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Athens Polytechnic, 14 to 17 November 1973: When 350 dreamer-adventurers created the biggest defeat of the postwar labour movement

The below is a very thorough and interesting article on the Polytechnic occupation/uprising that was written by Gatouleas in Greek. It was so good that I decided to translate this to English so that more people may learn this important part of Greek anti-capitalist and freedom fighting history. Enjoy!


November 14, 1973

Black and White people of a large crowd of university students (primarily males) demonstrating in the streets.Rizospastis 13/11/20051

The Polytechnic is surrounded by police and students are gathered in the courtyard throwing Seville oranges. In the global-student assembly of the Law school, the news is spread that there’s fighting at the Polytechnic the assembly decides to descend to the University.

Ergatiki Allillegyi 09/11/20112

A syndicalist of the Revolutionary Left from the Physics-Mathematics [course],  proposes to stop the assembly and make towards the Polytechnic.

Ergatiki Allillegyi 09/11/2011

The leaders of both Communist Parties, during the first day in the Polytechnic were shocked that policy was determined by the line of anti-capitalist Left. They decided to stay “kneading” the perspective of the “coordinated retreat.” Already since Wednesday evening, that has been their proposal. When defeated, they began to struggle against the “leftist slogans” such as “General Strike” and “Revolution people.” But the General Assemblies of schools organized within the Polytechnic isolate this perspective.

On the subject of the Athens Polytechnic uprising against the Junta in the November of ’73 there have been written and spoken thousands of words and stories. It is only to be expected that there’s a lot of “storytelling” for such a historical event.

I will attempt to outline a perspective that has been covered extensively for decades. You see, the “myth” of the Polytechnic has attempted to describe those three days as a pandemic, celebratory and peaceful uprising of the whole Greek people against a handful of ridiculous and isolated dictators who survived only thanks to force of arms and American aid. “Everyone” had taken up arms (peacefully, always!)… Pangalos had been assembling bombs in the Latin Quarter in the May of ’68 and Simitis was placing them in the streets of Athens. On the other hand, the current Minister of Citizen Protection Papoutsis, along with Laliotis and Damanaki had organized the “mass movement” and the “sidewalks”, so that millions of people could flock to demonstrations, sit-ins and strikes.

All countries create such myths. Here even Germany has created the “anti-Nazi” people during the period of 1939-1945 in order to whitewash the fascist history of the “democratic” generals and politicians of their postwar history. Could the Greek politicians do anything less?

A Black and White photo of students occupying the Polytechnic University standing in front of a Tram. A sign for "General Strike" is displayed.
The occupying students of the Athens Polytechnic

But the Left as well has taken actions to make people forget that what happened in November was a genuine uprising, forged within the communist, jacobist tradition…

Today’s Left has relegated “Revolt” to a museum piece. Like a weapon we pull out very rarely. So rarely in fact, that for KKE (Communist Party of Greece) 62 years have passed and there’s still “not ripe conditions”… Needless to say that the last time was “wrong” as well…

Thus, today’s legalistic Left has a few prerequisites it requires before a “Revolt” can happen.

  • The Capitalist system needs to be in a “Crisis.”
  • The political system of governance needs to be in discrepancy with the “people”. A crisis of representation.
  • There need to be favourable international conditions (in grass-root movement terms).
  • The “people”, the “movement” to lie in “orgasm”. Have strikes, demonstrations, occupations. happening and those increasing in quantity but also shape a “communist” consciousness. Of course, the numerical participation in these events must also be “global”… and growing constantly in an arithmetic (if not exponential) progression.
  • To have one (or many) mass parties, with thousands of experienced members, networked throughout Greece, in all work and social places.

Of course, all these must last a sufficient amount of time so that a sequence of political events is created to “tie” the yeast. If ALL these things happen simultaneously, then YES! Our honoured Left will decide to murmur “Revolution.”

Let us travel back in time then, 38 years ago, to see what kind of conditions existed to make the “Uprising” of the Polytechnic. Was the Polytechnic uprising the peak, the maturing of a wholly-populist movement against a staggering regime, or a social “explosion” which found ground to break through via the “madness” of some “irresponsible, adventurist leftists”?

Crisis or Stability in Global Capitalism?

Black & White picture of crying children fleeing in VietnamFor 30 years, there was a continuous development at a global level which, in tandem with the capitalist profits, pushed a lower-middle class into a consumerist orgasm. Cars, refrigerators, televisions in every home…. opening of university education to wider social strata, formation of a “social wage” through an expanded program of public investment. Capitalism “appeared” to be living in its best days.

But in the last two years, the glass was cracking…

The US was being humiliated in Vietnam. For the first time, a great power was “losing” from a “small”. The symbolism was too strong.

On the other hand, A financial crisis breaks out in 1973 that is considered the “worst since 1929”, while the Arab countries declare an embargo on the sale of oil. 1973 is considered now the landmark year for the reappearance of the “capitalist economic crisis” in political terminology. The so-called “oil crisis of ’73” caused chain reactions around the globe.

Surely all these affected the confidence of the fighters of the Left. The Crisis and collapse of the system was not of course like the current one, but the appearance of the first crack often triggers – through sheer enthusiasm – disproportionate explosions.

But lets look at the other parameters.

Greek Capitalism and the Political System.

A parade of the Greek Junta in what appears to be a stadium. The sign says "Calm, Work, National Security".

Greece was a great postwar economic miracle! Growth rates reached 10% per year (second locomotive in the world after Japan)3 and the state budgets were in surplus until the fall of the Junta.

In 19694 Greece has the highest per capita income among OECD member countries, the largest – after Japan – increase of indices of total and per capita gross domestic product in market prices, the lowest price increase of the consumer index.

In April of 19725 the growth of industrial output reaches 10.5%, metallurgy 26.8% and chemical products 20.1%.

This economic growth had enabled the junta to “buy out” her social bloc. They spread the famous “sea-loans” to every middle-class, Housing loans for personal residence, farmer loans up to 100.000 drachmas (something like 200-300 thousand euros today), “investment” tourist loans6… and almost all of these never repaid. It is because of this that you still hear now the classic “How nice we were during the Junta”, which are the memories of middle-class for the “easy money” of the Junta.

The “oil crisis” that erupted in the summer of ’73 pushed the oil price and thus the inflation from 2% to 15%. Surely it was a shock, but I doubt whether it severed the social bloc power of the Junta.

The most important problem was the European orientation of Greek capitalism. The prospect of joining the EU (Then EEC) imposed a parliamentary democratic façade and created a rift in the strategy of the Greek capital. It was not possible to get a new member without parliamentary and european elections and without a rudimentary political system. So by the end of 1972 begins a period of “tolerance” and preparation of the climate for a controlled transition into some kind of democracy… something like the status of Turkey. In the summer of ’73, the monarchy is repealed by “referendum” and Papadopoulos is proclaimed “President of the Republic”, while in September placing Markezinis as a “Prime Minister” who would arrange the “Free Elections.”

Surely this “crack” of democracy, played the role. Some sporadic meetings at universities, the first union strikes, but everything could be counted in the fingers of one hand. Whenever they escaped the propriety of the cop (such as the occupation of the Law school in the February of ’73), repression was swift and merciless.

So, at the national level as well, we notice the first post-war cracks of instability. Too little? Or too critical?

Before answering, let’s look at “our own” forces and hopefully draw a safer conclusion.

International Movement

Black & White picture of President Nixon of the USA shaking hands with Chairman Mao of China.
President Nixon is meeting Chairman Mao. Totalitarian "Communism" and Imperialist Capitalism shake hands.

In 1973 the international communist movement has received successive defeats in its attempt of “May ’68” to challenge the capitalist domination. All its strains had been thrashed.

Mother “communist” Russia had invaded Czechoslovakia (Today’s Czech Republic and Slovakia) in 1968 to suppress the process of democratization and sovereignty of the country, creating a strange “equivalent” to that of the U.S. in Vietnam.

But the other versions of the communist movement had no “beacon of optimism” to offer either.

The center-left eurocommunism of democratic reform of the state was crushed in the summer of ’73 in Chile. The left-wing Allende fell dead from the dictatorship of General Pinochet, thus freezing a global solidarity movement to the Chilean people.

The Maoist movement had begun to receive huge credibility hits. Their “Great Helmsman” Mao had found a new “partner.” In early 1972, the U.S.A. President Nixon visits “communist” China and launches a new program of friendly relations. Yes! The president of the Vietnam war, the same from the Watergate scandal, is considered an “ally” of the “other” communist movement.

A Black & White photo of a Ulrike Meinhof in her youth, sitting in a couch looking towards the camera.
Ulrike Meinhof, part of the core of the defunct German Red Army Faction. A violent city guerilla with communist ideology.

Of course, the “grass-roots” [political movement] May of the French had been defeated in the same summer. The elections that president de Gaulle called had him re-elected with an overwhelming proportion over 50%. It was the first great lesson that if you don’t draw your own organizational strengths, you will always lose to your opponent…no matter how weak they are.

But even the city guerilla had received a hard blow. The arrest of Baader and Meinhof, i.e. the core of the German RAF (Red Army Faction) in 1972 put an implacable political dilemma in this concept. This followed the battle of the Olympic Games and the suppression of the Palestinian strike at the Israeli mission. Armed rebels seemed incredibly weak in front of the state machine.

All the hope that had been born in the ’60s, in Europe, America and the Third World national liberation movements seemed blocked. Each “proposal”, old or new, Stalinist – Trotskyist – Maoist – Guevarist – Eurocommunist – Autonomist, had suffered a crushing defeat.

The movement was entering a period of recuperation

Greek Movement

Things here are almost clear. The labour movement had been crushed in the coup of ’67. The entire reconstruction effort of the late ’60s, all the heroic battles of the Julians of ’56 had been dissolved by the military regime of Papadopoulos.

Black & White picture of a students on top of a building, holding a composite sign which spells "Freedom" in greek.
Occupying students of the Law University, shout "Freedom" from the rooftop, 9 months before Polytechnic Uprising.

The unions dissolved or became narks. Police had official branches of “labour” and “student” in order to monitor every suspicion of collective action. Even a gathering for a cultural association had its official snitch.

But the “whip” is never enough to sustain a regime. It also needs its “carrot”; it needs the arrangement of a social bloc – other than the capitalists – which will support it, and the rest of the overwhelming majority to “tolerate” it at least.

The economic growth that prevailed in Greece allowed the regime to buy-out the middle classes. This caused a corresponding ideology of happiness and anticipation for an even better tomorrow.

The exceptions of some heroic strikes cannot hide this reality. The “epicness” of the two 48-hour general strikes, the continuous 24-hour ones, the union continuous strikes and the occupations of public buildings that are happening today, did not occur even in the wildest wet dreams of the most drunken dreamer rebel during the seven years of the Junta.

The attempt to occupy the Law school 9 months ago, was crushed at birth, and (logically) a repeat of it would act as a disincentive. Is that not so?

Parties and organizations of the Left.

A Black & White Picture of a Man in handcuffs, surrounded by police and politicians of the Greek Junta
Alekos Panagoulis tried to execute the dictator Papadopoulos in 1968, but failed and was arrested.

Here is the absolute ZERO! Everything was illegal and KKE had split in 1968. The dissolution was absolute! A few members and without any kind of infrastructure. A telling example is given to us by Nikos Karras7, a leading member of KKE and later KKE Interior (The epochal version of the SYRIZA party):

…I was telling my wife that the whole point was to get in contact with Mina, since we had foreseen to erect an illegal infrastructure in case of dictatorship. When, thus, we met with Mpampis8 down at the beach, I asked: ‘Have you found Mina?’ ‘I found her.’ ‘Finally’ I say ‘let us prepare something.’ ‘Nah’ he answers, ‘she has nothing.’ ‘Nothing? Not even a polygraph?’ ‘Not a polygraph nor anything else!’

The reconstruction effort is slow and laborious. They have to overcome all the problem of lawlessness, and their political unreliability. The inability of the Left to resist the coup on one hand, and the economic and political stability of the regime on the other, put very large problems in front of the non-branded fighters… the others were either abroad, in prison, or exiled to barren islands.

Tragic finale and brilliant start

Typically, the Polytechnic was a “defeat” for the labour movement. And how could it be otherwise? With all these negative conditions around it, the uprising not only failed to achieve its stated objectives (the fall of the Junta, removal of NATO bases, etc.) but was repressed violently with dozens of dead. Even the rudimentary democratic rights and concessions that were being negotiated by the government, went on hold.

A Black & White photo of tanks rolling in the streets of Greece
Suppression of the Uprising. Tanks marching outside Polytechnic.

Neither did it usher in the Parliamentary Republic, as wrongly written by Greek mythology. That had already been initiated “from above” for capital needed a European profile on its way to the EU.

So, if these unfavourable circumstances were leading with mathematical precision towards a crash, was perhaps the uprising a “mistake”?

Not so in fact! The Polytechnic ushered in the Metapolitefsi (Regime Change)!  In other words, the entrance of the mass movement as a political factor. The workers, the students, the communist movement, was articulating against the aspirations of the bosses. The building of the trade unions, the leftist parties, civil rights are not won by Parliamentarism, but rather by the Communist labour movement. If in doubt, see the Patriot Act in the U.S.A., the civil rights in Turkey, and whether “Parliamentarism” has prevented the operations against house squatting in northern European countries.

The dead of the Polytechnic cancelled any chance of social consensus with the government. They brought to the fore, the social and political polarization. They redefined the boundaries of right-left… in our own terms.

Never again has a “defeat” in the greek labour movement been so promising, like that of the Polytechnic.

The legacy of left legalism – reformism

A newspaper clip of the time
A newspaper clip from the condemnation coming from a communist party speaker. The highlighted part reads "In parallel with the larger democratic unifying movement which promotes the entrance into democratic normality, dark forces are working to block the road to that direction and organize challenges so that the imposition of military measures are justified"

Rereading thus, the context of historical events 38 years later, one might say that there was not a single prerequisite for insurrection. Both against the Junta, let alone capitalism.

In an international and Greek level, capitalism did recover as the winner, the crisis had not begun to unfold, while the subjective forces of the labour and communist movement are fragmented and defeated, with the middle classes hostile to anti-capitalist points of view.

This explains the shouts of disapproval against the Polytechnic uprising, by the Communist Party (KKE) and KKE Internal (the SYRIZA of the times). Having read “correctly” the criteria that are ruminated, even today, by the majority of the left, the uprising was an “adventurist” move, without vision, without organization, without preparation, without social alliances, which put at risk the entire labour movement.

Even a year after the uprising, the two Communist Parties of the time were strongly condemning the Occupation of ’73 as a leftist setback of the movement. After the fall of the  junta they changed their tune and attempted to expunge from the Polytechnic of ’73, the element of the uprising as coming from an organized intervention of Revolutionaries – Communists.

A newspaper clip from the Panspoudastiki newspaper
An "announcement-answer" clip from the Panspoudastiki newspaper. February '74

The Communist Party of Greece wrote9 that the invasion of 350 provocateurs in the Polytechnic during November, was a minority act by Anarchists in order to set up a caricature revolt and provide an excuse to restore martial law.

The Communist Party, Internal of Drakopoulos  and Kyrkos, believed that “The Athens Polytechnic took us 10 years backwards”10 and condemned the “challenges that provide an alibi for the imposition of military measures.”11

Today’s Left is a true child of the despondent legalists of the KKE and the eurocommunist KKE Internal. Those rehashing the terms and conditions, those who “condemn” the extremists of provocateur elements which endanger the labour movement, do not belong to the generation of the uprising, but to that of compromise and reformism.

 The inheritance of the “350 Provocateurs”

After we’ve described the adverse objective and subjective conditions, it would be good to try to reach the “paste” of the instigators of the uprising. What the hell were they thinking?

Because the occupation of the Polytechnic was an organizationally set move coming from the, then, Revolutionary Left. The fighters of the Revolutionary Left chose it after the “defeat” of the Law school. The NPR was at a main road and could not be cut off by police such as the building of the Law school in Solonos. The PaSoK-KKE-SYRIZA were caught napping, the occupation happened, and the Junta attempted to act a “Democracy”. The occupation started becoming a mass phenomenon and the military suppression came 3 days later to dissolve an under-construction centre of revolutionary overthrow.

I suspect that the instigators of the occupation had any of the three characteristics

  • They made a wrong analysis of the times. They had not read the retreat of the movement and thus estimated a pre-revolutionary period.
  • They were inexperienced uber-revolutionaries. They had not imagined the dynamics that would arise from the occupation of the Polytechnic, nor the rabid response of the state. They might have considered it even as a “preparatory stage.”
  • They were subjectivists. They put their own volition over the objective circumstances.

Their most important characteristic however, was that they saw themselves as a Subject of developments.

A Black & White picture of a german revolutionary paphletThey were followers of a great tradition of the labour movement, which recognizes the need for a separate political centre of Revolutionaries. That sees Communism, not as education, enlightenment of the “ignorant by the enlightened leadership”, but rather as a Movement within the Movement.

Obviously I’m not advocating that wrong estimates and uber-revolutionarism are “recipes for success.” On the contrary! These weaknesses are what lost the wager for the Revolutionary Left and thus failed to “inherit” the uprising, to continue into winning a second attempt.

But they left a legacy that is almost lost in oblivion… That of revolutionary determination and Subjectivism. That which tries to find the weakest spots in its opponent and bit as hard as it can… with whatever strength it has. That which opposes Objectivism12, the Long Encirclement of Capitalism, and the Ripe Fruit.  That which does not consider revolution to be an exact mathematical praxis, but rather a chaotic system of equations where a Revolutionary Subject can change the course of history.

The legacy which makes people consider themselves as organizers and battering rams at the same time! And not a self-loathing analyst and “expressor” of social strata.

This is the required tradition for a Labour Movement which seeks a new proposal against the capitalist hell.

And a sci-fi “historic” test…

There is a simple way for each of us to recognise in which tradition we belong… and that may help us today.

Let us imagine that we possess a communist time-machine. A cocoon which teleports us to the past.

Suppose you are transferred as a student in the Law school’s meeting in the morning of the 14th of November 1973, and you can now vote.

You know what is about to happen, and the only thing you have, is your own skin. I am sure you will try to make the Junta fall, you will give everything for the Left and the movement.

However…

Would you have voted AGAINST the occupation, so that the uprising can be prepared better? To take better advantage of any democratic openings? To grow your organization? Would you attempt to convince on the 15th to leave peacefully and in form, “before dissolving”? Perhaps on the 16th you would beg your comrades not to give the state a justification to send in the tanks?

Or would you vote FOR and give a utopian struggle  to overthrow the Junta within 3 days, regardless of all the “objectively” difficult conditions you’re having and the repression you KNOW is going to come? Would you push furiously to take advantage of every minute of class struggle, determined for everything? Ready to continue with an ever greater momentum on the 18th for the next round?

In the first case, you do well to lie within the chains of PAME-KKE or bargain for ministries with CenterLeft-Kouvelis

In the latter, welcome to the most magical and utopian history written in the 21st century…

In the colours and music of the Revolution.

 

A Black & White picture oh a hand graspind a small black flag, rising from an erupting steet.

  1. Greek Communist Party newspaper, literally translating to “Radical” []
  2. “Εργατική Αλληλεγγύη” literally translates to “Worker’s Solidarity”. It’s a weekly anti-capitalist newspaper. []
  3. Sixth issue of the tri-monthly Economic Inspection of OECD, December 1969 []
  4. Yearly edition of OECD, 1969 []
  5. Monthy Edition of Main Economic Indicators []
  6. Financial Scandals of the Greek Military Junta []
  7. Interview in the Magazine “The Commenter” 60-61 []
  8. Mpampis Drakopoulos, another leading member and future president of the KKE, Interior []
  9. Panspoudastiki No 8, February 1974 []
  10. Nikos Karras – Interview in the Magazine “The Commenter” 60-61 []
  11. Newspaper Macedonia, 17-11-1973 []
  12. [Translator Note: Not the Randian Kind] []

Do workers exploit the capitalists?

This image of :en:George Reisman is taken from...
Image via Wikipedia

In today’s Hits & Mises episode I’m going to tackle George Reisman’s attempt to refute the exploitation theory. I was recently linked to it by yet another Misoid on reddit who is trigger-happy in linking to Mises.org, which seems to be an annoyingly common occurrence in the Anarchist subreddit. This time I am not going to tackle it all at once since this is a huge piece using various tactics to counter the theory of exploitation. Rather I’m going to pick apart it’s distinguishable core arguments one by one until there’s nothing left.

The main thrust of the attack in this case is the argument that in a pre-capitalist society or artisans and farmers, rather than all income being wages, all income was profit and by the introduction of the capitalist mode of production, it wasn’t that the parasite class of the capitalist and landlord started taking a part of the income as profit, but rather that the artisans naturally evolved to capitalists and then gracefully allowed some proletarians (i.e. people with nothing else to sell but their labour) to use their surplus land and capital to survive while they paid them a “fair wage” since they were doing them a favour in the first place. In short, the worker is exploiting the capitalist now since they are getting a wage out of the capitalists profit (which would exist at the same level apparently without the worker’s labour).

Smith and Marx are wrong. Wages are not the primary form of income in production. Profits are. In order for wages to exist in production, it is first necessary that there be capitalists. The emergence of capitalists does not bring into existence the phenomenon of profit. Profit exists prior to their emergence. The emergence of capitalists brings into existence the phenomena of wages and money costs of production.

Accordingly, the profits which exist in a capitalist society are not a deduction from what was originally wages. On the contrary, the wages and the other money costs are a deduction from sales receipts—from what was originally all profit. The effect of capitalism is to create wages and to reduce profits relative to sales receipts. The more economically capitalistic the economy—the more the buying in order to sell relative to the sales receipts, the higher are wages and the lower are profits relative to sales receipts.

I have been unfortunate enough to have had to argue against this position in the past with one particularly obnoxious opponent so this is not a new perspective for me, although it’s nice to finally know where that person got his argumentation points from as this seemed a novel refutation at the time. In short the flaws in this argument are two. One is definitional while the other is historical.

The Definitional Flaw

We see George starting down this path from this quote

This becomes apparent, as soon as we define our terms along classical lines:”Profit” is the excess of receipts from the sale of products over the money costs of producing them—over, it must be repeated, the money costs of producing them.

A “capitalist” is one who buys in order subsequently to sell for a profit.

“Wages” are money paid in exchange for the performance of labor—not for the products of labor, but for the performance of labor itself.

It seems that he is using some fairly interesting definitions here, definitions which in fact have nothing to do with the way such terms were used by socialists. The reason why this change occurred is because it allows the very tricky equivocation fallacy required for one to make within his historical flaw.

So why is this definitional flaw important? First lets take the definition of wages: I do not know if Marx did indeed use the term “wage” to talk about the income of pre-capitalist production but in any case what he was really talking was a mode of production where all the income goes to the person who did the labour. Whether that was in excess or less than the money costs of production is irrelevant. What is important is that those who do the labour get to keep all the income from the trade of the results of this labour, i.e. the commodities produced.

The money costs that an artisan or farmer has to produce any commodity are irrelevant as it’s impossible to define them as this includes the whole cost of living of said worker. Does your cost of feeding yourself count as “money costs?” The cost of feeding your family? Buying new tools? Taking vacation? Buying new luxuries? Which of these is or is not a “money cost of production?” Nothing but feeding and buying tools? But obviously a worker without leisure would not be productive. Is everything a “money cost?” But then it’s ridiculous to talk about “profits” as the way the income is used is indistinguishable from a normal wage.

And that is the problem. The intellectual twist required to make the definitional swap of “wages” to “profits” does not stand up rationally. We call an artisan’s income “wages” because it is in fact indistinguishable from wages functionally. It is income which is directly the result of the sale of one’s labour power. The labour power to create the commodities or perform a service. Profit on the other hand is generally used in a different sense, as the non-labour income which one receives on for owning the capital.  It’s the tribute the owner receives on account of owning.

Even using Reisman’s definition of “wages” above, we still see that it supports the idea of pre-capitalist artisans and farmers are receiving wages, not profit. Why? Because if wage are the money paid in exchange for the performance of labour, then we need to ask what the performance of labour is in a pre-capitalist society. It’s obvious then that the performance of labour is nothing less than the products of labour. The commodities one produces is a direct result of the performance of their labour.

The conceptual mistake that Reisman is doing here then is not so much that he simply mixes his definition dishonestly in order to make an equivocation later on, but that he falsely considers that there is a split between the performance of labour and the products of capital, the combined result of which is the commodities. Thus he assumes that an artisan has some wages that are the result of the performance of his labour and he also has the “wages of capital”, the profit which he also gets to retain since he owns the capital as well. However discovering how much is the performance of the artisan’s labour and how much is the performance of the capital is apparently not important and ignored. The truth is that this is a nonsensical split and is ignored because trying to define it would lead one to figure out the actual role of capital within production.

Furthermore the definition of Capitalist as “one who buys in order subsequently to sell for a profit” is especially wrong as this is the definition of a Merchant. Not a capitalist. This definition has to do with distribution, not with production, as it is by the latter by which one earns the title “Capitalist” or not. In fact this conflation of Merchantilism with Capitalism is quite common among the Misoids for some reason, which I assume is their perverse need to prove Capitalism as a natural human system which has existed for us since the dawn of civilization or something.

The Historical Flaw

This part is what especially gets to my tits for its absolute ahistorical assertions. The idea that capitalism is the natural continuation of peaceful evolution of human societies which “naturally” led to the result of some artisans and farmers owning more land than most while also oh-so-randomly property-less proletarians just happened to be around on the verge of starvation and eager to sell their labour as wage-workers while the artisans, now turned capitalists, graciously agreed to sacrifice part of what was all profit before in order to accommodate their fellow human beings.

It’s as if capital and land was happily working itself, producing all those commodities for the pre-capitalist to sell until that scummy proletarian came about and abused the warm feelings of the capitalist in order to get part of the profit. Or something. I don’t know, this whole rewriting of history is so vile in its crass white-is-black thing that it gets me aggressive just reading it. Seriously.

Reisman seems all to eager to manufacture a history which points to a natural evolution of capitalism that he manages to miss the point that actual reality was nothing of the sort, nor could it. He simply bases it on the equivocation he can make once he calls all pre-capitalist income “‘profit”, from which to claim that it’s not the worker being exploited by the capitalist since wages existed first, it’s just the other way around since “profit” existed first. It’s moronically simple.

First of all, the state of affairs where some people just happened to own all the land and capital while others had nothing to sell, didn’t just come around naturally, nor could it ever as humans by default tended to communal ownerships based on mutual aid. As such, it would have been impossible for some to end up owning more than they can use while others had nothing to sell but their labour. Even in a non-communal setting there would be no way for someone to enclose on more land than he could manage himself without a state to accept this claim and enforce it. There would be no way for someone to purchase a factory and then find willing wage-slaves to work in the inhuman conditions within as there would always be available land around for them to work on as self-managed free workers.

This is in fact why it required extensive state violence for capitalism to take hold. Not only had the farmers to be kicked out of their land and be prohibited from moving to other areas by force of law, not only did economic theft in the form of mandatory poll taxes had to be enforced, but the communal land to be enclosed by the great landlords so as not to allow any other options but to becomes wage-slaves.

In short, the world was engineered in order to facilitate capitalism, to facilitate exploitation.

The funny thing is that I’ve had before an AnCap argue that it doesn’t matter that things did not happen this way. It does not matter that it required extensive violence to achieve the system of production dominant today. It matters that logically it would be possible to achieve it even if no violence was used which simply goes against all we know of human pre-capitalist societies and trends. Much like the free market nonsense, it does not matter if it’s unrealistic; as long as we can imagine it happening in our heads, it’s enough.

Reisman’s fantasies are nothing more than that. Unrealistic fantasies of artisans turning capitalist and willing proletarians happily selling their labour-power for a piece of bread. It is spitting in the face of human history in order to make the Capitalist a progressive hero helping society to advance.

Thus, capitalists do not impoverish wage earners, but make it possible for people to be wage earners. For they are responsible not for the phenomenon of profits, but for the phenomenon of wages. They are responsible for the very existence of wages in the production of products for sale. Without capitalists, the only way in which one could survive would be by means of producing and selling one’s own products, namely, as a profit earner. But to produce and sell one’s own products, one would have to own one’s own land, and produce or have inherited one’s own tools and materials. Relatively few people could survive in this way. The existence of capitalists makes it possible for people to live by selling their labor rather than attempting to sell the products of their labor. Thus, between wage earners and capitalists there is in fact the closest possible harmony of interests, for capitalists create wages and the ability of people to survive and prosper as wage earners. And if wage earners want a larger relative share for wages and a smaller relative share for profits, they should want a higher economic degree of capitalism—they should want more and bigger capitalists.

Quotes like this really make me want to punch someone in the face and further solidify why I want nothing at all to do with “Anarcho”-Capitalists and their disgusting apologetics.

Next part of the refutation takes the approach of profit being the reward of capital intellect which I’ve countered already in the past so that’s two bases demolished already. Once I can grind my teeth enough to read through the rest of the nonsense I’ll continue with anything left.

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Why Recorded History is Skewed Towards Conflict and Calamity

SOTIK, KENYA - FEBRUARY 4:  A Kalegins tribe m...
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As I’m continuing my reading of Mutual Aid, Kropotkin keeps presenting one great insight after the other. This time it was something which is incredibly obvious but nevertheless something that people don’t take into consideration. The fact that recorded history presents a limited perspective of human existence; a perspective that is always centred around human conflict and competition with one another.

The cause of this is very easy to understand really. Like human memory, history is punctuated around great events, ones that enter into the consciousness of a large amount of people living in a particular area. But unlike an individual human who might consider a wedding or a birth as a generally important event in their lives, in the grander scale such positive events don’t register. What does register quite well however is conflict and disasters. And this is understandably, what the historians of each era write about.

This can be easily seen from even our modern experience. If a historian of a thousand years in the future were to look back into the popular records we’ve kept of our existence, such as newspapers or tv news, they would undoubtedly get the idea that all human life in the 20th and 21st century was one of perpetual crime, wars, disasters, exploitation, struggle etc. Why? Because this is what is newsworthy!

Normal life events are not newsworthy. Mundane facts of existence such as the fact that our lives generally roll in peace and quiet, the common social events such as parties or festivals, the small acts of human kindness like helping grannies pass the street or picking up hitchhikers, all of these are boring. And this is not because they are simple, but because they are so common that everyone of us has experienced them at one point or another. There is no reason to report on them because everyone is aware that they do happen.

On the other hand, not only is the rare disaster reported with glee, but most often than not, it’s exaggerated to make it seem even more interesting. And it is the rarity of such events that makes them more newsworthy. Most of us will very rarely, if at all, experience a murder or other unnatural death situations (ie not diseases)  in our living lives and yet, if one watches the news, they would undoubtedly get the impression that unnatural human death is commonplace. In fact, it has been reported and displayed in popular culture so much, that most of us have grown partially blasé to displays of human death without ever having witnessed one!

And this is the fallacy that far too many people make when looking back at recorded human history and seeing trends. They surmise, from the overwhelming majority of conflict depicted within, that humans during ancient times must have been living in a state of perpetual war against all. Greeks against Trojans, Greeks against Persians, Athenians against Spartans, Macedonians against everyone, Romans against Everyone, Catholics against Orthodox, Germans against Romans, Christian against Muslim, Ottoman against European, Scot against Scot, Scot against English, etc etc.

But what defines such recorded events, what made them noteworthy, was exactly the opposite of what the contemporary historical analyst sees in them. They were rare! This is the reason why they were recorded in the first place. It is a great error thus for someone to surmise that humans must have been in a perpetual state of conflict from looking at their recorded history. It is an even greater mistake to define “human nature” from such a flawed analysis and from there to suggest “fixes” such as greater state control or free markets, to a problem that does not exist.

What in truth defines human societies, is exactly what is not mentioned at all or at best mentioned in passing, precisely because of it’s banality. And we see that what is rarely mentioned is human cooperation, solidarity and mutual aid in times of difficulty. It is these unmentioned facts of human life that are the unwritten rule of existence.

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