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Is "global class war" impossible?

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Soviet cogitations: 216
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 27 Jul 2013, 05:04
Ideology: Other Leftist
Pioneer
Post 04 Feb 2014, 16:08
American progressive writer Michael Lind argues that the Marxist theory of a coming globalized, class-conscious working class is hogwash and that religion and ethnicity are more powerful political identities than class consciousness.

Lind is a left-liberal and not a Marxist, so this is not surprising, but I wanted to put his contention up for debate to see what comrades here thought about his article.

http://www.salon.com/2014/02/04/the_1_p ... y_a_dream/
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Soviet cogitations: 4405
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Resident Soviet
Post 04 Feb 2014, 16:53
There are different tendencies in Marxist thought when it comes to the globalization of class consciousness and its impact in the creation of strong socialist/communist movements and/or governments. I for one cannot believe in the romantic conception that the flow of time and increasing contradictions of capitalism globally will naturally result in increasing global class consciousness to the point of the quick crumbling of capitalism worldwide. I believe it will inevitably come down to socialist and other progressive forces arising in some powerful countries and gradually overcoming capitalism and imperialism, similarly to what was attempted in the 20th century, this time with the benefit of computers and technologies which make market economics obsolete (things like replicators in the form of the internet and 3d printers, and computers capable of processing huge amounts of planning information). The world will almost 'inevitably' move in a progressive direction, but not on its own, and not without the traditional forms of standoffs, political and military wars and conflicts that have plagued humanity since the beginning of our history.
"The thing about capitalism is that it sounds awful on paper and is horrendous in practice. Communism sounds wonderful on paper and when it was put into practice it was done pretty well for what they had to work with." -MiG
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Soviet cogitations: 11879
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Philosophized
Post 04 Feb 2014, 17:09
Quote:
The idea that cross-national class allegiances will trump cross-class national allegiances has appealed to many on the radical left ever since Marx and Engels called on the workers of the world to unite. It didn’t happen in the 19th century, and it didn’t happen in the 20th century. A global class war won’t happen in the 21st or 22nd or 23rd centuries, either.

Stopped reading right there.
Anyway racial chauvinism and religious "nationalism" are generally dying out in the whole world, except maybe in the Middle East and Africa at the moment.
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Soviet cogitations: 14448
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Sep 2006, 22:05
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Philosophized
Post 04 Feb 2014, 18:24
And Muslim fundmentalism is more of a reaction to the creeping death of Islam than anything. People forget that at the turn of the last century practicing Muslims were minorities in their own countries (and are still today). It's kind of like how everyone believes all Americans have guns, because we make such a big deal over owning them,when in fact the majority of Americans have never owned even hunting level guns.

Also this article is just another shit attempt to act like class war isn't important, or in this case not even real.
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Soviet cogitations: 216
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 27 Jul 2013, 05:04
Ideology: Other Leftist
Pioneer
Post 04 Feb 2014, 19:39
soviet78 wrote:
There are different tendencies in Marxist thought when it comes to the globalization of class consciousness and its impact in the creation of strong socialist/communist movements and/or governments. I for one cannot believe in the romantic conception that the flow of time and increasing contradictions of capitalism globally will naturally result in increasing global class consciousness to the point of the quick crumbling of capitalism worldwide. I believe it will inevitably come down to socialist and other progressive forces arising in some powerful countries and gradually overcoming capitalism and imperialism, similarly to what was attempted in the 20th century, this time with the benefit of computers and technologies which make market economics obsolete (things like replicators in the form of the internet and 3d printers, and computers capable of processing huge amounts of planning information). The world will almost 'inevitably' move in a progressive direction, but not on its own, and not without the traditional forms of standoffs, political and military wars and conflicts that have plagued humanity since the beginning of our history.


I agree with you. I believe that there will have to be a socialist revolution in a large, advanced country that would have the means to build advanced socialism and have the capability to defend itself militarily from attacks by capitalist powers.
Soviet cogitations: 1128
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Aug 2008, 18:12
Party Member
Post 04 Feb 2014, 20:39
I agree with what the author is observing: people are currently far more likely to group together on the basis of nationality, language, religion and ethnicity than they are on class. This is because class is such a fluid and subjective concept (to most people). During a recession a middle class person may find themselves relegated economically to the working class; yet they will always consider themselves [insert nationality].

However, Lind's piece does not hold up particularly well to a Marxian economic analysis. He points out how wages are repressed chiefly in the 'traded sector' (what Marx calls productive labour). This is the production of commodities and thus is the production of surplus-value. He says that wages are suppressed in this sector due to foreign competition as production can always be off-shored to other countries where wages are lower. He contrasts this with the services sector (what Marx calls unproductive labour) which is not subject to these effects because the role of the service worker is to circulate commodities within a domestic market. Walmart cannot afford to off-shore their checkout workers to India because they need those workers to physically be in the US in order to facilitate the sales of Walmart's products. The problem is: how to Walmart's employees get paid when they don't produce any value or surplus-value?

Marx wrote:
It is not necessary to go here into all the details of the costs of circulation, such as packing, sorting, etc. The general law is that all costs of circulation, which arise only from changes in the forms of commodities do not add to their value. They are merely expenses incurred in the realisation of the value or in its conversion from one form into another. The capital spent to meet those costs (including the labour done under its control) belongs among the faux frais of capitalist production. They must be replaced from the surplus-product and constitute, as far as the entire capitalist class is concerned, a deduction from the surplus-value or surplus-product, just as the time a labourer needs for the purchase of his means of subsistence is lost time.


The wages of the 'service sector' workers are thus paid for out of the surplus-value created by the 'traded sector' workers. If demand for labour in the traded sector increases in a proportion greater than these workers are rendered unemployed by technological advances in production, then wages will rise in this sector. If we assume that the wages of the service sector workers remains constant, then the only result from this is a reduction in the surplus-value (profit) accruing to the capitalists. If this occurs then there will be lower tax revenues entering government coffers (which pay for jobs such as nursing which Lind highlights). If the capitalists want to prevent this then they will have to either off-shore to another country where traded sector wages are lower, or lower/stagnate the wages of the service sector workers. Since the it is the latter option which tends to occur, this can result in dissatisfation.

This may take a long time as there are lots of emerging markets out there and capital is constantly looking for new sources of cheap productive labour. This report shows how wages are slowly rising overall in the world and especially in developing countries relative to developed countries (where capital is mostly concentrated). It says wages in China have tripled in the past decade! It also describes how capital is taking more of the profits relative to wages and that wages in the developed countries are growing least relative to the rest of the world - even declining in 2008 and 2011 (p24).
Soviet cogitations: 28
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 02 Jan 2015, 07:22
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Pioneer
Post 07 Jan 2015, 07:18
Piccolo wrote:
American progressive writer Michael Lind argues that the Marxist theory of a coming globalized, class-conscious working class is hogwash and that religion and ethnicity are more powerful political identities than class consciousness.



I"ll print and read the article, but I think he's right - most people are more concerned with religion, nationalism, TV shows and ethnicity, relationships etc. than Marxism- esp. in the developing world IMO
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