fragmentos (theory)

Originally Posted by Blake's Baby View Post
You can only do it by time. An hour of your time is worth an hour of the baker's time.

If so, the baker will be paid to remain less productive. In a capitalist society, he would not do that because of competition; but if now all bakeries are property of one only capitalist - the State - there is no competition (or rather, competition cannot be expressed in that way), and it is in the direct interest of bakers to keep productivity low.

Until you effectively abolish the logic of value - which means doing away with all reckoning of value, be it through money or through "vouchers" - you can't really get rid of the effects of competition.


Originally Posted by Luís Henrique View Post
At most, these vouchers will be nominated in labour time, instead of gold or of an abstract share of the total product. But gold has this quality that two ouces of gold always value twice the value of one ounce of gold, nevermind how much one ounce is worth. Labour time does not have such property, and it is possible that two hours of labour time do not value twice the value of one hour of labour time, because the value of labour time is dependent on productivity.

So, if I am a welder, and work 180 hours a month, I am paid with a "voucher" that says, "180 hours of labour", or with 180 vouchers that say "1 hour of labour". Now I have HL$ 6 to expend each day. I go to the bakery, and I buy HL$ 1 of bread. But in order to this being of any use, it is necessary that the bread I buy is the result of one hour of labour - not of two hours, not of thirty minutes, not indeed of 59 or 61 minutes, otherwise we have an unfair trade.

But the bakery might have a lower, or less likely, higher productivity than the factory I work for. So I might come in with a HL$ 1 voucher, and get back home with bread that has taken one hour to produce in the conditions of lower productivity of the bakery. In which case I am transferring value to the bakery, that produces less bread in one hour than it would if it had the same productivity of the factory I work for. Which is to say, the bakery is being paid to be less productive.

Or I might get back home with bread that would have taken one hour to produce under the higher productivity conditions of the factory I work for. In which case the baker is going to be underpaid: he works one hour, but he has to accept a 30 minutes labour time voucher, because his productivity is subpar. In which case value is being transferred from the bakery to me, which might put the bakery's ability to reproduce its means of production - and to expand and perfect them in order to equate its productivity to the rest of the economy - into question.

Either way, the system hinders the productivity of individual companies. It either rewards lower productivity, or it prevents low productivity companies from becoming more productive by denying them the resources necessary to improve their productivity.

(All that, of course, besides the fact that there isn't any actual time-of-labour-o-meter that can actually measure the labour time employed in any given commodity. In a capitalist society, the time of labour is calculated by the price of commodities, not the other way round.)


Originally Posted by Luís Henrique View Post
What exactly makes "safe spaces" safe?

More precisely, what exactly makes "safe spaces" safe in times in which we live under the bourgeois State's monopoly of legitimate violence?


Originally Posted by LinksRadikal View Post
Just to ask out of curiosity, do people really think that the global capitalist class needs to push something like PT do dilute class struggle?

Of course, this is the traditional mistake of the traditional left: that reformism is an ideology actively pursued by the bourgeoisie. It isn't. It is the ordinary ideology of the working class; the ideology of labour trying to assert itself against capital within the hegemony of value. It is the ideology of workers trying to affirm themselves as a working class, the ideology of "pride in being a worker".


What exactly makes "safe spaces" safe?


Originally Posted by The Garbage Disposal Unit View Post
I think this is a clear case, however, where a discourse doesn't necessarily imply a strategy or project, but, rather, can be deployed to different ends.

That's what looks more probable to me. It is a transversal issue - it needs to be addressed from a proletarian perspective, but can very well be used from a bourgeois or petty-bourgeois point of view, without necessarily negating its principles or threading into inconsistency.

A look at, for example, the politics of INCITE! reveal a fundamentally different set of priorities from what's being described.

That's quite certain, but it starts from the fact that INCITE! is an organisation of non-White people (and to be precise, non-stereotipically-male non-White people). So the race and gender perspectives are present from the start, which is not the case with generic leftist organisations where White males, White females, and non-White males abound, are usually hegemonic, and can appropriate the discourse from a completely different, non-liberatory perspective.

Even then, I don't know INCITE except from a cursory reading of their website, and they may be much more radical in actual practice than in internet posting, but I don't see anything there that goes beyond radical "liberalism" in the American sence; there is no class perspective that I can see. They seem to be way more radical because of what they are than because of what they say.

Naturally, from the perspective from someone like me, that is commonly mistaken for a reformist or accused of being lenient towards reformism, this doesn't invalidate their stand; I think they are (or can be at least, if their practice is compatible with their propaganda) important and that they raise fundamental issues that our class ignores at its own peril.

But I am always somewhat at ultra-ueber-radical people (disclaimer: I am not thinking of you) who condemn anything and everything for not being revolutionary enough, but then when you go check what they actually propose, it is little more than "equal rights for everybody" and "let's fight poverty" and denounce "illegal violence".


Originally Posted by condor View Post
Dogmas of Marxism

Dogma 1: all reformism must fail.

What does this exactly mean? And how is this a "dogma" of Marxism?

Dogma 2: the French revolution was doomed to be bourgeois; how do you know this if you haven't bothered to test this?

What else could it have been?

Dogma 3: material conditions ultimately determine consciousness in every occasion; an ugly house will turn someone mad just as much as a cold one.

I am sorry, I completely fail to understand what you mean here. Material conditions ultimately determine consciousness. This means that they do not determine consciousness in every occasion.

And what have you been reading that you seem under the impression that ugly houses will turn people mad? And worse, that stating so is a "dogma of Marxism"?

How can science test ugliness; it can't.

Well, why not?

Ugliness, an idea, can send someone mad.

I don't think a sane person can go mad because of ugly things (otherwise we would all be mad, because there is no shortage of ugly things in this world). A person would have to be pre-psychotic to go actually mad because of "ugliness".

Besides, "ugliness" is an idea, ie, a concept, but it is also whatever makes ugly things ugly. No one is affected by the concept of ugliness; if people are affected by ugliness, it is by the material fact that some things are ugly.

Many people commit suicide from existing in a soulless society rather than anything material like debt or illness…

That "soullessness" is a very material phenomenon, as much as debt or illness.

Once again, how can science test soullessness,

Well, first, why not? And second, since when something has to be scientifically testable to be a material phenomenon?

it can't, soullessness is not a material condition

Yes it is.

yet it determines consciousness in the greatest proof of all: life or death.

You are being sloppy. Soullessness doesn't "determine" life or death; some people kill themselves out of despair due to the perceived soullessness of society. But at the same time most people experience the same soullessness and live to fight another day, so there can be no such crude "determination" that you are talking about.

Dogma 4: people don't learn from books; I suppose people stumble on Pythagorean theory while exploring life.

I fail to see where "people don't learn from books" is a Marxist dogma. Marx wouldn't have written so many if he believed such stupidity.

But yes, I suppose Pythagoras at least has had to stumble upon his theorem while exploring life, because no one had written about it before.

The idea that people do not learn from books is vulgar philistine thought. For many people, books are more powerful than any sermon or political event…

So? What is valid for "many people" is not necessarily valid for everyone, and anyway books are powerful because they refer to a reality people experience everyday. If a book talks about something that people never see, hear, or smell, odds are that people won't find that book impressive.

Dogma 5: by explaining the motivation of an idea, you somehow rob it of its power

And since when this is a dogma of Marxism?

It looks like you have invented a set of sentences that you deem false (and some of which are even quite evidently false) and labeled them "dogmas of Marxism", with little, if any, base for doing so.

Dogma 6: people have merely misunderstood Marxism; Marxism is flexible.

This is certainly not a dogma of Marxism.

Well, it's not flexible enough. Marxism turns every materialist element into a materialist rule.

What does this mean?

In fact, it is the opposite, Marxist misunderstand the criticisms of it; people do not dispute that material conditions determine society's ideas as a whole, but that they determine consciousness for every individual or household…

If people dispute that, in the belief that they are disputing "Marxist dogma", then they have necessarily misunderstood Marxism, because Marxism is certainly not about material conditions determining consciousness for every individual.

Dogma 7: anyone unorthodox is an adventurer: another example of Marxism's cheap tendency to label instead of concretely disprove.

And this supposed dogma comes from exactly where? What book, what text, what divine revelation?

Dogma 8: sneer at everything bizarre or revolving around sex


Sorry to tell you, but this is a complete fantasy of yours. We do not sneer at everything bizarre, and much less at anything revolving around sex. Sex is good, healthy, and everybody should do it when they want and have a willing partner.

Dogma 9: people won't understand, people are conservative; this is a failure to see conservatism as a neurosis from sexual jealousies whereby people reject any theory that does not solve all their problems;

Er? What do you mean here? That Marxists misinterpret conservatism as a neurosis, or that conservatives are neurotics?

It is false on both counts and it is by no means a Marxist dogma.

Seriously, get some more information about Marxism, because you seem to be completely in the dark.


Originally Posted by Sewer Socialist View Post
And, since we both acknowledge this, what do you attribute the numerous examples of erroneous application to?

But are those "erroneus applications", or the theory is actually open to several different interpretations? Maybe divisionist interpretations follow logically from it, as much as more radical, class-struggle related ones? Maybe the point is not to try and make the theory unassailable to bourgeois and petty-bourgeois interpretations, but merely to positively use it only within a proletarian framing?


Originally Posted by blake 3:17 View Post
And the stupid bureaucrats started calling them a bunch of scabs and sell outs that were trying to destroy the union. All they were thinking about were their pensions and their members pensions, not the class struggle.

I would say even stupid bureaucrats who only think about pensions and wages would protect wages and pensions more effectively if they took heed of the obvious negative PR of these moves, and of how easily they could be used by employers as a pretext to stall negotiations.


Originally Posted by blake 3:17 View Post
The picket was at the home of the people with developmental disabilities. They were hearing shouts and screams outside their windows. They were terrified. Many of the people living in the home were non-verbal and physically disabled.

In which case, the people in the pickets are outright arseholes. This is inadmissible, reactionary, bigoted behaviour. Next what, teachers on strike terrorising children?

Privilege or not privilege, double oppresion or not double oppression, these tactics are repulsive and counterproductive; they cannot fail to isolate the strickers, and directly lead to defeat.

I have worked with people with physical and developmental disabilities and gone on strike or nearly gone strike. In the lead up, I have spent time explaining that we were not striking against them, but striking for them, to defend our rights, public services, and my ability to give decent care.

And that is how it has to be. It is Strike-o-logy 101, indeed: you have to build a net of sympathy for your cause, and try your best to isolate and politically defeat your employers. Without that, what is the saying? Oh yes, united we stand, divided we fall.

I apologized in advance for interruptions in services and asked them to contact management and the appropriate level of government to bargain fairly and to provide increased funding for services and proper pay and benefits for care givers.

Again it seems obvious. I am frankly surprised with the amateurish nature of the strickers' actions, as much if no more than with the sheer lack of sensibility and solidarity towards their customers. Gee, those people are caretakers, how can you be a caretaker if you so obviously don't care?


Originally Posted by Pavel Nedved View Post
The country I live in also bans tobacco ads. The packs even come with graphical images of dead babies, suffering children, impotence, necrosis, cancer etc with a saying that basically goes: "this shit is bad and you will die because of it".

People couldn't care less.

I have indeed seen people saying, "necrosis I already have two, please bring me one with a miscarriage, I don't have one of those".


Originally Posted by LinksRadikal View Post
In fact, the consumer side of things is obviously the most important factor in planning production if we take the notion of directly social production for meeting needs and wants seriously.

In a capitalist society, people are schyzophrenically divided into their worker personality (that reigns on them from 8 AM to 6 PM, Monday to Friday, eleven months per year) ant their consumer personality (that possesses them during evenings, weekends, and vacations).

I suppose that in a communist society, consuming and producing will cease to be polar opposites in such a weird relation. Starting with "consuming" being part of a "self-production" that needs no longer to be just the re-production of labour power. And continuing with "producing" being also a process of consuming one's energies and time in a pleasurable way.


Originally Posted by LeninsDenim View Post
The state controls all means of production, land, and employs every worker.

So the State is the owner of all means of production; workers are still not owners of the means of production. They are owners of their own labour power, which they have to sell for a living. What exactly has changed?

Private property is abolished.

Juridically, may be. But I guess that there are still going to be several different companies, each of them with its own requirements in terms of inputs, and with an output that requires sales. So, this system will entail competition among those companies; they will still be individual capitals competing. The "State ownership", therefore, is a fiction, a juridical fiction, that recovers the reality of capitalist competition.

Money is replaced with a labour voucher system that guarantees life stuff for work.

Mkay. So I go to the bakery and I buy bread. With a voucher that is only valid for bread? Or with a voucher that is only valid for that specific bakery?

But how does the baker now buy the wine he wants to drink, if the voucher I gave him is not valid for wine?

Or, if "the baker" is replaced by this abstract entity, "the bakery", how does the bakery buy gas/oil, flour, water, milk, etc, for productive consumption in baking bread?

A bank system is required to exchange bread voucher for wine vouchers, and that bank system will have to find exchange means that make those goods exchangeable. Which is, it will have to find a general equivalent. Which is, it will have to reintroduce money into the system. The general populace will thus be deprived of the benefits of a general equivalent (if I decide that I want to eat less bread and instead save for buying a bycicle, I am stuck with bread vouchers that can't be exchanged for bycicles - which is by the way the foundation of a black market), but the system as a whole is grounded into the restricted, privileged circulation of clandestine money.

It is, as we see, a worse system than ordinary capitalism; less efficient and less fair.

Unless your labour vouchers are exchangeable for any commodity. But in this case they are a general equivalent, ie, they are money. And in this case, what has changed? At most, these vouchers will be nominated in labour time, instead of gold or of an abstract share of the total product. But gold has this quality that two ouces of gold always value twice the value of one ounce of gold, nevermind how much one ounce is worth. Labour time does not have such property, and it is possible that two hours of labour time do not value twice the value of one hour of labour time, because the value of labour time is dependent on productivity.

The idea being that if you work for the state and society, the state works for you.

In other words, the idea is that we exchange things. It is a market system, even though one that does not dare confess its market nature.

There are elections, but working is mandatory in order to vote. (Mothers still can go back at 3 to care for kids). In this way, workers control means of production. If not served, rebellion of new leaders.

But this is a mere formal control of the means of production.

In pre-capitalist times, workers had actual control of the means of production. The baker owned her oven, her ware, and her workplace, as well as her labour power. This ownership was both a formal relationship (expressed by the fact that the baker could buy those means of production with the economic results of her labour), and a material relationship (expressed by the fact that the baker understood and controlled her tools, the rhythm of her work, and the production process as a whole).

At some time in the development of capitalism, bakers were deprived from the formal control of their means of production. While they still could understand and control their tools and the rhythm of their work, they were no longer able to replace their means of production with the economic results of their work. That's the phase of manufacture.

Further along the development of capitalism, bakers were deprived from the material control of means of production. Capital developed the tools and the division of labour within the bakery, such that bakers lost the ability to understand and control their tools and the production process as a whole. That's industry: the phase in which the master bakers are replaced by employees who only control a separate aspect of baking, the worker that mixes the dough no longer being able to control the oven, the worker at the oven no longer being able to mix the dough. A process that renders these workers mere human parts of the production machinery, fully replaceable because their labour is mere expending of human energy, devoid of any mastership upon nature.

Your proposal reverses the first process, but not the second one. As such, it is at most a proposal for a transition. But it seems to blind itself from its transitional quality. Instead of proposing, "since retaking full control of the productive process as a whole is going to be difficult and time consuming, we are for the moment taking measures to avoid the worst aspects of labour alienation", what it seems to say is "we aren't aware of the problem of labour alienation, and so we will pretend that a mere electoral supervision of labour management will mean 'control over the means of production'".

On the other hand, we have seen that the supposed "State property" of the means of production is also problematic. The State may have a formal, juridical title to the ownership of the means of production, but it cannot have real, material possession of these means of production unless its members have this level of control. And as the workers do not have it, either they are unable to control the State, or the State will be unable to control the process of production, which in all likelyhood will be driven by blind market forces. Indeed, by blind market forces that are even blinder than in commonplace capitalism, because the commonplace "eyes" of this system - money - are to be yanked off in favour of an unsensitive system that cannot measure the demand of different products in relation to one another.

The state undergoes massive industrialization, killing the service sector in the process. This is to meet the needs of the people.

But "killing the service sector" ensures that the needs of the people cannot be met. Never much how delicious a loaf of bread is, it is useless unless it is put into my table. A distribution system is absolutely necessary, and a distribution system is a service sector in a commodity oriented society.

The government becomes a production machine, and as more goods are produced, the labour voucher value goes up as well.

But why are more goods to be produced? What is the whip that drives people into producing more and more goods, for the sake of producing more and more goods? In capitalism, it is profits and wages, but what is to do the trick in your system?

In actual existing "State socialism", it was repression, which in turn required suppression of workers democracy, of workers even merely electoral control of the State, and the autonomisation of the State at the expense of the workers.

If this does not happen, again, vote or rebellion.

This, of course, is easier to say than to do. Any social group that may eventually become advantaged by your system will entrench itself and make sure that rebellion is not an option.

Instead of the old capitalism, all the goods go back to workers.

But means of production are goods, too. So this is openly contradictory to "the State is the owner of all means of production". If the State is the owner of all means of production, then a part of the goods - those that are means of production - must go to the State, not to the workers. If all goods go to the workers, then the workers are the owners of the means of production, not the State.

Progress is made, because progress is simply labour*time and happy workers work harder, for more progress.

But what makes those workers happy? And why would "happiness", instead of being an end of itself, become an incentive for production for the sake of production? Labour for the sake of labour doesn't make people happy; we are happy when we control things, not when things control us.


Originally Posted by Vladimir Innit Lenin View Post
Privilege theory is quite simple to understand - as workers we are all exploited for our labour power

Of course. As long as people do agree that we are exploited for our labour power, there is no problem.

But I do get responses like this:

Originally Posted by a poster in a Brazilian feminist blog
Next what? are you going to tell us that "all labour is exploitatioin"?

So it seems it is far from a pacified question, even in "progressist" or "leftist" environments.

People are still proud of their labour, and are going to great extents to present it, to others and to themselves, as a dignified/dignifying thing. It is probably what keeps them going on; if the reality of exploitation was immediate to them, they would explode, and that they don't want to do.


Originally Posted by Rudolf View Post
Anyway, i don't really have much to add other than pointing out that the number 1 "criticism" of privilege theory ive come across has literally been "but what about white men?"

Yup… and the number one criticism of the Obama presidency I have come across is that he is a far-left radical who is turning America into a socialist State. And so is the number one criticism of Lula and Dilma I have come across. Them main criticism of the welfare State I have come across is a criticism of the nanny State and is premised on the idea that the poor should be left to die. The main criticism of social-democracy and American-style "liberalism" I have come across is a neo-liberal criticism. I have seen workers echoing the idea that the Brazilian government is a bad one because it has prompted a "scarcity of manpower".

I guess however this doesn't mean that we should stop criticising those things from an alternative standpoint. Similarly, yes, the main criticism of privilege theory that I have heard is "but what about us Whites (us men, us Christians, us straight people). So? The point is not to agree with this far-right criticism (which is anyway not the mainstream bourgeois view); the point is to discuss, if possibly in a rational way, whether a given theory - "privilege theory" - benefits us, and how.

TFU says that

Originally Posted by The Feral Underclass
Privilege theory makes no attempts to compete on the terrains of Marxism. Privilege theory isn't about "organising" workers, it's about explaining social phenomenon that occurs in relation to identity so that people can address this in their daily lives. It can help build the unity and solidarity that is apparently so important in a genuine and honest way

And to that extent I can certainly agree with him and believe it is a valuable tool for us, as long as we rely on other theories and practices that actually are about organising ourselves. What is contested by other posters here, however, is that "privilege theory" is often, or even more often than not, used to hinder organisation because it makes people to focus on their special interests, and to actually cover such interests as the opposite of what they really are (White people stealing protagonism from non-Whites in a patronising way in order to fancy themselves as ueber-revolutionary guys, a fantasy that requires them to act as selfless, stainless knights in armour for the oppressed, and consequently to decry each others for not fulfilling the fantasy, in a most divisive way).

Originally Posted by Rudolf
That's what this thread looks like btw. It looks like a collective "but what about white guys? We've got it bad too" Either that or just plain boring pedantry.

I am sorry that you think like that. But let's take the hint: what about White guys? Why do they have to constantly beat their own chests in demonstrations of non-racism, in order to compete against each others for leadership in social movements? What about straight cis men? Why do they have to do exactly that concerning sexism, and in the process reinforce sexism and male competitiveness?

What about White guys? That is precisely not the point. It is not about them. It is about oppression, and White men are only oppressed as not-White non-men: as workers, as have-nots, as foreigners, as denizens of the Global South, but never as White men. And what White guilt competition does is exactly to steal back protagonism, so that suddenly the bombing of an Iraqi town full of "non-Whites" is not about the concrete people who died or got mangled there, but about the amount of tears that non-Iraqis can shed about those otherised Great Victims. That may very well not be a necessary consequence of "privilege theory", but it is certainly a possible one. We should deal with that, in discussing "What should socialists say about privilege theory". Not because we should try and hide racism and sexism under the carpet, as the traditional or Stalinist left used to propose, but exactly because we cannot afford to allow otherisation and orientalism dictate the relations between workers of different origins and genders.


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