I don’t understand people who vote Tory – they’re a complete mystery to me. Lots of people do it, and I’m sure some of them do it based on deep-held instinctive belief, but it just doesn’t make any sense to me. I don’t understand how you can be alive in the world and have the experience of being a human being and not have empathy for other people who are in a less fortunate situation. How can you not want a society in which everyone has a chance and as few people suffer as possible? It just seems so obvious to me. You could say that dispute is part of the rich tapestry of human experience, but I’m mystified by people who hold any other viewpoint.
—  David Tennant, The Big Issue, December 2012
TSB Library Update ☭

The following books have been added to the TSB Library:

Highlights from Bromma's “The Worker Elite: Notes on the Labour Aristocracy”

The worker elite has three main functions within modern imperialism.

1. First of all, it serves as an active buffer between the ruling class and the proletariat. This function has several aspects:

  • A. The worker elite absorbs and co-opts proletarian struggle. When proletarian insurgency grows, the bourgeoisie responds with a mix of repression and social bribery to combat it. Systematic privilege may be extended to a section of the proletariat, offering tailored reforms and a preferential social contract in order to obtain that section’s loyalty and divide it permanently from its rebellious counterparts.

    Emblematic of this process is Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal,” which effectively transformed millions of rebellious proletarian immigrants in the US into a loyal “white” worker elite. This corrupt arrangement seriously undermined proletarian solidarity and political struggle for generations, while simultaneously laying the foundation for the global projection of US imperial power.

  • B. The worker elite provides mass acquiescence and mass support for anti-proletarian politics, including settler colonialism, imperialist war, male domination, and genocide. The worker elite, because of its privileges, sees its fortune as tied to the fortune of the ruling class and therefore normally tries to help it succeed.

    Again the New Deal provides a blueprint. In the 1930s, Roosevelt encouraged “white” US workers to join unions as part of an extensive national social contract. Yet at the exact same time, Puerto Rican trade unionists were being gunned down in the streets. Roosevelt was counting on “his” worker elite to accept this imperialist dichotomy—and for the most part, they have. The ruling class relies on this specific kind of mass passivity and complicity to gain freedom of action in repressing the proletariat.

    The worker elite’s alliance with the ruling class is also expressed in more active forms in the arena of mass politics: elections, demonstrations, etc. The worker elite is a crucial element of many bourgeois parties. On an even more practical level, it’s a routine practice and point of “honor” for children of the worker elite to fight and die in support of ruling class wars of aggression. The worker elite sometimes participates in direct repression of proletarian populations and anti-capitalist struggles. The labor elite is heavily represented in nativist and white supremacist groups in the US.

  • C. The worker elite influences and tries to dominate the proletariat politically and ideologically, asserting control over its struggles and organizations and constricting the limits of its dissent. For instance, the worker elite pushes itself forward as the “natural” leader of trade unions and other labor organizations, even those initiated and populated by proletarians. It lays claim to representing all working class interests in every arena of public discourse, including within the main capitalist political parties. The ruling class backs up this claim with ideological, political, and financial support.

  • D. The worker elite serves as an object of longing for the proletariat. It embodies living proof that some working class people can achieve privileged middle class lives. For many proletarians, the question then becomes not “how can we make revolution?” but “how can I become part of the worker elite?”

    The worker elite’s leadership actively encourages this wishful thinking. For example, the AFL-CIO (in many ways the world headquarters of the worker elite) has launched numerous initiatives in the US to organize immigrant workers from Latin America. In virtually every case, immigrants are encouraged to embrace “the American Dream” of privileged life in the metropolis as their only legitimate goal. Of course, most proletarian immigrants from Latin America never reach the promised “Dream.” In reality, this is an invitation for workers to cut their ties with the labor movements in Latin America, movements which are often substantially more anti-capitalist and proletarian than those in the US. This approach also helps to divide Latin American workers from New Afrikan proletarians, who are, with limited exceptions, permanently and institutionally excluded from the “American Dream.” The AFL-CIO approach is an attempt to increase its dues rolls and its leverage with the ruling class, while simultaneously grooming Latin American immigrants to function as a disciplined workforce for North American capitalism.

2. The second major function of the worker elite is as a class of mass consumption. Capitalism demands a growing spiral of investment, production, distribution, and sales. In our era, the capitalist economy will collapse unless mass populations purchase a constantly increasing volume of consumer products and services. Worker elite consumerism is an economic imperative that dovetails with the other, political, functions of the class.

In his 1938 State of the Union address, in which he proudly proposed a minimum wage law, Roosevelt made the argument that “millions of industrial workers receive pay so low that they have little buying power,” and were therefore “unable to buy their share of manufactured goods.” He emphasized that this was a drag on the capitalist economy.

The “social contract” between the worker elite and the ruling class is partly, in other words, a decision about which workers get to be middle class consumers.

In terms of consumerism, the upper end of the worker elite can even overlap other middle classes, including administrators, small business people, and professionals. Members of the worker elite sometimes mingle with other middle classes. These classes may live in the same neighborhoods, their kids may go to the same schools, etc. Children of the most privileged worker elite sometimes move into or marry into other middle classes.

3. The third major function of the worker elite is to supply labor to capitalist enterprises. Worker elites have potent privileges, but that doesn’t give them a free pass. Most of the worker elite has to work to pay its bills. This function is a source of contradictions within the class.

——

There is another crucial sense in which the worker elite is parasitic: politically. Its rise feeds off the struggles of the proletariat. The harder proletarians fight to improve their conditions, the more the worker elite may be valued by the bourgeoisie. The more reforms the proletariat demands, the more opportunity there is for the worker elite to appropriate those reforms and turn them into privileges. Ripping off the proletarians’ struggle, the worker elite succeeds at their expense.

——

At the cultural, political, and demographic heart of the worker elite are male workers who do blue collar manual labor—teamsters, construction “hard hats,” firefighters, machinists, well-paid manufacturing workers, etc.

The ideological outlook of the worker elite is macho. Although worker elite jobs are almost always less demanding than proletarian labor, they are nevertheless characteristically surrounded by a mythology of blue collar male toughness.

Historically, part of the ethos of the class has been the idea of a “family wage,” according to which the “man of the family” is able to “provide for” everybody. The option of having a “stay-at-home wife” (whether exercised or not) is a key privilege of the worker elite, and continues to be an expectation in worker elites around the world, old and new. This privilege has a multiplier effect on household economic viability and standard of living.

The worker elite’s maleness stands in direct contrast to the proletariat, which centers on women and their labor. In fact the relationship between the worker elite and the proletariat echoes gender relations within the patriarchal nuclear family. Like the wife, the proletariat performs the hardest labor and endures the worst drudgery, often without pay. Like the husband, the worker elite carries out more prestigious, better-paid work, and attempts to dominate and control the proletariat. This analogy is rough, but not fanciful. In fact, in many households, proletarian women live side by side with men of the worker elite.

——

The very process by which workers are changed into consumers, where personal identity becomes intertwined with the specific bundle of commodities possessed, where work is seen only as means to acquisition of such commodities (as it is within the neoclassical parables), is one in which consciousness of class is obliterated and exploitation normalized.

——

When the worker elite does choose to fight the ruling class, it’s often for overtly reactionary causes. For example, the South African worker elite conducted a militant populist struggle to help establish apartheid. (“Workers of the World, Unite and Fight for a White South Africa” was one of their slogans.) The first “union label” campaign in the US was mobilized for the purpose of freezing Chinese labor out of the cigar rolling industry in California.

When abandoned by “their” capitalists, failing worker elites generally embrace right-wing populism, including the scapegoating of proletarians and other oppressed people. We might wish that disintegrating worker elites would choose to unite with the proletariat in its violent, dangerous, underdog fight against capital. But this isn’t what comes naturally. In practice, abandoned worker elites cling to their privileges as natural entitlements. There is an instinctual tendency to seek out the “traitors” who “stabbed them in the back,” singling out immigrants, women, religious or national minorities, Jewish bankers and other “disloyal” types of capitalists as the cause of their problems.

Despite the wishful expectations of some radicals, people pushed out of the worker elite do not readily accept “demotion” into the proletariat. It’s one thing for an established worker elite to use proletarians as shock troops for leverage. It’s something else entirely for them to view themselves as proletarians when the ruling class decides to revoke their middle class status. The spontaneous, materially-based desire for a return of the old corrupt social contract, including its “traditional” patriarchal and patriotic ideology, is deeply rooted and hard to overcome.

This desire for the old privileges, and the accompanying narrative of betrayal, is ready fuel for fascism and other forms of reactionary populism. Hitler and Mussolini leveraged these impulses to attract and recruit workers whose economic prospects had been crushed by the Great Depression. In fact, much of Nazism’s popularity came from its corrupt promise to raise “Aryan” workers out of the proletariat for good. The Nazis promised to build an imperial Reich on the backs of the labor of conquered and enslaved non-“Aryan” proletarians. The superprofits from that atrocity would be used to subsidize a rarified German parasitic worker elite.

[The book can be purchased from Kersplebedeb, or the PDF can be found here]

As a child growing up in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee thought her country was “the best on the planet.” It wasn’t until the famine of the 90s that she began to wonder. She escaped the country at 14, to begin a life in hiding, as a refugee in China. Hers is a harrowing, personal tale of survival and hope — and a powerful reminder of those who face constant danger, even when the border is far behind.

BEST TED TALK EVER

IF YOU THINK SOCIALISM IS A GOOD IDEA, THIS SHOULD CHANGE YOUR MIND

Important reading for a communist understanding of the class struggle and elections in Greece:

If we were able simply to unite the working masses around our own banner or around our practical immediate slogans, and skip over reformist organizations, whether party or trade union, that would of course be the best thing in the world. But then the very question of the united front would not exist in its present form.

The question arises from this, that certain very important sections of the working class belong to reformist organizations or support them. Their present experience is still insufficient to enable them to break with the reformist organizations and join us. It may be precisely after engaging in those mass activities, which are on the order of the day, that a major change will take place in this connection. That is just what we are striving for. But that is not how matters stand at present. Today the organized portion of the working class is broken up into three formations.

One of them, the Communist, strives toward the social revolution and precisely because of this supports concurrently every movement, however partial, of the toilers against the exploiters and against the bourgeois state.

Another grouping, the reformist, strives toward conciliation with the bourgeoisie. But in order not to lose their influence over the workers reformists are compelled, against the innermost desires of their own leaders, to support the partial movements of the exploited against the exploiters.

Finally, there is a third grouping, the centrist, which constantly vacillates between the other two, and which has no independent significance.

The circumstances thus make wholly possible joint action on a whole number of vital issues between the workers united in these three respective organizations and the unorganized masses adhering to them.

The Communists, as has been said, must not oppose such actions but on the contrary must also assume the initiative for them, precisely for the reason that the greater is the mass drawn into the movement, the higher its self-confidence rises, all the more self-confident will that mass movement be and all the more resolutely will it be capable of marching forward, however modest may be the initial slogans of struggle. And this means that the growth of the mass aspects of the movement tends to radicalize it, and creates much more favourable conditions for the slogans, methods of struggle, and, in general, the leading role of the Communist Party.

The reformists dread the revolutionary potential of the mass movement; their beloved arena is the parliamentary tribune, the trade-union bureaux, the arbitration boards, the ministerial antechambers.

On the contrary, we are, apart from all other considerations, interested in dragging the reformists from their asylums and placing them alongside ourselves before the eyes of the struggling masses. With a correct tactic we stand only to gain from this. A Communist who doubts or fears this resembles a swimmer who has approved the theses on the best method of swimming but dares not plunge into the water.

Mao Zedong at the sixth plenary session of the Sixth Central Committee in Yenan, November 1938. 

"In October-November 1938, at the sixth plenum of the Sixth Central Committee, he won the majority votes of the Central Committee. His three speeches climaxed his ideological victory, the downfall of "left" and "right" factions and the rallying of the Party in unity behind Mao." - Han Suyin, The Morning Deluge. 

The three speeches mentioned are The Role of the Chinese Communist Party in the National War; The Question of Independence and Initiative Within the United Front; and Problems of War and Strategy.

"By communism, we understand the total appropriation of each by all, and of all by each; we do not reject notions such as self-interest or greed, but rather find their genuine realization and satisfaction in instances of communistic organization."

It’s the standard theory of mutual aid, framed within radically individualistic language, a brilliant occurrence of linguistic détournement; it inexorably and necessarily relates the social to the individual, leading to the dissolution of the theoretical/ideological boundaries (present for ages, but fortified by the liberalism of the Enlightenment) that separate them into opposing camps. The individual becomes such through social interaction, and the social manifests as association between autonomous individuals. Inversely, the individual dissolves impotently into the landscape without the social, without collaboration; and, the social doesn’t exist in the absence of individuals. In genuinely communistic forms of economic organization, we find the utmost fostering of individual development through free access to that which is produced. Thus, we also find the maximum degree of collective development.

Obamacare Summary

Here are the 10,535 pages of ObamaCare condensed to 4 sentences…

As humorous as this sounds…..every last word of it is absolutely TRUE!

1. In order to insure the uninsured, we first have to uninsure the insured.
2. Next, we require the newly uninsured to be re-insured.
3. To re-insure the newly uninsured, they are required to pay extra
charges to be re-insured.
4. The extra charges are required so that the original insured, who
became uninsured, and then became re-insured, can pay enough extra so
that the original uninsured can be insured, which will be free of
charge to them.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is called “redistribution of wealth” …

or, by its more common name, SOCIALISM.

"France isn't a racist/is a socialist country!"
  • France:*only forgave haiti's slave debt /after/ their economy was destroyed by a natural disaster leaving them without the means to make payments*
  • France:*still holds former african colonies in debt*
  • France:*monopolizes resource industries in those colonies, literally preventing the people who live in those countries from owning and profiting from the land and resources in them*
  • France:*has one of the world's largest armies which it employs second only to the us in the middle east in defense of oil assets*
  • France:*controlled the colonial government in south vietnam and committed many of the war crimes of the vietnam war to defend it*
  • France:*holds heavy influence over multiple (often muslim-majority) countries in the middle-east, south asia, and northern africa but has the gall to make muslims unwelcome /in france/*
  • upper-middle class teenage american:capitalism is scum. communism is the way to go! equality for everyone sounds really nice!
  • vietnamese-american:well, a communist system of government tried to kill my family, so i'm pretty opposed to it.
  • upper-middle class teenage american:yeah, but that wasn't real communism. real communism is really nice, because no one's ever hungry!
  • ukrainian:are you kidding me? is this a joke?
  • north korean:what
  • upper-middle class teenage american:with communism, everyone has a job!
  • 10 year old soviet child:well, they aren't lying. everybody has a job...collective farms are nice this time of year.
  • chinese citizen:*cries*
  • upper-middle class teenage american:capitalism is the worst system!