Monday, June 20, 2022

Is the Pound worth saving? (1999)

From the June 1999 issue of the Socialist Standard
Some said it would never happen, yet on 1 January of this year the Single European Currency became a reality. Five months on, we have seen the fall of Oskar Lafontaine, the German Finance Minister, the resignation of the entire European Commission and the Euro steadily fall in value.
Despite all of this, New Labour has started to come off the fence and demonstrate that they are preparing to recommend Britain’s entry to the project, subject to a referendum of course. This policy shift (especially after publishing the National Changeover Plan), has only intensified debate across the country, spawning a plethora of ad hoc organisations, dedicated to both sides of the argument.

Without equivocation, we in the Socialist Party say that the introduction is a capitalist question which has nothing whatsoever to do with the interests of the working class. Our class interests can only be furthered by the abolition of the capitalist wages system and all money no matter which name our masters wish to give it.

The “pro” and “anti” positions span the political spectrum from right to left. Some of the Eurosceptics to be found on the extremes of the Conservative and Labour parties are actually in favour of EU withdrawal, whilst the majority are just hostile to the Single European Currency. In the case of the Europhiles, they can be found anywhere from the Tory left, the Liberal Democrats through to New Labour. It is interesting to note that the vast bulk of the pseudo-revolutionary Trotskyite sects are defending their own variation of the Eurosceptic position.

Ever-increasing concentration
The Euro project is just the latest (but by no means the last) phase of European capitalism’s attempts to compete as an effective unit on the world stage (especially against the US and Japan). This is not just a political project, as the capitalist media likes to make out, but is rooted in the ever-increasing concentration, centralisation and integration of European capital. Indeed, the prelude to the launch of the Euro was littered with take-over activity. This process itself is part of capitalism’s attempt to restructure itself to the needs of the modern globalised economy.

Perhaps, not surprisingly, we find that the most powerful section of the capitalist class (big manufacturing and finance) are generally the ones pushing for Britain’s entry into the Euro. There are the capitalists who have a big stake in Europe either via importing/exporting or providing finance for take-overs.

It does not follow that businesses with extensive European interests who have supported the development of Europe vis-à-vis the EEC and single market EU, necessarily believe the Euro is a good idea in itself. The CBI, which represents big manufacturing capital, is actually quite divided on this issue despite its leadership being in favour. For many members, it’s not the principle of the Euro which is the problem—it is the economics of it. However, some pro-European capitalists take the view that although the single currency is not perfect, they cannot be left out of it. In fact some argue that early membership would have allowed the British government to influence the shape of the Euro project in their favour.

Bearing in mind that the majority of the British public are not Euro enthusiasts, we should expect to see a big propaganda drive over the next year or two from the powerful pro-Euro lobby (which is likely to involve the government). The most popular argument trotted out by the Europhiles is that an integrated Europe will reduce the risk of another European war because Germany will be kept in check. This is a feeble argument which totally misunderstands the causes of war. The fact that superficially Europe’s capitalists are coming together does not alter the fact that they remain competitors and this is only a marriage of convenience. If, due to capitalist logic, the arrangement should break down, no amount of political organisation at a supra-national level will prevent a war. The example of the United Nations demonstrates this.

Following on from this, we are told that from this position of political stability there will be increased economic growth via increased trade and low interest rates and inflation. The logical corollary of this would be a Europe reasserting itself on the world stage, whilst capable of dealing with its own internal balance-of-power. As pro-Euro economist Christopher Johnson argues in his book In With The Euro, Out With The Pound:
“The Euro, with the UK inside it will become a world currency alongside the dollar and the yen. Britain can thus retain, or even regain, some of its status as a world economic and financial power without giving up its national identity.”
“Britain can avoid German domination of Europe only by joining France, Germany and other European countries as partners in an integrated Europe” (p.197).
Quite where Johnson find the facts to support such optimistic economic reasoning is anybody’s guess. It’s certainly not supported by the first five months of the Euro, which has highlighted many of its contradictions. Firstly, there has been the constant bickering between the politicians and the bankers of the European Central Bank (see January Socialist Standard) which resulted in the resignation of “Red” Oskar Lafontaine, the German Finance Minister, and of course the corruption scandal at the heart of the EU Commission which demonstrates the lack of even basic democratic accountability. And as for the Euro becoming a world reserve currency to threaten the dollar—well it hasn’t happened yet. 

However, the capitalist class is multi-faceted and some sections are openly hostile to Britain joining the Euro. These capitalists (generally small and medium size concerns) grouped around organisations such as the Institute of Directors and the Federation of Small Businesses see joining the Euro as a costly adventure. The EU “social market” model is derided as an economic anachronism which will not be able to compete against the low cost, dynamic “free market” US and that Britain’s entry into the single currency will effectively spell the end of the Thatcherite revolution.

There is a certain amount of truth in this position. It is clear that if Britain did join the Euro there would be moves to harmonise taxes and costs since British capital would have an unfair advantage over its European rivals. However, it is also true to say that European capitalists have been trying to restructure their own economies for sometime now with attacks on welfare provision and working conditions. The results of this have been violent protests and demonstrations by French and German workers. In reality, Euro capital will try to restructure at home whilst demanding concessions from a British entry.

The Eurosceptics often claim that a single currency with a “one-size-fits-all” monetary policy would inevitably require a single fiscal policy. John Redwood, the Tory arch Eurosceptic, articulated this view in his 1997 book Our Currency, Our Country:
“You cannot have a single currency without a single interest rate, a single banking policy, a single budget and a single finance minister or central bank governor. You are inevitably led to a single taxation policy and a single economic policy. You are close to creating a single government” (Preface).
Although Redwood’s arguments may be more cogent and honest than Christopher Johnson’s, his views are ultimately based upon populist nationalism. Britain would cease to be an independent nation and parliament would resemble little more than a glorified county council under the jackboot of French and German bankers.

This may or may not be true. The question is what difference would this make to the working class? When people like John Redwood start talking about democracy it’s difficult not to laugh.

The main strengths of the “Eurosceptic” position rests on their critique of single currency economics. Firstly, they argue that Europe is not an “optimal currency area” which is a prerequisite for the Euro to be a long-term success. Britain’s trade cycle is synchronised more closely with that of the US and this could cause problems with a common interest rate policy (i.e. German growth may be slowing and Britain’s picking up). This could mean that the currency area was more susceptible to “asymmetric shocks” that could threaten the stability of the entire continent.

Left-wing Eurosceptics with their desire to reform British capitalism have also used “loss of control” arguments. The Campaign for an Independent Britain write in a recent pamphlet:
” . . . opting for economic self governance, rapid growth and full employment means opting out of a single currency” (Burkitt, Bainbridge and Whyman—There is An Alternative, p.65).
It is a supreme irony that left-reformists such as the aforementioned authors and Tony Benn can be on the same side as the Thatcherites, whilst denouncing the Maastricht “Convergence Criteria” and Amsterdam “Stability Pact” for being “monetarist” and “deflationary”. For these people are still labouring under the delusion that capitalist governments can control and influence the economy by using monetary and fiscal policies. They have learned nothing from history.

Clearly, the Tory Eurosceptics (currently under the leadership of William Hague) nominally support the notion of an independent Britain, but in reality represent the pro-US section of the British capitalist class. It is precisely this division between the pro-European and pro-US sections of the capitalist class that will fuel the single currency debate in the coming months.

Indeed, the EU and US seem to be in a perpetual trade war at the moment and such tensions are likely to increase rather than diminish. This makes Britain’s future role even more interesting. If Tony Blair does take Britain further into Europe, how will this affect Anglo-US relations? Perhaps Blair’s strategy will be to play one bloc off against the other?

We have seen the poverty of all the capitalist arguments for and against the Euro and located this debate in its true context. From the petty nationalists to the more “sophisticated” pro-Europeans this is not a debate for the working class. To be “pro-European” or “anti-European” is to fall for capitalist trickery. We should create our own agenda rather than just responding to our masters’ in-fighting. Is the Pound worth saving? A better question would be: Is capitalism worth saving?
Dave Flynn

Creative employment? (1999)

From the June 1999 issue of the Socialist Standard
The Readers’ Digest Universal dictionary defines creativity as “characterised by originality and expression; imaginative”. Using this as a starting point, here is a socialist’s view.
The type of society in which we live—capitalism—naturally produces an uncreative, dull and very boring social condition We all suffer as a result. Politicians, world “leaders”, journalists, academics, authors, TV reporters are all constantly telling us that there are no other alternatives to the way we live. Capitalism is full of boring jobs to do. All that factory, office, insurance, cashier work needs to be done. All those salesmen/women and financial advisers. We could be here all day.

Even in our “free” time, or rather our employment-free hours, an uncreative, stale mentality exists. What most people do in their free time and consider enjoyable—watching/playing football, listening to music, going round to pubs/clubs, eating at McDonalds, watching TV and the like, is largely a reaction to dull and tiring hours at work (or another day of being unemployed). An opportunity to get away from it all, as it were. That is not to say these activities are totally useless and unnecessary. The Friday/Saturday night culture is but another example of people letting their hair down after a tiring, boring week. A drug-taking youth culture is indicative of a pessimistic working class trying to escape the boredom of everyday life, searching for some excitement and adventure through manipulation of their own mind.

Compromise is an ass
Children of course are usually full of energy, emotion, enthusiasm and spontaneous curiosity. As we become more accustomed to “the way of the world” and more indoctrinated with ruling class ideas, we lose this. Instead we realise we have to compromise whatever throughts and ideas, creativity, energy, emotions and intellectual capabilities we may have in order to get a job and to keep our job. Our minds and bodies are not our own but are to be used and exploited by a parasitical minority—that is if we do not wish to be thrown onto the reserve army scrap-heap known as the unemployed. If you want promotion, it gets even more extreme; just look at politicians, Freemasons, company directors and the like. Even when “creativity” does exist in the labour market—most obviously with musicians, film writers, designers, illustrators, etc, these employees are constantly restricted in the amount of artistic freedom they can pursue. Current trends and fashions, which can generate enormous amounts of profit if aggressive marketing techniques are used, usually dictate the parameters of their creative boundaries. (Look at the number of Spice Girl products available. They are not so much a band as a brand.)

One of the ironic and terrible things about this decadent culture is that it is so dull and hopeless that a lot of people hope for nothing more. Some workers are so tired and stressed that they have no time or energy to work for a world which would be free them from such a miserable existence. Another irony (and tragedy) is when the psychological effects of many tiring, boring hours has a knock-on effect into the non-employment hours of the day, when workers are unable to imagine a world free from the drudgery of wage slavery.

The sky is the limit 
So how would work, as opposed to employment, seem in a sane (that’s code for socialist, by the way) society? Well, for a start at least 50 percent, maybe up to 70 percent, of the existing jobs will disappear. In a world of common ownership, money will cease to exist or have any function. All the jobs concerning money—cashiers, bankers, insurance workers, tax collectors, etc, would be totally useless. That’s the majority of the most boring jobs out of the way, then. The abolition of production for profit, and the introduction of production for use, will mean the end of unnecessary long and stressful hours. The line between “work” and leisure will become very hazy, perhaps disappear altogether for some. The fact that work will be socially and individually useful will be a great motivating factor. Ideas, expressions, thoughts and intelligence will be of great value when it comes to designing, building, organising and problem-solving. No longer would we be victims of the needs of the wages system. Human beings will cease to be mere one-dimensional, profit-grinding zombies. Everyone of us has ideas, logic, experience, knowledge, reason and creativity that is of use to others and society in general. And yes, that includes small children, the elderly and the “disabled”. In a fully democratic society (code for socialism, again) we would all be able to contribute on an equal basis (if we so choose) and take according to our self-defined needs.

The working environment will dramatically change too, of course. Being bossed around, getting up far too early, dread, anxiety, working too many hours amidst an unpleasant environment all have a negative psychological and physical effect on us. When people work in a stress-free environment and act on their own free-will they are much more co-operative. Instead of competing for jobs and promotion, which gives rise to a hostile and back-stabbing environment, emphasis will be on co-operation. Even when there are not so exciting jobs to do—cleaning perhaps, the work itself may still be mundane, but working in a co-operative and friendly environment will make whatever work we are engaged in so much more enjoyable. Cleaning can become bearable. Being around people who are enjoying themselves, enthusiastic, co-operative and engaged in socially useful work is a wonderful experience (or should I say, could be). It may be hard to imagine such experiences being part of everyday life, but don’t think of socialism as an utopia. The only thing which stands in our way is a working-class majority who understand and desire such a society. And who are willing to take the necessary political action to achieve it.

We would argue that workers have nothing to gain from being employed or unemployed. Every time we set foot in the workplace we are being exploited. And to those who want to get rid of such a reactionary society, I’ll leave with some words of wisdom from old Karl:
“Workers of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains and a world to win!
Tom Jones

Euro-elections (1999)

Party News from the June 1999 issue of the Socialist Standard

The Socialist Party is standing a list in the June 10 elections to the European Parliament in the North East electoral region. Standing for capitalism are the three parliamentary parties, the Greens, the UK Independence Party and the Scargill Labour Party (the last two both campaigning on a platform of British withdrawal from the Common Market), the Pro-Euro Conservative Party, the BNP and the commercial organisation selling meditation courses known as the “Natural Law Party”.

The four-person Socialist Party list is: John Bissett, Steve Colborn, Stephen Davison and Andy Pitts.

All Our Yesterdays (1999)

TV Review from the June 1999 issue of the Socialist Standard

Rumour has it that Esther Rantzen is the most objectionable person to work for in the entire BBC. This may well be true, though the competition is likely to be great. Far less of a challenge to her dubious talents are the current talk show programmes competing with her BBC2 offering, Esther. They are, without exception, uniformly miserable. There are now so many of them, and so narrow predictable are the subjects they typically address, that they have reached a point of market saturation. It is entirely possible they are in the process of disappearing up their own sphincter, and that won’t be a bad thing.

Most of the competition for the dreary British offerings from Esther, Kilroy and Vanessa Feltz et al comes from the United States, the country which pioneered this particular form of televisual flatulence. The one programme of this type which is unparalleled in its venality is the Jerry Springer Show. This is a show which makes a virtue out of insulting the intelligence of its audience, serving up supposedly real-life but nevertheless half-baked social traumas which are played out for the cameras by people who are for the most part third-rate actors and actresses. The plot—and it is a plot of sorts—usually revolves around a particular individual who has “cheated” on their lover. Of course, you just know when it starts that the featured woman’s lover is really going to be her brother, and that he has come on the show to say that he has caught a terrible sexually transmitted disease from next door’s alsatian and therefore can’t provide her with children. Not that this will matter as she herself has gone on the show to reveal that she’s about to elope with the entire Harlem Globetrotters who then come on stage for the big fight finale. To get a real handle on this, think of ITV’s Saturday afternoon World of Sport wrestling from the 1970s, minus Reg Gutteridge and half-decent acting.

With competition of this calibre even Esther Rantzen could put together something which seems almost convincing. And one tea-time in the middle of May she actually did!

Goodnight sweethearts 
Esther’s programme on this occasion centred on a young couple who have decided that they have had enough of the 1990s. In many respects, this is a quite understandable sentiment—indeed, after seeing the Jerry Springer Show, an entirely rational one too. But it was their response to their negative views about modern living which set them apart. This couple made for entertaining television because their solution to their unhappy situation was to go back in time. To be more precise, to act, dress, eat and behave generally as if they were living in the 1940s. They eschewed television, refused to use modern electronic devices such as computers and washing machines, wore clothes straight out of Goodnight Sweetheart, drank cocoa and brown ale and ate powdered egg. Of course, some compromises had to be made with the outside world of the near-21st century, but they attempted to keep these to a minimum.

Rarely can a couple of guests have captivated the interest of a studio audience so completely. One audience member who was beside himself at the thought of a couple of thirty-somethings wanting to live life like the 1940s was Gyles Brandreth. That they refused to acknowledge the wonders of late twentieth-century capitalism was incomprehensible to him. Indeed, he claimed—as did one or two other guests—that they may have mental problems. Now Brandreth, whose main contribution to the progress of humanity was securing the record for the longest after-dinner speech ever made, and whose other newsworthy trait is his status as a failed Tory MP so fanciful and lightweight no-one ever thought it worthwhile bribing him, was on a sticky wicket here. And the reasons the 1940s couple gave for choosing the lifestyle they’d adopted didn’t sound nearly as ridiculous as Brandreth in any case, even on one of his better days. A more relaxed pace of life, a greater community spirit, higher levels of trust and lower crime—all the things modern capitalist society isn’t and can never be.

The problem with their approach of course—as they recognised as well as anyone—is that no-one is an island and it is impossible to escape the “modern world” in its entirety (though perhaps they should also have been more cognisant of the fact that Britain in the 1940s wasn’t quite they idyll they perhaps pictured it to be). There can be no escaping the modern market economy as it relentlessly devours all before it in the name of “globalisation”. The real tragedy of this situation was that this was an intelligent young couple, recognising the very real nightmare represented by today’s market madness, but content to look backwards towards an imagined past instead of committing themselves towards creating a more humane future. Misguided they may certainly be, but mad? Probably no more so then the members of the studio audience who giggled nervously at them. And as any amateur philosopher knows, isn’t insanity nothing more that a sane reaction to an insane world in any case?
Dave Perrin

Socialist activity in Gambia (1999)

Party News from the June 1999 issue of the Socialist Standard
An account of the recent visit by two delegates from the Socialist Party to Gambia (2 – 9 April).
A six-hour flight from a rain-swept Manchester airport, south across France, Spain, picking up the African continent in shape of Morocco, down across the yellow landscape of Western Sahara, Mauritania and Senegal and the final descent to Yundum airport 10 kilometres out of Banjul, the capital of Gambia. We were familiar with the names of many people and places having been involved for the last 3 years in a campaign of correspondence with like-minded Socialists, all started by the placing of socialist articles in English-speaking newspapers and journals. The interest generated had convinced the EC to endorse our visit in the hope that we could establish the true extent of socialist activity and the potential for consolidating ties.

Gambia is a narrow strip of land some three hundred miles along the banks of the river Gambia, a small country with a population of 1.2 million, its capital Banjul being situated on an island at the mouth of the river.

We were met at the airport by a number of members and driven off in a yellow taxi belonging to one of the comrades along roads that had more holes than the Labour Party’s case. First impressions were of long stretches of low-level dwellings and shops and it felt that most of the population was out and about on the road that led to the Kombo (district) of Serra Kunda, a hive of human activity and as it turned out inactivity too.

We made our headquarters in a cheap hotel in a place called Bacau and as events turned out we took over the telephone and were to receive a continuous flow of visitors as we organised a series of meetings and discussions. Before we had any real time to get to know our comrades we met with a bar owner from Freetown, Sierra Leone who in the course of a conversation informed us that “Marxism cannot be said to have failed because it had never been tried!” Like many of the residents in the area this man had fled his home country and the carnage behind him. He had a lively interest in Socialism and we left him with tapes and literature. He proved to be a useful contact and in the course of events we were to use a room in his bar for a number of meetings. He also agreed to the comrades using his room as a headquarters after we left with the further promise of a room in his house for a more permanent headquarters. Things were up and running.  

As the week progressed we held 4 meetings with an average attendance of 16 members and potential members. The meetings were lively and productive resulting in the establishment of an interim Executive Committee, General Secretary and various other requisite positions. Due to the problems of geography and the fledgling nature of the enterprise, positions were agreed by the comrades present and are to be maintained for 6 months until such time as more democratic voting procedures can be organised involving the membership throughout the country. Representatives of the various provincial branches of Brikama, Basse, Farafenni, Georgetown and Banjul were present and took up positions on the EC. A clear impression was gained that these people were serious-minded and determined to make advances. They had a commitment to democratic accountability and the need to ensure that a formal structure procedure was adhered to. An EC meeting was to be held every 2 months in Bacau with clearly defined Party committees responsible for all essential tasks in the running of an efficient socialist organisation.

The potential for growth is very encouraging. Many of the comrades are school teachers and are busy holding meetings in schools up and down the country. A highlight of the visit was our being able to hold a meeting in a technical school in a small town, Brikama. Two of the comrades also addressed the meeting and the level of interest was heart-warming. The students showed a good understanding of many aspects of Socialism and a good understanding of current world issues. These were confident, articulate young men and they demonstrated a critical and analytical approach to the subject of Socialism.

A number of journalist contacts were established, one young man being a member of the organisation which culminated in an interview with the daily Observer newspaper which will hopefully be published shortly. We gave a no-holds-barred account of the case for World Socialism.

It is not difficult to use the material conditions at hand to argue the necessity for socialism. A major problem in Gambia is unemployment. The majority of the population in the Bacau region appeared to be in a condition of enforced idleness. There just aren’t any jobs nor is there any welfare provision. The result is a culture that forces the youth to attach themselves to the Toubab (white person) with whom they have come into contact as a result of the emerging tourist industry. These are resourceful people who over the years have invented quite plausible reasons why you should part with your money. Over and above the fact that the unwary tourist will be charged massively inflated prices if they are unaware of the custom of haggling, these young people known as “bumsters” will convince you that their services are both necessary and in need of financial recompense. This entrepreneurial spirit led one young man to try to persuade us that there existed a beach tax payable to him as a representative of the local administration. Holy water at a reasonable price abounded, along with the stroking of a crocodile and sponsoring of schools. A friendly handshake could cost around 50 Dalasi (£3). We declined to visit too many new-born babies for fear that we would be cleaned out.

The visit must be interpreted in the context of African culture. It is different from that which we see in Britain. In the rural villages there exists a healthy spirit of community sharing. People work co-operatively on a variety of ventures. Everybody knows everybody and shares common interests. The fragmentation of society so common in Western cities and towns is alien to the people we met. This is fertile ground for socialist argument. A warmth of humanity is in evidence, a genuine interest in fellow human beings and the physical manifestation of full handshaking. The hospitality we encountered, the socialist ideals we shared and the desire to build a more sane world community will live with me for the rest of my life.

It was also encouraging to note the ambition of many of the comrades. Many were from Nigeria and had contacts throughout West Africa. They saw the Gambia venture as but the first step, intending to link up and establish firm footing throughout the region. The possibilities to support the comrades are considerable. To enable them to flourish they will need good supplies of literature, tapes and so on. There are many possibilities to place articles and letters in a number of English language journals including the Observer and New African. There is a need for money to enable them to carry on their activities over and above the money they are intending to raise themselves.  

The comrades in Gambia decided on the name “A World of Free Access” taking into consideration the current political climate. They thought that the government would be overtly hostile to any aspiring political party and that its members would be at risk. New political parties are not able to register until early in the next century. This is their stated aim and they intend to put the meantime to good use in a concerted campaign of education and the building of a strong membership. If we are serious in our stated aims to see the spread of Socialism on a global level then this is an opportunity not to be wasted.
Andy Pitts

Pensions (1999)

Book Notice from the June 1999 issue of the Socialist Standard

Pensions – Who Pays? National Pensions Convention

A pamphlet from the National Pensions Convention outlining the history of State pensions in Britain and of how this reform is now in danger of being whittled away by a government formed by the party which used to champion it. Price £1 post free from NPC Research Committee, 8 Milner Place, London N1 1TN.

What is human nature? (1999)

Book Review from the June 1999 issue of the Socialist Standard

Marxism and Human Nature. By Sean Sayers. Routledge. 1998.

There are two ways of answering the objection that “you can’t change human nature”. One is to say “oh yes you can” and to point to how humans have been different in different times and in different places. The other is to say “we don’t need to change human nature; it is only human behaviour that needs to change” and to point to how humans’ behaviour has been determined by the sort of society they live in and has varied with this while their biological make-up has remained unchanged.

Marx, who came to socialism via philosophy, adopted the first approach. We in the Socialist Party, with the benefit of the findings of biological and anthropological research since Marx’s day, have adopted the second. Not that the two are incompatible. Both refer to the same facts and draw the same conclusion—that an unchanging human nature is not a barrier to socialism working—but what is meant by “human nature” is different.

In the one case it is the traditional philosophical idea of “what underlies and determines human behaviour” (and in German the term is “human essence” rather than “human nature”). In the other a distinction is drawn between “human nature” as the biological, or natural, make-up of humans and “human behaviour” as the way humans behave, with the former underlying but not determining the latter, with in fact a key part of humans’ biological make-up being precisely the capacity to adapt to a wide variety of behaviour patterns.

Even though Marx gave its content a historical and so changing character, the philosophical definition he inherited still has some problems even with this amendment. How do you describe the features of human nature in this sense? How can you tell what it is at any particular time in human history? In what sense can it be said to determine human behaviour? Is it in fact any different from human behaviour? Why use (in English) the term “nature” when what is being referred to is not natural in the sense of being determined by nature but is admittedly socially-determined?

Sayers ignores, not to say rejects, the contribution that science has made to the question of human nature. He only mentions two anthropologists: the title (Man Makes Himself) of a book he likes by V. Gordon Childe and Marshall Sahlins and his Stone Age Economics. In fact he doesn’t really give any clear definition of what he means by “human nature”; you have to gather from the text that he means something like “human needs and powers”. But this is so vague that it leaves the door open to all sorts of unsubstantiated and unsubstantiatable speculations as to what human nature might be.

Sayers’s contribution to this debate (which anyone can join in) is to lay down that the need to be employed is now a part of human nature. We don’t think this is quite what Marx had in mind. After all, it would mean that his key demand for the abolition of the wages system would go against human nature.
Adam Buick