Why the revolution is impossible

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Tagore2
Why the revolution is impossible
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Recall :

$ 100 PPP are not an amount of money, but correspond to $ 100 of goods purchased in the US at average prices.

$ 100 PPP always correspond to the same amount of merchandise, in any country and regardless of price.

For example, $ 100 PPP correspond to $ 80 of goods if prices are low, and $ 120 of goods if prices are high.

That said, here is the paradox:

Year 2015

World Population, total

7.4e + 09

World GDP, PPP (current international $)

1.2E + 14

World Household final consumption expenditure, PPP (current international $)

6E + 13 (51.67%)

GDP, PPP (current international $) per capita

15668 (per month: 1306)

Household final consumption expenditure, PPP (current international $) per capita

8095 (per month: 675)

In communist society, consumption gaps are relatively low.

Question:

What will become of people who consume substantially more than $ 675 PPP per month?

These people are very numerous: in France, the average schooling of a high school student costs 917 € per month alone, ie $ 1146 PPP (conversion factor: 1.25).

Not to mention all the hidden advantages of the developed countries: advanced medical care, retirement homes, free service ...

In the end, there is at least 20% of the world's population who have no interest in making the revolution.

And even if the revolution triumphed, these 20% would do their utmost to regain their privileges, mainly through the restoration of capitalism. These 20% would be the source of degeneration.

Here is my opinion:

The revolution is not a dictatorship on 1% of the richest, but on 20% of the richest.

jk1921
Hmm, I am not sure how this

Hmm, I am not sure how this post relates to recent theories of the 80/20 neo-liberal society, but I don't think in those theories the 20 percent are necessarily conceived as the "richest." They are more accurately referred to as "winners," and you don't need to be among the richest to be a "winner," nor is everyone in the top 20 percent income distribution a winner either. For example, many immigrants from the third world to the developed world might be winners in the sense that they were lucky enough to get out and may act accordingly when it comes to politics (or not) even if they are not at the top of the global income distribution. Their status as winners comes in comparrison of what or who they left behind. In fact, many of them find a way to remit funds to family who have remained behind, compared to whom they are winners.

Meanwhile, many workers (and some petty bourgeois) in the old industrial centers, although they may still be better off than many of the immigrants around them in some objective sense, and may even be in the top 20 percent of the global income distribution in some cases, clearly see themselves, with some reasonableness, as the losers of neo-liberal capitalism, fueling the rise of populism, etc. Politics is more complicated than the income distribution suggests. One must differentiate between the effects of absolute and relative immiseration and how that conditions consciousness. In many cases, its the direction one is heading that conditions political behavior more than where one sits on some absolute scale, and this phenomenon can even manifest itself over the course of individual life times, i.e. whether one's personal career is on the upswing or not in relation to others, regardless of where one sits on some absolute scale. One of the most important questions pollsters ask is some variation of: "Do you think things are getting better for you and your family, staying the same or are you worse off than you were before?" This can often be better predictor of political behavior than one's self-perception of class status.

But either way I am not sure why any of this means the revolution is impossible? Marxists have always said that the dictatorship of the proletariat would have to convince the rest of the non-exploiting strata (or whoever still has some material stake in exisiting society) that communism was ultimately in their interests as much (or more) as it represses their conservative tendencies. This task would of course be made easier by the progressive erosion of capitalist relationships and with it the material or status privliege of these strata, which potentially fuels whatever conservative tendencies they might have. Is this the inevitable outcome of the revolutionary process? Obviously not, which underlies the importance of understanding how these various processes work politically. But as one comrade put it, "If poverty and misery alone were the driving force behind revolutionary consciousness, Africa would be the most revolutionary place on earth." Yet, one recent international poll actually identified Africans as the happiest people on the planet. Go figure that...

Tagore2
Thank you for your reply. How

Thank you for your reply.

How do you intend to convince a proletarian who consumes $ 1700 PPP of goods per month that he will now consume only $ 700 PPP?

And it's not just about merchandise. In France, health expenditure is 11.6% of GDP, or $ 400 PPP per month and per person. Globally, health care spending is only about $ 150 PPP per person.

$ 150 PPS of health spending would be an enormous advance for Africans or Asians: lower infant mortality, suppression of infectious diseases, prevention of AIDS, etc., etc.

But for the French. Increased mortality of old people, inability to cure heart disease or cancer, no comfort care! Horrible.

I am afraid that the French will not agree with Communism for this reason alone. But it is the same for any expense: education, transport, housing ... Everything.

jk1921
Zero Sum

Tagore2 wrote:

Thank you for your reply.

How do you intend to convince a proletarian who consumes $ 1700 PPP of goods per month that he will now consume only $ 700 PPP?

You seem to be assuming that the revolution happens today. It won't. It probably won't happen until there had been a progressive captialist decline that closed the gap more than as it exists today. But to the extent that some gap remained, a political argument might be that unless communist measures are taken--it would get even worse. Some people are motivated by fear of losing what they have; others are motivated by fear of losing it all. Still, it is possible to see the emergene of a certain recognition among broader and broader segments of the population that things can't go on like they are or the entire thing will collapse. Arguments about sustainability will be convincing to some; others will need different arguments. But nobody said communism could be achieved without resistance. There is something of an art to politics communists will need to practice and I can't tell you exactly what arguments will be needed or what will work for everyone in each case.

Tagore2 wrote:

And it's not just about merchandise. In France, health expenditure is 11.6% of GDP, or $ 400 PPP per month and per person. Globally, health care spending is only about $ 150 PPP per person.

$ 150 PPS of health spending would be an enormous advance for Africans or Asians: lower infant mortality, suppression of infectious diseases, prevention of AIDS, etc., etc.

But for the French. Increased mortality of old people, inability to cure heart disease or cancer, no comfort care! Horrible.

I am afraid that the French will not agree with Communism for this reason alone. But it is the same for any expense: education, transport, housing ... Everything.

You seem to see communism as a form of austerity (at least for some sectors of the global proletariat)--as a society still dominated by scarcity. Or is your concern more for the period of transition? Still, its not clear to me why this would mean things would have to get worse for anyone. If the working class could not begin to improve living conditions for the vast majority of the non-exploiting population of the global with some expediency, surely the revolution would fail or degenerate. Obviously, this leaves the question of what measures would have to be taken open, but remeber Marx's admonition not to provie too many recipes to the cooks of the future. Why do you see the revolution and communism as some kind of zero sum game? 

Tagore2
Because of the very strong

Because of the very strong inequality in capitalist society, communism will be a form of austerity for about 20% of the world population (1,5 billions of people). A substentional minority, so.

Let me emphasize another point: the biggest reservoir of poverty is still in the countryside. The alliance of the proletariat with the poor peasantry is always the crux of the matter. Poor peasantry is largely a rural proletariat that is constantly migrating to the cities. The upper part of the proletariat tends to ally itself with the bourgeoisie in order to reject this proletariat and to acquire and retain privileges.

The Communist program will be:

_ Abolition of immigration laws in and between countries to maximize rural-urban migration,

_ Complete planning of the division of labor, in order to integrate this new proletariat into production, through a substantial reduction in working hours,

_ Accelerated training of this proletariat for qualified work,

_ Free up time for politics, civil war, and the exercise of dictatorship,

_ Inversely: modernization of the countryside, mechanization of agriculture,

_ The permanent circulation of the proletariat between the city and the countryside: the social differences between the city and the countryside must be abolished, everything must be unified.

The problem is that the upper part of the proletariat has an objective interest in separating itself from the mass of the proletariat and the poor peasantry.

The organization of the mass of the proletariat, the reduction of working time, the army and the dictatorship are therefore the major political questions to prevent this separation.

Tagore2
No one else on the issue of

No one else on the issue of consumption levels?

Let us suppose 10 average proletarians producing a total of $ 156,660 PPPs per year, and receiving for this $ 80,950 PPP.

Add them a skilled engineer that doubles their productivity. These 11 people now generate $ 313,360 PPA. How will the $ 161,900 PPP of consumer goods be distributed?

Suppose engineers are scarce and can offer their services to competing firms. Economically, they are in a position of strength to demand an income ten times greater than that of the workers. Naturally, the distribution could be different in particular because of dictatorial means. Nevertheless, suppose these engineers associate themselves in a trade union and strike to achieve their ends?

The only sustainable way to prevent this is to increase the number of capable engineers, beyond the actual needs. If the number of people with engineering skills is high enough, you can freely replace the engineers who are demanding too high consumption levels.

Basically, the same is true for countries with high productivity (and therefore high consumption). You must break the resistance of the privileged by economic and political means. For qualified proletarians, you must remove corporatism. Remove diplomas, numerus clausus and other privileges. The working time must be dramatically reduced to allow the training of unskilled workers, to increase competition and reduce skilled working time to.

For unqualified proletarians, you have to appeal to immigrant labor, the proletarian-peasants, to keep income below or equal to the world average. You have to break the borders and help the poor peasants to emigrate by providing transport, housing, training and working in the cities.

The class struggle does not end with the dictatorship. As long as a real equality is not yet guaranteed by the plan, the privileged will seek to extend their privileges. This is the root of corporatism, of nationalism, it is the foundation of Stalinism. This is the threat of the restoration of capitalism.

jk1921
Tagore raises some

Tagore raises some interesting points that seen another way could lead into a discussion of the current state of global capitalist development, the effects of the crisis on different sectors of the world proletariat and how this affects the state of class consciousness today. But the vision of communism as a condition of austerity he lays out seems to be fundamentally at odds with the Marxist tradition, which has always seen it as the flowering of individual human potential under material conditions that make economic scarcity a thing of the historical past. Of course, it could be the case that there is a definitional problem here and that what he is talking about is not "communism," but the problems of the period of transition or even the problems of pre-revolutionary class consciousness in a world system that, while in crisis, maintains itself in a condition of "uneven development." Certainly, this is an important discussion to have (I have made this case myself elsewhere), but I think we need to disentangle it from the idea that communism is "not possible" because of these problems. If that is a priori the case, why bother discussing them at all? But even after suggesting this, Tagore then goes on to list what looks like a transitional program of his own. So, I guess I am confused? Is communism possible or not? What kind of program is this listed above if communism isn't possible?

Tagore2
“Why the revolution is

“Why the revolution is impossible” is a provocative title.

What you call “austerity” is simply a fairly egalitarian distribution of consumer goods. The way of life of proletarians in rich countries is abnormally expensive and unsustainable on a global scale. It is, moreover, perfectly anti-Communist. Individual housing, individual car, individual leisure ... The more people get rich, the more they isolate themselves in a selfish home of consumption. Communism is not merely a collectivization of the means of production, with, on the other hand, a cult of individual consumerism. It consists of a collectivization and a socialization of life itself, which then becomes, on the economic plane, much less costly. If, for example, people live in community buildings with half the surface for personal rooms and the other half for collective rooms, it is obvious that there is much improvement in material comfort and social well-being, reducing costs and domestic work.

On the other hand, wages in developing countries are abnormally low. Yesterday, I advertised on ma.indeed.com to recruit a full-time Moroccan personal assistant, for 5000 dirhams, or 450 € per month. I received 14 CVs in 12 hours, including workers, secretaries, salespeople, executives, teachers, engineers ... There is a huge hunger for work in Morocco: 15.7% unemployment in cities, 40% among young people, while they are cheap and skilled workers. The fight against unemployment in Morocco has priority over the fight against redundancies in France, the two are diametrically opposed. The big French companies recruit in Morocco, but not the small ones: the only way to reduce unemployment in Morocco is to increase outsourcing, teleworking, direct recruitment: fostering globalization.

Moroccans must be helped to find work in France, Switzerland or Belgium, if not by emigration, at least by teleworking. They will be able to obtain wages twice, three times higher than in Morocco, while remaining cheaper than a basic European worker.