We all find certain things embarrassing, ‘Chuggers’, Mormons, Scientologists, Hasidic Jews, “happy-clappy” Christians, and Morris men. But no one wants them to stop enjoying their lives. In the 21st century, we want everyone to enjoy their lives in peace. But we might shuffle away as they approach.
Islam, of course, goes back to the 7th century. Its values reflect a period in history when brutality and indifference to pain characterised much of the world. The difficulty of making money and creating capital in Arabia and in the rest of the Islamic world from the 7th century onwards limited its ability to progress economically and therefore it was unable to progress socially. We are economic materialists after all.
Modern social progress is a product of capitalist success. In a nutshell the ability of a new middle class to acquire capital from the labour power of others via contract’s rather than slavery or serfdom. This eventually gave the world the principles of Contract, Choice and Consent which in turn drove the demand for these economic principles to take on social character and form the 18th-century democracy that we still have today, and which has gone around the world via the British Empire.
Until recently in the West gender relationships were historically unequal. But male and female rights eventually succumbed to the democratising juggernaut of capitalism. Capitalism was back then, as the free market is today indifferent, to the background, sex and race, sexuality, gender identity and faith. Sexual inequality was required socially not economically. In capitalism, its only injustice is its inherent economic unfairness, rich or poor.
Workers of the western world who have lived in the capitalist system and seen their rights extended within it will have a solid grasp that whilst capitalism is an unfair system, some win and some loose, it has created a very broad and far-reaching equality. There is little discrimination in capitalism as the principles of capitalism have no role for discrimination. Discrimination is bad for business.
So, into this well established economic and social environment come a large group of people for whom the egalitarianism of capitalism is in some cases alien. Many harbouring a 7th-century belief system founded on their holy book the Koran, and the Hadith, which reflects the economic necessities of their day, for example, the different treatment of women, homosexuals or those of different faiths.
The penalty for breaking the rules in all simple agrarian and impoverished cultures is similarly harsh. Stoning, beheading, beating are all promoted in Holy books and by some of the followers of faiths and denominations today. The clash of cultures, therefore, can’t be more real between those who live by the experience of the liberal West and those who hold traditional “faith” based views. There is little to unite these groups culturally. If one accepts submission and control it’s difficult to grasp the role of contract, choice and consent.
It takes a while to compartmentalise and set aside one’s own irrational bias before one can come up with a possible explanation for this phenomenon of some in the West promoting what are largely un Western values. Once you reflect on the theology and psychology involved in dealing on a personal level with the traditional values in Islam, for example, it becomes easier to see that we are basically uncomfortable about the whole situation and don’t recognise the relevance of Islamic values in the 21st century. It is hard to see how someone who believes in equal rights for all with no discrimination on gender or grounds of sexuality can find any common ground within what is presented as the Islamic faith today. There will, of course, be people of the Islamic faith who accept the values of the Enlightenment but the Holy book and Hadith are claimed to be the infallible instruction from God and Muhammad, so the challenge can’t be underestimated.
The internet has examples of the faithful from all faiths explaining the approach to various issues from the vantage point of their faith. So it raises the question what can one really say to an earnest young man who would like to see girls married at the age of 8? or the dress code for men and women that is intended to set aside equality between the sexes and may indeed feed male entitlement? Or the issue of unofficial street praying or the publicly expressed demand for this punishment or that practice. It is uncomfortable having to make sense of these differences in opinion and perspective in the twenty-first century. When confronted by the unreformed value base of all faiths but specifically Islam it makes those with modern values behave in an oddly incoherent way, so we can avoid dealing with it.
The solution is not that difficult to imagine. At every social, legal and political level it should be acknowledged that some ideas are just basically incompatible with the modern world whether it be restricting reproductive rights for women or the demand for Sharia councils. Because these ideas are well out of date in the 21st century the advocates of these ideas make us feel uncomfortable and we shy away from a debate. We should not. The days of neo-colonial toleration of the sort that doesn’t challenge ideas must stop as under the auspices of faith and for some within the faith community, we find FGM, circumcision and other forms of harm. There is nothing wrong with feeling uncomfortable about someone else’s idea, it’s not illegal…..yet!
One final point is this. We are where we are because we too have out of date institutions on us namely our near-universal western 18th-century political system. This system will never reflect the rights of working people but whilst we must continue to shout to keep our 18th-century progressive values, of contract, choice and consent, we must fight to change the 18th-century political systems that are currently undermining these hard fought for values, once only enjoyed by the men of the bourgeois.
So now we have the head of the Bank of England Mark Carney pronouncing that Marxism may become relevant because of the technological revolution. He stresses that the Engels Pause which saw low wage growth during the early industrial revolution, explains low wage growth now. Apart from the fact that Marx confined his economic analysis to bushels of corn or yards of linen, how relevant are these observations in a post-capitalist West within an emerging global hegemony?
Firstly, Marx was writing at a time when the main economic preoccupation was the “surplus value” or profit, created by labour power. Wages ware paid at a level set by the labour market and the downward pressure on wages was caused by the abundant supply of labour rendering wages cheap to the point of survival levels only. Children as young as ten working 12-16 hour shifts in factories.
This downward pressure on wages advantaged the capitalists who were able to take greater levels of “surplus value” and in doing so were engaging in a merciless exploitation of their workers.
As capitalism settled down, children were removed from the labour market, workers were able to negotiate a better deal for themselves and wage levels rose. The State also intervened to improve the lot of the worker. This is the nub of Marxism, the worker or the State re-appropriated the surplus value previously taken by the capitalist and the capitalist alone. The role of Trades Unions was essentially the same. Take back from the capitalist some of the excessive surplus value generated by the worker in the process of production. In the 18th and 19th centuries, there was a lot of surplus value and capitalists became very rich and an empire was built on the back of it.
Of course, increasing output in a capitalist system is important as there would be diminishing profitability without it, but in terms of wage levels, the labour market and government intervention feature more significantly. After any plague, the price of labour power goes up. Machines increase output and of course enhance the wages of those skilled people who remain in work. Labour markets for skilled people are different from the labour market for the unskilled, but they work on the same principles.
The issue Carney highlights though is interesting in two further respects. Firstly he fails to address the fact that migration of unskilled labour is a contributory factor in the process of lowering wages, creating downward pressure on wages through oversupply. And he sees the forthcoming crisis of unemployment as likely to re-ignite an interest in Marxist ideas as a solution.
The fact economists and politicians seem obsessed with promoting migration suggests that the political system Marx called the bourgeois (capitalist) political system really does have an impulse to lower wages for the worker. And moreover, the left is as guilty as the right in being silent on this issue.
The secondly Marxism as a word and an ideology lost all accurate meaning in the 2oth century because of its use to describe fascist, state socialist and feudal dictatorships, all borne of violent revolution and none “Marxian” in any sense Marx would have recognised. However, that doesn’t mean Marxist analysis is completely irrelevant.
So how might Marxism become relevant again? This depends on how people use Marxist analysis. Marxism is essentially about two things that spring forth from the capitalist system, one as we have described above is surplus value (profit) and the other is alienation. Alienation is the process by which the worker becomes disassociated from his economic role being a beast of burden to a process or machine.
Today a capitalist economy Marx would have recognised no longer exists. We are now able or perhaps willing to create national indebtedness to provide a “living wage” to people who have no actual economic function. They create no economic value, and the State isn’t taking surplus value from the bourgeois, it’s taxing and indebting the workers too many of whom are employed by the State itself. We are in some senses living in a post-Marxian age already.
The critical relevance about Marx, however, isn’t about wages. Marx was an advocate of material determinism. He basically believed that the economic system creates social values which are necesary to promote the interests of the economic system itself.
So, our bourgeois values of contract, choice and consent freedom and democracy which were necessary for the capitalist system to function profitably have taken on a social character and we all expect rights based on these principles today. However, if the nature of the economy becomes as we have suggested debt based with little role for productive Western workers i.e. not creating surplus value or profit, will the values that the economy requires and therefore society requires, alter significantly? The answer is, of course, yes if you apply a Marxian analysis.
Capitalism in the West is coming to an end and Marx’s economic relevance at a National level has perhaps been eclipsed as the British economy is now global. On that basis, the post-capitalist West probably is sliding back towards a feudal model of power and control and Marx can help explain this. This change is necessary as the economic system operates globally and there is little need for capitalist values of contract, choice and consent at the bottom of this global system i.e. at the bottom of the National level. This is mainly because being dependent on an indebted government for welfare is not a contracted arrangement it is more feudal in character.
It’s a wild speculation but the sympathetic approach given to Islamic values which are in total contrast to Contract, Choice and Consent suggest that autocratic and discriminatory principles have some advocates in the world, who are happy to risk pushing aside contract, choice and consent, particularly for women, in the interests of preserving the global economic hegemony.
When capitalism leaves by the front door its values will according to Marx leave by the back. And as we are progressing towards a more and more unfair global economy, by crystallising the worlds current injustices, injustices will be reflected into any society once based on “just” principles of contract, choice and consent, freedom and democracy. Someone out there knows that and doesn’t care. Hence the attack on free speech and the nonsense of hate crime as opposed to “crime” across the western world.
So, to answer the question is Carney right to conclude that Marxism will have relevance in the future. The answer is probably yes in the sense of offering an insight into how the values of the global economy create injustice around the world and yes in terms of reframing our understanding of how the global economy maintains power structures and erodes rights in the face of mass Western unemployment. But to offer an insight into wage levels in a post-capitalist West. Marx is probably irrelevant.
Why have our long fought for legitimate 18th-century values (bourgeois values!) of free speech and free expression come under attack from our 18th-century bourgeois institutions of Parliament, Church of England, and Local authorities?
In 1997 a revolution began, based on the writings of a little known early 20th century Italian ‘Marxist’ called Antonio Gramsci. Gramsci departed from orthodox Marxism outrageously, because he believed the bureaucracy of the State should be used to manipulate the working class rather than the working class rise up and dominate the State.
This Gramscian revolution has systematically undermined values for working people all over Europe ever since it’s advocates entered power. In the Uk, the “revolution” was initially spearheaded following the election of Tony Blair who arrived with a wide-ranging agenda to deliver modernisation for a Britain he saw as old-fashioned, prejudiced and backwards looking.
We didn’t need him to do anything, of course, we were well on the way to modernising our culture without him. We accepted Tom Robinson in the 1970’s, Bronski Beat in the 1980’s and we have accepted all sorts of “lifestyle choices” since the end of World War Two. Even so, many of us had to endure workshop after workshop in workplaces, schools and universities from 1997 onwards to correct our faulty thinking.
This was an all-encompassing interference from our state institutions. This secular theology was hell-bent on instilling perverse oppressive values in an open-minded and tolerant society. Hate Crime or as we call it Thought Crime, became a mainstay of this needless “revolution”. It effectively undermined free-thinking working people for whom it was not in the interests of the Blair/EU neo-liberal elite to have a thinking working class. The elite desired an “engineered compliance” or alternatively an “indoctrinated subservience” among its working people.
The Blair EU agenda had a multicoloured rainbow of “identity groups” all seemingly in need of the power of the benign state bureaucracy to protect their unique vulnerabilities from an ill-defined “mob” of hate-filled homophobes, racists and Islamophobes. Thus the “proletariat” under this system was “differentiated” Into the Gay community, racial minorities, industrial and public sector workers, and people of minority faiths like Islam. Marx would have spun in his grave. This would have been seen by he and Engels as the Bureaucratic state manipulating the values of the people and preventing the emergence of a revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.
The whole enterprise required “intellectuals” to maintain the purity of this progressive agenda. Maybe student loans were introduced to get the youth into Universities where the institutions would act as instruments of Blair’s programme of indoctrination. Blairs incantation of “Education, Education, Education” claim spells it out quite clearly. The “snowflakes” are certainly in the mould of Blairs agenda.
However, the problem for Blair, Cameron and May is that this agenda assumed the success of other branches of the Neo-Con project such as democracy flourishing in the Middle East. What happened as we know is this, shorn of their feudal systems the migrants from the destroyed economies or Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Libya along with the more established Pakistan and Bangladeshi communities became outspoken about the failings of our values and yet could arrogantly promote their own values and the destruction of ours, whilst we are forced to remain silent with Hate Crime the alternative to our free speech.
Those groups who oppose British values have no tradition of free speech or women’s equality and so have no interest in the Blair revolution except that it provides an opportunity to undermine British values whilst promoting their own. Our values we have fought to get for 200 years and to secure them for all working people, now they are under threat from our political elite. It’s all so 14th century.
This paper is not a critique of faith. That is in the hearts and minds of the believer, something for which we have full and unequivocal respect. This paper will seek to put the case for different religions reflecting different material circumstances at any point in history. As it was in Marx’s day for he and Engels believed the Christian religion reinforced the then nineteenth-century bourgeois world order.
Perhaps to maintain the domination of economics and politics by a capitalist economic elite, the idea took root that all morality was “relative” in other words you could not say one set of moral principles was better or more just than any other. However, with the rise of global communication, the world needs to reflect on moral relativism and perhaps having adopted it because of its anti-Marxist and pro “bourgeois” credentials, think about where moral relativism is leading the world today.
From Savagery to Barbarism according to Frederick Engels
Karl Marx and but more specifically Frederick Engels were in the final analysis moral absolutists. However, the Economically liberal Western world, perhaps out of fear that a single unifying moral perspective might deliver Marx’s egalitarian revolution, adopted moral relativism in the nineteenth century and it still holds a commanding position today. The problem with relativism is that it makes it difficult to say any moral principle or value is wrong.
Moral relativism has for over one hundred years silenced our left-leaning liberal elite and has set them on a collision course with the ordinary worker who has a clear idea of right and wrong based on their ordinary western workers’ economic experience. The difference between religious moral absolutism and that of Marx and Engels is that they believed there was a scientific and economic explanation for humanities various “moral iterations”. These iterations placed one period of Humanities evolution above the other as we evolved from the savagery of the stone age through various stages of barbarism and finally into the period of civilization. The modern age. The description of this process can be found in Engels: The origin of the family, private property and the state (1884).
The theory simply put states that as humankind gained increasing levels of control over nature, by applying our unique ability to dominate the natural environment, the social and moral environment changed correspondingly. This ability to dominate nature is called by Marx and Engels “species-essence”.
Engels was clear that this process of economic and therefore moral and social evolution was not a simple process. The environment and levels of science and technology played a part in different groups of humans around the world. Therefore, taken at any point in history, there would be a range of different economic and social models operating at the same time but for those with similar levels of economic sophistication, there would be more similarities than differences.
Even today it’s possible to trace traditions that have been carried over from one period of economic and social evolution into another almost as if a ghost of a long forgotten past when material circumstances were markedly more primitive. The Scots Clans, for example, reflect a period when society was divided into tribal groupings. Even though the need for such groupings has not been present since Scotland emerged into the modern age, there is a certain modern pride in Clan identity.
The Native American had a tribe and clan-based society. When civilisation in the form of the “West” arrived on their shores they experienced a world alien to their simple tribal economic and social arrangements. Whilst they possessed many skills that enhanced their survival they were as a society characterised by two or three significant differences from the civilisations that would eventually conquer them.
These differences would be shared by all groups who were at a similar stage of economic and therefore social and moral development.
One of these characteristics was what Engels called consanguinuity. This is marriage like relationships within the wider family group, loose sexual unions where women would have several possible partners and as a result, lineage had to be taken via the female. The primacy of the female, called “mother right”, was due to certainty over maternity. If a brother and sister both had sons, the sister’s son was more important to the tribe than the brother’s son as maternity was a matter of fact and paternity rather more a matter of opinion. This gave women status in this period. However economic development and the development of wealth and trade would eventually change women’s status for the worse until fighting back for rights in the latter part of the modern age we call ‘now’.
In addition to these simple and loose marriage arrangements which would in time be classed as adulterous, the absence of private property was another characteristic of this period. It was impossible to build up “wealth” or in Marx’s term surplus economic value. Thus, any goods made by Native Indians, for example, had essentially use value only. They fulfilled an obvious purpose, for example, a spear for hunting or headdress for a warrior’s status. When food was sourced it was consumed collectively. It could not be stored. This wasn’t exactly a hand to mouth experience of the earlier period of “savagery” but it wasn’t full mastery over nature, in the modern sense either.
The final characteristic of this period was a strict but non-abusive distinction between male and female roles within the tribe. Men were hunters and warriors and females were child bearers and homemakers. There was a greater equality between the sexes than became the case as humanity evolved. Women were given status arising from their lack of reproductive ambiguity.
It is possible to consider numerous peoples from antiquity for whom lifestyle was similar in character. If food was short wars would be fought to conquer or be conquered. In such inauspicious circumstances economic and therefore social progress was practically impossible. It was a society on a war and starvation footing all the time. Rome, Greece and the land of Israel, as well as the desert lands all of the Middle East, would all have evolved from this model of “barbarism”.
It was the absence of creating wealth or exchangeable surplus economic value that for Engels is the fundamental condition that determines the social character of these “barbaric” societies. Their lives were overall simple but precarious and sometimes violent.
In Europe and the Middle East with no isolation as happened to Native Americans or Australasians, there was the possibility of progress, as different groups began to forge different economic circumstances and trade alliances which gave way to new forms of social and moral behaviour. For women, it proved to be a backward step.
The Mediterranean provided opportunities for nations like Greece and Rome to struggle free from the shackles of nature’s hard to conquer dominion. The consequence, however, was, with growing wealth accumulation and the evolution of wealth backed “status” a creeping dominion by man over man and more tellingly man over woman started to emerge. The tribal past with its relaxed moral values and lack of paternal certainty became an intolerable burden on the ability of men to create and command wealth and exercise power.
This next stage one move on from mere tribalism is the precursor to the development of early civilisation and the growth of the state. Once humanity was able to create surplus value via farming, herding, and manufacture for exchange, as well as store wealth in the form of gold and silver, the desire to gain power through wealth and control the environment both physically and morally increased.
Economics drove the wish for power, just as it does now, and as a result, it ushered in some revolutionary social and moral changes. With surplus value or wealth, there came the power men craved. This power could be concentrated into the hands of families or individuals who by controlling conception and inheritance became more important than the tribes they replaced. The value of mother right was eroded as men of wealth no longer needed to share women and have only ‘opinion’ as to who was the father of a child. It was possible to guarantee paternity via the absolute control of women and it made sense for men to turn their backs on the simple tribalism that saw greater equality between the sexes. The morality of this period is captured in Holy books like the Old Testament and the Koran. The faithful believe that the changes were a direct instruction from God. The reality for Marx and Engels and ourselves is that it came from powerful economic forces. Genesis 17.1-7, 15,16 captures the theology as opposed to the economics of this period quite well.
Thus, wealth enslaved women and it enslaved other men too as communities could be fed and housed avoiding the need to slaughter them and their labour power could be used to gain economic advantage, all based on “ownership”. This is better known as slavery. The slave society was merely a society that had achieved a greater mastery over nature and this mastery was no longer evenly distributed. For those with wealth, it gave mastery over others too.
It was during this period that the three great religions began to reflect in the articles of their faith the economic realities of their day. Arguably Lot’s wife and Sodom and Gomorrah is a reference to the abandonment of mother right (and all the liberty for women that went with it) in favour of father right and the all-powerful monotheistic male God.
The Old Testament, New Testament and Koran reflect social change only because economic reality had changed ahead of it. In the form of these new religions, society catches up and codifies the rules of the new world economic order.
Within Islam, the process of rejecting the old ways takes longer to become established. The tradition of nomadic tribes and prior to the seventh-century little-written record keeping might explain why it was harder for the Arab nations to build up wealth. But none the less by the seventh century the growth and more importantly the wealth of global economics was making it possible for certain groups and individuals within Arab tribes to secure a greater share of the worlds riches and as a result allowed men to violently shunt aside the “gods” that reflected mother right just as the Jews and Christians had done.
Arguably therefore for the Arab tribes of the seventh century, the culture of mother right and the loose ’uneconomic’ morals that went with it was becoming untenable. To men who were, as Mohammed was, able to secure wealth through trade and war there was a mission to put to an end the practices of the past as the benefits of trade and wealth would be lost if the old order wasn’t removed. Therefore, adultery became a grave crime punishable with great cruelty and women were forced to adopt a level of modesty that would render them invisible but for their reproductive functions. However not wishing to miss out altogether on multiple female partners concessions to the old order were given in the form of polygamy……but just for the male.
The new values were all embracing reflecting this masculine economic change and the wealth and power it created over others. Within the Middle East, there had been a period of great trade and enlightenment and the religion of Islam was adopted widely conferring stability on tribal societies in many parts of the world. The word caliphate is little different from Christendom. Each faith believing it reflects the formula for economic success and therefore moral purity. But the driver was and still is in our view economic rather than theological. Had it not made economic sense to adopt new economic principles such as restricting women’s rights no society would have.
Engels didn’t touch on the Middle East in The origin of the family, private property and the state, concentrating on North America, Britain and Europe. It has been possible because of the strength of his writing and his “scientific” method to explore the role of economics in religion, morality and society outside of the areas of his interest.
We can explore what it means to us in the twenty-first century as we try and grasp the emerging cultural conflict with Islam and other faith beliefs across Britain and Western Europe.
The web and Twitter are littered with groups who see Islam as anything from a death cult to the hairspring for Armageddon. The response from some Christian groups is to rage with as much fervour as a Jihadi and even some secular thinkers who promote the idea of a clash of cultures seem to conclude that the answer for the Western world is a restating of “Christian values”. We say this solution to solving the incompatibility of Islam and other faiths with western liberal culture will work. And here is why.
Firstly, Christianity, as we have said earlier like all faiths, reflects material realities and therefore is no different from the Islamic faith or any other comparable faith, in this respect. The abandonment of mother right and the adoption of a fearsome God was all part of an economic change that took place when tribalism gave way to more productive ways of creating wealth and more importantly storing it and owning it. There may be some differences in application but essentially the outcome for women, for example, was the same, a culture of varying degrees of subjugation. Although it does have to be conceded that Islam has cruelty, so in the past did Hinduism with the practice of Sati ensuring economic needs were reflected in enforced moral behaviour.
Economic circumstances having created a male-centric God to reflect male-centric wealth creation and values, the wealth created came into the hands of a few families headed by men and it stayed there. This is a unifying fact across all Middle Eastern and European religions, up to roughly the 16th century.
Christianity, therefore, has no great claim to being peaceful or ‘moral’. Unimaginable horror was inflicted on people in the name of Christianity particularly in the Sixteenth Century when a Christian faith Catholicism was propping up an economic system, the feudal system which was being assailed by a new theology called Calvinism. Calvinism itself, of course, a product of evolving economic forces namely the ‘laws’ of the free market and capitalism. At this time the engine of the economy was controlled by an aristocracy and an ambitious and increasingly wealthy middle class wanted a change. Calvin and Luther provided the theology!
The bourgeois revolutions of the seventeenth and eighteenth–centuries in Britain and the nineteenth century in Europe reset the clock for Christianity, giving it a benign ‘bourgeois’ appearance based on contract, choice and consent that ignored its origin and violent use over the years.
Islam in the West today is no different from Christianity in the past. It still reflects values that hark back to the abandonment of mother right and the exercising of control over women arising out of the accumulation of wealth and its inheritance. The difference between Islam and Christianity, however, is Christianity has been forced to go through several convulsions due to the changing economic circumstances in the West and specifically the need for Contract, Choice and Consent to be established so as to ensure the smooth operation of the bourgeois capitalist system.
So, when people with an Islamic background are preaching, or arguing about the Wests immorality and advocating FGM, veiling, stoning or beheading they are essentially speaking from the moral perspective of a culture steeped in seventh-century economic necessity full of obedience, honour, violence and force with little if any choice or rights. The problem is the West doesn’t challenge these outmoded and economically irrelevant views.
Of the West, the devout Muslim would and does highlight our ‘shame’ and the weakness of our Christianity which has been shorn of anything other than supporting personal choice. But that is because our free market requires that characteristic. Everything is about economics, today yesterday and forever. And the Muslim faithful take advantage of this economic reality too. The world is unfair and unequal and it offends people of faith….or it should do.
The question on all sides in the cultural head to head is this. Once you have stripped out the faith belief and stare at the hard realities of these ancient moral principles and values, one Christian the other Islamic or whatever, you can see that the debate is really about which one is fit for purpose in the 21st century and that is down to economics and economics alone.
The Within all faiths there are passionate and devout advocates for purity. The Jihadi who wants to destroy civilisation really wants to bring coherence to his seventh-century social values by creating a seventh-century economic environment with the destruction of “civilisation”. The shrouded woman advocating stoning adulterers or beating wives is a ghost from a bygone era still fighting to destroy rights that women lost over one thousand years ago to male power and dominion, before struggling to regain many of them back in the twenty-first century. But still not fully.
Wearing the Hijab or full veiling of a more extreme kind may be a free choice, it may be a political statement or even simply cultural expectation or it may simply be an example of seventh-century moral behaviour to demonstrate adherence to “faith”.
Similarly, the shrill Christian evangelicals with their Armageddon theology and the earnest men praying in a park are making a statement are all are playing a game……but it is simply a twenty-first-century economic one based on free choice in a free country. We should all see what is going on and understand the “theology” of it. It’s only ancient economics after all.
Report on the year from Nominating Officer
16th March 2017 became party general election campaign, run in a council by-election, facebook page, twitter and we have a website and have a bank account and 3 words on urban dictionary.
Consider the statement of accounts
Approved. Proposed by Mike Gilbert and seconded by Richard Thornalley. The account has no funds as of the 31st December but has had £876.60 donations and expenditure on two elections.
Proposals for the year ahead
Agreed to DA paying the Electoral Commission £25.00 to maintain the party registration. PROPOSED BY Tom Gilbert AND SECONDED BY Richard Thornalley.
Electoral Commission Descriptions
Mark explained that he felt that the political system was top heavy and that we needed to get the politics of the Uk bottom up and what needs to change is the Party system. Parties do what is right for the party. Politicians work in the interests of themselves and the party. Mark described the six thinking hats saying intelligent people spend too much time arguing. End punch and Judy politics.
The Platform for Ending Party Politics
A Platform that doesn’t make you accountable to them
Giving democracy to the people
Democracy by the people
The End of Elitism
Agreed that the description “The platform for ending party politics” would replace all the others. MG and MB to update the EC database.
Promotions ( Blue Revolution a platform NOT a Party)
How’s the social media profile going?
Twitter MG twitters. DA commented that some of the content was quite complex and needed to reach more ordinary people. To achieve a wider appeal MB to get some images to tweet. TG suggested a Category for Boston related material on the website.
Categories for other parts of the country.
Website: Very good. Try to link pat post to current topical trends and issues.
Facebook. We don’t have a Facebook page. We need a Facebook page Darron to talk to Nathan B about setting one up.
Candidates for 2019
Discuss where and if people will stand.
Football cards. MG/RT to look into the legalities of offering these on a 1/3 basis with the venue hosting the cards.
Letters to donors. MG and TC to draft something
Donations from members. MG, RT and DA will make donations.
Election of or reappointment of Officers
- Leader Tom Gilbert
- Treasurer Darron Abbott
- Nominating Officer Mike Gilbert
- Fourth officer Richard Thornalley
Discussion about letters to press.
It seems completely crazy but at some point in the last forty years, the global elite decided that with collapsing capitalism at home the future was “engineered” (as opposed to organic) “global” capitalism. Not a global capitalism which brought countries into the “freedom family” of trading nations based on contract, choice and consent, but a global capitalism “gamed” in the interests of failing western economies.
This programme promoted by amongst others Bush, Blair and Clinton has failed spectacularly and has resulted in failed states, failing economies, mass migration and the relentless reduction in western workers real incomes and freedom.
It all started just after Ronald Regan left office (or so we say!). A Republican running a massive budget deficit was a symptom of a crisis in the US economy. American capitalism was on its knees and no one seemed able to rescue it. The only option was to go global. To ensure the primacy of the west in this new global reality it had to be gamed promoting the interests of the west above all others.
This global system being manipulated by the corporate/political elite ensured western economic superiority. The problem was that to maintain this broken system debt has replaced profitability. Workers and governments of the west have had to maintain this system, finding themselves promoting the interests of a global super-elite at their own financial expense. We call this process debtamorphosis.
This debt based model hit the buffers in 2007 and will do again as nothing has changed. The “Left” trill that “austerity” is damaging the economy. They are the useful idiots of the global elite. They are exactly what the global elite want. People prepared to pump taxpayers debt into their global system to keep them rich. We call this western model Secular-Westernism.
In addition to getting greater indebtedness to maintain demand in the western economy, the elite and political “Hawks”, realised there was a need to get cash into the failing western worlds coffers as well. They started to embark on a democratisation project that would “help” to rid nations of their tyrants like Saddam in Iraq, None of this met the test of “justice” it couldn’t it wasn’t based on Contract, Choice and Consent. It was imposed by force. Tony Blair still believes it was a “just” war. But “justice” in capitalism means contracted and consented to, not forced. The west in this way was acting like a feudal tyrant.
We believe they accepted that there would be collateral damage but reconstruction contracts would assist in the rebuilding of these new democracies, helping western nations financially. Like everything you can write on the back of a fag packet, this project failed spectacularly.
It failed because the values of contract, choice and consent needed in a democracy are products only of a capitalist system, itself a product of scientific and rational thinking. No other type of economy creates an understanding and a willing application of these principles of contract, choice and consent. That is why they are alien values in feudal, tribal and many Islamic countries.
So having bombed Iraq the western “Hawks” expected a grateful nation to welcome freedom, women’s rights, a free press, self-restraint, toleration of difference etc. Er no. If you understood the rudiments of Marx’s political economics it would have been clear that all that would happen is what has happened, these nations, now broken, have reverted to tribal and sectarian infighting. The rights of women, gay people and Jewish people, Christians and other foreign nationals have been ripped asunder. It’s wasn’t supposed to be like that but that is precisely how it is. There is also mass migration on a continental scale to deal with. This issue is one that is seemingly without an easy solution.
Like the countries from which the migrants come there is no rich heritage of contract, choice and consent, so their economic and therefore cultural reference points are from a period Karl Marx and Frederick Engles called “barbarism”. In modern terms, very many are sexist, racist, homophobic and violent, because that was what it had to be like in traditional pre-feudal economies. The individual faithful can’t be blamed any more than you can blame a westerner for wanting to be a millionaire. Values are economic as well as culturally determined! What however one can say is this. Having introduced people who have values unlike our own how are you going to assimilate them? They will typically not want to assimilate preferring to group with those with whom they share values in common.
To cover their tracks and avoid blame for what has been done to so many western nations, the global elite seems to have the unexpected help of the “hard left” who assist by aggressively shutting down the views of working people with shrill cries of racism, or Islamophobia. For politics supposedly based on Marx’s scientific socialism, these hard left groups are too prone to “differentiate” the working population and are too ready to accept pre-capitalist values.
So, in conclusion, in addition to western workers jobs going east and debt replacing profitability, we have illegal and immoral adventurism on the part of a western economic elite. Seeing that western capitalism was failing, these people developed a strategy of “war reconstruction and democracy building”. This strategy has failed and has led to mass migration. We also have various iterations of a left-wing keen to build a “proletarian army” from a differentiated collection of people with identity issues and this, in the case of shouts of “Islamism”, is being used to silence working peoples natural objection to what has happened to their countries. Kleptocrats and the hard left both on the same page? You really couldn’t make it up.
We have tended to spend a lot of time thinking about the left, in particular, their denial of the origins of our rights in the capitalist system and their failure to grasp the importance of “surplus value” as opposed to debt in any kind of “just” society. However, their critique of the “free market” whilst well intended, has clearly failed to “hit the right spot” at least as far as we are concerned. How so?
Almost total economic reliance on the free market and the financial sector arose in the 1980’s, promoted by neocons like Blair and Clinton. They advanced a range of policies intended to stimulate consumption and therefore create economic growth.
The Western free market became more and more debt-dependent. What beguiles us is that whilst the free market has a lot of capitalisms DNA primarily values of contract, choice and consent which underpin our precious freedoms and liberty, it creates only fictitious wealth. Unlike real “surplus value” generated by capitalism, the free market relies on global labour market differentials and the financial engineering of debt to make a small elite very rich. It also keeps too many people in the West very poor.
It took us at BlueRevolution a while to “click” that the phrase used in the 1980’s to describe post-industrial economics, “a greater role for financial services” basically involved governments and people getting into more and more debt to pay for their and their nation’s consumption. Much of what is being consumed however is made on the far side of the planet so the act of “production” is removed from what should be an economic synthesis of production and consumption. A balancing act of land, labour and capital generating value to be acquired either by capitalists, workers or the State.
What does this mean for morality? Well, it would lead us to conclude that a number of social difficulties arise from this new “free market” model. Firstly to maintain consumption but without production, the economy has to have money fed into it. This is where debt comes in. Italy has debt equal to 135% of GDP. The UK is less but only because of the willingness of its working people to get into debt themselves.
Because we are economic determinists we believe our lifestyles and our morality will become shaped by our material circumstances which are basically indebtedness. One obvious consequence is that we can consume more than is sustainable for the planet to produce, as we can defer payment until a tomorrow that never arrives. Global warming may or may not be man-made but pollution certainly is!
After massive overproduction, the next most significant consequences of the free market model is that wage levels are fixed globally so work goes to the cheapest labour. The mix of land, labour and capital happens in China or Vietnam or elsewhere. This has resulted in a new class developing, not of revolutionary organised proletarians ready to seize control of the “capital” they produce, but a sad welfare and “healthcare” dependent class. This “class” is reliant not on worker produced capital or wages, but government debt for their miserable survival. For this group of second and third generation, ex-industrial workers (millions across US, EU and UK) choices in life are determined not by personal economic realities but welfare entitlements. The big pharma industries are always on hand to stimulate or lobotomise as required.
This is the constituency that is simply awaiting an ideology that makes sense to their hopeless existence and that could be Islamism or ideas from the far right. Certainly, in continental Europe the “free market” is both attracting migrants and then inflicting on them a living hell of welfare and idleness so they are at risk of becoming radicalised in ghettos.
The “liberal left” pretend to understand immigration, however, immigration needs a functioning economic system to proletarianise newly arrived people and turn them into workers with modern tolerant liberal values.
These values are based on capitalisms principles of contract choice and consent. The free market too often fails to find an economic role for these migrants. In the West promoting these values within an inclusive economy that demands their application as opposed to mere appreciation is how we should preserve our rights and freedoms and inculcate them into those for whom such principles seem alien. Particularly when women’s rights are considered.
Finally, after debt funded overproduction and its contribution to planetary destruction as well as the inability to engage all in society in meaningful economic activity, we have the morality of we consumers ourselves.
An economic choice is an important principle, who you work for and for how much is the way we identify worker from slave or surf. However today we have too many consumer choices which with their basis in debt aren’t realistic choices at all. Moreover, too much choice which comes too easily breeds a sense of entitlement that is dangerous when governments try to reign in public spending and thus limit choice. Our binary political system fails because consumers with a vote tend to want more not less hence spiralling national debt. Political parties are no longer able to represent the nation responsibly. People in politics and less party is required.
As the western free market lacks mass collective production people identify themselves as consumers and individuals, sort of unique units of consumption. This we believe explains the death of the “class system” in the Uk. As production is no longer a collective activity but a best an individual one individuals market just about anything they can. This is the West’s Achilles heel. For in the West we can now find a provider for just about any form of behaviour or product we might want to experience. “Industries” are created such as the pornography industry which takes a private non-commercial activity and sells it as a product to be consumed. Eventually, this goes mainstream and erodes our sense of interpersonal morality. It affects how we relate to each other too, we are consumed or the consumer of each other. Divorce perhaps reflects this sad reality.
Some “of faith” view this development as symptomatic of an increasing moral sickness and a sense emerges that our freedoms are to blame. The free market separates our behaviour from any sense of it being wrong, as long as what is produced and consumed has a price within the economy. A lot of groups and ideologies find this is justification enough to try and change our freedom loving way of life.
So, in conclusion, we have a free market loosely based on the values of capitalism but without capitalisms discipline and capacity to combine land, labour and capital to create value. The free market produces vast amounts of stuff for people to consume gobbling up resources and polluting the planet. People get rich within this model whilst others see their jobs go abroad and in the worst cases end up existing on welfare and drugged up in healthcare. The debt dependent workers pay for it!
We need to re-engineer our politics to reflect these economic realities making it more democratic and inclusive, to liberate people from what is becoming an increasingly dangerous and planet destroying economic political and social model.
In classical Marxist theory surplus (economic) value and the role of the workers who both create it and have it “exploited” from them by capitalists, is central to how both capitalism and socialism work.
The process of taking surplus value from workers is akin to theft but that is not the term Marx used, he was perhaps being too polite or more likely he didn’t see capitalism as an unjust system, just unfair. Theft is unjust, exploitation unfair!
The worker works longer hours than he or she needs to, so as to ensure that surplus value is created and in doing so they develop an instrumental relationship to their work. They can’t enjoy it but they have to do it to live. The conclusion we draw from this process is that workers work too much and it is time rather than money that is the basis of 19th-century capitalisms unfairness. The industrial structures of the factory also reinforce the worker’s sense of powerlessness. They are not in control of the industrial processes that determine the pace of their working lives.
This demand for the workers surplus value and the environment within which it is created is the capitalist systems manifestation of the age-old problem of one human, generally male, and holding a superior position taking away from someone else what that someone else has worked hard to create, whilst to varying degrees controlling that person’s life. Every society since the birth of human consciousness has been discriminatory in one form or another. Underpinning this process of discrimination is control by a hierarchy, differently configured, as either tribe, feudal system or industrial hierarchy which causes the worker to feel powerless or oppressed and in the case of capitalism having external control on their work. There is in all societies a trend for control, the controls differ markedly from society to society.
The process of capitalist exploitation gives rise to another classic Marxist theory, the theory of “alienation”. Thus the surplus value taken by the capitalist from the worker is a kind of monetary reflection of the extent of the worker’s alienation.
Alienation is the physical and psychological effect of a worker being exploited. In a strange ironic twist fate for the world, the solution offered by the free market to the alienated worker is the almost limitless supply of goods. The demand for goods by workers has replaced religion as the “opium of the people”. This perhaps explains the success and survival of the free market given it has a debt-dependent and a planet-destroying legacy. People accept being alienated so long as they can purchase goods and the system will produce jobs and goods as long as the debt is available to pay for them.
Now bringing things up to date surplus value is no longer being produced by the capitalist system in sufficient quantities to be taxed by the government and thereby service the social, health, welfare and other state obligations. As a result of western capitalisms failure (it thrives elsewhere!), free market indebtedness has become the means by which the free market a remnant of the western capitalist system, is able to function and produce apparent wealth.
Workers exploitation and alienation have become markedly different since the mid 19th century. Today people have developed a taste for buying stuff made abroad and pay for it with debt that they have to work to pay off. All this in the false belief that spending overcomes alienation rather than reinforcing it, giving alienation in effect a social character. Arguably divorce rates reflect alienation’s social character, people only being concerned about themselves.
The description of capitalism based on a classical model no longer works today as it would have worked for Marx. So what has happened to exploitation, and alienation within the 21st-century free market?
Whilst the impression given by the advocates of the modern western economy is one of promoting abundant goods and services for the consumer, the reality is that it is cheap foreign manufactured goods that mask the continued existence of alienation. In a world with little actual classical capitalist exploitation, how does exploitation still exist and are workers still alienated? We think these are good questions and we will attempt to give a fuller answer here.
Whereas the Classical Marxist worker was not rich enough to get into debt, today the whole western economic model depends upon workers and government debt. What we have is what we at ABlueRevolution call deptamorphosis.
This is the process which sees the worker using their debt to promote a wealthy free-market elite. They do this working long hours often in public service organisations which are still modelled on 19th-century industrial hierarchies. Many earn money paid from government debt, to service their personal debt-dependent lifestyle. This is as alienating for the worker today as it was in the 19th century as they have no influence over their working practices (KPI’s today), nor the ability to escape the treadmill of debt. Just like in Marx’s day the worker has “freedom” to leave the workplace but has little likelihood of using it.
Thus whilst the working environment is a safer environment than in Marx’s day it is no less alienating. Today the worker may be doing work that has little or no economic value, and more controversially little social value either. A state employment system based on hierarchical industrial models and which pays its workers to blame the unemployed because their jobs have gone to China or a health service maintaining a low level of wellness in a system all paid for with debt is alienating for all. This is not an economy free of alienation. Workers don’t feel linked to the people they serve as customers or patients, they are forced to feel a closer link to the system which controls them and pays them. No difference here to the hierarchy of the industrial era and there are huge differentials in pay.
Likewise expecting the worker to become indebted to make “free marketeers” and public servants rich is a new way of exploiting workers that Karl Marx could not have identified if he had lived into the mid 20th century.
Perhaps the solution is to look at where in any modern organisation the social value is created and liberate workers at that level casting out of the organisations the people who have high wages paid to them but they offer little in the way of social value.
If Capitalism had been forced to yield to the dictatorship of the workers, as opposed to evolving into the debt-dependent planet-destroying monster the free market has become, then it is the capitalist and their exploiting hierarchy that would have been put asunder, not the work or the workers themselves. There are lessons here for operational public servants in all departments of the state and the army of 100k+ a year bosses who manage them.
Both main parties have big flaws in their understanding of the landscape of modern economics. This impedes their ability to formulate policies which will empower the working class and lift our nation out of its current diminished, debt dependent and low productive state.
We have done some work on exposing Labour’s 19th and 20th-century parochial simplicities in the face of massive global forces. Now a short but productive journey in Lincolnshire gives us a chance to explore the 21st-century failings of the State and its lazy wizard of Oz-like economics.
Somewhere between Louth and Lincoln in the UK, there is a field on the outskirts of a small town. A large Estate Agents board proclaims “development opportunity/shops/hotel/restaurant”. Nothing too sinister about this of course except that developments like the one proposed here are what has replaced a “real” economy of production, extraction and manufacture which used to support the financial and other sectors. The “productive” energy of the modern economy is the financial sector. The Tories claim that penalising the financial sector will reduce the number of “good jobs”. That may be true.
However if “good jobs” depend on financial engineering as opposed to real engineering then this might be a sacrifice worth making in the short to medium term. These are the kinds of discussions governments should be having with their people as whatever happens real people will be more affected than governments.
The economic model upon which our current ‘growth’ is based is a throwback to Blair and Brown in the UK and in the US the Clinton and “W” Bush years.
This economic model has been described as “post-neoclassical endogenous growth theory”. Essentially the government spends money to stimulate economic growth, investing in education, the public sector and infrastructure projects. To fund this programme governments borrow. To give its early political advocates credit they did believe it would stimulate economic growth. What they failed to grasp was the link between ‘growth’ and personal and government debt, and the global context within which all this borrowing was going on!
For desperate politicians who had collapsing ‘real’ economies, post-neoclassical endogenous growth theory offered the tonic the nation needed. The “cool Britannia” hubris was a reflection of nieve certainty this was the end of “boom and bust”.
America was ahead of the game on the same diet of debt based stimulation. Clinton and his economists also allowed such a poor framework of regulation, adopted in the UK that banks were printing millions of dollars to lend to subprime borrowers who were like an x-factor wannabe convinced they were millionaires in the making. All it needed was a lot of borrowed cash plus that blend of skills that can only be honed eating in fast food outlets and dreaming in front of the mirror and everyone could be a winner! The bankers got the commission, as the whole system shuffled towards collapse.
We all know the fallout both sides of the Atlantic. The banking crisis of 207/8 and bank bailouts to keep the economy alive and supplied with debt or rather liquidity and demand. How did we all end up here?
In simplistic terms, the financial sector in the 1980’s went from being a petit-bourgeois servant of the economy to its very effective master and by the 2000’s was effectively in control of the global economy. The success of financial sector engineering has prevented the collapse of the economies of the Western world due to its ability to mix asset value inflation, debt and confidence in an ever-expanding and planet consuming vortex of consumption and waste.
This is the world we live in today, cars, jobs, houses, holidays, gadgets and consumables. This model forged on the 1980’s hasn’t changed at all. Governments borrow and it flows into the domestic and the global markets, students borrow and after a brief sojourn in the UK it flows into the global markets. People borrow and it flows into global markets. The bigger the government the more it can borrow hence the markets love of the EU and the market’s seduction of the “Remainers”. The EU is a big beast of borrowing.
So what has this to do with a field in Lincolnshire, this borrowing and spending, “Alice in Wonderland” economic model?
Well, our farmland will give up producing food value and be sold creating wealth as the farmer makes money from the land as opposed to off the land. This he or she will bank helping bank profitability. They will also spend it, perhaps abroad, maintaining a bit of the aggregate demand the system needs whilst also fuelling the global markets.
Before the farmers gain in banked, a bank will lend money to a borrower so they can buy and develop the land. This will allow a business to be constructed in bricks and mortar employing local tradespeople and service sector workers. The business will achieve profitability allowing debt to be serviced and taxation paid. Its existence in a small town may possibly force the closure of other similar businesses putting those properties back on the open market, so the financial sector can turn the crank again, releasing more equity perhaps. Debt from elsewhere in the economy (government borrowing transformed into public sector wages for example) will provide the demand for this business and its profits will be taxed to benefit the government.
What has gone on here? Well just like in the 2000’s nothing very much. Some confidence based financial jiggery-pokery has allowed some land to be equity released, making a farmer very rich. Debt is used to build and run a business employing people and debt makes it profitable. Oh and according to the Conservatives this process creates “high-quality jobs” which is probably correct in the financial and construction sectors. This whole process is going on all over Europe, America and the West in general and it has nothing to do with creating real economic value. We know it is a caricature, but we believe it is broadly right.
The question for us all is; where does this “economy” finally end and what will the world look like when it does end up somewhere? A planet exhausted by pollution and ecological abuse. A western population who have come to rely on ecological destruction to maintain a lifestyle of debt and alienation. Cultures of faith or ideological simplicity may be ready to step in and force the return of humankind to a sustainable but gender binary harsh and essentially by modern standards abusive existence. The goose and the golden egg spring to mind!
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were clear; however “unfair” Capitalism was, it liberated people from any servitude based on inherited status or gender (as opposed to class) and had the transformative capacity to deliver justice based on the proletarianisation of all workers whether male or female. Their view was that capitalism’s principles (we call them Contract, Choice and Consent) should become enshrined in the brief socialist phase of history, before being seared into a post-socialist society by the “dictatorship of the proletariat”. Liberation from exploitation, of whatever sort (status, gender or class) was Marx’s “riddle of history solved”.
Socialism is, therefore, a phase on the road to the full liberation of workers, not the end stop of that process. To work as it should, socialism needs a profitable capitalist system upon which to feed prior to the “dictatorship of the proletariat” emerging from the socialist state itself.
There are problems with this essentially 19th-century vision today, however, not least of which is the absence of real profitability generated by the exploitation of the worker within a powerful western capitalist economic system. A capitalist system that can be placed initially under the control of the state and then the working classes.
Today it is the western blue-collar workers who finance the Nation State its politicians, banks and well-paid hangers-on. It is equally true that working class people are also more than likely to be of this unlovely collection, cast out into a kind of economic oblivion brought about by global forces, in particular, relatively high wage levels and low western economic productivity.
The free market racketeer who is often passed off as a ‘capitalist’ offshores profits and gets the Chinese government to exploit its workers on their behalf by producing ‘consumables’ in planet-destroying quantities. Globally this is a racket, not a system. It bears little resemblance to Capitalism, it is gamed by powerful forces including candidates like corporations and global investment, as well as unlikely characters like the BBC and political parties.
Is there any good news in all this?
Well yes, there is excellent news. Firstly with capitalism lasting as long as it did, socialism and social liberalism was able to give “social character” to values based on the capitalist principles of Contract Choice and Consent. We now have solid humane and liberal values within a framework of law which protects groups that in primitive (pre-capitalist) societies are hounded, bullied, persecuted or killed. This includes apostates, dissenters, gay people and women seeking liberation from the tyranny inflicted on their gender by state, tribe or caste. Capitalism has left a legacy of justice even though it was unarguably a very unfair system. To fail to understand this distinction between justice and fairness leaves the “socialist” open to the kind of idiocy one observes within the “Marxist” Labour Party today.
Essentially the current iteration of Labour has a misguided view of capitalism’s legacy fetishised into ‘Tory’ hating. They fail to grasp that Western Capitalism is already dead replaced by global racketeering and that their parochial economic plans will be an insufferable burden on the working class for hundreds of years. They fail to understand the origins of liberal values within the capitalist system and so oblivious to real liberalism, hobnob with a collection of groups who like them might hate capitalism, but also hate its liberation of women and others too. They fail to grasp that control, exclusion and coercion are pre-capitalist principles and that by flirting with people who adopt them (and by adopting them themselves) they place the liberty of us all in jeopardy.
Our economic situation is precarious enough with the racketeering of the global elites undermining our Nation States all over the western world, but with Labour, not only do we as workers have that to contend with but the probability under a Labour Government of a slow and remorseless rolling back of our freedoms to Contract, Choose and Consent to take us back to an age of overt State control. Marx and Engles were wary of the State. As with their mangling of the “many and the few” once again it’s clear to us Labour’s ideas are not what Marx or Engels would have had in mind when crafting their beliefs. Consent is not safe with Labour and we should all worry.