Wednesday, January 21, 2009

How we got here, a quick guide

In capitalism, entrepreneurs identify needs (effective demand) and try and fulfil them. This, though, is impossible, so they use market forces, the pricing system, as a proxy for knowing the real state of demand. Another name for market forces, is trial and error. The entrepreneurs allocate capital according to profitability, again on the basis of trial and error. Now, the return on this capital will always be a simple fraction of the investment, i.e. it will always in a given period be less than the value of the investment itself.

Thus, for a, say, E1,000,000 annual return, E10,000,000 is invested. If the entrepreneur gets it wrong, all of that capital is lost. That is the punishment of trial and error. Simple really, the value of the risk is less than the value of the reward. When, as it inevitably must, it goes wrong, capital gets lost.

A crisis is capitalism functioning perfectly correctly. Perfectly smoothly, the situation today is capitalism being normal.

This is what capitalism looks like. Entrepreneurs must get it wrong, and the value of capital must be adjusted, and the lives of all those dependent upon it must change. The point is, that value is a ghost in the shell, that lives on beyond the actual goods deployed in production, its exorcism is a painful process.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Another one bites the dust...

I weep for McGoohan, he is dead. Coincidentally, I've been watching quiter a few episodes of Danger Man recently - half hour episodes of quality spy stories, in which, interestingly, the hero wins through wit and guile, rather than shooting out the bad guys (apparently McGoohan had moral issues with a lot of spy fiction, note the absence of girlie kissing and philandering). His role is Scanners was superb, and as well as Longshanks in Braveheart.

p.s. unrelated, but a text of mine has been posted over on the party's blog - on the Gaza question/issue/thing.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Old film reviewed

So, I recently bought the Aliens DVD, and watched it for the first time in a long while.

Some random thoughts, which I maintain are (sort of) relevant to contemporary issues.

Obviously, the cries of fandom went up - the Alien from the original movie had fought unarmed civilians - surely, if someone sent in THE MARINES! things would be different. Lo, they went.

I think, I have already commented here on how popular genre movies structurally provide a narrative for militarism, the enjoyment of the pure right to exterminate your foes, with unlimited self defence justification are the preparatory ideological trappings for the military mindset. We fear the monster, and enjoy the justified extermination of it.

The Marines in aliens, though, to make it interesting, are hamstrung - they go into a reactor room, in which firing high explosive 10 mm rounds would be dangerous - they are disarmed by industrial processes (a process the evil corporate Burke points out has a big Dollar value). That is, capital, and the need to preserve it (and, importantly, its literal power to reproduce itself) sets the limits of the unlimited use of destructive fire power. Of course, in the end, the plant is destroyed, and thus the jouissance laden violence allows the nest of Alien eggs to be fried.

What of the Aliens themselves? They are biological, Ripley's threat to their eggs threatens their reproduction, and they cannot attack her when she rescues Newt. Their chest bursting is explicitly compared with birth giving in the dialogue, they come from us. They do not "fuck each other over for a dollar." And, of course, they co-operate, like a hive mind. Obviously, generically, the movie is actually a zombie movie, the colonists have become aliens, overtaken by biological pure need. That is, use values - consumerists in the mall.

Hence the centrality of Newt - Ripley risks all to go back for Newt, because she is an individual, and a value worth fighting for. In the end, she calls Ripley "Mommy", and traditional family values are restored (minus the father - although the hints at Romance with Hicks may be there to leave an impression of a future attachment/family). Ripley, the voice of pure extermination prevails and wipes the enemy out, establishing this new order.

Symbollicly, she battles the Alien queen in a powered lifted suite - open, but high tech, a visible meld of human and machine. Ultimately, the film is a Carlylian repudiation of finance capitalism and collectivism in favour of individual values.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

In other news...

32 "Taleban" killed in Afghanistan.

The war in Sri Lanka continues, with 14 year-old girls compelled to fight. Unknown thousands have died and been displaced in the many years of warfare.

The war in DR Congo that has claimed over three million lives continues, including mass rape and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people.

Ethiopian troops pull out of Somalia. Four civilians were killed on the day of the pull-out. Ethiopian forces have been drained by this occupation, which has not restored stability to Somalia, which remains a nest of warlords and pirates.
For once, a power in war exagerates its kill count, as Colombia claims to kill 8 guerillas a day - though the BBC suggests maybe civilians are being counted towards that total.

Fighting continues in Darfur, Sudan where also, apparently, slavery flourishes.

I give in, here's a list of current conflicts.

A rational person would think that maybe a sustained worldwide effort for peace would be needed - maybe some sort of co-ordinated action. Certainly, that must be the only rational view for anyone who wants to be called a socialist. Bop-a-mole responses to local flashpoints with media saturation that allows horrors that would be considered minor incidents in other conflicts are clearly insufficient.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009


I went home up north for a while, and so have been afk.

I missed the big demo on Saturday, I was busy meeting up with a mate I'd not seen for a while. Anyway, whilst I would agree it is futile for a socialist in London who is a member of a tiny party without parliamentary or council representation of any stripe to actually make comments on the war in Israel/Palestine (there is a comment on the Party's blog here), I do think there is something needful to be done. That is, to counter the support from equally impotent, but still vocal supporters of the war in this country and many similar. By whom, chiefly, I mean the "No justice, no peace" crowd - glibly chanting away and pushing others to their death from the comfort of their armchairs.

But first, back to class. The is a, if you will, hard edged class-centric way of posing the matter. The strength of the working class comes not simply through raw numbers, and certainly not through military might. Our strength is creative, we make, maintain and remake the world around us - and will use that ability to build socialism. The more of us there are to do the building, the lighter the work and the greater our strength to get our way.

War runs contrary to all of that. It destroys our work and our ability to work. It destroys the fruits of our labour. It destroys us. By disrupting daily life, causing unemployment, by cutting back democracy, by taking our time, energy, inclinations and thought processes and turning them towards destruction rather than creation, war, warfare and militarism undermine our consciousness as a class and our existence as a class.

It promotes plebian rather than proletarian politics - so much of Gaza is now unemployed that there is no working class strength left, only numbers, only the bitter will to fight and be killed. Hamas and Israel both as provocateurs and agents have brought this about to suit their own ends. Israelis are being pulled from their work to serve as reservists, while the national economy is put through more strain and its coffers are drained by dropping $BigNumber bombs.

The war undermines the working class in Gaza and in Israel. The immediate object must be peace: for its own sake, whatever political settlement is required. Those who take sides, or call for the victory of one side or another, and who give succor, encouragement and the prospect of international intervention on one side or another, are directly attacking the workers of Israel and Palestine.

Within our means, within our limited capacity, we can influence at least that much - take the argument on, and maybe stop the ludicrous corpse counting, hand wringing and its concommitant macho bullshitter rrrrevolutionary violence posturing. Getting the international strength of the workers behind a peace first is incredibly difficult, but expressed in terms of solidarity with the workers of both those states it would do more good than the endless tit-for-tat game of siding with the ruling class of either state.

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