The productive capability that advanced society has achieved, enabling mankind to produce an abundance for everyone, is based upon social production on a highly industrialized level. This is a material condition that took a capitalist economic system to develop. It is a socially evolutionary stage succeeding feudalism, which supplanted ancient slavery, which displaced communal society, a primitive form of social production providing enough for everyone only when nature was generous. Unfortunately nature was unkind more often than not.
Evolution of production, occurring during the tumultuous succeeding stages of social systems, has wrenched mankind from an uncontrollable condition of scarcity to a conquest over the quirks of nature. This means that the level of a controllable means of production has been reached. Now it has the capability to produce an abundance for everyone regardless of nature's digressions. The catch here is that this wondrous economic potential is deliberately prevented from being implemented as will be demonstrated.
The precarious mode of living during ancient times, comprising of individual hand wielded tools of production, has evolved into a secure productive capacity where the tool is socially wielded. It is a sophisticated tool combining several interrelated components. Its operation is conducted by a whole group of workers performing integrated tasks to produce a finished product. The whole cannot function without the part, nor the part without the whole.
At this juncture, society is faced with the top priority challenge: How can everyone benefit from society's capability to produce an uninterrupted abundance? Capitalism has no answer for that question. The very existence of capitalism depends upon the private ownership of the socially operated means of production. The motive for capitalist production is first and foremost to reap a profit with workers receiving the small portion that is left. Dispense with the everyday argument of who deserves what share of the products produced for a moment and a clear view comes into focus revealing how monstrous this crime is: Every day, after huge profits are made, workers are barred from continuing production to satisfy their unmet needs. If they were able to punch the start button of production for even an extra half hour for their use an avalanche of products across the country would appear. Keep this up for a few days and the deplorable schools in all the run down neighborhoods could be replaced and all the children would be able to go to school well nourished. Many more hypothetical examples on overcoming want with plenty could be cited but the criminal capitalist system will hear none of that. It is compelled to persist in having human deprivation by placing profits before people.
Karl Marx observed the contradictions that accompany the advancement of capitalism. The preeminent contradiction he detected is private ownership of the socially operated means of production. All secondary contradictions emanate from that. They all translate into the countless ills that afflict society today. One of the economic laws of capitalism perceived by Marx is the falling rate of profit. This means that the more productive a unit of labor becomes, the more that profit returned to capital invested in it is diminished. The more that process intensifies from introductions of ever more increasingly efficient tools of production, the fiercer capitalist competition becomes. Nationally competing capitalist conglomerates have expanded internationally and now many have become global behemoths, conquering markets all over the world. The one huge national capitalist combine has finally breached the protective economic barriers of many foreign enterprises and staked major claims inside them, most notably in Japan. Obviously the identity of that nation is imperialist USA.
The more that the efficiency of production increases, the more predatory capitalism becomes. Internecine economic destruction devastates the world as superior capital displaces inferior capital (capital that can no longer compete). The consequence of this is that one nationally centered capitalist combine dominates global economics. That in turn creates the condition of vast want in the midst of plenty around the world. At the same time an image of economic well-being for everyone in the country of world dominance is concocted. Headlines blare, "The economy has never been better." Bluntly put, choosing one of many contradictory examples, witness the widespread scene of children with big bellies gobbling 99 cent Macs or Whoppers topped off with greasy fries and sloshed down with unlimited free soft drink refills. That is the human element behind the abstract bull market. There are numerous other examples that could be mentioned, some even more pathetic. This is a far cry from enjoying the fruits of bountiful social production. Superior capital has inferior living standards thriving at its doorstep.
The ancients were helpless victims of nature's capricious fits of scarcity. Today's victims suffer from artificially induced scarcity, most immoral when it occurs within the borders of a colossal imperialist capitalist stronghold, the country that spearheaded advanced capitalism, the wealthiest of all, the United States. The political lackeys of its capitalist class would be quick to answer, "No one is starving," but to be reflective of the superabundance producible, life should be fulfilled with real quality instead of it being an illusion harbored by the millions stuffed with 99 centers. They are reduced to that level by a choice restricted by their economic limitations. It has plenty of form but sorely lacks in substance. In the meantime millions of Russians, who are awaiting a capitalistic miracle, can only expect much less than that, no substance, not even form.
Did Karl Marx err? Did socialism fail? The global conflict has never been between capitalism and socialism. Most emphatically, socialism has never been tried. Two horribly destructive world wars were precipitated and waged by opposing capitalist countries. They were floundering under economic depressions caused by the shut down of industries due to a saturated market. Workers, the vast majority, simply did not have the wherewithal to buy the glut of commodities. At the same time, the Soviet Union was suffering from an extreme shortage of productive capacity. It was drawn into the vortex of that war by capitalist incursions towards it. Two omens existed just before the war, revolution in the West and counterrevolution in the East. The war provided the Stalinist despotic state as well as decadent capitalism with a second wind. It neutralized workers' discontent by flooding their minds with patriotic fervor.
The cold war was a calculated and deliberate fabrication foisted on the working class by the ruling classes in both the East and West. Stalin and company professed to save the socialism they didn't have and capitalism set forth to destroy the straw man of bogus socialism which Reagan dubbed, "The Evil Empire." No country had, or today has, socialism. What passes off as socialism are only mongrels baying at the moon of socialistic sounding gibberish, obscuring the genuine model. The US made the excuse for supplying backward countries with guns and ammunition by claiming it was for the purpose of turning back the spread of socialism fostered by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics which turned into being a mockery of socialism and unionism ("All power to the Soviets" implied all power to the unions but it turned out to be a one man union, Stalin).
Now the US claims that socialism is dead. This would be the first time that something died before it was born. Karl Marx insisted that only an educated working class could successfully carry out a revolution of socialism in a country that has developed highly industrialized production to the point where the vast majority of people have become members of the working class. All the countries that attempted socialism had an undeveloped industry which presupposes mass illiteracy and the working class constituting a tiny minority. It is safe to say that these masses had never laid eyes on Marx's book, "Capital," and with rare exception could not read the title if they did see it. At least they had an excuse for misrepresenting socialism which is more than can be said for Marx's attackers strutting about the bankrupt intellectual terrain today. Most of these intellectuals would do well to have deciphered a couple of pages in "Capital." This brings to mind an incident that happened in Minneapolis during the heyday of the cold war. A lecture was being conducted downtown on authentic Marxism with standing room only. Someone in the audience, in asking a question, referred to "Das Kapital" with a sarcastic tone, whereupon the speaker asked him if he spoke German. He said, "No." The speaker then suggested that it would be respectful to the audience to use the proper language for the occasion which is English. For that person, it might have been a case of a swelled head from a little second hand knowledge. It is doubtful that he had seen and read the title "Das Kapital" unless he, not versed in German, was a collector of German language books.
With the cold war declared dead (it was fictitious in the first place), the US is still locked into the habit of gun running (It is the worlds biggest arms merchant) by continuing that diabolical policy in order to maintain its domination around the world. While doing this, US capitalism resorts to all manner of baseless extremes. All of that in the absence of a straw man, the socialist bogeyman, to tear down and an "Evil Empire" to crusade against. The US war hawks still clamor for more nuclear deterrent. Russia (not the expired USSR) complies with this fools' game by rattling its nuclear arsenal saber. Capitalism has sunk so deep into decadence that it dispenses with any feigned lofty moral pretense for militarism, strutting around the world like a Mafia enforcer. Recently, a new report stated that for the first time the US has a military presence in l00 countries. In every country that it has militarily intervened in, during and after the cold war, the people there, the working class, are worse off than before. South Korea is now instituting a policy that eliminates the noon lunch break requiring the workers to keep glued to the computer screen while nibbling on their bag lunch. This in a country where office workers have traditionally enjoyed an extended noon lunch break. After the 50 billion dollar loan to South Korea, the WTO, IMF and World Bank cabal moves in to show the Korean workers that it is an old hand at turning the screws on labor.
Russia is feebly attempting to become a viable capitalist country. Its present position is akin to a farm boy taking a small basket of eggs to a modern supermarket to trade them for sugar and four. In the days of agrarian yore this was common but now would be an anachronistic intrusion. So too is Russia's puny economic struggle in the face of mammoth western global capitalism.
In the past, the US economy careened into rampant overproduction, glutting the market. What followed was spontaneous panic and economic collapse. It happened before the start of World War II. Mass material destruction during the war not only obliterated the glut but also decimated capital (productive facilities and machines). Uncontested control of many world markets reverted to victorious US capitalism. Bang!!! The race was on. Wide open markets provided an unimpeded rush of US capitalist production and profits soared. The American capitalist class hasn't looked back since, until now when profits are no longer a certainty even with market domination. There is a frenzy of mergers and acquisitions. The US hyper-economy's susceptibility to a crash demands operation on narrow margins of growth, whittled down to tenths of a percentage point regardless of the pumped up stock market. Another crash will not be rescued by the safety valve of military destruction followed by reconstruction like the last one for reasons too numerous to relate to here.
Considering the vastness of Russia's land, natural resources and people (workers), it is inconceivable that US capitalism looks forward to a full-fledged highly advanced Russian capitalist engine. Unthinkable, considering the economic panic factor sensitive to fractions of a percentage point just mentioned. Even a modicum of Russian competitive edge would throw US capitalism into a tailspin. The portent of this is that with out-of-control global overproduction, supply surges, demand flattens, the economy runs for the hills and once again people are selling apples on every corner of Times Square. Conversely, cutting production in an attempt to forestall this, throws millions of workers out of jobs who will then suffer acute depravation. Not a pretty sight for workers to look forward to.
Russia's 20th Century long predicament: It was incapable of establishing socialism in the beginning and is now incapable of establishing a robust (in the competitive sense) capitalist system. Heaven forbid that it would take a bite out of US capitalism's minimally tolerable 3 per cent growth rate in its global economic expanse. At the most, Russia can only play second fiddle, such as China does, doing not much more than brokering its cheap labor to US capitalism. For instance, Wal Mart, the biggest retailer in the world, has a tremendous supply of commodities to sell that are produced by cheap Chinese labor operating productive machines provided by US capitalism. Many times even Chinese labor costs too much. For example: US made production machines, manufacturing athletic shoes such as Nike and Rebock and other similar companies, were shipped to South Korea to take advantage of cheap labor there. When the price of that labor began to rise, production of those shoes was relocated to China. Then an increase in the price of labor there launched the flight of producing these shoes to Vietnam. Did the US finally win the Vietnam war now that cheap labor in that country is subject to the beck and call of US capitalism? In the case of Russia, if Wal Mart decided to shift production and importation of goods from China to there, it would mean that Russia's labor cost is substantially less, providing more profit in return for its capital investment. Such a future should look bleak to a Russian worker considering the atrocious treatment a Chinese worker receives.
Global economic commerce will never be on an equal footing with US, Russia and China. The latter two are destined to remain subordinate to the former. Like an empire, the US capitalist system will not yield its superiority. If the working class fails to come up with a solution, only extreme decadence will cause its dissolution as happened to all previous empires. In the meantime, capitalism will continue its global wide assault on the working class.
Workers should never overlook the fact that in the financial books of the capitalist class, labor is classified not as an asset, but as a debit, which should be abhorrent to the working class. If workers are to secure their self worth in society, not just as an asset, but the only asset, they must organize and act accordingly.
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