Personal info

My photo
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
A blog of Post-Capitalist critique in general, economic, philosophical and political analyses, Post-Capitalist poetry and prose, Post-Capitalist philology, book reviews, Postcapitalist news, interviews, praxis, art and much more! For the record, Davide Ferri is a Postcapitalist, who graduated with a B.A.Economics(Honours) degree from Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University, India. He currently lives and works in Mumbai.

Search

Loading...

Flags

free counters

NEWS

-ADD THIS BLOG TO FAVOURITES to stay tuned on post-Capitalist writings, poetry, polls, excerpts and videos!
-FOR PDF COPIES OF MY WORKS AND RESEARCH SHARING FOLLOW ME ON ACADEMIA.EDU:
http://srcc.academia.edu/DavideFerri

Friday, 16 December 2011

THE POLITICAL CHARACTER OF THE OCCUPY MOVEMENT

Written by: Davide Ferri
B.A.Economics(Honours)
SRCC, Delhi University
First published in December 2011,
Delhi, India

A very large part of Occupy Movement, from Occupy Seattle to Occupy Berlin, Occupy Wall Street and so on, is bluntly liberal, often reflecting the ideas of Social Democracy and/or "national" anarcho-Capitalism. Some Occupy activists dream of "Capitalism with a human face", whether within the framework of a reformist anti-finance capitalism or within a "social" anti-monopoly capitalism. Some are anticapitalist wish to abolish Capitalism but simply don't know what to do. Some know what to do but feel politically isolated and unaware of the correct political praxis to carry out; disappointed e.g. by the USSR (anti-marxist) post capitalist experiment. Some even spit out the boring libertarian propaganda on fractional reserve and harmony between workers and bosses; which, among other political entities, the anarcho-capitalist Mises institute strongly endorses. Some are Marxists. Some are Marxist-Leninists. Some are anarchists. Whomever wants to gain a greater knowledge about the political character of Marxism may conveniently read my articles on Marxism-Leninism and the political problems of mainstream "Marxism".

[In the following video, an anthropological example of investor-friendly police brutality]
The Occupy movement — whatever its heterogeneous composition may be — is the symptom of the decay of Capitalism, as a system entailing lack of equity, political freedom, economic justice, stability and grassroots democracy.
The above-posted video is an example of pro-capitalist ideology within the movement.Leaving aside this matter, which the scope of this article doesn't allow to discuss, it is important to point that the Occupy movement — whatever its huge political limits may be— is undoubtedly an amazing historical step ahead against Capitalism, at least in the United States.

On the other hand, the political refusal on the part of a large part of the Occupy movement to take systemic action against Capitalism as a whole is problematic. The refusal to overthrow the system of Capitalist reproduction and accumulation implies a tacit acceptation of the extremes of "Capital" and "Wage-Labour" with all its anti-human consequences: cyclical crises, unemployment, imperialism, low wages, workers' exploitation, pro-austerity institutions such as parliaments and police, pollution, parasitic finance etc. etc.

What does C.de Ferri mean with all this?
That's a brief synthesis for the record (nay, for readers who may not be fully knowledgeable on the matter):

The Capitalist has a determined political and economic power over the Wage-labourer (whether s/he works in the service sector or in industry or wherever we want), who is forced to work so as to survive....and whose labour is sold on the labour market. The Capitalist can drive down the workers' wage in order to increase his/her profit, especially during crises  — which are inherent and inevitable, causing unemployment to rise — or with pro-capitalist action or employers' organisation.
Marxist Post-Capitalism (leaving aside its "continuations" or "sequels") is of course more than topical in these terms; having explained Capitalist crisis cycles, accumulation, surplus value etc.etc.
The central idea of Marxist is that until there is "class antagonism", there will always be a ruling class trying to get rich at the detriment of the other.The entrepreneur must appropriate labour from a workers; as long as s/he doesn't want to vanish as a Capitalist due to competition with the other capitalists. 

[In the following video, protesting students nicely pepper-sprayed by the US Police] 

In fact the Capitalist has to maintain an average rate of profit, at least; in order to consume a part of its surplus value or to reinvest it again for accumulation of capitalist consumption, variable capital (labourers in its industry) and constant capital (machines, tools, production services etc.). 
It is not a matter of "morality" for him; it is a matter of "economics", of accountancy. Capitalism urges both classes to be set out against each other forever, within the framework of "reaction". 

The wage-labourers' socio-economic position, as even Mr Marx argued, can certainly be improved, economically and socially; thanks to trade unions action and state-sponsored transfer payments, for instance. 


Yet, the wage benefits achieved through this praxis may be easily offset by the effects of a rise of a reserve army of labour (more unemployed masses), which is caused by crises or a by the growing mechanisation of labour. 

Among other works, Marx's "Capital" and "Theories of Surplus Value" and Ricardo's "principles" already proved that an accumulation of constant capital always leads to a certain amount of workers displaced that is higher than amount of workers who can be reabsorbed by existing production.
The workers in the information technology, industrial, state, agriculture and/or service sector will always be wage-labour in Capitalism: a human commodity.
Wage-labour will always be exploited on the labour market to a certain degree, whether we live in "Social Democracy" or Neoliberalism, wherein unemployment and crises are anyway inherent.

With "Occupy" reformism, the billionaires will not magically vanish. The very same "Wall Street", African warlords, South American drug lords, "Afghanistan-war-like wars", bosses and all the parasitic finance will keep appropriating the value added by the workers.
By accepting the preservation of Capitalism we implicitly accept all the liberal humbug of freedom, justice and utopian equity

My understanding of the Occupy phenomenon suggests me that, in general, most of Occupy activists and supporters haven't grasped the political economy of Capitalism, yet. 
Many of them — though in good faith — think the problem lies in the parasitic finance only, whereas the parasitic finance is a natural product of industrial capital. 
"You need 2 billions to invest?" says the banker. "I have 3 billions. We can make a fortune jointly, as I'll get an interest on your returns, Mr.Industrialist!". 
The industrialist, in fact, must accept the contradiction of financial capital to be competitive with other industrialists., even if financial capital has an antithetical interest vis-à-vis his. Capitalism not only entails the contradiction of wage-labour but also "sub-contradictions" within Capital of the likes of financial capital as opposed to industrial capitalism; and, of course, wage-labour, who has to carry the economic weight of all these parasitic bourgeois class.
The problem does not lie in the parasitic finance only, the problem is in the finance capital that draws value from industrial capital which in its turn appropriates value from wage labour. Credit, as Marx brilliantly exposed in Capital, can help the Capitalist to increase his/her surplus value by reducing the time necessary to the sales of his/her commodities
Credit promotes Capitalist reproduction and expansion of production in the long run, to then end up exacerbating the intensity of crises — whenever these cyclically occurs — in broad terms due to the intricate segmentation of money transactions and private initiative in general. 

[In the following video, Homini Investors]
Marx e.g. is more than topical on the matter, having explained in Capital VOL III the process of expanded reproduction.
Without going deep into the question by discussing Marx's complex technical observations, I will cite, hereby, one of his general insightful remarks on credit:


"Talk about centralisation! The credit system, which has its focus in the so-called national banks and the big money-lenders and usurers surrounding them, constitutes enormous centralisation, and gives to this class of parasites the fabulous power, not only to periodically despoil industrial capitalists, but also to
interfere in actual production in a most dangerous manner
-and this gang knows nothing about production
and has nothing to do with it. (Karl Marx — Capital VOL III)"

[In the following video, an anthropological example of Capital apologist: Milton Friedman]

The scope of this article, of course, does allow us, among other things, to go deep into analysing the dynamics of credit or trade. Whomever is interested to know more about all these dynamics may conveniently read my article/pamphlet MARX'S LABOUR THEORY OF VALUE AND THE HUMBUG OF LIBERAL ACCOUNTANCY (Davide Ferri)

CONCLUSION:

Until the Occupy movement preserves its own "liberal consciousness" and fail to go beyond the liberal humbug by espousing a Marxist/anti-capitalist roots of grassroots democracy, it will unawarely end up doing the game of the investors: maintaining the status quo, with few cosmetic changes. 
Within the limits of investor-friendly and narrow-minded liberal consciousness, many of "Occupy" protesters fail to realise that their own protest has not acquired a revolutionary character yet, but a mere reformist nay "pro-capitalist" one; as if Capitalism exploitation could be destroyed "by decree" and by maintaining the Capitalist exploiters, the owners!
In fact, many OWS supporters believe that through reformism the huge power of Wall Street — a natural necessary produce of Capitalism — will vanish or the institution concerned will suddenly become "good-hearted" and less greedy.

Of course, this is part of the "Liberal utopia".

When the liberal occupy activist says "I'm not political! I'm not for any specific system!" s/he just expresses all her/his own passive idealist stance in front of a reality which is well-defined and structured by a system: the Capitalist one.
Whether we "are not" for a system or not, we live in a system (Capitalist) that got certain inherent problems (like cyclical crises, low wages for the majority and eternal unemployment), which are the very same inherent problems that induced the 99% to rebel.
The no-system believers don't grasp that human beings so as to survive need a production system, whether is feudal, capitalist or non-capitalist.
The material bases of one system determine the way people are able to satisfy their needs; and therefore the way people relate to one another.
In capitalism people can satisfy their needs through production in a better fashion than they can do in feudalism, tribalism or in a slave society. But is it there another better system?
Perhaps post-Capitalism?
It is time to question whether capitalism is the best possible system.
It is time to question whether a production based on the figure of a Capitalist forever set out against the wage-labourer is an efficient and equitable system.

Liberation is a material, historical act, not a "mental/spiritual seeking" one. You cannot save the wage-labourer from immiseration without providing him with social functioning in enough quantity and quality (through one material economic system).


The Occupy Movement is intended as a non-political entity by many of its members and yet we already discussed how the "non-political" question is a mere illusion. It is pure smoke in the eyes.
One movement always has a determined set of ideas, which gives its members determined expectations, goals and actions; it always has an ideology, as long as we all agree on that rebelling people have a brain to acquire certain expectations, goals and opinions on determined actions!
Hence, there is actually no non-political movement in the world because, whether it likes it or not, a movement ends up questioning the morality of certain production relations (e.g. the present-day exploiting owner-labourer ones) or it doesn't.
A large section of Occupy Movement activists, alas, are people "with no idea to realise", but "with ideas to preserve and harmonise", within the discourse of owner-labourer relations, namely, Capitalism: a system with contradictions, where a owner-labourer harmony can never exist.


In brief — whether s/he likes it or not — the "no ideology" supporter indirectly legitimises Capitalism with his/her fallacious "no ideology" reasoning; insofar as this very same reasoning, for its wretched philosophical and politico-economic nature, doesn't question the present-day inhuman contradictions: those of Capital and Wage-Labour.

Only political economy and dialectical reasoning can shine a light on this matter, as we may notice.

The Capitalist exploiting owners — the very same queer economic agents that caused the crises — are surely more than pleased to see masses loyal to Capitalist ideology and confuse unemployed masses occupying their own public goods, such as parks and squares, for the sake of political impotence. This material political impotence simply ends up being a laughable discourse in capitalist rich living rooms.
Similarly, pro-capitalist institutions are surely pleased to see unemployed people occupying the only things they're left with, that is to say, inalienable public goods; while property property is left untouched.

My anticapitalist motto is:
"Don't Occupy just public squares and parks, how can you occupy something that belongs to you?
Occupy the private Means of Production
!"

[in the following video, 
what all Capitalism can produce in XXI century Rome]

The question of material and immaterial production shouldn't even represent a serious matter of debate, within this scenario.
Material and immaterial labour may be involved in production activities (whatever produces goods and services which are needed by the people) as well as in nonproduction activities (system maintenance jobs such as police, fire and rescue service)
Whether material or not, a paralysed production endangers the very existence of a Capital system; paving the way for a dialectical development towards Post-Capitalism.
An action against private production — perhaps by continuing to run production in a social way during occupations — is the only way to make a real change in the USA.

Occupy action should focus on occupations of middle-scale and large-scale firms too, whilst attempting to involve wage-labourers from any production sector (IT, industry, agriculture, service sector in general) and convincing them to occupy their respective workplaces.
Students could also be involved more actively.
Without this membership organisation co-ordinated action is almost impossible to take; or at least is very difficult.
Building membership in all-sector wage-labour — namely the 99%, the suffering class — would strengthen the Occupy movement.

"Occupy Corruption" is a reformist tiny kiss to big Capital in political terms, which, by the way, also is benefited by a lesser degree of corruption. Whomever corrupts politicians or big institutions is usually not a slum dweller but a far richer person.
By no accident, corruption as western Capitalism knows it, it is a sheer Capitalist produce. It is, undoubtedly, a serious question and yet it ends up shifting people's attention from the "cause" to the effect of this systemic humbug.
Hence, a focus on corruption represents a minor necessity; though it could be communicatively productive, especially to get membership.

Only after the whole production is paralysed — and this would require the intervention of all wage-labour — a successful  action against the pro-exploitation institutions can take place.

The only way to pave the way for post-Capitalism is by occupying the means of material/immaterial production, both in, say, the Information Technology & Service sector workplaces (immaterial production) and in Industry & Agriculture workplaces (material production).

Stay tuned!

C.de Dave Ankit Ferri
B.A.Economics(Honours)
Delhi University

2 comments:

  1. Dave, on your 'anti-capitalist motto', the learning curve of Occupy is first to recognise that 'public' is not us but them and to be 'public' in the sense of the 'people' (in Lenin's sense) we have to expropriate it physically. Hence Tahrir had to be occupied and defended, and became the model of 'liberation squares', most taken back by state force precisely because if was 'public', but in the process making Occupy conscious that physical defence and mass pickets are a first step towards liberating the 'public' space. The logic of liberating labour time and space (in production) has quickly followed and now needs to go to the next moment which is the general strike as a political general strike. Thus with some prompting from anti-capitalists of the exchange type and Marxists of the Bolshevik type Occupy is going from the levels of appearances towards the essence in praxis.
    http://redrave.blogspot.com/2011/12/december-12-for-independent-working.html

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree, C.de Bedggood.
    By no accident, nobody here denies the communicative, symbolic and political importance of "occupying" public spaces.
    That's why I wrote "Don't occupy JUST public squares and so on"
    I would also add that occupy production "alone" is not sufficient.
    Further political and economic initiatives — once the productive forces are occupied —should be implemented too.

    ReplyDelete