That’s because liberals don’t need to claim that their policies will produce spectacular growth. All they need to claim is feasibility: that we can do things like, say, guaranteeing health insurance to everyone without killing the economy. Conservatives, on the other hand, want to block such things and, instead, to cut taxes on the rich and slash aid to the less fortunate. So they must claim both that liberal policies are job killers and that being nice to the rich is a magic elixir.

How Republicans’ hysterical claims about the Obama economy have been thoroughly discredited

anonymous asked:

has any socialist country ever at any point completely put an end to the exchange of labor-power or private property?


I’ll address the issue of private property first, and would venture to say that no socialist country ever, to any extent, did away with private property.  Keep in mind that, in the Marxist framework, private property is not private because it is individually-owned, but because it entails the separation of labor from the means of production.  In the absence of conscious control of the means of production by the workers, it cannot be said that private property has been done away with (and thus the institutionalization of the rule of a party that ostensibly rules for the proletariat and embodies its interests does not nullify private property).

Since the question is concerned with the actual practice of the socialist countries, let’s take the USSR as an historical example to look at.  Even if we conceded the idea that a state run “for” but not by the working class resulted in the abolition of private property, Lenin was pretty adamant about the fact that such a precondition did not exist in the USSR.  

In December of 1922, Lenin spoke of the Soviet state as the “apparatus which…we took over from tsarism and slightly anointed with Soviet oil”.

In March of 1923 Lenin stated the following,

The most harmful thing would be to rely on the assumption that we know at least something, or that we have any considerable number of elements necessary for the building of a really new state apparatus, one really worthy to be called socialist, Soviet, etc.”

Those are some pretty scathing critiques by Lenin, which are unfortunately often overlooked by many who wish to paint a perfectly rosy picture of the USSR.  The ML argument in defense of the USSR hinges on the idea that the Soviet state was one of the dictatorship of the proletariat, which equated to (indirect) political rule by the proletariat, and thus property under the control of the state could not rightly be considered “private.”  I find it very hard to believe however, that a state which, by Lenin’s own admission, was effectively the same one that was apparently overthrown, can simultaneously be a state of the dictatorship of the proletariat.  A lot of anti-revisionist critiques of the USSR involve the idea that something analogous to the Cultural Revolution was desperately needed in the immediate post-War period, but let’s be real, something like that would have been needed decades earlier.

Now, as for the issue of the exchange of labor power, I think this too was a reality for the entirety of the USSR’s history.  I’ve remarked a few times that competition for labor power existed and was evidenced by the proliferation of piece-rate wages in the USSR in the 30s.  But I get asked a lot though, if labor power was a commodity (under either Stalin, or Brezhnev, or both), then why was there no unemployment?  Raya Dunayevskaya wrote a number of papers on the USSR and concluded that “the unemployed army hides out in the countryside,” but was disguised by official Soviet pronouncements that declared unemployment non-existent.  Paresh Chattopadhyay also concludes that unemployment existed but was hidden,

“Anessential argument to prove the post-capitalist character of the Soviet economy is that, unlike capitalism, this economy provided job rights and full employment to the laborers.  Let us, first, take the Soviet definition of full-employment (as summarized by an American sovietologist) It is a situation where there is a job for everybody who wants it, where labor is allocated rationally across the economy, and where it is efficiently utilized at the work place (Bornstein 1978: 5).  It should be clear that the Soviet economy did not fulfill these conditions.  First of all, even job rights could not prevent the admitted existence of unemployment at a non-negligible level in the Soviet Union’s eastern republics.  For example, at the end of the 1970s, it was estimated that between a quarter and a fifth of the working age population was unemployed in Azerbaizhan and Armenia, and that in Tadzhikistan the percentage of working people without a job was two and a half times the national average.  For the economy as a whole there was no full employment; there was, particularly beginning with the 1970s, labor shortage accompanied by an unutilized or hoarded labor at the level of the production unit (Manevich, 1985a: 59-60). If full employment of labor would signify at least a balance of the demand for labor with the existing labor resources, that balance was never attained in the USSR, where the failure to reach full employment was seen in the “opposite feature [protivopolozhnaya cherta] – a systematic shortage of labor power” (Manevich, 1985b: 21; italics added).   On the other hand, this overall macroeconomic over-full employment went hand in hand with inefficient utilization of labor power in the economy.  Within the production units, fulfilling the plan at any cost, coupled with low labor productivity, resulted in surplus or hoarded labor, a kind of disguised unemployment where laborers’ earnings would really amount to unemployment benefits. 

It is indeed odd job security and full employment of the hired wage laborers should qualify as non-capitalist, if not socialist, by Marxists (For Marx post-capitalist labor cannot be hired (wage) labor, it can only be associated labor).  This would imply that in wartime capitalism, with (over) full employment of wage labor, there is an interruption in the process of extraction of surplus value, and that, to that extent, capital ceases to exist (at least for the war period). And not only in wartime capitalism.  In peacetime (national) “socialist” Germany, based on juridical private ownership in the means of production, there was over-full employment of labor beginning with 1937-1938, and labor being “a scarce commodity” (as in the USSR), “competition for workers led to firms making wage offers which ran counter to the basic Nazi economic policy” (Grunberger 1983: 245).” (Chattopadhyay, Paresh. “The “Non-Capitalist” Position And The Soviet Reality.” In The Marxian Concept of Capital and the Soviet Experience: Essay in the Critique of Political Economy. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1994.)

My understanding of the other socialist countries is that they all either followed to a tee the economic layout of the USSR (much of the Eastern Bloc, Cuba, etc.) or did not even possess a requisite degree of economic centralization to rationally be considered “socialist” by shoddy ML standards (Yugoslavia, Ethiopia, etc.), so I must conclude that the socialist countries did not do away with unemployment or private property.

What happens when you combine racist hiring practices, a high poverty rate, large numbers of Black people sent to prison and a police department that appears to target people of color for arrest and harassment? You get the exploding Black homeless population seen in Seattle.

While Seattle is the 23rd largest city in the U.S., it currently has the country’s fourth largest homeless population, according to an analysis in ThinkProgress. And more than 60 percent of the homeless are people of color—an alarming overrepresentation of Black men.

The city appears to be a perfect storm of circumstances conspiring against Black people—with the end result being huge numbers forced to fend for themselves on the streets, staying in places like Seattle’s sprawling Tent City locations.

From 1980-2011, the prison population in the Emerald City increased fivefold, from 315,974 to 1,537,415, according to the King County Department of Adult & Juvenile Detention. And 35.7 percent of those prisoners were Black—in a city with a Black population of just 7 percent.

It’s a well-known fact that former convicts have an exceedingly tough time finding employment when they are released. In Seattle, the task of finding a job appears to be even harder.

Seattle is “tremendously racist,” Michael Volz, a caseworker who served the homeless for more than six years through the King County Jail and later Veterans Affairs, told ThinkProgress. “Racist in our hiring practices; racist in the way people are treated when they try to receive services.”

Worst of all, the homeless numbers are going in the wrong direction—up. There are an estimated 2,300 homeless in Seattle, according to the most recent count conducted in January 2014. That was an increase of more than 400 over the previous year.

Seattle already spends more than $37 million on homeless services, which Mayor Ed Murray said is the nation’s third-largest budgetary allocation after New York City and Los Angeles. Murray wants to build three additional tent cities to deal with the growing numbers, according to the Seattle Times.

But why are the numbers growing?

Based on interviews ThinkProgress conducted with members of the homeless population, a big part of the problem is that they have been unable to find work.

An African-American homeless man who goes by the name of “Greedy D” told ThinkProgress that although he has a culinary arts degree and went through the Job Corps, he is unable to find work at the age of 30. A car accident, debt, bad luck and a poor support system has resulted in a life on the streets.

Greedy knows his race makes things much harder for him.

“I’m an African American, I’m scruffy,” he told ThinkProgress. “I have a lot of stereotypes [like] he only listens to rap music, he might be mean to me, he might yell or talk with a loud tone.”

He said Black men have to work harder in the U.S. “If you know that you have people against you, or you know about racism, you know about what this country’s history is,” he said. “You have to over-perform at your best.”

But is it possible that we are not all associated? Let us call to mind… That even though we do not want to be associated, the force of things, the necessity of consumption, the laws of production, and the mathematical principle of exchange combine to associate us. There is but a single exception to this rule,—that of the proprietor, who, producing by his right of increase, is not associated with any one, and consequently is not obliged to share his product with any one (sic); just as no one else is bound to share with him. With the exception of the proprietor, we labor for each other; we can do nothing by ourselves unaided by others, and we continually exchange products and services with each other. If these are not social acts, what are they?
—  What is Property? by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
Universal Basic Income

An universal basic income is a form of social security system in which all citizens or residents of a country regularly receive an unconditional sum of money, either from a government or some other public institution, in addition to any income received from elsewhere. (Imagine if you will, if the government simply gave every citizen over the age of 18 $35,000 every year. If you have a job, you make more.

Congrats, no more poverty in your country. No more need to fund welfare. No more food stamps. No more unemployment. The government doesn’t need to pay for ANY of those systems any more OR pay the salaries of anyone who worked for those systems. Right there you’ve payed for a lot of the system simply by diverting preexisting costs.

Basic income systems have been promoted within the context of capitalist systems, which would be financed through a negative income tax or taxes on business.

People from all walks of life and all philosophies suppose Universal Basic Income. It is more efficient than more welfare systems, making is popular with some conservative groups. It alleviates economic stresses on groups impacted by wage gaps and pay gaps, go social justice advocates often support it. It is a step towards socialism, so it is popular with leftists.  

The wikipedia article on Basic Income.

The Reddit for Basic Income

Basic Income.Org

Thinking Utopian: How about a universal basic income?

The Economic Case for a Universal Basic Income (Part 1 of a series)

How Universal Basic Income Will Save Us From the Robot Uprising

What would you do if you lived in a country with Universal Basic Income? What would you do, if you didn’t have to sell your labor to survive? How would you spend your time? What would you be free to do? What interests could you explore? 


This latest front rebukes those who say that raising the minimum wage does little to address what ails the American middle class. First, it underscores the obvious: that battling against decades of bad economic policy must necessarily be a multi-pronged affair, with no single action able to solve everything at once. But second, it starkly highlights how much of the problem can be traced to a single source—the profoundly misguided notion that giving even more money to rich people would produce prosperity for all. Instead, the exact opposite has happened.

A thriving middle class is the cause of growth. The middle class creates rich people — not the other way around

There have been endless attempts at shifting from our market-based economy to something more egalitarian and enlightened, but nothing has stuck and some of the larger scale efforts have turned into horrific disasters. Anti-capitalists of various stripes haven’t stopped coming up with theories about how this system could finally fall, however. One of these theories is called accelerationism—the idea is that hyper-stimulation of the market on a mass scale will end with the collapse of capitalism. Consume like crazy, only drink from styrofoam, and throw handfuls of dead batteries into our oceans so the impending apocalypse can hurry up and get over with.

The spread of this idea is rooted in Marx’s belief that capitalism can’t sustain itself forever and will eventually fizzle out. The means by which people will bring about its end are unclear, but that’s where the ideas about accelerationism come from. Accelerationism is essentially the belief that the best way to shorten capitalism’s lifespan is to push it to the extreme. If normal capitalism is Mick Jagger, accelerationism is Jim Morrison.

1. 138,000 Kids Were Homeless while 115,000 Households Were Each Making $10 Million Per Year

Recent data has shown that the richest .1% (115,000 households) have each increased their wealth by an astonishing $10 million per year. At the same time, 138,000 children were without a place to call home, according to the U.S. Department of Housing.

2. The Average U.S. Household Pays $400 to Feed and Clothe Walmart, McDonalds and Other Low-Wage Workers

The Economic Policy Institute reports that $45 billion per year in federal, state, and other safety net support is paid to workers earning less than $10.10 an hour. Thus the average U.S. household is paying about $400 to employees inlow-wage industries such as food service, retail, and personal care.

3. As $30 Trillion in New Wealth was being Created, the Number of Kids on Food Stamps Increased 70%

Before the recession, 12 out of every 100 American children got food stamps. After the recession, 20 out of every 100 American children got food stamps.

That’s nearly a 70 percent increase, from 9.5 million kids in 2007 to 16 million kids in 2014, at the same time U.S. wealth was growing by over $30 trillion. Even with that incomprehensible increase in wealth our nation was not able to ensure food security for millions of its most vulnerable citizens.

4. Despite the Decline in Food Security, the Food Stamp Program was Cut by $8.6 Billion and the Money Paid to Corporate Agriculture

As more and more children go hungry, the largest agricultural firms continue to take taxpayer money to supplement their billions in profits. The 2014 farm billcut $8.6 billion (over the next ten years) from the food stamp program, of which nearly half of all participants are children. Meanwhile, $14 billion is annually paid out to the largest 10 percent of farm operators.

Read the full story…

Capitalism is incompatible with women’s liberation- men’s economic systems rely on hundreds of billions of hours of totally-free domestic labor performed by women simply because we’re female, as explained in “Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner?”

"…what if one day women all over the world put down their feather dusters? What if we had to start paying for all the free cleaning and childcare? Canada’s national statistical agency has already thought about this: it came to the conclusion that unpaid work contributed between 30.6 and 41.4 per cent of GDP. That is a not insubstantial figure. So, why is such a huge contributor to national wealth being routinely ignored?That is the question Katrine Marçal sets out to answer in Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner?. She tells us the story of the emergence of Homo economicus, or Economic Man, the mythical figure around whom our world runs. Economic Man is rational. He is an autonomous individual who makes independent choices calculated to maximise his utility (economics-speak for well-being). Above all, he is a man.

In case you were wondering:”It was Adam Smith’s mother who cooked his dinner: he never married, and lived with her for most of his life. Yet despite his dependence on her care she does not figure in his account of how meals are produced: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we can expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”

This is one of many reasons we don’t fight for ‘equality’, but liberation. All of men’s systems must be torn down- subjugation of women has been built into their foundations.


Deriding the push for an increased minimum wage as “a great soundbite,” likely Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush told a South Carolina audience on Tuesday that he opposes a federal minimum wage, arguing that the issue should be left to the states or the whims of the private sector. Asked during a question-and-answer session whether he thought an increased minimum was a good idea and if he saw a role for government in the matter, the former Florida governor replied, “We need to leave it to the private sector. I think state minimum wages are fine. The federal government shouldn’t be doing this.”

Yeah, because leaving things to the private sector never results in exploitation…