Saturday, August 28, 2010

a question about Keynesianism

In the comments under this post at the blaawg Lenins Tomb someone asks:

"I sometimes see leftists argue that the current bourgeoisie is destroying itself by immiserating wage-laborers. They claim that the capitalist system requires workers to buy wage-goods at a certain level, or production will be unbought and profits unrealized. But couldn't the solution be to reduce wages (and increase exploitation) and then sell more ... capital goods, government goods, and luxury goods"?

This cat is asking, what if the bourgeoisie won't realise their surplus value or allow real wages to increase? I suppose in an economy with a commodity for money, there would be permanent deflation, with effective demand being continually reduced by the hoarding of money, and a certain amount of involuntary unemployment. However, this isn't what we see in contemporary capitalism, where there tends to be unemployment and appreciable inflation.

Suppose we really had the two constraints listed above: the bourgeoisie won't realise as production the whole of the difference between feasible production and necessary production, and they won't pay wages high enough to cover the production they won't realise, could this situation be resolved by the bourgeoisie lending money to the workers?

In this case, it would be possible to achieve full employment in the short term, but to maintain it, it would be necessary for workers' net borrowing to continually exceed their repayments: effectively it would be necessary for workers' borrowing to constantly increase. Since there's a technical limit as to how much workers can repay, this isn't possible. At some point a recession must ensue.

It seems that you can generate cycles of expansion and recession, in hypothetical models, by making the assumption that the bourgeoisie impose an artificial maximum income on themselves. This would be an alternative way of generating cyclical dynamics in a model of capitalist development. It's a different way of getting a Keynes or Minsky type theory. I'm not sure it's strictly correct, though.


Actually, re comrade's trip to Bradford, isn't the EDL basically a government scheme to employ ex soldiers with Smallhausen Syndrome? to put off anyone opposed to the war?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

help for heroes

It is very sad when people end up with schizophrenia, because of drug and alcohol problems, because they've served as soldiers in Afghanistan, or when people lose arms and legs serving in this war. But the propaganda line of the charity "help for heroes" - that the war in Afganistan is heroic because it inflicts injury on British Army soldiers - is ridiculous. I suppose people think that the tangible benefits that this charity provides to injured soldiers makes the tacked on propaganda message OK. I would have thought they were two different things. It seems that, if you dole out a few pounds to the needy, you get to decide what's true and what's not true, just like in the middle ages. What might British Army soldiers have done in Afghanistan?

Perhaps they locked up a taxi driver for years in a metal container, on the basis of false rumours,

or, fired missiles at a wedding reception, then paid $500 to the relatives of the people who died,

or, machine gunned a bus, then falsely claimed the people who died were resistance fighters,

etc etc etc

As I understand it, mostly they sit in the base, or patrol half a mile round the base, checking for IEDs. It would have been better to use the name "help for heroes" for a charity providing for retired racehorses, and collect money for former soldiers in British Legion boxes.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Henry Flynt

AGAINST "PARTICIPATION": A Total Critique of Culture

this is from an archive of articles by Henry Flynt, criticising the pretensions of the artistic culture, so called, into which he'd been - "elevated" - I suppose is the word. There are also some interesting pieces on the Henry Flynt site about Economics and Hill Billy music.

I suppose I'm lucky in being able to be unserious about serious things. Henry Flynt's general attitude is dead right in this picture from 1963. I also find it pretty funny.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

lookee here

I was quite surprised the other week to see that the "Beller Meme" had somehow leapt the syntactic grid from Qlipoth to K-Punk abstractdynamics:

If, to use Jonathan Beller's phrase, "to look is to labour" - if, that is to say, attention is a commodity - then aren't we all "contributing", whether we like it or not?

is this true? The public's attention isn't fulfilling any useful function of itself for the advertiser. The advertiser wants the attention of the public only to achieve higher profits, by selling more or selling at a higher price. But that profit has to be realised from total social production, which is diminished by resources being allocated from production to advertising*. The advertiser's gain is the social product he's able to arrogate to himself. The advertising he commissions does not form part of this product, or anyone else's final product or make active means of production more productive. As a social phenomenon the advertiser makes a deduction from the total social product in order to privately appropriate a larger share, in absolute terms, of that product.

The use of advertising tends to diminish society's privately realised surplus product. Consequently, it tends to diminish the rate of profit on revenue. If Daffy Duck's image rights increase in value through advertising, this doesn't mean that society's total surplus product has increased. The point of advertising is the redistribution of the surplus product, not its creation. In any case, capital values in monopoly capitalism tend to be related to profit values by artificially low rates of discount**.

I don't expect anyone will be convinced by this, but really, looking at ads isn't labouring, and we aren't contributing by doing it.

*leaving aside the unlikely possibility of redistribution improving productivity beyond the deadweight advertising cost that engendered it. Index number problems come up with distribution changes, but one can hardly justify calling advertising productive on account of index number problems.

** i.e. lower than the technically determined rate of profit on the commodity value of active means of production.

Friday, August 06, 2010

parody blaawg review: blaawg theory by Dejan

As the proletars of the future, we must resist the easy temptation of the web's obsessive cycles, pointless debates, feedback loops and highly addictive porno. As dr. Fossey succintly explains, these things CORRUPT the pure proletarian heart, whose historic Revolutionary Desire dissolves in the internet's diabolical circuits - the drives of seduction, hedonism, tits, ass, and fornication.

Distracted by this virtual capitalist Sodom, we as the proletar subjects of the future fail on our historic mission - mounting the Resurrection of Comrade Stalin from the love handles of Comrade Slavoy Zizek. We DEVIATE, comrades and comradesses, from the path of freedom. Instead of washing our own laundry, we allow the corrupted Capitalist Machine to do it for us.

What's clever about Dejan's parody is that it doesn't just exaggerate Jodi Dean's analysis, but it exaggerates one aspect while forgetting about another aspect.

Essentially, the parody sets up a contrived choice for the sociologist studying American people, between seeing Americans as:

a. dispossessed and disenfranchised proletars


b. comfortable and enfranchised citizens

Jodi Dean's picture of Americans as belonging to category a. is portrayed as ridiculous (I don't know if this is Dean's real position: I haven't read her book. I'm just going by the parody). Consequently category b. ought to be correct. But really, somewhere in the middle would be more correct, because most Americans don't have real political representation, and quite a few are really immiserated. The desire for middle class Americans to have political representation really doesn't necessitate them identifying themselves with nineteenth century factory workers.

But, in a daring dialectical twist, Dejan pretends to have forgotten that Dean's apparent category of barelife proletars presupposes a social technology productive of a proletarariat. A second contrived choice is established concerning the degree of autonomy of Americans, who might be:

a. free to choose freely


b. constrained in their choices

Dejan allows that Dean's analysis assumes a. rather than b. and that the Americans really want everything they get, from spectacular wars for the benefit of Dick Cheney to abstract digi porn. They are no longer interested in sex with other humans, prefering the endless autistic reprogramming of the fragments of the human sexual past. In reality, most Americans must be fairly constrained in their choices, but some of them probably do really want it.

If we map Dejan's categories onto the sexuation graph, you can see what I mean.

Monday, August 02, 2010

clowns army

The British government want people to volunteer for the London olympics, with the selling point seeming to be that you get ordered around by McDonalds managers. In times of crisis in the past, Britain's labourers were expected to fall in line behind a landowner with a commission; now they're expected to fall in line behind a clown with a mincing machine.

formez vos bataillons!

Britain shouldn't be allowed to hold the dogging olympics, never mind the olympics proper. It's a country that engages in aggressive war. Perhaps people will reflect on this country's internal and external policy, if they're thinking of working for this lot, for free.

Orwell - official mascot of the London olympics