Grenfell Tower fire: A crime of capital

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Non ex hoc mundi
Grenfell Tower fire: A crime of capital
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: Grenfell Tower fire: A crime of capital. The discussion was initiated by Non ex hoc mundi.
Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!

Non ex hoc mundi
NY Times: In U.K., All 75

NY Times: In U.K., All 75 Buildings Tested So Far for Fire Safety Since Grenfell Have Failed

Caroline01
hello .. i am a new member

hello .. i am a new member here )) 

Alf
welcome

hello and welcome

baboon
I think that we have been

I think that we have been slow on the question of housing. It's a vital question for the working class and goes to the heart of the matter. But I think that this article somewhat makes up for this "lateness" and develops on the profound critique of capitalism that Marx made around the "housing question".

The Grenfell fire was a class issue first and foremost and was recognised as such through wide layers of workers not just in Britain but internationally. This was also reflected, as the article says, in the sudden about-turn by the British bourgeoisie which became "concerned" and "inclusive". In the face of the human solidarity which is a feature of disasters such as this, the bourgeoisie praised "the community", "Londoners" and so on, in much the same way as "Texans" are now being extolled in the wake of hurricane Harvey and "Parisiennes" for example in other traumatic circumstances. The bourgeoisie salute these elements of self-organisation and solidarity all the better to denude them of any class content.  Trump is a perfect vector for this sort of populist line and his concern for the victims comes just a short while after weakening flood-defence and building regulations, not to mention his crusade against the science of global warming which experts say made the rains, through the heating of waters in the Gulf of Mexico, thirty to forty per-cent more intense than otherwise. There was "a once-in-a-hundred year storm" in Houston a month or so ago and it was far less deadly than Harvey.

The article sums up Proudhon's anarchist position on housing in a nutshell. It is capitalism in all but name. The quote from Bordiga on horizontal as opposed vertical building is very good and points to the revolutionary solution of breaking down the division of town and country and while this remains a distant project it is nevertheless fundamental for a communist society.

There's an idea current that Marx never talked about the decadence of capitalism. I'd say that his works, particularly Capital, are entirely devoted to explaining it. While his economic analysis (or rather, his interpretation and critique of the analyses of bourgeois economists) is fundamental to the transient nature of capitalism, he also develops on the self-destructive nature of capital in its defence of profits and part of this destruction is the destruction of the soil and the violation of the land by the construction of massive conurbations. Marx is accused by some of wanting to build factories across the globe but, as his analyses show, nothing could be further from the truth. He talks (in Grundrisse) in wide terms about the metabolism between labour and nature and how the division between town and country underlines this and how this "metabolic rift" accompanies the alienation from the process of production and reproduction. But under commodity production, he says, there appears "a system of general social metabolism, of universal relations, of all-round needs and universal capacities... formed for the first time".
 

jk1921
Housing costs

baboon wrote:

I think that we have been slow on the question of housing. It's a vital question for the working class and goes to the heart of the matter. But I think that this article somewhat makes up for this "lateness" and develops on the profound critique of capitalism that Marx made around the "housing question".
 

Good point. One thing that needs to be understood and explained is why housing costs go up today, even when living conditions erode, such that the housing cost question seemingly takes on an increasing importance in the context of "defending living and working conditions" alongside wages and conditions on the shop floor.

Non ex hoc mundi
Metabolic Rift

The idea of metabolic rift is probably my favorite of Marx's. He formed much of his economic critique in Capital from it. Marx had major epiphanies based on a study of a classical market "law" of that time in capitalism that rendered fertile land more valuable than salty, overused earth. That's where the ToV comes from.

I can't recommend the books Marx's Ecology by JBF as well as the original inspiration for it, Marx and Nature by Burkett enough for this (and other) subject(s). Metabolic rift is an extremely useful descriptor of our realities today, the potential trajectories of capitalism, etc...

LBird
Further reading on 'red' and 'green' views of 'nature'

To back up NEHM's views on Marx's concept of 'metabolic rift', and a general discussion about Marx, nature and social production, also see:

Marx and Nature: A Red and Green Perspective, Paul Burkett

Marx's Ecology, John Bellamy Foster

Marxism and Ecology, Reiner Grundmann

and:

Preservation Versus the People? Nature, Humanity, and Political Philosophy, Mathew Humphrey

Uneven Development: Nature, Capital and the Production of Space, Neil Smith

Making Sense of Nature, Noel Castree

LBird
Marx on 'metabolic rift', symbolised by Grenfell Tower

Non ex hoc mundi wrote:
The idea of metabolic rift is probably my favorite of Marx's. He formed much of his economic critique in Capital from it. Marx had major epiphanies based on a study of a classical market "law" of that time in capitalism that rendered fertile land more valuable than salty, overused earth. That's where the ToV comes from.

Further information from Marx, regarding NEHM's post:

Marx, Capital 3, p. 949, wrote:
...it [ie. social production] produces conditions that provoke an irreparable rift in the interdependent process of social metabolism, a metabolism prescribed by the natural laws of life itself.

Once again, it should be noted that Marx is not talking about 'matter' (a 'stuff' that supposedly pre-exists its social production by humans).

Marx is locating the 'metabolic rift' within social production, within 'life itself', within 'nature'.

Marx's 'metabolism' is the social production of 'organic nature' (ie. 'nature-for-us'), by the conscious life activity of humans working upon 'inorganic nature' (ie. the 'underlying' (or 'hupokeimenon' in Greek)).

The 'rift' in this process of social production is caused by capitalism, by human activity which damages the interests of the majority, because it's a human activity driven by the theory and practice of a minority ruling class, in their own minority interests.

The only solution to this 'metabolic rift' is Communism, the controlling of our metabolism (ie. our social production of 'nature-for-us') by the vast majority, in the interests of the vast majority.

Perhaps Grenfell Tower now stands as a terrible symbol of a 'Metabolic Rift' on the London skyline.