Friday, December 31, 2021

Labour Theory of Value


One concept that is completely absurd is that of the “cheated employer,” who is “taken advantage of and swindled” by his employees. It comes in many versions but they all contain the same basic formula: A boss is just an honest person, trying to get by in this crazy dog-eat-dog business world, but they are being cheated by the laziness and sometimes downright theft of their employees. Those mooching workers are protected by the union, so the poor, the victimised suffering boss is forced to endure the abuse and extortion of the lazy union workers.

Everything the capitalist does, from the axing of jobs, the shutdown of industries and the out-sourcing of labour to the passing of strict draconian labour laws against the workers are based on this myth of the “exploited boss.”

Marxists hold that all profit is produced by labour. This is called the theory of surplus-value. So if all profit in any business is produced by labour, what right has any bourgeoisie to claim that they are “being cheated,” let alone lay any claim to said profit in the first place?

There is another widely popular myth that the capitalists are entitled to their compensation, as well as the value of other peoples’ labour, simply because they take “risks” or because they come up with original ideas for the production of goods. Who takes more risks—the worker or the capitalist? The capitalist is someone who has capital, at least enough to invest in some industry or business. After all, this is what we are speaking of when we speak about capitalists taking risks—they invest in some business or industry with the hopes of getting a high return on their investment. Recent events have shown us how wonderful this system works, but let’s ignore that for a moment. What happens when the capitalist takes a risk and loses? Most likely, he/she will not lose everything unless they have been very foolish with their money and careless with their investments. Even if that should happen, what is the absolute worst that could occur? They will have to work for a living, like everyone else. What a calamity!

Now, what about the worker’s risk? The worker is already forced into a life-or-death situation, as working people have no means of subsistence other than their ability to work. They are forced by necessity to work for the capitalist by his or her conditions in order to be paid money to live. Thus for many men, women and even children, the worker may often be risking physical injury, disease or death. Millions of workers worldwide are forced to risk their health and life by working long hours under extremely dangerous conditions such as exposure to toxic fumes, heavy machinery, unsafe structures and so on.

As if that wasn’t enough, the worker is also taking a risk when they trust that the company they work for isn’t going to go belly-up within a short time, putting them back out on the street. This is especially devastating these days when unemployment is very high. Workers may have to relocate and disrupt their lives just to find a decent job. When they are laid off soon after relocating, all their plans are shattered. The capitalist by stark contrast risks at most being reduced to the state of the worker. Clearly, the worker risks far more, and yet their compensation is far less than that of the capitalist, thus dispelling the idea that risk entitles one to wealth.

Capital, in a capitalist system, is generally accumulated via surplus value; that is the exploitation of workers’ labour. Moreover, what about those capitalists who make wise investments, searching for investments that will guarantee profitable returns? Should they be penalized or taxed in some way for not making risky investments? But how are investments risky when the richest capitalists can trust the governments they control to bail them out if they should fail? Those banks and companies which invested their money weren’t risking anything at all since the government promptly compensated them for their failure at the expense of the public. Explaining that a capitalist deserves to profit off of others’ labour because he allegedly takes a risk simply does not stand up to scrutiny.

You’ll hear employers and politicians, even union leaders argue for fair days pay for a fair day's work. The labour market works this way; employers have capital and are in need of workers to manufacture their products and provide service. Those who seek to be hired, seek an opportunity to sell their only “commodity” their labour-power. This seems like it could be a fair trade, yet workers continue to demand fairer wages, and the capitalists continue to make higher and higher profits while they refuse these demands. How can this be?

The capitalist invests a certain amount of money to hire the worker $56 for 8 hours of work, a wage of $7 dollars an hour. However, the value of the product of this labour will net his boss $200. So is this extra $144 the work of magic? Of course not. The Marxist Labor Theory of Value explains that value is created by labour-power. The amount of spent labour-power is measured in time, therefore the value of a commodity is determined by the time necessary to produce it. This means that the value of the worker’s labour-power can be measured in the amount of goods and, thus, money he needs to keep himself alive and going, to maintain and restore his ability to work after a long day on the job. Therefore the capitalist is compelled to pay him the bare minimum wage needed for survival (sometimes more, sometimes less), $56 in this example, yet the ratio of the amount needed for the basic maintenance of the worker to the hours needed to earn this much is unlimited. Essentially, the capitalist is able to extract more hours from workers while only compensating them to a minimum and reaping the larger part of the value created by the worker.

In our example, the worker would only need to work for approximately 2 hours and 14 minutes to produce a value of $56, but the capitalist hired the worker for a certain period of time, 8 hours here, and during this time all value produced belongs to the capitalist. The workers are paid not for their labour, but for using their labour power to perform work for the capitalist, and they do so with his means of production. The moment they start working, the product of their labour belongs to their employer, no matter if less (which would most likely get the worker fired) value or more value is produced in that period of time than is embodied in the money the workers have received.

This additional, unpaid labour, is called surplus labour and the value it produces without the worker being compensated for it is called surplus value. The extraction of surplus value from the working class is the basis of the capitalist system. Every capitalist’s goal is to extract as much surplus value as possible as it is the basis of their profit. The only way to press more and more surplus labour from a worker is to either reduce the time he works, to gain capital through investment and/or to increase the time the worker works “for free,” without receiving any payment. To put it bluntly: the higher the wages are for workers, the lesser the profit for the capitalists, and vice versa.

So are fair wages possible under capitalism? Can a worker receive the full equivalent of the work he performs in a capitalist society? The answer is no; it is entirely impossible as it would leave no surplus value and thus no profits for the capitalist class, and thus render their existence impossible. It would become obvious that they are superfluous parasites, feeding off of the blood and sweat of the working people and living on the unpaid labour of others. The wealth of a selected minority is based on the exploitation of the majority’s hard work. To expect fair wages under this system is like expecting the abolition of slavery in a slaveholder society, as Marx points out. The moment the slaves are freed, we can no longer speak of a slaveholder society; the moment the working class receives the full value it produced, our society has ceased to be capitalist.

The labour theory of value is an essential concept in a Marxist understanding of the world. Without workers and their labour-power, there can be no production. Without people working to build and manufacture goods, extract natural resources, transport them and facilitate their use, value is impossible to realize. The “invisible hand of the market” can’t build things, cannot mine coal or run machinery or drive trucks. Yet, we are supposed to see it as the chief decider of value, as if labour could be removed from the situation effectively. Labour is, and always will be, the key to unlocking the wealth of nature.

So always remember this, if you produce goods or services worth thirty dollars, and the boss pays you ten; it is you who is getting cheated, and don’t ever forget it.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Sharing in Revolution


Modern man suffers from a kind of poverty of the spirit, which stands in glaring contrast to his scientific and technological abundance.” People have “learned to fly in the air like birds,” but “we haven’t learned to walk the Earth as brothers and sisters.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Scientific and technological advances have been enormous. Thanks to breakthroughs in communications, millions of people globally routinely conduct live, visual conversations with one another. In medicine, replacing damaged or diseased parts of the human body has become commonplace. In biology, scientists have mapped the human genome and are well on their way to understanding the structure of the brain. When it comes to transport, it is relatively easy to jet around the world, while spacecraft are now being designed to take tourists into orbit. Computers have dramatically improved the acquisition of knowledge, the storage of information, and dissemination of it at incredible high speed.

Yet there is a glaring discrepancy between these kinds of advances and the social institutions that can ensure that they are used for the benefit of humanity. Despite very substantial progress in modern medicine, vast numbers of people receive no medical treatment or, at best, inferior medical care. Television’s ability to transmit knowledge, culture, and understanding around the world is employed primarily to distribute mindless, shallow entertainment and peddle commercial products. The ravages of climate change are ignored and instead, corporations roll out plans to further destroy the environment through additional extraction and use of fossil fuel. Stimulating consumer demand through the latest advertising techniques, capitalist corporations churn out a vast number of quickly-discarded throw-away gadgets whose manufacture fills the air, the water, and the soil with dangerous contaminants.  Drawing upon the science of robotics, business is beginning the displacement of millions of workers, condemning them to unemployment and poverty rather than celebrating leisure and shorter working hours. While governments press into service the latest scientific and technological knowledge to spy on the public, as well as to produce new weapons and other high-tech means of destroying millions of lives in war.

Capitalist greed has stunted social impulses.  The real question is whether people can muster the political will to reshape society to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.  

The earth’s ecological problems stem largely from the failure to share. The principle of sharing has always formed the basis of social relationships in societies across the world. We all know from personal experience that sharing is central to family and community life, and the importance of sharing. There exists a growing body of anthropological and biological evidence that human beings are naturally predisposed to cooperate and share in order to improve our collective wellbeing and maximise our chances of survival.

In fact, sharing is far more prevalent in society than people often realise. Charities and co-operatives, self-help and mutual aid organisations abound. We have collaborative knowledge sharing websites like Wikipedia and many other forms of peer-2-peer information technology.

Ecological chaos, poverty and inequality are related outcomes of an ill-managed world capitalist system. Given the urgency why are we still failing to manage the world’s resources in a more sustainable way? Every year, numerous international conferences take place and endless reports are published but the international community has not managed to remedy the problems we face. Nothing seems to change. We are unable to overcome the vested interests.  For too long, governments have put profit and growth before the welfare of all people and the sustainability of the biosphere.

Given the scale of the task ahead, it is impossible at this stage for socialists to put forward a blueprint of the specific policies and actions we need to take. But in order to inspire support for transformative change, it is imperative that we outline a vision of how and why changes to production and distribution should be based firmly on the principle of sharing. The first element is for the community to recognise that natural resources form part of our shared commons, and is for the benefit of all. Humanity has to move away from today’s private and state ownership models, and towards a new form of resource management based on non-ownership. Common ownership would embody the principle of sharing on a global scale, and it would enable all communities to take collective responsibility for managing the world’s resources. Currently, the world still lacks a broad-based acceptance of the need for planetary reconstruction. Without a global movement of ordinary people that share a collective vision of change, it will remain impossible to overcome the influence of the vested interests of the capitalist class.

Socialism is Needed

 Let us take a look at the world today. What do we see? A world where most must struggle to make ends meet, while a select few reap the rewards from their labour by virtue of what they own. They do not work any harder than your average worker, yet the surplus-value of the blood, sweat and tears of the world’s labourers goes to this parasite class. The benefits of working in such a society are centralised for the benefit of one exploiting class. The bread-crumbs, in the form of wages and salaries, are what workers must compete for in the labour market. It is like a lottery, in that many will enter, but few will actually “win.”

Imagine now a society in which the worker, instead of working for the profit ends of a private owner or government department works instead for the benefit of other workers. So, rather than working for someone else’s profit ends, or competing for more bread-crumbs than your neighbour, you are working for your own benefit in the context of being part of a broader society. Why is this so? It is because your work (along with everyone else’s) will work to increase overall production in society, whose rewards will be enjoyed by the society as a whole. As a member of that society, as a worker under socialism, you are entitled to work and share in the products of that work. It is in this way that socialism will work to meet the needs and wants of all members of society in a way that capitalist exploitation cannot.

The question changes from “how can I make a profit” or “how can I make ends meet” to “how can I help while enjoying what I do?” This change in the essential question that guides work is brought about through the construction of socialist relations to the means of production, as well as the consciousness of workers in society. As the working masses no longer have to worry about going hungry doing the work they do, they are allowed to decide for themselves what work they want to undertake. In addition, they will have every resource they need to undertake this new work, including public education through graduate school, healthcare and daycare services for their children, housing and job entitlements. It is with these considerations that workers will have the freedom to do the work they want to do.

In socialism, the social priorities are different. Rather than capitalism’s carrot and stick, the necessary risk of unemployment under capitalism to force workers to take on labour which is inadequately compensated (and therefore, undesirable) compared to the decadence enjoyed by those who best help advance the ends of capitalist profit, the emphasis in socialism is on the work that is needed for the betterment of social conditions. The bottom line is that every worker in socialism has their individual interests invested in the success of socialism. In order to protect these individual and collective interests, the worker is encouraged to take up that work that best suits current social needs. The force which would provide this encouragement is socialist consciousness, the understanding that one’s personal ambitions must coincide with those of the masses of the proletariat if anyone is to meet their needs.

Everything that happens birth, death and all the stuff in between are treated as commodities, purchased, rented and leased as units of marketable goods. In this economy, the creation of profit for the minority comes first and foremost and benefits for the majority public is secondary. The motivating force of the capitalist system is the never-ending quest for profits and accumulation. It must continually expand. It impacts every aspect of people's lives. We can’t just reform the current system. There can be no lasting solution to the world’s economic and environmental crises as long as capitalism remains the social system on this planet.

People demanding change are not united in focusing on the political economics at the root of most global problems but they are moving in that direction. This shows that many can understand the situation.  Because of the crisis, people are actually questioning capitalism because they’re being forced to. Capitalist "truths" are being delegitimatised by experience on the ground. People are talking, reading, and thinking.  Many people understand that we have reached a critical turning point that demands a radical change in how and why we produce the means of supporting life to the advantages of a shrinking minority which amasses incredible wealth while the vast majority are living in or fast approaching a status close to poverty.

 How do we unite in a way where we keep the diversity of multiple movements but still work together in solidarity? The answer is a common vision. If a movement does not have some vision of what it wants to become, it cannot know whether it is heading in the right direction or not. Capitalism constantly throws up alternative futures for itself. There is so much mythologized that ignorance is more common than knowledge even among the best informed.

Many speculate and forecast the future where the liberatory hopes of the past and the confidence in the collective power of our class has given way to uncertain hope and pessimism. The idea that the worse things get, the better they will be for revolutionary prospects dominates the thinking of some on the Left. If conditions become dire, then the blinkers with fall from the eyes of the misled masses are their logic. So if worsening conditions make it more favourable for radical change, then it requires these "radicals" to make matters worse to hasten the break-down, regardless that it brings repression down upon others and lends itself to developing various forms of authoritarianism within the Left. 

Periods of radical social upheaval have followed economic crises. But there is nothing preordained that suffering and lower living standards automatically prompt workers to radical collective action. Workers can seek different ways to cope, some of which would not win the approval of the Left. Historically, workers often take actions, even collective ones, to shut other workers out of better jobs based on race, ethnicity, or gender—such as “hate strikes” by white workers against the hiring or promotion of workers of colour. Innumerable acts of solidarity and resistance, of course, mark the history of capitalism. But they are not the only recourse to which members of the working class resort in hard times. It behoves socialists to construct a politics that categorically rejects this catastrophism. No amount of fire and brimstone can substitute for the often-protracted, difficult, and frequently unrewarding work of building up workers class consciousness. No serious socialist group can afford to abandon socialist education.

The science of ecology gives us powerful tools for understanding how nature functions — as interrelated, integrated ecosystems. It gives us essential insights into humanity’s impact on the environment, but it lacks a serious political social analysis. There exists a reformist fallacy that capitalists foreseeing an environmental apocalyptical future would stop investing their capital in unethical enterprises. Capitalists are the servants (“the functionaries” as Marx described them) of capital. They cannot but accumulate more and more capital: that is their function. Let us suppose that many capitalists do perceive that their interests are facing an ecological threat. What good would it do them to withdraw their capital? The capitalists are incapable of class unity, and no sooner would one withdraw investment than another would take his place as a new functionary of capital.

Socialism can make an ecologically balanced world possible, which is impossible under capitalism. The needs of people and the planet will be the driving forces of the economy, rather than profit. It will set about restoring ecosystems and re-establishing agriculture and industry based on environmentally sound principles. The only way we can change the world is to be fighting for the goal of socialism today. The longer we take to get started, the harder it will be

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

The Revolutionary Use of Parliament


We reprint a discussion paper circulated in the late 60s. Perhaps a bit dated, it nevertheless remains of interest when we saw Sinn Feinforming part of Northern Ireland's government when we see the Trotskyist parties forming electoral pacts. From disparaging name-calling of our organisation as the Small Party of Good Boys and accusations of parliamentary cretinism thrown at us, it appears in many ways that the Left are slowly accepting our position as their own. But the use of Parliament to achieve socialism is a position and a debate within the Socialist Party that has evolved. We are not a monument but a movement.

Probably the biggest single obstacle in getting the ideas of the Socialist Party across to certain sections of the Left is our commitment to a revolutionary use of parliament. The most common arguments used against us are either that there is something inherently corrupting about being elected to the House of Commons ("Labour politicians both right and 'left' have been blinkered by parliamentary power, separated from the working class and ultimately corrupted by the system" - Paul Foot on 'Parliamentary Socialism: Labour's road to disaster' in Socialist Worker, 1-5-69) or else that parliament is not the seat of power in capitalist society anyway ("it is most unlikely that the British bourgeoisie . . . will give up its power without a struggle and become subjected to the paper will of parliament" - CPGB reprint of The Communist International Answers the ILP, 1932).

Now Manchester branch takes the view that the Socialist Party is absolutely correct in maintaining that the most readily available method the workers have for capturing political power is by using their votes. Manchester branch also believes that the Party has the arguments to demolish the sort of objections to our policy which we have given examples of above. However, Manchester members do not think that the Socialist Party always marshals its arguments for a revolutionary use of parliament in the most effective manner possible to back up our case. In other words, the fact that our ideas cut so little ice with our opponents may not simply be due to their bloody-mindedness (which is often the explanation which members too readily fall back on), but could in fact be due to some defect in our own approach. We, therefore, suggest that the 1969 Delegate Meeting could usefully examine the way in which the Party presents its case on parliament and this document is intended as a basis for such a discussion.

But before we elaborate some of the views of Manchester branch we think it important to emphasize one point in particular. Party members will be aware that since the 1950's the Communist Party has changed its line completely and that its British Road to Socialism pamphlet commits it to "the building of a socialist society by peaceful means" (pp. 28-9).

 This takes the form of statements such as: "In the Parliamentary field the aim must be to win a Parliamentary majority, pledged to decisive socialist changes and actively backed by the working people." (The British Road to Socialism. CPGB p. 29). 

One unfortunate result of the Communist Party adopting this slightly saner attitude these days is that, in the eyes of many leftwingers who are not very familiar with the Socialist Party's case, the positions of the CP and our Party on the question of parliament appear identical. Obviously, members are all perfectly aware of the enormous gulf which does exist between CP policy and that of the Socialist Party and don't need Manchester branch to point this out to them. But what we want to stress is just how important it has become to explain the difference between the Communist Party's "peaceful road to Socialism" (with its pacifist associations) and our own views in order to combat this leftwing confusion.

Manchester branch suggests that over the years two distinct lines of argument have grown up to justify the parliamentary strategy of the Socialist Party. The first, for want of a better term, we will call the constitutional argument. To take an example -

"Parliament is the centre of power in Great Britain. It makes the laws and provides for their enforcement" (Questions of the Day, 1942 edition p.73).

It is worth noting the way in which this particular pamphlet proceeds from the statement above (with which we have no quarrel -- by the way) to the explanation "of how necessary it is for the workers to obtain control of Parliament before attempting to uproot the existing foundations of society".

"The armed forces too are only kept in existence by the yearly voting of supplies in Parliament. The Army Council controls the Army, but, as Sir John Creedy, Permanent Under-Secretary of State for War, showed in his memorandum to the Civil Service Royal Commission, December 1929, the Secretary for War, who is a member of it, is supreme and is solely responsible to King and Parliament. The Permanent Under-Secretary is solely responsible to the Secretary for all internal finance.
The Privy Council has no legislative authority; cancellations from it and appointments to it are at the discretion of the Prime Minister. Privy Council proclamations are not made at full meetings, but where the presence of two or more members is arranged by the Cabinet. In practice not more than four members are summoned, and rarely is anyone invited to attend a Council meeting who is not an active Cabinet member. It is executive in those matters only where the Cabinet does not require Parliamentary authority.

Marriott ("English Political Institutions") adds the following relating to the Admiralty:
'The Board of Admiralty now consists of six Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, a Financial Parliamentary Secretary, and a Permanent Secretary. The responsible minister is the First Lord, invariably a civilian and a member of the Cabinet'. 'The Board meets at least once a week, and is in a very real sense responsible for the first line of National Defence, though in a technical and parliamentary sense the First Lord has undivided responsibility."
(pp. 116-117)

A similar organisation obtains in the Air Force, the Air Minister being the responsible official.
The above shows how complete and secure is the grip Parliament has upon the armed forces ..."
 (Questions of the Day, p.76)

This argument is repeated in numerous other places as well.

"Parliament provides the money without which no navy, army, or air force can be equipped or maintained. Parliament, which pays the piper, calls the tune to which Jack Tar and Tommy Atkins must dance. The moral is plain: the working class must organise for the capture of Parliament" (Principles and Policy, 1956 p.25).

"Parliament votes the money to keep the police and armed forces in being, decides whether the forces are to be reduced, expanded, or abolished. And Parliament in the end says whether those forces shall be used against any object of capitalist fear, greed or malice" (The Case for Socialism, 1962 p.40)

Although we have taken these examples from pamphlets issued in the '40s, '50s and '60s, looking back one can see that -- even though it originates from an earlier period - this line was mainly reinforced in the 1920s when the Party was seeking to combat the barricade mentality of the bolsheviks. Numerous issues of the Socialist Standard during that decade carried variations on the argument presented above. But, as we mentioned before, there is another approach to this question which the Party has also made use of to explain its call for a revolutionary use of parliament. This we will call, again for want of a better term, the consciousness argument. It puts the emphasis not on the supposition that the army, police force etc. would have to obey a workers' parliament for legalistic or constitutional reasons, but on the assessment that by the time of the socialist revolution a majority of the armed forces will be socialists, like the rest of the working class.

For example:

"Further, our correspondent must have overlooked the fact that by that time the armed forces -- drawn from working class homes -- would be mainly sympathetic to the Socialist viewpoint. Given the abandonment of democratic methods by the Government of the day after the Socialist Party had at an election received a majority of the votes, the armed forces would no longer be a dependable instrument for the capitalist minority, and would, in fact, help, not hinder, the majority in their endeavours to secure control of the machinery of Government. But that eventuality -- the armed forces helping the Socialist working class to gain control -- is quite different from the Communist Party policy of a minority fighting the armed forces"
(Socialist Standard, April 1930, p.116).

"The working class will support the measures taken by a socialist majority in parliament not for any legalistic reasons but because, as conscious socialists, they will understand what steps are being taken and why, because they will have sent the delegates to parliament to carry out their wishes. And the same argument applies to the armed forces and the police. They will be available to back up the decisions taken by the workers not because they have to obey the instructions of parliament but because a majority of them -- as with the rest of the working class -- will be socialists" (Socialist Standard, August 1969, p.124).

Manchester branch takes the view that the constitutional argument has a number of weaknesses. Although we do accept that parliament is the seat of power in many advanced capitalist countries, such as Britain, we are equally certain that it is a tactical mistake to get bogged down in attempts to prove this. Certainly one can refer to numerous authorities who do think this way (as the Questions of the Day extract above makes enormously heavy weather of doing) but one must also admit that there are other serious investigators who suggest that the trend is in an opposite direction (e.g. "Today, a century after Mill, it is certain that Parliament cannot even pretend to function as a sovereign body according to the Blackstone-Mill formula." -- Laurence Clark in On Parliament and the Parties, 1964). 

In a similar way, we also give an impression of naivety and (worse) English parochialism by bald statements to the effect that "the grip Parliament has upon the armed forces" is "complete and secure". Apart from such obvious examples to the contrary as the 'B' Specials and sections of the RUC in Northern Ireland, there was an even wore striking case recently when several hundred policemen attacked the state legislature in Calcutta in July 1969.

"The policemen stormed the Assembly chamber, assaulted members and Ministers, and finally threatened to kill Mr. Jyoti Basu, the Deputy Chief Minister, who is in charge of the police.
As the Legislature adjourned in confusion and panic, the policemen surrounded Mr. Basu's office, refused to allow anybody in or out, and chanted: "We want Basu's blood." The affair continued for several hours. Mr. Basu decided not to use force against the policemen, and they agreed to disperse on learning that a big procession of supporters of the United Front Government was on its way to the Assembly"
 (Police Go Out for Blood, The Guardian, 1.8.69).

Manchester branch suggests, then, that the Party should give greater prominence to the consciousness argument which, unfortunately, has tended to play second fiddle to our preoccupation with the constitution in the past. Leftwingers influenced by anarchist and bolshevik ideas genuinely find our case difficult to accept because they suppose that soldiers and state employees in general, due to their indoctrination, would not obey the instructions of a workers' parliament but would still respond to the orders of the capitalists. They claim that they could then be used to put down the revolution and this gives rise to further speculation about the need for workers' militia, by-passing parliament and so on. If the Socialist Party relies on arguments such as "The armed forces . . . are only kept in existence by the yearly voting of supplies in Parliament", it means that we are abandoning any chance of persuading these people that the socialist position is the correct one. But, if instead, we put the emphasis on that area of our case which really distinguishes the Party from all others (the need for working-class understanding of socialism) we can then argue far more convincingly along something like the following lines:

What they overlook is that oaths of allegiance to the queen and fancy uniforms do not inoculate workers against socialist ideas. It is quite illogical to assume that the wave of enthusiasm for socialism that would be sweeping through the working class as a whole would somehow miss out on that section which forms the bulk of the armed forces. Our evidence for this is the record of previous revolutions. The success of the bourgeois revolution in Russia in 1917 was guaranteed when the military, which for decades had brutally put down all opposition to the tsar, succumbed to the general revolutionary discontent and refused any longer to protect the old ruling class. If soldiers then took up the confused and contradictory slogans of the Bolsheviks, Mensheviks and SRs, how much more likely will they be to accept socialist policies put forward by workers like themselves organised in a mass socialist party?

Manchester branch, therefore, urges the Delegate Meeting (and Party members as a whole) to give this question of the revolutionary use of parliament urgent consideration. Our branch maintains that only by constantly deepening our analysis of capitalism and improving the way in which we present this analysis and the socialist alternative to the workers can the Socialist Party expect to extend its influence among the working class.

Manchester Branch, August, 1969.

Monday, December 27, 2021

The capitalists don’t give a shit.

The Wet'suwet'en Indigenous nation of about 3,200 members have lived on their land in B.C. for thousands of years. 

They call it their yintah, which is 22,000 square kilometers in parts of the Nechako watershed and the headwaters of the Wedzin Kwah River. 

Now an Alberta based company, TransCanada Energy wants to lay the Coastal GasLink gas pipeline through their territory, including drilling under the river. This, not surprisingly, has met opposition from them and has provoked calls from hundreds of urban protestors in Montreal and Toronto. 

Already 30 Indigenous land defenders and their allies have been arrested while they were trying to block work on the pipeline. 

It never changes; if the capitalist class want land for whatever reason, they won’t give a shit about the aboriginals who've lived on it for an eternity.

S.P.C. Members.

The Heat Dome, Fires, Mudslides and now Flooding. What’s the Poblem?

This year British Columbia has been hit broadside with the heat dome, fires, mudslides and now flooding. 

Nor is this a new thing; there were wildfires in 2017 and 2018. 

At present the town of Abbotsford, in the Fraser Valley, more than an hour east of Vancouver is underwater. With more heavy rains in the forecast, it is predicted to get worse. The provincial government have introduced emergency measures which include limiting drivers to 30 litres of gas and restricting some highways to medical and service vehicles. 

Yet still, the apologists for crapitalism insist this has nothing to do with global warming.

 According to Elizabeth Wolkovich, Professor of Forest and Conservation Science at U.B.C.,

''There are a lot of weather events and there are extreme weather events naturally in any climate system.'' 

Perhaps this worthy would like to explain why the sea will soon have an ice-free summer in the Arctic. Soon we'll be out of time.

S.P.C. Members.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Marx and Socialism 2


Why is it that capitalism has accumulated more resources than human history has ever witnessed, yet appears powerless to overcome poverty and starvation? What are the mechanisms by which affluence for a minority seems to breed hardship and indignity for the many? Why does wealth seem to go hand in hand with squalor? Is there is something in the nature of capitalism that generates deprivation and inequality? Capitalism has developed human powers and capacities beyond all previous measures. Yet it had not used those capacities to set men and women free of fruitless toil. On the contrary, it had forced them to labour harder than ever. We sweat every bit as hard as our ancestors. This, Karl Marx considered, was not because of natural scarcity. It was because of the peculiarly contradictory way in which the capitalist system generated its fabulous wealth. Equality for some meant inequality for others, and freedom for some brought oppression and unhappiness for many. The system's voracious pursuit of power and profit had turned foreign nations into enslaved colonies, and human beings into the playthings of economic forces beyond their control. It had blighted the planet with pollution and mass starvation and scarred it with atrocious wars.

Were not Marx's ideas responsible for despotism, mass murder, labour camps and the loss of freedom for millions? The truth is that Marx was no more responsible for the monstrous oppression of the "communist" world than Jesus was responsible for the Inquisition. Marx would have scorned the idea that socialism could take root in impoverished, backward societies like Russia and China. If it did, then the result would simply be what he called "generalised scarcity," by which he means that everyone would now be deprived, not just the poor. It would mean recycling of "the old filthy business"—or, in less tasteful translation, "the same old shit." Marxism is a theory of how developed capitalist nations might use their immense resources to achieve prosperity for their people. It is not a programme by which countries totally bereft of material resources, democratic civic culture and heritage, or a skilled, educated workforce might catapult themselves into the modern age. Marx was not foolish enough to imagine that socialism could be built in such countries without more-advanced nations flying to their aid. And that meant that the common people of those advanced nations had to wrest the means of production from their rulers and place them at the service of the wretched of the earth. Marx's goal is leisure, not labour.

Marx was not some utopian. He believed that the world could be made a considerably better place. In this, he was a realist, not an idealist. Those with their heads in the sand are those who deny that there can be any radical change. The whole of human history disproves this viewpoint. A man who witnessed the horrors of England in the midst of the industrial revolution was unlikely to be starry-eyed about his fellows. He understood that there are more than enough resources on the planet to resolve most of our material problems. Socialism does not depend on some miraculous change in human nature.

The way we go about our business, the way we are organised in our daily life is reflected in the way we think about things and the sort of world we created. The institutions we build, the philosophies we adhere to, the prevailing ideas of the time, the culture of society, are all determined to some extent or another by the economic structure of society. This did not mean that they were totally determined but were quite clearly a spin-off from the economic base of society. The political system, the legal system, the family, the press, the education system were all rooted, in the final analysis, in the class nature of society, which in turn was a reflection of the economic base. Marx maintained that the economic base or infrastructure generated or had built upon it a superstructure that kept it functioning. The education system, as part of the superstructure, therefore, is a reflection of the economic base and served to reproduce it. This did not mean that education and teaching is a sinister plot by the ruling class to ensure that it kept its privileges and its domination over the rest of the population. There are no conspirators hatching devious schemes. It simply means that the institutions of society, like education, are reflections of the world created by human activity and that ideas arise from and reflect the material conditions and circumstances in which they are generated. Some of those who defended feudalism against capitalist values in the late Middle Ages preached that capitalism would never work because it was contrary to human nature. Some capitalists now say the same about socialism. No doubt there is a tribe somewhere in the Amazon Basin that believes no social order can survive in which a man is allowed to marry his deceased brother's wife. We all tend to absolutise our own conditions.

Marx explained that "each new class which puts itself in the place of the one ruling before it, is compelled, simply in order to achieve its aims, to represent its interest as the common interest of all members of society i.e. give its ideas the form of universality and to represent them as the only rational and universally valid ones". 

Ideas become presented as if they are universal, neutral, common sense. However, more subtly, we find concepts such as freedom, democracy, liberty or phrases such as "a fair days work for a fair days pay" being bandied around by opinion makers as if they were not contentious. They are, in Marxist terms, ideological constructs, in so far as they are ideas serving as weapons for social interests. They are put forward for people to accept in order to prop up the system. Ideas are not neutral. They are determined by the existing relations of production, by the economic structure of society. Ideas change according to the interests of the dominant class in society. Gramsci coined the phrase "ideological hegemony" to describe the influence the ruling class has over what counts as knowledge. For Marxists, this hegemony is exercised through institutions such as education, or the media. Again the important thing to note about this is that it is not to be regarded as part of a conspiracy by the ruling class. It is a natural effect of the way in which what we count as knowledge is socially constructed. The ideology of democracy and liberty, beliefs about freedom of the individual and competition are generated historically by the mode of production through the agency of the dominant class. They are not neutral ideas serving the common good but ruling class ideas accepted by everyone as if they were for the common good.

Marx was against people setting themselves up as superior to ‘ordinary’ workers as if they and only they had the ability, foresight and knowledge to discern what socialist society would be like. This elitism had no place in the socialist movement for Marx. Marx was keen to emphasise the creativity and spontaneity of the drive towards socialism and to chart and assess the practical experiments of workers in this endeavour. Thus, for example, he enthusiastically followed the course of and wrote about the Paris Commune of 1871, where workers’ power was manifested in novel and exciting ways. The tragedy of labour is that we labour to create a vast, global social structure powered by capital (which depends upon us for its existence) that oppresses us, and limits and constrains human and social possibilities. We work to build our own cages. The struggle for communism is both the struggle against the constraints and limitations of capitalist social life and for a new form of human society. Alienation, boredom, the length of the working day, and so on can be key issues. Explaining the mode of exploitation in the capitalist labour process would be essential – how it is that value and surplus-value are produced. The exploration of the perverted form of human life in a capitalist society, and the ways that human life is being capitalised (the human as a form of capital – human capital). Any ‘anti-capitalist’ revolution worthy of the name would have to break with the totalising and all-consuming ‘logic’ of capital from day one of any revolutionary transformation. The ‘education of the future’ is part of the struggle for a new society

Marx believed in the uniqueness of the individual. The idea permeates his writings from end to end. He had a passion for the sensual. His so-called materialism is at root about the human body. Again and again, he speaks of the just society as one in which men and women will be able to realise their distinctive powers and capacities in their own distinctive ways. His goal is pleasurable self-fulfilment. To achieve true self-fulfilment, human beings must find it in and through one another. It is not just a question of each doing his or her own thing in grand isolation from others. That would not even be possible. The other must become the ground of one's own self-realisation, at the same time as he or she provides the condition for one's own. At the interpersonal level, this is known as love. At the political level, it is known as socialism, a set of institutions which will allow this reciprocity to happen to the greatest possible extent, a socialist commonwealth, in which each person's participation in the project augments the welfare of all the others and vice versa. This is not a question of some saintly self-sacrifice. The process is built into the structure of the institutions.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Marx and Socialism 1


In an age where the internet provides us with unlimited access to direct sources, there appear to be no limits to the misunderstanding and distortion of Marx. In books and articles, there is continuous reference to Marx, attacking him from all sides for claims that he never made. How can it be that the ideas of Marx can be so completely misunderstood and distorted? One reason is that Lenin and the Bolsheviks appropriated Marx's theory and tried to convince the world that their practice and theory follow his ideas that instead of the role of a worker being abolished, it is extended to all men. Selectively quoted and out of context parts of Marx serve as the official ideology of the regime. Also, the reformist social democrats, believed they were the enemies of capitalism but for them, socialism is not a society fundamentally different from capitalism, but rather, just a form of capitalism in which the working class has achieved a higher status. iI is, as Engels described it, "the present-day society without its defects."  They genuinely do believe in a better world – but they believe it can be achieved by kinder, gentler capitalism and that profits can be used to promote environmental, anti-poverty, and certain other noble causes. But they don’t dare to ask – or to admit – where these very profits come from: the unpaid labour of the entire working class. The compassionate capitalists believe that applying market principles to philanthropy, charity, and the government will help lift the world out of poverty, cure-all famine and disease. However, they fail to recognise that the exploitation at the core of capitalism is what engenders the very poverty, famine, and disease that their philanthropic and charitable efforts are attempting to relieve. They think that those who are “privileged” to enjoy great wealth should take up the responsibility of sharing a tiny slice of it with poor people – and don’t recognise that the wealth/poverty divide was created by capitalism itself. Marx and Engels explain in the Communist Manifesto: 

"The Socialistic bourgeois want all the advantages of modern social conditions without the struggles and dangers necessarily resulting therefrom. They desire the existing state of society, minus its revolutionary and disintegrating elements. They wish for a bourgeoisie without a proletariat. The bourgeoisie naturally conceives the world in which it is supreme to be the best… [It requires] in reality that the proletariat should remain within the bounds of existing society, but should cast away all its hateful ideas concerning the bourgeoisie… It is summed up in the phrase: the bourgeois is a bourgeois—for the benefit of the working class."

There is no greater misrepresentation of Marx than that which is to be found in the thought of the state-capitalists, the reformists, and the avowedly capitalist opponents of socialism alike, all of whom assume that Marx wanted only the economic improvement of the working class and that he wanted to abolish private property so that the worker would own what the capitalist now has. The truth is that for Marx the situation of a worker in a Russian "socialist" factory, a British state-owned factory, or an American factory such as General Motors, would appear essentially the same. Marx's concept of socialism is not a society of regimented, automatized individuals, regardless of whether there is equality of income or not, and regardless of whether they are well fed and well clad. It is not a society in which the individual is subordinated to the state, to the machine, to the bureaucracy. Even if the state as an "abstract capitalist" were the employer, even if "the entire social capital were united in the hands either of a single capitalist or a single capitalist corporation," this would not be socialism. Socialism, for Marx, is a society that serves the needs of man. Socialism for Marx meant neither the mere abolition of poverty nor the abstract idea of fairness which he rejected so scathingly in his Critique of the Gotha Programme. Least of all did Marx see socialism in which “representative” power and authority replaced individual power and authority over men.

It should be clear the popular idea of the nature of historical materialism is erroneous. Marx's "materialistic" or "economic" interpretation of history has nothing whatsoever to do with an alleged "materialistic" or "economic" striving as the most fundamental drive in man. Marx has been criticised for presenting politics, culture, religion, etc. as simple effects of a one-way economic cause.  The popular view assumes that in Marx's opinion the strongest psychological motive in man is to gain money and to have more material comfort; if this is the main force within man, so continues this "interpretation" of historical materialism, the key to the understanding of history is the material desires of men; hence, the key to the explanation of history is man's belly and his greed for material satisfaction. It is the understanding of history based on the fact that men are "the authors and actors of their history." Marx saw that political force cannot produce anything for which there has been no preparation in the social and political process. Hence that force, if at all necessary, can give, so to speak, only the last push to a development that has virtually already taken place, but it can never produce anything truly new. "Force," he said, "is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one."

Marx did not believe that there is no such thing as the nature of man; that man at birth is like a blank sheet of paper, on which the culture writes its text. Nor was Marx ever tempted to assume that "human nature" was identical with that particular expression of human nature prevalent in his own society. For Marx, the aim of socialism was the emancipation of man, and the emancipation of man was the same as his self-realisation and development of the individual personality.

Capitalism has obviously changed in the hundred years since Marx and Engels wrote yet in the basic relations and structures that distinguish capitalism from feudalism and socialism, however, it has changed very little, and these are the main features of capitalism addressed in Marx's theories. The workers' relationship to their labour, products and capitalists are basically unchanged from Marx's day. Workers, for example, may earn more money now than they did in the last century, but so do the capitalists. Consequently, the wealth and income gaps between the two classes are as great or greater than ever.

Marx wrote no “Utopia” of the kind that earlier writers had produced – writings based only on the general idea of a society from which the more obvious evils of the society in which they lived had been removed. But from the general laws of social development Marx was able to outline the features of the new society and the way in which it would develop.

The capitalist class would love for class struggle to just be considered an old-fashioned notion from the past but the class struggle -- the conflict between the capitalists and the workers -- is at the very heart of the capitalist system. The majority of people would love to live in a world free of poverty, unemployment, racism and war. This kind of world is only possible under socialism. Most workers today would readily agree that this is the kind of world they would want for themselves and future generations. But they think it’s a pipedream yet it is the task of the working class to turn this vision into a reality. By learning the lessons of the class struggles that went before us and by applying our power workers develop revolutionary class consciousness. Our socialist perspective in no way means that we do not defend against the immediate attacks today. On the contrary, it is absolutely necessary, and socialists make good fighters for today’s struggle. But in order to fight most effectively, workers also have to understand that there can be no lasting concessions from the capitalist system. To achieve abundance for all, the working class will have to organise and build a genuine socialist revolution.

Communist Christmas (video music satire)


Friday, December 24, 2021

The Jesus Myth


The following is from an old anarcho-punk newspaper named Profane Existence.

In order to prove that Jesus Christ existed, one must have basic historical facts that can be agreed upon in official records. Though it doesn't necessarily make Jesus a historic figure to assign him a birthplace or a birthday, it's a good start. Unfortunately, neither the bible nor church documents can sustain the claim that Jesus was born on the twenty-fifth of December (a date assigned to most of the saviours of the ancient world, including Adonis, Attis, Pan, Bacchus, Osiris and Dionysus among countless others). Even the Bible cannot agree with itself, in Luke (1.199), Jesus is said to have been born during the time of Quirinus, making his birth a fourteen-year difference from the time of Matthew (1.199).

So the day and year aren't known exactly; so what! That doesn't mean anything. Unless one realises that his most intimate friends supposedly wrote the gospels during the lifetimes of his mother and siblings Understanding that Jesus' birth is not verifiable through any written document is essential to know that he wasn't a real person and only a Universal sun myth (consider this: Jesus' death was accompanied by the darkening of the sun, his resurrection happens to be the date of the vernal equinox, and that this date has progressively shifted from the 25th December to the 6th January). (3.272).

What about the events surrounding his birth? Are they real? No, and they can easily be refuted with a little knowledge of world mysticism and language. In the Gospels, the word for stable is Katalemna, but this word’s actual meaning is a temporary shelter or cave (1.32). Among the babies born in a cave is Pan, Mithras, and Zeus (again...there are many more). The birth of Mithras was said to have been witnessed by three shepherds, equivalent to Jesus’ three wise men (1.33). Even the presents offered unto Jesus were those offered to Adonis, whose sacred incense was myrrh.

The town of Bethlehem was the supposed birthplace of this supposed saviour. The name Bethlehem means ‘house of bread’. Adonis was the god of corn and the god of bread. The star that the three wise men had followed to the birth of Jesus was, in Egypt, a yearly omen of the flooding of the Nile. The flooding of the Nile is associated with the ‘world renewing power of Osiris,’ so it is obvious that this star symbolised in the ancient world the ‘coming of the lord’ (1.33).

What of the miraculous virgin birth? It seems that this too is simply an appropriation of mythology. Throughout most of the ancient religions, it is extremely common to have a god impregnate a virgin woman (3.275). From China to Siam and even Mexico to Palestine, all gods chose the method of impregnating virgin women to come into this world. Jesus was born to Mary, Buddha to Maia (as well as Hermes), Agni to Maya, Adonis to Myrrha, Bacchus to Myrrha, and so on (2.301). Most, if not all of these women, ascended to heaven and each was known as ‘Queen of Heaven’.

What about the surrounding situation of this god-man’s death? Well, ‘Good Friday falls not before the spring equinox, but as soon after the spring equinox as the full moon allows, thus making the calculation depend upon the position of the sun in the zodiac and the phases of the moon.’ (3.273). What did that mean? It meant that the festival originally designed to celebrate the Pagan goddess of fertility, Oestera, has become what the Christians now call Easter.

Needless to say, the eggs and rabbits are symbols of fertility and NOT Jesus’ crucifixion.

This calls into question whether or not Jesus was in fact crucified. Cross has a general meaning of stake in the New Testament. Jews used to display the bodies of those they had stoned to death on stakes. In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter says that Jesus was “hung on a tree”, and so does St Paul in his letter to the Galatians. Attis and Adonis were both hung on a tree as well, the latter being known as “He on the tree.”

Before the crucifixion, both Jesus and Dionysus wore purple robes, crowns - the former of thorns, the latter of ivy – and both were given wine to drink. Jesus dies next to two thieves. One goes up to heaven with him and the other goes to hell. Eleusis, as well as Dionysus and Mithras, have on their side two torch-bearers, one pointing the torch upwards and the other pointing the torch downwards (symbolising the ascent to heaven and the descent to hell) (1.51). The story originates with the Greek brothers Castor and Pollux, which on alternate days are given the name “The Sons of Thunder,” which in the gospel of Mark are what Jesus calls James and John.

Aside from this immense amount of evidence showing that Christians merely thieved the ideas from their predecessors, there is much more found in other religions. In fact, there are fifteen crucified saviours, inclusive of Krishna, Odin, Hesus (not Jesus), Quetzalcoatl, Criti, Baili, and Indra (2.352). Therefore, the crucifixion is an appropriation of Pagan symbolism (the cross originally symbolising spirit in the centre of the four elements). Early Christians and Buddhists wore the swastika because it was a good luck sign meaning “it is well” in Sanskrit. As the Church grew in power they wanted to instil a sense of guilt and therefore changed their symbol into a slaughtered lamb, and then a crucified saviour paying for the sins of the world.

The Jesus story cannot even stand up to the criticism of a rational and fairly knowledgeable person, so how can the rest of the beliefs contained within the bible be true? Well, even though the literary works were written down during the time of Jesus’ supposed birth to a century after can fill libraries, it is interesting to know that neither Jesus nor the twelve disciples are mentioned - and Christianity only gets a few paragraphs at the most (1.133). So how is it that Christians can ascertain that there were twelve disciples? Because there have been few god-saviours who did not have twelve apostles or messengers.

Numbers were very important to ancient mythological stories, especially the numbers 12, 7, 3 and 40. For instance, Jacob had twelve sons, there were 12 tribes of Israel, twelve months in the year, 12 gates or pillars of heaven and the Jews were in the wilderness for 40 years. Jesus fasted for 40 days; from the resurrection to the ascension were forty days. Moses was on the mountain with God for 40 days. Noah and Hercules were swallowed by a whale, at exactly the same place – Jappo – and were inside the whale for 3 days, the same number of days between the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus. The feeding of the five thousand – a miracle interestingly also performed by Elisha in 2 Kings 43-44 – happened with 2 fish and five loaves of bread, equalling seven. In Mark 18:17-21 Jesus is trying to make his disciples understand that his stories are meant to be taken as complex allegories involving numbers. Jesus says: ”To you it is given to know the Mysteries of the Kingdom of God. But to the rest of them, it is only given in allegories.” In Luke 8:1, Jesus admits to speaking in riddles and parables yet only the literal world has been spoken for centuries. Perhaps the message has been “misrepresented” by religious authorities on purpose.

Early Church fathers Origen and Clement tried to establish Christianity amongst Pagans by using the argument that it would be absurd to believe in Paganism and not Christianity. Why would it be absurd? Because of the extreme similarities that they themselves acknowledged (3.273). As a result of the likeness between Pagan religions and Christianity, the latter continued to grow. Alterations of biblical documents, the addition of forgeries, and addition of previously held heretical books and the omission of parts of the Bible became a norm in the Church.

Eventually, fanatics came up with the idea known as Diabolical Mimicry to refute the Pagan claim that they were using their ideas to gain power (1.26). Diabolic Mimicry holds that the devil knew the Jesus story thousands of years before and so had created religions similar to Christianity in order to keep people astray from the one true saviour. Unfortunately, for the masses, Christian dogma had won favour with the Roman politicians and this idea was forced onto the people through heresy hunting (the killing of anyone who held different ideas to the Church) mass slaughters (of Pagan followers, “witches”, and other freethinkers), war and repression (1.244-6). All Pagan books were ordered to be burned. Pope Gregory VII burned the Apollo Library. Emperor Theodosius burned 27,000 ancient scrolls. Ptolemy Philadelphius burned 270,000 ancient documents and after 1233 more than 25,000 were burned (even some in the new world). The tragedy is that most of the works burned had nothing to do with Paganism – they were scientific documents seized by illiterate peasants.

So what is the true legacy of the Church after two thousand years? A Church built upon the ruins of an old Pagan temple that symbolises racism, sexism, homophobia, sexual repression guilt, organised crime and HATE!

1. The Jesus Mysteries by Timothy Freke and Peter Ghandi.
2. Deceptions and Myths of the Bible by Loyd M Graham.

3. The Truth About Jesus by M.M Mangasarian, found in You Are being Lied To, edited by Russ Kick

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Marxism is Green


"In London," Karl Marx wrote "they can find no better use for the excretion of four and a half million human beings than to contaminate the Thames with it at heavy expense"

Marx was scathing of the capitalist economic notion that the air, rivers, seas and soil can be treated as a "free gift of nature" to business."

Today, with climate change threatening life itself, the ecological contradictions of capitalism have reached truly dire proportions. The environmental crisis will undoubtedly play a far larger role in the demise of the system than Marx and Engels realised 150 years ago.

Karl Marx’s analysis of the environment under capitalism shows how saving the planet is inextricably linked to transforming our society. Exploitation, war, hunger and poverty were not problems that could be solved by the market system, he said. Rather, they were inescapable outcomes of the system itself. This is because capitalism is dominated by corporations devoted to profit above all else. According to Marx, capitalism is an economic system profoundly at odds with a sustainable planet. The exploitation of nature is as fundamental to the profit system as the exploitation of working people. Capitalist farming is unsustainable because it inevitably starves the soil of nutrients. It is nothing less than "an art, not only of robbing the labourer but of robbing the soil" Marx also pointed out that "The development of civilisation and industry, in general, has always shown itself so active in the destruction of forests that everything that has been done for their conservation and production is completely insignificant in comparison.

Capitalism has created a metabolic rift between human beings and the Earth. Karl Marx came up with the term “metabolic rift” to explain the crack or rift that capitalism has created between social and natural systems, humans and nature. This rift, he claimed, led to the exploitation of the environment and ecological crisis. Marx argued that we humans are all part of nature and he was also the first one who saw social societies as an organism with a metabolism similar to that of humans. The general idea is that disruptions, or interruptions, in natural cycles and processes creates a metabolic rift between nature and social systems which leads to a buildup of waste and in the end to the degradation of our environment. The growth under capitalism of large-scale agriculture and long-distance trade only intensifies and extends the rift. large-scale industry and large-scale mechanised agriculture work together in this destructive process, with industry and commerce supplying agriculture with the means of exhausting the soil. All of this is an expression of the antagonistic relation between town and country under capitalism. As Engels later put it: “The present poisoning of the air, water and land can only be put an end to by the fusion of town and country” under “one single vast plan.” Despite its potential cost to society in terms of increased labour time, he viewed this fusion as “no more and no less utopian than the abolition of the antithesis between capitalist and wage-workers.”

The market system is incapable of preserving the environment for future generations because it cannot take into account the long-term requirements of people and the planet. The competition between individual enterprises and industries to make a profitable return on their investment tends to exclude rational and sustainable planning. Because capitalism promotes the accumulation of capital on a never-ending and always expanding scale it cannot be sustainable. Engels explained this destructive dynamic: "As individual capitalists are engaged in production and exchange for the sake of the immediate profit, only the nearest, most immediate results must first be taken into account. As long as the individual manufacturer or merchant sells a manufactured or purchased commodity with the usual coveted profit, he is satisfied and does not concern himself with what afterwards becomes of the commodity and its purchasers. The same thing applies to the natural effects of the same actions"

We disrupt the natural ecosystem at our peril, Engels warned:
 "Let us not, however, flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human victories over nature. For each victory nature takes its revenge on us. Each victory, it is true, in the first place brings about the results we expected, but in the second and third places it has quite different, unforeseen effects which only too often cancel out the first." Engels added: "At every step we are reminded that we by no means rule over nature like a conqueror over a foreign people, like someone standing outside of nature." On the other hand, "we have the advantage of all other creatures of being able to learn its laws and apply them correctly." That is, we can organise society in step with nature's limits.

This is impossible unless the profit motive is removed from determining production in human society and a system of participatory democracy and rational planning is built in its stead. Rational agriculture, which needs either small independent farmers producing on their own or the action of the associated producers, is impossible under modern capitalist conditions; and existing conditions demand a rational regulation of the metabolic relation between human beings and the earth, pointing beyond capitalist society to socialism and communism. Engels argued that only the working people organised as "associated producers" can "govern the human metabolism with nature in a rational way". This "requires something more than mere knowledge. It requires a complete revolution in our hitherto existing mode of production, and simultaneously a revolution in our whole contemporary social order."

For Marx and Engels, people and nature are not two separate things. Marx wrote that: “Man lives from nature, i.e., nature is his body, and he must maintain a continuing dialogue with it if he is not to die. To say that man’s physical and mental life is linked to nature simply means that nature is linked to itself, for man is a part of nature.” Marx goes so far as to define communism as “the unity of being of man with nature.”

The most basic feature of communism in Marx’s projection is its overcoming of capitalism’s social separation of the producers from necessary conditions of production. This new social union entails a complete decommodification of labour power plus a new set of communal property rights. Communist or “associated” production is planned and carried out by the producers and communities themselves, without the class-based intermediaries of wage labour, market, and state. Marx often motivates and illustrates these basic features in terms of the primary means and end of associated production: free human development.

Marx does not see this communal property as conferring a right to overexploit land and other natural conditions in order to serve the production and consumption needs of the associated producers. Instead, he foresees an eclipse of capitalist notions of land ownership by a communal system of user rights and responsibilities:

"From the standpoint of a higher economic form of society, private ownership of the globe by single individuals will appear quite as absurd as private ownership of one man by another. Even a whole society, a nation, or even all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not the owners of the globe. They are only its possessors, its usufructuaries, and, like boni patres familias, they must hand it down to succeeding generations in an improved condition."