Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Occupy

'Workers of the World Unite'  Karl Marx


We supprt the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

William Morris Quote

"A man at work, making something which he feels will exist because he is working at it and wills it, is exercising the energies of his mind and soul as well as of his body. Memory and imagination help him as he works"
William Morris 

Monday, 1 August 2011

Book Review: George Monbiot, Age of Consent

Summary

Globalisation has resulted in a global governance which serves the interests of large corporate entities and their elite owners.  Yet globalisation has unleashed a 'mutation', which holds the seeds to upturn this global corporate order.  The mutation is 'internationalisation' an increasing inter awareness of cultures  and communities across the global.  Global information technology and trends have brought people together, making them aware of their mutual interests in terms of creating a fair global system.

Age of consent aims to offer direction to this international movement by providing a set of reforms.In the first instance Monbiot considers the national level and calls on lessons from history to reject anarchy and communism as possible alternatives to democracy.  This is followed by a call to transform three international institutions;

  1. World Parliament, power in the United Nations is centred on six powerful governments.  Each has the power to veto proposals and distinguish the legitimacy of wars.  In contrast a world parliament would be based on one person one vote and take further measures to level political influence over decision making.
  2. International Clearing Union (ICU), financial capital has excessive power over national governments, causing a democratic deficit and market instability.  The IMF and the World Bank have yielded their influence to  open up financial market and place national politics further under the knife of market players.  These institutions should be replaced with an ICU similar to what has been discussed in a previous post.  The ICU aims to stabilise balance of payment deficits/surplus and tax currency transactions to stem their flow.
  3. Fair Trade, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) enforces a regime of 'free trade' with developing countries forced to excessively liberalise their markets.  In contrast powerful nations maintain trade protectionism often through a form of subsidies, for example, the US and cotton subsidies.  The WTO is to be replaced with 'Fair Trade' which would regulate trade surpluses and foreign direct investment, to promote a win-win relationship between trading partnership.
Reflection

Age of consent pulls together a set of sensible reforms for redesigning international institutions so to reposition world development on a more equal and democratic path.  Yet the work is overly familiar, any reader of global political economy or anti globalisation literature would have come across these ideas time and time again.  This is not necessary a problems as this how ideas distribute into the popular conciseness.  The work is also unable to think beyond the capitalist system of production and identify that real change is not possible under terms of capitalist relations, as Economic Power Proceeds Political Power.

What Monboit does well is distinguish between 'globalisation' and 'internationalisation'.  Too often the forces of globalisation centred on corporate interests seek to stir anxiety of other nations and cultures.  There is a continuous steam of national rhetoric in a world controlled by a select global elite, who have an interest in divide and conquer.  The worlds working class must look beyond this rhetoric of division and focus on their similarities and mutual interests  The hope for humanity is in global solidarity, bringing an international political force together able demand change across nations.  Alternatively we can retreat to our national boundaries and be picked off one by one by the economic powers above us.

It has long been clear  that socialism must be an international movement and Guild Socialism should be no exception.  Just became Guild Socialism focuses on micro economic change does not mean that the social system should be confined to the national level.  G.D.H. Cole aspired for Guild Socialism to be an international movement and any Neo Guild Socialist movement must look to bringing people together.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

3D Printing and Historical Materialism

3D printing is a process where 3 dimensional objects are created by layering successive layers of material. The idea of duplicating objects was, not so long ago, stuff of science fiction. Yet 3D printing is bringing this concept to our time. Rapid developments in this technology are making the process a legitimate and increasingly cost effective option for designers and manufactures. Technological developments may also make 3D desktop printers a not so distant reality for small businesses and consumers.
The process promises to completely turn the manufacturing industry on its head;
  • opening the door to specialisation over mass production; 
  • bringing production geographically closer to the point of consumption 
  • lowing the cost of market entry. 
If 3D printing does develop as promised it will have profound impacts on the relations of production and our social structure. The industrial revolution was built on the back of heavy machinery and mass workshops. The immense and escalating cost of this machinery meant that production was owned and controlled by ever fewer wealthy capitalist.

Karl Marx taught the world that this process of escalating concentration and centralisation of capital is an inherent trend in capitalism. Marx predicated that the organic composition of capital would increase, meaning machines get more expensive and capitalists are spending more money on the cost of machines then they are on labour. This is a problem as capitalist’s profit only result through extracting 'surplus value' from labour. This suggests that capitalist profits have a tendency to decrease in the long run (unless they find ways to counter balance this trend). These forces cause capitalism to spiral towards a system of elite ownership marked with constant threats of worsening crisis. History is proving Marxism correct on these foresights.

Marxism predicts that the capitalist system would be broken by political struggle as the working class revolt against their poverty and exploitation. This of course has happened in part, but failed to bring about a more advanced social system. Yet maybe it is the other side of the historical materialism coin which will bring about social change? Will technological developments in production bring about new relationships of production and consequently a new social system? 3D printing has the potential disperse the power of production throughout society, making a social system such as Guild Socialism possible. There seems to be no debate on 3D printing and its impact on Marxist theory at this time, but it promises to have serious implications for both marxist theory and the potential to build a socialist system.

A video demonstrating 3D printing in action

Friday, 29 July 2011

Soros closes shop

This week George Soros announced he is shutting up shop on his famous hedge fund.  Funds are being returned to investors and Soros is retreating from the markets.  Anyone who’s read his resent books will know the market guru openly accepts the international finance is in a long term bubble.  The bubble is the US $ which was delinked from gold in 1971.  The demise of US economy and expansion dollars in circulation has created a bubble where the value of the $ is totally delinked from market fundamentals.  The unsustainable expansion of public and private debt threatens to blow the top on this long terms bubble.  The escalating price of gold is concrete evidence that people are losing trust in the $ as the international currency.

George Soros has strangely said that he is bailing from the market due to over regulation implemented since the 2008 crisis.  Yet regulation of international financial markets is something he openly advocates.  I expect Soros knows when it’s time to get out off the speculating dream cloud but with his influence over markets doesn’t want to be one shouting the dollar has a long way to fall.