Thursday, April 02, 2009

Video fine Keynesianism?

I received this message yesterday from a mate who manages a video store, and I had to think carefully before I discounted it as a joke:

I heard Gordon Brown at the G 20 say "The first step to kick starting the world's economy is for Mr. Hamilton to pay his video store late fees"

The friend who sent this message has been following the campaign against conspiratorial worldviews on this blog and sites like All Embracing but Underwhelming with a certain amount of pity, and he has recommended this youtube clip as a case study in conspiracy theorising. I can't watch the clip at the moment, because Muzzlehatch visited my home a week ago and used up all of my download quota watching cheesey Robert Wyatt and King Crimson performances from the '70s. I'm hoping that someone who hasn't suffered a similar indignity will be able to explicate Aaron's clip in the comments box under this post.

Of course, not everybody in the British Isles, let alone the world, thinks that Gordon Brown is the best man to handle the global economic crisis. In a typically succint post, David Osler explains why the protesters besieging the G 20 summit deserve respect, and why the notion of overthrowing capitalism is not a logical absurdity, no matter what the Daily Torygraph's columnists claim.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


please note that while you joke around, 'Vitaly', a NZ resident, has been doing sterling work cataloguing the dissemblings of the Holocaust deniers at Uncensored:

Vitaly offers hard evidence against the Nazis at Uncensored who say that there were more Jews at the end of the 2nd World War than before. I think that this is important work - that Verity deserves our support.

3:09 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

& I post, to show for you -

The rationalisation that Uncensored and supporters make that publishing Holocaust-denial materials is about “freedom of speech” is weak. There is extensive evidence that the Holocaust happened. There’s a small group of authors linked to the far right (Irving, Zundel, Faurisson and others) that claim the contrary. None of them are actual historians and none of them use proper historic methodology in their research. Whichever way you spin it, it’s publishing historic fabrications.

It is no different to me publishing in my own magazine the claim that Uncensored’s editorial staff eat babies before having Satanic orgies in the name of “freedom of speech” and then complaining that people are “trying to suppress it” and are “afraid of the truth”.

Posted by Vitaly | March 30, 2009, 9:35 pm Vitaly you are completely missing the point of free speech. If everyone had to provide 100% proof of accuracy in what they write then the written word would cease to exist. Are you aware how inaccurate most of the drivel on the news is and how it is pitched to support whatever suits the agenda of the person saying it.

This whole business of the holocaust is like some holy grail that is beyond question. The meer fact that this nonsense goes on and you are all so quick to scream anti-semetic makes me suspicious.

No-one is asking you to think outside the mind prison you have constructed. Just don’t try and shut down other people’s freedom of speech and right to have an opinion. If you want to start your own magazine then go right ahead however what you suggest printing is called SLANDER.

Posted by Lorraine | March 31, 2009, 12:48 pm So Lorraine, you’re fine with distributing propaganda for right-wing extremists but a little satire is too much to handle? Cos you know, the only people that take that Holocaust-denial stuff seriously are neo-Nazis and their fellow travelers.

Posted by Vitaly | April 1, 2009, 12:36 am vitaly,right wing extremists,propaganda,neo-nazis,you get all this from someone asking questions that need answering?
It appears you dont want people to know the truth about the Holocaust
the truth never fears investigation
So vitaly why do you fear this
vitaly why attack people who are trying to understand more
personally if i was telling the truth and some neo-nazis were saying i had lied, i would welcome investigation in a instant
there is of cause the other side of the coin, which appears to be you vitaly

Posted by jas | April 1, 2009, 8:22 am jas,

Please do me a favour and read up a little on the people that promote Holocaust denialism.

David Irving? He was actually ruled during a libel trial in England to associate with “right-wing extremists who promote neo-Nazism”. (Judge Gray’s words, not mine)

Ernst Zundel? He ran a world-wide distro of neo-Nazi materials and was jailed in Canada several time for distributing race-hate literature.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? The charming Iranian president who said there were “no gays in Iran”? You believe that one too?

David Duke? The former Grand Wizard of the KKK?

These are some of the most prominent and vocal people that aren’t on my “side of the coin”. That’s what I mean by “neo-Nazis and their fellow travelers”. If you’re really so keen on investigating the truth, why don’t you actually do so instead of attacking me for stating what I can plainly see?

Posted by Vitaly | April 1, 2009, 11:49 am Vitaly I am not distributing propaganda for anyone I am mearly exercising my right to question the maintream view of the world. If that threatens your views - who cares.
It’s interesting that this approach seems to be used more and more by your ilk - accuse the person of the very thing you are.

Seeing you are trying to deny free speech you are the only Nazi here because you are the one continually saying it.

Posted by Lorraine | April 1, 2009, 12:34 pm Lorraine,

I provided specific examples and background information. You have not refuted anything I said. The best you can do is call me “Nazi” in return?

I’ll repeat: the people promoting Holocaust-denialism are neo-Nazis (like Zundel and Irving) and fellow travelers (e.g. Islamic fundamentalists like Ahmadinejad). The “alternative views” they promote are nothing more than misrepresentation, observational selection and historic fraud. There is _no_ historic validity to their views, there are _no_ historians that take these ideas seriously, there is _not one_ paper published in a peer-reviewed journal they can cite. You can’t provide any evidence for your views, so you call me a “Nazi” instead.

Perhaps you’re unhappy you’ve fallen for their lies, but that’s really not my problem. Try educating yourself instead of this juvenile name-calling.

Posted by Vitaly | April 1, 2009, 2:47 pm Look Vitaly I could provide you with millions of examples of good people who question a number of things in the world. Why would I waste my energy when you would only counter by finding a handful of extremists and give them as your proof that EVERYONE who questions the authenticity of the numbers involved in the Holocaust as also an extremist.

You live in a mind prison and are looking for company, unfortunately you are in the wrong forum for that. This website is called Uncensored and people here are encouraged to think for themselves. If you want mainstream why don’t you go to BBC or CNN or Fox where all the sheeple will agree and applaud your grand theories on life. Why upset yourself coming to ours?

By the way before you accuse me of resorting to name calling maybe you should stop doing it yourself.

Posted by Lorraine | April 1, 2009, 3:14 pm The people that actively “question” the “authenticity of numbers” are almost all extremists of some stripe. There are also some people who are just gullible and accept anything when they hear the magic words “alternative view” or “suppressed truth” or “conspiracy”. Which are you? What do you actually believe happened to Jews in Germany and German-occupied territories between 1933 and 1945?

So far you haven’t provided me with a shred of evidence, only more hot air.

Posted by Vitaly | April 1, 2009, 3:58 pm If you want mainstream why don’t you go to BBC or CNN or Fox

Why go there, when you can read those sources here?




Posted by james | April 1, 2009, 4:00 pm vitaly,truth never fears investigation,what don’t you get about that?.
my research has lead me to believe there are many lies told about the Holocaust,and i am not alone
Dr. Harry Elmer Barnes, eminent historian, author of 40 books, many of which are standard college texts, noted in Rampart Journal, 1967. “It has been demonstrated that there had been no systematic extermination in those camps.” Thies Christopherden, a German soldier and author wrote: “I was at Auschwitz! There was no gas chamber there.” Paul Rassiner, historian and anti-Nazi activist, who served a prison sentence in Buchenwald and the Dora camps stated in 1962. “The claim that a holocaust took place is an historic lie - the most tragic and most macabre imposture of all time.” Prof. Robert Faurisson, a specialist in Document Analysis at the University of Lyon. France, stated on April 25, 1979. “The holocaust lie, which is largely of Zionist origin, has made an enormous political and financial fraud possible, whose principal beneficiary is the state of Israel.”

Posted by jas | April 1, 2009, 6:31 pm jas,

Dr. Harry Elmer Barnes revised his own figures _upwards_ by almost 200% between 1964 and 1966. Does that make you wonder about the thoroughness of his work at all? Had he not died a couple of years later, he might’ve revised it upwards yet again - like David Irving who now claims there were around 4 million Jewish victims.

Thies Christophersen - a member of the Waffen-SS - was stationed 3 kilometres away from Auschwitz, not at Auschwitz. His testimony is contradicted by thousands of other former Nazis, Auschwitz survivors and locals. As far as his “author” credentials go, he has published little more than brochures.

Paul Rassinier was interned at Buchenwald, which was a concentration camp rather than a death camp. Nonetheless, the records maintained by the SS indicate 33 462 deaths of camp inmates. He was never at any of the death camps, which were located in Eastern Europe. His actual work denying the Holocaust is not historically rigorous.

Robert Faurisson is a _former_ professor of literature, not history. Furthermore, his arguments focus mostly on technical feasibility of the gas chambers, which is completely outside his field of expertise.

There is also very important historic evidence that is ignored by their ilk. For instance, Hitler published his intentions in Mein Kampf in the 1920s and stated before the Reichstag in 1939:

“Today I want to be a prophet once more: If international finance Jewry inside and outside of Europe should succeed once more in plunging nations into another world war, the consequence will not be the Bolshevization of the earth and thereby the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe.”

Himmler, in a speech to the top brass of the SS at Posen said:

“I also want to talk with you, quite frankly, on a very grave matter. Among yourselves it should be mentioned quite frankly, and yet we will never speak of it publicly [...] I mean the clearing out of the Jews, the extermination of the Jewish race.”

Here’s a couple of excerpts from Goebbels’s own diaries:

“February 14, 1942: The Führer once again expressed his determination to clean up the Jews in Europe pitilessly. There must be no squeamish sentimentalism about it. The Jews have deserved the catastrophe that has now overtaken them. Their destruction will go hand in hand with the destruction of our enemies. We must hasten this process with cold ruthlessness.

March 27, 1942: The procedure is a pretty barbaric one and not to be described here more definitely. Not much will remain of the Jews. On the whole it can be said that about 60 per cent of them will have to be liquidated whereas only 40 per cent can be used for forced labor.”

There are no Holocaust-deniers who can adequately explain the meaning of this document. Before you go crying “forgery”, the diaries are very extensive (7000 pages or 29 volumes in their latest edition) and contain a great deal of detail that can be corroborated by other evidence.

But please, don’t let stuff that historians care about (like, you know, evidence and proof) stand in the way of your right to hold absurd beliefs.

Posted by Vitaly | April 1, 2009, 8:42 pm,k:auschwitz,n:!1000,n:2

To pick but a few from the first page of results…

The Dentist of Auschwitz: A Memoir
Jacobs, a Polish Jew, was a first-year dental student before he spent five years in Nazi extermination camps, including Auschwitz. Here, he vividly recalls that time, during which his elementary professional skills enabled him to practice primitive dentistry on inmates and SS officers alike, as well as to obey orders to extract gold teeth from corpses after gassing.

Inside the Gas Chambers: Eight Months in the Sonderkommando of Auschwitz
Slomo Venezia was born into a poor Jewish-Italian community living in Thessaloniki, Greece. At first, the occupying Italians protected his family; but when the Germans invaded, the Venezias were deported to Auschwitz. His mother and sisters disappeared on arrival, and he learned, at first with disbelief, that they had almost certainly been gassed. Given the chance to earn a little extra bread, he agreed to become a ‘Sonderkommando’, without realising what this entailed. He soon found himself a member of the ‘special unit’ responsible for removing the corpses from the gas chambers and burning their bodies.

Death Dealer: The Memoirs of the SS Kommandant at Auschwitz
Hoss’s memoirs are filled with specific recollections … his roles in the concentration camp system include his ordering of “the first execution of the war” at Sachsenhausen in 1938 and his 1941 assignment to establish and manage Auschwitz as “the largest human killing center in all of history.” Personal squabbles with other SS leaders are interspersed with chilling descriptions of prison conditions and gassing procedures.

There are thousands of these books, many of them first-hand accounts and memoirs. Are they all fabricated?

Posted by james | April 1, 2009, 8:53 pm vitaly don’t let common seance get in the way of the truth
The World Almanac for 1947 states that back in 1939 the world Jewish population was 15,688,259. The Almanac’s figures were supplied by the American Jewish Committee. Next the Jewish-owned New York Times of February 22, 1948 stated the world Jewish population for that year amounted “to 15,600,000 to 18,700,000 in addition to the 600,000 to 700,000 living in Palestine.” How could the Jewish population increase so rapidly over the war years if they had lost 6,000,000 people?
Following the rise of Hitler there were no more than 4 million Jews at most living in areas occupied by the Third Reich at the height of its power. Yet on June 30, 1965, the West German government announced that some 3,375,000 Jewish holocaust “survivors” had applied for reparations money. The International Red Cross had already reported in 1946 that of registered Jewish camp inmates no more than 300,000 could have died, and their audit to December 31, 1984 records a total 282,077 registered deaths of all internees in all German Concentration Camps from all causes.
Heinrich Himmler, chief of the Concentration Camps issued orders on December 28, 1942, that “The death rate in the concentration camps must be reduced at all costs” (Reitlinger, “The Final Solution”). The camps had been hit with a deadly typhus epidemic that spread by fleas and body lice. Stomach pain, high fever, emaciation and death can quickly follow. All of the camps were factories and the loss of workers was hurting war production. Inspector of the camps, Richard Glucks responded to Himmler’s order on January 20, 1943, “Every means will be used to lower the death rates” (Nuremberg Tribunal Document No. 1523).

Posted by jas | April 1, 2009, 9:04 pm jas,

The World Almanac figures before 1949 were _all_ based on pre-war (1938) estimates. The same World Almanac gives a figure of 11 266 600 for the year 1949, which _is_ based on a fresh estimate. This is a common denialist ploy, but based entirely on deception and an un-informed public.

The Nazis estimated a population of roughly 11 million Jews living in the occupied territories in their own Wannsee Protocols. It’s unclear to me where you get the “4 million” figure, after you cite almost 16 million in support of your World Almanac argument. The majority of Jewish population was dispersed through Central and Eastern Europe - precisely the area occupied by the Third Reich.

The Red Cross estimate is once again for _concentration camps_ and for _registered deaths_. I already pointed out the distinction and the problem of using Rassinier as an eyewitness. Once again: death camps were located in occupied Poland. Auschwitz and Treblinka were death camps. Dachau and Buchenwald were not. Furthermore, inmates who were shot on arrival (like Roma prisoners) were never entered into the camp registers and their deaths were never recorded.

To put things into context, _just one_ of Himmler’s reports to Hitler (#51, dated 29/12/1942) cited a figure of 363 211 “executed” Jews.

Lastly, since you’re using a Reitlinger quote I should remind you his estimate for Jewish victims was 5 721 800. The “concentration camp” argument has already been addressed.

Posted by Vitaly | April 1, 2009, 9:48 pm What about the worldwide population of jews? Per figures from FOUR different jewish sources: 1) The American Jewish Committee, Bureau of the Synagogue Council, 2) Judaica Encyclopedia, 3) The Standard Jewish Encyclopedia, and 4) The jews, their History, Culture, and Religion, it INCREASED by 584,549 jews between 1941 and 1948 how did this happen?
It is interesting to note that in the Jews’ real “bible”, The Talmud, it is claimed that 800,000 Jews were slaughtered by the Romans in Hadrian’s era. Yet there is no historical evidence to support this claim either. The Jewish-owned New York Times, in 1945 carried an article by the well known Jewish writer C.L. Sulzberger. It openly stated that Soviet Russia had supplied the figure of 4 million Jews having been put to death “in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.” Thus it was the Judaeo-Communists and the Jews who initially originated these figures which today are accepted as “gospel truth”. It is claimed that from 1934 to 1945 some 50,000 people died in the huge Bergen-Belsen camp. This count is considered exaggerated, still Time Magazine reports that of this figure 20,000 died of typhus during the single month of March, 1945! If nearly half died of this plague in just one month at the end of the war there is no way Bergen-Belsen could have been an “extermination camp”.

Posted by jas | April 1, 2009, 10:53 pm

3:17 am  
Blogger Edward said...

Vitaly has done an excellent job here. She has refuted and countered every point offered by the holocaust deniers thus far. Also, a 'James' has recently come in on the rational side of the debate. Well done to them both for having the patience to engage with these people. I do fear however that no amount of logic, reason and evidence will persuade the holocaust deniers from thier vested interests, but it is nevertheless worthwhile trying.

10:55 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Around the G20 meeting, the ‘international floating crowd’ of anti-globalisation activists will attempt yet again to trigger the world revolution by symbolic minority actions, from forms of street theatre to punch-ups with the police and breaking things. Beyond the ‘r-r-revolutionary’ symbols, however, the substantive ‘alternatives to capitalist globalisation’ on offer are ... forms of nationalism and localism.

Behind the G20 charade is a gradually developing game of beggar-my-neighbour or musical chairs between the various capitalist states. Hence it is appropriate in an ironical way that the ‘anti-globalisation’ left should mirror both the charade and the games.

The real, possible alternative is derided as ‘utopian’ by the large majority of the left as much as by the right: the practical cooperation of the working class as an international class to fight for global solutions to problems which everyone can see are global.

G20 charade
The G20 meeting, like other summitry, is about the capitalist governments appearing to take common action to deal with a ‘crisis’. The original G6 (‘group of six’) - France, West Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and US - was French president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing’s 1975 attempt to be seen to be doing something about the ‘oil price crisis’. The 1976 addition of Canada (presumably merely so that the US would not be ‘outnumbered’) made it the G7.

Clinton brought Russia in, first informally, in the mid-1990s. Then, in 1997, the year of the ‘east Asian crisis’, Russia was formally added, making the G8. The same crisis produced the G22 meeting of finance ministers, which morphed in 1999 first into the G33 and then into the G20. This group purports to bring into the ‘world leadership role’ a number of countries outside the G8 which have big economies: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea and Turkey - the 20th member being the European Union. In November last year the ‘credit crunch’ led to the first G20 heads of government meeting; this weekend sees the second.

The track record of the G8, etc makes perfectly clear that these summits are not real decision-making bodies, but merely a form of spin. It is not wholly impossible that real bilateral or multilateral deals may be reached between some of the governments in informal consultations behind the scenes, though it is more likely that these are set up well away from the G8/G20 circuses. The formal ‘decisions’ or communiqués issued by the meetings are masterpieces of diplomatic obfuscation and unanimous votes for motherhood and apple pie. Who now takes seriously, for example, the communiqué of the Gleneagles summit (2005) on world poverty? The G8/G20 can thus be seen to be what Walter Bagehot called (referring to the ceremonies round the monarchy) the ‘dignified part of the constitution’, as opposed to its ‘efficient part’.

The question this poses, though, is: why is this particular form of spin thought to be necessary? The answer is political. Our rulers are not able to act just as they please. In order to rule us, they need active support from state officials, passive support from the middle classes and the upper (skilled) layers of the working class, and to be ‘put up with’ most of the time by the rest.

To get these different levels of support, governments in particular are expected to ‘do something about’ visible problems. The result is often stupid knee-jerk legislation like the Dangerous Dogs Act and disastrous policies like the ‘war on drugs’. This should not be overstated. For all the talk about the ‘blame culture’ no-one blames governments for natural disasters. What governments get blamed for is failing to prepare properly for such disasters or deal with them effectively after the event (eg, Hurricane Katrina).

However, economic crises are not seen as analogous to natural disasters. The reason is apparent from the current situation. Economic crises are visibly caused by human actions and, moreover, ones intended to enrich the actors. If real estate speculators enrich themselves out of Hurricane Katrina, that is a scandal; but the real estate speculators did not cause the hurricane and the wind was not enriched. But capitalist economic crises inherently involve some people whose bets have been lucky enriching themselves at the expense of a majority who are impoverished by it.

It has been said that “in a recession assets return to their rightful owners”.1 This begs the question, who are these “rightful owners”? The answer is not based on any moral theory of property. It is purely and simply those who have the good luck to hold a lot of hard currency (in an extreme crisis, gold) when the crisis reaches bottom.

Hence, if they want to retain the support they need, governments have to appear to ‘do something about’ economic crises. But for decades now it has been trivially obvious to anyone who is paying attention - which means, to the majority of the population, not just to capitalists and ‘experts’ - that economic crisis is an international phenomenon. That means that governments have to appear to ‘do something’ on an international scale.

Why not go through the United Nations or International Monetary Fund? The answer is that that only ‘official communists’ and their academic hangers-on really take the UN seriously. The general assembly gives equal votes to large and small countries, to rich and poor ones. This is neither a democratic structure (votes according to population) which would give the UN one sort of legitimacy. Nor is it a timocratic one (votes according to wealth), which would give it another, capitalist, sort of legitimacy. One vote per state makes the UN general assembly a pure contradiction: an ‘international’ institution for whom the only ground of its legitimacy is ... nationalism and the doctrine of the absolute sovereignty of states. The security council has no more legitimacy. It combines the permanent members with vetoes - ie, the victors of World War II - with a random selection of other countries.

In 1975 the UN was merely an arena in which the cold war blocs engaged in propaganda plays. The IMF, meanwhile, was already identified as merely an instrument of US policy. Giscard d’Estaing was trying to create a club of industrialised - ie, rich - countries, which would not quite so obviously be merely a front for US policy.

Today the G8 still has the character of a club of rich countries with Russia tagged on. The addition of Russia, which is a great power but not really a rich country, is another aspect of its character as a dumb show. The G20 offers the pretence of integrating ‘newly industrialising countries’. Since the whole thing is a charade, letting in these ‘rising lesser players’ is costless. The real decisions - if they are taken at all - are taken elsewhere.

But the charade persists because the need for global decision-making is real. The real need means that appearing to take purely national action is insufficient to win public support. This, in turn, imposes on our rulers the need to pretend to act internationally, and the G8/G20 is the form of this pretence. Real, coordinated action is beyond them.

Capitalist musical chairs
The Obama administration has proposed yet another and even larger bank bailout. The stock markets initially responded positively, while some economists, like Joseph Stiglitz, were critical: this proposal will give the potential gains to the banks, while the government will carry the potential risks.2 Meanwhile, the Chinese government has expressed concern about the safety of its foreign exchange reserves held in US treasury stocks: if the bailouts produce a falling dollar and/or inflation, the Chinese will lose vast amounts of money.3 They have, in fact, already lost vast amounts in the falling markets. The Chinese Central Bank has now proposed that the role of the dollar as reserve currency should be replaced by a new international reserve currency based on the IMF’s ‘special drawing rights’.4

Other straws in the wind. The Czech government this week became the third eastern European government to fall, as the crisis bites home across the region.5 As a small sample of what is going on, Renault is moving some car production from Slovenia to France in a quid pro quo for French government support.6 Across the world, the bailouts only benefit the richer countries: for the poorer countries, the crisis is already acute.

These are in different ways symptoms of a beggar-my-neighbour or ‘zero-sum’ game: for every winner there is a necessary loser. In fact, it is sharper than that. In boom periods, capitalism is a positive-sum game: while not everyone wins, the overall cake to be divided gets larger. In recessions and slumps, capitalism turns into a negative­-sum game, like musical chairs: the overall cake to be divided gets smaller as the game goes on.

With the crisis, states and their relative strength come to the fore. The so-called “transnational capitalist class” turns out to be dependent on them for handouts. And these states are much more willing to bail out ‘their’ banks, car makers, etc than others, and to save jobs in the home country rather than those abroad.

It is for this reason that the G8/G20 can agree nothing more than empty words. It is also for this reason that the Chinese proposal for a new and international reserve currency organised by the IMF is utopian.

Why? The answer is that at base money is a public phenomenon, like public highways and so on: even gold only works as money if it is generally accepted as such. In modern capitalist society money is therefore at base a state phenomenon. Credit chains can work as money ... as long as we are not in a crisis like the present one. Then it is necessary to fall back on state money. The relative strength of different currencies therefore reflects the economic strength of the issuing countries as mediated by the perceived power of their states.

The dollar is the international reserve currency immediately by virtue of US victory in World War II and the global strength of the US military (as powerful as all its potential rivals put together). For the dollar to be the reserve currency is in the immediate interests of the US: it allows the US to borrow cheap and lend dear and to run large deficits at need which will be balanced by ‘invisible earnings’. The same was true of the UK in the later 19th century. Hence the US will not voluntarily give up the reserve status of the dollar.

For the dollar to cease to be the reserve currency therefore requires the military strength of the US to be tested and overthrown in actual open war, as happened to the UK in 1914-45. It is only under war conditions that countries’ productive capacities are immediately tested against each other without the mediation of the ownership rights and income flows which inhere in possession of the international reserve currency. Hence it is only by war that an international reserve currency can be replaced.

The military overthrow of the US is a pretty unattractive way out. But even this would not create true world money without the creation of a world state. The more probable outcome would be a new world hegemon replacing the US.

How this might happen can be seen by using the analogy of two recent transitions from one global reserve currency to another. Imagine that the European Union breaks free of the present US political control of the several European states and creates a Europe-wide state: this would be analogous to the revolution of 1688 in England or the US civil war. Now (perhaps some time later) the US becomes embroiled in a major war with China, which forces it to transfer funds and overseas interests to the EU in payment for munitions: this would be analogous to the wars of the 18th century or 1914-18 and 1939-45. As a result the Euro-state emerges as a new capitalist hegemon and the euro as a new global reserve currency.

But such a new world regime would at its roots merely be a rerun of the British hegemony of the 19th century or the US hegemony of the later 20th-early 21st century. This would be true, however different its forms were: for example, if the UN and IMF were reformed or replaced with stronger institutions. The military-coercive state power of the hypothetical Euro-state would still be the core of the ‘system’. This state would display the same dynamics as the 19th century UK or later 20th century US: shift to dominance of finance and overseas investments, and relative productive decline propped up by the advantages of having the reserve currency. Its ability to create order would decline and monetary problems would increase, and so on, leading to new crises and in the end to a new cycle of war.

We are nowhere near such an outcome and in the epoch of strategic nuclear weapons it may be impossible. But without such an outcome, within capitalism musical chairs is the only real option. Capitalism requires money (and other aspects of the public sphere), and money requires the state. If those states ‘virtuously’ sacrifice themselves to the needs of capitalism considered as an international market, they will not sustain the consent of their subjects and will fail as states. So they must try to bail out the ‘national’ economy, ‘national’ banks and ‘national’ industries.

Hence, in spite of all the clouds of talk about ‘avoiding protectionism’ and ‘fighting to defend free trade’, protectionism has already begun. Within a global capitalist order, bailouts and reflationary stimulus packages are in themselves protectionist: they are different ways of protecting business and employment in the territory of the nation-states. The strong states protect ‘their’ capitals, the weak begin to go to the wall.

Charades of the revolution
G8 meetings have been repeated targets of ‘anti-globalisation’ protests and this one will no doubt be no different.

The BBC reports: “G20 Meltdown is appealing to those who have lost their ‘homes, jobs, savings or pensions’ to join what they call a ‘Financial Fools Day’ targeting the banking elite on April 1. Organisers say they have seen a ‘groundswell’ in support since the start of the recession and their Facebook site has attracted more than 1,000 members. ‘There really is a shift because people feel no-one is listening - the government is in some world of its own,’ said one of the organisers, Camilla Power. ‘Our aim is to challenge the legitimacy of the G20 summit.’”7

This has, of course, been the aim of the several anti-globalisation protests at international capitalist events and summits since 1994 in Madrid and the ‘battle of Seattle’ 10 years ago; and of the World Social Forum meetings since 2001. Camilla Power rightly says that the crisis changes the terms of engagement. But then the question is: why the same methods which have been used unsuccessfully for the last 15 years?

The anti-globalisation ‘direct action’ enthusiasts have hold of some fundamental truths; but they also cling to some fundamental mistakes.

First and most prominently, the activists correctly understand that to confine protest and resistance within the boundaries of legality is to confine it to forms of protest acceptable to our rulers. But this is also to confine what may be said to what is acceptable to our rulers. Corporate political donations to political parties and the advertising-funded media are in substance forms of corruption of electoral politics no different in their end result from bribes paid to individual MPs and public officials. The ‘free market in legal services’ is in substance a form of corruption of the judicial process no different in its end result from bribes paid to individual judges. ‘New Labour’ is precisely what results from accepting these ‘democratic’ - actually timocratic - limits on opposition.

The second and most fundamental truth is symbolised by the attacks on the junkets of the international institutions. It is that the basic enemy of humanity is capitalism as a world system. This system can only be replaced - or even in the slightest degree reformed - at an international level. Where single countries attempt reforms, they are met with flights of capital and runs on the currency; to attempt to opt out of the system altogether on a national level, even the level of a very big nation like Russia or China, produces sanctions, blockade and military pressure from the capitalist powers and in the end failure, Soviet-style.

Thirdly, the activists understand that fundamental change is needed - not just small reforms - ‘Another world is possible’. The present economic crisis is just one of the symptoms of this need. Among others: human-induced climate change requires both global and radical measures. Capitalism displays a systemic dynamic towards increasing inequality both within countries and between countries. Imperialist wars and ‘interventions’ in third-world countries have continued more or less unceasingly since the emergence of European capitalism in the 16th century and have certainly not declined in the late 20th and early 21st. ‘Musical chairs’ competition between states implies an objective dynamic towards great-power war - however unthinkable and irrational it may seem now.

The fourth and fifth points are both truths and weaknesses. Fourth: fundamental change means revolution: a rapid and radical reconstruction of the social order. And revolutions, we know from history, are not orderly, regimented processes which follow neat, bureaucratic lines. They are extraordinarily chaotic mass outpourings of human creativity, as the old order fails and millions of people set about creating a new one. The direct-action-istas therefore counterpose creativity and spontaneity to permanent organisations and structured majority decision-making.

Fifth: the precise timing and form of the outbreak of revolutions is unpredictable. There is always, as in the Chinese proverb quoted by Mao, some ‘spark that lights a prairie fire’: from Jenny Geddes’ stool thrown at the Anglican Dean in Edinburgh in 1637 to the women who went out on strike on International Women’s Day in Petrograd in February 1917.

Both truths and weaknesses, because both points are true. But, while it is true that revolution is a mass outpouring of human creativity, organisation and democratic decision-making on common concerns are also necessary. They are, if anything, more necessary to a revolution against capitalism than to the revolutions which brought capitalism in. Capitalism provides - in money and markets - forms which allow partial coordination of human productive activity without conscious coordination: ie, organisation and democratic decision-making. Taking capitalism away without working out an alternative means of coordinating our diverse activities results, not in a better society, but in mass starvation. That is a lesson of April 1917-April 1918 which the left often forgets.

And, while it is true that the precise timing and form of revolutions is unpredictable and there is usually a ‘spark that lights the prairie fire’, breakdown of the old order is usually eminently predictable from visible symptoms. The English revolution took place amidst a general crisis of the European polities; the American revolution was preceded by a decade of conflicts and mass struggles; the French revolution of 1789 was in the immediate wake of the American revolution; the Russian Revolutions of both 1905 and 1917 were preceded by a dramatic rise in strikes and other mass actions. In all these cases, too, the existing state and social order was obviously failing. For the spark to light the prairie fire, the grass must be dry.

In the late 20th and early 21st century the grass has not been dry. The bubble economy has certainly produced losers, but it has produced enough winners in the main capitalist countries that broad millions have not felt the immediate need to revolt. The present crisis is gradually drying the grass out, but in Britain at least not yet so sharply as to produce an epidemic of mass struggles. The regimes may be staring into the abyss, but they are not yet - in the core capitalist countries - divided and despairing.

Under these conditions the minority initiatives of the anti-globalisation ‘direct action’ campaigners do not trigger revolutions, but produce small-group ‘spectaculars’ and clashes with the riot cops which, far from ‘lighting the prairie fire’, merely make a short-lived news story: charades of the revolution.

Leftwing beggar-my-neighbour
“Nation states with the right to self-determination and their governments are the only institutions that can control the movement of big capital and clip the wings of the transnational corporations and banks.” This quotation comes from the “No2EU - yes to democracy” platform for the Euro-elections, backed by the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union, the Communist Party of Britain and the Socialist Party in England and Wales).8

On March 11 another group of MPs and union leaders launched the “People’s charter for change’. The charter avoids the explicit nationalism of “No2EU”; indeed, it demands: “Get rid of the debt economy in Britain and cancel the debts of the poor of the planet.” But the charter, like No2EU, is a programme for Britain only. In the same text we are told: “Existing jobs must be protected. Public and private investment must create new jobs paying decent money. In particular in manufacturing, construction and green technology. More jobs mean more spending power to stimulate the economy, increased tax revenue and fewer people on benefit.”9

In this form, these are in substance demands for more of what the government is already doing: Keynesian economic stimulus and protectionism within the framework of capitalism. The consequences we can already see: the economic crisis is partially offloaded from the stronger capitalist countries, to take the form of more acute crisis in the weaker countries.

These are merely British examples. Similar programmes for individual countries can be found worldwide. Moreover, the term ‘anti-globalisation movement’ says something fundamental about its nature. Even though the capitalists’ charades of international decision-making have been targeted by the protests, the demands put forward are not ones for democratic global decision-making for global solidarity to make a better world. They are demands to free the nation-states and the localities from the fetters of the IMF and WTO.

Proponents of this sort of politics imagine that by getting rid of capitalist globalisation would get us back to the (in some ways nicer) world of the cold war, when the capitalists made extensive concessions to both labour and third-world nationalism in order to keep them onside against the Soviet Union. But that world was in fact guaranteed by US supremacy; and the Soviet Union is gone. What ‘freeing us from globalisation’ by restoring power to the nation-states would produce would not be concessions to labour, but intensified competition between capitalist states, each of which ‘unable to afford’ welfarism. In other words, ‘anti-globalisation’ is still within the capitalist game of musical chairs.

What we need is not to ‘go back to the nation-state’ (which is anyhow still very much with us). It is real, democratic global decision-making in the interests of human needs: a liveable planet in which humans stand in a sustainable metabolic relation to nature; basic living standards for all; education; useful work; and participation in the decisions that shape our lives. In one word: communism.

Real democratic decision-making necessarily requires that no individual or family gets control over major productive assets by virtue of ‘ownership’. Put another way, it means that no-one gets more than a living wage: because once no-one gets more than a living wage, the wage itself is merely a living and not part of the system of wage-slavery. In other words, the general human interests I listed above are also the interests of the wage-earning class as such.

The alternative to the charades and musical chairs, then, is for the working class to take over on a world scale. Without this we cannot end the economic crisis or even palliate its effects to more than a limited extent.

How to get to the point of the working class taking over is not through a state-by-state struggle for nationalisations and economic planning. The workers’ movement needs to organise itself at the base for immediate defensive measures (against job cuts and wage cuts; for the organisation of the unemployed; for cooperatives and mutuals as partial measures of self-defence; and so on). This sort of work carries with it an immediate implication: that the workers’ movement needs to cooperate internationally against capital, which operates internationally.

The movement needs to fight for political democracy in its own organisations, against bureaucratic control, manipulation and secrecy. It needs to carry this fight into the public politics of the nation-states, against the exact same control, manipulation and secrecy and also against the judicial power, the militarised police forces, the standing armies, the advertising-funded media and so on. All these are mechanisms of political corruption by which capital monopolises decision-making behind a pretence of ‘democracy’.

If we fight for political democracy in the workers’ movement alongside fighting to build this movement at the base and for international cooperation in practice; and if we carry the struggle for political democracy into the nation-states; the idea of political democracy and workers’ power is then one which could be counterposed to the corruption and uselessness of the existing international institutions.

This perspective looks ‘unrealistic’ right now because the organised working class movement is both very weak and dominated by nationalists and bureaucrats. But there is no real alternative to it. As long as we cling to nationalism and bureaucracy in the organised workers’ movement, all there will ever be is the capitalist and leftist versions of charades and musical chairs.

1. The tag is variously attributed; among others, to the financier JP Morgan (1837-1913) and to Andrew Mellon, US treasury secretary in the 1920s.
3. Wall Street Journal March 13.
4. Financial Times March 23.
6. Daily Mail March 21.
9. (emphasis added).

4:34 pm  
Blogger dave said...

Anybody know the source of the last anonymous contribution on the G20?

1:35 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike Macnair.

9:25 am  
Blogger Edward said...

For those interested and in reply to the first anonymous, the debate is still trickling away on the uncensored's site. I posted the follwing.

I don’t think that those of us opposed to some of the Uncensored’s content aren’t interested in others opinions. I think that we are just not interested in opinions based on a lack of evidence, a political agenda, and a xenophobic fear of academia. The paranoia and anti-intellectualism many of Uncensored’s contributors display means that any challenge put forward against them based on methodology, theory, sources or logic are met with a stonewalling of “you’re just part of the PC conspiracy” or “you just can’t see through the narrow focus of your mainstream-trained worldview”, or, even worse, when a challenge is made many of the contributors decline useful debate and instead hide behind “freedom of speech”. I think many of the people who use this argument are mistaking freedom of speech with “I can make any statement and you can’t challenge me”. I also think these people are mistaking academia with censorship. The point of academic peer-review for example is not to censor but to critique. This is an extremely important process as it raises the quality or strength of arguments. This is a process lacking in much of the uncensored’s articles. Perhaps we should call it ‘uncritiqued’ rather than ‘uncensored’?

10:52 am  
Blogger maps said...

Very well said Edward. I think that the anti-intellectualism of the conspiracy theorists is something that needs to be discussed in more detail, because it seems to me to be symptomatic of a more general trend in Western culture - the trend that saw George Dubya get elected twice and made Jane Goody into a folk hero even before she got cancer.

11:06 am  

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