Socialism and Religion
This pamphlet was first published by the Socialist Party of Great Britain in London in 1910. It proved so popular that a new edition was brought out the following year. This was not surprising in that the pamphlet is well-written and well-argued but also because, at that time and for half-a-century afterwards, the main outlet for putting across the case for socialism was the outdoor platform.
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ASCENDANCE/DECADENCE OF CAPITALISM
Capitalism was progressive during its ascendance i.e., in its formative stage. During this phase all its necessary formations and reformations were progressive, even though it emerged having been drenched in sweat and blood. Consequently, both the capitalist and working classes were sprouting in their decisive point in time.
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“The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society,” wrote Marx and Engels in 1848 in Manifesto. Capital as “self-expanding value” (V = c + v + s, where V = Value, c = constant capital, v = variable capital and s = surplus value) constantly coerces its personified functionaries, the capitalists, to look for maximum profit by raising the rate of surplus value (exploitation) i.e., by raising ‘s/v’ that pushes up the organic composition of capital or ‘c/v’, which reciprocally (tendentiously though) reduces the rate profit ‘s/(c + v)’.
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“It is true that Marx did not believe in drawing up recipes for the cookshops of the future, but he did describe the basis of the society he thought was going to replace capitalism: “an association of free men, working with the means of production held in common” (chapter 1 of Capital); “a co-operative society based on the common ownership of the means of production” (Critique of the Gotha Programme); “abolition of private property”, “the Communistic abolition of buying and selling”, “the conversion of the functions of the State into a mere superintendence of production” (Communist Manifesto); “abolition of the wages system” (Value, Price and Profit). In short, a classless, stateless, moneyless, wageless society based on the common ownership of the means of production.” – cited by Adam Buick, Socialist Standard, November 2012
“Every atom of surplus value and capital, for Marx, is the result of theft. The issue is slavery – not the level of slave rations. In short, reform of capitalism is not the answer. Marx was unequivocal: capitalism must be ended.” - Beyond Capital, Marx’s Political Economy of the Working Class, Michael A. Lebowitz
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The Fear of Marx
Among some, charges of racism are leveled against any who criticise the black president of the USA in the same way that charges of anti-semitism are used against anyone who is critical of Israel’s Zionist polices (This is not to deny the racism is directed against Obama.) Our opposition has nothing to do with race. It stems from class differences. To call Obama a liberal or a socialist, as many do, is farcical and incredulous.
Barack Obama identifies allies himself with America’s ruling class. Whatever minutia one uses to differentiate the lesser and greater evil is akin to splitting hairs. The Democratic Party and the Republican Party are not mortal enemies, as portrayed in the corporate media; they are in collusion against the world’s working class and the poor. Together, they are raping and pillaging the Earth and repressing workers through economic austerity.
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The hammer-sickle logo signifies class collaboration, i.e., worker peasant unity, that derives from the Leninist legacy and in no way from Marxian tradition that evolved through the three fundamental interrelated principles of class struggle, the materialist conception of history and the labour theory of value, all of which have been deliberately distorted by Lenin and his followers including the entire rank-and-file of the leftist, rightist, centrist parties, groups and individuals, and the all-pervading propaganda machine of capital – ‘friends’ and foes alike. Marx and Engels emphatically espoused in the Communist Manifesto,
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The capitalist relations of production for profit – i.e., wage-labour/capital relations – employer/employee relations have absorbed most of the world’s per-capitalist production for use - no matter how big or small the enterprises are. Pre-capitalist relations of production have been replaced with capitalist ones. Nowadays even the small ones employ partly wage-labour alongside their own family labour and self-employment – marginal ventures notwithstanding. They are modern petty-capitalist reactionary owners – farmers and firm owners and shop-keepers, not pre-capitalist peasants, artisans, craft and caste guilds, traders, merchants and usurers of the Middle Ages and up to the industrial revolution at any rate.
The point here is how we should determine their class. Note that they are not producing pre-capitalist simple commodities (production for use as C1 – M – C2 where C2 = C1) not under feudal tenure, nor under the erstwhile guild system, but under global capitalism (production for profit as M – C – M' where M' (M + m) ? M). They are producing commodities. Peasant farming has got transformed into capitalist farming having been divided into exploiter and exploited classes – farm owners and wage labourers – catering to needs of the world market. Likewise, the artisanship and the guild master / journeymen relations have turned into capitalist ones – few raising themselves up to the capitalist class while most dropping into the ranks of sellers of labour power producing profit for their employers. Production for use has given way to the production for profit. Thus the small farms and businesses belong in the petty capitalist class who produce commodities to be sold on the world market with a view to profit.
Our criterion of distinguishing classes pertains to the Marxian materialist principle - relations of production. The capitalist class comprises those who employ workers in order to exploit them with a view to profit by means of their ownership and/or control over means of production and distribution. The working class comprises those who sell their labour power – any ability to work in exchange for a wage or salary in order to survive under compulsion of being exploited. The capitalist class possesses, but doesn’t produce. The working class produces, but doesn’t possess.
Further, we take into account the fulcrum of the system – the dominant relations of production which overshadow all other past relations to determine our present perspective. In addition, under capitalist competition one capital kills many; big capitals kill small ones. The process is going through continuous concentration and centralization whereby the very existence of petty capitalist owners is definitely at stake. Capitalist competition leads to concentration of wealth in the form of “an immense accumulation of commodities” on the one hand and poverty, pauperism and misery on the other. The great majority of the small farmers and petty firm owners are eventually being driven out of the market with their constantly decaying status as owners of some means of production, and getting transformed into job seekers – the unemployed – the "reserve army of labour" (Engels) beside other workers. And for that matter, finally they will have to take position in the world socialist movement; they will gravitate towards the total movement getting integrated into the revolutionary class-for-itself.
24 October 2013
THE BUYING AND SELLING OF LABOUR POWER
The buying and selling of labour power is the historically distinctive characteristic – the differentia specifica of the capitalist mode of production. This heralds self-expansion of value; its change occurs not in money itself, nor in the second act of circulation (C – M'), but in the commodity bought by first act, M – C. The change originates in the use-value of the commodity, i.e., in its consumption. Moneybags find within the sphere of circulation a commodity whose use-value possesses the peculiar property of being a source of value – labour-power. Labour-power or capacity for labour means the aggregate of mental and physical capabilities existing in a human being, used to produce a use-value of any kind.
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What Do We Mean By Revolution?
‘The word Revolution, which we Socialists are so often forced to use, has a terrible sound in most people's ears, even when we have explained to them that it does not necessarily mean a change accompanied by riot and all kinds of violence, and cannot mean a change made mechanically and in the teeth of opinion by a group of men who have somehow managed to seize on the executive power for the moment. Even when we explain that we use the word revolution in its etymological sense, and mean by it a change in the basis of society, people are scared at the idea of such a vast change, and beg that you will speak of reform and not revolution.’
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