Sunday, September 14, 2014

War And The Capitalist Class

The legislature in Ecuador is debating a new "work law" that would legally limit the gap between executive and worker pay and give mothers who decide to stay at home access to social security.

I don't know what it's chances of passage are but I do know that here, nothing remotely like that is being debated, and hasn't been for a long time. The Democratic Party, once the party of working people, is pushing a feeble minimum wage increase that would restore its value to about half of what it was in 1968, and doing nothing about the decline in wages and wealth for most people while the very, very rich see their wealth and income increase by leaps and bounds.

I came across a chart this morning in an economic blog, a Marxist economic blog.

It's for the UK but the same basic scenario applies to the United States and to all the Capitalist West. It shows the rate of profit, or the rate of return on investment, since the 1850s.

This declining rate of profit is something Marx predicted. Capitalism isn't as efficient as they'd have you believe, and as the initial cheap acquisition of property through enclosing the commons, capturing colonies, exploiting cheap resources and so on is used up it becomes harder to profit. The decline in profitability in the 1970s was what led to the rise of what academics call Neoliberalism -- Reaganomics, Thatcherism, supply side economics. In Europe they're now calling it Economic Reform, or simply reform. Sometimes it's called Austerity, or imposing austerity budgets. It's all the same -- slash social spending, cut taxes on the rich, attack unions. Both Republicans and Democrats have bought into it here, World Bank and IMF funding are now contingent on adopting austerity budgets, and so, too, in Europe have the traditional parties of the Left -- Labour in Britain, the Social Democrats in Germany, and the Socialist and even the Communist parties in France.

Note that the author labels our time "New depression." He's not the only Marxist economist who thinks we're in a depression. I know that Richard Wolff from the University of Massachusets-Amherst does, too.

There are two interesting things about this chart, which the author talks about in the post. One is that Neoliberalism produced a relatively small rebound in profitability and for a relatively short time. The other is that the only thing that causes profits to rebound in any significant way is depression followed by world war.

Which means the Capitalist class, if it's not already, is going to be demanding, sooner or later, a war. A big one.

Think of how the US has the whole Middle East in turmoil. Think of the new command called Africom. Think of the US provocations against Russia. The Soviet Union dissolved, remember? Russia adopted Capitalism.  Russia hasn't been expanding its military since then or taking over countries, but the US,  instead of looking at the end of the Cold War as a way to wind down NATO, has expanded NATO, expanded it into former Soviet territory and up to Russia's borders. And then they provoked Ukraine into breaking with Russia and moving toward the European Union, with ultimate NATO membership, which would have eliminated Russia's only warm water port in Crimea and switched it to the other side.

Think about Obama's "Pivot to Asia," the repositioning of US strategic forces so as to surround China. China hasn't taken anyone over, either. It's had little skirmishes or arguments with Japan over a couple of rocky little islands. Like Russia, it has no huge military. Their armies combined are dwarfed by that of the US.

It would be useless at this point in time to point out that this "Islamic State" we're going to war against is nowhere near the threat it's purported to be. The US public is already afraid of them, and although they have long been weary of war are unable to mount any kind of opposition to it.

What this is all about, of course, is a class of people protecting its interests. The Capitalist class. Neoliberalism is class war. Warmongering, where the working class fights each other and dies for the benefit of the Capitalist class, is just a part of that. The Capitalist class has all the power now. The working class has none. What it has, it turns over to the Democratic Party, the Labour party, the Social Democrats. So it has none.

The only thing that will ever turn it around -- the wars and what they are about, the redistribution of wealth upward -- is when the working class organizes itself in a way that it has power, more power than the other class.

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