The article “World Recession Closes in Quickly” (October) makes the undeniable point that "the capitalist economy is in a period of profound disequilibrium". However, I feel that coupling this with the statement that it would get better may suggest to some readers that the Socialist Party holds the mistaken view that equilibrium is the normal state of a healthy capitalism, that is, one of boom.
Traditional bourgeois economic theory leans heavily on the concept that production serves consumption, and that equilibrium is achieved as all factors of production receive their just recompense in the market, which is supposed to regulate technical/organisational decisions necessary for this alleged balance.
Marx’s value theory demonstrates that capitalism's normal state is, in fact, disequilibrium. Quite apart from the anarchy of production, this arises from the fact that on the level of the whole economy capital accumulation can proceed only through the realisation of surplus value by reinvestment in new means of production, capitalists' and workers’ personal consumption being met out of the remainder of surplus value and by wages respectively.
This reinvestment is made by individual businesses under competitive pressure, and in anticipation of a market demand over and above that currently existing. It must bear a favourable relationship to the mass of capital already accumulated if the economy is to expand and they are to stay in business. Whether the rate of profit is maintained, and slump deferred, depends firstly on whether this new investment enables a corresponding increase in surplus value production. But this competitively-compelled investment in new means of production is a permanent feature of disequilibrium normal to capitalism, driving it forward beyond current market bounds and ultimately to a period of over-investment, declining profits and slump. Incidentally. I believe that it is only in this sense that Marx’s contentious reference to crises being ultimately caused by the restricted consumption of the masses can be seen as relevant.
As capitalist production is essentially production of and for capital, it is enabled to proceed only when it can produce enough surplus value to satisfy its accumulation needs, and ceases when it cannot. No equilibrium state is involved.
We didn't really suggest that equilibrium is the normal slate of the capitalist economy, did we?
As a great fan of "free" radio stations. I read your "Death of a radio station" article in the October issue with great interest.
What great news it was to hear that LBC has lost their broadcasting licence. I’m overjoyed.
The moronic prattlers at LBC and other licensed radio stations have a damned cheek to start shouting "unfair — disgraceful" when they have found out that the Tory Party they have grovelled round have had happen to them what happens to most of us working-class people — being shit upon (when they lose their licence).
What really annoyed me was when I read in your article that LBC groaned that the Government has no right to say who. and who may not, broadcast. LBC and the "others" didn’t have this view when on Saturday August 19 1989, somewhere in the international waters of the North Sea. Radio Caroline, from the MV Ross Revenge w'as being wrecked — not by gale-force winds but by Dutch and UK government officials, with no doubt the likes of LBC gleefully hearing about the events where DJs on board were assaulted, transmitters violently smashed with sledgehammers and the ship’s record library confiscated. Everything on board that ship was either "stolen" by UK officials or smashed to pieces. We are talking about a vessel being in international waters where the UK authorities had no jurisdiction over.
The likes of LBC were responsible for this raid. They protested (since 1983) that Caroline had no right to broadcast etc etc.
Now LBC — poor dears — are “in the same boat" so-to-speak. Well isn’t that tough.
The ILRs wouldn’t be around if it wasn’t for the likes of Caroline and the ’60s stations that broadcast offshore. Surely everybody has the right to broadcast. The airwaves are just that — air isn’t that free?
"We live in a democratic free society". So says Johnnie and his boys. Well, you could’ve fooled me!
Thanks again for the excellent article. Steve Coleman is certainly on my "wavelength".
Best wishes and thanks for an excellent journal.
The October editorial headed "Cure for the fascist cancer" while expounding some fundamental truth, also contained the persistent and basic flaw that is always present in the advocation of your arguments. Your editorial stated: "Do those who seek to ban them (BNP) believe that workers are so stupid as to fall for fascist nonsense when it is countered in public by clear and logical opposition?"
The answer unfortunately is yes they can. There is sufficient evidence to show that millions of people are incapable of rational thinking.
The cause is not because people are “stupid" but because they are subject to early emotional experiences that can thwart mature development of their objective capabilities to fully overcome repressed and infantile fears in later adult life.
If this were not the case, the countless numbers who have, over many years, heard the Socialist Party, with its "clear and logical" position, would have not only rejected their own previous views but, at least most, would have joined the SPGB.
On the contrary, the observations are that millions not only flock to and vigorously support reactionary political philosophies, but in addition millions more become obsessively addicted to religious rantings of the most primitive and irrational kind.
While I am in agreement with the Socialist Party in its desire for a truly democratic world community, based on common ownership, I find that its lack of a deeper and more positive understanding of “Emotional Man", as opposed to its fixation on purely "Economic Man", is its weakest essential link.
Human beings — this should be self-evident — are not robots and mechanical, but living organisms of much complexity in their inner emotional life.
Political reactionaries (including fascists) and religious advocates always make their appeal to the irrational in "Emotional Man" that repeatedly and successfully recruits millions in each generation to their ranks. Despite the fact that those millions, as a result, act contrary to their own rational interests.
This constant seeking after substitute strong symbolic parental images, in the form of Gods, leaders and powerful nation states of "Motherland" and "Fatherland", should give a conclusive indication of the infantile and "lack of confidence" evident in the human psyche.
The source is not in his "nature" but in the "nurtured" early emotional experience. "Fascism" is not merely a political attitude but the outward expression of inner conflicts that we are all capable of living under certain anxiety conditions.
The increasing demand for Sado-Masochistic style movies and violent horror "comics" by vast numbers of young people worldwide, as some attempt at release from inner conflict, should be of great concern.
Trends are also observed in the presentation style, over the last twenty years, in the music of the young, behaviour at football events, drug-taking and drinking habits. All are symptomatic of outward and inward drives of destructive aggressive behaviour.
The development of new religious cults shows an increase in the infestation of mysticism, particularly in the young.
The danger is that these tensions can be projected onto reality with "fascist" values. As a guide to the difficulties Socialists face, if we are ever to secure a genuine and lasting democratic society, may I recommend two two works: The Mass Psychology of Fascism by Wilhelm Reich and The Psychopathology of Everyday Life by Sigmund Freud. Until Socialists fully understand and tackle these deep matters, little progress, if any, can be made for a sane society. Failure to recognise this could have the most serious consequences, in this technological age, for the future of our planet.
Lionel M Rich,
Who says we are fixated on "economic man"? Socialism is about improving all aspects of human life. We even have members who like the ideas of Freud and Reich (though others reject them as unsubstantiated speculations, not to say unscientific nonsense). The point is we all agree that the task of Socialists today is to make more Socialists, by reasoned argument and democratic persuasion. What are you suggesting we do in addition? Organise a campaign of mass psychoanalysis?
Religion and Birth Control
Termination of pregnancy and contraception are very difficult. It is misleading to link the two as the article on religion and birth control did in the October issue.
Contraception enables an individual to control family size and fertility if they wish to make this choice. Termination ends the life of another, although very small, individual.
If people stopped linking termination and contraception then maybe religious leaders would stop linking the two and hopefully realize that contraception is a good thing and that by more people having access to it without all the guilt there would be less terminations, less women dying in back-street clinics, less women becoming worn out at an early age from having many children, less deaths of infants, etc, etc.
The only religious people who will not be convinced by separating the two issues are idiots like the Pope who do not care about the unborn child, because once it is born it is then condemned to a life of poverty and even early death. The Pope and his cronies want to control the sexuality of worshippers and keep women uneducated and producing kids until they wear out.
Most Catholics I know do not agree with termination as the life of a baby is ended, however they nearly all use contraception, thinking that if the Pope cared about babies he would stop condemning contraception and positively encourage it.
It will surprise many with stereotyped views on pro-lifers that most of my religious friends support abortion and my humanist atheist friends are mostly against it.
The only way to stop termination is to make contraception easily available, give all kids a good sex education with an emphasis on equality, relationships, love, safety and respect for each other, an end to poverty, equality and choices regarding jobs and education for girls and women all over the world.
Also it is not just religious cultures that oppress women. Secular Western cultures have sick attitudes to women, on the whole we are just sex objects who must be slim and available for the use of men whenever they demand it. Women in the West are still lumbered with child care, have little choice about careers or staying at home. Capitalism forces us into crappy, underpaid jobs and at the same time we have to hold a family together. We can’t even choose not to go out to work because of capitalism. (And who wants to work for this system anyway?)
So it is not just the fundamentalists of the Vatican, Iran and the American Bible Belt who oppress women.