Home > General Comment > My July 4th post: The Fascist State must be razed to the ground…

My July 4th post: The Fascist State must be razed to the ground…

Cortés scuttling fleet off Veracruz coast

In a reply to my post, A critical examination of Kevin Carson’s Mutualism (Final Part), a commenter, Alan, asks:

“Marx’s theory, on the other hand, predicts precisely political support for the existing mode of exploitation, since he never assumes existing political relations are founded on anything other than the law of value, equal exchange, and material advantage accruing to both exploiter and exploited.”

So, if the exchange really IS equal, (I mean, really equal!), then where is the exploitation? Or maybe I should ask: what do you mean by “exploitation”?

I responded:

Alan,

This is a really good question.

I dispute the commonly accepted definition of the term, “exploitation,” in Marx’s theory in light of his own assertion that exploitation takes place on the basis of equal exchange. Almost all definitions of exploitation I have found include the idea that it involves the use of force or compulsion in some form — as in direct use of force or threat of force, or resulting from unequal bargaining power, etc. I do not reject the occurrence of these forms of coercion in history; but I do reject that they are necessary for exploitation to take place.

As can be seen in my example of the Mexican migrant (which I chose deliberately) she is no less exploited having voluntarily abandoned her family holding and migrated to the United States. Exploitation does not involve the use of force in the relation; it arises solely from the use or employment of the labor power itself for the purpose of creating a surplus value. There is nothing in this employment that, of necessity, requires compulsion. Indeed, we can even assume the worker herself finds a decided economic advantage from such employment.

I think this demands expansion, so that there is no ambiguity on my part:

I answered Alan by saying: “Exploitation …arises solely from the use or employment of the labor power itself for the purpose of creating a surplus value.” Although force may occur hand in hand with exploitation, force is not actually necessary: the worker, in Marx’s theory, is assumed to benefit economically from the exploitation.

I think it is impossible to understand the Fascist State unless this is grasped. All theories that claim exploitation is based on force must be discarded. Marx’s theory did not in any way depend on force, starvation, unequal bargaining power, betrayal by a labor aristocracy, stupidity, etc. His theory depends solely on the material economic advantage the worker realizes by selling herself into slavery — exploitation consists of nothing more than the employment of her labor power to expand capital.

The Fascist State itself arises from the desire of the Proletariat to maintain its conditions as a class; and would have occurred even in the absence of the capitalist. Just as Marx’s theory predicted the proletariat can be its own capitalist, so it predicts the proletariat can create, on this basis, its own Fascist State to enforce its own exploitation. In all cases, it is the material relations of society that determine the form of State and not the reverse.

This shows the complete stupidity of Marxists who argue the State, in the aftermath of the social revolution, will be wielded on behalf of the proletariat by a vanguard party. This theory is completely wrong.

THE FASCIST STATE MUST BE BROKEN IN ITS ENTIRETY.

The story goes that As Cortes plundered the New World, at one point he had to scuttle his ships to prevent a mutiny by his forces — we have to do that to the State — raze it to the ground in its entirety and let nothing of its structure escape.

The mistake in Tahrir Square was precisely that they saw the army of Egypt as a neutral or even popular force, because it was completely paralyzed by events and unable to defend the Mubarak regime. That was the time to chop its head off, and smash all of its elements.  And, it remains to be accomplished.

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Categories: General Comment
  1. July 6, 2011 at 7:54 am

    Thanks for your replies.

    So, “surplus value” is the thing, I take it. There
    must be no surplus value; all value created
    must be distributed at the point of production,
    with no excess retained — even if it is retained
    at the will of the participants? Or would we
    say that if it is at the will of the participants,
    then it is not excess? (Just what is “excess”,
    anyway?) Also, what if the participants have
    the idea of retaining enough to do something
    quite ambitious — like, say, build a silicon chip
    factory, or a major dam? Would that not
    require quite a bit of surplus value? Maybe
    it would not, somehow; I’m just thinking aloud
    here.

    • July 8, 2011 at 9:00 pm

      Alan,

      You are focusing in the wrong direction. It is not about surplus at all. It is about the alienation of the worker’s own activity from herself. The process begins with the separation of the worker from the objective means of life; but, the surplus which results from this separation is merely the end-product of this separation. The labor itself is the act of recreating the separation and further expanding it. The insult here, so to speak, is that the worker’s own life activity does not exist for her as “her own act”, but is merely means employed by another for whatever ends.

      I am not sure I have this entirely correct, so let me think about it some more.

  2. July 8, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Your reply to the above questions would/will be
    read with keen interest, should you choose to
    reply.

  3. July 11, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    yikes! horrible formatting above! please replace the above with this (same post; carriage returns corrected):

    OK. But if that is the case — if said alienation is The Problem – then why do you emphasize surplus value? to wit: “exploitation… arises solely from the use or employment of the labor power itself for the purpose of creating a surplus value.” Or is the very concept of surplus value connected with alienation? (i.e. cannot have one without the other?)

    You seem now to be saying that “exploitation arises solely from alienation”, not surplus value per se, unless as I say the two are inseparable. But consider the question I asked before about surplus value retained for some mutually agreed-upon purpose. Would this not be OK? Surplus value generated WITHOUT the alienation? (Is that possible?)

    Also, I did not understand the middle sentence: “separation of the worker from the objective means of life”. Do you mean the objective material essentials of life, like food, water, etc.?

    Thanks for this exchange.

    • July 11, 2011 at 2:54 pm

      “OK. But if that is the case — if said alienation is The Problem – then why do you emphasize surplus value? to wit: “exploitation… arises solely from the use or employment of the labor power itself for the purpose of creating a surplus value.” Or is the very concept of surplus value connected with alienation? (i.e. cannot have one without the other?)”

      This is to emphasize that exploitation does not in any way involve the use of unequal exchange, or some means of paying labor less than its value. Rather, the case is the opposite: on the basis a paying full value for labor power, new value is created by labor in excess of that paid out in wages — it is a production of a surplus, not a deduction from what would be the full payment of wages, that is taking place.

      However, surplus value cannot be created unless the worker’s productive capacities are alienated — sold for wages. (So you can have alienation without exploitation, but you cannot have exploitation without alienation.) Thus we have two things taking place: the labor power of the worker is alienated, or, in common language, sold, the labor power is put to work creating new value.

      “You seem now to be saying that “exploitation arises solely from alienation”, not surplus value per se, unless as I say the two are inseparable. But consider the question I asked before about surplus value retained for some mutually agreed-upon purpose. Would this not be OK? Surplus value generated WITHOUT the alienation? (Is that possible?)”

      A cooperative can produce surplus value without exploitation. Or, what is the same thing, the workers themselves operate as their own capitalist. However, the labor is still alienated labor; which is to say, the labor takes the form of a commodity which must then be sold to realize its value. (Again, exploitation arises from alienated labor, but not all alienated labor is exploitation.) The result of alienated labor under these conditions (if unchecked) is the eventual emergence of capitalist social relations out of the cooperative.

      So, you can indeed create surplus value without exploitation — but, since this is alienated labor, eventually you get back to capitalist exploitation again. Cooperative labor has always existed, it just tends to disintegrate under the impact of commodity exchange. Eventually, the members see an advantage to cashing out.

      “Also, I did not understand the middle sentence: “separation of the worker from the objective means of life”. Do you mean the objective material essentials of life, like food, water, etc.?”

      Objective means of labor refers to all the necessities of human life and production.

  4. July 11, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    Thanks.

    I return to my question above: “what if the participants have the idea of retaining enough to do something quite ambitious — like, say, build a silicon chip factory, or a major dam? Would that not require quite a bit of surplus value?”

    Is it not the case that the chip factory and the dam can only be built by way of surplus value? Correct me if I am wrong about this. But if it is so, then that suggests that such things could not exist without the alienation and eventual return to capitalist social relations of which you speak.

    • July 12, 2011 at 2:13 pm

      It would require surplus, indeed. However, whether this took the form of surplus value, or simply surplus labor time, would depend on the context within which the additional work was performed. If the work was performed directly, it would simply be surplus labor time. If it were the result of funds acquired through exchange, it would be surplus value.

      So, the circumstances where the production of surplus carries the danger of a return to capitalism only applies to the case where surplus labor time takes the definite form of surplus value — that is, through commodity exchange. Again, I would have to think about this, because in the Soviet Union a large amount of exploited labor time existed, but it never took the form of surplus value. The working class of the Soviet Union were no less exploited than the working class of the US, but in the former case, none of this exploitation was founded on commodity exchange.

      As you can see, this is a very complex problem without easy answers to the questions you have posed. I have not even begun to understand how exactly exploitation was effected in the Soviet system, although I am pretty sure labor was alienated there as well. Allow me to admit the limits of my understanding in this case.

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