tax

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lem_
tax
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noone talks about it.

i remember the poll tax a little, i was seven or so.

 

well of course people DO talk about it, but nowadays it all seems to be displaced fear of otherness, be that migrants, benefits, whatever.

if a harsh tax was brought in, what would the icc's role be in fighting it?

edit is there any point for a left communist to call for something absurd like a ninety nine percent tax? i mean there's no way IMHO that democracy could withstand that being implemented

Demogorgon
Tax is a bit of a funny one.

Tax is a bit of a funny one. On the one hand there's an argument that, at the abstract level, the working class doesn't pay tax. The working class receives the value of its labour and it's the surplus value that is divided into the various forms of profits, rent, tax, etc. This remains true regardless of the administrative form it appears in.

Income tax (that is, what appears to be a tax on wages) is mostly deducted at source from the employer - we never even see it. Similarly, consumption tax (sales tax, VAT) is included in the general price of the product, which is ultimately determined by its value.

As far as the worker is concerned, it doesn't matter what nominal figures appear on her wage-slip or how much VAT is. If it takes £50 a week to reproduce her labour, in the end, £50 a week will be what she gets even if her wage-slip says she earns £500 but pays £450 in tax. Similarly, VAT can be 1% or a 1,000,000% - the worker must still be able to afford the products needed to reproduce her labour.

So, at that very abstract level, the tax issue doesn't affect the worker. It's a matter for the bourgeoisie to decide how its divides up the fruit of their exploitation of us.

Of course, it's not really that simple!

The penetration of the tax system into all aspects of social and economic life is not an accident. It's not simply because the state needs to drain more revenue from society to support its expansion in the decadent era, although this is certainly a factor. It also allows the state to intervene directly in influencing general wage and price levels. Tax is one of the levers that the state can use to control the flow of capital into certain industrial sectors as well. It is an instrument of economic management.

As we all know far too well, the price of wages can rise above or below their value - just like any other product. All sorts of tendencies cause prices to deviate from values, which I won't go into here. The point is that wage-levels are a site of struggle for the working class, simply because as Marx pointed there is a moral and cultural element that determines the value of wages. Because certain taxes are used to control wage levels, it's possible for some struggles to be orientated around them.

However, the universality of the tax system is a political weapon of the bourgeosie. By taxing "wealth" and "money" it obscures the origins of that wealth and disguises the relationships of exploitation. Capitalists become like workers, just richer. Calling the rich to pay their taxes is really calling on them to be good citizens, to play fair, etc. Just how the capitalists ended up rich in the first place is obscured.

It encourages the idea that workers somehow "pay into the state" i.e. they have some sort of stake in it. This is particularly pernicious when combined with the ideology of the "welfare state". Of course, workers have no more stake in the state than they do in business - both are built from the proceeds of their exploitation.

To summarise, workers have no real interest in arguing about the distribution of profits within the ruling class. Calling on the rich to pay their taxes is wholly reactionary. However, we do have an interest in fighting to increase the proportion of the social product that we get i.e. wages. When "taxes" are used to attack wage levels, there could be the basis for a proletarian struggle. However, the toxic ideological aspect to taxation would make such a struggle extremely vulnerable to derailment.

Lastly, on the call for a "99% tax" or whatever, you have to wonder what the point of it is. As things stand, the bourgeoisie would never enforce it and the working class has no power to impose it. If the working class did have the power to enforce it, surely it would be better off actually directly attacking the wage-labour relationship in general by seizing the means of production. In other words it's not something that the working class would / should do if it could ... and while it can't, it seems ridiculous to demand it.

jk1921
Nice analysis Demo. Of

Nice analysis Demo. Of course, in the US the ideology around taxes is often rather different than attempting to make workers think they have a stake in the state. Taxes are portrayed as an evil thing that any sane person does their utmost to avoid paying. Moreover, the idea that the government taxes the (hard) working class to keep lazy urban blacks and non-English speaking illegal immigrants on welfare is one of the cornerstones of the ideological reproduction of US capitalism. This does allow the left to play up the idea that paying your taxes should be seen as an act of solidarity and patriotic duty, but for the most part taxes are seen as the illegitimate imposition of an overreaching state. This has painted the US bourgeoisie into a bit of a corner though as it is increasingly impossible to stay in office if you raise taxes, even if the state is in dire need of the revenue. There are ways it is gotten around of course, but any good politican knows you can't run for office claiming you will raise taxes. Demagoguing about raising taxes on the "rich" can even be politically risky--"They made it with their own hard effort, they should be able to keep most of it."

lem_
dem. yes i agree that you

dem. yes i agree that you you're right about what's wrong with calling for an absurd tax rate. it's a shame that it makes no sense tho cos a) it could help mitigate the ideology that is against welfare etc. and b) it could serve as a conceptual counterpoint to arguing for a seemingly irrational wholesale revolution

Demogorgon
Nice to see you back JK

Nice to see you back JK

You're quite right about the ideological weight in the US, although the anti-tax sentiments you highlight are part-and-parcel of the libertarian right more universally. In the UK, the ideological weight of mainstream politics has long shifted towards anti-state / anti-tax sentiments even if this is not always accompanied by anti-state practice.

My comments should be seen as a critique of the way the left present the tax issue.

The irony is that the anti-state wing of the bourgeoisie is a product of the very real contradiction the mixed economy, where state intervention constitutes a long term drain on the profitability of private capital and there are limits as to how far this can go before it begins to undermine the basis of private capitalist production.

Redacted
Would it be correct to say

Would it be correct to say communists are against tax (as well as all other forms of exploitation)? I have read ICC articles that use the verbage "our taxes", etc. Or would that be an oversimplification?

lem_
if civilization literally

if civilization literally begins to collapse then isn't right wing libertarianism going to play a big role in that? they tend to be hawks, too.

 

sorry if i sound ignorant here.

Redacted
Well, it really depends on

Well, it really depends on what you mean exactly in regards to civlization literally collapsing.

Since I've been alive things have been steadily getting worse for sure. Everythings more expensive, you get less for what money you have, school and tuition are ridiculous, gas sucks, and may the flying spaghetti monster have mercy on your soul if you're in need of any kind of health care. Don't forget nature is almost completely fucked as well at this point.

Civilization probably is collapsing right now and right wing libertarianism is playing a part in it.

I don't think "hawk" is an accurate characterization of libertarianism when you get down to the nuts and bolts of their ideas. But then again what capitalist isn't hawkish in some way?

How this all relates to tax? I'm starting to loss sight, but the questions remain.

lem_
well i'm not advocating

well i'm not advocating increased taxes, but less tax could go hand in hand with right lib. and widening between rich and poor.

 

as to literal collapse of civ. i've been causallly reading about the singularity... it seems like it's going to happen it's really just a matter of when. IMHO the chance of that being catastrophic is overwhelming high.

Demogorgon
"Would it be correct to say

"Would it be correct to say communists are against tax (as well as all other forms of exploitation)? I have read ICC articles that use the verbage "our taxes", etc. Or would that be an oversimplification?"

Communists are against the state and therefore against tax. I'd be surprised if our articles used the phrase "our taxes", but if we did it would be a careless formulation in my view.

I'm not sure I follow the rest of the debate here, but the attempts to reduce the state in the Western mixed economies over previous decades have their origins in several developments. First, of course, was the complete discrediting of Keynesian economics in the 70s, when these measures completely failed to prevent the economic crisis.

The response to the crisis was the flowering of neoliberalism which, leaving aside the fantaises of monetarism (quickly abandoned) and even reducing the state (military spending in the US, for example, rose dramatically), had the purpose of allowing the crisis to smash the working class both economically and politically and creating the structural adjustment necessary for renewed accumulation.

The ruling class was only partially successful in achieving these aims. It succeeded in largely dismantling the now unaffordable post-war settlement, but the costs of welfare remain a gigantic burden for a capitalism which has only really managed a partial recovery. Nor was the political aim of wholly subjugating the working class ever achieved. But they still managed to do serious damage to the class at the economic, ideological and political levels, the consequence of which has been the permanent scarring of the social fabric.

This is why, for example, in the UK the collapse of living standards and the degradation (even lumpenisation) of entire working class communities is so often laid at the door of Thatcherism.

But those leftists who effectively call for a return to Keynesian measures or a more "social" state, conveniently forget those same policies saw, for example, UK inflation in the 70s rise to 25% - and this was with interest rates at over 10% as well!

Clearly, this represents no alternative for the working class - it doesn't really represent much of an alternative to capitalism either - and communists have no common cause to make with such political currents.

jk1921
Utopian

Demogorgon wrote:

This is why, for example, in the UK the collapse of living standards and the degradation (even lumpenisation) of entire working class communities is so often laid at the door of Thatcherism.

But those leftists who effectively call for a return to Keynesian measures or a more "social" state, conveniently forget those same policies saw, for example, UK inflation in the 70s rise to 25% - and this was with interest rates at over 10% as well!

How is has this played into the debates about Scottish independene? Isn't one of the main ideological points made by the yes side that Scotland could be a real "social state" if only it got rid of the weight of the the neo-liberals from England? How quickly will this prove to be the utopian illusion it is if the yes side wins? (Sorry if this is the wrong thread).

lem_
"I'm not sure I follow the

"I'm not sure I follow the rest of the debate here"

what don't you understand? i am not suggesting more tax, well only obliquely. i was suggesting that libertarianism would be the next phase of the assault on the working class. that would in no way suggest responding to it with eyes on other forms of capitalist exploitation.

lem_
PS posthumanism IS a real

PS posthumanism IS a real thing. it's not quite global warming, but the incentive is there for capitalists to augment themselves.

 

i am actually starting an informal network of worship... https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tanshuman-faith-living-buddha/57573890588... that may bizarre, but i can't see what else can be done bar communism or crossed fingers!