Sunday 5 July 2020

The Biopolitics of Herd Immunity

Capitalism is crippled by a crisis that is biopolitical in nature. For once, the contradictions of the system haven't exploded and sent growth rates spiralling southwards. Instead disease - an exogenous shock - attacks the fleshy bodies on which the system depends. No exploitation of labour, no commodities, hence no profits. In the UK, lest we forget, the government were forced into lockdown measures as people voted with their feet. The whip hand of the workplace was disarmed, normal life ground to a halt and the state found itself ministering necessary support for businesses and jobs, and ham-fistedly clamping down on the movement of people. Well, not everyone. Since, they've been chipping away at the lockdown. First, by refusing to insist all non-essential workplaces be closed. The aborted efforts with the schools. The gradual opening of non-essential shops. And now lifting the shutters on pubs and hairdressers before letting the rest of the beauty and hospitality industries resume. The Tories have weighed up the possibility of people contracting, suffering with, and dying from Covid-19 versus getting the wheels of commerce turning again (and their own reading of the politics) and have eased the lockdown further. They want business as usual, and are very happy for others to shoulder the risk.

Taken together then, the Tory effort was at first reluctant, is concerned above all with issues of labour discipline (see the imminent return of benefit sanctions, for example), and is actively massaging the biopolitics away from prioritising the health of bodies toward the health of capital. The latest exhibit in this strategy is the heavily briefed thoughts Rishi Sunak has been having about handing everyone £500. Sounds a bit of alright, doesn't it? When even Thatcherites recognise the importance of putting money into people's pockets, what's not to like? Well, as far as this putative initiative is concerned, plenty.

For starters, it's not filthy lucre. Under the proposed scheme, every adult is to receive a voucher for £500 and children £250, which can be spent in selected outlets - the hospitality industries in all likelihood, but also retailers - and then only face-to-face. Ordering online is ruled out. Having seen similar schemes in Wuhan and Taiwan, might it work here? Well, yes. But you can see the obvious problem. It discriminates against disabled people with mobility problems, others currently shielding thanks to chronic health conditions, and the elderly. They're much less likely to avail themselves of the government's largesse for obvious reasons. Then there are the workers as well. With £500 burning holes in everyone's pockets, not only is social distancing bound to me more difficult to manage, employers are going to pile on the pressure to make sure as many of their staff are on hand as is practicable - forget their concerns about getting stuck inside air conditioned shopping centres, stores, hotels, bars, and leisure facilities, and you can write off the worries about taking infection home. There is money to be made!

The fact this is under active consideration brings our old friend herd immunity back into play. It's all very well saying we can't have lockdown forever, but the sensible view is not to ease off when disease remains in general circulation, has the propensity to mushroom in local flare ups and the small matter of its still killing large numbers. This is where the voucher scheme and other easings off are particularly pernicious: not only do they try and re-establish the normal rhythms of discipline, surveillance, and control by channelling us back into the grooves of work and shopping, but very specifically they are designed to make the reimposition of lockdowns harder. Regardless of what the R rate says, effectively giving people free money and returning them to the shops, the pubs, the salons and the barbers, nudging the population toward something resembling normal life puts pressure on the scope and length of emergency measures where and when they're needed. Clinical need has been put back in its box. Other concerns have taken over. The capitalist normal, the axiom of profit before people, is restored.

As a piece of biopolitical management, it's almost admirable. A masterpiece of biopolitical manipulation, a class act of class politics in which dissenting voices have found themselves entirely crowded out. Not even the official opposition can bring itself to oppose. Which makes it all the more horrifying. At the risk of sounding like a cliche, a second wave is a question of when. Not if.


Boffy said...

The government has been handing out free currency to millions for the last few months as a bribe to them not to produce, but to consume. An "O" level Economics student knows what happens when you inflate monetary demand at the same time as contracting supply. You get inflation. The latest gimmick coming at a time when millions are escaping the idiotic and failed lockdown, means that even more inflation is heading our way. The ONS recently showed that in terms of real inflation, i.e. the prices of those things that people were buying s opposed to those they were not allowed to, because of the lockdown, we had already had a year's inflation in a single month! Inflation always affects the poorest most.

The lockdown itself has increased costs, which means that with all the liquidity sloshing around, prices will rise. But the lockdown has been a disaster. The government put out all of the panic statements about COVID back in March, which the facts did not support, and scared people away, or at least some people, there will still lots of people wanting to go to pubs etc., and who have held illegal street parties and so on. But it created a dynamic from which it could not escape, leading it into the idiotic lockdown, which has not worked. The people most locked down, those in care homes and hospitals are the ones that have died in large numbers. And, because it has not built up herd immunity, the virus now continues to spread, as I said it would months ago, which means that those in the 20% at risk from it, are still at risk.

Menwhile, Sweden has made liars of all the catastrophists who said that there would be global death and destruction without such severe lockdowns. Sweden too had deaths in its care homes where it had not taekn the required measures, but it did not lock down its society, and yet it has had a much lower per capita mortality rate than Britain, and appears to have developed a high degree of herd immunity amongst it population, making further spread of the virus more difficult.

The catastrophists and hysterics claimed that there was going to be 45 million global deaths, but in fact there is only half a million, equal to the number of flu deaths per year. They said that the mortality rate in Sweden would soar, but Sweden flattened its curve before the UK, and has virtually no new COVID19 deaths.

James said...

I like your analysis of Tory strategy but I worry about insisting on the inevitability of a second wave. Nobody knows what will happen - obviously there could be a second wave but it's possible there won't be. There isn't much sign of second waves anywhere else yet. Most of the incidents being labeled second waves are either new outbreaks in large countries in places that haven't yet been hit hard previously and are very far from previous hot spots (i.e. Texas & Florida, very far from NY & Washington). Or, they are small local outbreaks in a context of fairly successful suppression (e.g. in Germany, Australia). And there are scientists who think a second wave is unlikely because even a relatively low level of immunity in population will slow spread, behavior won't go back to pre-covid regardless of lockdown lifting, public health response & treatment has improved.

The problem with insisting that second wave is inevitable is that if we don't have one, government will claim success, even if the virus keeps circulating at its current relatively low rate, killing 100 or so people a day, indefinitely. This could kill just as many people as a second wave, but without the drama of overwhelmed hospitals on TV, government could get away with it.

Blissex said...

Several good point, but:

«No exploitation of labour, no commodities, hence no profits.»

As to this, a point that is often forgotten: while waiting for material conditions to enable the transition to a different system, just *how much* "exploitation of labour" by capitalism happens is a rather important matter. That's not a trivial point, and is often forgotten by "formulaic" leftoids.

For example in the current conditions in England probably the exploitation of labour by property rentiers is much higher than that by business investors. This looks like a regression to pre-capitalists conditions, but it is very popular; there is strong demand for at least a partial return to a pre-capitalist, "dixie style", economy.

«The capitalist normal, the axiom of profit before people, is restored.»

That's a convenient way of putting it, but a sociologist should write a bit more precisely: capitalism does not put "profits before people", it puts "investors" before "workers". The beneficiaries of capitalism are not "profits", they are people too, those who receive the profits.
And per the previous points in current conditions of mixed rentier capitalism the people who receive the profits are not taking as much as those who receive rents (even if often they are the same people, as many business owners are also property owners)

Boffy said...


The terms you use are very vague. Given that the annual rate of surplus value in modern economies runs into several thousands of percent, its certainly not true that the amount of exploitation from rentiers is greater.

There is an implication in what you say that you favour a lower degree of exploitation. That is certainly not what a Marxist favours, which is a much higher rate of exploitation, because that is an indication of the development of the productive forces, a sharpening of the contradictions, and the potential for a more rapid transition to Socialism. In the first phases of Socialism an even higher rate of exploitation will be required to further develop those productive forces via accumulation so as to create the conditions for a Socialist society.

Capitalism does put profits before people, as Marx sets out in Capital III, Chapter 15. Marx's analysis, as a materialist analysis is an analysis of the development of different social formations as a result of the development of different property forms. He makes clear in Capital I that people are mere cyphers, merely the human representation of those property forms and economic agents. The driving force of capitalism is the production of profit in order to facilitate the needs of capital itself for accumulation, which is driven by competition.

DFTM said...

A crisis (of sorts) has hit capitalism triggered no doubt by what could be described an exogenous factor (the virus).

However, the fact there is a crisis (of sorts) is due to how capitalism as a system operates.

Capitalism may use science to a greater degree than any system in history (whether that is a coincidence or not is open to debate), however the capitalist market is itself based on pure ideology and not science in the slightest.

For example, the right wing Institute for Economic Affairs says we must get back shopping or people will starve (like they ever care about this in ‘normal’ time). There is clearly no scientific basis for this assertion. Wheat can happily grow without sports direct or any pub being open. No, it is only the crazy, anarchic logic of the capitalist system that says people will starve if space hoppers are not produced.

People are seeing this, as the opinion polls show. People can see that there is no need for anyone to starve and that these non essential services can stay closed indefinitely. Though I am not calling for that.

I say a crisis of sorts because firstly the ruling class have decided to risk everyone’s health and instructed that we open anyway and secondly even the existing capitalist system has been able to lockdown to some extent thanks to the remnants of the welfare state. In other words the capitalism of the real world is not the capitalism of the pseudo science textbooks.

When I say the ruling class have decided, I point you to the airline passenger quarantines, the Ryanair boss was able to tell government to scrap the idea. Nice influence if you can get it! In a global pandemic the boss of Ryanairs voice should be no louder than anyone else’s.

On that score I want 14 days quarantine for anyone flying into the UK and I want the police to treat Covidiots like they treat mentally damaged people who claim to be a ISIS operative. I.e. shoot the fuckers.

In fact given the scenes at the weekend the odd suicide bomber would actually save lives!

SDFTM said...

“That is certainly not what a Marxist favours, which is a much higher rate of exploitation, because that is an indication of the development of the productive forces, a sharpening of the contradictions, and the potential for a more rapid transition to Socialism.”

If that is the case then we can confidently say Marxists have so deviated from Marx we might as well call them Bourgeois ideologues and drop the Marx reference altogether. That would really simplify things.

Except of course when Boffy says Marxists he really means himself! And being the grandest of self aggrandising dumb fucks, to Boffy Marxism is what he says it is.

But for the record, it isn’t!

Marx did not favour a higher rate of exploitation, because in a socialist system the whole idea of exploitation will not be a factor. Marx was in favour of ending exploitation once and for all.

The clue can be found in his desire to abolish class and private property.

Although I am sure Boffy will tell us next that Marx never really meant to say that!

I mean if Marx had believed higher exploitation was required to take us to socialism, the immediate question begs itself, why would we ever want to get rid of exploitation?!

Boffy's arguments come straight out of bourgeois logic, straight from the anti Scientific claptrap we get from the Institute of Economic Affiars.

Boffy is literally a neo liberal bourgeois ideologue pretending to be a leftist. I can’t actually think of anyone more right wing than Boffy off the top of my head, other than his sock puppet Sentinel!

Anonymous said...


Just out of curiousity, when you're explaining your interpration of Marxism to people, does anyone ever say "That sounds great! Where do I join?"

I mean, I've identified as a socialist since I was about 14 and I would run a mile from what you seem to mean by "socialism" or "Marxism".

Of course, I'm working class so I know all about "increasing the rate of exploitation". That's when your bosses keep raising the hourly targets, or when they cut staff numbers or hours but still expect the same amount of work to get done. I didn't realise that they were building the socialist society of the future!

Boffy said...


I would suggest reading what Marx means by the rate of exploitation, and his scientific analysis as against the subjectivist, moralistic approach you put forward. Marx's whole theory is scientific and materialist, and demonstrates that things like wages, profits, the rate of exploitation and so on are not at all simply a matter of subjective preferences, and desires by bosses to have higher profits by screwing workers more. That is the approach of subjectivists, of orthodox economics and of reformists. Read marx's response to those that put forward such an approach in "Value, Price and Profit". Lenin also had to argue against such subjectivist notions in Russia.

Another useful text is Marx's argument in Critique of the Gotha Programme, where he sets out that the ending of capitalism does not at all mean the end of the rate of exploitation, because workers themselves will have to increase it in order to accumulate the capital/then means of production required to build socialism. Lenin makes the same point in his critique of subjectivists and ultra-lefts in his 1918 work "Left-wing Childishness".

For Marx, who was not a moralist or subjectivist but a scientist who beleived that social formations evolve as a result of material changes in society driven by the technological development of the productive forces, the development of class society was inevitable and progressive, whatever horrors it brought with it, and capitalism was the most progressive formation in that regard, as he sets out in the Communist Manifesto.

He sets out this scientific as opposed to subjectivist and moralistic approach in TOSV, Ch.9.

The moralists soothing words might be easier to swallow, but lead nowhere but to disaster

Boffy said...

Oh, and Anonymous, I am also working-class, and the way I would explain it and sell it to workers is the way I did in several decades as a trades unionist, which is this.

In the 19th century, the working day was 18 hours, and often longer, but the rate of exploitation was much less than it is today. Similarly, as Marx explains, in less developed economies the working-day is long, and standard of living low, but the rate of exploitation is low.

The higher standard of living, and shorter working-day, in developed economies, compared to less developed economies, just as the low standard of living and long hours of work in those economies, and in 19th century Britain compared to today are directly connected to the rate of exploitation, because the rate of exploitation is a function of the level of productivity, which is a function of the development of technology, and accumulation of fixed capital, as Marx describes in Capital I, Chapter 22.

So, the question is easy for a marxist. We are not Luddites, or Sismondists who want to hold back the development of technology. On the contrary we welcome it, and that technology which raises the rate of exploitation, also leads to a shortening of the working-day, and a rise in living standards.

So, when its put as what do you prefer a lower rate of exploitation but a longer working-day, and the living standards of the 19th century, or of Bangladesh, or a higher rate of exploitation. but higher living standards and a shorter working-day, most workers rationally choose the latter. And, as Marx and all Marxists that followed him also point out it is precisely this which also creates the material conditions required for the transition to Socialism.

Boffy said...

Just as a point of clarification before someone inevitably tries to use Marx's comments in relation to Carey, the rise in social productivity resulting in higher living standards is not the same argument as that put by Carey, or that put today by those who say that its necessary to first have higher productivity to get higher wages.

Marx's argument is that as capital accumulates, the demand for labour-power rises. At a certain point, as for example happened in the 1960's/70's, (See Glyn and Sutcliffe) this causes a relative shortage of labour. Wages rise, and begin to squeeze profits. This is what leads to a crisis of overproduction. Capital responds by introducing labour-saving technologies. It raises productivity, and creates a relative surplus population. The higher wages are reduced, and profits rise.

But, the consequence is then that with the higher productivity, the value of labour-power falls. The necessary working-day falls, and surplus labour increases, thereby increasing the rate of exploitation. The rise in productivity means that even lower money wages now buy a greater quantity and range of wage goods, so that living standards rise, alongside a rise in profits and the rate of exploitation, and greater capital accumulation, which starts the cycle all over again.

As Marx puts it describing the Civilising Mission of capital,

"“On the other side, the production of relative surplus value, i.e. production of surplus value based on the increase and development of the productive forces, requires the production of new consumption; requires that the consuming circle within circulation expands as did the productive circle previously. Firstly quantitative expansion of existing consumption; secondly: creation of new needs by propagating existing ones in a wide circle; thirdly: production of new needs and discovery and creation of new use values. In other words, so that the surplus labour gained does not remain a merely quantitative surplus, but rather constantly increases the circle of qualitative differences within labour (hence of surplus labour), makes it more diverse, more internally differentiated."

Boffy said...


If you want to understand the Marxist position as opposed to the subjectivist/Sismondist position, I would recommend reading my series on Lenin On Economic Romanticism where he takes on the views of the Narodnik "anti-capitalists".

I would also recommend my recent posts How Capital Produces Capitalists, Capitalism and Then Socialism, and my current series on what Marx calls The Historic Mission of Capital.

Anonymous said...


Why do you assume I haven't read a fair bit of Marx? My point is that I disagree with your interpretation of Marxism and even more so the way you express it. Reading your comments would turn any one away from socialism.

Anonymous said...


If what you mean is something like "efficiency" or "productivity" don't say "exploitation", because those terms are not interchangeable.

George Carty said...

It's not the only term that I've seen Boffy use that isn't obvious at first glance: another one is "value of labour power" which actually means something more like "cost of living".

Boffy said...


I could only base my comments on what you said, and your obvious misunderstanding of what Marx (and I) mean by the rate of exploitation, and that is again confirmed by your latest comments.

Marx describes the rate of exploitation in Capital I, as simply another name for the rate of surplus value, and the rate of surplus value is increased as a result of higher levels of social productivity, because that reduces the value of wage goods, and thereby reduces the value of labour labour-power. So, it reduces necessary labour and increases surplus labour s/v, i.e. the rate of exploitation.

So, as Marx sets out, there is no difference between this higher level of productivity/efficiency and a rising rate of exploitation, because the former is the cause of the latter.

The idea that increasing the rate of exploitation was something that would end as a result of a postcapitalist society was put forward by Lassalleans, as well as Proudhon who simply did not understand these relations. For example, as Marx sets out in the COGP if you want people to be able to retire earlier, to be educated for longer, or to have better levels of income during periods of sickness, where do you think the fund for all these things are to come from other than raising the rate of exploitation, i.e. increasing the amount of surplus labour each worker undertakes relative to their necessary labour?

That is before considering where the fund is to come from to accumulate additional capital/means of production so as to make labour more productive and produce a wider range and greater quantity of goods and services so as to raise their living standards.

I use the term rate of exploitation to describe this for the same reason that Marx did, because that is what it is, and it distinguishes his scientific approach from that of the moralists who could only see in such exploitation the negatives without, as Marx noted seeing the positives of how this results in a development of the productive forces required for the transition to Socialism. It is what distinguishes Marxism from mere trades unionism, and reformist amelioration of the workers condition within the confines of capitalism.

DFTM said...

Productive power is naturally always productive power of useful, concrete labour, to paraphrase Marx. Which is obviously subjective, a product of history as Marx continually points out.

Under communism what is useful and what isn’t will be different to how a capitalist system judges it. So the whole determination of labour productivity will change in a communist system. Productivity is not one dimensional, can’t be reduced to a single component and is not determined by natural forces, although they are part of it.

A communist society will want to develop the productive forces but within the framework of communist principles and communist priorities.

To link productivity and exploitation is a underhand trick.

If the productivity of labour is built on over-exploiting the planet, degrading the environment then we can question whether labour productivity is even a good thing. Productivity has both subjective and objective factors, is both rooted in natural laws and human preferences. Marx pointed this out in his analysis of the commodity.

Here in addition to what is useful and concrete Marx says the following are determinants of productivity;

Average grade of competence of the workers
Level of development of science and its technological applicability
Social combination of the process of production
Scope and the efficacy of the means of production
Natural relationships

Boffy reduces the whole concept to a narrow and decidedly bourgeois definition, and comes up with a rather bizarre formula, high exploitation = high productivity. Bullshit!

If we do need to get technical then as Marx observed, a rise in the productivity of Labour can actually reduce the value of the commodity, while the mass of use values increases.

There is no link between high profitability and high productivity in the way dumb fuck insinuates. A communist system should address each of the factors that make up productivity and apply the most appropriate method, in line with communist values of course.

Anonymous said...


In 'Capital' Marx is talking about capitalism. If we're talking about socialism then, by definition, it should be LESS exploitative.

Firstly, in the sense that a large part of the surplus value produced by labour is no longer being extracted as private profit to enrich the capitalist class.

Secondly, in the sense that in any socialist system worthy of the name, it should be a priority to improve the material living and working conditions of the working class, and to give people more control over their own labour. That might not be immediately possible, but neither can it be postponed for decade after decade.

If socialism isn't noticeably better for the working class, then what precisely is the fucking point of it?

Boffy said...


My use of he term value of labour-power is precisely that used by Marx. He uses that term precisely to determine the value of labour-power as a commodity, i.e. its current cost of reproduction as with any other commodity, and thereby to distinguish the commodity labour-power from the value creating activity labour, which as Marx describes itself has no value.

The confusion between labour and labour-power by Smith and his followers is what led them into an irreconcilable contradiction, because if what workers sell is not their labour-power but their labour, and if commodities value is determined by the quantity of labour, then it becomes impossible for surplus value to exist, because the value of commodities is equal to the value of the amount of labour expended by the labourer, and the value of the labour sold to produce those commodities must itself be equal to this same amount of value, so that there is no scope for surplus value to exist, which was clearly a nonsense.

That point is of relevance, here, because it was clearly in the interests of capital to reduce the value of labour-power, i.e. its current cost of reproduction, because the lower that value, then for any given amount of value created by workers the amount of surplus value then rises, what Marx calls relative surplus value. This is the main way that capital produces additional surplus value.

Its why the bourgeoisie took on the landed aristocracy to repeal the Corn Laws so as to reduce the price of food and thereby the value of labour-power. It means that capital is continually having to revolutionise production, to bring about this reduction in the value of the commodities required for the reproduction of labour-power, which brings about a general rise in the productive forces, which is a fundamental requirement for socialism.

In the process, as Marx sets out in the Grundrisse, in talking about the Civilising Mission, this process leads to a widening of the range of use values produced and of the nature of labour itself, which brings about a rise in the standard of living, but also enables the working-class to acquire the education, culture and skill required to itself become the ruling class.

Boffy said...


Again you are confusing "exploitation" as a subjective term, referring to the appropriation of surplus labour produced by one or more labourer, by someone else, with "the rate of exploitation", which is the term I used, consistent with Marx, who uses that term in Capital I, as synonymous with rate of surplus value, s/v, the ratio of surplus labour to necessary labour.

In fact, Marx uses this ratio not just in relation to capitalism, but all modes of production. It is the expansion of surplus labour to necessary labour that enables the primitive commune to expand the range of use values it produces, because the surplus labour can be used to produce some new type of use value, or can be used to store up use values for future consumption, so that such other production can occur, or can be used to produce means of production that raise labour productivity.

But, its also that which enables class society to arise. But Marx and Engels did not see that development of class society which develops on that basis as a bad thing as the moralists like Sismondi do, and that is precisely why I used the term rate of exploitation rather than rate of surplus value in this context to point to the difference between the Marxist perspecive and the Sismondist/Proudhonist/subjectivist perspective. Marx sees that development of class society and the exploitation it brings as highly progressive, because the role of the ruling class is precisely to act as that whip driving up the rate of exploitation to create ever larger surpluses that enable an accumulation of means of production, that enable the development of science and technology and so on without which the evolution of society would have been impossible, and so without which socialism would have been impossible.

That is exactly what Marx says in setting out this scientific approach in support of Ricardo against Sismondi, in Theories of Surplus Value, Chapter 9.

Boffy said...


Yes, under socialism it will be less exploitative, indeed I would hope absent any such exploitation, but that is different to the rate of exploitation, i.e. rate of surplus value needing to be much higher, for the reasons Marx and I have set out. Private profit is already a small proportion, because it only applies to the privately owned capital. As Marx sets out from the latter part of the 19th century privately owned capital was replaced by socialised capital such as the cooperative, joint stock company and corporation. For these forms of capital the revenue from surplus value takes the form of interest, e.g. dividends, not profit.

As Marx describes (Capital III, Ch. 14) this from the beginning is a much smaller proportion (though larger absolute amount) than is profit. It continues to shrink as a proportion of total surplus value, the majority of which is used for capital accumulation, and to cover all those other essential but unproductive activities. So, the amount that can be gained from the ending of this unproductive consumption by the parasitic classes, besides being a one-off, is proportionally small. As Marx sets out, in COGP, and elsewhere, to achieve all those things you describe, such as higher living standards, and so on, it is necessary to raise labour productivity by far more than currently exists,and that requires technology to be used more extensively, i.e. it requires accumulation of fixed capital so as to replace labour. It requires necessary labour to be reduced so that surplus labour is increased so that this greater accumulation can occur, i.e. a rise in the rate of exploitation/surplus value.

You are continuing to confuse a rise in wages (necessary labour) as against profit (surplus labour), i.e. a fall in the rate of exploitation, with a rise in living standards. Marx's whole point is that higher productivity reduces necessary labour, and increases surplus labour, at the same time as reducing the value of the commodities required for the reproduction of labour-power, meaning that a given wage buys more of them, so that the standard of living rises. And Marx saw the rise in the rate of exploitation under capitalism as a consequence as highly progressive for that reason. It is the basis of the civilising mission of capital; it raises the level of productive forces, which is a requirement for socialism, and it enables the workers to obtain all of the things required to make them able to become the ruling class, such as education and so on.

As for your last comment you have simply repeated the mistake of the Lassalleans, and the iron Law of Wages, and failed to understand the basis of Historical Materialism. Its like asking what is the point of a caterpillar metamorphosing into a butterfly. Socialism is not a question of subjective choice, but of historical necessity of the evolution of social formations on the basis of objective natural laws. As Marx and Lenin describe, the material basis, the economic content of Socialism already exists in the form of socialised capital, it is only a question of when workers realise that, when it becomes reflected in teir consciousness, and they take control over it.

Boffy said...

The relevant quotes in support of my last comment are these.

"Since Lassalle's death, there has asserted itself in our party the scientific understanding that wages are not what they appear to be -- namely, the value, or price, of labour—but only a masked form for the value, or price, of labour power...

that the whole capitalist system of production turns on the increase of this gratis labor by extending the working day, or by developing the productivity—that is, increasing the intensity or labor power, etc.; that, consequently, the system of wage labor is a system of slavery, and indeed of a slavery which becomes more severe in proportion as the social productive forces of labor develop, whether the worker receives better or worse payment. And after this understanding has gained more and more ground in our party, some return to Lassalle's dogma although they must have known that Lassalle did not know what wages were, but, following in the wake of the bourgeois economists, took the appearance for the essence of the matter.

It is as if, among slaves who have at last got behind the secret of slavery and broken out in rebellion, a slave still in thrall to obsolete notions were to inscribe on the program of the rebellion: Slavery must be abolished because the feeding of slaves in the system of slavery cannot exceed a certain low maximum!"


"And history ... has taken such a peculiar course that it has given birth in 1918 to two unconnected halves of socialism existing side by side like two future chickens in the single shell of international imperialism. In 1918 Germany and Russia have become the most striking embodiment of the material realisation of the economic, the productive and the socio-economic conditions for socialism, on the one hand, and the political conditions, on the other.”

(Lenin - Left-wing Infantilism)

It is what flows from Marx' definition of socialised capital, in Cap. III, Ch. 27, as the transitional form of property between capitalism and socialism.

Boffy said...

There is a good and succinct quote from Lenin that describes this in The Economic Content of narodism

Lenin is discussing a Narodnik article that puts forward the same kind of Sismondist approach you have been suggesting. The narodnik talks about the western labour movement "holding up" the process of capital accumulation.

Lenin responds,

"This is clear proof that in respect of not only Russia, but also of the West, our Narodniks are incapable of understanding how one can fight capitalism by speeding up its development, and not by “holding it up,” not by pulling it back, but by pushing it forward, not in reactionary, but in progressive fashion."

DFTM said...

Marx makes clear in capital volume 1, chapter on the Degree of Exploitation of Labour Power, that the rate of exploitation is a measure of the degree of exploitation by the capitalist class of the working class. Therefore if this exploitation is to continue under socialism then the capitalist must somehow have survived the socialist revolution perfectly intact and will no doubt be the ones deciding in what direction socialism proceeds!

And if Boffy says that the workers will decide to exploit themselves, how the fuck does he know? Exploitation comes from the very motion and relations of capitalism. These very motions and relations will be abolished under socialism!

In practice Lenin and the Bolsheviks brought property under the control of the nation, as outlined by Marx and Engels in various places. For example, in the communist manifesto, the various worker programmes they helped draw up and in letters (though frustratingly many of those letters are no longer available online). So we know exactly what Lenin’s interpretation of Marx was by the nature of the Soviet Union (though the Soviet Union wasn’t quite what Marx had in mind). The clue here is that it doesn’t follow Boffy’s idea of socialised capital. He used to trot out volume 1 as the prime example of Marx’s definition of socialised capital until I pointed out capital Volume 1 was saying the opposite of what Boffy claimed. I can only smile that he no longer references Volume 1!

Boffy is just being tautological in linking productivity and exploitation. The rate of exploitation is a capitalist measure of productivity and therefore Boffy claims Marxists are in favour of exploitation, and furthermore the essence of capitalist relations. Because without those relations we must assume that productivity will come crashing down around us!

This is precisely the underhand trick he plays. He fails to decouple the factors that make up productivity from capitalism itself and ends up linking productivity to capitalist exploitative relations. Boffy makes a great bagman for the capitalist class!

The fact is that you can abolish the exploitative relations of capitalism and still have high levels of productivity (after all you can’t uninvent science). But the subjective aspects of productivity will have changed. And abolishing the exploitative relations of capitalism will begin on day one, not day 100 million!

For example the working week will likely be much different under socialism, people will not be tied to one job, public goods will increase relative to private goods (Marx directly expressed this expectation himself), money will not exist in its current form. Science will be applied directly to human need rather than being an offshoot of military research and other ruling class interests etc etc etc.

Finally let us play a logic thought experiment.

Let us say that we have an economy where machines carry out all the Labour.

According to Boffy’s interpretation of Marx this would be the highest possible degree of exploitation of Labour by capital and therefore by the capitalist of the Labourer (for Marx the rate of exploitation was not a technical point but a measure of the capitalist class exploitation of the working class). So according to Boffy, at the point when there are no labourers this is the point that the highest degree of exploitation of labour is reached!

This is the circular logic one falls into if one believe firstly, that there are such things as economic laws, secondly, one believes economics is science and thirdly if one believes subjectivism has no place in the concept of productivity.

Boffy has basically stripped Marxism of its revolutionary historical perspective and placed it as a purely technical handbook.

Boffy said...

I see dumb fucking troll moron (DFTM) is back along with his other sock puppet Socialism In One Bedroom after a period of absence after his identity with the Sentinel and all the other sock puppets such as BCFG, CAAC, and so on had been exposed.

Still coming out with the same load of crap that simply shows he does not have clue one about the basic concepts of Marxism, and why would he given that he has no principles and will tomorrow be writing as a BNP supporter, a Tory or a Blairite.

Where he gets the idea that I don't reference Capital Volume I any more is as hard to fathom as any of the other mindless crap he comes out with, given that I'd referenced it in a comment above! And, the idea that anything that comes out of his addled mind would influence what I might or might not reference is totally bizarre.

Incidentally, on my blog I have a Glossary of Marxist Terms, in which you will find in the definition of The Expropriation of the Expropriators the reference to Capital I, Chapter 32 that I am no longer supposed to be referencing, as well as in the definition of Socialised Capital.

But, hey, since when have facts got in the way of the troll.