heritage to foreign interests; we subject the destiny of our society to the unforeseen vagaries of the capitalist world economy. If the debt becomes so vast that we cannot service it, then we must sell out our land, our industries and our resources. We become a servant Nation or even a slave Nation: our social economic organism will be directed by outside interests; the interests of our society will become secondary to the interests of our foreign owners. This unfortunately is what has happened to this country (197080). Our business and political leaders must have had a hidden agenda to throw this country into the global playing field of the world market and world finance, without asking, without having a mandate from the people. They joined in a big international game of poker, they borrowed heavily and they put up the skins of the Australian people as security. They gambled and we lost. How much better it would have been if our Labour government had ignored the big game outside, if they had not heeded the advice of our international merchants. (1980s)
If we needed to borrow and get into debt to develop further, why not borrow from ourselves and be in debt with ourselves rather than with unknown foreign interests? Australia is like a bank, a very rich bank. We have abundant natural resources, plus one million of unemployed labour power, plus another million of hidden unemployed people that could be utilised; moreover, our industries are working at seventy per cent capacity. This is real capital waiting to be utilised. We can borrow from ourselves the value of this capital and, as long as we use it to create real productive value, we cannot lose. Here is a very simplistic but true example: if we borrow one billion from ourselves to utilise the idle capital of our country to build housing, when the project is completed, productive useful value has been created: the value created equals the debt; moreover, the rents will pay for the maintenance and will eventually in the long run even produce a profit, the scarcity of housing will be overcome and the cost of rent will be lower, therefore reducing the pressure of inflation, our young people would be employed and some of the causes for alienation, crime and drug addiction would have been reduced; on top of this, having finished the project, we would have again our idle capital of labour ready for another project. This is a simplistic example but in fact, even if such operation would require great organisation and planning, it is quite possible. What we need is imagination and guts, we must believe in ourselves and in our young people. It is only the interested Machiavellian cunning and sophistry of our mercantile establishment that has brainwashed our society into believing that complexity is better than simplicity, that nothing can be done unless it is directed and motivated by private greed for profit. It is obvious that any such public investment would create a gradual increase in demand in all section of the economy equal to
the value of the money we would borrow from ourselves less the savings of public expense in unemployment benefits and other costs, and less the extra taxes that would be collected. This extra demand in commodities and labour would create a pressure for cost and demand inflation, therefore, both wages and prices must be put under control. If wages are regulated prices also must be regulated. There is no point in controlling wages to stop cost inflation if we do not also control prices to stop demand inflation. Finally we must consider that even if we renege on our national debt our children would still own whatever we have created with it; this is not the case when we are in debt with foreigners. This sort of activities could create a great expansion in our economy and such a demand for manpower that we may have to import labour from overseas. In this case we should engage foreign workers on a contract basis. Make clear the conditions of engagement; those who would like to stay permanently should be prepared to learn the English language and undergo a course to understand our laws and social values; therefore, they would become citizens and bring over their families. We could learn a lot from each other. While the people elected to govern the country have the duty to put into action a plan of development that would benefit the whole of the society, the execution of the plan should be left as much as possible to private enterprise if they comply with the standards set by our new socio-economic philosophy. The elected government should set the guidelines the standards and general specifications. It should provide the "level playing field" in which private enterprise could compete in producing what the society needs for its development and well being. The elected government should set the guidelines either directly, or indirectly by taxing any obnoxious activity out of existence and facilitating the growth of any activity that would bring benefits to
the society and progress for the future. The principle behind this strategy is that any activity which may cause immediate or long term damage to the society should be charged in front for the cost of repairing such damage. Those activities that private enterprise could not provide should be performed by public organisations. Private entrepreneurs have many positive points like initiative, imagination, daring, determination, but all these qualities are directed mainly towards their own personal advantage, often regardless of the damage they may cause to the rest of society of which they are themselves part, damage from which themselves eventually will suffer. Merchants and business entrepreneurs have a part to play in the economic life of the society, but they should not be the only class to determine the destiny of the rest as they have been able to do so far. We must call their bluff. If they cannot make fifty per cent profit, they will try to make ten or even five per cent rather than work for wages under somebody else, because this is the type of people they are. They will cry, scream, threaten, but in the end they will try to survive under any circumstance, the same as any other person with the prospect of becoming unemployed or redundant. If they can make more profit by their enterprises, good luck to them; it will mean that they have been successful in producing for the society the commodities required by the guidelines that have been set out, with the right standards and at the right price. In the nature of the capitalist system of production it is not convenient to completely satisfy the needs of the society; to satisfy the demand it means to put capitalist enterprises out of business.
But it is essential for the real benefit of a society that its important needs be satisfied, in certain cases even over-satisfied, and this should be the aim of the elected government. Let's take the housing industry for example; automatically as soon as profits fall, capital investment in the industry begin to fall as well, and yet there are still a lot of people in need of decent accommodation or forced to pay high rents. This is one of the big problems in capitalist society that causes a lot of unnecessary stresses in family life, especially young families. Also it is one of the causes why inflation seldom goes below the zero level. People and society in general should not suffer just for the sake of keeping an industry in business; the purpose of any industry is the complete satisfaction of the needs of the society, and, therefore its size should be proportioned to those needs. Any productive forces that may become redundant must be used somewhere else where they may be needed or in completely new enterprises. A Nation to be really strong and independent must be self sufficient. This should be the aim of the elected government. Being a Nation which exports raw materials we may have to import some manufactured goods, but we should keep this to the minimum that is possible. While the world is divided and under the sway of the philosophy of greed and selfishness we should not destroy any of our manufacturing industries, we should maintain the capacity to be self sufficient in all vital light and heavy industries; the extra cost that we may have to pay is the cost of maintaining a decent standard of living and strength; this expense would be offset by the savings in the cost of unemployment benefits and in the cost of social degeneration. What chance would we have, in case we may have to defend ourselves, if we depended on help from overseas because we had
lost all our skills? Therefore besides promoting our scientists, inventors and technicians, we should use part of our export earnings to import the best knowledge and the best technology. We also should develop our own in completely new fields, looking at the future, at alternative ecologically safe sources of energy, forms of transport, new materials, preventive medicine, recycling of waste, etc. We could endeavour to export our new ecologically sound, modular, efficient and not wasteful products in the world market in competition with the polluting, complex, wasteful products of capitalist economy. In our international outlook and relations we should be internationalists, but with common sense. We live on a small planet, the present social and ecological problems are affecting every nation in the world, and the solutions to these problems can only be resolved by international global efforts. We should strive to give the good example to the rest of the world by being successful in putting our principles into practice, and joining forces with any other nation prepared to do the same. We should be generous but not suckers; open minded but not stupid. We should keep up our guard; there is no point in jumping into a "level playing field" unless we have made sure that the playing field is in fact level; we should not forego the national interest of our society just for the narrow global interest of the international business corporations. In my opinion this country is one of the few countries in the world where such a progressive socio-economic organism could be successful and show the rest of the world a better way to the future. Australia is rich in resources, it has a relatively small population which is fairly well educated, it still has a skilled work force and industrial technological base left after the massacre of the last eight years (1990), the framework of a good education
system is still in place, it has a long democratic tradition even if it is a capitalist tradition, moreover it has a mixture of all the races and cultures of the Earth, a positive factor which turns into a negative factor under capitalist competition and exploitation.
Organisms And Societies. ******** We could say that the Universe is an immense Organism that we are still in the process of discovering and understanding. This immense organism is composed by many smaller ones, and these, in their turn, are composed by even smaller organisms and so on. Inside this immense and still unknown Universe every organism is directly or indirectly connected or related within a continually changing ecological balance. Whatever happens to any of them, even to the smallest or to the more distant one, affects all the rest. Naturally, because of the immensity of the Universe, these repercussions may take millions of light years to reach a distant part, and therefore may be imperceptible. Our Earth is a planet in the solar system situated in the galaxy that we call the Milky Way.
The Human race is a living organism and so is every group, every family and Human being within it. All living organisms and inanimate things on this Earth are precariously balanced within complex ecological relations. Like a set of springs continually compressed one against the others, as soon as one is removed, all the rest are set in motion until they find a new state of balanced tension. Complete balance is never maintained for long. Changes are constantly produced by the interaction of the organisms themselves. As the temporary balance is continually disturbed, it continually tends to settle into new ecological relations. Sometimes these changes are imperceptible and may take thousands of years to become manifest, sometimes they occur in a few decades or even suddenly. Given time, most forms of life can evolve and adapt to a new environment and to a new ecological situation. It may require thousands or millions of years. But during rapid or sudden changes some forms of life may suffer or even disappear, while others may benefit and take over. From the point of view of the Human race, every ecological change which in the long term is in our favour could be considered beneficial, those which may be damaging to our future existence are detrimental. What is the driving force in the continuous changes in the ecological balance of living organisms? So far, it seems to be the natural instinct of self preservation inside every living being. It seems to be a law of Nature that everything that comes to life wants to stay alive and, if possible, to grow and expand. Sometimes the life of an organism depends on the support or cooperation of another, therefore they form instinctive
alliances. Sometimes certain organisms are mortal enemies and are locked in a struggle for survival. Sometimes continuous struggle is the condition of their life, and without it they would perish Ecology is a study of vital importance for our survival. From this study we may be able to learn how to promote the development or the conservation of environments beneficial to our long term future. But we must keep in mind that, no matter how much we may study, we will remain basically ignorant for a very long time. Therefore, we must always be very careful when we are tampering with our environment. To be sure, we must always leave ourselves a way out so that we may be able to retreat whenever we make a mistake. We should avoid promoting changes which may be irreversible. To change a desert into a rain forest or into fertile farmland may be a beneficial ecological change. This is probably what the desert may have been in a previous ecological situation. In this chapter I may have already gone too far from the main topic of this discussion, but this digression may facilitate our understanding of a Human organism: a socioeconomic system.
SOCIAL ORGANISMS. ******** Generally speaking, there is safety in numbers and, therefore, a better chance for survival. Since the beginning, Human beings have tended to live in groups. Small primitive societies, where each individual family group can be self sufficient, are simple organisms. Modern industrial societies, on the contrary, are very complex. They are a conglomerate of smaller organisms, each performing definite functions in the overall requirements of the society. Notwithstanding great differences in Human organisms, their natural motive forces are basically very similar. What keeps all groups within an organism together is each individual's interest for survival. Even if there is competition
between them, they still may find an advantage in staying together, therefore, they must compromise. Self interest and compromise are the glues that keep the many, often opposite parts of a socio economic system together in a precarious ecological balance. In such complex organisms no individual can stand wholly on his own feet and be completely independent. To earn one's living within the system is the main condition for survival. As every occupation is more or less only a small part of the total process of production, every individual is dependent on the performance of the others for his own livelihood. Everyone is more or less specialised to perform a task or just a fraction of a task in the social process of production. One cannot withdraw easily from such a society. If for any reason the social ecological balance is disturbed and people are left out or discarded because they are no longer needed, it would be difficult for them to fit in different occupations and to perform different tasks, if the organism has stopped growing and there has been no planning, as is the case with Capitalism most of the time. For this reason, every individual in the conglomerate of living organisms tends to cling to the established order of which he is a part, whether he likes it or not; an order which provides him with the means of subsistence, as meager or abundant as they may be. While one has a place which allows one to survive in the society, one will tend to accept compromise in the struggle within the social organism. But when his employment becomes insufficient to provide the means of subsistence, or when one is discarded or becomes alienated, then compromise becomes impossible. One will attempt to change the society or to find or to create another in which he can fit, either within or outside the existing one.
The natural instinct for a meaningful survival is the motive force that will keep a society together or will tear it apart. It seems to be evident that the more satisfying and the more remunerative somebody's place is in the society, the more stubbornly one will try to preserve the social organism in its present form. It seems to be also evident that very few individuals within a society will risk destroying it while they still have a place in it and the means of subsistence, as miserable as they may be. Few people will take this risk. The majority will not move unless they have been driven to desperation, and a new organism is already developing which assures them of a better way of life than the one they may have at present, and a better chance to survive in the future. This digression about social economic organisms should be enough for the moment to help us to understand the following chapters. But there is no way that we can avoid returning to this subject in the course of the discussion because it is the main underlying topic of all socio-economic systems.
SOCIOECONOMIC SYSTEMS. ******** Few words, today, are used more often than the word "economy". When we hear about our economy in the Media, we get the impression that it is something unchangeable outside and above
our society, more important than ourselves - something like a god, to whom we must make Human sacrifices. We all know in general terms what is a Human society. Generally speaking it is composed by groups of people who have evolved and interacted together for a long time and, therefore, they have acquired similar tastes, attitudes and beliefs, a similar culture; but most of all they are bound by common interest or convenience as they depend on each others in different ways and to different extent for the production of the commodities and services needed for their own survival. The method by which these commodities are produced and the way they are distributed or shared, constitutes the economy of the society. The relation between the members of the society and the relation that every individual has to the means and the process of production determines the type of the society. There have been and still are different types of relations to the productive forces in past and present Human societies. Probably what we call "primitive communistic" was the earliest socio-economic organism. Within the large family groups and tribes the concept of property of the land and natural resources did not exist, the Natural Environment and the Land was considered to be the Mother of all Life. Even if the chance for survival was greatly improved by belonging to a group, each individual, because of the primitive technology, could fabricate its own implements and weapons and, therefore, could try to survive on his own. They had a simple and primitive economy. They were hunters, food gatherers and warriors at the same time. They had no personal belonging worth more than a few hours or at most a few days of a man labour. As every individual could be self sufficient, there was little difference in their status within the community.
The decisions affecting the community were taken by general consensus. Life evolved slowly, seldom changing for many generations. Therefore, the experiences and wisdom of the elders was valid and useful to the young. In times of trouble, leadership was naturally either entrusted to, or taken by, those who were stronger and had more experience, therefore improving the chance of survival for the whole group. Generally speaking, as the Human race evolved, as the families became tribes, the tribes became Nations and the technology of production improved so also their socio-economic organisation evolved too. The next form of socio-economic organism probably was one where a small town or village had developed. Some of the early tribes of hunters and gatherers began to cultivate the land and formed small pastoral and agricultural settlements. These communities were comprised by farmers and few artisans. They were mostly freemen and each cultivated all the land that the size of their family could handle. In these communities all males had to bear arms and take part in the defence of the community whenever it was threatened. There was not much difference in property and wealth between the members of a small community, no standing army or police that could be manipulated, there was affinity between the families and each individual had the ability to bear arms. Because of these factors the decision-making and power structure must have been fairly democratic; the main feature being the equality and economic independence of each family in the community. Eventually, from some of these small socio-economic organisms big and powerful Nations developed. As the small communities grew, by necessity the nature of their economies began to change. In their expansion, they had to engage in war, and the
first division of labour or economic tasks became necessary. Moreover, as the size of the community increased, it became possible for artisans to specialise in the mass production of certain commodities. As the early farmer-soldiers could not leave their farms for protracted wars, the formation of standing armies became necessary. Leadership and valour in war was rewarded with land and slaves to work the land. Taxes had to be instituted for the maintenance of armies and the construction of roads and other public works this was the beginning of the State. Therefore the nature of the methods and relations of production (the economy of the society) began to change and became more complex; beside the small self sufficient independent farmers, large agricultural estates and commercial enterprises with hundreds of slaves began to develop, and also an urban population of landless artisans and traders servicing the needs of a growing more complex society. Leadership in war, ownership of land and slaves became the prerequisite for wealth. As wealth accumulated in the hand of a few families they also became very powerful. This accumulation of great wealth in the hand of fewer individuals, their influence in the army and in the running of the State and their ambition for power created the situation in which democracy could not last. These factors favoured the advent of absolute rule by oligarchies, tyrants or dictators. These socio-economic organisms can be described as societies with a totalitarian power structure, societies sustained by a slave economy. Such were the ancient civilisations of Egypt and Rome. So far I have mentioned three of the main forms of societies. There are other that will be mentioned in the next chapters. Beside these there are many more variations of the main forms; these variations have been determined by the different combinations of different compelling factors: the factor of chance
and the powerful Human ability to alter or to adapt to any environment or situation to be able to survive. Within all socio-economic organisms there is an underlying continuous struggle amongst the various groups for their share in the distribution of the commodities produced. This struggle is called politics, and it has been going on in various forms and with different intensity since the beginning of time. It is one of the many aspects of the struggle for survival. It is not only the cold mechanical relation of production which determines the quality of a society, but also the degree of trust, concern and affection amongst the individuals in the society. An organism where this trust and concern is lacking and where people are becoming isolated is a sick society. It should be evident that socio economic organisms have undergone an uneven but continuous change since the beginning of Human life. They have come and gone, and there is no reason to believe that the present one is going to be the last one, unless we destroy ourselves and our planet, and put an end to our history. As it was mentioned before, the environment, the level of technology in production, and the knowledge or ignorance about ourselves and the laws of Nature and the Universe, these are the main elements that together determine the type and quality of a socio economic system. Differences in these factors have determined the different developments and features of societies and their economies. Each form of socio-economic organism is generally sustained by definite beliefs or philosophies. It is not easy to define whether these philosophies are the prime reason for the type of the society or they are mainly produced by the necessity to explain or justify the existing form and power structure of the society. Probably both these possibilities are partly true, as when an
economic organism is degenerating and is becoming obnoxious, some people with more foresight and those who are becoming alienated will try to change the form of the society and, therefore, by trying to explain the necessity for change, will promote beliefs and philosophies that are different to the existing ones. Revolutionary changes in Human societies cannot be retarded for very long without the risk of social degeneration and eventual social upheaval. Revolutionary movements and also terrorism are the result of a situation of frustration and despair when natural changes are prevented and meaningful democratic processes are hindered, perverted or suppressed. Therefore, extreme conservatism is the principal cause of revolution and terrorism. Before we have a brief look at the main socioeconomic systems in the evolution of Western society, we should consider the most important negative factor in our development: our original ignorance. Evidently, because of our presumption, this factor has been largely ignored. It must be evident that, compared with what we do not know or do not understand, our knowledge has been and still is infinitesimal. Therefore, it has been this negative factor, our ignorance and not our knowledge, which had the greater influence in the development of all socioeconomic systems so far, Capitalism included. There should be little doubt that this ignorance has been Humanity's major handicap since our primordial natural instinct became affected by the beginning of our consciousness. Had Humanity been born with the perfect knowledge of the world of Nature and the Universe with all its laws, it could have devised a perfect society from the start.
It seems that we have been destined to evolve in darkness, never sure to come out unscathed from our inevitable mistakes. Our ignorance, the harshness of our primitive environment, the scarcity of the means of subsistence, the fear of being overtaken or destroyed by strangers with the same fears as our own, all these factors have contributed to the development of the worst features in our behaviour and in our socio-economic systems: our suspicion of strangers, our jealousy of our neighbours' success, our insecurity and our greed for property and power, all these derive mainly from those factors. Therefore, our history is punctuated by the development of socio economic systems based on the enslavement and exploitation of Man. Fortunately there is a better side to Human nature. Since the beginning we have aspired towards a society based on trust and justice, harmony and peace. This side of our nature has always been able to surface, no matter how ruthlessly it may have been suppressed at times. At every stage of our evolution and in every part of the world, often unknown and independently of each other, philosophers and prophets have attempted, within the limits of their Human ignorance, to find a way to develop the good side of our nature, and to avoid the devastations brought about by our faults. There should be no doubt that it is our ignorance and blind presumption that so far have frustrated all these attempts. Background to these questions. In 1983, to improve on my English and the Essay that I had written, I did an evening Language course at Mt Druitt Technical college. To get a feedback about the English grammar and the content of the Essay I gave the manuscript to one of the teachers who kindly, after reading it, gave me some good advice. These are the questions that she put to me and these are the answers that I gave to explain my point of view.
SOME QUESTIONS ARISING FROM THE ESSAY
Background to these questions. In 1983, to improve on my English and the Essay that I had written, I did an evening Language course at Mt Druitt Technical college. To get a feedback about the English grammar and the content of the Essay I gave the manuscript to one of the teachers who kindly, after reading it, gave me some good advice. These are the questions that she put to me and these are the answers that I gave to explain my point of view.
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS.
Question 1 ADAM SMITH, HIS MOTIVATION AND BIAS. Annette, I appreciate your opinions and advice on the form and content of the essay, and I will endeavour to answer as briefly as I can the questions that arise from it. I will attempt to rewrite and restructure the sentences making them shorter and eliminating anything that may be superfluous and confusing. I agree, in the main, with your opinion about the long quotes from Adam Smith, Karl Marx and others. I will relegate them to an appendix at the end of the essay. I will not eliminate them completely because I believe that they are important to the main theme and purpose of the essay. They show how the present situation is not a new unforeseen and temporary development, but is the logical consequence of events that have been determined by the natural laws and mechanism of the system. These are at the core of capitalist evolution. The present problems cannot be fixed within the system that creates them: they will recur in more complex and aggravated forms. What will be the new solutions that will be adopted to overcome the present recession? We could have a guess by looking at the ones that have been adopted to solve the economic problems in the past. The main were 'hire purchase', ‘high pressure advertising' and 'planned obsolescence' in short – CONSUMERISM. They all derive from the same natural economic laws. The relief could only be temporary, and they have created bigger problems than those they were meant to overcome. To be able to understand our present economic and social problems we must understand the capitalist system; to understand the system we must understand its nature, its origin and historical development. We cannot do this without referring
to Adam Smith, Malthus, Marx and other economists, philosophers and historians of the past. Adam Smith analysed the early stage of capitalism; he could not fully assess the future development of the system. The development became evident to Karl Marx during the Industrial Revolution a century later. Marx foresaw, as far as humanly possible, the general development and eventual saturation of the economy. What became clear to him over one hundred years ago should be quite obvious to us today. It is mainly because of misinformation from the media and from capitalist vested interests that today we are so confused. Another reason why I quoted Adam Smith so extensively was to rebuff the promoters of monetarism who like to quote him as the origin of their economic philosophy. I had heard about Adam Smith's "THE WEALTH OF NATIONS" since my school days but I had never read it. My curiosity was aroused recently after watching Milton Friedman on T.V. explaining the merits of monetarism in a series of programs entitled "Free to choose". I decided to read "THE WEALTH OF NATIONS" and I found out how much Adam Smith had been misrepresented by monetarist exponents. I also found the solution to the main riddle of the capitalist organism, so I believe. Therefore, I started writing the essay. Who was Adam Smith? He was born in Scotland in 1723, the son of a Customs officer. He went to school in Kirkcaldy; he studied at the universities of Glasgow and Oxford. He lectured in Edinburgh as professor of philosophy and history. For two years he was the tutor of the Duke of Buccleuch, he traveled with him to Europe. There he met some of the great French thinkers of the time, including Voltaire. In 1776 he published his most important work: "AN ENQUIRY INTO THE NATURE AND CAUSES OF THE WEALTH OF
NATIONS". He spent his last years as commissioner of' Customs in Edinburgh. In my opinion he could best be described as a successful academic with great intellectual capacity and honesty, comparable to the great thinkers of the eighteenth century. Adam Smith understood the new capitalist economic system, and appreciated the progress and new freedoms that it was bringing. He advocated a system of natural liberty regulated by a completely free market. He must have been a good natured optimist because he believed that rationality and the interest of society could be preserved indefinitely in a situation of competition between selfish personal interests. I wonder what Adam Smith would have thought if he could have foreseen the social problems, the extent of ecological disruption and the dangers of nuclear technology in the present age. Regarding the social classes of his time, Adam Smith had good reasons to appreciate the generosity of the nobility, "the proprietors of land”, but he had very little esteem for their judgment: " ...they are the only one of the three orders whose revenue cost them neither labour nor care... That indolence, which is the natural effect of the ease and security of their situation, render them too often, not only ignorant, but incapable of that application of mind which is necessary in order to foresee and understand the consequences of any publick regulation." He had an appreciation for the labouring class but he believed that it was utterly incapable of deeper understanding: “...But though the interest of the labourer is strictly connected with that of the society, he is incapable either of comprehending that interest, or of understanding its connection with his own. His condition leaves him no time to receive the necessary
information, and his education and habits are commonly such as to render him unfit to judge even though he was fully informed....” Regarding Adam Smith’s poor esteem and distrust of the early capitalists, the "merchants and master manufacturers", there is no doubt that it was justified. He offers plenty of evidence to support his distrust of the mercantile class right through his enquiry. In the conclusion to chapter XI of “WEALTH OF NATIONS” he states in part: "His employers (the capitalists) constitute the third order, that of those who live by profit whose interest has not the same connection with the general interest of the society.....an order of men whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the publick, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the publick, and who accordingly have upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.” There is plenty of evidence that, with few exceptions, the capitalists have not changed since Adam Smith's time. They are still motivated by the same economic laws and blinded by the same human passions. His statement that we should never completely trust them is even more valid today. Regarding his motivation for writing “THE WEALTH OF NATIONS”, I believe that it was the desire of an enquiring mind to explain the new social and economic forces that were gradually overtaking the old feudal mode of production. During the eighteenth century the western world was in ferment with new philosophical and scientific thoughts, Adam Smith was part, of that process. Capitalism at the time was a progressive force in many respects, and its beginning cannot be separated from the beginning of modern science and 'western democracy'. I believe that there should be no doubts about the honesty and objectivity of Adam Smith's motivation. Of course, no human
being can be completely free from bias; every person is the product of his times and is affected by its limitations. Question 2 THE WEAKNESSES IN CAPITALISM ARE CERTAINLY THERE, BUT SOCIALISM HAS WEAKNESSES TOO. PERHAPS POWER CORRUPTS ALL SYSTEMS, AND WAYS OF COMBATING THIS GENERALLY ARE WHAT WE NEED TO DEVELOP. This question as I understand it, implies that all systems could be good if power did not corrupt the State and the society; if we could develop means to combat this problem, all systems, capitalism and socialism included, could be O.K. First I will try to explain my opinion on the premise to the question: that capitalism has weaknesses but so has socialism. Capitalism has developed for more than three hundred years, the' troubles we have today are caused by basic natural faults not weaknesses. A relatively under populated and primitive world was the environment in which Capitalism has evolved: expanding population, expanding resources, expanding markets, and a primitive agriculture and industry. The nature and mechanism of the system, its basic essence, were determined mainly by this environment, and are geared to produce and supply the needs of an expanding market. In the cycle of capitalist production those people who own capital, by employing labour, produce commodities, which they sell for profit in competition against one another on the world market. Profit is the motive force, without it all activity will grind to a halt.
Profit is realized at the moment of sale; therefore, selling on the market is the most important point in the cycle of production. Everything revolves around this point. As long as the sale takes place and profit is realized, what is sold or what happens to the goods afterwards is of relative importance. It does not make much difference if it is butter or guns or whether guns are sold to starving people, and butter to those who are already overfed. Selling of commodities is the king-pin in capitalist economy, production comes second, human and ecological considerations come third: these last are often an impediment to the capitalist cycle of production and profit making. Only in an environment of expanding population and expanding markets the capitalists could compete freely in producing more and cheaper commodities and still survive. The expanding demand could eventually absorb all the production. Periodically the rise in production overtook the capacity of the markets to absorb the commodities produced, sales slumped, profits disappeared and the cycle of production came to a stop. In the early stages of the economy these periodical crises were only temporary and soon, in that expanding world, the cycle of production got under way again. But today it should be evident to anybody but the most stubborn and blind conservatives that the empty environment that was the cradle of the capitalist system does not exist any more. In three hundred years capitalism has eliminated that environment almost entirely. Nothing has been left untouched in the creation of new products and new markets to maintain the spiraling cycle of production and profit making in motion. Competition in production has made industry so efficient that it can take care of any demand. While in the early stages only a few industrialized countries were competing against each other's for the world's markets and raw materials, today most countries have
become producers themselves and are keen competitors in the saturated world trade. In proportion that the capacity to produce has increased, the available markets have decreased. Moreover, because of great advances in technology, part of the workforce, which itself constituted a market, is being put out of work. Adam Smith stated that "the sole end and purpose" of an economic system is to supply the needs of the whole people in a society but, in capitalism, people have become only an incidental in keeping the economy going for the benefit of a minority. When people are not needed any more, they are discarded just like any rubbish. This is a great problem for capitalism. It cannot discard its workers and expect them to remain consumers in the market, nor it can expect them to just lie down and die. The present crisis is not temporary, and cannot be fixed in a rational way within the system that is causing it. It is going to be a permanent feature in most countries of the world with the exception of those few that may now and then come out on top in the worldwide trade war. The spiral of capitalist development has reached the physical boundaries of our planet Earth. Capitalism is geared for growth and expansion and it cannot stagnate for long. These are basic natural faults that cannot be called weaknesses; they are the terminal sickness of an obsolete social and economic system. I do not advocate socialism as it is at present (1980), but it is evident that, if a better alternative is not found soon, we will be forced to choose between two, both disagreeable, possibilities: either a dictatorship of the right, or one of the left. In such eventuality I would have to choose socialism.
The reason is, that to solve the problems of ignorance, unemployment and pollution we need a planned economy and a progressive humane philosophy. Socialism at least envisages such a society in the future; this is why, notwithstanding all its present weaknesses, it holds some hope for our survival and is appealing to idealist young people today. Socialism is a new force and cannot be fully assessed yet. It. has been the underdog and under constant threat since the beginning. It is different in every country, and it is too early to say whether its present problems are just momentary weaknesses or basic natural faults. When we think about socialism we have been influenced to think about its worst features by the capitalist media. There are poor socialist countries, but there is seldom such misery as we find in most capitalist countries side by side with the most extravagant luxury. To conclude the first part, I believe that it would be appropriate to say that while the capitalist system has a definite terminal sickness, socialism may only have the troubles of a difficult birth. Coming to the second part of the question, that power corrupts all systems and what we need to develop are ways to combat this trend, I believe that even if we had the most honest and hard working people in command, both in government, business and union circles, it would not make any difference to the situation of overproduction and market saturation that we have in the world today. This situation is the immediate cause of our economic crisis. We can all see that, no matter what colour, democrat or republican, liberal or labour, honest or crook our government and business leaders have equally no success in their attempts to fix the problems of capitalist economy. To survive in the world today each country which has not an isolated planned economy must win the war of competition in the
world markets. To this end they must sacrifice their populations almost to the point of suicide. The victory of one country means the defeat of many. It is a rat race to produce and sell cheaper than the rest, to put the opposition out of business. The result is that everybody including the winners is reduced to a life of sacrifices and insecurity. To produce and sell cheaper goods one would either have to lower wages and consequently lower the standard of living of a part of the population, or it would have to replace people with robots with even worst social results. It is true that power has a corrupting influence, but the main problem with capitalism is not that it is almost completely corrupted but rather that it is obsolete. The increasing corruption is more the result than the cause of its obsolescence. Nothing can be done about it; it is a question of evolution. POWER CORRUPTS ALL SYSTEMS we know from history how many times an oppressive and corrupt regime was overthrown by more honest and progressive forces which eventually became as bad as those they had displaced; often notwithstanding winning an election the real power is still in the hands of those that have been replaced in government. It is because of our ignorance and immaturity that instead of cooperating we are competing against each others. From this competition for survival derives the quest for power. We believe that we must have power over Nature, the land, the sea, over the means of production, over other human beings to be able to win in the contest. Every human society must have some kind of organization. An organization, whether primitive or more complex, must have some form of power structure.
The ideal social structure, in my opinion, would be one where power is shared amongst all individuals. This would be an ideal democratic society where the level of education and consciousness would be such that every individual would have the ability to think objectively, where all work would be shared and where there would be no private ownership of the means of production. This society may be a distant dream. But even if a perfect society may not be possible, it has been the ideal and aspiration of Mankind since ancient times. There is no reason why we should not be striving towards such an ideal. We must try to get as close to it as it is humanly possible. The problem of the abuse of power and its corrupting influence is an ancient one. It stems from our ignorance and fears in the competition for survival. It is a problem that human societies have tried to solve in different ways, but they have never been successful for long. Sooner or later the rules were changed or distorted. Fortunately, no abuse of power can go on forever, sooner or later it will create the means of its own destruction. Therefore, we must be prepared to deal with this problem for a long time to come, and we must continually try to find ways of combating it. As the problem of power abuse and corruption has been and still is common to all systems and societies, it can be considered as a constant factor that could be ignored in the equation or comparison between socialist and capitalist economy. The choice would still be between two different economic systems, the factor of corrupting power being a possibility common to both of them. We would have to choose between a wasteful, polluting, soul destroying economic system run by wealth and power hungry gangsters, and a more rational planned economy run by power hungry bureaucrats. To be successful in the first, one would have to become a capitalist or join the 'mafia'; to be successful in the
second, one would have to join the ruling party and become active in one of its committees. At present, the socialist countries are the underdogs in a ruthless economic and military contest with world capitalism. In this competition they are making the same mistakes of the West as they are influenced by the same values. They are becoming nationalistic, they are adopting consumerism, and in their stupid race to keep up with capitalism they are polluting the environment even more. They could have won the support of the progressive people of the world if instead of pursuing a policy of power they gave a good example by avoiding taking part in the arms race and by avoiding the mistakes of the capitalist system by developing alternative energy saving technologies. It is probable that they cannot trust the West any more than the West can trust them. They can be partly excused because we know that capitalism has a longer history of violent exploitation, and we know also that capitalist economy prosper by war and destruction. To conclude, I believe that, contrary to the capitalist system, a planned economy holds better prospects for the future because it can be harnessed to the needs of society. Moreover, it is more likely that the problem of corrupting power may be overcome in a society where the means of production belong to all and nobody can accumulate an excessive amount of wealth over the rest of the citizens. It would be almost impossible to solve the problem of the abuse of power in a society where most of the land and the means of production, which are the real source of power, are the private property of only twenty percent of the population.
CONFUSION ABOUT OUR ECONOMIC STATE This question shows that the essay, in its present form, has failed in its main purpose that was to expose the real causes of the present economic situation by explaining the basic nature of the capitalist system. I am afraid that this essay would be totally incomprehensible to the average person if it is not clear enough to one with a higher education. I have succeeded in complicating a very simple concept; therefore, I am reviewing and restructuring the essay to make it less confusing. In a few words, what was meant to be explained in the essay was that the capitalist system has evolved from a particularly empty environment with great potential for expansion. In the course of its evolution it has completely changed the environment and it has created a new one that, contrary to the first, is almost completely saturated and in which the potential for further expansion is fast decreasing. The natural economic laws of the system, which did function in the old environment, cannot function in the new situation. They can only be kept functioning by artificial and irrational means (consumerism, waste, increasing sacrifices, war...) and with ever increasing sacrifices by the majority of the human race. It is not so much a question of politics, philosophy or idealism; it is mainly a question of common sense. It is not either a question of malice on the part of the capitalists. They themselves are prisoners of the system and there is not much that they can do about it. Most of them are decent people but they are blinded by their own presumption to the real situation. People in power, in any system, hate drastic changes because they are afraid to lose their position of privilege. They control the mass media and they keep the public in the dark by putting the
blame elsewhere for the troubles of an economy of which they are in command and for which, therefore, they are responsible. How much will our society have to degenerate before we realize the need for change? It is madness to persist to keep alive at all costs a system that has evolved fully and has become obsolete and obnoxious. It is evident that today, to put it mildly, we are gradually losing our rationality and our sense of perspective. While new technology and new methods of production are increasing the potential for satisfying human needs, more and more people are forced to accept a lower standard of living. We are being conditioned to accept, waste, pollution, the destruction of new generations and even a possible nuclear war as economic necessities or Necessary Evils. We have put ourselves into an economic strait jacket; we have become slaves to an economic system that literally demands human sacrifices. For example we accept the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people every year all over the world, and the maiming of many more to keep the car and associated industries viable and people employed in our economy. The development of our cities has been influenced more by the car and oil industries than the needs of the people who have to live in them. Any thoughts about alternatives have been discouraged or suppressed. Now it may be too late to correct these mistakes. Our so called free enterprise system has locked us into this particular direction; the vested interests of a minority has decided for most of the population that it should live in stupefying isolation and loneliness, prisoners of distance in our sprawling dormitory suburbs. We accept the sacrifice of human lives for the needs of some industries in our economy. There is no great difference from the human sacrifices performed in some of the ancient cultures to propitiate the gods of rain and the harvest. In their superstition
and ignorance, the reason for those sacrifices was in essence also an economic necessity. The main difference between then and now is that while they were choosing the victims to be sacrificed, we leave it to chance and we are all candidates when we drive to work or to visit our friends. We even call this sacrifice of human life a payment for progress. There are more features of our economic system that are outright criminal and surpass in cruelty anything in the past; but these are not the main reason why our economy will be discarded. Whether we care about social issues or not, the main factor that will determine a change is, in the words of Karl Marx, that "the modern labourer of rising with the progress or industry, sinks deeper and deeper below the conditions of existence of his own class. He becomes a pauper. And there it becomes evident that the bourgeoisie is unfit any longer to be the ruling class in society and to impose its conditions of existence upon society as an overriding law. It is unfit to rule because it is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within his slavery, because it can not help letting him sink into such a state that it has to feed him, instead of being fed by him. Society can no longer live under this bourgeoisie, in other words, its existence is no longer compatible with society." Today there is a new dimension to our evolution that Marx could not have foreseen, and which never had to be considered before. Compared with this new factor all our past and present problems become insignificant. It is the threat to our survival posed by the development of nuclear technology within an economic system motivated by individual self interest and greed; a system in which selfishness and aggressiveness are essential for success, which depends on the ignorance and shallowness of the society for its continuation and which prospers by war or by the threat of war.
This new problem is not one that we can ignore and sweep under the carpet. From the way it will be resolved it will be decided whether the human race really is, as we believe, superior to all other forms of life, or it was only the result of a strange mutation, an obnoxious and self destructive virus on the face of the Earth. Looking at what we are doing to ourselves and to our environment we should have very strong doubts about our sanity. Why is it that we have been led so far on the path of irrationality? The key to this question can be found in Adam Smith's enquiry on the capitalist system of production. Over two hundred years ago he warned that the interest of the capitalists seldom coincides with that of the society as a whole. He also warned that capitalist "merchants and manufacturers" should never be allowed to become the "rulers of mankind". But the capitalists with their natural merchant cunning are much smarter, if not necessarily more intelligent and educated than the rest of society; therefore over the last three centuries, with their great influence over the media and the power that comes from their control over the means of production, have succeeded in convincing most of the public that the interest of the capitalists, not that of the public, coincides with the interest of society. This absurd merchant philosophy is the reason why we still persist in serving this absurd economy. While science and technology have been advancing, the standard and quality of living is deteriorating for most of Humanity. It is because the majority of people have acquired the mentality of the merchant that they have become blind to the obvious connection between our present problems and the obsolescence and degeneration of our economic system. To expose this connection and stimulate a reaction was the main scope of the essay.
HOW TO FIX THE ECONOMY. The main assertion in the essay is that capitalism has become obsolete and is becoming the main danger to our survival; also that capitalism cannot be fixed because its natural laws and its philosophy are incompatible with the present new situation. The means adopted in the past to fix the economy, like consumerism for example, have been irrational and have produced more social problems. Therefore, my answer to this question is that the only solution is a programmed transformation from capitalism to a rationally planned economic system. Whether it will be a democratic program of transition or a violent upheaval will depend on the relative strength and stubbornness of the establishment on one end, and the strength unity of the progressive forces on the other. It is not for me to say what such a program will be, or how it will be put into practice. This is what all people of good will must decide together. If a majority of people, convinced of the necessity, decides to change the economy, this will become mainly a technical question on how it could be done with the least human and ecological disruption. We must find the best way possible of sharing the task of producing and distributing the necessities of life in the most efficient, most human and least wasteful way possible. This is not a question of nationality, religion and culture. It is the basic task of promoting our physical existence on which everything else depends. Once everybody has contributed to this social task we can do what we like with the rest of our personal time, as long as we observe the golden rule not to do to others what we do not want done to ourselves. This is not really a new strange idea, nor a great sacrifice. Every human being since the beginning has had to work and procure
the necessities for the sustenance of his physical existence, or has had to get somebody else to do it for him. A new economy should just be the rationalization and humanization of this essential task that until now, because of our ignorance and fears, has been performed in the most wasteful, irrational and dangerous way. How ridiculous and pitiful we must look to a rational being looking at us from outside: a race so stupid and presumptuous, competing and clobbering each other, precariously crowded on a little planet that we call Earth - a little speck in the Universe.
Question 4 HOW IS THE COMBINTION OF PEOPLE OF GOOD WILL TO BE EFFECTED. First of all, who are people of good will? In my opinion these are people from any background who have not become completely cynical about humanity and are still interested in a meaningful future for themselves and their children on this Earth. People with enough common sense left to see the madness of the present situation, who still have an open mind and a sincere desire to discuss and find a practical solution. People who would be prepared to become active if only they were not so confused and they knew what to do. These are the people of good will, and this description would include most people on this Earth, if it was not for the factors of confusion and cynicism which has infected and immobilized a great number of honest human beings. But cynicism and confusion cannot be overcome by words alone. Consequently it is up to that minority who has not been infected
to show to the rest that change is possible, by a unity of thought and action. If these people, who are the yeast of humanity, will be successful in demonstrating in practice that there is an alternative to present insecurity and future chaos, then the rest will be awakened and will become active too. They will be moved not so much because of an ideal, but because they will see in practice a better chance for their own survival. It is obvious that at present the majority of progressive people are divided in many groups. Some are exclusively concerned with very important social or ecological problems, but they seem to be ignoring the causes of these problems. They are advocating 'band-aid' cures; consequently their success can only be limited and temporary. If some of their energy is not directed towards the original causes, this will eventually create frustration and cynicism in all but a small minority. Some groups are still wasting their energies in disputations over a backlog of arguments and sophisms from the distant past which can never be fully resolved. These people can never be constructive. Then there are those who believe that only through their own particular doctrine we can obtain salvation, and they are pulling in different directions. There are also many people who have acquired a vested interest in their particular movements and have become instinctively more interested in preserving the present situation rather than solving it completely. Because of these divisions, the movement for progress has been weakened and has lost credibility; the result is wide spread demoralization. Fortunately many people are becoming aware of this paralyzing situation and they are searching for a solution. Not just a new sect or a new faction, but a catalyst philosophy and movement which
could unite all people of good will, spark their imagination and focus the main part of their energy and enthusiasm towards eliminating the original causes rather than just the effects of our present problems. This last statement begs the question about what this philosophy could be. The times when one individual could devise a philosophy are gone forever; today this can only be done by the corporate intelligence and effort of many. Therefore, all that I, as an individual, can do is to explain, without pretence and presumption, my personal point of view within a wider discussion towards a new philosophy. I will try to do this in the future. How is the combination of these people of good will to be effected? If we are sincere in our search, we do not have to worry about this Question: it is a natural process that cannot be stopped. People always search for solutions to the problems which affect their lives. If many people have similar problems, produced by similar original causes, in their search for solutions they are bound, sooner or later, to come in contact with each other. Eventually they will realize that by joining in their efforts they will have a greater chance of success. Unfortunately, no matter how intelligent or educated we may be, we are all, more or less, ignorant and biased. Therefore, we all have different perceptions of objective reality. We are bound to come to a variety of conclusions about our problems, about their causes and also about the way to solve them. No matter how different our ideas may be, there can be only one objective reality and, consequently, some ideas must be closer than others to this reality.
In this search for a solution to their problems, people with similar perceptions and aspirations will tend to join their forces and form various groupings. In the meantime, our society and economy are continually evolving; some of the groups will become obsolete and will lose their meaningfulness; new ideas will be formed and new movements will appear. This natural process goes on all the time. When the social economic situation becomes ripe for a change, the movement that has the more accurate perception of the situation and what can be done, will become the medium through which change will be effected; it will become more successful and it will attract a greater number of activists and followers, many defecting from the other groups. This is a continuous natural process because the social economic environment continually evolves, and continually creates new situations that require new analysis and solutions. As long as there are people working towards change, we can be sure that, at the right moments, there will be changes. There are many people today who are frustrated and impatient about the degeneration of the progressive forces; they are searching for alternatives that may infuse new life to the movement. At this moment more and more people, many of them young and many with families to support, are continually being discarded by an obsolete contracting economic system. They are being persuaded to assume the blame for the failures of an economy on which they have no say or control. They are forced to sacrifice even the basic necessities, while those in command disclaim responsibility, get richer and even cover themselves with titles. Soon the people who are being discarded will have to awaken from their stupor and think hard about their survival. When their life becomes impossible or not worth living, they will look for a
solution. If there is not an honest movement, with a meaningful and practical program already started, ready to answer their call, we all may fall victims to the regressive solutions of extreme right wing conservatism. In conclusion, I believe that many 'people of good will' are searching for each other at present, and many more are just waiting to be found. For what it is worth, this is my brief answer to the question about 'people of good will'. I must stop, for now, step down from my 'soap box' and come back to earth.
Question 5 WOMEN, THOUGH ONLY EMERGING AS A NEW FORCE, MAY BE ABLE TO SUGGEST ALTERNATIVE MODELS TO THOSE OF MEN BASED ON POWER. I agree completely with this statement. Unfortunately, the attitudes and prejudices of both men and women that have formed over millions of years and are deeply rooted in our essence will not be overcome in a short time. Therefore, women must continue to assert themselves in a constructive way, but they must avoid the danger that as their "new force" increases they may be tempted to abuse it; force is potential, potential is "power”. There are basic differences between man and woman, and a male chauvinist pig would probably say thank God for some of them: But So far we are still ignorant about the origin of these differences and their implications. In our evolution we have
reacted instinctively to the necessities for survival. There was no malice or intent to do harm on the part of man or woman. Man was himself cast in a definite role by force of necessity, and by the will of woman (or consent of woman). I am inclined to believe that it was and still is woman, the procreator, that has the leading role, and man's actions are directly or indirectly subject to her will. It was Female who watched the males fight amongst themselves for her favour. Still now it is mainly woman who picks and chooses and, therefore creates trends in men behaviour. Woman is three corners of a home. Moreover, a woman's sexual drive seems to be different from that of man, and it is definitely man who depends more on woman. I am not an expert on this subject. Having been educated in institutions and colleges from the age of seven to fifteen, the formative years, I came out with an idealized and unreal concept about women. This concept was influenced mainly from classical literature, from Homer to the poets and writers of the Renaissance and Italian literature. When I left the 'glasshouse’ of my adolescence, I was struck by the reality of the post war years with all the gross aspects of American capitalist culture, false values, make believe attitudes, etc.. Within a working class environment it took years before I could dispel some of my confusion on man-woman relations. Honestly, I am still confused today. But enough of this. What matters today is that the environment that has promoted the different roles of man and woman so far, is rapidly changing and much more rapidly than our attitudes can change. To aggravate the confusion, the present economic system, by commercialising every aspect of life including the most intimate,
and putting a price on all human relations, is distorting and degrading all aspects of sexuality instead of restoring our natural innocence. In my opinion it is not primarily the contest of power in general and between man and woman that has to be resolved; this will follow if we resolve the problem of our ignorance and the problems of inequality and exploitation rooted in our capitalist social and economic organism. We must create a system based on love for Humanity and Nature that may promote the restoration of our natural innocence. The Question of the abuse of power, whether by man or woman, then may be resolved. Evidently, we must accept the fact that, as we are not perfect, there must be some form of power structure in any living organism or society. The point is to keep it to the minimum by sharing in the responsibilities involved. In this way it should become difficult for any individual or group of people to become accustomed to yielding and abusing power. Following is a little comment on the subject of man-woman relations.
DO YOU BELIEVE THAT WE ARE MOVING TOWARDS A NON-SEXIST SOCIETY If a "non-sexist" society means a society in which to be male or female has no bearing :On the status of persons in the society, On their obtaining positions of leadership,
On receiving recognition for achievement, On the role or type of work that one would perform in life, Then I believe that we are moving towards a non-sexist society. I do not subscribe to the idea that man has generally oppressed women. The roles that man and woman in the evolution of human society have been determined by the necessity for survival in a harsh environment and man’s role in life is not as easy and rewarding as some women claim. I can very well imagine that, in the caves, it was woman that chased out a lazy husband to fetch some firewood or to bring home some food when she was heavy with a child and she was looking after the others. Therefore, man acquired bigger muscles and the mind of a hunter and maker of things. In our general primordial ignorance, man may have at times taken advantage of his superior physical strength; but woman, I am sure, got her own back most of the time, if anything with the “last word”. To prove this point, woman generally has a longer life expectancy, and in old age a woman can cope better on her own than a man. Today, with the development of technology in production, science etc., which are overcoming and even replacing our primordial natural functions, the role of man is becoming almost obsolete. Economic, scientific and technological factors will tend to “liberate” women and also men from their set roles; consequently, there is a trend towards a non-sexist society. As change is occurring too fast in some places and too slowly in others, the near future presents a confused picture in which we can see the most troglodyte man-woman relations together with science fiction situations.
The prospects will be very confused for a long time because, while technology and science may move very fast, the attitudes of mind of man and woman that have developed over millions of years cannot change so fast; therefore: confusion. With present developments, man's role is becoming less important in relation to the survival of the species; but with the development of "cloning" around the corner, the importance of woman is also in danger. We cannot visualize the distant future; we can gradually make it by reacting to the present in relation to our past experiences and our aspirations. We must think about the possibilities and the dangers, and try to strike a happy balance without transgressing against Nature.
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