Yesterday, SouthFront, Analysis & Intelligence released the appeal to volunteers, bloggers and media “Don’t succumb to illusions” to start a public unbiased discussion on the ongoing crisises and Russia’s role in them. Today, we are publishing the first article on this topic: David Hungerford debates with Pepe Escobar and provides a “left” look on the current situation in the world.
“Politics is the concentrated essence of economic forces in motion.” — Lenin
That’s true, but it doesn’t work the other way around. Crises of capitalism do not happen for political reasons. They happen for economic ones – overproduction, surfeit of capital, falling rates of profit, and so on.
We can say that political events come from economic motives, but economic developments do not come from political motives.
Workers and oppressed peoples need to understand these matters in a way that is scientific, objective, and correct. Then they will know what to do.
There are wars all over the world – Afghanistan, Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, on and on. They come from rivalries to control territories and natural resources, trade routes. At base the aggressors are out for profits. “War is the continuation of politics with the addition of other means,” as Clausewitz says.
There are so many wars because every developed country is teetering on the brink of economic collapse.
Financial markets in the United States, i.e., stock and bond markets, are only kept going by bailouts. The government and the Federal Reserve print up lots of money and give it to banks and other big financial companies to use as they see fit (guess who pulls the strings behind the scenes?) at little or no interest. TARP, QE, ZIRP, NIRP, BURP, who cares what they call them, they are all bailouts.
Pumped up on printed money, the financial players look like big tough guys. But it’s not muscle, it’s edema. When the crash comes, which won’t be long, the bailouts will only make it worse.
China’s financial system is if anything in worse shape. The People’s (what a joke!) Bank of China (PBoC) has done all the same things as the Fed, and more. It has spent huge amunts to purchas bad securities to rescue the markets. It has banned certain types of financial transactions and even arrested traders for making them. Etc.
As if the contradictions of capitalism could be eliminated by making them illegal! Good luck, fellas. Socialism with Chinese characteristics is really capitalism with capitalist characteristics.
Japan’s economy has been a basket case for a long time. The Euro Zone is breaking up. Other countries will soon fall into the same predicament as Greece. The Euro Zone forces them to absorb German overproduction. That was always a bad idea. It was clear from the start it would not work.
Right now there is a problem on the people’s side: some well known and generally pretty good commentators nonetheless give confused analyses of economic crises. They explain them as if they were political affairs. They aren’t.
To repeat: workers and oppressed people need objective knowledge. That’s not the way to get it.
Pepe Escobar is a brilliant political analyst. He is great at looking at a lot of moving parts and seeing how they all fit together. He recently published an article titled “Russia’s Ultimate Lethal Weapon.” His main point is that the development of a strategic alliance between Russia and China poses a basic challenge to U.S. world hegemony. He welcomes that as a good thing.
He is right on both counts. There is danger of war between the United States and Russia. The danger comes from the United States. At no time since the Ukraine crisis broke out has Russia taken aggressive action. Closer relations between Russia and China can help Washington restrain itself a bit.
The problems is, Escobar doesn’t always look at the inside of things. The article is almost completely wrong on economic developments, seeing them as politically motivated. He is not the only one to make that mistake.
For example, oil prices have fallen in recent months. Escobar sees that as political retaliation against Russia by means of “the twin Western manipulation of oil prices and the ruble. The manipulation involved unleashing on the oil market over five million barrels a day of excess reserve production that were held back by a few usual suspects, plus derivative manipulation at the NYMEX, crashing the price.”
The likelihood that the U.S. would cut oil prices to blackmail Russia is just about zero.
The United States would is the world’s largest energy producer. It hardly wants low prices. Actually, the drop in oil prices began in April of this year with Saudi dumping of cheap crude, aimed at undercutting higher-cost U.S. producers. Low prices have lasted long enough to put the princes in a very bad pinch. (Saudi policymakers are arguably a bunch of “f***ing morons“.)
The Saudis can manipulate oil prices because they are not set by the market. They have been set by a pricing mechanism run by a cabal of OPEC countries and the giant oil companies. The Saudis may well have wrecked the price rigging for good. The drop in oil pricing shows the danger of arbitrary market moves. As Obi-Wan Kenobi would say if he were an economist, “May the market be with you.” If it isn’t you won’t have much luck.
Escobar makes another wrong call when he says, “After Russia, Western financial ‘Masters of the Universe’ went after China for allying with Russia. The usual financial suspects rigged the Chinese stock market in an attempt to crash the economy, using Wall Street proxies manipulating cash settlement mechanisms to first raise up the prices of the Chinese A shares, creating a giant boom, and then reversing the cash settlement rig to crash the market.”
Shenanigans on financial markets go on all the time, but any U.S. attempt to crash China’s economy is MOST unlikely. The U.S. financial Masters of the Universe would not crash the Chinese economy even if they could. The two economies are highly interdependent. The U.S. economy would come crashing down as well.
Suppose two guys are in a locked room with a caged tiger. They get mad at each other. One lets the tiger out of the cage and says, “Eat the other guy up.”
But a tiger is a tiger. It will do what it wants. It will most likely eat both their asses up.
Escobar adds, “No wonder Beijing, very much aware of what was happening massively intervened; is actively studying cash settlement moves; and is carefully reviewing the records of major stock operators in China.”
Ho, ho, ho, that’s a good one. Are we supposed to believe it? No, capitalist-roaders, your economy is perfectly capable of crashing itself. Maybe you forgot that when you betrayed the people and restored capitalism.
Now we can see the basic problems with Escobar’s approach: he thinks capitalism is permanent. Thus he looks for a bunch of rich people – Chinese capitalists – as the only recourse against another bunch of rich people, the U.S. imperialists.
Once both Russia and China had a better society, proletarian socialism. The people remember their revolutions. They know they were people’s revolutions. They want them back. One day before too long they will have them back. But it won’t be by following around behind rich people.
What is necessary IS NOT a political alliance between Russia and China, but rather the alliance of workers and leftists around the world. And with Internet, it’s now much more possible than the 20th century. Just look at the organizations like ISIS and Al-Qaida. If they can organize their efforts and actions based on Internet even based on such backward ideology, why not leftists?
Hello. I belief we need something more powerful then that, which incidentally is more likely to happen if you consider the program I like to propose. We need and might be able to achieve a unison between the “honorable right” (that is, the people who are for the free-market, and not for the mad wars, just because they belief people need this freedom and small business is good), and with the left-wing labor masses of all ideological colors. Such a union is only possible on a fundamental program, that appeals to all groups and actually gives them what they want. Is this possible ? I belief it is, and the answer is: our soil.
Are free markets important ? Do you want to be able to choose where you work, or buy what you want ? Do you want to be put to a work station by a committee, and eat what you are fed by another committee ? Do you want your own house, and choose one, buy it from a fair income for fair work ? But, capitalism does not work, this is more then apparent, it is already an historical failure for more then a century. What is the problem ?
The Communists made a big mistake, and possibly it was orchestrated that way. The Communists believed the capitalists on their word, when the capitalists said they where “the free market,” where “everyone has an equal chance, according to their work, in trade.” The Communists seem to have thought: aha! If you are the “free market,” then the free market must be hell, because we know what hell you created, and so we must be against the free market, and instead choose the controlled market. Never belief the capitalists, they are always lying. They are not for the free market at all, they are the old Barons and now Fascists, who want central control of a war economy. They view business as dictatorships, when it should be made in solidarity. How can we change this ?
I think it is all more simple then it seems: soil. What is the starting point of every economic activity ? The raw Earth, of course. Where do we find it ? We conquered it, as Nations, we took possession of it together. We all have a right to it. We are the soil. The capitalists but the beginning at the end, they view the ownership of land as a final victory after much effort or (in their case mostly) fighting, struggle, fraud, unfair trade, looting and lying (certainly for what eventually become the ruling class in an Empire, this is how they live, and don’t forget the drugs trade). The Romans did the same: if you fight for Rome, and survive, you eventually get a title to land. This is wrong headed, and causes the existence of the landless roaming serfs, which is the labor class.
The solution that can appeal to both the right and the left, is that each man (and women) should get their inalienable right in land restored. Not a garden of 10×10, no. *All* productive land, not set aside for nature or the public good (as explicitly defined by the Peoples Government), will have to be divided by the adult Population number, and parcelled off by choice. But people will trade it around, just like the ownership titles of Ukranian public businesses after the fall of the Soviet Union, and the Oligarchs will rise to create war and corruption just as in Ukraine ? No: because you should not allow trade in land, just as you do not allow the trade in votes for the Government. Mishaps can happen, corruption exist, but the law must be that land is a birthright. Every Russian must own Russian soil, and so on, and so on, for each nation, according to their population and land. It can only be switched around, it can be swapped, but each man must always own his share, not more, and not less. It is a human right, without land, you are not really human at all. You are a serf, you are a tool, a machine, we are work animals for the owners, nothing more, and when we fail, we are as worthwhile as a broken tool: we are garbage. This is all our own fault, because we did not stood up for our right, which is our soil.
Based on that soil, there can be a free market, of small business, like never before. However, that is not the end of the story. Because if you have soil, you can work together. Communists can create group productions, factories, ruled by a Soviet (elected council of workers). There they can be fair with each other. If it corrupts, they can leave: they have their soil, forever. The right wingers and capitalists, they have their free market too. We don’t have to beg for startup capital from drugs trading banks or vicious financier mafias. We have to start small, that is true, but that stabilizes the markets in the long run. We can help each other, and create a normal society, where there is freedom, solidarity, rule of law and democracy, without the Oligarchy (or fewer). The Oligarchy cannot find the despairing serfs anymore, that fuel their ambitions, and the Oligarchy cannot buy and hoard the Earth itself anymore, because it is claimed to whom it belongs: the People, as individuals.
The whole capitalism and communits fight, is a divide & conquer that serves the big banks. We are destroying ourselves, we are doing it all to ourselves. All we have to do, is structure our markets as they ought to be structured, and although probably masses of things will still go wrong, at least the fundamental economic system is no longer part of what is wrong. It can help, how much we will have to find out by trying. Divided we fall, united we can divide the soil to all, which is, to divide the Oligarchy of the loot they took from us. The Communists say “the means of production must be owned by the people.” They are right, but what is the means of production, and what is “the people” that “must own” ? Is it the factories, and is it the committee of the quickly rotted communist party, which upon gaining power became the object of the carreer politicians and other scum ? No: the Means of Production is the Soil. The people can most truely own the soil, as individuals, because only then are they free, and only then do they have the power – standing on their soil – to move the World around them, and throw the Oligarchs out of power.
You’ll notice how people who have land, and thus options – not just 10×10 meter, but more like 50×50 meter or more, and more as groups and couples, you will notice how such people do not have to hire themselves to a capitalist for scraps. They have options, they will sell themselves for a higher price, and otherwise the employer can go to hell. This means we don’t need as stiff action on labor protection, the system itself has healing qualities that are otherwise only possible to achieve with the most intense labor union struggle. Above all that, a man is not a man without land, there is no soul in life, being a serf. Break the divide and conquer of capitalism versus communism, who are both extreme, both imbalanced. One wants maximum trade, the other wants maximum central control. This imbalance rips the world to shreds, even either one upon victory would. I would claim that this is an enlightened left wing perspective. We are not and never will unite with the fascists on anything. We take that little truth that the honorable parts have, absorb and unite it with our own understanding, absorb these people themselves in the truth, then what can stop us, if just the people stayed off the beer long enough to realize how things really work ?
No kind of “free market” can save human kind. And with the advancement of new agriculture i.e. food production technology like vertical farming, your model would have nowhere to stand. In fact, what you have is a petty-bourgeoisie daydream that has always vanished in thin air, because the natural course of history is against that.
Land is power, all the rest is talk. You don’t fully appreciate the word “petty bourgeoisie”. What the petty bourgeoisie is, is a little dictator on a little company, who abuses his employees like his serfs. They are called “petty” because they are small and don’t rule the world, but they are associated with the forces of high Capital, because they share the same morality or lack thereof.
What you are neglecting to notice, is the differences in economic structure that I proposed, which give everyone power to avoid falling under the petty bourgeoisie. However it is true that petty bourgeoisie can still occur in this model, mostly because labor (the masses) themselves fail to take the economic initiative they can thanks to their land and rights. In the capitalist society, these opportunities no longer exist, and moreover this lack of opportunity is kept in place by the forces of high capital, who hoard all land, money and power to themselves. In the model I proposed, not only do normal people have the power, but from the other end the forces of high capital are actively destroyed by law.
To contrast, I think that a culture where all freedom is given up, to a centrally planned economy, will quickly develop into a tyranny. It is therefore not surprising that central planning under Communism, is ultimately the same a central planning in the Capitalist end stage. Central planning, is central planning, and the people eventually have nowhere to stand to oppose the decisions of the central cliques. No land, no rights, everything is insider dealing, like a mesh an impenetrable mesh of Oligarchy, greed, and lies. Central planning is the dream of the forces of high Capital, who come to oppose all forms of free market, because eventually they destroy that system from which they reared themselves up economically. They monopolize everything, that is to destroy the markets, and then they need an ideology that allows them to close the remaining freedoms of the people forever, and that is central planning under whatever varnish of propaganda. At first the pill of central control looks cute. At first, great things are done, that draw in the support. Slowly but surely then, the net of control closes, the corrupt rise, the good and honorable are lost, because they have nowhere to stand.
I’m sorry, but advances in verticle farming are irrelevant to this question. It is not about farming only, it is about power. If you can vertically farm on your own land that nobody can take from you, you have even more power. If you have no land but are crammed in a big flat because the central planners told you so, you can try to feed yourself from the 15 tomatoes you can cram before your window, but it won’t help you. The whole idea that technology will solve social ills, is incorrect. First we have to solve the question of power, of influence that is (not electrical power, but political and economic power). Only then can the fruits of our technological developments go to those who have the power, who by their power will draw them to themselves. Those with the power draw in the money and benefits. If central planners have that power, they will help themselves. The people will suffer, and the few good central planners will just be killed off by their collegues, or be neglected and demoted once the rot has taken over, which mark my words will be soon. 2 generations at best, it is a miracle if you can keep it good that long. Humans are not ants, humans lack morality, humans need a system where they can protect themselves from others and rotting power structures, but also work together and live together.
I’m sorry that you did not give almost any argument I can put my teeth in, besides sneering that i work for the capitalists. That is such a low tactic, and I have seen it so often already. For the capitalists in America, any hint of real rights they call communism, and when you talk to the Communists about real rights for ordinary people, how do they brand you ? A capitalist. Har har har, and the whole world is torn apart between these two forces, who really are ultimately one and the same, but they don’t realize it. Capitalism breeds monopoly crony Oligarchy, and what does historical Communist and central planning produce ? The same kind of Empire ! You see the central theme in both ideologies ? Massive centralization of power, *both* under the guise of empowering the masses, the one in the supposed “free market” that is anything but free but controlled by monopolies and high capital, and the other under the supposed “peoples democracy” with central planning, which is not a democracy either, and has no freedom, and does not end up paying people the incomes their work deserves. It is both a lie, it is both radicalism, it is both the rule of the inner cliques. We should go to the other direction then both, and give real power to all people, among which ownership of land as a birthright. Directly and squarely: taking that power away from the bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie, and giving it to the ordinary citizens as an inalienable right forever, to live and protect themselves from the power hungry.
Thank you for not shying away from the debate, I appreciate that very much. Have a nice day, long live Novorossia under whatever system its people choose.
Petty-bourgeoisie means who is neither a bourgeoisie nor a proletariat. As for example, farmers who plough their own fields, small shop & businessmen who employ very little or no and he/she himself have to work on that. And before finalizing your “theory” on land, kindly try to understand the history of agriculture and how the productivity has been increased with introduction of machinery and other modern methods in it, which is impossible in a small piece of land. The success of collective farms in USSR is the example how productivity can be drastically increased by introduction of machinery and modern science. And do you have any idea about modern agricultural methods like “vertical farming” that needs huge capital but very little land in comparison to conventional agriculture?
The catastrophy of the industrial revolution, was in my opinion caused by the introduction of new machinery, which did not come to the benefit of those who where employed landless labor, farm labor. Back then almost all labor was farming related. The machines replaced land labor. If we had had land, we would have used the machines ourselves, on our own land. But we did not own land, and with the machines in the hands of the few who controlled everything, they did not need us anymore. Whatever which way they did it, how they took control of all land, it doesn’t really matter in my opinion. Whether they took control through a Communist Revolution or through a Capitalist Revolution and buying it all up, the end result is the same. In any case, where did the despairing landless labor forces go, no longer needed on the land ? They went to the cities, where the factories opened. This was such a hell, that it gave rise to the modern political left, including eventually communism, which was dreamed up by a rather (in my opinion) superficial German student, called Marx. He could write nice about factory life, but about economics he couldn’t put 1 an 1 together. However, he could pretend he understood everything, and with a whole book that made no sense but struck a chord about factory hell, and according to some by being financed by high capital for the job (yes I can see that happen), his radicalism rose to power and has been dividing and conquering the people ever since in two radical camps that neither know how things work: the capitalists, and the communists, the radical free traders, and the radical central planners.
So, where did we end up ? I say we because I happen to descend from landless land labor, roaming in western Germany. In the factory, as I said. Because we had no power, we had no land. Thus the landless masses became “proletariat.” The ruling class tries to control us. They try war, they try capitalism, and they try – yes – communism, a new religion for the masses. Jesus was dead, long live the new god: Hegel, and his prophet, Marx. Look at the statues of Marx, and look at the statues of Jesus, like in Brazil. Notice the similarity ? Marx became the opium of the masses, and it all did not work either. You think it did, I think it was a catastrophy. Just so, some people still think capitalism works, we seem to agree it is a catastrophy.
Advances in technology do not solve social and economic ills, on the contrary they worsen them. Mark my words: when robotics becomes advanced enough to replace meneal labor, we are going to see a repeat of this effect. The owners are now the factory owners, and labor, owns – as always, both in communism and capitalism: nothing. In communism their ownership is a fantasy of control over the supposedly benevolent party, or say the vague hope that the party will be benevolent. It is very similar to monarchy, where the monarchists hope to find the benevolent ruler one day. A day that seldom comes, and quickly passes. In capitalism, there are similar fantasies of empowerment. What we are going to see, is throwing the masses out of the factories, just as they/we where thrown out of the land. No longer needed, only good for one thing: fodder for war, good riddance the ruling gangsters would say. It all happens, because we do not assume our power, our ownership.
This time the problem is not so much land, although that is still unresolved, this time it is factories. These factories should have long since become co-operatives, but they are not. If they are co-operatives, a new machine will benefit everyone who works there. We can all work less, watch the machine do it. Why would we fire anyone ? We are in control, as a group. We all rise with the technology, because we can pull its benefit toward ourselves, with the power, the ownership of the factory.
I disagree with your interpretation of the word ‘petite bourgeoisie,’ and in practice we in the left (far left) have solidarity with those who work without employees on their own in the markets, because it is just another trick – often – to exploit people and deny them their legal rights. The only thing that matters is who is a parasite on others, and is assuming a position of control over them. Those entities that do that, come in various forms, one is the fascist war central planner, another is the capitalist dictatorial business owner – particularly large businesses, another is the nefarious networks of investment parasitism (loans, bonds, shares) control by non-workforce, and yet another is the central planners of the communist party, who somehow – surprise surprise (not) – neglect to initiate and maintain the pure general democracy for all, that they had promised when they tried to rise to power. Soviet, right, well you know what the word means: council. It was supposed to be there for the masses, and at first it was. But, it was never written down properly in law, it was vague, it was wild, because the communists thought they where too good for law, they didn’t need it. How wrong they where.
I do not want any more tyranny, I do not want any more people taking what is mine, or taking from you what is yours. You take what is yours, and I take what is mine, that is land, that is a say in the State, that is a say in the business where you work, and that is being armed. A real man is armed, and who gets scared should just get himself a weapon and stop complaining (incidentally my one contention with DPR, is the disarmement of the people, although I cannot judge that situation from this distance by any means). Central planning: no, under Fascist flag, under Communist flag, under whatever flag: no, no, and no. I take my land, you take yours, and between all that take their right, the Oligarchy will be left with just this: that which is their share, a simple piece of land, one man one vote in the State, the power to live an work. If they go criminal, we will hunt them down together. There is no democracy, with a central clique who takes the spoils of the people for themselves. Who wants to live that fantasy, is ultimately a Monarchist, sorry. A real democracy, has to be under law, and the Sovereignty is ultimately held by the people, in a network of voting and debating, nothing else. It dances, it moves, it holds itself in line and represses the few who break the law because too many do not accept such a behavior from anyone, especially not their friends. Real democracy requires a measure of virtue of the people, and therefore it is a great challenge which can seem scary, because there is no Big Man to take control and rule the Central Committee “for the welfare of everyone” (cough cough).
How dare anyone deny another man, to enter and make use of nature, to live ? What is this madness, when did it start ? I acknowledge the others right to do the same, but not more or less then me. That is what it is about, it is fundamental to everything. Humanity is on the wrong course, denying the most elementary rights of existence. This is less apparent perhaps in Russia, with its huge territory, although in the large cities it will be similar. The more industrialization goes on, the more it becomes a choking chain, because it is used against us and we let them get away with it.