Drug trafficking and the decomposition of capitalism

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Lazarus
Drug trafficking and the decomposition of capitalism
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: Drug trafficking and the decomposition of capitalism. The discussion was initiated by Lazarus.
Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!

Lazarus
Ok, once again we are treated

Ok, once again we are treated to the decomposition word over and over when crisis would do...
Drug taking is not necessarily 'bad', coca is a simple leaf chewed for millenia, marijuana could have benefits and coffee, tea, alcohol arent so different to illegal substances.
How any of these could be used in a post revolutionary setting, I don't know, but perhaps something of a similar nature could be huge.
The problem today is how these substances are dealt with in capitalist economies, and how money making and prohibition are entwined. The scale of the problem is truly huge, an essential prop to the global economy.

Alf
decomposition is about the social dimension

Of course the deepening and prolonged crisis is the material foundation for all this barbarism. But we use the term decomposition to consider how this manifests itself at the level of class and social relations. Mexico highlights the real danger of a slide into barbarism without global war, an accelerating breakdown of the social fabric which will make it increasingly difficult for the working class to constitute itself as a social power against capital. 

The article doesn't go into the possible beneficial uses of this or that psychoactive plant, but as you say the fact that they are in the hands of capitalist gangs, whether official or unofficial, certainly makes the negative effects outweigh them to a very large extent.

baboon
"During the 1990's,

"During the 1990's, Afghanistan's  soaring  opium harvest fueled an international smuggling trade that knitted Central Asia, Russia and Europe into a vast illicit market of arms, drugs and money laundering - drugs moving west from Afghanistan to Europe; guns and money flowing east. In this 3,000 mile journey towards Europe by truck, camel, air and sea, narcotics swept westward with surprising speed across a dozen boundaries, almost immune to interdiction or interference. Yet whenever this invisible commerce touched ground for processing, packaging, or exchange, the illicit enterprisie quickly ramified - encourgaging drug production, official corruption, mass addiction and HIV infection. Through the alchemy of capitalism, mafias formed, ethnic separatists armed, and a culture of criminality crystallised." (Alfred W. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin).

The UN's annual review of AIDS in November 2001 highlighted an "explosion" of HIV from Eastern Europe to Central Asia with a quarter of a million new cases in late 1999 largely from injected drugs, bringing the total to over a million (NYTimes, 29.11.2001).

The complicity of the major powers in the drugs trade, whether their regimes profit directly from it (as did elements of the French secret service), or indirectly (as the CIA) shows to me the decomposition of imperialism itself. From the Balkans, to the Caucasus, throughout the ex-Russian republics we see not the formation of new or adpated nation states but regions, ethnicities, separations based on gangster regimes that amass their power from the production and running of drugs.

shug
But couldn't Baboon's last

But couldn't Baboon's last paragraph apply to the 19thC opium wars in China, too? Without trying to deny the social degeneration caused by capitalist crisis, it's maybe a mistake to argue the singularity of decadent capitalism's horrors/degeneration/decomposition. We can recognise capitalism's progressive period while still acknowledging the shit that it dumped on humanity.

ernie
 Shug The Opium War was

 Shug

The Opium War was certainly a terrible expression of capitalism but it was a fairly specific event aimed at destroying the resistence to the advance of capitalism into China. At the time Opium was freely available in Britain and it was being used as a means of trying to subdue the working class. The point the article and Baboon are making is that the destructive effect of this particular form traffic has become widespread and in many countries the relationship between the state and the mafias has become confused and integrated leading to infraction struggles spreading into wider areas of society.

In the heartlands drug use has become extremely destructive especially in the most deprived ghettos and in places drug dealing is the only form of employment and business. Philipe Bourgeois in his study of crack dealing in East Harlem: Looking for Respect, makes a very interesting analysis of the way that the destructive use of crack, heroin etc is linked to the fact that those inhabiting these ghettos are internalizing capitalism´s expulsion of them from the system through their destructive drug use.

The very destructive nature of some drug use is a new development and reflects the sense of hopelessness generated by decomposition. This is also reflected in the rise of binge drinking not only in the UK but now into countries such as Spain where the problem of binge drinking in the 18-35s is causing great concern and far more destructive effects than illegal drugs. The wish to go out and get obliberated expresses again the hopelessness of society.. These are new phenomena which have their root in decomposition, well at least we think they do.

shug
No argument with that. I seem

No argument with that. I seem to remember Eric Schlosser's 'Reefer Madness' showed how the introduction of America's cannabis laws was used to increase the repression/surveillance of black workers. It's a win/win strategy - dope workers into passivity, create the laws/moral panic to  police them, fill up the prisons with the poor/unemployed to keep them contained, and use the billions created by money laundering to keep the banks afloat. Sorted. 

A.Simpleton
Now this is constructive : real debate

First I am with Lazarus and Shug all the way on this : 

This is not to say in some school-playground way : 'you are wrong Alf' but...

***

Whereas an ICT statement of impatience with the 'd' word might usually be taken as an airing of old hostilities about 'the course of history et al. :  I at the time of writing feel again in agreement with Lazarus they are 'unnecessary' ( a word  which Lazarus 'unpolemically ' posted elsewhere about the 'split' )

Of course the ever-worsening , intensificaton of the crisis of Decadence will self-evidently exacerbate all the social, intellectual , political , human aspects in this period of decline ( paraphrase of Shug elsewhere )

But even an educated artisan ( not 'especially oppressed' in terms of poverty ) needs no more of an excuse to 'drive him/herself to drink' than alienation :

* I make /create something?                   : it is stolen from me

*The process of making/creating it ?     : rendered futile /meaningless by this theft .

* The guys around me ?                           : far away in the same 'divorced' world : creations stolen also .

* My human nature /natural activity ?       : again , obscured, mystified , rendered meaningless : stolen .

In ascendancy ?

* Gin a penny a gallon : mother's ruin .

* Opium dens for all 'classes' abounding

* Outside which the sex-workers stood ......

* Numbing the pain and drowning the sorrow : a predictable / understandable response to vicious repression : no more , no less than religion ' 'the sigh of the oppressed creature ' : 'the garland of flowers in this vale of tears ' ( never mind 'opium of the people ' )

In decadence ?

Same thing getting worse and 'ostensibly' more obvious ( debateable) , but still not a 'different kind of drunkenness' because of decomposition .

Yes Alf this is 'personal' and the effects on the structure of Ruling Class Economy in a generalised sense are different or more 'stark' : the black market now desperately needed to 'prop up' ( in Lazarus' words ) the 'white market '

But then the 'white market ' is a gigantic criminal enterprise anyway : so what's the effing difference ?

Yup I'm with Lazarus and Shug on this : and also ( not to side -step 'ethics') we really should leave to tomorrow's cooks how much hash to put in the brownies : I don't have to eat any .

Trust me I'm an ex-drunk .

I'll get back to you with 'Acid Dreams' : how the C.I.A 'allowed ' the Mafia to flood Haight-Ashbury ( once acid hit the streets and caused resistance to mobilisation into uniform) with bad heroin and speed .

AS

 

A.Simpleton
Addendum : with respect to Ernie

do hear your point - expressed in undogmatic terms - about the 'double/treble hopelessness' amid a decomposition of social bonds et al. of both the material lives and chances for conscious advance for the working class .

I do not argue with it entirely, and am genuinely feeling my way with responses .

Hmmmm...perhaps this :

* If there is a 'sea change' in 'degree /nature of 'hopelessness' now , the implication might be that

* The thousands of widows /orphans even , of the workers killed by the bourgeois construction of -say- the railways in the 19th century had 'more hope ' of resistance  in their material or conscious lives ?

* The thousands of Chinese immigrant workers blasting tunnels in the construction of the trans-pacific railroad killed , maimed , shunted into Ghettos , soon to be thrown on the scrapheap had 'more hope'?

* The 400 plus ( I think ) Russian railway workers shot by the Tzar's army as they sat on the tracks ( 1898 St Petersburg was it ?) and their widows had 'more hope'?

* The factory workers in Russia at the turn of the century ( list on wall : 2 roubles - loss of finger : 10 roubles -loss of arm : etc.

More hope ? If so , why ?

I am asking because I don't know the answer :@} not because you are 'wrong'

AS 

KT
Respect.....

 First: respect to the militants in Mexico for the article. I know they work under difficult and dangerous conditions. There's much useful local knowledge in there, as well as a framework that, evidently, not everybody agrees with.

Secondly, while previous responses have raised many interesting examples, both about how the ruling class has historically used the drugs trade (opium war - also mentioned in the article) to open up markets and to subdue the exploited, such contributions, I would suggest, miss the main point of the article.

It's not about the effects of decomposition on the exploited, although that's important and has been discussed on other threads: it's about the effect of the evolution of the crisis and the social stalemate on the ruling class. 

This evolution - this growing inability of the bourgeoisie to give a coherent framework for society's functioning (even preventing it, according to the analysis, from launching another world war) - has witnessed a profound change. So, whereas we have seen the ruling class use and control the flow of drugs (in WW2; in Vietnam, in Watts, etc, etc,), today, in Mexico and elsewhere, it's not the same thing. This 'trade', as with the economy in general, is escaping their control and is producing results not entirely in their interests (just as they are not in the interests of our class either)

I think the article demonstrates this tendency rather well, whatever label (decomposition; decadence, etc) you care to stick on it.

For me, it recalls the support given by US imperialism to create or foster muslim extremism (initially, to fight the Soviet rival). Here was a project under control. Today, while it may still have its uses (fundamentally at the level of ideology, of justifying US actions), in fact the creation has escaped the control of the master, has taken on a certain destructive life of its own. I see a parallel (where's the spell-checker?) with the drugs trade.

A.Simpleton
Missing the point : misunderstanding ....

Two things I am quite good at but (hopefully) always in the pursuit of a clearer perspective : thank you JK for a measured and very helpful response : just because I tend to blunder along commenting , does not obviate an ability to perceive important distinctions - especially as I am not 'signed up' as it were . It also helps understand other's misunderstandings and how very few points need to be missed or misinterpreted before straying into quite logical deductions from this ( more later )

And on re-reading the article after your reply : I understand ( hopefully ) better how the concept of decomposition is :

a) an attempt to delineate a new factor , a new force affecting bourgeois states that didn't exist before ( nor did it 'suddenly come into existence'- another misapprehension ) and their ability to control , dominate , co-ordinate in oppression - in this case economic and political oppression is profoundly affected : the consequence being that this affects the situation ,perspective et al of the oppressed .

b) the 'happening-now' news of material reality in Mexico set very clearly in its historical perspective , also gives evidence from the ground-up .

First : the 'subjective factor' ( cf my 'different kind of drunkeness ) is a missing the point red-herring : you're right .

Secondly : the fact that the bourgeoisie 'morally' have never hesitated for a moment to conspire with gun-runners , smack dealers , boot-leggers to turn a profit or pacify the workers is not the point either, although it IS very much a part of the context which has now 'changed' in nature : changed 'profoundly enough' in the ICC's opinion to affect the perspective and 'options' ( for want of a better word ) The Working Class ....yes ?

As I commented re: acid , the C.I.A , Mafia links in The 60s it is easy to assume that because the connection between 'State' criminals and 'Gangster' criminals has always been around and mafias , cartels , gangsters - whatever name you give - have had serious lobbying power/status with/in government , it continues as business as usual .

"Projects such as “Operation Condor”, presented as operations against drugs production, were used in order to attack the guerrillas and protect the cultivators. During this period, according to figures obtained by Anabel Hernandaz, it was the same army and Federal Police who, in association with the mafia groups, controlled the operations to do with drugs[2]."

The article confirms from 'the front line' - and yes admiration for the danger in which they work - what I have no difficulty in recognising . But then :

"As the above demonstrates the production and distribution of drugs has been constantly under the control of states: what has changed though is that there have been a quantitative and qualitative growth in the indiscipline amongst the different bourgeois groups that have been integrated into the state apparatus. ( my emphasis )

SO : whereas it 'used' to be easy to quip that The State was 'organised crime' just as The Mafia was 'organised crime' : now the ease with which such collaborations in crime , the unspoken 'rules' of secret deals are diminishing fast ...in decadence : in fact the very ability to organise crime is becoming more and more of a problem and yet the bourgeoisie desperately need the multi-billions generated and laundered by their erstwhile accomplices now gone AWOL ?

Am I missing the point less ? becoming more of a 'parallelist' :@}

hope so

AS

Alf
Keep it simple

Going from the ICT thread on the ICC's theses on decomposition, and the back to here, it is kind of difficult to follow where you are with all this now AS. I would welcome a simple statement of what you currently understand our position on decomposition to be, what you agree with, and what you disagree with. No hurry, even if one of the elements of this phase of capitalism's decline is that time is no longer on the side of the proletariat.

KT
PS, AS - RE JK & KT

Just for clarification, they may share the odd initial but JK and KT are two different posters

A.Simpleton
The Aptly Named Simpleton .....

Apologies KT : 'J' and 'T'  aren't really even particularly close in the alphabet : a classic 'Gagaist' error .

And yes , Alf I take your point : the answer would be most probably 'lost'  ..or ...'trying theoretical clothes on to see if they fit the world around me ' in an attempt to understand what is actually being said and disagreed with on both sides ; as opposed to merely observing the burning of strawman arguments and thence claiming arsonic victory ( as I wrote to you ) .

You see , when you are in a position of some ( though little ) knowledge of the last 15 years of theoretical development , yet with ( hopefully ) a greater knowledge of Marxist theory and Practice over many years it is difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff as it were .

***

I read the link posted by D-Man for example ( on Shug's On Organisation post ) : Comrade Lenin's rebuttal of Comrade Luxemburg : I then re-read Luxemburg's chapter on 'Dictatorship' .

Most of Lenin's reply is concerned with pointing out that the .....er.....'facts' ....were 'not so' 'also not so' 'again also not so' : or : 'I never said that : in fact I said the exact opposite ' .... remind you of anything ?

These were not contributors to a forum : they were in the heated crucible of post-revolutionary difficulty - the period of defense of the Revolution and the beginning of the period of  transition : surely by anyone's standards not Revolutionary Lightweights , and yet so much of the disagreement appears ( to a Simpleton ) to be addressing/redressing 'missing the point' arguments  or 'disputable facts '.

***

Thank you for your patience : it is not just semantics : it is to do with the consequences of different 'deductions' leading to disagreements of principle , which then in a way quite logically lead to further critiques ( 'idealism', 'a-dialectical' etc.)

IF it is deduced that a massive 'Organised Barbarism' ( World War ) is still possible , then I quite clearly see how ( even if this is in error ) the rest follows .

IF another round of 'accumulation' is deduced as possible then equally so the rest follows .( and again even if this is an erroneous starting point )

***

On the other hand :

IF those days are past then 'the rest ' does not follow at all : the 'quantative and qualitative' new material reality demands new theses to delineate the perspective for the working class and the 'idealist' 'a-dialectical' critiques backfire on those who deliver them .

To stick up for myself a bit : I did ask 'am I any closer to understanding your position ?'

The answer was not so much : 'yes' or 'no' but ...what is your understanding of our position' : I was trying to tell you and asking if I had 'got it' .......

 

AS

Alf
perspective of barbarism

 The points you raise at the end seem to me to be the most crucial. We have to test our perspectives in the light of reality. For example, after the collapse of the eastern bloc, we argued that the tendency towards 'every man for himself' on the imperialist level would largely outweigh the tendency towards the formation of new blocs. The ICT argued strongly that a 'European bloc' was already taking shape to counter the US. We think that events over the last two decades have confirmed the view that the formation of a 'European' (actually, a 'German') bloc faces enormous obstacles, while we have seen the development of other imperialist poles like a revived Russia and most recently China, further obstructing the return to a two bloc system. Thus as a hypothesis world war becomes increasingly improbable, while the no less destructive prospect of a slide into chaotic imperialist conflicts has become much sharper.

For the working class this has momentous consequences: its continuing defensive struggles could block the road to world war, but they are far less able to hold back the latter prospect, above all as it will probably gain most impetus in areas away from the central concentations of the working class. If we add to this the mounting evidence of advancing ecological disaster, and the erosion of class identity brought about by the atomisation and disintegration of social ties, we can see that the working class faces a different, and more insidious form of barbarism, one that could bit by bit overwhelm us even without a frontal defeat in the main centres of capitalism. 

So the issue is not simply 'socialism or barbarism' (which most left communists agree on) , but how barbarism will hit us in the face. I think as a combative class we need a theory, a global perspective, that will assist us to parry the blow and retaliate. 

Lazarus
I am not sure there was a

I am not sure there was a definitive ICT position that a European bloc would arise to challenge the USA. I think it was more nuanced.

There were always doubts about the ability of the nations of the area to form a cohesive unit.

Certainly there has been speculation about the nature of possible blocs which could yet arise.
A block extending from Europe to China?
Certainly the ICT has written on the USA's fear of Russia bonding with her European neighbours.
I write this from memory, but I also would add that the materials published by the ICT do not necessarily indicate unanimous agreement, though certain statements do.
Perhaps others could clarify.

Lazarus
decomposition The process in

decomposition

The process in which traditional cultural forms have destroyed themselves as a result of the emergence of superior means of controlling nature which make possible and necessary superior cultural constructions. We can distinguish between the active phase of the decomposition and effective demolition of the old superstructures — which came to an end around 1930 — and a phase of repetition that has prevailed since that time. The delay in the transition from decomposition to new constructions is linked to the delay in the revolutionary liquidation of capitalism.
SITUATIONIST INTERNATIONAL1958

Or
http://libcom.org/library/two-local-chapters-spectacle-decomposition-chr...

The insanity of modern conditions, the suicidal awfulness of capitalism's project is not new. It does not correspond to simple material poverty , on the rise today, but also to the alienated production-consumption of the ' boom ' years.

LoneLondoner
It's not "just" economics

I heard a sociologist on French radio make an interesting point recently about the riots in London. He put it roughly as follows: we're heading back to the 19th century, when the development of capitalism destroyed all the old ways of life, leading to social degradation (think gin palaces, though they bear no relation to the situation in Sinaloa). But in the 19th century, this was countered by the emergence of structures of working class solidarity (unions, political parties), whereas today none of that exists.

Remember this from the Manifesto:

Marx wrote:
The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation

Capitalism's tendency is permanently towards the destruction of social ties, individualism, and the reign of "each for himself", however this tendency does not always operate in the same way or in the same context. In the period when capitalism was a society on the rise, when it was actually progressive despite its crimes and horrors, then this very fact endowed the ruling class with a self-confidence and also a sense of "responsibility" for its own society (for want of a better term). Today, that self-confidence no longer exists, hence the tendency for the bourgeoisie to give free reign to "naked self-interest" - and the unlikelihood of the emergence of any imperialist bloc in the future.

There is only one social force that can counter this tendency to social disintegration, and that is the working class, through the assertion of the solidarity and confidence in the future which is part of its underlying nature as a revolutionary class.

Lazarus wrote:
I am not sure there was a definitive ICT position that a European bloc would arise to challenge the USA. I think it was more nuanced.

Well of course you would have to go back to their press at the time to check. Here, though, is what Battaglia was writing in December 1989:

"Russian Perestroika involves an abandon­ment of the old policy towards the satellite countries, and has the objective of transforming the latter. The USSR must open up to western technologies, and COMECON must do the same, not as certain people think in a process of the disintegration of the east bloc and of the total disengagement of the USSR from the European countries, but in order to facilitate, through reviving the COMECON economies, the revival of the soviet economy." You can find this quoted in an article here.

As for the possibility of European unity, just for reference, here's what we wrote in 1993.

A.Simpleton
The Bilan :the football commentator : reply to L/L

Thank you LoneLondoner for your post above and the parallel post on the ICT's forum , couched in terms that surely could not be mis-read as anything but a sincere and accessible attempt to explain something important .

Your comments are so helpful and address many of the questions and frustrations which underlay my 'outcries' above  re: decomposition and why you consider it a real condition/new 'quality' ( ironic in  describing 'rot' :@})  in the material world of decadent capitalism and why you consider it to be literally 'part of your/the milieu's job' -as it were- ( the football commentator analogy ) to idendify it , report it , assess its importance ( its primacy --or not) its many effects ( or not ) and how this, 'de facto' affects any position on how of the working class is placed with regard to its power and options in defence or counter-attack.

It has given me at the very least a clear explanation of what the ICC mean : and has set me thinking the following insufficiencies in my understanding :

1) to adduce the constant of alienation  - as I did above - and then  - disregarding specifically new material developments visible within the general period of decadence - imply that this constant is all that is needed to explain this or that social ill whether in ascendant or decadent capitalism is to 'equalise' unequals : not exactly 'wrong' but insufficient , a sort of 'dereliction of critical duty' : viz : there is no need look further or more closely than the 'good old constants' for perspective .

It is surely like the football commentator in your metaphorical FA cup match where Chelsea are 6 goals down with 5 minutes to go saying :" ...yes and both teams are still definitely playing football , they are kicking it about , sometimes passing it ... yes that's for sure ..."

2) Similarly the focus on the tragedy of 'drunkeness/hopelessness' in a subjective way would be the commentator going on and on about one player still limping fromn a bad tackle : even less 'interesting' : not even telling us as little as the previous comment .

Later with further confusion re : the counter-revolution is over .

AS

 

Lazarus
http://en.internationalism.or

https://en.internationalism.org/node/3203

A bit far back for me to remember but from the article I gather

Rumanian workers in big numbers sided with bourgeois forces to bring down a bourgeois regime.

Now it was 'popular' and an 'insurrection' according to BC. Well, sounds like it was.
Insurrections of masses to change one bourgeois regime for another, why do you see this as not valid analysis?
Can only masses of workers rising up in revolution (i.e. transfer of power from one class to another ) be regarded as 'popular' , an 'insurrection'. I think BC got it right. They didn't say a revolution was occurring . A popular insurrection...doomed to produce another capitalist regime, and given the development of the global crisis, one worse than the last.

In the absence of a meaningful class party, not the fleas (but theretically advanced
organisations) of today, there is no chance of any generalisation of class consciousness.
The ICC has maintained that a generalised class consciousness did exist. Its perspective of the post 68 decades is that, but then came the ''retreat'' and finally we have decomposition, although we could slice that up to differing stages as ever more accurate tools of analysis if I have understood the previous posts in defence of the special importance of the concept.

'' And there again, a general retreat in the consciousness of the class, ie at the level of the extension of consciousness throughout the class, does not signify the 'disappearance' of class consciousness, an end to its development in depth. We have already seen, in fact, that the events in the east have provided considerable stimulus to a minority of elements who are seeking to understand what's going on and who have entered into or renewed contact with the political vanguard. Even this development will be subject to fluctuations, but the underlying process will continue. Our class has not suffered a historical defeat, and there is every possibility that it will recover from its present set-backs to challenge capitalism in a more profound way than ever before.''

I ought to make it clear that I have consulted no one from the ICT on this matter, so I do
not speak as as if I had the backing of the whole organisation. But I wouldn't be surprised if that
were the case.

LoneLondoner
But where does the party come from?

Well, as the article says, BC goes on to say "In Romania, all the objective conditions and nearly all the subjective conditions were there for turning the insurrection into a real and authentic social revolution". And of course by this BC means all the subjective conditions except "the party". The problem is, where does the party come from? It can only come from a development of the general subjective conditions of the class as a whole (ie the development of class consciousness). As far as I can see, for the ICT the Party is a kind of deus ex machina that will emerge, noone knows how (at least, it's not at all clear to me from anything I've read of the ICT), and suddenly transform a situation in which The point we were trying to make is that, in the general conditions of the time, "the subjective conditions" were such that the emergence of a party was simply impossible.

The ICT observes that today's revolutionary organisations are incredibly small: we agree. It states that for a revolution to take place, a party will be necessary: we also agree (though we disagree on what the party actually should do). The problem is that IMHO the ICT has no explication of how we get from here to there. How does class consciousness develop such that the party can emerge from the class itself?

As for decomposition, the course of history, etc etc... these are not "key theories" (and people join the ICC on the basis of its Platform - though we do expect that comrades should have a basic awareness of the organisation's theoretical debates and conclusions). They are simply attempts to apply marxism to the study of historical reality, and above all to understand what is the balance of class forces at any given time. What Marx in the Manifesto called "the line of march, the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement". That, in our view, is one of the basic responsibilities of a revolutionary organisation.

Lazarus
It can only come from a

It can only come from a development of the general subjective conditions of the class as a whole (ie the development of class consciousness).
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Not really. I like to picture it as a long slow burning fuse carefully tended to by the tiny minority and ending up in a terrific explosion of mass generalisation. So I dont see a significant fraction of the class attainig anti-capitalist consciousness outside of a revolutionary period.

The bourgeois ideological domination is not absolute. A few see through it to the point of understanding that capitalism has to be superseded. Marx and Engels raised the perspective beyond abstract anarchist/utopian moralising but were not alone in their work and the real class struggle with the Paris Commune as an advanced moment fueled their research.
In my mind the Party stands a reasonable chance if the capitalist crisis matures relatively gradually and revolutionary minorities throughout the world can emerge. Of course the existing tiny groups will contribute to this. Otherwise, the bets are on Barbarism.
The exact moment of declaring the Party may not be so predictable, personally I tend to think size is not all that important, but why rush to declare it, what is to gain?

The real catalyst will be the heating up of class struggle. It seems reasonable that the class conscious few will then gain a wider audience. Ultimately this rests on the crisis. Possibly the ICC sees the crisis like an on/off switch, but for us, we can see a long process mounting in intensity.

Probably a scientific analysis favours barbarism, eventual war/s and human extinction.
But that is only certain if we give up.
I suppose the answer lies with each one of us. We can roll over and die or we can live, put revolution at the centre of our lives and make the effort to generalise our ideas. Long or short path, I don't know, but what does it matter, there's no other.
Again I am not claiming to represent the ICT here.

LoneLondoner
What do we mean by the Party?

Lazarus wrote:
The exact moment of declaring the Party may not be so predictable, personally I tend to think size is not all that important, but why rush to declare it, what is to gain? The real catalyst will be the heating up of class struggle.

If it means anything to talk about "the Party" (ie as something different from the tiny groups and organisations that exist today), then the fundamental issue is whether or not it has a hearing - an authoritative hearing - within the working class. A revolutionary organisation cannot meaningfully be considered as "the Party" unless a large, and in the end determining proportion of the working class world wide consider the organisation as their own. Concretely this means that workers are buying the Party's press, listening to its radio, checking out its web site, and taking part in its meetings and discussions, because they recognise that the Party is giving voice to their own ideas and aspirations. I find it hard to imagine this happening without fairly substantial numbers (at least in the 1000s, more likely in the tens of 1000s). So from that point of view, I couldn't agree more that there is no point in "rushing to declare the Party". More to the point, it would simply be meaningless to do so: you can "declare" something till you're blue in the face, if nobody's listening it won't get you very far.

Lazarus wrote:
The real catalyst will be the heating up of class struggle. It seems reasonable that the class conscious few will then gain a wider audience. Ultimately this rests on the crisis. Possibly the ICC sees the crisis like an on/off switch, but for us, we can see a long process mounting in intensity.

I don't know where you get the idea that the ICC sees the crisis as an "on-off switch". On the whole you are right to say that "The real catalyst will be the heating up of the class struggle" - but the way you put it, it sounds a bit as if you see the working class and the revolutionary organisations as two quite separate things, and the workers "coming towards" the minority because they are struggling against the crisis. We don't see it in quite those terms. For us, the communists are themselves a part of the working class, and they exist -communist ideas exist - because the working class is potentially revolutionary. The development of the class' level of political organisation will depend on the activity of the minorities - but only in part: it will depend above all on the creative activity of the masses. 

The question is this: how exactly is the working class going to become aware of the value of what the minorities are saying? Given that the minorities must increase size to become a really effective organisation, where are the militants to come from, and why will they join the organisation? Surely this can only happen as a result of the class own struggle, and its own developing consciousness?

It's worth pondering what Marx wrote in the Manifesto:

Marx wrote:
The theoretical conclusions of the Communists (...) merely express, in general terms, actual relations springing from an existing class struggle, from a historical movement going on under our very eyes.

If you want to get more into the subject, you might find this interesting.

 

Lazarus
Well how does something small

Well how does something small become large?
We are working on this all the time, using the communication channels we can.
Meanwhile crisis intensifies, so our message is ever more relevant.

I dont really think anything but a tiny minority of the class wil attain revolutionar consciousness until the eve of revolution, but more than now.

You seem to think in terms of a generalised consciousness gradually strenthening. I think more like a small advanced group (but bigger by far than now) who will eventually catalyse a rapid explosion of consciousness on a mass scale.

A few thousand from the entire class really is a small group.

But it's speculation.

commiegal
Hi can you tell me if this

Hi can you tell me if this article I have written is any any good and whether I need to add anything to it? 

http://disillusionedmarxist.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/warondrugs/

A.Simpleton
On the mark

I think it is an extremely good article

Drawing on your own experience, mixing that with the 'Mexico narcotraffic presentation of the ICC, and showing in a very accessible yet informed and 'step by step' way, how the 'local dealer', the 'little mafias' above him/her and that whole scene, are different views but of the same 'huge international contradiction' : from opposite ends of the telescope.

By serendipity I was composing a (more limited) piece myself to post with regard to Big Gangs with Big Guns and some figures about the cocaine trade and linking the frantic blatherings of 'Governments' and media, the warring factions of The States, global 'official' corporatism, global 'unofficial' corporatism, to the decomposition and out of control nature of their own system,  which of course 'they' must deny ever more hypocritically.

(I know for a fact that a certain student - not unadjacent to the Prime Minister - when he was at Oxford, belonged to the laddish Bullingdon Club and shovelled it up his ..... 'allegedly' (in case GCHQ are readin this ...)

Now I was just about to post it here when I realised it was the wrong thread ....ha ! I am cheered up by knowing that I am not the only one. 

For me it's not about any moralising ( after the life I've lead..oy vey .. who am I to 'judge' an individual'): it's about the lies, mystification and hypocrisy of The State Capitalist machine which - to deliberately deceive and distract from their long and very lucrative power games in multi-billion gun-running and complicity in every kind of Organised Crime - with blood on its hands and its discarded soldiers from their Bourgeois wars sleeping rough on the streets ,in the face of all this, it has the obscene nerve to moralise, legislate, pontificate to 'us'.

AS

( Just a point of info I have been visiting your blog with interest : I have been that disilliusioned Marxist ! in one sense but never disillusioned with the amazing clarity and simplicity of the core sense and radical starting point of his material view of the theory of social development: I'm not of the Twiiter/Facebook generation - Sound Cloud I can manage : imagine you are talking to Homer Simpson: how does the 'blog thing' work? just register and log in like 'MySpace'?...a quaint old concept...)

Alf
drug trade

I thought it was very good - there's a lot of excellent research and a well-argued response to some of the reformist campaigns for legalisation. There are various reasons for the 'prohibition' of drugs, one which is.as you say, the fact that it's such a vast sector of the world economy and the difficulty of separating the drug gangs from the state. But there's also the fact that it provides the state with an excellent pretext for repression. On the other hand, the irrational element is getting more and more evident, especially in countries like Mexico where it's leading to a dangerous level of social breakdown. In that sense you are right to talk about the whole problem escaping the control of the ruling class.  

commiegal
cheers. yeah, it does provide

cheers. yeah, it does provide the state for an excuse for repression. it helps to keep the law enforcement "industry" going because so many people are simply locked up for drug offences (while the police are often selling drugs themselves and the state is acting like just another gang). it provides an excuse for repression and imperialist war as well because one of the reasons for going into afghanistan is because of the opium trade and the taliban selling opium (which the coalition then helped to carry on). one thing i didn't mention and that i might add in is that i think one of the justifications for why the taliban/islamists were selling opium was given as a "weapon against the west". for islamist movements like the taliban a secular society (and of course working class movements as well) are identified with US imperialism, drug-taking and alcohol abuse and a loss of "moral values" which of course justifies more repression. they need these gangs because it helps provide them with an enemy and helps to justify their repression.

and the tobacco industry and the alcohol industry really aren't really much different tbh. in Muslim countries where alcohol is banned or heavily regulated you can still get it on the black market the same way you can get drugs, and sections of these industries, pubs, nightclubs, etc, often operate in a semi criminal way even in countries where they are legal and their workers are often really exploited and poorly paid. and in these countries there are also crackdowns on people drinking and people being whipped etc, it helps reinforce a fear of the state.

commiegal
i added a bit to how it's

i added a bit to how it's used to justify repression based on "moral values" etc. :)

commiegal
cheers.  i think creating a

cheers.  i think creating a wordpress account is just quite simple, you just register and start posting. i'd like to read some of your stuff.

 

the reason i'm "disillusioned' is not because of Marx, but because i started that blog after having got quite sick of "the left" especially trotskyism, (i started the blog being quite dissatisfied with, and then leaving, a trot organisation) and middle class guardian columnists like Laurie Penny, Owen Jones, "vote labour without illusions" people's assembly bollocks etc. And being sick of some of the bollocks around Marx's theories today and how it gets completely distorted so that people for example think "socialism" is just nationalising the top 500 companies and creating a "New Old Labour Party" or whatever. (nationalising the top 50 is reformist and nationalising 5000 is ultra-left!) and that sort of stuff :D

so yeah what i guess i'm saying is that i support marxism but not the left if you see what i mean !