• "God invented war so Americans could learn geography" -- Mark Twain.

Friday, April 11, 2014

There is no Left Left

France's socialist President, François Hollande, has appointed Manuel Valls as the country's new prime minister.  As interior minister, Valls adopted a "tough" line on crime and immigration, including advocating deportation of Roma gypsies.  Those who were not working, he said, should be "delivered back to the borders."

As prime minister, Valls, a native born Catalonian, proposes to be just as "tough" on the economy.  He vows to cut 19 billion euros from state spending, 10 billion euros from health insurance and 10 billion euros from local governments.  He also wants to abolish the 35 hour work week and raise the pension age.

"So all the government's actions must be geared towards those men and women who suffer and fear unemployment, and those actions are in support of business, attractiveness and competitiveness precisely to create the wealth we need to release energy and create employment," he said.

This is a socialist!?

Let us parse the logic:  enacting measures to "support" business, make investment "attractive" and increase "competitiveness" (by lowering costs of guess what), will "create" wealth which will, in turn, "create" employment, and this will end the suffering of the working class which fears "unemployment" and will be grateful to work for a pittance. 

It could not have been better said by a U.S. Republican … or … for that matter, by the Ornament-in-Chief himself.  Since when did socialists advocate trickle down  as a social policy?

"I have no enemies on the Left," Valls recently said.  He is right.  There is no Left, left.

The denouement can be traced to the 1870's in Germany which, in those days, had not one but two socialist parties!

The first of these (1863) was the German Worker's Association, led by Ferdinand Lasalle.  Several years later (1869) Karl Liebknecht and August Bebel founded the Social Democratic Workers Party of Germany (SDAP).  The goals and methods of both groupings were largely the same and the two parties merged in 1875 as the Socialist Workers Party of Germany (SAPD). Together they put forward what is known as the Gotha Programme, the socialist manifesto for a kinder, gentler, more egalitarian capitalism.

While merging with fellow socialists, Lasalle secretly held tete-a-tete with the Otto von Bismarck, Germany's monarchist "Iron Chancellor."  "I never met a more brilliant man than Ferdinand Lasalle," Bismarck later intoned.

Despite their manifest differences (Lasalle was lean, nervous and Jewish whereas Bismarck was "robust," phlegmatic and Junker) the two men got along and Lasalle showed Bismarck the state-logic of maintaining a secure and well fed working class.  Indeed! "Why should not the labour soldier receive a pension as much as the veteran? Bismarck asked rhetorically.

The result of the meeting was Bismarck's "social-state" legislation of the 1880's which became the blueprint for all of Europe's social legislation for the next hundred years.

Marx was ambivalent.  He was not such an ideologue to condemn any measure which brought relief to the working man.  Reasonable work hours, safe working conditions, unemployment and accident insurance, health care and pensions were nothing to sniff at.  But the problem was, that no one looks a gift horse in the mouth.  Marx feared that the gift horse would turn out to be a Trojan Horse in the ranks of revolution.

Lenin was not ambivalent.  He loathed the Liebknecht-Lasalle duo.  He called them "social chauvinists" and predicted that when push came to shove they would staunchly back the Kaiser in war urging their beloved working men to die as labour-soldiers in the work place of battle.

Bismarck could not have agreed more.  Speaking of Lasalle, the chancellor later said,  He was very ambitious and by no means a republican. He was very much a nationalist and a monarchist. His ideal was the German Empire,…"

When Lenin and Bismarck agree about something, people ought to perk up and pay attention.

Bismarck no doubt colored Lasalle through his own lenses. Lasalle could hardly be called a "monarchist" in the political sense which that term is usually given.  But he was a nationalist which was the whole point of Lenin's "chauvinism."  In putting the country above class, Lasalle accepted the national status quo, which was a quo built on the status of a capitalist political-economy.  As Marx put it in his Critique of the Gotha Programme, "But the "framework of the present-day national state", for instance, the German Empire, is itself, in its turn, economically "within the framework" of the world market…"  (Critique, ch. 1.)

The entire matter was very simple.  Take

add "national" for chauvinist and you get


The Social Democrats and Nazis of 1930 Germany differed on cultural, ethnic and geo-political policies, but on the political-economy they were in fundamental agreement.  They both accepted the capitalist engine which they both sought to regulate and "modernize" with measures for enhanced trickledown on the national level.

Enchanced Trickledown

What is wrong with enhanced trickledown?  Nothing really, except that the trickle depends on the steam of the engine.

E.T. is basically a form of wealth-distribution, which is why capitalists and Republicans ("Liberals" in Europe) loathe it and excoriate it as "state-robbery."  The Liberals are right.  Enhanced Trickledown is a form of "taking" -- which cuts out a slice of fat-cat profits and gives it to the "needy".   Aside from them, everybody was in favor of enhanced trickledown, even Pope Pius XI.

"[T]he wealth of nations originates from no other source than from the labor of workers. … [C]apital," has undoubtedly long been able to appropriate too much to itself. …  Therefore, the riches that economic-social developments constantly increase ought to be so distributed among individual persons and classes that the common advantage of all,…  To each, therefore, must be given his own share of goods, and the distribution of created goods,  … into conformity with the norms of the common good, that is, social justice."  (Quadressimo Anno (1931) ¶¶ 53-57.)

In boldly attacking the "idols of Libealism" with a "new social philosophy." (Ibid. ¶ 14) Pius XI was simply reiterating the Lasalle-Bismarck compact from a Catholic perspective.

The problem is, as the quote from Pius illustrates, that the whole thing depends on the bubble up -- a "constant increase" -- from which trickle down can be siphoned.  The whole point of Marxist analysis is that the capitalist mode of production is not a perpetual motion machine but rather contains inherent contradictions which will bullox up the workings over time.

In a rough nutshell, production and consumption are necessary correlatives.  As consumption increases so too does production. But as production increases so too do the demands on investment.  However, since the wherewithal of investment is derived from profits, greater investments require greater profits which can only be garnered by diminishing costs (i.e. the amount trickled down to the worker), which in turn diminishes consumption and results in pointless production.  There is no one left to sell anything to.

This (in epigrammatic form) is what the academic debate is about.  Pure capitalists like Ayn Rand and Herbert Hoover think that the system will self-regulate, as a top spinning erratically  always re-balances itself in the end. Regulatory capitalists like FDR and Mussolini, think that the whole thing is a question of "manageable cycles" correctable a little tap here or a little prod there.  Pure socialists like Lenin and Marx think that the top will fall over and a new game needs to be played.
Theories exist to be debated endlessly; but history is showing that Lenin was right.  The capitalist system is not generating the Wealth of Nations, but rather the Poverty of Nations

That is what "austerity" means and that is what "austerity" is all about.  The only way the truth is hidden is by chopping the figures.  The canard is very simple.  The official statistic include the Wealth of Individuals in the figure for the Wealth of the Nation.  Mirabilis Dictu suddenly the Nation is wealthier even though greater and greater numbers are unemployed, homeless, and living on "food stamps."  It is a fool's game even a child ought to see through.  "We" are not wealthier, if disparity is ignored. 

Just as the wealth of a few is counted as the wealth of all, so too the poverty of a few is diluted from the poverty of all.  ¿?   In other words, the total number of global poor is artificially lessened by dividing the "poor" into different national groups; so that if 90% of the world's poor lives in poverty under a global economy this figure is made to seem like less by speaking only of Germany's 20% poor or the U.S.A's 30% and so on. 

In short, the end game of capitalism is a breach of promise and the unchopped figures bear that fact out. In fact, it is worse than Lenin thought; for he never envisioned a situation where capitalism destroyed the very ecology of the earth on which any and all economy depends.

In all events, the chauvinism of the democratic socialists has lost its nationalistic figleaf and is shown as what it really always was: chauvinism for a system.

There is no difference between Jose Luis Zapatero (PSOE) or Francois Hollande (PS) or Gerhard Schroeder (SPD) or Tony Blair (New Labour) or Georgious Papandreou (PASOK) they are all investor chauvinists, willing to starve the worker in order to feed the machine that will supposedly feed the worker… ever less and less, that is.

The contradiction between what they call themselves and what they do is contained in the contradiction of the Gotha Plan

Every single one of these Quislings are members of the Most Dishonourable Order of Creeps.

A degree of charity can be accorded the Lasalles and Roosevelts of their day.  The contradictions seen by Lenin and Marx were at least debatable and, when all is said, the Social Democrats and New Dealers did produce tangible ameliorative benefits and securities for working people.  Roosevelt would never have called for "austerity" in the name of so-called "fiscal discipline."  Never.

But the miserable midgets that bear the "liberal" (US) and "socialist" (EU) label warrant neither pity nor mercy.  Everyone one of them knowingly and consciously labors in the vineyard of the Master, cutting back and pruning the fruits of labor while sweet talking and bamboozling their lethal hypocrisies.

I hope Valls chokes on a Madelaine.