Paris bombing

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baboon
Paris bombing
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They say that a week is a long time in politics.

Last Friday week, when it was more or less confirmed that a bomb had brought the Russian passanger jet from Sharm down, some British politicians and their usual suspects in the media almost showed some glee over the event with an attitude that said, with some justification, that Russia was now being drawn into the Syrian quagmire. In the middle of the week, President Obama stated that ISIS was now "contained". On Thursday, the same British elements above went into paroxyms of delight when an individual terrorist known as "Jihadi John" was killed by a drone and the media was full of "think tankers" and security specialists, most of whom said that this was a deadly blow to ISIS.

Then came Friday evening. There will be more Friday evenings.

Tagore2
not important

This year, ISIS killed 150 people in France, representing 0.2% of tobacco deaths in France (75,000 deads by year) or 0.0002% of total population. Meanwhile, +200,000 Syrians have died during the civil war (10% of population), +10 millions had to leave their homes (50%) which +5 millions their country (25%).

In France, smoking kills 500 times more than Islamism. In France, it is simply more dangerous to live with a smoker than beside an Islamist. French imperialism kill hundreds of thousands of people abroad.

War is something, individual terrorism (outside of war) is nothing.

jk1921
You can always quit smoking;

You can always quit smoking; you can't quit ISIS. They call it terrorism for a reason: you don't know when or where its coming, so you live in irrational terror of a threat that is probably, in the grand scheme of things, statistically insignificant. In that sense, its remarkably effective in producing its desired outcome.

Tagore2
ISIS is like Nazi

ISIS is like Nazi: Hitler had to "organize" Europe, ISIS has to "organize" the Middle East. The califa is a dream of small Arab capitalists, like the "Reich" was a dream of german capitalists. But ISIS is very smaller than Nazi. If OTAN do not throw all his strength against ISIS, this is because the war descended the oil's price to 44$. Today Russia or Saudi Arabia had highter interest to crush ISIS than US or EU, because ISIS sell his oil not quite expensive.

In this imperialist business, individual terrorism is nothing. Individual terrorism is a joke. Individual terrorism was not effective in Lenin's time, he will not be more today. Individual terrorism is good for propaganda, nothing else.

ISIS's dream is doomed to failure. ISIS will never succeed in uniting the Middle East, because the United States, the European Union and all the imperialist powers are doing everything to prevent it. And even more: the capitalists of Middle East are totally unable to unite, be it under the banner of islamism, nationalism, or anything else. Ideologies don't make history, only economic powers make history.

Fight against your own imperialism, understand that ISIS is a tiny imperialism, and know that the world will be always divided, always at war, as long as imperialism will rule the world.

Terrorism is a show that blinds us to this simple fact.

PS: Stop smoking will be much harder than crush ISIS.

Fred
they call it terrorism because it terrifies

jk1921 wrote:

You can always quit smoking; you can't quit ISIS. They call it terrorism for a reason: you don't know when or where its coming, so you live in irrational terror of a threat that is probably, in the grand scheme of things, statistically insignificant. In that sense, its remarkably effective in producing its desired outcome.

Yes, they call it terrorism because it terrifies. Even worse it provides all the bigger and official terrorists like Obama, Hollande, Putin, Cameron, and the rest of them, an excuse to perpetrate more of their "legitimate" atrocities anywhere they like.  It allows for revenge bombing attacks such as Hollande sent off immediately to Syria (though tv experts said it didn't amount to much!) but  doubtless killing and maiming more innocent civilians. Just like real authentic terrorism! 

But revenge is so sweet isn't it? And so essential to the infantile bourgeois locked inside his weird little ego.  And IS and their attacks provide such a good excuse for the tightening of the armed states of Europe and N. America, which only makes matters more difficult for workers should they feel like responding themselves to the gigantic catastrophe called capitalism one day. They'll be gunned down as terrorists in a matter of moments. 

ISIS contributes so much vitality now  to the warring propensities  of the international bourgeoisie. Did you see tv film of Putin and Obama hunkered down together in deep conversation at the meeting of the G20 for International Terrorism in Antalya? It was a chilling sight. ISIS can even bring the supposedly irreconcilable to reconciliation. How did they ever manage previously without it? 

lem_
What has struck me about the

What has struck me about the nationalist sentiment this has uncleashed, is how few people are asking about what Syrians want to happen, as if doing so is near treacherous to French people. 

It's just taken for granted - that ISIS should be crushed for the good of the 'west', so less the patriotism than an expression of latent hostility 

jk1921
The ICC has written alot

The ICC has written alot about the futility of terrorism as a tool of struggle, but its much more difficult to predict how workers will react to terrorism in their midst. Of course, saying how workers should react to terrorism (as Tagore does above) is not the same as describing how they are likely to react to it as a matter of empirical fact. Noumena vs. phenomena. Already, prognosticators are predicting victories for the European right-wing in coming elections and even the American Presidential election might hinge on the timing of ISIS's promised attack on Washington, DC. Of course, many bourgeois analysts say this is just what ISIS wants.

lem_
mystification

Here I think it is complicated by Corbyn. I don't think he'll win, but his political presence is being made to be as divisive as possible - in the party, its support, etc. As a communist sympathiser, I don't think that is significant, except what it reveals about the press today: that e.g. the guardian is looking increasingly incoherent - in its principled stand against e.g. imperialist war contributing to jihadism.

I can only see France swinging to the right now, and perhaps the UK to the left. AFAIK Le pen wants to deport over a million people in France, which would create chaos. Corbyn would surely take the sting out of proletarian relations, and potentially tar 'socialism' with an abjecct failure to be a statesman. So IMHO you have ideally small scale social crises, which as long as they stay small scale might serve to ideologically control workers without entirely involving them - i.e. i don't think it's the 20th century anymore

As individuals ISIS have a cause which will pleases their ego. As a group they have brutal control over land, as well as global influence / power, even if that is not conventionally political. They probably want more of the same - more land / power / members. I think it's important that worker's don't get caught up in mystifying ISIS. I don't know...

Tagore2
No change

From what I see, the attacks should not change much to the evolution of the French mentality. People are shocked, yes, they even have a little scared, but the attacks will strictly not change anything in their concrete lives. It is in Syria that war left hundreds of thousands deads, millions of refugees, but not in France.

Things should therefore advanced as they should anyway evolved without the attacks: a progressive accentuation of French xenophobia (which is already strong enough in France) and slight increase in police state.

But the war in Syria will continue as planned, neither more nor less. Not 150 deaths that will change much.

However, the attacks in Paris have raised awareness of the war to many people, who sincerely call for peace now.

I went to church on Sunday, and the mood was not at all "going to war". Nationalism certainly, but Christians do not want war, it's just the opposite. People are a bit stressed, but no more, the preacher talked about his vacation to illustrate the principle of "openness", he even made jokes to which the believers have laughed naturally.

So no major changes.

jk1921
So now France is pressing for

So now France is pressing for a grand coalition to defeat ISIS, while the US drags its feet. How ironic? Who could have forseen this in 2003?

Tagore2
The fundamental goal of the

The fundamental goal of the imperialists remains that the Middle East is divided and helpless. This implies that no country in this region should become too powerful or too independent, and this at lower cost. Sometimes it is necessary to intervene militarily, but the greater part of the time it's best to sustain a state against another, or to fund and arm liberals, nationalists or islamists. In only last resort they send planes and troops, because war is expensive.

Currently, the imperialists act each on their own behalf, NATO on the one hand, Russia on the other. Even if their interests are different, they do not hit each other in the figure.

Perhaps they feel that it is time to break Daesh now, or they prefer to let rot the war a little more time, so further weakened Syria, Islamist State, and Iraq.

The problem for NATO is swatting the Islamist State is offering a royal way for Assad to win back his country, and thus abandon the goal of regime change in Syria. It is also the risk of seeing the price of oil up strongly since the Islamist State sells its oil cheap on the black market.

If Russia manages to properly protect its "ally" in the region, that is to say, if it manages to explode under bombs enough opponents of Assad and get major guarantees of him (because its bombing are not free), it is likely that NATO will be forced to negotiate with a political transition with Assad, or even no “transition” at all, as was the case with Saddam Hussein in 1991.

But we are still far away. Just can we assume a gradual increase of NATO's and Russia's forces in Syria (which was planned anyway), but not yet a major commitment.

 

jk1921
Interesting that the French

Interesting that the French language text on the attacks supports the interpretation of ISIS's philosophy as "Islamo-fascist." This is a term frequently used by the right-wing and often resisted by the left--which nevertheless delights in denouncing the FN as "neo-fascist." How does the square with the ICC's position that facism is not really on the agenda today?

Alf
IS and fascism

I think the term 'Islamo-fascism' needs to be used carefully but there are many parallels between IS and fascism and Nazism in particular: 

 - like Nazism, it has a totally unrealistic and destructive 'goal' (the Caliphate instead of the 1000 year Reich, and it can only really exist in a state of open warfare

- like Nazism, it dreams of returning to a mythical past and has a morbid worship of death

 - like Nazism it contains a tendency to reinroduce slavery, a sign of the self-negation of capitalist relations

 - the elements recruited to IS - a decomposed petty bourgeoisie and lumpenised fringes - also bear comparison with the social basis of Nazism.

 - IS also shares a similar conspiracy theory, very closely tied to anti-semitism

We could go on. This doesn't mean that fascism is on the agenda in the main centres of capitalism, where the working class remains an obstacle,  but the profoundly irrational tendencies contained in decomposition certainly gives rise to all kinds of monsters. 

Tagore2
Some parallels, indeed. This

Some parallels, indeed. This is an analogy what is certainly relevant for some points. But this is not a very rigorous concept. It is true that the extreme right uses this analogy in order to promote the war against an undetermined Islamism.

jk1921
I don't know if comrades have

I don't know if comrades have seen this piece from the London Review of Books:

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v37/n23/adam-shatz/magical-thinking-about-isis

it goes into some of the inter-imperialist maneovering going on, such as France attempting to usurp US influence over the Sunni states in the wake of the Iranian nuclear deal. One interesting phrase the author uses is that ISIS represents, "Not so much the radicalisation of Islam, but the Islamisation of radicalism." I don't know what the author intended there, but it is thought provoking in that it hints that the lure of ISIS among so many disaffected young people in European metropoles reflects as much a crisis of the radical left, as anything else in that the left has proven incapable of competing with the imagery and message of the Islamic utopia. Is that true?

 

baboon
Agree with Alf about the need

Agree with Alf about the need to be careful when using the term "Islamo-fascism. I agree with his list of similarities with the Nazi's, particularly the mobilising of the worst elements of the petty-bourgeoisie, a class which overall has no future.

Another similarity between the Caliphate of Isis and the Nazi regime is that the latter was built up and nurtured by the interests of British, French and American imperialism, complicit in all its irrationality and terror, before it expressed its own imperialist interests in no uncertain terms and turned on its creators. Isis has done the same and it came from the same stock. I also think that there's an element of Isis being used, one way or another, by some of the western powers as revenge for the protests and rebellion around the region..

jk1921
Actually Existing Fascism

Alf wrote:

I think the term 'Islamo-fascism' needs to be used carefully but there are many parallels between IS and fascism and Nazism in particular: 

 - like Nazism, it has a totally unrealistic and destructive 'goal' (the Caliphate instead of the 1000 year Reich, and it can only really exist in a state of open warfare

- like Nazism, it dreams of returning to a mythical past and has a morbid worship of death

 - like Nazism it contains a tendency to reinroduce slavery, a sign of the self-negation of capitalist relations

 - the elements recruited to IS - a decomposed petty bourgeoisie and lumpenised fringes - also bear comparison with the social basis of Nazism.

 - IS also shares a similar conspiracy theory, very closely tied to anti-semitism

We could go on. This doesn't mean that fascism is on the agenda in the main centres of capitalism, where the working class remains an obstacle,  but the profoundly irrational tendencies contained in decomposition certainly gives rise to all kinds of monsters. 

 

 

Some very interesting observations. But in terms of fascism not being "on the agenda": I agree that there is little prospect for an openly fascist government forming in the main centres of capitalism anytime soon, but does fascism necessarily have to acheive state power to have a political influence or even in some cases even drive events? Already, there are significant sectors of ther working class under the influence of political parties that many say are "fascist" or "neo-fascist" or in any event subscribe to blame the other politics. Moreover, the extent to which the Islamic State (an actually existing fascist state apperantly) can reach into the metropoles and capture the imagination of some numbers of young people (albeit likely a minority) seems meaningful.

Alf
fascist groups are real

I agree with jk - groups like the Golden Dawn in Greece and the Jobbik party in Humgary do have an influence on national political life and they retain many of the 'traditional' trappings of fascism, including anti-semtitism which has been shelved in most western countries in favour of islamophobia. They are also a real force for the terrorising of minorities, refugees, etc. This is a clear expression of decomposition - capitalism with no future returning to some of the worst ideologies of the past. 

jk1921
So, now the Republican party

So, now the Republican party establishment is denouncing its own Presidential front runner (Trump) as a fascist. Pretty funny, if it weren't so damn scary.

Pierre
Re: super decadence

Alf wrote:
This is a clear expression of decomposition

Really? How?

Alf
decomposition

Decomposition in our view is the extreme phase of capitalism's decline: as human society approaches a dead-end in reality, this lack of perspective affects all classes in society at the subjective level. But this answer will mean little to you if you reject the notion of the decline of capitalism. 

Pierre
Re:

No denying that capitalism has an "ascendant" period. But I think the ICC's theories amount to bad periodization. Bad periodization literally based on a few passages of Marx that are anything but "clear".

Alf
after ascendance?

And after it ascended, what did it do next?

Pierre
It decadenced. Duh.

It decadenced. Duh.

Alf
when did that happen?

around when did that happen?

radicalchains
If it went up it must come

If it went up it must come crashing back down. If there is nothing new to take place then what is left? Wreckage. 

Pierre
Did Feudalism come crashing

Did Feudalism come crashing down? What about previous societies? Wouldn't it be more accurate to point to a period of transition?

Capitalism seems to go through cyclical crises but what solid indication of its overall "trend" do we have?

With a higher population, more energy and food consumed, more advanced technology than ever why is the nature of war today such a shocker? They hand out 2 liter cups of soda at McDonalds. Everything is bigger and more today...a notion that fits into a different narrative than "oh its the capitalist end times".

It would be better to focus on the idea that we've been in a period open to the possibility of proletarian revolution for sometime now.

The ICC has jumped the gun with decadence theory. Capitalism has not peaked and we've yet to see the worst of it.

Open to the possibility that the "progressiveness" of capitalism has slowed, but what indication is there that it's on a downward trend already?

slothjabber
Decadence of previous social forms

I think it's certainly arguable that previous social forms went through periods of 'decadence', though from another point of view these are transitional periods leading to new social forms. The late Roman Empire wasn't the same as the Greek city-states, for example, nor was Europe in AD1400 the same as AD800.

It's difficult to see that there could be a period of 'transition' to socialism, however; in the transitions between antique slavery and feudalism, and from feudalism to capitalism, the new classes that became masters of society were also exploiting classes. A new ruling class emerged in the gaps of the old society. The working class cannot do this as it has no other class on the back of which it can ride to power in the new society. Thus, the revolution for the working class must be a complete rupture with the old society, and preclude any notion of somehow building socialsm before the defeat of capitalism.

LBird
Query

slothjabber wrote:

It's difficult to see that there could be a period of 'transition' to socialism, however... the revolution for the working class must be a complete rupture with the old society, and preclude any notion of somehow building socialsm before the defeat of capitalism.

The problem with this formulation, sj, is that it takes 'active agency' out of human hands.

Surely the 'complete rupture' can only come after a 'period of transition', a 'building' period, during which the proletariat comes to consciousness of its own active role in causing the 'rupture'?

Any other formulation requires either a passive humanity at the mercy of events, or an 'active elite' which has a 'pre-rupture consciousness', and which the working class doesn't have.

As Marx asked in the Theses on Feuerbach, 'who educates the educators?'.

 

Alf
transition

I dont think SJ is denying that when the working class takes power, it consciously initiates a period of transition to communism. What he's saying is that we can't see this period of transition inside capitalism, as Pierre implies.

Returning to Pierre's previous post it's rather curious that Pierre answered above that after capitalism finished being ascendant, it "decadenced". What is meant by this?

Fred
the economy and the environment

Regarding the idea of "decadence" and Pierre's insistence that capitalism hasn't yet peaked and the worst is yet to come (better to be dead than sit around waiting for this!)and that from a money point of view the system is still absolutely fabulous, and we all benefit so much from it don't we and love  it oh so much? And his insistence like the one found on libcom that there's an absence of evidence to show "that we're on a downward trend already" given the current strength of the economy. I wondered has Pierre taken a peak lately at the natural world around him and the state of the environment, climate change and the planet in general? No? Then maybe he should. And maybe he should read this, which I copy from a very excellent article on Climate Change on leftcom.  In fact there's two on left com and this is from the earlier one. 

 

leftcom wrote:
 Resources that accumulated over eons of geological time are being consumed in a single human lifespan. We are crossing natural thresholds that we cannot see and violating deadlines that we do not recognize. These deadlines, determined by nature, are not politically negotiable. 

Nature has many thresholds that we discover only when it is too late… For example, when we exceed the sustainable catch of a fishery, the stocks begin to shrink. Once this threshold is crossed, we have a limited time in which to back off and lighten the catch. If we fail to meet this deadline, breeding populations shrink to where the fishery is no longer viable, and it collapses. 
We know from earlier civilizations that the lead indicators of economic decline were environmental, not economic. The trees went first, then the soil, and finally the civilization itself. To archaeologists, the sequence is all too familiar. 
Our situation today is far more challenging because in addition to shrinking forests and eroding soils, we must deal with falling water tables, more frequent crop-withering heat waves, collapsing fisheries, expanding deserts, deteriorating rangelands, dying coral reefs, melting glaciers, rising seas, more-powerful storms, disappearing species…. Although these ecologically destructive trends have been evident for some time …. not one has been reversed at the global level. 
… The world is in what ecologists call an “overshoot-and-collapse” mode. Demand has exceeded the sustainable yield of natural systems at the local level countless times in the past. Now, for the first time, it is doing so at the global level. Forests are shrinking for the world as a whole. Fishery collapses are widespread. Grasslands are deteriorating on every continent. Water tables are falling in many countries. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions exceed CO2 fixation everywhere .

When natural cycles do not regenerate the resources, capitalism simply uses up the Earth’s reserves. When timber, for example, is not replaced more natural forest are cut down thereby reducing the planet’s reserves and in the process making the removal of atmospheric CO2 even more difficult; when water tables fall, aquifers are pumped to lower levels so using up historical ground-water which has accumulated over centuries; when topsoil erodes more forest lands are cleared; when fertility declines, and 40% of farmed soils are now degraded, artificial fertilisers and insecticides are used. These in their turn pollute ground-waters, rivers and wetlands killing aquatic life producing dead rivers and lakes, and so on. Insecticides and loss of habitat are killing off the world’s bee population. A recent study found 35 different pesticides in the food store of honey bees . At the same time wild insect pollinators are being killed off. Yet 75% of the crops we produce depend on insect pollination and this decimation of pollinators is already beginning to threaten food production. Chinese farmers are now pollinating certain crops by hand!

 

 

I will have to go back to leftcom to find the name of the institution from which the section beginning "Nature has many thresholds..." Is taken and will give it below in another post. But it's striking that they state that "we know from earlier civilisations that the lead indicators of economic decline were environmental not economic..." and I think that doubters of capitalism's financial failings might take this "hidden cost" ( by which I mean the approaching destruction and demise of our environment)  into their consideration when pointing out the durability of the magical economic system we suffer under.

I also wondered, to return to the subject of this thread, whether the mindless and crazed destruction of humanity such as took place in Paris recently,  might not also be taken as a "lead indicator of economic decline" along with the environment. After all, the first and second world wars were the result of an economic decline setting in and an organised attempt by the bourgeois to stop it, or at least to push its agonies onto someone else's shoulders. So why should we not see the collapse into nihilistic terrorism as a further symptom of the bourgeoisie's waning powers and as yet invisible, according to some,   economic decline? 

For the  bourgeois now  finds himself in such dire straits - beginning with "the end of history", the collapse of the USSR, and the deterioration of the stern bloc discipline that had kept the world  in order -  that he can't even get it together anymore to efficiently organise a proper theoretically controlled world war. Instead he is forced into the kind of frantic and generally idiotic, pitiful  and aimless warlike efforts we see now,  mainly in the Middle East.

It is in this tragic arena we see the manifest decline of the bourgeoisie's hold on the power they used to command, even under decadence.  For now,  all the discipline and control such as they used to exercise when organising really efficient and proper massively destructive  type war has been lost,  and we witness instead the mindless bombing and confusion of a deranged class stifling in their own decay. The pathetic young terrorists merely imitate their masters.

Fred
The quote above beginning

The quote above beginning "Nature has many thresholds..." is from The US environmental association, “The Earth Policy Unit” in a publication called “Plan B: Rescuing a Planet under stress and a civilization in trouble”.  And the quote is part of an article on the leftcom site called "Climate change: the alternative is social collapse or socialism." 

slothjabber
transitions and ruptures

LBird wrote:

slothjabber wrote:

It's difficult to see that there could be a period of 'transition' to socialism, however... the revolution for the working class must be a complete rupture with the old society, and preclude any notion of somehow building socialsm before the defeat of capitalism.

The problem with this formulation, sj, is that it takes 'active agency' out of human hands.

Surely the 'complete rupture' can only come after a 'period of transition', a 'building' period, during which the proletariat comes to consciousness of its own active role in causing the 'rupture'?...

 

Not denying this at all Lbird, in fact I rather think that any notion of social revolution must imply that the consciousness of the working class changes. The question is, does the consciousnes of the working class change because the working class is actively trying to change its conditions, or because a socialist elite convinces it? My view is it's the former, your view is that it's the latter.

LBird wrote:
...

Any other formulation requires either a passive humanity at the mercy of events, or an 'active elite' which has a 'pre-rupture consciousness', and which the working class doesn't have.

As Marx asked in the Theses on Feuerbach, 'who educates the educators?'.

 

 

It's your view of the 'socialist educators' which is the 'active elite'. I hold that there is nothing different between those of us who have acquired some socialist consciousness now and the majority of the working class that haven't. The existing political minorities are the product of workers trying to understand previous struggles; it is class struggle by the working class that produces political minorities, not political minorities that produce class struggle. Small and isolated class struggle would tend to produce small and isolated political minorities - the situation we have now. Massive and concerted class struggles would produce the circumstances in which more massive and concerted 'minorities' could develop - to the point where simultaneous worldwide class struggle produces the best conditions for massive numbers of workers to develop their consciousness.

 

The rupture and the consciousness the working class delvelops act reciprocally (I hesitate to say 'dialectically') on each other. As the working class defends its own interests it also learns how to fight and has the opportunity to go beyond defence towards attack. It's a process. Class consciousness develops by actually practicing it. I don't understand why you find it so difficult to understand this.

LBird
Who is the agent?

sj, it's not my view that 'socialists form an active elite'.

It's my view that only the working class, as a democratic whole, form the 'active agency'.

But, to get to the point where the whole wc is class conscious, it requires those workers who have come to class conciousness (like us, here) to make some attempt to develop the class consciousness of their fellow-workers.

The 'active agency' is thus the whole class.

Socialists within the class help prepare for that agency - that is, this preparation is the 'transition period', the growth of Communist consciousness in the class, prior to the class activity of the revolutionary proletariat.

Communists are not the active agency. Their role as workers is to develop wider class consciousness, not to carry out the revolutionary act: that is the active role of the class.

I disagree with you that simple 'activity' leads to 'consciousness'.

Workers who are 'active' with a bourgeois consciousness, will have bourgeois aims, like 'higher wages'.

This is where we disagree, comrade.

 

Pierre
Alf, the comment about

Alf, the comment about capitalism having "decadenced" was me taking a piss. Sorry you've missed that.

For the record I am in no shape or form advocating some kind of "peaceful transition" ala "the movement is everything, the end goal nothing."

Simply suggesting that where revolutionary ruptures have happened historically, it wasn't this overnight thing. People have mentioned the bourgeoisie having the proletarians to exploit. But surely the capitalists didn't wake up one day with the means of production magically in their control. There was a number of decades when they were consolidating their power, unifying, etc. No class is formed overnight I would assume. Therefore there was a period of transition.

Also, there will still be class antagonisms after a revolutionary rupture. Rich peasants vs. poor peasants and workers. The counterrevolutionaries, etc. Isn't this a period of transition, too?

The ICC looks at today's situation and says, "The international proletariat hasn't overthrown capitalism yet. Something must be wrong. The time tables are off."
 

That's not the case, necessarily.

Demogorgon
If capitalism is still

If capitalism is still progressive, does this mean elements of it can be reformed?

Pierre
I'm really hesitant to call

I'm really hesitant to call it progressive. I probably seem to be playing both sides of the fence and I realise the nature of the confusion. There surely are elements of capitalism which today contribute to "advancements". Scientifically, technologically, etc. So "progressive".

It's not unrealistic that the ruling class might institute real reforms during the 21st century. I wouldn't rule it out. That would mean SYRIZA and Podemos represent a fringe movement and maybe Corbyn and Sanders represent a seperate but easily confusable growing contigency of the ruling class who could potentially institute these real reforms.

You know, maybe all of them fail and end up like Obama or worse. Maybe real reforms won't happen and the beginning of the end begins. But there's no way the 20th century was "the century of decadence".

The 21st century could prove to be but I thought we weren't prophets?

 

Fred
Pierre's wisdom

Pierre wrote: "...there's no way the 20th century was 'the century of decadence'." 

No of course it wasn't Pierre. It was the century of peace and enlightenment and tremendous profits for capital.

 The two world wars, all the  other lesser wars, the Depression in the 1930s, the noticeable decline  of the world environment since around 1970, the creeping impoverishment of all life on the planet for the  limited benefit of the ruling class, these are certainly not signs of decadence because decadence according to you and a few other pundits  is only about finance not about  life and death.

And while the environment for instance may have suffered a bit of a downer in the last 50 years, the amount of profit for the few its rape and pillaging has procured means that this singular event should not  be looked at in any negative way,  but understood only in the light of what matters to capital.  PROFIT and more PROFIT. It doesn't matter if the planet is destroyed as long as it's been sold off at a good price first.

Wake up Pierre. The "beginning of the end"  began a long time ago earlier on in that very 20th century you can't be bothered with, and the"easily confusable growing contingency" is not just limited to the ruling class!  

Pierre
Here's another list

Ok, Fred. Fair enough. But what about:

Nuclear Power, Personal Computers, The Internet, Airplanes, Cars, Rocketry, Antibiotics, Television, Radio

Cures for: Chicken Pox, Diptheria, Malaria, Measles, Pneumococcal disease, Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, Yellow Fever, Smallpox

We've been to the Moon. We have a jeep-sized robot vehicle exploring Mars. A man made spcecraft is exiting the solar system.

Woman and children have more power in society than 200 years ago. There are women's centers, abortion clinics, drug clinics.There's an eight-hour workday.

I could go on and on...there's no shortage of "advancements".

Decadence to me is not only about finance.

Alf
This thread is no longer

This thread is no longer about the Paris bombings - perhaps it should be split into a new decadence discussion.

But a couple of points:

Pierre's list of technological advances in the last century can only be seen clearly in a wider and more historical context. It is worth pointing out that many of the things he mentions - the space race, internet, personal computers, nuclear power - are intimately linked to the development of the war economy and can't be evaluated without taking into account the devastating imperialist conflicts of the last 100 years. And as Fred pointed out, the accumulation of capital has certainly reached a stage where its mere continuation poses a threat to the whole ecology of the planet. As for the 8 hour day, this has been "won" and lost again for most of this same period, and at a time when technology should be used to free human beings from drudgery, its effects are as often as not to lengthen the working day: creating unemployment for some, and spreading the working day to the commute to work or when we arrive back home from the office, all thanks to the wonders of the internet.

And, to return to an earlier claim: fast food chains handing out vast quantities of sugary drinks as an indication of capitalism'shealth.  Doesn't the very paradox of a world where "the poor" in particular are divided into the obese at one pole and the chronically undernourished at the other provide further evidence that capitalism has a whole has passed its sell-by date?

I think that underneath Pierre's objections to decadence, there is still the misconception that capitalism can only be classed as decadent when it has ceased to be capitalism - ie when it ceases to accumulate and grinds to a halt, a theoretical economic point zero that it will never reach. 

Pierre
If you want to sit here and

If you want to sit here and list everything that happened in 20th century, then decide whether or not they were progressive, that's fine by me. The balance sheet to me points to clear advancements everywhere except socially. And the social issues certainly were not as much as an issue in 1950 as they were in 1850.

Bad periodization.

If capitalism is in trouble, the machine will sputter, and yes I believe we will see some sort of new trend of accumulation. What that trend will be I can't say.

Capitalism doesn't have the power, the literal energy, to accumulate like this forever. The capitalists know this. They'll attempt to slow the train down to prevent from stopping it completely.

 

Pierre
By the way, capitalism isn't

By the way, capitalism isn't a dairy product Alf. You know damn well you're ignoring the advancements that don't fit into your narrative. For example. premature babies are almost expect to live today. Just fifty years ago that wouldn't have been the case.

It'd be nice to see you all strengthen your ability to counterargue. Trying to get you all to argue even a few points of the other side of this debate, even if just to admit it's not all black and white, you suddenly lose 50 IQ points.

baboon
I don't understand Pierre's

I don't understand Pierre's economic analysis which says that there will be a new cycle of accumulation, from where he doesn't know and in the meantime the capitalists are knowingly slowing the economy down in order to prevent it from stopping altogether.

No-one in this debate that supports the decadence theory has ever denied the advances made within capitalism throughout its decadent period. I could add many more examples of innovations and what he calls "advancements" to his list. The question is what is the context that they are taking place in? Are we living in a world of the decline of civilisation or, as Pierre seems to suggest, one of eternal capitalism? Capitalist accumulation has led to imperialism and imperialism cannot live without dictatorship, terror, war and catastrophe. Decadence is a whole period of catastrophe weighed against which its "advancements" are nothing.

Pierre himself, early in the debate, posed the growing numbers of people living as evidence of an advance. But these peoples, the poor and the working class, are crammed into anarchic urbanisations, at best for a great many, or in misery and danger - particularly the weaker the economy.

The "ecological issue" is one of capitalism's catastrophes already causing misery and taking many lives - again where there is least protection. In these areas natural disasters wreak greater havoc than necessary but even earthquakes, as other global events, may be aggravated by global warming. There's no doubt that the earth has seen its warmest years for a good while in the last 10-15 years. If the earth's outer "skin" is warming then that termperature and pressure increase will have some effect on possible siesmic activity. There's always been earthquakes, typhoons, and so on but there has never been so much potential to absolutely minimise their effects. But that won't happen under capitalism.

 

 

Pierre
Capitalism is not eternal.

Capitalism is not eternal. Nothing is. Either the working class actively dismantles it or all humans will more than likely eventually die. However, until that moment when it is actively dismantled by the revolutionary communist proletariat, capitalism will continue.

When Marx mentions the mutual destruction of the contending classes he never describes the exact mechanism. That's why you all think you need your theory.

I think we would all agree material conditions are not what cause social change. The change begins through the subjective process of changing the way the individual thinks, but on a mass scale, and the adoption of a revolutionary communist proletarian perspective by a critical mass of the proletariat and poor peasantry. This doesn't happen spontaneously but through class struggle, struggles which expose the contradictions of capitalism and help workers gain a revolutionary perspective.

All of civilisation has led us to this point. Meaning by baboons criterea, that advancements can only be considered so if they happen in a very specific historical context, all of civilisation could be considered "decadent" by the end of primitive communism which was ten thousand years ago or more.

A recession or a depression seems to happen every 10-15 years.

Each time they find a way out of it. War. Creditisation and financialisation, etc. And then you have all the reforms that took place that improved the lives of workers and the efficiency of capitalism. The ICC says these haven't happened since 1914, but there are plenty of examples. So many in fact that  I don't think capitalism can be considered to be in advanced decline. Unless you focus on a very specific time period (1914-1990) in a few very specific places ("central" European nations).

John Gaunt
Two names: two-faced

Jamal/Pierre: Apart from the fact that your 'theory' and method on this thread are unconvincing to say the least, (not to mention off-topic) why are you bothering to post here, apparently engaging in serious discussion, while at the same time posting a link to the ICC's article on Pale Blue Jadal in the thread "The Funniest Thing I Read Today" on the Libcom site? Any militant's grasp of theory and method can always be improved through collective discussion - this applies to all and any of us - but your attitude, on top of your antics earlier in the year of making racist and ageist posts on an ICC thread, then redacting (erasing) them so it's realy difficult to follow the discussion, together with this latest two-faced action through the Libcom site (not the first) shows a really bad attitude.  

jk1921
I agree with the need to

I agree with the need to situate what appear to be "advances" in context. I think it is true that there are many ways the trajectory of captialism over the course of the period we have called decadence appears to have broken down traditionally repressive relationships around race, gender, sexual preference, etc. But, I think it is also the case that these "advancements" rarely come without some associated cost or regression somewhere else in society. The elimination of de jure racial restrictions does little to solve de facto (economic) segregation etc. Here is a link to an interesting article that contemplates the recent rise in the death rate for "working class whites" in the US in the context of the breakdown of traditionally defined notions of "white privilege." Its worth a read:

http://www.alternet.org/labor/dead-white-and-blue-great-die-americas-blue-collar-whites

Pierre
I assumed this would be split

I assumed this would be split into another thread? Also, not sure about the confusion, John. Don't even have a libcom account. Actually this is the only forum I'm active on therefore anyone claiming to be me simply isn't. Seems this Jamal individual is problematic, why not contact them directly with your concerns and disputes? Haven't seen them around here lately.

Demogorgon
Segregation is gone; so are the jobs

A report from the UK Guardian, about the fate of symbolic parts of Black America. The other articles in the series look at other aspects of the most impoverished parts of America. I haven't had chance to read it in any depth myself, but it looked interesting.

baboon
I think that we have been

I think that we have been naive. I think that Jamal is Pierre and Jamal is a double-talking back-stabber who has no real interest in discussion but who is intent on playing games.

jk1921
Mass shooting in California

Mass shooting in California today. 14 dead under very bizzare circumstances. Nobody knows anything, but Fox News is basically begging for it to be ISIS so they can blame Obama. Looks like it might be just an ordinary American mass shooting though. Stay tuned.

Tagore2
A "ordinary American mass

A "ordinary American mass shooting". This is a little like "amok".

More the US is criminal, more the US is offended by insignificant crimes.

See these 14 "amok" crimes! Or see these 150 terrorists's crimes! But don't see the 200.000 war crime in Syria!

The 'War on Terror' has killed 1.3 million people only in Irak, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and most of them not by AK47 terrorists, but by White House or Elysées terrorists.

Even the US police kill more people than terrorists in the United States! ~1000 by year!

"Capitalism carries war within itself like the cloud carries the storm"

Jean Jaurès.

Pierre
Great point

Quote:
Even the US police kill more people than terrorists in the United States! ~1000 by year!

So who are the real terrorists in the US then?

baboon
I think that Isis et al is a

I think that Isis et al is a general and then a very particular response of imperialism to the "Arab Spring".

I think that we should be vigilent to the manoeuvres and games of Jamal or whatever he wants to call himself.

I think that this thread should be termnated because it's going all over the place and this discussion continued on the Paris article thread.

jk1921
I am interested in the idea

I am interested in the idea that ISIS is the response of imperialism to the Arab Spring. What does it mean to say that it is the response of imperialism in general rather than of a particular imperialism (s)? This also would seem to raise the issue of just what the Arab Spring was that it demanded a response from imperialism? Was its is character as a social movement or the general state destabilization that resulted that necessitated a response. Isn't ISIS in large part a response to the collapse of the Iraqi state as a result of the US/UK invasion, or at least to the Bathist form of that state?

baboon
Yes jk, I think that it's an

Yes jk, I think that it's an interesting question too and one that deserves more discussion.. There was a position expressed in the ICC at the time that the movement was being drowned in blood. Some elements in my opinion: The "Arab Spring" was both a profound social movement (men, women, children fighting for basics across religious and nationalist divides) and a threat to the fundamentally unstable local regimes  which are backed by the major powers. The latter, along with the former, were responsible for unleashing bourgeois order on the region from Bahrain, through Turkey to Syria and beyond. There are very many specific examples. On a general level, imperialism being what it is, had to fill the vacuum or the opening forced by the social struggle - a struggle that must be crushed whatever the cost. Both specifically and historically the response of the bourgeoisie is completely irrational and a sign of capitalist decomposition. It is what the bourgeoisie are forced to do because they are dictated to by imperialism in its widest sense..

Incidently the Iraqi Baathist elements are a strong component of the Caliphate of Isis.

 

On another point related to this thread: the democratic mobilisation of the French state around the FN show that the French bourgeoisie are still very much in control of the situation and driving home the advantage that they feel they have over the working class..

Fred
Is the bourgeoisie irrational? Reply to baboon

What does it mean to say "the response of the bourgeoisie is completely irrational"? Is it irrational because it won't work?  Or because it isn't what you baboon would do and it therefore seems irrational to you? Is "irrational" merely another word for "wrong" or "mistaken"?  If their response is wrong, then this allows an explanation to be made as to why it's considered wrong or mistaken.  If it is labelled as "irrational" then no explanation is required because "madness" and irrationality in a sense justify themselves. All irrationality actually needs as a corrective is perhaps some further educational process  or possibly some sort of medical diagnosis. 

But having established the irrationality of the bourgeoisie, baboon does go on to point out that "the French bourgeoisie  are still very much in control..." But what sort of irrationality is it that remains very much in control and is able to continue "driving home the advantage that they feel they have...?" This doesn't sound much like being irrational, on the contrary;  and while for example I myself may regard the bourgeoisie as a collection of insane and murderous loonies, I only think this because I loathe and despise them, and am not on their side, and want them to be removed from power as soon as possible because their time is up and they are now a danger to human life.  I think that their thoughtless pursuit of profit at all cost, their pursuit of war in support of this basic bourgeois urge, and the maintenance of their crackpot nation states and imperialism, is madness and irrationality on a massive scale, reaching epidemic proportions.  But as Cleishbottom on leftcom would point out this is hardly a Marxist analysis.  Doubtless others  would agree with him. 

In fact, Cleishbottom has pointed this out in a recent reply to Amir asking questions about imperialism on  leftcom.  Cleishbottom says that to talk about "irrationality" and "decomposition" in the manner in which the ICC does is to place these concepts more or less beyond a genuine Marxist style discussion as issues that can't have anything actually done about them precisely because they are madness personified. Is he right?  He certainly raises doubts. 

At least this is my subjective interpretation of what he writes. Apologies to Cleishbottom if I've got it wrong and for abusing his name.

I suppose the basic issue here may come down to some kind of pathological  and even psychological matter.  Have the bourgeoisie as a class been driven crazy and irrational by the very system of political economy whose development they encouraged and imposed politically  on human society? They succumb uncritically to its demands. They try to maintain it at the cost of imperialistic wars and the potential destruction of the planet, which they don't really understand.  Their commitment to it is blind and quite uncritical.  

Some might call this irrational, others lunacy, and others just capitalism at work. I'm confused. Please help. 

 

Alf
Capitalist irrationality, at

Capitalist irrationality, at its 'objective' level, means that the preservation of the profit motive in conditions when it has becone an obstacle to progress drives it towards increasingly destructive activities, above all war and militarism, which become a vast waste and an irreperable loss to global capital. The wars in the Middle East are a clear expression of this, not just from the point of view of secondary players like Assad who is destroying his country in order to keep it, but also the big powers like the US. The 'war for oil' or the 'war for Haliburton' has yielded some quick bucks to this or that company but overall it is costing trillions of dollars that will end up as a pure loss. We don't think it is 'idealist' to show the break-down of the capitalist social relation in a form of self-destruction. Nor is it idealist or subjectivist to consider how this historic impasse calls forth the most irrational trends in thinking and behaviour. The most obvious expression of this was of course Nazism and Trotsky already had some interesting insights into fascism as a kind of moral cesspit, a graveyard of rational thought. Daesh is another example, but so were the fantasies of the Neo-Cons  who were in turn influenced by apocalyptic Christianity. None of this means that the bourgeoisie has lost its ability to calculate and plan, but increasingly this side of its 'personality' resembles the intricate pre-planning of the serial killer.  

jk1921
Some analyst was on the tube

Some analyst was on the tube the other day stating his belief that the Obama administration is attempting to steer US foreign policy back towards something like a pre 9/11 status quo in the Middle East. Meaning that military interventions are only carried out in exceptional circumstances (First Gulf War), while the US relies on local regiemes and forces to keep a bottle on tensions in the region. This analyst may be right in that is what the Obama administration is trying to do and behind this is a certain recognition that the actions of the previous administration in destroying the Baathist regime in Iraq were irrational or mistaken, but the problem for the Obama administration (otherwise known as the main factions of the US Bourgeoisie) is that it is being driven by events (the chaos unleashed by the invasion of Iraq) towards doing the opposite and recommitting militarily in the region. This all has its reciprocal effects in the internal political life of the American bourgeoisie, where in order to advance politically--Republicans have to constantly outdo one another with more and more militaristc rhetoric, which pushes the Democratic front runner more and more in the same direction. Its all one big irrational mess and even though the main factions of the US bourgeoisie know that the more it gets involved militarily in the region the more the irrational chaos deepens, its not clear if it will be able to help itself in the end. Its all one big irrational soup. Does this complicate making a Marxist analysis of the global situation? Maybe, if you cling to a vulgar materialist analysis where everything has to be driven by immediate rational economic self-interest, but that seems rather out-of-step with the times. But its clear some Marxists are very uncomfortable straying too far from the confines of "material determination."

baboon
I agree with the thrust of

I agree with the thrust of jk's analysis of the "turn" of US polity in relation to the Middle East. It is a significant turn away from the irrational policy undertaken of the religiously-driven neocons that caused such disasters and the Republican Party today has absolutely nothing to offer for American imperialism. The Obama "turn" is from a position of weakness of US imperialism but it is a turn nevertheless.Fred above says that if one calls something "irrational" one doesn't have to explain it. This echoes the ICT view that to talk of irrationality (and decomposition) is an idealism that it outside of marxism. Surely, if he hasn't read them, Fred has seen the numerous texts on this website that deal with the question of the irrationality and decomposition of imperialism - i.e., there is plenty of marxist analysis of the question if you look for it.

The ICT call the present situation in the Middle East a further descent into barbarism and, if they will not use the word, their article(s) describe the phenomenon of decomposition. They take a rather mechanical, crude approach to the question of imperialism on occasions seeing everything in terms of rational manoeuvres and transactions to the point of seeing a new world war as the opportunity for a new round of accumulation (ICT comrade at the London meeting). The Russo/Turkish pipeline was supposed to herald a rapprochment between these countries on a strictly economic basis - we can see where that has ended up.

There is no contradiction between the growing irrational expressions of imperialism and the chaos caused by them and the strengthening of states against the working class as in France at this moment for example. It has long been a part of the marxist analysis of the ICC that particular states - and Europe is very important here - will use the effects of decomposition against the working class.

Fred
Good image

Alf wrote:
None of this means that the bourgeoisie has lost its ability to calculate and plan, but increasingly this side of its 'personality' resembles the intricate pre-planning of the serial killer.

The bourgeois as the serial killer.  Good image Alf. And right on target. 

 

Comunero
Cohesive and repressive functions

Quote:
None of this means that the bourgeoisie has lost its ability to calculate and plan, but increasingly this side of its 'personality' resembles the intricate pre-planning of the serial killer.

Other way to see it is this: the bourgeois State, and more or less all States, have two main functions (both subsided to the supreme function of preserving the national capital): social cohesion and a repressive and military function. Both are interrelated. But the latter is increasing progresively, and for example in the ISIS is basically the only function extistent in the State. What do you think?

 

Alf
Even ISIS has to offer a kind

Even ISIS has to offer a kind of framework for state cohesion (as for example in the elaborate plans for running their state which were featured in the Guardian recently - http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/07/leaked-isis-document-reveal...), and in the ir efforts to woo recruits from abroad, they portray their caliphate as a haven of social justice and welfare (for believers...). But it's perfectly true that their repressive and aggressive side is the dominant one by far, because this is essentially a creature of war.