Friday, April 11, 2008

POST - CAPITALISM (Dieterich)


THE HISTORIC POST-CAPITALIST PROJECT

THE GEOPOLITICS OF CAPITALISM. GOVERNMENT FOR THE ELITE. The objective of the traditional capitalist economy is the prosperity of the ruling class. The government has the obligation to protect the nation's class economic interests in foreign transactions ( customs tariffs, taxes, restriccions on imports) and making them be obeyed internationally (embargos, sanctions, war). The government should not limit the free development of the economy. Real estate, natural resources and means of production are private property. The structure of the economy is top down hierarchical. Every type of decision is in the hands of the owners of the means of production. The type and quantity of production, as well as the distribution of merchandise, is automatically regulated through supply and demand, through the market economy. The market economy is based of free market competition, which automatically leads to supposedly harmonizing individual and social interests.by means of free competition, through which the price of each product reaches its natural level, and which over time equals its average value. Human labor is for sale, its price is determined by supply and demand, like any other product.
The pursuit of profits is the dominant activating motor of the economy.The government is the servant of the dominant class, and as such, it is a class government. It nevertheless has to continue taking care of certain social needs, such as public order and health, but all its functions are collated through its class character and class functions. If there is not enough money to cover the national debt and education too, the bankers have to get paid first. If the budget is not enough to pay the internal debt, and also health services, the bankers get the first crack. Their interests distort and determine all the functions of the government. Humanity has fallen into the hands of a delinquent elite, made up of ten thousand bankers, industrial heads and professional politicians, who use the planet's resources and the fruits of our labor for their own ends. They monopolize for themselves the benefits that energy, technology, science, food production, education and health provide, leaving the majority in poverty and neglect. This system has characteristics that identify it; 1. It is vertical and antidemocratic, top down, 2.- It is dominated by the Atlantic bourgeosie, that is, by North Americans and Europeans, 3.- It exploits others through the national market economy, its insistence in formal democracy, and reliance on the class government. These institutions are untouchable because they are its support, because they unify all government operations, and because they guarantee its stability and day to day reproduction.The neocon New World Order that we now see is the third strategic attempt in the last hundred years by the Atlantic bourgeosie to impose on global society its vision of the world.
THE THREE WORLD ORDERS. The First World Order straight jacket was placed by world rulers at Versalles (1919) at the end of the First World War. This repartition of the world brought as consequence the deliberate reduction of German power, guaranteeing the supremacy of England and France, and the new partitioning of the colonies (in Africa and elsewhere) of the defeated countries (Belgium, Portugal, etc) for control of natural resources. It also resulted in the consolidation of US power in the Pacific in the face of emerging Japnese might, and the installation of a super-national organism to mediate between nations (the League of Nations). This first attempt at world control was flawed and unable to survive beyond 1946. The Second World Order was hatched during the Yalta and Potsdam conferences. Under capitalists and socialists, its stability lay in their mutually assured destruction, so that its dynamism came from the "New American Century", on one hand , and the struggle for national liberation and social anti imperialist struggles on the other. This system collapsed with the implosion of the Soviet Union giving way to a transition phase that lasted until 2001. This transition was defined by three broad strategies;1.- Imperial domination (The New American Century) 2.- The spontaneous, de facto evolution of the world toward multipolarity, especially considering the importance of China and the European Union, 3.- The democratic struggles against neoliberal tyranny. The 911 events modified these tendencies, giving birth to a Third World Order which has the following characteristics; THE MIDDLE EAST. 1.- The neocolonial control the US has over the Middle East, including Isarel, Egypt, Jordan and now Palestine. Tel Aviv will have to accept the reality of the government of Palestine, transformed into an economic neocolonial dependency of Israel and the US, which will lessentensions in the principal petroleum deposits in the world. ASIA. 2.- A second strategic area destined to fall under the domination of the US elite is Central Asia. Uzbekistan already has a military alliance with the American Empire, which has trained its army since 1995. (Relations have since soured). The stationing of troops there and in Afghanistan gives the US their desired military presence in Central Asia, which has the second oil deposits in the world, and much of the gas reserves. After 911, the US has recovered the strategic initiative it had lost, and the strategic alliance between Russia, China and the Central Asian republics will lose much of its significance. SOUTHERN ASIA. The 3rd most important region will be southern Asia- the formation of a block between Washington, Pakistan and India (totalling 1.4 billion people) which will serve to contain China, allowing for a war against China that without that alliance is untenable.
Of course, plans go awry. The conflict newtween Pakistan and India over Kashmir makes them questionable. The US is attempting to smooth things over, cancelling sanctions against Pakistan, and preparing multimllion dollar aid (bribe) packages to both countries. The future of Russia, according to the plan, lies in its integration with NATO, the European Union the WTO, and the withdrawal of any proximity to China. The EU can provide capital and technology that the underdeveloped Russian economy needs, and in return it has the territorial potential, the raw materials, and the strategic arms will make Europe an imperialst Leviathan that will rival the US.
LATIN AMERICA. NAFTA, ALCA and Plan Colombia are geared to liquidate the Latin America motherland (patria) as a viable entity and annex it to the geopolitical system of the US. The designation of guerrillas as terrorists, the systematic fascist ethnic cleasing of the peasants by the paramilitaries, the clearing out of San Vicente del Caguán, under Washington's orders, the coup against to Venezuelan government, the forcing and financing of a neoliberal contra as a candidate in Nicaragua, and the ALCA fast track initiative all point to Washington's designs for the area. Another essential plan for the Third World Order to succeed is the prevention of democracy by means of repression and governmental terrorism. This includes the neutralization of liberation movements, (FARC/ELN) and progressive governments, such a Venezuela, as well as backward anticolonial movements, such as the Taliban. The war against Afghanistan, which midwived the Third World Order, amalgamates the alliance between the European bourgeosie and the American one against the Third World. Whatever their tactical differences, they stand united against the "wretched of the earth". EUROPE. Another important element in the world order is the accelerated rebirth of European imperialism, where the recycled right wing of the thirties, the inheritors of Mussolini, Franco, Berlusconi and Aznar, along with the socialdemocrats Schroeder, Lord Palmerston (Blair and Giddens) and the cameleon Fischer, have formed a rainbow of new superpower imperial might, backed by the introduction of the Euro. In the Third World Order, NATO substitues the United Nations, just as the force of arms substituted the League of Nations in the thirties. China and Japan remain dangerously outside this block, along with humanity itself and any hope for democracy. Supposedly Japan will join as a subordinate ally, and the Atlantic elite will practice a policy of containment vis à vis China to turn it into a neocolony. By integrating Russia into the European Union, they will get rid of the last remaning rivals to their hegemony over the planet. The control of the four strategic regionswill consolidate Washington's position as world power and will stoke neocon dreams of extending the American Century forever. The abandonment of Salt I and II and the creation of the antiballistic shield is a return to the military doctrines of the fifties, based on the notion that it is possible to dominate the world and the global society militarily by means of preventive nuclear war. The Third World order seeks to transform the world village into a militarized world assembly line (maquiladora). This idea was first developed by the Nazis in their Grossraum-Ordnungspolitik of Adolf Hitler, which was the basis of his annexionist policies and which unleashed WWII. If the determined attempts of the Atlantic bourgeoisie to extend the world system of exploitation, after the European invasions of 1492, worries us, their methodology during the last ten years is equally troublesome. The enormous ease with which they have had military success in Panamá, Iraq, Kosovo and Afghanistan has reestablished the M.O. of the classic imperialsm of the 19th Century. The political ultimatum, and then the military attack, are used as a fundamental instrument of policy. With the disappearance of the USSR, the way has been cleared for the Empire to extend itself as had been visualized by the leading nationalsocialist thinker, Carl Schmitt in the 30s.
FORMAL DEMOCRACY. THE FAILURE OF DEMOCRACY. The myth of representation is as follows; "political sovereignty lies with the people. Since the majority cannot exercise their democratic rights directly, they delegate them through parliamentary representatives, who are at the same time governmental organs. All branches of power emanate from popular sovereignty. They are legitimate powers. " This in fact has nothing to do with reality. Representatives and senatores don't represent those w ho have given them power, but rather they substitute them. They are elected to serve the people, but instead they serve two masters; the ruling elites and their own interests.
THE MARKET ECONOMY. THE FAILURE OF CAPITALISM. The market economy, dedicated to producing wealth, is not capable of satisfying the socioeconomic and ecological needs of the world's seven billion people, because of five systemic limitations; FIRST, the system is unplanned and unstable, because it lacks a universal means of coordinating its strategic variables of investment and consumption. This anarchy of production results in the contradiction between the social character of production and the private confiscation of production, and thus makes the recurring crises inevitable. SECOND. It is an asymmetrical system, that is, the chasing after wealth produces the concentration and centralization of capital and the wealth of the society in a few hands, and the correctives of bourgeois political democracy don't have the strength to repair the damage. THIRD. The logic of the evolution of the global economy is market oriented and nationalist. In contradiction, the operative elements are the transnational companies which belong to the economic elites in their contry of origin, and require military protection from their country of origin to function globally. FOURTH. The transnational corporations exclude not only other enterprises, but all the citizens of the world community, who have no say so in their decisions. This explains why the results of the world economy do not satisfy the needs of the world's population. FIFTH. The development and use of resources of the first world is simply ecologically unsustainable. The corporations are inacapable of reducing their mad dash for ever greater wealth and usurpation of more and more resources, and settle for a rational economy. The way they use the law of value is incompatible with a democratic, equal and sustainable global society, stable for everyone at a world wide level.
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THE THREE VIRTUES OF HUMAN BEINGS ARE; 1.- Critical and rational thinking, 2.- Esthetic and artistic capacity, 3.- Ethical and moral potential. These cannot develop under capitalism for everyone, and this constitutes one of the most basic violations of human rights
FUNDAMENTAL NEEDS OF HUMANITY. Democracy has to start with an assessment of the needs of the people. First is the need for food, which is where the economy, its relations and institutions come from. The economy is thus a social relation, where nature is transformed into goods and services to satisfy the material needs of humans. Humans additionally have a need to communicate, and for understanding, to live and act in a community. This is where culture is born, with its realtions and institutions, which include all the citizens of a society, by means of shared language, values, and traditions. There is also the need to make decisions in the name of the community. Here is where politics is born, with its relations and institutions, having as its most important organ the Government, which satisfies the need for defense from outside aggression, which gives birth to the military with its relations and institutions. The question is, if formal democracy cannot satisfy the needs of humanity, what can?
PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY. While war, recession and the New World Order are accurate descriptions of the governments bourgeois society has developed historically, and what that foreshadows for the future of humanity, participatory democracy is the answer given by the people It constitutes the hope and new direction of social movements. None of the three calamities of humanity; poverty, war and domination, is casual or by chance. All are the inevitable result of the institutions that sustain capitalism; the national market economy, the government divided into classes, and formal democracy run by a plutocracy of the rich. The capitalist government does not allow people to act in an ethical, critical and esthetic manner, but rather promotes the anti-values of selfishness, power and exploitation. It is this double structural deficiency of bourgeois society, the anti-ethical and the disfunctional, unresposive to the needs of the majority, which condemns it to become obsolete and to be substituted by new institutions, which are: 1.- Participatory democracy, 2.- A democratically planned economy of equivalencies, 3.- A government which is not divided into classes, and, as a result, 4.- A citizenry who is rational, ethical and esthetic.
This renaissance of a liberating activism that is moving toward a post-capitalist society is manifested in any number of rebellions and popular uprisings. This wave of rebellion is beginning to take hold in universities, where the theories of the future are being discussed, and in other socialist countries where participatory democracy is being practiced. There is no need to resign oneself to the trilogy of poverty, war and domination, because these will disappear with the disappearance of the bourgeosie, which marks, at the same time, the end of human pre-history.
Participatory democracy refers to the ability of the majority to run the public affairs of the nation. This is a cualitative widening of formal democray, where the only power lies in parties and personalities. In participatory democracy the peoples’ participation is permanent and ongoing in all areas of social life, from the factories to the barracks and universities and communications media channels. Representative democracy–in reality a substitution for democracy--- is replaced by the higher form of direct referendum democracy. The traditional parliamentary and electoral systems which are controlled by the economic elites have no place in the democratic process of the future. The same is true for indoctrinational monopolies (schools, television, radio and the press). Big business is actually a private tyranny within a military structure–and it is incompatible with real democracy and will disappear in time. The government as a class organization is destined to follow the same path to oblivion. Representative democracy was in its time an indispensible element in the evolution toward direct democracy, while the technical means for people's mass participation were lacking. That stage has passed. Today technological and economic conditions allow for a new takeover of real people's power and sovereignty, power that had been taken away by two hundred years of oligarchy.
THE ECONOMY OF EQUIVALENCIES. It seems relatively easy to work out a matrix to ascertain the value of products that supposedly are the result of few and easily identified labor steps. Everything begins with the cultivation of the land. For example, take 50 lbs of potatoes; if the farmer has harvested 240,000 lbs of potatoes on his 10 acres, and there remain 30,000 lbs of seeds taken from the previous harvest, then 50 lbs represent 1/4200 parts of the work time that were spent on the production of 210,000 lbs.. Let's assume that (hoeing and fertilizing) equals 90 hours. Turning over the earth 10 hours, planting seeds, 30 hours, herbicides 5 hours. Three weeks later attention paid to the rows, 10 hours, insceticides, 2 hours, repetition of these practices, 12 hours. Four or five months after there is the harvest, two farmers at 80 hours equal 160 hours. Transportation of the harvest to the warehouse, 15 hours, sorting and bagging the potatoes, four farmers at 50 hours equals 200 hours. Finally, the delivery to the buyer or cooperative, 50 hours. Total 594 hours equals 35, 640 minutes, divided by 4,200 equals 8.5 minutes. That represents the value of those 50 lbs of potatoes, in labor time spent. This means that anyone wishing to buy 50 lbs. of potatoes will simply work 8.5 minutes to obtain them. If it determined that a house takes a month to build, one works for a month and gets the house. Since everybody works, the time is kept track of on a plastic card that can be used anywhere in the world, since an hour of labor is equivalent to an hour of labor anywhere and by anybody. This will guarantee the end of want, and since there is no money, there is no profit and therefore no exploitation.
There is no doubt that doing away with profit, selfishness, greed and exploitation, the ending of which are inherent in the principle of equivalencies, will lead to human changes so profound in the way of thinking and acting, that after it has become generally accepted, one can speak in terms of a new human being. Those who have been rescued from the degradation of bourgeois institutions will find in real economic democracy the support necessary to fully develop their rational capacities (science), morality (ethics) and esthetics (art). Once the division of manual and intellectual work has been overcome, when the exhausting and brutalizing yoke of profit has been abolished, discrimination as to color, sex, and income has been done away with, and the difference between city and countryside has been overcome, human beings will drink from the three fountains of our humanity; work, eros and knowledge. In practice most of these calculations will have been made ahead of time from past experience, and their determination of the value of hours worked will be greatly simplified. Land use, capital and profit are not factored in, only work hours spent, because those things are holdovers from a market economy. They do not figure in an economy of equivalencies, because they show the differential between value and price. Under capitalism, price is greater than value. In the economy of equivalencies, value and price are interchangeable; there is no profit. When all the production in the world has been evaluated in terms of work hours, the value of production can be made precise.
The unstable, undemocratic rapacious market economy will be substituted by a democratically planned economy. These problems can only be overcome by going to a higher level than the traditional one, by combining the theory of value with the principle of equivalencies. In this case, salary will be equivalent to the amount of time invested in the work, independently of age, sex, civil government, skin color, nationality, type of work, physical effort, time spent in school, energy use, capacity, professional experience, enthusiasm for the job. In other words, salary equals plainly and absolutely the time spent of the labor. In this scenario, price equals value and does not include anything that is not the equivalency of time-work spent in the production of goods and services. This way value is substituted by price, and the circle is closed. It puts and end to exploitation, that is, the appropriation of the work of others, where the work of one is valued higher than that of another. Each human being is fully paid for the complete value that he/she has brought to the goods and services. This very simple process, that radically changes traditional economies, needs to have a few conditions. The theory of the value of work needs to include the human activities that go beyond the self- sufficiency of the individual, especially in those jobs we call services, doctors, judges, nurses, typists, mail carriers, teachers, managers, bus drivers, sweepers, cooks, ministers, barbers, journalists, etc. that is, those not directly involved in the production of goods.
THE POLITICAL PROGRAM. What has to happen is a program rooted in the masses, with organized members who have the authority and the consciousness and are capable of operating, to bring about equality. Student conferences can give new academic life to the country, workers can paralize regional economies, truckers and peasants can blockade highways, small and middle merchants unions, political parties, can express their political will at a hemispheric level.
THE NEW REVOLUTIONARY CLASS. Who will bring the program about? The answer is obvious; those who are being destroyed by the new phase of globalized capitalist accumulation, known as neoliberal economics. What are seen as ethnic conflicts (Chiapas, Ecuador, Chile, etc,) are in reality the epicenter of a profound political economic dynamic; the attempted destruction of the Latin American peasantry. What unites the diferent struggles; Zapatistas, MST in Brasil, struggles in Paraguay, the Auracanos in Chile, uprisings in Colombia and Ecuador, is the attempted annihilation of 200 million Latin American citizens through savage original accumulation of capital in those areas. At the same time this destruction of the peasantry is accompanied by the devastation of tens of millions of workers who are being reduced to poverty, as a result of Latin American nationalism, which is being supplanted by neo colonial industrialization. Small merchants cannot escape economic ruin either, in the tens of millions, because the laws of the market, backed up by their governments, are made to benefit the strongest. The victims of these social classes, the peasantry, the workers, the small merchants, are joined by the vast army of unemployed and under employed, where one finds Afroamericans, indigenous peoples, housewives, critical intellectuals and other social actors who are not class bound, who have nothing to do with neoliberal brutality, or who dont want to be complicit in an unjustifiable set of circumstances.
TECHNOLOGY CAN BE USED FOR REAL DEMOCRACY. Productive technologies that have developed as a result of scientific revolutions, expecially microelectronics, where the first quantum computer has been built based on manipulation of singular atoms, and in microbiology where greater capacity of molecular design has made the frontiers of natural limits in biology and nanotechnology recede, have increased the productivity of human labor so that now we can a.- guarantee the satisfaction of basic human needs for all the members of the global society, and b.- we can simultaenously reduce the necessar workday so that all citizens can participate in the public affairs of their societies. Throughout history, humans have lived in extreme dependency upon nature. For the first time, scarcity and a precarious existence have been defeated. Freedom from want is, in terms of productive forces, a fact. (The productive forces are the unity of accumulated and living labor, the totality of material and personal elements of production necesary for the production of things to satisfy human requirements ) If this fact is not translated in energizing the relations of production and of political power, the people will not benefit. (The relations of production include the ownership of the means of production which, if equal, result in cooperation and mutual help. In those relations of production where ownership is private and unequal, relations of domination and subjugation are established). With the development of productive technology, the ruling bourgeosie has taken the first step in objectively emancipating the population; the second step will be taken without it.
THE REFERENDUMS OF THE NEW HISTORICAL PROJECT.. The first phase in overcoming global capitalism is going on now. It began with the criticism of the capitalist system in the 90s and is characterized by the post-bourgeois programs and the depauperization of the middle class. This struggle has three phases; 1.- Class structures and class consciousness, 2.- The strategic aims of the New Historical Project and 3.- Correlation of forces between the main political players. The objective of this transitional phase is to make massive numbers of people aware of the real, fundamental issues, so that the masses can become truly democratized, and by neutralizing capitalist propaganda and ideology, to prevent it from setting the program for world development. The program for change in a post capitalist society will blunt the aims of existing power relations so that demands will stop being abstract issues and take on real, tangible struggle in everyday life. Within this context certain objectives can be identified, primarily the democratization of the economy. It is necessary for the people to have control over the macroeconomy, how the budget is spent in production and distribution. Investment affects political and social power as well as determining the standard of living and social security of the majority of the population. Priority investment and the proportion of the gross national income related to it must be decided by referendum. The national yearly budget must also be discussed and put forth in a referendum after public debate. This is as true for the national budget as for local, municipal and government levels. This is already being done in Brazil in areas controlled by the Partido dos Trabalhadores. Each community has an internet access (run by the community itself) which registers views and opinions of the community members. In the same way, the leveling out of wealth between the urban centers and the countryside, the concentration of which represents the power of the super-rich plutocracy , will insure greater economic growth and social justice for the people and a reduction in delinquent and criminal behavior. The democratization of culture means giving access to the means of communication to everyone, the distribution of TV channels, control of which is given to important sectors of society, such as workers, employees, entrepeneurs, housewives, indigenous peoples, students, etc. The formation of scholarships to Third World Artists to prevent the brain drain and flight to the First World, the returning of cultural artefacts to their original countries, payment of salaries to housewives, a living wage in time credits to all members of society, whether they are able to work or not, the discussion and referendum to decide when and if to start or end a war, (a decision the elites have usurped for themselves) the reorganization of the centralized Government that oppresses minorities, into a federalist government that respects autonomy of minorities that live within its borders, the promotion of representation of groups that are underrepresented for reasons of sexist, ethnic or historical discrimination, so that they are integrated into public life (government, school boards, etc) and in private corporations.
On the international scene, the same is true for the cancellation of the external debt, a balance in exchange rates, an end to proteccionism by the wealthy nations, an indemnization of the Third World for colonial plunder. Reparations for the Holocaust Jews, victims of slavery, of forced labor, should all be indemnified. NATO should be dismanteled, as well as the retrograde Security Council of the UN, which refuses to recognize the division of powers, with no democratic control, falling even outside of the Tribunal at The Hague. This can be brought up at the General Assembly with the principle of one nation, one vote, and the rectification of the distribution of the wealth that is being monopolized at the rate of 80-20. All of these constitute the first phase of the New Historical Project. From a paper by Heinz Dieterich.


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