Basic Positions

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Basic Positions
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: Basic Positions. The discussion was initiated by altacomposicionorganica.
Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!

altacomposicionorganica (not verified)
Lots of factual errors in

Lots of factual errors in youre statement of principles guys. The main mistake is that you are still working with a notion of imperialism that derives from Lenin. Imperialism isnt a "phase" of capitalism, is just a relation between countries. You can't be rigorous and affirm that from 1880 to 2014 we have been in the "final phase of capitalism", the epoch of its "decline", its "decadence". Why not?

(i) Only around 1870-1890 you could speak that capitalism was really a world mode of production. Even the dominance of a capitalist market, the reality of the law of value, can only be dated in the second half of the XVIIIth century. So, with the coming of "imperialism" you didnt got "decadence", just the opposite: you got the begging of the universaltisation of the mpc

(ii) Labellling the periods of 1940-1970s and 1980-2010 as mere "subphases" is just to play with words. They were phases allright.

(iii) The actuality of the law of value (three structural crisis derived from the LTRPF) has been proven through out the XXth century. So, the only objective criteria that could demonstrate that capitalism has been in a state of "decadence" all this time (the withering away of the law of value), gives an answer you are not embracing: capitalism has recover 2 times form structural crisis and been in a "healthy and mature state"

(iv) Even Marx stated clearly that in 1870 capitalism wasnt really mature yet

 (v) Something that speaks of the different phases that capitalism experimented in the XXth century, is that the caracter of the inter-imperialist conflict (war) has change. You had a phase in which you had world wars between imperialist countries (until 1945); then you have had two phases without imperialists worldwars.

 Other mistakes:

a) USSR wasnt a capitalist society, it was a class society, but thats not the same. Is as simple as this: the ussr didnt move by the same law of motion that was prevalent in the western mpc. The LTRPF just wasnt there, the law value t didnt exist, the ussr only suffered from one structural crisis (a long and protracted crisis) that didnt went hand in hand with the two structural capitalist crisis of 1929 and 1975

b) Some trotskyts dont support bourgeois fractions (in any situation). The theory of "state capitalism" is just as problematic as the theory of the "bureaucratic workers state". The thing is that  this last theory didnt serve to win the battle for the workers (they didnt felt that ussr was "their state"), just as "imperialism as phase" (Lenin) didnt serve to win the battle for workers. Both theories werent necessarily wrong, we just lost in the class struggle (even strategies and tactics werent all that wrong, we just werent strong enough)

c) Left communists are wrong when they reject "democratic centralism"

d) Is dogmatic to choose one form of "organization" (e.g. worker councils) for any event in any time. This is an anti-materialistic and ahistoric posture. Forms of organization and tactics should be subject to historical feasibility. Worker councils are rare within the exploited, and they arise only in prerevolutionary situations; because of this, if you want to be part of the class, if you want to unite the "whole" class, you shouldn't reject (by principle) sindicates, colectives, parties. Not all sindicates and parties are anti-democratic and bureaucratised...

 

Demogorgon
"You can't be rigorous and

"You can't be rigorous and affirm that from 1880 to 2014 we have been in the "final phase of capitalism", the epoch of its "decline", its "decadence"."

We don't. We normally date the beginning of decadence from 1914, even though there were signs of long-term decline before then. Where do we say that decadence began in 1880??

"Even the dominance of a capitalist market, the reality of the law of value, can only be dated in the second half of the XVIIIth century."

I think you mean the 19th century - that'll be XIX in Roman Numerals.

"So, with the coming of "imperialism" you didnt got "decadence", just the opposite: you got the begging of the universaltisation of the mpc"

I don't understand what this means.

"Labellling the periods of 1940-1970s and 1980-2010 as mere "subphases" is just to play with words. They were phases allright."

There's no mention of "subphases" in our Basic Positions. What are you talking about?

"The actuality of the law of value (three structural crisis derived from the LTRPF) has been proven through out the XXth century. So, the only objective criteria that could demonstrate that capitalism has been in a state of "decadence" all this time (the withering away of the law of value), gives an answer you are not embracing: capitalism has recover 2 times form structural crisis and been in a "healthy and mature state"

All members of the ICC agree with the notion of the law of value and that it has operated throughout the 20th century and beyond. Most support the ideas of Rosa Luxemburg against a theory of crisis based solely on the Rate of Profit (although I'm not one of them).

Anyway, you seem to be refuting our position on decadence by redefining it. We don't define decadence as a "withering away of the law of value", so proving there has been no such withering has nothing to do with our arguments at all. I can "prove" that night is day if I claim that night = the time when the sun is in the sky.

"Even Marx stated clearly that in 1870 capitalism wasnt really mature yet"

I'd like to see quote for that. Not that I dispute it, thought. It's obvious capitalism wasn't mature in 1870.

"Something that speaks of the different phases that capitalism experimented in the XXth century, is that the caracter of the inter-imperialist conflict (war) has change. You had a phase in which you had world wars between imperialist countries (until 1945); then you have had two phases without imperialists worldwars."

The reason for which is due to the mitigation of tensions thanks to the exhaustion following WW2, then the economic recovery, and then the return of the class struggle.

"USSR wasnt a capitalist society, it was a class society, but thats not the same. Is as simple as this: the ussr didnt move by the same law of motion that was prevalent in the western mpc."

Depends how you define capitalism. Russia maintained currency relations (money) and limited market relations. There was certainly exchange between capital and labour (wage labour), both of which remained commodities. Accumulation was maintained through the exploitation of wage labour.So all the essential elements of capitalism remained.

"The LTRPF just wasnt there, the law value t didnt exist, the ussr only suffered from one structural crisis (a long and protracted crisis) that didnt went hand in hand with the two structural capitalist crisis of 1929 and 1975"

Actually, it was around the 70s that Russia began to fall behind the West and begin its protracted crisis. Moreover, there's nothing in the LTRPF that precludes long-term stagnation. Classical capitalism suffered from the Long Depression (1873 -1896).

"The main mistake is that you are still working with a notion of imperialism that derives from Lenin. Imperialism isnt a "phase" of capitalism, is just a relation between countries."

Actually, our conception of imperialism derives from Luxemburg not Lenin. Lenin's vision of imperialism was still caught up in a national vision. Please correct me (with quotes) if I'm wrong, but Lenin never claimed imperialism was a global condition applying to all countries. He saw imperialism as a national policy that nonetheless derived from the historical nature of capital development within those countries, especially the development of monopoly capitalism, finance capital, etc.

Marx, however, had a slightly different opinion. He thought that once the contradictions of capital had reached a revolutionary point in one country, they had global consequences and essentialy imposed the contradiction on other countries: " ... to lead to collisions in a country, this contradiction need not necessarily have reached its extreme limit in this particular country. The competition with industrially more advanced countries, brought about by the expansion of international intercourse, is sufficient to produce a similar contradiction in countries with a backward industry (e.g. the latent proletariat in Germany brought into view by view by the competition of English industry)."

"Some trotskyts dont support bourgeois fractions (in any situation)."

Which Trotskyists? Can you give an example?

"Left communists are wrong when they reject "democratic centralism""

I see. Can you show how our method of organisation is wrong and differs from democratic centralism?

"Is dogmatic to choose one form of "organization" (e.g. worker councils) for any event in any time. This is an anti-materialistic and ahistoric posture. Forms of organization and tactics should be subject to historical feasibility. Worker councils are rare within the exploited, and they arise only in prerevolutionary situations; because of this, if you want to be part of the class, if you want to unite the "whole" class, you shouldn't reject (by principle) sindicates, colectives, parties. Not all sindicates and parties are anti-democratic and bureaucratised."

Actually we support the idea of political organisation (we are a political organisation) and our ultimate aim is to contribute to a new world communist party. So your notion that we reject the idea of the party is obviously incorrect. We reject many groups that claim to be "communist parties", however. But we don't reject everyone - there are some other genuine communist or proletarian organisations around such as the International Communist Tendency, some of the internationalist anarchists, etc.

To conclude, many of your arguments are clearly based on a serious misunderstanding of our positions and are therefore rather irrelevent. Am I also right in thinking that English is not your first language (I base this on your name)? If so, this might explain why you've not quite grasped what we're saying on some points. If you'd prefer to read / debate in another language, let us know.

If you want to make a serious critique of our "Basic Positions", that's fine ... but why don't you start by quoting each point one at a time and making a more in-depth exploration of that point. Because you tried to cover so many points in one go, it was difficult to see where you were coming from.

jk1921
Hmm, the idea that decadence

Hmm, the idea that decadence would have to mean a "decline" or "withering away" of the law of value is interesting. This would seem to suggest that there is some other mode of production developing within capitalism that challenges capitalist relations, rendering them obsolete. Perhaps this is an attempt to apply the situation that occurred within fedualism, where captial developed within the womb of feudal society, to capitalism?

But isn't the distinctive thing about capitalism that no other mode of production can develop within it? Capital is totalizing and as such it can only be "deconstructed" by a class conscious proletariat. It will not wither away on its own, unless it is towards "barbarism." But that is another discussion entirely. This would seem to raise some difficult questions about some of the metaphors we use to describe capitalism today. What does it mean for captialism be "sick," "not healthy", etc. When we say it is in "decomposition," is it not the case that we really mean is that capitalist society is in decomposition, not capitalist relations themselves? Isn't society in decomposition precisely because capitalist relations are so resilient?

Then again, there appear to be economic tendencies afoot today that do in fact point past the law of value. There does seem to be something like a valorisation problem, where capital is having a hard time valorising certain products of the information techology revolution. There might be a tendency towards decommodification, even if it is partial and far from threatening at this point to the system as a whole. or perhaps it is a function of the system's central problems?

Demogorgon
Certainly there are

Certainly there are indicators that point beyond the law of value. That's the entire crux of the argument that the relations of production are in conflict with the forces of production, and the former are a fetter on the latter - in ICC-speak, decadence.

jk1921
Right, but the law of value

Right, but the law of value itself can't "decay" in the same way fedual bondage did, or can it? In fact, fedual relations decayed precisely because of the tendency of the law of value to become totalizing, right? Once its established as the dominat regulating principle of economic relationships, the law of value isn't going anywhere until the proletariat constructs something in its place--so it would be a mistake to judge the "decadence of captialism" based on the extent to which the LOV has declined, etc.its a just as strong today as it was in 1914--which is precisely what makes capitalism decadent.

I suppose there is a possibility I totally misunderstood the OP's point.......

altacomposicionorganica (not verified)
1) ¿1880 or 1914?. My

1) ¿1880 or 1914?. My mistake. Eventhough, the premise that capitalism has been in a "state of decadence" for a whole century doesnt really convinces me. How do you judge the prevalence of the "state of decadence"? Following what you wrote, you may argue:

a) Unions are reactionary

b) Most marxist parties are reactionary

c) Wars are imperialist wars

d) Parlaments and democracy are a mascarade

a') Everywhere and everytime since 1914? That simply isnt right. I could give lots of examples

(i) La CUT form Chile in 1953

(ii) La COB en Bolivia en 1946 (Pulacayo thesis) y 1971 (Asamblea popular)

(iii) La CNT during the spanish revolution of the 1930s (sure, they failed in tactics and werent all that good, but to call them reactionary isnt right)

b') Im not a maoist and not a stalinist. Although I think the ussr (russian CP) gave the workers more "benefits" than capitalism ever had. For some phases of the cuban regime and china regime I would argue the same. Compared with capitalism, the only real material tendency that you could compare them to, this regimes werent "reactionary". I wouldnt defend those regimes necessarily; the question you have to ask is: in wich mode of production did you have more chances to break away form class society? In soviet class society or in capitalist class society? You need to answer this to know where to put your efforts in the class struggle

c') I havent seem imperialist wars (between capitalist empires) since 1945. Show me one (between 1945 an 1990 the conflict between capitalism and the ussr wasnt between capitalists empires -the ussr wasnt and imperialist country-)

d') "Parlaments" and "democracy" arent the same. To speak  just of "democracy" is incorrect from a class point of view. The "dictatorship of the proletariat" is the "conquest of democracy" (Communist manifesto, 1848); Lenin spoke of the the "democracy of the exploited".   

2) I meant XVIIIth century (second half). I could be wrong though. The issue is really cotentious. Im basing on John Merrington and others...

3) From 1870 you got capitalism around almost the whole globe:

a) In Latin America the transition to capitalism is exactly around this date (according to Agustín Cueva)

b) In the us you had the most pure bourgeois revolutions of all in 1860

c) In Europe you got the junker revolution in Germany

d) In Asia you got the capitalist revolution in Japan in 1868

...Sure, there were lots of spaces where capitalism wasnt developed (e.g. Africa, China, etc), but I was pointing to the broad lines (from a) to d)...)

3) Luxemburg theory of crisis isnt right. Is based on a misunderstanding of the relation between capital volumes I and III. It is also a subconsumist theory, based on circulation.

4) Quote: -          “ (la competencia) como todas las otras leyes económicas –ha sido asumida por nosotros solo a modo de simplificación…Pero en la teoría se asume que las leyes de la producción capitalista operan en su forma pura. En la realidad existe sólo aproximación: pero esta aproximación es cada vez mayor, mientras más desarrollado el modo capitalista de producción y menos se encuentra adulterado y amalgamado con las sobrevivencias de las condiciones económicas anteriores” (Marx, El Capital)

5) Im not getting in the debate about the ussr (to long, to contentious). Im just saying that it was a class society that wasnt capitalist:

a) Capitalist wage labour didnt exist:

(i) You had real mobility of labour, but not of capital (particular "capitals" didnt exist -the directors of any production unit just couldnt move their "capital" as they  wished following the trends of the "rate profit" )

(ii) You didnt have an IRA

(iii) Crisis and law of motion werent in line with the LTRPF of western capitalism (as both of us seem to agree)

(iv) "Relative surplus extraction of excedent" wasnt a main tendency

(v) etc 

6) All the discussion between Kautsky and Lenin was that the first define imperialism as a "national policy", and the second as a "necessary phase" of the capitalist economy. I leave and extract of the comments Lenin made about Kautskys book on imperialism that date from 1916:

"We must draw this distinction: imperialism is not a “phase of economy”, but a special policy, like Manchesterism.[7] 

We must distinguish between finance capital and imperialism—“its policy” Imperialism is a special kind of capitalist policy, as was also Manchesterism, well, that’s it! || which it replaced. The latter, too, did not denote a definite ‘phase of economy’, although it was necessarily connected with such a phase” Imperialism is the policy of the “economic phase” of finance capital!! Is that what you wanted? Pettyfogger and sophist, trickster,[8] twister—that’s what you are! You evade the essence of the matter"  7) Marx spoke of the mass revolution refering to England (in Capital) sometimes, but throught his life he mantained the "permanent revolution" premise (revolution would begin in France and then extend to whole Europe)  8) There are many trotskyts factions. I dont know them all with precision. But the mates from the FT- IV surely dont have bourgeois politics  9) I just stated that left communists didnt abide by democratic centralism. Bordiga, his main theoretician, spoke more of an "organic centralism". Im not saying that you dont operate with democratic centralism, Im just saying that the main tradition that you reclaim doesnt do it. And you retain a despise from unionsthat derives from Bordiga. And it "is" ahistorical to reject unions just because between 1917-1923 they werent usefull for the exploited and their cause. There are examples that show the unions arent always a blockage to the class struggle of the exploited 

oneday
typos

There are a few typo's in this article:

"the October revolution of 1917 in Russia was the first step toward of 1917 in Russia was the first step towards an authentic world communist revolution"

I would have it checked since it was pretty much the first thing I read on this site.

Demogorgon
Thanks

I've corrected the typo you highlighted. If you spot any others, let me know.