Infections are on the rise again and the impact of new variants is feared. But European governments are encountering increasingly violent resistance to the “Covid passport” requirement. The old feminist slogan “My body, my choice,” accepted as the moral dogma of the vaccination campaign by the governments themselves now undermining public health.
Under communism… why would the sexual division of labor disappear when it pre-dates even class society? Isn’t it an exercise in voluntarism to declare that Communism will simply abolish the sexual division of labor?
First it was truck drivers and cutting workers in Britain and not long after they were joined by healthcare workers. Then, alarms about the cost of “extreme turnover” and the lack of sufficient workers in hospitality and services were raised from the US. The EU, country by country, reported similar headlines. Now news of “labor shortages” is coming even from South Korea. The talking heads of capitalism and the opinion machinery, from Krugman to Fintan O’Toole, respond with a change in their discourse on labor.
In France, the media are shaking their heads at the views, some of them frankly anti-human, reflected in polls taken among high school students. In Germany, meanwhile, the current models of upbringing, generalized from the basic school in the last decades, are being called into question. Not just the educational and school model, but the whole ideology of upbringing is proving to be socially and humanly destructive.
October 12 again. And back again with the barbarities and outbursts of the Spanish right wing, López Obrador’s cynicism and the moralizing and “decolonizing” delusions of the identitarian university left. Each one with its own agenda but, however noisy it may be, their confrontation is only apparent. All are in fact selling us the same outdated product: a terminal nationalism which is as anti-historical as the system feeding it.
After the first five installments of our series “Under Communism”, several readers have asked us our opinion on “Fully Automated Luxury Communism”, the title of a book by Aaron Bastani which, although it has had few translations and media coverage outside of the English-speaking world, seems to have succeeded in coining the term.
France will reimburse mental health appointments; in Spain a law is being prepared pledging to establish and equip a care system that today offers little more than waiting lists and drugs in the midst of an epidemic causing more than 200 suicide attempts daily and in a context in which 2 million people are on daily anxiolytics. But no law is going to stop the grinder into which living and working conditions have turned. Only collective organization and struggle can achieve that.
In Britain, the shortage of drivers at the wages offered by companies is already affecting 30% of British petrol stations and the government is starting to mobilize military drivers. It is a striking case because of how it reveals the chaos created by this productive system, but it is far from being unique: the entire American and European press complains about an alleged labor shortage. But the British experience and the behavior of the unions throughout this speaks volumes and says a lot about workers, their ethos/morality and the alternatives we face.
After the pandemic confinements and the sharp rise in unemployment throughout 2020, the rebound in U.S. hires was accompanied for workers by inflation above wage hikes and reductions in working hours. Meanwhile, the corporate petty bourgeoisie was reluctant to move back to the office and less than 20% of the corporate bourgeoisie was considering a return to business as usual. Now they are dumping on us a “new” moral discourse on work: they tell us that the former discourse wasn’t so important after all, that the centrality of work was a reactionary illusion.
A statistical study conducted at Princeton University that uses the contents of 14 million books in English, German and Spanish as its source material has just been published. The study spotted verbal patterns typical of each language which indicated “cognitive distortions” associated with depression, anxiety and pathological pessimism. The researchers’ hypothesis is that this degeneration of written language reflects how “entire societies may become more or less depressed over time.” They are not misguided.”
In France the demonstrations against the Covid Passport have consolidated an initially heterogeneous social base around a discourse that amalgamates, from the antivaxx, reactionary libertarianists, pseudoscience, feminism, conspiracy-mongering, nationalism and anti-Semitism. No neo-fascist aesthetics or Gaullist fogeys. Quite the opposite: lots of social workers, islands of yellow vests and anarchists and lots of “France Insoumise” followers. They are many, but they are still an eccentric minority, ideal as a cohesive enemy for Macronism, which can thus garb itself in rationalist garb. And yet it is a movement highly significant of the historical moment and the culture it exudes.
This week, in Spain, the ruling against two parents who murdered their two children in Valencia was heard; in the Canary Islands, the corpse, more than 1km deep in the sea of one of the girls who had been kidnapped by her own father was discovered; and in Catalonia a woman confessed to the murder of her own daughter out of spite for her ex-partner and father of the girl. We must ask ourselves why these heinous crimes keep occurring, what produces them and why 20 years of laws and public policies against gender violence have apparently been to no avail.
Income distribution data in Europe show increasingly worrying patterns of territorial inequality apparently condemning whole regions to rural depopulation and massive and eternal unemployment. Local nationalisms and regionalisms use these differences to justify their aspirations. But neither the cause of the problems resides in a territorial conflict nor does the solution lie in gaining “levels of statehood” or “a voice in the capital city”.
Vegetarianism, veganism or soylent are not only supermarket choices, they are ideologies fueling a dietary policy. This is not a historical novelty: the ideological apparatuses of antiquity and feudalism already used dietary politics as a tool of power and political domination.
It is common to ascribe a labor theory of value to Das Kapital. But this is incorrect. In fact the opposite is the case. And the difference matters, and very much so, for understanding what capitalism really is and how to fight against it under today’s conditions.
The typical profile of today’s large-scale chemical plants.
The success of Science of Well-Being, a course taught by Yale University on the Internet to nearly three and a half million students, has become one of the cultural phenomena of the pandemic.
In communism the capacities of social production would multiply. Communist society would satisfy everyone’s needs and the economy would no longer be based on capital accumulation, but rather on a common metabolism with Nature. But what happens then with Art, craftsmanship or traditional forms of production that do not allow massification? Won’t alienation return through the back door by separating us from our capacity to directly transform and create things on a small scale?
Andreas Malm’s Corona, Climate, Chronic Emergency has become the reference book of environmentalism during the pandemic. It includes quotes galore from Rosa Luxemburg, invocations of ecological Leninism, the call to expropriate the oil companies and long arguments in favor of a type of tactical catastrophism that would be a tailwind for revolutionaries. But for what revolution? Who and for what purpose would make it?
Feminism is not a movement fighting for equality, but an identity-based movement that for almost a century and a half has been committed to the framing of working women in favor of the expectations of social advancement of a part of the female petty bourgeoisie. Since its origins, it has been linked to the militaristic framing of the working class and to the most destructive mercantilizing morality.
If the political game were simply honest, no matter how class-slanted it were, a confusing indicator which makes invisible the most elementary social divisions, such as the gender gap, would have an extremely limited use. However, such an indicator lies at the heart of the Spanish government’s program and is one of the main banners of IWD (March 8th). The gender gap discourse has served to hide what was happening in the labor market and to “storm the heavens” of management boards by a part of the female petty bourgeoisie. Now it is beginning to mutate… into something even worse.
Where will factories be located under communism? Will cities still exist? What will housing look like? Will we all live in houses? If the population is spread out, will production be spread out as well?
In various ways several readers have asked us what agriculture will be like under communism. As always the first thing to say is that communist society will not be the product of a preconceived plan to be imposed, but the result of a social process which will open up as we free ourselves from the contradictions of capitalism. However, we can read the trends already underway and explore them in a new installment of our series on communist society.
Riots and democracy are the buzz on all the front pages and television news these days in Spain. Politicians and protesters oppose these two concepts while remaining within the same ideological universe: some say riots occur because there is no democracy, while others say there is no place for riots in a democracy. If we already discussed the counterproductive nature of riots ariots as a tactic, today we will critique the reactionary ideology peddled to us by one or the other side during this empty debate.
The transition from a demonstration to a confrontation with the police can occur for a thousand causes. In Linares we have seen one, in the recent demonstrations in Russia we have seen a different one. However, it turns out to be very different when riots, physical confrontations against the police are the form and goal of the demonstration, the form of expression chosen to vindicate instead of a development or byproduct of the original goals.
We start a new series answering questions our readers ask on communism.
Suddenly, a presumed psychological syndrome, pandemic fatigue, is all over the media. Public TV stations give advice on how to curb it, private ones tell us that 60% of the population is suffering from it. In the newspapers, opinion columns are coming one after another, with varying degrees of wit. The characteristic barrage of all media campaigns never stops, it goes on and on and reaches the fashion magazines and professional newsletters. It’s not innocent and far from helping, it aggravates the situation.
In this second part, we will critique the ideology used by the detractors of tax-evading youtubers. According to the former, evading taxes would exemplify a lack of solidarity because social spending depends on tax collection and because, in addition, taxes would allow a redistribution of wealth capable of curbing the trend towards the concentration of income in the hands of capital.
It leaped from Twitch to social networks and from there to the news and the international press: a celebrity youtuber, El Rubius, said he wanted to move to Andorra in order to pay less taxes. Big discovery: over a third of the resident population in the small Pyrenean state are Spaniards and a good part of them define themselves as tax exiles. A flurry of false debates ensued. Are those departing wealth creators? Do taxes redistribute wealth? Do we have less health care or worse schools because of tax evaders? Would the system be better if more taxes were levied?
Had we been able to read today’s press only a year ago, we would not have believed it. Are the measures against a pandemic that has taken away tens of thousands of people weighed against the closure of bars and small stores… is this not outrageous? The fact that hoteliers are demonstrating by equating the death of their bars to people’ s deaths?
Even before organizing, educating, discussing or agitating, it is time for something more basic: do not be afraid to go head on against the inconsequential indignation, do not accept the unarticulated complaint or the rage that does not seek understanding; it is not enough to be against the existing conditions, it is not enough to express detachment or courage. All this is also true of suicidal trumpists. None of this stops the breakdown by itself.
We have a class, Proletariat, whose struggle, even unconsciously, asserts the possibility and the necessity of the communist future. And which, being completely and universally denied, can only be understood in each moment and in history as a whole, in relation to that future made present by its struggle. In other words, the particular relationship of the proletariat with the future is permanent and constant… even during the darkest periods. For our class there is no longer any stable accommodation possible in present society. The future is everything.
In some of the messages we received from our readers from different parts of the world, this second wave seems to be setting a turning point. In places where struggles seem to have receded after the first wave or failed to develop and gain momentum tamed by union control, the spectre of demoralization looms large.
Answering several questions from our readers about the relationship between pandemics and major historical crises.
In many books, in educational institutions and in the media we are told that technology created the industrial revolution and other great social changes. But it is not true, it is not enough to suggest or invent new technologies to solve our needs, which are universal, it is necessary to change social relations. And that starts here and now, it is not a task for a hypothetical tomorrow.
A new article in response to what our readers are asking about different forms of discrimination and how to fight them.
We answer some questions about “indigenism” that were agreed upon by several readers after the publication of “To Understand Bolivia”.
Individualism kills and yet few know how to confront it. Pounded through practically all works of fiction, education and the official historical narrative, the individualistic conception of society and human experience, with different modulations, seems to have always been there. It seems to be… “natural”.
The “Morale of Victory” narrative is not just a discourse on the overall level of morale or stamina. It is a discourse on morality. It is the state separating the good guys -who resist and sacrifice themselves- from the bad guys, a bunch of selfish and defeatist cynics.
Under the grammar of the fear of unemployment and poverty what they call economy -the accumulation of capital- has been revealed as an arithmetic of slaughter. But everything that is presented to us as “superhuman forces”, unbeatable, inexorable… is not.
The culture of a decadent society sterilizes, idiotizes and kills. And this, at this point, is a true rampaging meat grinder leaving only desolation in its wake.
Empiricism and mechanicism served as the basis for the great political and social apparatuses of capitalism, today completely obsolete, rigid and incapable of guaranteeing a future for workers and humanity. No vertical machinery led by an exploiting class will guarantee the satisfaction of human needs, however techno-futurist it may present itself.
Why are racialism and feminism replacing movements for «equality of rights» There is a certain pattern in the way these movements expanded globally in the last four years. Feminism and Anglo-Saxon-style racialism share identical arguments and tools in their structure. However, while feminism has been adopted as a state ideology in several continental European countries, racialism is receiving, especially in France, a head-on response from the state itself and its left wing.
The antagonism of interests between capital and workers, between accumulation and life, is also a moral antagonism.
The class struggle is too important a thing to be tied up in “traditions” or obsolete forms. Our lives and the future of our families depend on it. It is enough to recall the experience of the generations that are working today to realize that the isolated struggle in the company, the sector-wide strikes, the “social dialogue”… have only led to a spiral of precarization and impotence in the face of plant and company closures. In order to find alternative forms of struggle that will serve us today to confront the coming one, we need to understand at least in a fundamental way what capital is and how it functions. And when we do, there is no historical fantasy able to withstand it. We have to fight in a different way than the one proposed by the unions. And from now on, fight to extend the struggles over the territory.
Feudalism and capitalism generated their own ideological and knowledge systems in response to the interests and activities of their ruling classes. Both the aristocratic liberal arts and the mechanical arts of workshops, doctors and merchants, pushed the knowledge of Humanity during their respective rising periods. And in the same way, the monopoly of both put brakes on the development of the [[productive forces]] during their respective [[decadence|periods of decline]]. Both were and are partial visions of the maximum possibilities offered to Humanity… possibilities that can only begin to take shape by bringing together a Humanity divided into classes.
The insistence on “neoliberalism” was in fact the insistence on the validity of an “alternative capitalism”, reformed and allegedly possible. In other words, it was not even reformist, because reformism intended the possibility of overcoming capitalism through reforms, and these only aspired to make it livable… without managing to be less utopian and therefore reactionary.