Posts Tagged ‘afghanistan’

How’s that debt deal working for you, folks?

August 2, 2011 4 comments

Although the Obama deal does not cut spending in the least, I do agree with the Left: it is terrible for widows and orphans, and those needing medical care — in Afghanistan, since it will create more of them there.

Of course, that is not a problem for the Left, so long as the check is in the mail, right? I mean, as long as you get single payer, who cares about fascist state spending on the wars. No matter the cost, nothing should reduce spending and interrupt the checks mailed out to silence and marginalize the poor.

And, you assholes on the left have the nerve to insist the true cost of Obama’s wars can be mitigated by increasing taxes on Bill Gates. As if Obama is dropping copies of Microsoft Word on the people of Afghanistan.

No doubt, the people of Afghanistan are mourning the defeat of the Tea Party and the balanced budget amendment — and burying their dead. But, the Left will continue to conceal their filthy secret: they willingly ignore murder in Afghanistan to keep the checks coming.

Do the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) and the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) think they can wash the blood off their hands by winning a miserable extension of unemployment compensation for 99ers? Do Naomi Klein and Van Jones think the people of Afghanistan will forgive them because they worry about the American social safety net?

You are utterly dependent on Social Security, Medicare and Fascist State spending because when it counted you gave away your own future. Government dominates half of your working life, and now to survive you must beg it for handouts.

And, on this basis alone you let it terrorize the rest of the planet.

All those public sector union members who thought they made a wonderful deal trading their children’s future for a pension — how’s that working for you, assholes?

When asked what labor wanted, Samuel Gompers replied, “More.”

“And we shall never cease to demand more until we have received the results of our labor.” — Gompers

Well, now labor has it: more war, more repression, more hunger, more poverty, more fascist state spending — and, less of the results of their labor.

How’s that working for you Trumka? Does Obama need you today for another photo op, scab? When he signs that bill, Obama should have Naomi Klein, Van Jones, members of the CPC and CBC, and Trumka standing around him. Because, the night Obama made his nomination acceptance speech he laid out his entire fascist program, and they swooned as if receiving two tablets of stone at the foot of Mount Sinai.

It was a classical fascist speech, as if written by Mussolini himself — perfect in both pitch and nuance. And, the Left swallowed it, and couldn’t contain their adoration of that empty suit in the White House.

Fascism simply recognizes it is impossible to serve the interests of Capital without appealing directly to the interests of the laborer. But, this appeal to her interest must be posed in a fashion that always requires more, not less, fascist state power over the worker.

Once the prerequisites of the worker’s dependence on the fascist state are established, the process of capitalist accumulation reinforces it. The more overaccumulation of means of production and the surplus population of workers increases, the more important the role of the fascist state becomes to keep society’s heads above the economic quagmire.

Seen from the worker’s viewpoint as a wage slave, the danger is never too much but too little spending; never too much, but too little labor. The enslavement of the worker requires constant extension of wage labor, of exploitation, of inflation — and, of state intervention to ensure these. The political activity of the worker is, therefore, directed, above all, toward demanding ever more fascist state power.

It is not simply that the workers exploitation constantly grows, side by side with the growth of the fascist state, but of the relation between the two processes. The more effective becomes the exploitation of the worker, the more quickly the fascist state must grow, and vice versa. While the exploitation of the worker implies the reduction of necessary labor — of wages — the growth of the state implies a declining accumulation rate of capital.

The first results in a great increase in the mass of surplus value created during the same period of time. And, the increase in the mass of commodities thrown on the world market — of capital in the form of commodities thrown on the world market. This implies a worsening stagnation of productive activity. Which empirically is evidenced in data establishing the declining rate of US economic growth.

The second results in the great increase in the mass of public debt necessary to absorb the excess capital and excess population of workers. The increase in the mass of public debt is nothing more than an increase in the mass of surplus value unproductively consumed by the state.

However, since accumulation is determined by the mass of new value able to operate as capital, unproductive state consumption slows accumulation. So, hand in hand with a declining rate of economic growth, there is an astonishing increase in the unproductive public sector relative to productive employment. At a certain point, the productive employment of labor not only slows, but actually begins to contract.

If you want to see what this process looks like long term, just visit the GM headquarters in Detroit. Go to the top of the towers and look out over the social catastrophe that is Detroit.

That is your future under the fascist state, folks.

Can government be reduced without limiting hours of Labor?

January 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Is it possible to get rid of government, either by abolishing it outright or gradually reducing it, without, at the same time, ridding society of Labor? This is a question posed by libertarians and marxists who declare their opposition to abolishing one or the other.

First, let’s define what I mean by Labor. As I am using the word, Labor is not work; I define work as any form of productive activity during which we create some useful object by mixing our human effort with natural objects. It is the metabolism of life: the exchange between nature and humans which is essential to life itself. Labor, on the other hand, does the above as well, but the aim of the activity is to create value — a commodity with a price.

Among Marxists, one would think this question had already been settled by the experience of the Soviet Union. There, despite Marxist expectations that the State would whither away once wage slavery was thought to be abolished, the State never even shrank. It continued to expand up until the point it collapsed entirely. Even if we accept the idea that the Soviet Union was confronted by an implacable enemy, it is hard to accept this as an explanation for the Soviet occupation in Eastern Europe, its massive accumulation of troop and military power, and the willingness of Moscow to sacrifice basic material standards of living of the country, when the United States is presently bogged down and slowly being defeated by isolated bands of mostly illiterate guerrillas in the mountains of Afghanistan — much as the USSR was previously. How, under any reasonable scenario, was the US supposed to occupy and pacify a population of freely associated, well-educated, highly skilled persons, spread over one sixth of the planet’s surface and eleven time zones?

But, marxists seem unable to absorb this lesson of history. Among libertarians, I am often in conversation with, and reading the posts of, those who are quite seriously opposed to the State, but fierce opponents of any limitation on hours of Labor.

In all honesty, folks, how is this supposed to work?

Total federal, state, and local government employment (not including the military) in 2008 stood at 22.46 million persons according to the Census Bureau (pdf). At the same time, total employment in the US stood at 145.36 million persons (pdf). Government provided approximately 15 percent of all direct employment — and this does not even begin to take into account those persons who owed their jobs directly or indirectly to government expenditures: those employed as a result of contracts with various agencies of federal, state, and local bodies — Blackwater, GE, Raytheon, and the entire Fortune 500 come to mind — and those whose jobs are at least in part the result of demand generated by various transfer programs, like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, school lunch programs, etc.

If we could remove all of these expenditures overnight by means of a magic wand, what would happen to the economy and the tens of millions of other jobs only indirectly affected by this? Where would all of the goods produced for this massive body of entirely superfluous laborers be sold? Even if we did not remove it entirely, but only limited it by refusing to raise the debt ceiling and preventing the expenditure of some 3 trillion additional dollars by Washington over the next two years, what now fills that void?

If libertarians and others who are seriously determined to get rid of the State have no answer to these questions, what answer will your congressperson have when Obama and Boehner grab them by the lapel and show them, in very graphic terms, exactly what their vote against raising the debt ceiling will do to employment?

The argument can be made that any limitation on hours of labor requires State coercion and limitations on the individual’s right to enjoy her property — every wage contract is a voluntary agreement between two property-owners, even if one of the parties has no choice but to make the agreement. However, thirty, forty, or fifty percent unemployment is also the coercive application of market competition. If some make the argument that capitalist coercion is somehow more “natural” than State coercion, I need only remind them that the State, having been around for thousands of years longer than Capital, is clearly far more “natural” than the latter.

I am not for coercion in any form — political or economic. I am not trying to abolish State coercion in order to allow the mechanisms of economic coercion room to expand, further intensifying the already Hobbesian environment of Civil Society. The vast majority of the population of the United States is dependent on selling their Labor Power — even those who are self-employed. The idea that they will come to see Washington as a greater threat to their well-being than the Koch brothers, WalMart, or BP is laughably naive. Start abolishing regulations, reducing the minimum wage, breaking pension plans, and slashing Social Security, and you will see how little love folks have for a stateless society that leaves them at the mercies of the owners of capital.

This really doesn’t require a doctorate in economics: those who are really serious about a stateless society, and not simply using it as a screen to advance their own agenda, will understand that State coercion cannot be abolished without also abolishing the coercion of the market in Labor Power.

Update: Courtesy of Zero Hedge, a list of Russell Index companies that generate 50 to 100 percent of their revenue from the federal government.

Update 2: Someone asked me a good question: Am I suggesting there should be no reduction in the size of government until hours of work can be reduced? Absolutely not. It would be a mistake not to do the two together, but the biggest mistake would be to do nothing until both can be done together. If the debt ceiling increase can be voted down today, it should be voted down; in time it will be obvious that hours of work must also be reduced.

TomDispatch: Why We Won’t Leave Afghanistan or Iraq

April 27, 2010 1 comment

TomDispatch on the peculiar inability of the United States to withdraw. An excellent read, as usual:

Over the decades, Washington has gotten used to staying. The U.S. has long been big on arriving, but not much for departure.  After all, 65 years later, striking numbers of American forces are still garrisoning the two major defeated nations of World War II, Germany and Japan.  We still have about three dozen military bases on the modest-sized Japanese island of Okinawa, and are at this very moment fighting tooth and nail, diplomatically speaking, not to be forced to abandon one of them.  The Korean War was suspended in an armistice 57 years ago and, again, striking numbers of American troops still garrison South Korea.

Similarly, to skip a few decades, after the Serbian air campaign of the late 1990s, the U.S. built-up the enormous Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo with its seven-mile perimeter, and we’re still there.  After Gulf War I, the U.S. either built or built up military bases and other facilities in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and Bahrain in the Persian Gulf, as well as the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.  And it’s never stopped building up its facilities throughout the Gulf region.  In this sense, leaving Iraq, to the extent we do, is not quite as significant a matter as sometimes imagined, strategically speaking.  It’s not as if the U.S. military were taking off for Dubuque.

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Cognitive Dissidents: Progressives are having buyer’s remorse…

March 29, 2010 4 comments

But, they seem unable to figure out who sold them the bill of goods…

John Atcheson is suffering the nagging feeling that he, and progressives generally, have been had:

At the risk of being churlish, passing this health care bill was the palest of victories.

Yes, it’s better than nothing, but as the President himself has pointed out, it’s largely made up of proposals the Republicans advocated a little more than a decade ago.

So, while this is certainly a political victory, it is far from a triumph of progressive ideals. Indeed, this Legislation is a sign of how far the political center has drifted to the right in the last three decades.

He asks a question a few progressives seem willing to broach:

How did we let this happen?

Read more…

“There stirs in Americans today a haunting sense of insecurity…”

November 29, 2009 Leave a comment

In fitting tribute to the Messiah’s new shovel ready jobs program which is to be rolled out this week – 40,000 public employees digging foxholes in Afghanistan at the rumored cost of about $1 million per employee per year – Tom Walker has posted the full text of a remarkable yet almost forgotten 1952 speech by Dwight David Eisenhower exposing how Washington was solely responsible for inflation in the economy by using Cold War armament production to create a false prosperity under NSC-68.

As I said at the outset: all our problems today are tied to one another, and none can be solved by itself. With tens of billions spent on armaments, another six to seven billion yearly on foreign aid, we see again that the soundness of our financial health at home depends on the soundness of our foreign policy.

The blunt truth is this: we cannot bear this huge burden indefinitely. We cannot—year after year, decade after decade— both maintain our standard of living, finance huge armaments, and help to rebuild economies of nations all around the globe. We cannot, in short, win the peace with foreign policy of drift, makeshift, and make-believe.

We must ‘honestly face the fact that such a policy not only fails to secure the peace: it also places the hopes of the free world in jeopardy by the strain it puts on our economy., and by the confusion it creates in other lands.

There is in certain quarters the view that national prosperity depends on the production of armaments and that any reduction in arms output might bring on another recession. Does this mean, then that the continued failure of our foreign policy is the only way to pay for the failure of our fiscal policy? According to this way of thinking, the success of our foreign policy would mean a depression.

Iran, Afghanistan: Keep your eye on the Messiah…

October 1, 2009 Leave a comment

According to Grossman’s reconstruction of Marx’s Theory of Capital’s Breakdown, capitalism undermines its own conditions of existence by destroying the need for work.

Logic dictates that any attempt to forestall this breakdown must, in some way or another, counteract this tendency toward collapse by successfully increasing the need for work, and thus improving profits.

This probably played out, for instance, as World War II brought about the collapse of various national economies – Japan, Germany, Britain, France, etc. – and made possible the expansion of American capital into the vacuum, and which further allowed the scale of economic activity to escape the narrow bounds of national economies and assume directly global character.

afghanistan-helicopter-474Also contributing to the demand for more work after World War II, however, was a decades long erection of an extensive network of military bases to encircle the Soviet Union and People’s Republic of China – and various somewhat unsuccessful military adventures to enforce that Cordon Militaire.

That being said, as outrageous as it is to consider that even the most Hitlerian personality might coldly calculate the economic consequences of expanded conflict on GDP, it is nevertheless true that a massive military push into Afghanistan, or, a military adventure in Iran are both means which could spur domestic demand for labor.

This possibility, therefore, bears watching.

In the present circumstances, when it appears all attempts to revive the labor market in the US has failed, and where little more effects of these policies can be detected beyond Washington’s own efforts to increase government employment, an adventure in the Persian Gulf and East Asia offers certain advantages.

Among those advantages is the speed with which Washington could get boots on the ground in Afghanistan, for instance, versus that amount of time it would take to bring various make-work projects – building and improving infrastructure, roads and so forth (the spending which delights our progressives) – to shovel-ready status.

We suspect – though we are far from certain – that the hesitancy in Washington on a requested troop buildup in Afghanistan is not good news. In fact, it may be merely buying time as the Messiah tries to prepare for an expected outcry when the troop expansion is announced.